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How to Prove You Belong at HBS

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted

You’re driven. You’re ambitious. Of course you are: you’re applying to Harvard Business School. But like many applicants, you may be wondering if you have what it takes to get accepted. How can you show HBS that you’re a perfect fit?

If you’re feeling a little anxious (or more than a little) about this, you’re not the only one. The application process can be stressful, because competition is fierce. Elite schools like HBS can afford to be choosy. They’re not just looking for strong academics and a record of achievement – they also want to see that your goals match what they can offer you, and that you will be a great “fit” in their culture and contribute to their program.

Our experience helping HBS applicants get accepted has given us insight into how you can demonstrate that perfect fit. As you research HBS and prepare your application, here are some areas to explore more deeply:

#1: The leadership-driven mission

The HBS mission to “Educate leaders who make a difference in the world” is real. From Walter A. Haas Jr. (CEO of Levi Strauss) to Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York City) to Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and thousands of other movers and shakers, Harvard Business School graduates are innovating and leading change.

How have you demonstrated leadership in your past experiences – professional, academic, extracurricular? How will you continue to cultivate your leadership skills in the future? How will you make a difference at HBS and beyond?

#2: The curriculum

At HBS, the case method (about 90% of the curriculum) is complemented by experiential learning (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development, or FIELD). Students have extensive opportunities for hands-on practice in the art and science of decision-making and management.

How does this approach reflect the way you learn? How is it a great fit for your goals?

#3: The community

HBS prides itself on its strong network and sense of community. How will the program’s cohort system, study groups, and other opportunities for student involvement give you the chance to engage fully as a member of this community? How have you engaged in your communities in the past? Do your research and use your application to show how you will contribute to this vibrant community.

Showing “fit” requires research and introspection – this isn’t about telling the adcom things they already know from their own website or about rehashing platitudes. You need to do your homework, understand what makes HBS an ideal program for you, and then show the adcom not just THAT you belong, but HOW you belong.


Need more help showing your fit at HBS? Register for our live webinar, Get Accepted to Harvard Business School, on Thursday, July 6th at 10am PT/1pm ET and 5 pm/8 pm to learn the steps you can take to convince the Harvard adcom that you have what it takes to succeed!

Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, US News, and Poets&Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.