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Tips for Harvard’s 2+2 Program Essays

Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program is designed for high-potential college students. The program is comprised of students with at least two years of professional work experience followed by two years in the regular HBS MBA Program.

Jeremy Shinewald, an admissions consultant at mbaMission, recently offered valuable insights into this year’s 2+2 essay prompt, along with practical tips on how to effectively tackle it.

PART 1: PERSONAL ESSAYS

Part 1 of the 2+2 essay questions asks applicants to choose from two of three options:

The HBS classroom and community thrive when we bring together people who can share a variety of perspectives. To get to know you better and how you will engage at HBS, please choose two of the three prompts below to tell us more about yourself:

  • How have your experiences shaped who you are, how you lead, and how you will contribute at HBS?
  • What intellectual experiences have influenced your approach to learning and have led you to pursue an MBA?
  • What communities have you been engaged with that have defined how you invest in others?

Shinewald says there really is no preference for one prompt over another. What matters is choosing a prompt that will allow you to tell a compelling story.

“Start by brainstorming thoroughly; create a complete inventory of your professional, academic, personal, extracurricular, and community experiences, and then identify the ones that fit best with each question,” Shinewald says. “And you absolutely must write honestly about your life. For example, we strongly suggest not submitting a piece on ‘engaging diversity’ if that is not true to who you actually are. It will not help you at all.”

PART 2: CAREER ESSAY

Part two of the essay questions asks applicants the following:

How do the career plans you shared in the Career Plans section of the application fit into your current long-term career vision? What skills and/or professional experiences do you hope to obtain in the deferral period that will help build the foundation for your post-MBA career?

Shinewald recommends approaching this essay by thinking about your short-term career goals and why they’re a fit for you.

“You might immediately connect your short- and long-term goals—and we emphasize connect, because the latter must flow naturally from the former—and then explain how you intend to develop your skills so you are prepared for that path,” he says. “Or you could start by contextualizing your goals and then discuss your career development expectations, which would lead into a discussion of your long-term goals—which, again, need to represent the natural extension of your professional growth.”

When discussing your professional experiences, be thoughtful around how you communicate your goals.

“Avoid your industry’s generalities and cliches, and instead, show the admissions committee that you truly understand how you will develop,” Shinewald says. “Your goal is for the admissions officer to read your submission and think, ‘Now, that is a plan!’”

Sources: mbaMission, Harvard Business School

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