This post has been marked as OLD. It may still be useful, but the essay questions discussed are not current. Here's the HBS MBA essays that everyone's sweating over today.
OK you overeager Brave Supplicants. Yes we know it’s exciting. Yes we understand how much you want to go to HBS. We’re doing all that we can to keep up with all the enthusiasm this week over the release of those HBS questions. (Oh wait. It’s only Wednesday.)
Here are our very first off-the-top-of-our-heads dos and don’ts about that nasty little HBS question 4:
1. This essay must be STRATEGIC. HBS does not have an “optional essay.” If there’s anything in your profile that you need to explain, do it here. Note, this does not mean whining about why you didn’t do well on the GMAT. (If you need a refresher on why that’s not a good idea, please spend more time on this blog. Like here. And here. And maybe here.) Instead, this essay is an ideal place to talk about how you worked your way through college (maybe offering a hint of why your grades were a little low) — or perhaps how you’re the first person in your family to go to college.
2. This essay must be STRATEGIC* — for you, not just for the school. Because think about it: What could be the reason they’re asking this question? Could it be, say, a setup? Or even a TRAP? No, we don’t really think that the HBS adcom is trying to trick you. BUT it could be a very very elegant and simple way for them to get you to REVEAL YOUR CARDS.
Because if you do the lazy sloppy easy thing — the thing that COUNTLESS APPLICANTS WILL DO — you will simply RE-USE AN ESSAY THAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN FOR ANOTHER SCHOOL.
Now, at the time of this writing, there is “no other school.” In other words, only Harvard has released its essay questions, so the Brave Supplicants reading these words when they are freshly minted and new (that is, in May of 2011) will be sitting there thinking, “But I don’t have any other essays written yet.”
Aha! But you will! If you’re smart, you will be applying to more than just Harvard. Sure, right now, Harvard is the only school you’re thinking about, since it’s the only one with the blasted essays available already. But come a few short weeks and months, you will be knee-deep in essays for a bunch of other schools. Schools with other essay questions. Questions which seem perfect to use for this “what do you wish we’d asked?” box that the HBS adcom is squeezing you into.
What many many Brave Supplicants will do is, find an essay that they’ve written for another school, that’s dissimilar to the previous three questions that HBS has asked, that’s about the same length, not too much longer, and they will simply do a save-as on that beeeooootifull work of art, and slap it up into their Harvard application.
Voila! Timesaver! Done!
That is so funny little Brave Supplicant. You cute little BS person you. You ultimate BSer.
Dontchya think that maybe perhaps just possibly the HBS adcom is AWARE of these other schools’ questions and KNOWS what their competition is asking? (Well, not “competition” really, since we all know that no other school is on par with HBS. Right Brave Supplicant?)
Dontchya think that just maybe, this will at best make them go “hmm ok this kid is also applying to X school” and at worst they will think you’re a lazy slob who doesn’t even care enough about oh-so-laudable Hah-vawd that you can be bothered to write a new essay for them?
OK we’re being harsh. It’s early. We have not had enough coffee yet.
(One reason we like being anonymous is that we can say things like “Haw-vawd” and not feel like we’re offending anyone. Anyone who knows us at least. And it’s not like anyone really reads this here blog. Or maybe it’s a “blahg”. OH MY GOD WE NEVER KNEW IT BEFORE YES WE WRITE A BLAHG — lightbulb on — wow that just made our day.)
We will be coming back to these Harvard essay questions again. Perhaps multiple times. We’re actually very pleased with them. ‘cept for that last monster. Ugh we see challenges up ahead.
* Oh wait. We already said that. Sheesh, EssaySnark, can’t you be more original??