The MBA program at Harvard receives more applications than any other business school in the world. If HBS is what you are looking for, your next step should be to discover what they are looking for—make sense?
While HBS makes no bones about their three main criteria for successful applicants, you must undertake some serious analysis if you want to convince them you demonstrate all three. Falling short in any area will make for a tough run at the most popular business school in the world.
Habit of Leadership.
It’s not enough to talk about your plans to lead. For HBS, professional leadership experience is a must. Make sure you talk about both why and how you are a good leader and be prepared with specific, but brief examples to back it up. Don’t forget about personal, community and extracurricular leadership experience as well, all of which will be considered by Harvard.
Analytical Aptitude and Appetite.
Like most business schools, HBS does not indicate a preference for any particular major or career path, but it does require of all its MBA candidates to be good communicators who also have a comfort level with quantitative analytics. Intellectual curiosity is a common trait across the entire student body at Harvard, and one of the best indicators of such is your own academic track record. Harvard actually cares more about your GPA and college pedigree than they do about GMAT score. Hopefully you have the golden transcript that will make the right impression, but if not, you might consider building an alternative transcript if you have time to do so.
Engaged Community Citizenship.
HBS has more corporate CEOs in their alumni ranks than any other business school, which ultimately stems from their picking students who get involved. While Harvard takes great pride in building the next generation of leaders, they know that it all starts well before students arrive on campus. Before applying to HBS, make sure you are not only the type of person who has been involved and engaged in your school and community but are also prepared to explain how you will continue to do so as an HBS colleague and alumnus. HBS expects each of their 900+ students to contribute their unique perspective both in the classroom and in the campus community, so selling them on how yours would be particularly valuable will put you a step ahead of the applicant pack.