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Harvard MBA Essay Samples: How Five Indian Candidates Overcame Obstacles

Indian MBA applicants are the most oversubscribed part of Harvard Business School applicants. The chances of an Indian applicant being accepted are considerably lower than the estimated overall admission rate of 9%. In fact, it is believed, based on research, that the acceptance rate of US citizens is four to five times higher than the acceptance rate of Indian applicants.

So how do the successful Indian applicants manage to overcome the clutter of applications? The answer is the MBA Admission Test which sets a candidate apart from the crowd of similar candidates. The new collection of admission tests written by successful applicants to HBS was published last week by the editors of The Harbus, the school’s newspaper for MBA students. Among the 32 essays – 10 more than last year’s guidebook – are seven from current Indian students at HBS. Courtesy of The Harbus, Poets and Quants selected five of these statements to provide guidance not only to applicants facing the toughest admission chances, but to all potential applicants hoping to secure a place in an elite MBA class.

Unlike previous guides published by The Harbus, this one is unique in an important way: the editors requested and published standardized test scores, undergraduate grade point averages, and extracurricular participation for every student who shared their essays with the journal editors. Additional data points provide much-needed context to a candidate’s full profile, allowing readers to more thoughtfully assess how their written words combine with their stats to make their applications stand out.


Israt Tarin, CEO of The Harbus and an MBA student in class 2022 at Harvard Business School, considers it a big improvement. “He’s a game changer because he provides that big picture,” she says. “Even for me, when I applied, I was encouraged when I read that someone from the same background had entered. Just by reading the essays, I knew I had the strength to do it. Having the standardized test score and GPA makes it more real. It’s something to connect to. Otherwise, you don’t know exactly what happened to get them across. Having all the data points gives you a better understanding of the person.

In the past, The Harbus would ask for these data points but rarely get them. “All the information we get from students is voluntary,” notes Tarin, a chemical engineering graduate from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science in Pilani, India. “We asked for it in the past but didn’t get it. This year, and congratulations to the students, we asked and they provided it, and we had a lot of interest from the CRs (students of the compulsory program) this year. This year, they kept coming. People are more willing to share their essays. That’s why we have 32 trials, more than last year, and a lot more context behind them. “

The Summer 2021 edition of the MBA Essay Guide sells for $ 64.99 and can be downloaded instantly from the journal’s website (you can read five of the reprinted Indian candidate essays with permission of The Harbus in this article exclusively from Poets and Quants). The funds raised through the sale of the guides are donated to the Harbus association which distributes its surplus to a charity at the end of the school year. The updated guide essays all respond to the school’s current editorial prompt: “As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we review your application to the Harvard MBA program. Business School? “


While it is always difficult to draw conclusions from a sample, it should be noted that only two of the 32 MBA students who agreed to submit their dissertation to The Harbus scored less than 700 on the GMAT. The two exceptions both applied with a 680 and one was from South Africa and raised by a single mother, while the other was from Mexico which came of age in one of the lesser states. poorest in America and one of the most dangerous cities in the world. While the candidate from Mexico had a cumulative GPA of 3.75 to make up for her GMAT score, the candidate from South Africa had to overcome both a low score on the standardized test and low scores with a score of 2, 94.

The collection represents all of the candidates applying to Harvard, from all types of workplaces and geographies. They have worked in automotive and healthcare companies, consulting and banking, consumer technology and products, venture and private equity, nonprofits, and the military. . Besides the American students who share their essays, there are those from Brazil, China, Singapore, Spain, the Philippines and the Ukraine. The median GMAT score among those who did not enter Harvard with a GRE is 740, 10 points above the class median. Five of the contributors to the essay scored 770 on the GMAT, while seven passed 760. What is quite telling is that the seven successful Indian applicants scored a class median of 730 or higher, with scores of 770, a trio of 760, a 740 and a pair of 730.

As in the past, each essay in the guide also includes commentary from the essay’s authors and individual journal editorial reviews. A sample of a 28-year-old American candidate who worked in technology as a strategy consultant and who applied with a cumulative GPA of 3.75 in economics and psychology and six years of work experience: “My process of essay writing was very iterative. I’ve revised my essay 13 times, so I recommend leaving enough time for the creative process. It helped me take a break from reviewing and editing and come back with fresh eyes. “


The Harbus the editors hope the guide will start the brainstorming process to help applicants write an essay that would improve their admission change. “This book is a great resource to help you understand how you want to write your story in a personal way and give the reader a glimpse into your world,” according to The Harbus. “Reading the attached essays will show you how the admitted students approached the issue creatively.”

More than this basic advantage, the collection shows that you don’t need the skills of a New Yorker writer to write an effective essay. Any candidate who buys and reads the guide will likely feel a sense of liberation as they approach their essays. At the very least, the collection should ease some contestants’ anxiety over a blank screen on a computer. Some of the trials are informal; others are little more than talking CVs. They are generally free of grammatical errors and typos, although many are not as clear or concise as they could be.

As in the past, certain details of each essay are anonymized, including mentions of a candidate’s identity, city, country, employer, and college. The reason: To protect the identity of authors who have contributed their essays for the benefit of other applicants.


Few of the pieces are particularly eloquent, although there are some rather convincing overtures.

“I love life,” wrote a 27-year-old American candidate who had been involved in investor relations. “I like to live and learn; I hate going to sleep but I love to dream. I find pleasure in watching the world go by – in taking a step back from all the different parts of life. I fly planes as a hobby and the view from the pilot’s seat is unlike any other. With one glance, I can see the whole world and how it is articulated: the untouched (nature), the partially affected (farms) and the fully developed (urban). With every flight, I am in awe of what the world has to offer: beauty, science and celebration. Plus, it’s amazing that humans can fly – it’s so impossible. The fact that I’m doing something that should only exist in dreams inspires me.

Or how about this bold opening from a 26-year-old who had been CEO of a tech start-up: “I have no regard for the way things have been or how things are done – I only care how they should be. Our world is full of outdated solutions to old world problems, and we can’t just adapt new technologies to old systems. We must be prepared to question everything. We need optimism and vision to ask the most important question: if we were to start over today, how would we approach this? “


The Harbus editors also offer sound advice to potential candidates. First, begin your writing process with a period of honest reflection on your motivations, goals, and choices so far. Second, ask for feedback on your essay drafts from people who know you well. Others can tell you if your essay is clear, but only people who know you well can tell you if your essay really makes you stand out.

Each published essay has an often catchy title written by the editors, including “What Would Dada Do?” “,” The Power of Storytelling “,” Food Is More Than Calories “and” The Many Paths of Life “.

Overall, the guide is essential reading for all top business school MBA applicants, whether you are planning to roll the dice and apply to Harvard or not. The collection proves that there is no simple formula for a successful trial. They vary in length, presenting a wide range of topics from very different people with very different experiences. Some essays focus on specific events of importance, while others follow the accomplishments and decisions of the authors. As The Harbus the editors rightly point out, “We hope that reading these essays will bring you closer to writing the essay that best tells your unique story. “


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