Ding Time At HBS, Round One

For a couple of thousand hopeful candidates who applied to Harvard Business School in time for its round one deadline, today (Oct. 5) will likely be a day of disappointment. Starting at approximately noon EST, HBS will send out its remaining invites for an admissions interview but will largely notify the applicants who didn’t quite make the cut. In the more gentle language of highly selective admissions, HBS calls rejection a “release” and labels “waitlisted” candidates as those getting “further consideration.”

For the admissions team at Harvard, which only admits 11% of the nearly 10,000 candidates who annually apply for admission to its MBA program, it’s also a tough day because the school is mostly dinging a group of extraordinary would-be students who are fully qualified to go to HBS and do well in its program. After all, it’s a self-selecting group of high achievers who apply to Harvard. But with only 930 seats in an incoming class, the system is designed to turn down the vast majority of candidates.

Dings often mean that a school just liked other candidates a bit more than the ones they turn down. Rejection, however, can still be nuanced or rather obvious, especially to those who have been turned away. Typically, the most common reasons for getting dinged are varied–and often there is a combination of them. Bad timing. Poor execution on the application. A low GPA. Graduating with your bachelor’s from a less-than-stellar college. Working for an employer that is not known for sending candidates to Harvard or Stanford. No visible advancement in your job.


Get Sandy Kriesberg's advice to make handicapping your odds of getting in possible

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Once again, HBSGuru Sandy Kreisberg, a prominent MBA admissions consultant, has agreed to lend some insight into why a person didn’t quite make it through this round one hurdle. Sandy has been analyzing the profiles and raw stats of jilted candidates for PoetsandQuants.com for several years. If you’ve been dinged, let him know your stats in the comment section below and he’ll tell you why he thinks you’ve been turned down. (Please only post if you were rejected. For forthcoming applicants, Sandy’s regular handicapping series will resume shortly.)

Many candidates who take a shot at HBS usually apply to an array of business schools. In fact, many other elite schools report a cascading effect on acceptances of their admits when HBS releases waitlisted applicants. So just because you’ve been dinged by HBS doesn’t mean you won’t be getting an invite from another great MBA program, one that may even suit you better than Harvard.


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