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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

July 03, 2012

HBS MBA 2+2 Class of 2017 Application

This is the eighth in series of eight posts. My analysis of the HBS Application for the Class of 2015 (and 2+2 Class of 2017) consists of:
My comprehensive service clients have been admitted to the regular HBS MBA for the Classes of 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2005 and one 2+2 client admitted to the Class of 2014. My clients' results and testimonials can be found here. In addition to providing comprehensive application counseling on HBS, I regularly help additional candidates with HBS interview preparation. I have worked with a large number of applicants from Canada, Europe, India, Japan, other parts of Asia, and the United States on HBS application. I think that this range of experience has helped me understand the many possible ways of making an effective application to HBS. In the posts in this series, I provide insights based on that experience.

2+2 Program
This will be the shortest of my posts in this series because from an application viewpoint there are only two differences between applying for the MBA Class of 2015 and the applying to join the 2+2 Program for the Class of 2014:
As the second point is not actually something I need to discuss, we have only the issue of recommendations, which is certainly worth considering. After discussing recommendations, I will discuss three issues that I consider worth mentioning.

Two Recommendations
Before reading any further I suggest you first review my main post on HBS recommendations.  Many college students will find it useful to have an academic recommendation, but this is not strictly speaking necessary. If you think your recommenders from your work or extracurricular activities will be better, it is reasonable to use them.  Keep in mind that the person should be in real position of superiority and not your peer.  A supervisor from a meaningful part-time job or internship would certainly be appropriate. If you have served as a research assistant, grader, or teaching assistant to a professor, that can also work quite well. If you think that you don't have any useful non-academic references, just use the two professors who you think know you best and will be able to support your application the most effectively.

Who is the 2+2 Program for?
In other words, they are looking for academically accomplished college students who have clear leadership potential and demonstrated analytical skills. Based on my limited experience working with 2+2 applicants (1 admit in 2009, 1 ding after interview in 2011, and 1 ding without interview in 2010), this program is best for those who have a truly outstanding background. My one client who was dinged without interview was solid, but compared to both the admit and the client dinged after interview, not impressive. I would at this point only work with a client on 2+2 if they were truly outstanding. A combination of clear academic abilities, demonstrated leadership (this should be conceived in a very broad way and need not take the form of just running some sort of organization or activity), community engagement, and that highly subjective quality of just being someone who stands out from their peers, makes for the best candidate for this program. It is clearly for high achievers.

Interviewing for 2+2
Please read my main post on interviewing at HBS. Take this interview very seriously and be very prepared for it. From the reports I have read, HBS admissions officers don't really treat 2+2 applicants especially gently.  If you have limited experience interviewing, you really need to get practice and feedback from an admissions consultant, someone with significant experience as an interviewer, an interview coach, and/or HBS students and alumni.  Ideally, a combination of these would be best.  Don't just rely on your parents, siblings, and friends unless they fit into the categories I previously mentioned.

Alternatives to HBS 2+2? Stanford GSB! 
No other MBA program offers something like 2+2 in terms of being a program that is designed to support admits before they actually enter the MBA program.  That said, Stanford GSB does offer both direct and deferred enrollment to the MBA program to college seniors. Like HBS, they encourage promising college seniors to apply. They are looking for exactly the same sort of profile as HBS. The deferred enrollment option allows for college seniors to work for one to three years prior to entering Stanford. Details can found here.  I would encourage applicants to 2+2 to also consider application to Stanford.  While neither program is easy to get into, admission or rejection from one for strong candidates does not have any baring on how you will do at the other.  If you would be happy attending either of these schools, I do recommend making application to both of them.

-Adam Markus

I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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