In continuing on with our pondering of this tormentuous* essay 4 from Harvard this year:
Yes, we know that Harvard often asks this type of question in their interviews (thanks MSP for reminding us) — a couple other schools do that, too. So we agree, perhaps not too surprising that they slapped it into the main essays now. (Wonder if they’ll still ask it in the interviews this year?)
In an interview — or here now, as part of your main application — one key element that it’s testing is the candidate’s self-awareness of his/her own profile. How much do you understand: a) what bschool is about; b) what type of person typically goes to bschool; c) what THIS bschool — aka HBS — is about; d) what type of person typically goes to HBS; and e) the all-important self-assessment of where you fall short?
So sure, this can be an interesting question for the adcom to use as an essay.
But you know what? We bet there’s one other major ingredient that played into their selection of this question this year:
They’re bored. It’s can be gawdawful boring to read essay after essay on the same question. HBS gets, what, 8,000 applications each year? Even if your job was to read just 10% of those… you’d go stir crazy. The essays all blur together and start sounding alike after awhile.
Certainly, having applicants come up with their own questions to answer will mix things up a bit for those HBSers.
It’s also likely a main motivation behind the big shift in question strategy at CBS this year, too.
We’ll see where the other schools take their applications, now that these first ones have set the stage for us.
*Yes we know that’s not a word. But we’re EssaySnark. We get to make stuff up if we want to.