Updated: June 2016
Our “How to Apply to HBS” Guide is the starting point for a prospective applicant to the Harvard Business School. This 15-page white paper is available for immediate download and is provided to prospective applicants at no cost.
Our 10-step HBS guide will help you understand all of the key hot button issues and major thematic touch points – as well as critical admissions strategies and tips – that will make or break your prospects for gaining admission to the world’s most coveted business schools.
In the admissions consulting business, we love to ask the question, "Where are you applying?" And applicants appear to equally enjoy giving an answer that starts with "HBS, of course." HBS, of course. The first rule of applying to Harvard Business School is to understand that everyone applies to Harvard Business School. Applying to HBS isn't a novel exercise, but rather the first box on a checklist for virtually every candidate pursuing an MBA from an elite program.
So what does this mean you shouldn't apply to HBS? Of course not. But it does mean two critical things:
- Your interest in HBS must rise above "it's HBS"
- You absolutely must do everything right
To the latter point, doing things “right” includes not just what you do, but what you don’t do. It’s about handling your business with total confidence, self-possession, assuredness, and mastery. It’s about stepping into a world of ambiguity and not breaking even a hint of a sweat. Harvard has so much talent to choose from that it’s almost an impossible task to sort it out, so one thing they have done is introduced some stress and then watched to see who handles it. Basically, you don’t have to be perfect when you apply to Harvard, but you have to be perfectly composed. You have to own who you are, know when and where your personal expectations took shape, understand the path you are on, and – above all else – know how to put one foot in front of the other without doubting yourself along the way.
Quite honestly, if you are a legit candidate at HBS and have dreams of going there, this is a place to invest some resources and hire someone who can coach you through the process. You will not only submit a better app and stay closer to that ideal of perfection, but you will also grow and evolve as a person – that’s just the kind of app process it is. Nothing builds character more than navigating ambiguity and coming out the other side. For those who can’t afford services, we have created this 10-step approach to applying to HBS that can at least help you set the right path. Indeed, the following guide will help keep you on the straight and narrow as you undertake the nerve-racking task of applying to the world's most famous business school.