What Harvard MBA Virtual Admissions Events Are Like
The COVID-19 pandemic forced b-schools across the nation to shift their courses online back in March. And following suit, many in-person events and functions had to be canceled only to be brought back in a virtual state.
At Harvard Business School, two primary admissions programs – the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP) and Peek Weekend—went virtual this summer due to the pandemic. Despite the fact that attendees didn’t meet in-person, the virtual gatherings still saw great success, according to an article by the HBS Newsroom.
“One silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic is that it provided an opportunity to expand virtual admissions events beyond what we thought was possible,” Kate Bennett, director of marketing for MBA Admissions at HBS, tells Newsroom. “We were able to reach a far higher number of prospective students—an unprecedented number of universities, majors, and interests—than in person, yet still in a high quality and meaningful way.”
VIRTUAL VENTURE IN MANAGEMENT
SVMP was launched nearly 38 years ago in an attempt to increase diversity at HBS. The program is a one-week residential education program for rising college seniors. Participants attend faculty-led class discussions on current management issues, analyze real-business cases, and work with morning study groups and classes to examine and debate their ideas through lively interaction with peers and faculty.
The goal of the program, according to Brook Dennard Rosser, assistant director of MBA Admissions and diversity outreach at HBS, is to ensure participants get a better understanding of the HBS MBA community and how an MBA can be applied to a variety of careers.
“I wanted this audience of college-age students, who are still thinking through who they are and who they want to become, to see that an MBA should be an option they consider in building out their educational toolkit,” Rosser tells Newsroom. “Business school may not be where they ultimately land, but it shouldn’t be because they didn’t know it was an option, or how it could be beneficial to their career trajectory.”
This year, the program was reimagined as the Virtual Venture in Management (VVM). VVM offered similar sessions and learnings as the in-person SVMP. However, officials dropped the rigorous application process, travel costs, and associated requirements that came with the in-person event.
This year’s VVM program saw 1,7000 registrants representing 399 universities across 47 states. 46% were first-generation college students. Students kicked off their first week with an introduction to the case method by studying the LeBron James case and gathered virtually on Zoom and Slack to participate in discussions, panels with SVMP and HBS alumni, and informational sessions facilitated by the MBA Admissions and Financial Aid team. The finale of the program featured a Zoom chat with singer Ciara and her husband, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who offered words and wisdom and inspiration to participants.
VIRTUAL PEEK EXPERIENCE
Peek Weekend traditionally allows undergraduate students to take a peek into life as an HBS MBA student. Participants attend a weekend-long event by living on campus, participating in classes, and meeting students and alumni.
This year, Peek Weekend went online as the Virtual Peek Experience with 2,000 registrants including 32% first-generation college students and 10% community college students—groups underrepresented at graduate business schools. The Virtual Peek Experience included an informational Q&A session with HBS admissions officers, an introduction to the case method, and an interactive virtual version of the program’s most popular discussion; authentic leadership with Professor Scott Snook.
By removing travel cost barriers and physical capacity limitations, the Virtual Peek Experience was able to reach a wider pool of students interested in experience life at HBS as an MBA student.
“In-person Peek gave us the ability to create personal interactions that humanized our institution for undergraduates who might have not personally connected with us before,” Liz Hutchinson, MBA Admissions college outreach manager at HBS, tells Newsroom. “The Virtual Peek Experience gave us an opportunity to provide similar value to a much larger audience, which now has an affirming and thoughtful experience with the HBS brand, whether or not they choose to engage in the future.”