Who can argue with the validity of that statement?
The thing is, anybody who’s ever said that to us did not make it into Harvard.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We don’t think a “throw it at the wall and see what will stick” strategy will work out for you.
Because it’s not a strategy.
Despite what you may have heard from a wide range of so-called admissions consultants, applying to business school is not a numbers game.
We know plenty of people toss out an app to HBS even if they don’t believe it will work out for them. The whole “can’t win if you don’t play” mentality. But doesn’t that seem like a waste of time and energy?
Even more to the point: Doesn’t that actually represent a bald admission that you have no clue what Harvard is looking for?
We acknowledge, this whole getting-in thing is murky at best. Most people DON’T know what Harvard is looking for.
But if you spend some time here on the blahg (and if you pick up our Harvard MBA admissions guide) then you will KNOW what Harvard is looking for.
We write about it all the time.
Same with Stanford. Our 2015 Stanford MBA application guide in particular goes into great detail on how the Stanford admissions team approaches their process of selecting their students.
Read through the resources available here and educate yourself.
Pick the schools that are the right match to you and your goals – and your profile.
The process of developing a strong pitch takes time. Sure, the HBS deadline is one of the earlier ones. We’re very pleased that Harvard has officially extended the admissions season by forcing lots of BSers to start the heavy lifting of writing their essays so much earlier. This ends up creating higher-quality submissions to all the schools (at least, it sometimes does). If you tackle those Harvard essays first, then it’s not a wasted exercise, even if you don’t get in, because it’ll get you into essay-writing mode earlier, and believe it or not, your later essays for other schools are likely to be much stronger. So there could be some value to applying to Harvard, if only because it makes you get up off your duff and start working.
But if you’re applying to Harvard just because somebody’s gonna get in and maybe it’ll be me? and you don’t really KNOW if you have a true shot or not… well, we’ve gotta question that. (BTW, our Comprehensive Profile Review is very helpful in offering an objective view into your situation in that regard, or if you’re finished with your essays, our Sanity Check can let you know whether to click that Submit button or not – yes, we’re even doing those over this holiday weekend.)
Please don’t misunderstand, Brave Supplicant. We’re not saying to not go for your dreams. But the dream of Harvard is best made into reality when you know the landscape and understand the realities and have an honest assessment of your chances.
It’s also the best way to temper expectations and avoid massive disappointment.
Related to that: Here’s a post on how many apps you should plan for if you want to be more strategic on all of this.
And to sum up:
Yes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. But you also miss a high percent of the shots that you don’t train for.
Getting into HBS requires training. It’s not about luck.