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

May 16, 2014

Columbia, HBS, and Stanford Essays and Recs

While Columbia Business School is the only one of the three to actually have the application online for 2015 entry, Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB have also announced their essay and recommendation topics.

I have already written about Stanford’s Class of 2017 essays and recommendations very briefly in Stanford GSB cuts 1 Essay and 1 Recommendation for Fall 2015 Admission (the full essay analysis will follow very soon).  Stanford actually has made the biggest changes of the three schools in terms of what blog post title indicates. 

I am actually working on Columbia Business School essay post now and will get it up very soon (It is up now).  I have already posted my recommendation analysis for 2015 entry.  Columbia has changed the topic of one essay and a done a few modifications to some of the others.  They also further simplified their recommendation.

And HBS?  The biggest change is their new Round 1 deadline of September 9th!  That is one week earlier than last year. This is extremely early,  but given the October 1st deadlines at Wharton (Essays not yet announced, but given what CBS, HBS, and Stanford have just done, they should!)  and Stanford, those that start on HBS early will be in a good position.  MIT's round 1 deadline is September 23rd (Essays not yet up).  Here is what Dee posted on the the “From the Admissions Director” blog:
“This is what the (optional) "essay" question will be:

“You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, academic transcripts, extracurricular activities, awards, post-MBA career intentions, test scores, and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?"
Use your judgment as to how much to tell us. We don’t have a “right answer” or “correct length” in mind. We review all the elements of your written application to decide who moves forward to the interview stage.
Why are we repeating this question when we usually dream up something new? In fact, I went on record last year as saying that we'd ALWAYS be changing the essay question. I was wrong. We liked it. When we look at the responses of admitted candidates, there was a wider-than-usual range of how folks approached it. Some are completely about professional lives, others barely mention work experience. Some are very brief, others are not.
And, sorry to repeat myself, but getting into HBS isn't an essay-writing contest. If we were to publish 50 "essays that worked" and another 50 that "didn't work", I would challenge anyone to make a perfect distinction. It's just one element of the application.
Now, on to recommender questions:
• How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)
• Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (250 words)
The application itself will go "live" in mid-June. I'll post here when we've got a definite date. And please watch our website for both our in-person information sessions around the world and our informational webinars.
And finally, something you may want to know: Round One application deadline will be September 9, 2014. Interviews, by invitation only, will be conducted from mid-October through end of November. Notification will be on or around December 10.”

So, no change to the essay or recommendations.  Round Two deadlines are not yet indicated.  My essay analysis for HBS, expanded from last year, will be up soon.

I look forward to seeing what kinds of changes, if any, Wharton, MIT,  Booth, Kellogg, and the rest make.

-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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