During my undergraduate education I knew I wanted to eventually attend business school. I had heard about HBS's 2+2 Program and loved the idea of being admitted to a masters program before graduating with my bachelor’s degree. Who wouldn't want to know that they had been admitted to Harvard Business School more than two years prior to matriculating? It's difficult enough figuring out life for the next six months, let alone two or three years in the future.
In fact, while still in undergrad, I would have preferred to pursue an MBA immediately after graduating without spending several years getting "work experience" in between. Why not just front load the formal education and then jump into the work force, armed and ready for the challenges ahead? At least, that was my thought process at the time.
I decided to apply for the 2+2 Program, and a month or two later I found out that I had been dinged. Life went on and, following graduation, I started working for Worthington Industries—a manufacturing company based in Columbus, Ohio. After a few years at Worthington, and a recent promotion to a Product Manager role, I again started thinking about applying to full-time MBA programs.
This time, however, my perspective was much different. Since graduation, I had spent significant time in more than a dozen manufacturing facilities working with both plant management and shop floor employees. I had presented a recommendation for several acquisitions to the corporate senior leadership team, introduced a line of products in a new geography, and launched a new product development process in the company’s highest growth business unit.
Surely, my perspective—both what I might contribute and the learnings I’d now internalize in an MBA classroom—would be much different after those experiences.
Well, I had already been dinged from HBS. Was it worth applying a second time? Although uncertain of whether or not I’d be accepted to the program, I wanted to give it another shot. Fortunately, and likely due to some divine intervention, I was accepted to the program. I was absolutely elated when I received the good news.
For applicants who get the “ding” as I did, my suggestion is to brush it off, gain some meaningful work experience to prepare for your career and to contribute in an MBA classroom, and then don’t hesitate to reapply when ready. Of the 900+ students in the Class of 2017, 94 of us were reapplicants. Just because you don’t get into HBS the first time, doesn’t mean you won’t be at some point in the future.
Now, here at HBS, I’ve had an incredible first semester and am headed to Ghana for FIELD 2. In fact, I’m writing this at the Atlanta Airport as my 13 hour itinerary just became 30 hours due to travel delays. HBS is a very special place that is exceeding my already high expectations. Just remember that the timing for your application and/or admission is unique for everyone.