MIXED VIEWS ON WHETHER HBS APPS WILL BE UP THIS YEAR
There are mixed opinions as to whether HBS will get a large spike in applications this year. “I would predict that applications continue to hover between nine-thousand and ninety-five hundred as they have for years,” says Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mbaMission, a prominent consulting firm. “There is no real catalyst for change at this point.”
Long-time business school observer Matt Symonds, co-director of Fortuna Admissions, agrees. “It is 12 years since HBS received over 10,000 MBA applications, but I don’t think that is the figure that will be on Dee’s mind with today’s deadline,” he says. “The quality of applicants and volume are likely to be comparable to last year, with maybe a small number of applicants struggling to pull their applications together for a Harvard Round 1 which gets earlier every year.”
On the other hand, Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com, is far more positive about an uptick in apps. “I think HBS’s apps are going to be up at least 10%,” predicts Abraham. “Its brand is absolutely magnetic, especially overseas which is sending increasing numbers of applicants to top U.S. business school. Evidence of the HBS pull: We had 2025 unique visitors to our HBS tip post last week alone. Furthermore, Dee Leopold has worked hard to be transparent, informative, and human throughout the process: her blog, the changed tone of the HBS app, and increased student presence at recruiting events are all evidence of a transformation that has only enhanced HBS’s appeal.”
CONSULTANTS THINK HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL WILL ADMIT MORE STARTUP TYPES
One area that both Shinewald and Abraham agree on: Harvard’s desire to have more admits with startup blood in their veins. “More entrepreneurs and more wannabe entrepreneurs will be in the class,” says Abraham. “Only last year HBS started reporting the number of grads who start their own businesses upon graduation. My guess is they want that number to increase. It was about 7% vs Stanford 18%, MIT 9%, and Wharton 7.5%. With a large entrepreneurship faculty and incredible access to venture capital via HBS’s network, HBS makes sense for those interested in entrepreneurship.”
Shinewald, too, believes that HBS will see a significant chunk of apps from entrepreneurs and finance types. “Last year, we saw plenty of successful PE and finance applicants get into HBS,” says Shinewald. “For those who are complaining about a bias against bankers, 31% of the class was from financial services and private equity. I imagine that representation in this area will remain strong. I am sure that as the Ubers and Air BnBs of the world continue to make headlines the AdCom will be impressed by what is fashionable today. Who can blame them? It would be fun to have someone from the frontlines of the “sharing economy” in the classroom, wouldn’t it?”
What is driving the belief that HBS will be tilting toward more entrepreneurial candidates is competition. That’s especially true, thinks Symonds, for applications from STEM and technology backgrounds. “Because if Harvard shows any signs of weakness in their market appeal, it is among those who increasingly see the West Coast B-schools – both Stanford and UC Berkeley Haas – as a more interesting alternative, with a vibrant tech sector and entrepreneurial culture,” he says. “Harvard doesn’t like to lose top talent to any other school – why would they? But they face stiff competition from schools who look to change lives, and question the status quo.”
‘WICKED WEDNESDAY’ TO COME
Typically, it takes two to three months to hear back from a school with the verdict on your application. Despite the early Sept. 9 deadline at HBS, the school says candidates won’t get a decision until three full months later on Dec. 10. Stanford will notify applicants in its first round on the same date as HBS but you don’t have to apply to the school until Oct. 1, three weeks after the Harvard application deadline.
Most schools have three application deadlines, but that’s not always the case. MIT Sloan has just two, with a round one deadline of Sept. 22 and a round two final deadline of Jan. 8. Dartmouth’s Tuck School, on the other hand, has four rounds, starting with an early action date of Oct. 8 and an April round deadline of April 1. Columbia Business School is different from most of its peer schools in having a rolling decisions schedule with an early decision deadline of Oct. 8 where applicants have to agree that once accepted they will attend Columbia and withdraw their applications from other schools. The final deadline at Columbia is April 15.
Despite HBS’s early deadline, several top schools set their early bird deadlines for Oct. 1, a day that admissions consultant Paul Bodine is calling “Wicked Wednesday.” That’s because several of the most highly selective schools have all established their first deadlines on that day, including Stanford, Wharton, Haas, and Cornell.
DON’T MISS: 2014-2015 MBA APPLICATION DEADLINES