If you are looking to find out whether you can crack Harvard Business School or not based on your profile. I will give you very simple yet very effective ways to understand where you stand. You will also understand what you can do to improve your chances for HBS.
I have created 5 categories based on your work experience, GMAT, GPA, undergrad College, your current organization, and extracurricular activities. Read till the end to understand what category do you fall in and also what you can do to jump into a higher category. I will give very specific inputs so that you do not waste time. Just look at these 5 categories, and work your way up.
Before we dive deeper into the 5 categories of prospective Harvard MBA applicants, let me share some HBS Important facts.
HBS Important Facts
The average GMAT Score- 730 and GRE – 326. Similarly, the average work experience of 4.7 years, and 3.7 GPA. Which means, when you start your applications to Harvard business school, you will have 3 to 3.5 years of work experience, and by the time you start your MBA, you will have 4.5 to 5 years of work experience.
As you can see, Economics, and business majors, and STEM backgrounds cover roughly 80% of the whole class.
9000+ people apply to Harvard Business school every year, and this is the global representation of what the diversity looks like and they roughly take 10% of the applicants.
Now that we know the facts, let me divide the applicant pool into 5 major categories. And you will know your category and you will also know your options if you want to move up in the order.
GMAT 750+, with experience in the target group of companies (your organization recruits from the school), has worked McKinsey, Bain, BCG or Bulge Bracket Investment Banks, Top Tier consulting firms, private equity firms, Facebook, Google, Microsoft for 4 to 5 years, completed his undergrad from a top 3 to 4 college of your country (IIT’s for India) and has a GPA to the north of 3.6. By the way, a lot of people will take over a 100 people from McKinsey and Goldman Sachs
Excellent Extra-curricular activities would help. That means you have been regular at a team-based sports activity such as Football, Cricket, Basketball etc. and have represented your college/City etc. You are very active in the alumni association of your college and have done decent charity work.
You are a very strong applicant for Harvard. If you are a“SHE”, with the same stats, the chances are even better as you will help them fill two of their Minority buckets, %age of internationals, and percentage of Women, and the third one %age of international women. And if you are an Engineer from a Top College in your country like IIT in India, or a Top Business or economics major, you are on fire.
You have everything from Category 1, but you do not belong to the target list of the companies, or are not a part of the Fortune 500 or the Fortune 1000 list, and work for a lesser-known organization. But you have everything else from the category 1 plus the organisation that you have worked for has done some serious funding rounds and is allowing you to do a lot of heavy lifting in execution. You are taking a lot of initiatives, and are working for hand in glove with the executive leadership. Like you are working in a 500 people company and you are getting your hands dirty with scaling products, dealing with money, and essentially doing things that someone at Google with 4 years of work experience won’t get to do easily. Again you should consider applying to Harvard.
You have everything from the Category 2, and your GMAT score is in the 750-760 range and the company you work for is not heard of, and you are average in extracurriculars. You should understand this that even though Statistics matter at Harvard, but without strong extracurriculars, great undergrad college, only a GMAT Score of 750 to 760 will not work. Find out what is that spike of your life that sets you apart from a lot of people- it could be from any area-professional, community, but you need to prove what makes you special. Also, I will strongly recommend that you try to make a class visit if you think you can sell yourself better in person, and do your interview on grounds of HBS. Instead of being thrown in the ALSO applied pile, you will at least show your face and prove that you made an effort.
Consider another Scenario:
You have everything from category 1. Everything in your profile is Strong, you have worked at TG and have a strong undergrad GPA. You went to a decent college, but you have a GMAT score of 710 to 720. You can still take your chances if you have a very high Undergrad GPA. Although, if you can take GMAT again, and increase it 15 to 20 points above the average, it will help you with Harvard and with other M7 schools in the Upper A cluster. But remember, you are directly competing with the Category 1. You have the target group of companies, target Undergrad, and yet a lower GMAT Score
You do not work in any of the target group of companies, and do not come from the feeder colleges, and do not have substantial extracurriculars on your resume that make you think that you are maybe one in 10,000 applicants to possess this. Your GMAT score is around 710, or 720, it is very unlikely that you will crack Harvard Business School.
My suggestion for you, increase your GMAT Score by another 30 points, and if possible, find a job in one of the feeder companies if you are still a couple of years away from applying- And GO. You should also apply to other schools in the top 10 to 20 category.
I have covered the profiles that will represent the class majority. I have not talked about the exceptional cases that crack Harvard with 600 or in some years even with less than 600 as those cases are rare as those are not representative of the majority at all.
If you have any questions related to your profile, put them in the comments section, and I will respond to them.