4. Be a work in progress. HBS is obsessed with ‘transforming’ its students, so the persona you should present in your application is someone who is both focused and accomplished, yet open to change. You don’t need to be overly interested in business per se; rather, you need to be interested in the intersection of your personal passion, signature issue, or academic interest with the potential social impact. Thus, if you have a passion for biology, you would do better presenting yourself as someone interested in how biology can cure disease among groups a, b, or c, rather than someone obsessed with Biotech companies and their relative stock values. HBS will “transform” you into the latter.
5. For the 2+2 program, which is new, it is better to pretend to be ‘out of it’ about business than someone who has been obsessed with business ever since your grandfather gave you 100 shares of General Electric for your 10th birthday. HBS is looking for science and artsy kids who otherwise, without HBS’s wonderful 2+2 program, never would have thought about business, and would have gone to (gasp) law school. So, be a techie who was happy being a nerd until, poof, 2+2 came along, and then you discovered you could be a business nerd. Think transformation.
6. In your essays, show what makes you tick; the essays are not brag sheets. Don’t list what you did so much as account for how you were effective getting others, like professors and other students, to help you. Think Tom Sawyer. Get the others to help you paint the fence. Don’t brag about raising money for charity, but explain how you convinced 20 other kids to help you raise money for charity.