Hint, Hint: Top B-Schools Are Telling You What They Want in MBA Admits

Smiling students outside

Harvard and Stanford. These two iconic business schools are widely considered to be the highest ranked, most selective, most prestigious MBA programs on the planet. Admission to one of these schools is the shared dream of eager candidates worldwide. Each year, these two schools attract almost 20,000 applications for fewer than 1,300 available seats. With demand far exceeding supply, HBS and GSB adcoms have the luxury of being choosy.

Given the low acceptance rates, and the absence of feedback for denied applicants, a cloud of confusion and speculation engulfs candidates trying to learn what top-tier schools are really looking for in admits. However, hiding in clear sight, right there on the schools’ respective websites, are some big clues.

Based on the attributes Harvard and Stanford say they want most, astute MBA applicants can easily solve much of the mystery for themselves. Serious candidates should take the published hints to heart before launching their admissions campaigns. With three decades of experience advising over 5,000 applicants, The MBA Exchange offers these thoughtfully paraphrased descriptions of the four qualities HBS and GSB openly prioritize:

  1. Leadership impact and potential
    Motivation for and approach to making a positive difference.
  2. Learning ability and motivation
    Appetite and adeptness to grow academically and intellectually.
  3. Substance that benefits others
    Skills and experiences that complement and contribute to those around you.
  4. Diversity to expand perspectives
    Background and values that enhance awareness and understanding.

So, now that you’ve “cracked the code” it should be quick and easy to produce a stellar application that completely and convincingly addresses these criteria, right? Sorry, not quite. The next and much bigger – challenge is to fully examine your candidacy, leverage the competitive strengths, mitigate the relevant vulnerabilities, and craft an authentic story that conveys far more than just the basics.

A great way to start is by requesting a free, expert evaluation of your background and goals. This way, you’ll discover not only what kind of candidates are most likely to be admitted but also how you compare with them and what path you can take. At The MBA Exchange, your navigator will be an MBA admissions specialist who not only knows the milestones along this path, but has helped many others reach their dream destinations – including Harvard and Stanford.