Stanford GSB | Ms. Top Firm Consulting
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Green Energy Revolution
GMAT 740, GPA 3.4
INSEAD | Mr. Truth
GMAT 670, GPA 3.2
INSEAD | Mr. Powerlifting President
GMAT 750, GPA 8.1/10
Harvard | Mr. Mojo
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Law To MBA
GRE 321, GPA 3.77
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Startup Founder
GMAT 740, GPA 4
Wharton | Mr. African Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Sommelier
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 2.1
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12
Kellogg | Mr. AVP Healthcare
GRE 332, GPA 3.3
HEC Paris | Mr. Strategy & Intelligence
GMAT 600 - 650 (estimated), GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Technopreneur
GRE 328, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Schoolmaster
GMAT 710 (to re-take), GPA 3.5 (Converted from UK)
INSEAD | Mr. Sustainability PM
GRE 335, GPA 3.5
Cambridge Judge Business School | Ms. Story-Teller To Data-Cruncher
GMAT 700 (anticipated), GPA 3.5 (converted from Australia)
Kellogg | Mr. Operator
GMAT 740, GPA 4.17/4.3
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Marketing
GRE 327, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. STEM Minor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
HEC Paris | Mr. Productivity Focused
GMAT 700, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Energy Transition
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
McCombs School of Business | Mr. CRE
GMAT 625, GPA 3.4
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Tech Engineer
GRE 310, GPA 4.0

Why I’m Not Applying to Harvard Business School

As I wrap up my Columbia Business School application, I am also looking ahead to my strategy for my remaining applications, which will include some or all of the following b-schools: Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, Northwestern (Kellogg), Berkeley (Haas) and UCLA (Anderson). As I previously talked about, I had narrowed down my schools earlier in the application process, with changes depending on my capacity to write more essays, additional research on schools, and clarification of my goals. In the end, I decided not to apply to Harvard Business School, simply because my age puts me at a significant disadvantage.

While most anyone could benefit from the brand recognition and connections of an HBS degree, I don’t think it is in the cards for me, or most older applicants. Looking at the blog posts of Dee Leopold, the director of admissions for HBS, I revisited her posts where she published the class years when the HBS classes of 2012 and 2010 graduated from undergraduate school.

I think it is pretty telling that only 47 out of the 910 entering students in the Class of 2012 graduated from college in 2003 or earlier (i.e., only about 5% of the latest entering class were aged at least 28 or 29 years upon entering HBS). The graph that Dee published on her blog in July 2010 is re-posted below:

HBS Class of 2012 by Undergraduate Degree Year

Source: “More about the Class of 2012”, dated July 8, 2010, http://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/blog-all.html

Similarly, for the Class of 2010, only about 49 out of the 900 entering students (again, about 5%) graduated from college in 2001 or earlier.

As I would fall into the category of applicants who are on the wrong side of youth, at least in Harvard’s (and maybe Stanford’s) eyes, I think I would be better served spending more time perfecting my applications for schools where I have better odds at. Although I have no doubt that I would be able to excel at any school, and my numbers are within the range for HBS, the combination of very few admittances for applicants around my age with my preference for fewer case studies, definitively tipped the scales away from applying to HBS.

While I will not be applying to most b-schools, I wanted to talk about not applying to Harvard in particular, since it is widely considered as one of the top business schools in the world. It would have been interesting to send in my application just to get a definitive answer, but not at the expense of submitting less compelling applications for my target schools. Attending HBS would not have been a magic bullet, in any case. In the end, any one of the top schools I am applying to will enable me to achieve my career goals, as long as I put in the necessary time and effort. First though, I have to get in.

This post is adapted from Just Ship, a blog written by an anonymous MBA applicant who has a GMAT score above 760 and is targeting six or seven of the top ten business schools. You can read all of his posts at Just Ship.

Previous posts by Just Ship at Poets&Quants:

“Just One of 4,653 Applicants Trying To Get Into A Top B-School”