Brit Dewey: Before we start, the first thing I’d like to do is welcome the Class of 2006. It’s fantastic to have everyone on campus. To start people successfully and to have them graduate successfully, those are the highlights which we work for here at Admissions. So a great welcome to everybody.
The Harbus: What was quality of the applicant pool this year as compared to other years? What is the general strategy behind our outreach policy?
BD: The quality of the applicant pool was extremely high as usual. There is an increasing mix of applicants, as is reflected in the statistics of the RC Class, which is fantastic. In fact, the focus of all our outreach efforts is on investing in shaping the mix of the applicant pool, which will ultimately impact the mix of the RC Class. So today, the third most represented industry at HBS is Non-profit, and one-third of the class is international and one-third of the class is women. Ten years ago, the situation was significantly different with hardly any representation from these groups.
Another group that we are trying to encourage is the early career candidates. People with no experience or less than two years experience simply don’t apply. They have to start believing that if they are strong on the admission criteria, then we’ll take them. Our key focus is on quality and not quantity of experience. Our rigorous application process helps us discover the candidates who have deep insights in their fields, no matter what the length of their work experience is, that they will be able to share with their classmates in Hawes or Aldrich. In fact, and very few people are probably aware of this, we recently did some joint marketing with Stanford to encourage early-career candidates to apply.
On yet another note, this year the number of international applicants declined across other business schools but we held strong. One of the reasons for the general decline in applications was the increasingly stringent visa procedures, but at HBS, there is no one who was selected and was not able to attend for these reasons. The cost of coming to HBS is also prohibitive for some international students and we try to solve this by providing need-based aid in the form of fellowships and CitiAssist. We are focusing greatly on expanding our global reach, the Admissions Board is traveling much more than before to conduct interviews, and we have had great support from alumni who have hosted outreach events in their own countries.
The Harbus: So that’s about launching people successfully. Can you tell us a little more about the other priority for Admissions that you mentioned: having people graduate successfully?
BD: As you know, we have need-based financial aid for students and also a program for helping students, who are exiting into the social or public sector, with their debt. This is a first across schools and something I’m very excited about, and we have recently instituted a program which helps students who are exiting into private sector jobs which pay less than the average. The only criteria [for students in the program] are that they should be receiving need-based aid and be making debt payments. This program is meant to help those who want to go into industries like fashion or media and entertainment where the payscale is much lower than average.
The Harbus: A switch from just making careers to making dreams come true.
BD: Absolutely. So I am absolutely thrilled about this and about the fact that we are the first business school to do anything like this. This is what our school is all about. Our career service philosophy is Self-Assessment and Career Development. Who are you and where do you want to go. And the school then helps you get there. We are in the middle of a capital campaign to well-position HBS for the twenty first century. Our aim is to raise $500 million out of which $100 million is earmarked for fellowships. The alumni of this school want to help the students reach their dreams sooner. It’s an amazing testament to the faith the alumni have in their school.
The Harbus: What message or advice would you like to give to the incoming Class of 2006 ?
BD: Take full advantage of the “HBS experience”, both in terms of our learning model of the case method and outside the classroom. Invest a lot in your classmates and community. You will be able to depend on them for the rest of your lives and it is the best part of the “HBS experience”.
I think something I heard Dean Clark say recently was very apt, that HBS hopes you will focus on:
1. What you know: Building skills, knowledge and frameworks that you will demonstrate in the workforce
2. What you are going to do: How you take action, how you make decisions, all of which is part of the general management and leadership training at HBS
3. Who you are
The third point is critical. In the RC experience, there is much to do and lots of deadlines to meet, but remember to give yourself time for you. Invest in thinking about who you are and where you want to go. This is the essence of the “transformation” that the HBS experience is all about.
Take risks while you are here. Be confident. Trust me when I say: no one was an admissions mistake.
The Harbus: That’s great advice for the RCs. Don’t forget us, the ECs! Our own predecessors told us that the EC year would be a breeze compared to the RC year. Is that true?
BD: Hmm…No, I really can’t say that it is. In fact, some say the EC year is much tougher because it is all about making choices about your life.
The Harbus: What advice or message would you like to send to the ECs?
BD: Two years go by so fast. Your EC year will simply fly by. So, Carpe Diem – seize the day! As I said, the EC year is all about choices. If you’ve really focused on who you are in your RC year, then this year will be a great launching pad for your post-HBS plans. Don’t be afraid to make your choices and stay focused.
Also, appreciate having your classmates around you. In June, you will be setting forth into the world. Enjoy being in a community this year. Living with each other on a day-to-day basis is a luxury. Appreciate that.
The Harbus: Thank you, Brit, for your wonderful advice to both the RCs and ECs. We wish you the best of luck, both in your great work at Admissions and in having the baby!
Editor’s Note: Brit Dewey is due in six weeks and plans to work till the very minute it is time for her to go to the hospital. She will be taking maternity leave after that and will be much missed around the campus.