LARGEST GROUP OF THIS YEAR’S STUDENTS HAVE FOUR YEARS OF WORK EXPERIENCE
At Harvard, Leopold also revealed that the median work experience for this year’s class was four years since college. “Plenty of incoming students coming before and after, but wanted you to see this,” wrote Leopold, who did her annual release of a histogram of the years separating current students from their undergraduate experiences.
The chart shows that the largest group of first-year, or RC (for required curriculum), students have been out of their undergraduate colleges for four years. Some 261 students, or 27.9% of the total, fit that description. The second largest chunk, 238 RCs, or 25.4%, had racked up five years of work experience.
Bottom line: 499 of the 937 students, or 53.3%, in the Class of 2017 make up the apparent sweet spot, with four to five years out of college.
A TREND? HBS SEEMS TO BE SHIFTING AWAY FROM APPLICANTS WITH LESS THAN FOUR YEARS OF WORK EXPERIENCE
If there is a discernible trend in the numbers, it is that Harvard appears to be enrolling slightly older students. Only one student in the class of 937 has as little as one year of work experience, and just 23 boast more than ten years.
The biggest year-over-year change this year has to do with the percentage of incoming students with just two years of experience. They are down 37.9% to 41 from 66 last year. Even students with just three years experience fell, though slightly, to 153 from 159 a year earlier.
The trend becomes ever more apparent when you look at the numbers over the full three years displayed in the histogram. The number of students in this year’s incoming class with three or fewer years of experience have fallen by 24.4% since 2013 to 195 from 258. Meantime, students with four to six years of experience have risen by 11% to 623 from 561. The biggest year-over-year increase was in the five years category, a 17.6% jump to 238 this year from 196 a year earlier.
‘YOU NEED WORK EXPERIENCE TO BE AT HBS BUT THERE IS NO RIGHT TIME TO COME’
As Leopold makes clear, “The common sense advice still holds: You need work experience to be at HBS, but there is no universal ‘right time to come,'” she added. “Also worth noting: This really does change from year-to-year.”
Massar says the table also debunks the myth that HBS only admits those with a certain amount of work experience. “I constantly direct students toward the years-of-experience histogram,” she says. “It’s also a great myth debunker and there’s usually something for everyone
to feel hopeful about.”