Following up on Harvard’s May 22 announcement of significant changes to the way Harvard Business School will admit its next class of MBAs, Admissions Director Deirdre Leopold began holding a series of webinars last week that continue today (June 7). During the session, Leopold is bringing would-be applicants through the changes which cut the required essays on the application to two from four and added a brief essay to be written within 24 hours of an admissions interview.
In a series of succinct slides, Leopold explains how the school receives about 9,500 applications, interviews about 1,800 people and ultimately makes offers to about 1,000 to get an entering class of roughly 900 MBA students.
The slides, along with Leopold’s own running commentary, bring no new revelations to Harvard’s admissions process, just a neat measure of clarity and directness.
And in a lively question-and-answer period that follows the slide presentation, Leopold explains, among other things, why essays on applications have become less useful to admissions. “We’ve noticed that essays can feel over-crafted, over-written, over-thought, and over-wrought,” she says. “There is much more anxiety about them than is appropriate, given the relative way they play in the process. So we decided to shake things up.”
At another point, she reassures applicants, saying “We are really nice people here. Really really really. We are human, we want to understand, we are not ogres, with hatchets. We will go waaaay down the road to understand the choices you’ve made.”
As Leopold has written, “Our process is the product of an admissions team that is always in design/development mode. All throughout the year we meet and dream up ways that will make it easier for you to feel “understood” and undertake assessment steps that map to what we do here in the classroom and what you will do in your careers. We’re always trying to tweak and improve, and this is what we’ve come up with for the Class of 2015. Welcome to the starting gate.”
After today’s webinar, nine more sessions have already been scheduled through Aug. 16th. Potential applicants need to register to attend these webinars and can do so here.
Dee’s deck and an excerpted transcript of her remarks captures the presentation in its entirely: