Harvard | Ms. Marketing Family Business
GMAT 750- first try so might retake for a higher score (aiming for 780), GPA Lower Second Class Honors (around 3.0)
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tech Startup Guy
GMAT 770, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Nigerian Investment Banker
GMAT 720, GPA 3.57
Harvard | Ms. FMCG Enthusiast Seeking Second MBA
GMAT 730, GPA 3.1
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Harvard | Mr. French In Japan
GMAT 720, GPA 14,3/20 (French Scale), (=Roughly 3.7/4.0)
Tuck | Mr. Army Consultant
GMAT 460, GPA 3.2
Columbia | Mr. Investment Banker Turned Startup Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Tuck | Ms. BFA To MBA
GMAT 700, GPA 3.96
Wharton | Mr. Chemical Engineering Dad
GMAT 710, GPA 3.50
Wharton | Mr. Ignacio
GMAT 730, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Psychology & Marketing
GMAT 700, GPA 68%
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Mechanical Engineer & Blood Bank NGO
GMAT 480, GPA 2.3
Harvard | Mr. Investor & Operator (2+2)
GMAT 720, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. AC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.5
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Athlete-Engineer To Sales
GMAT 720, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Mr. Competition Lawyer
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Pipeline Engineer To Consulting
GMAT 750, GPA 3.76
Tuck | Mr. Aspiring Management Consultant
GRE 331, GPA 3.36
Stanford GSB | Mr. Certain Engineering Financial Analyst
GMAT 700, GPA 2.52
Columbia | Mr. Electrical Engineering
GRE 326, GPA 7.7
Foster School of Business | Mr. Automotive Research Engineer
GRE 328, GPA 3.83
Tepper | Ms. Coding Tech Leader
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Big 4 M&A Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 2:1 (Upper second-class honours, UK)
Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
GMAT 710, GPA 10.6 out of 12

Diaries Of A Darkhorse: Cutting The BS Out Of My HBS Essay

Harvard Business School

Ben Fouch, an aspiring member of the MBA Class of 2021, will be documenting his journey as an applicant every other week in his “Diaries of a Darkhorse” column. He works on the corporate development team at Booz Allen Hamilton on the sourcing, valuing, and structuring of potential M&A deals., Among his target schools is Harvard Business School. He was also a 2017 Best & Brightest business major with Poets&Quants.

A snarky fortune cookie once told me, “Your greatest enemy is yourself”. If the author’s fortune writing career didn’t work out, I’ll bet this person would’ve made a great M.B.A. admissions consultant. When it comes to this year’s Harvard Business School prompt, my challenge for has not been answering a trick question. Instead, the struggle is not overengineering it and tricking myself into answering what I think I should.

This year’s prompt is the following:

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?”

Seems easy enough. They’re not asking any funky technical questions like, ‘How many golf balls could fit into a Boeing 747.’ There’s no zany prompt that demands a clever answer like “Find x”. It’s a question with no boundaries. That makes it ambiguous in how you should answer. In the face of that kind of ambiguity, I’ve found the biggest obstacle to answering the question is myself.

Any successful application needs to tell a good story. We all know what a good story is like. It’s coherent, logical, engaging, and, (most importantly) resonates. Being able to articulate how I went from living next to horses and cows to working in finance and startups is a complicated story – just like the countless other unique stories applicants are bringing with them. Starting out, I wasn’t sure how to explain it all without leaving the reader with their eyes crossed and steam coming out of their ears from the effort to keep track.

Benjamin Fouch

Making sense of it all was a process of trial-and-error, and that was just the first step. It seems like admissions cares about our experiences, Even more important, they are concerned with our values we display through those experiences. So after months of thinking about it, I’d grown a solid handle on how I wanted to share my story. Now the hard part is finding how to squeeze all that thinking into an essay of a few hundred words in a way that shows those values.

Twelve drafts later, I was short on paper, shorter on patience, and shortest of all on ideas. I had a grasp of what I wanted to say, but not how to put it on the page. With a prompt so vague, I felt a pressure to come up with something unique, engaging, and eye-catching. From one-off stories to hook the admissions team to heartfelt descriptions of my passions, my attempts ran the whole gamut. I found I was fighting my voice and trying to create something that I thought they wanted.

What all of this writing has pounded into my head is that it isn’t about picking the perfect topic. It’s about honesty and clarity. If we speak honestly about our experiences, and we convey them in a clear way, our natural voice is going to shine through. There may not be fireworks, but they will get the essence of what we are about.

My mistake during the process was fixating on a word I used earlier; I was wondering how an applicant should answer. I’ve come to realize that there is no normative guide. Each applicant can use a different approach, and it doesn’t have to be rhetorical fireworks. Sharing what I’ve done, why I did it, and how I’ve grown from it into a viable applicant are the building blocks of any successful essay. If those blocks are sound, then how you put them together (within reason) becomes an exercise in creativity, rather than an attempt to conform to a standard.

Originally from Indiana, Ben graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Finance and Political Science. While at Notre Dame he co-founded Dark Horse Sports Recruiting, an undergraduate academic and athletic admissions consulting service. He enjoys baking, dad jokes, alternative history novels, and obstacle course races.

DON’T MISS:  Diaries of a Darkhorse: The Subtle Art of Choosing a Recommender