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2+2 Program: Have They Really Thought This Through?

Letter to the Editor
Dear Harbus

I’ve got a better name for the administration’s 2+2 program. Give Kellogg’s a call and see if you can use ‘Special K’. Allow me to explain. Current HBS students have no problem with you letting in 100 kids with no experience but please keep them away from us and don’t take away slots from 100 well deserved applicants. Just up enrollment by 100 and give them their own section so they don’t ruin our case discussions with zero experience.

For the next section, the next letter of the alphabet is K. They’re so special so special K has a nice ring to it. This will allow recruiters and anyone else familiar with HBS to know right away who worked to get into HBS and who got in after two years of college and got set up with a 2 year princess job at McKinsey.

I think each RC section right now has 1 kid right out of undergrad. 2+2 means 10 per section. Everyone will agree that discussions will go downhill with this many folks having zero experience. Give them their own section.

I could see one of the other b-schools doing this but not hbs. Why sacrifice a meritocracy to the diversity bullies? While you’re at it, why don’t you accept the children in the Harvard pre-school co-op into the HBS class of 2023.

Sincerely,
Patrick Bateman

When the letter reproduced above first landed on my desk along with my morning toast and coffee I must admit my initial reaction was defensiveness on behalf of our friends up at Northwestern. However, once I had been reassured that the insults were in fact directed at our very own HBS administration I calmed down somewhat. Upon further examination, and not insignificant translation, I concluded that the letter from Mr Bateman*, although a little extreme, raised an interesting topic.

For those of you unaware of the HBS 2+2 Program, I will summarize it as best I can.

The premise is that after working for a few years in either consulting or investment banking, many people face the choice between going into private equity and making a huge amount of money very quickly, or getting rid of all of the money they have amassed so far, and then some, on business school fees.
Given the great shortage of consultants and investment bankers currently applying to HBS, and the wealth of experience, maturity and diversity that they can bring to the class, HBS has decided it needs to reach out to this group in particular.

In order to do so, a cunning trick has been devised: convince them to accept a place while they are still at college and are terrified of the big bad world. At this point, the prospect of a convenient shortcut back into student life two years down the road can’t fail to encourage application.

I applaud my caps-challenged correspondent’s initiative in suggesting a separate section for the 100 or so places reserved under this scheme (perhaps they could repurpose the crŠche over at SFP?) but I can’t help but wonder what life would be like at HBS if the entire class consisted of those applying through this scheme.

Everyone’s favourite first-week question: “What did you do before school?” will be replaced by simply guessing the bank from the level of fatigue still in the eyes or recognising people from one of the worldwide Bain training sessions. No-one will have travelled in the summer before school for fear of reducing their actual work experience by 25%.

The Partners Club will have to be disbanded. Anyone who has spent 2 years working in investment banking straight out of college is unlikely to have found their significant life partner yet, unless they were at the desk next to them or worked at the Starbucks downstairs.

As a consequence, there will be substantially more ill-fated hook-ups at social events. Actually, given that everyone will have spent the last two years chained to a desk in front of excel and only be two years past the legal drinking age, there will also be considerably more cases of alcohol poisoning and much worse dancing. On the bright side, Priscilla will be a more aesthetically pleasing event, as none of the boys will be old enough to have leg or chest hair.

The majority of recommendation letters will have been written by high school sports coaches and 9 out of 10 application essays will cover the one and only time the applicant was allowed to supervise a junior employee (for ten minutes while their boss was in the bathroom during their summer job). The GMAT will probably be taken simultaneously with SATs to save time.

Since this scheme is very much aimed at American colleges, the proportional of non-US students will decrease, resulting in far fewer decent parties and much less interesting discussions in BGIE. In fact, BGIE may have to be cancelled altogether, as the students main overseas experience will involve conference rooms, hotel rooms and airports. There will be a maximum of four flags hung in each classroom.

FIN classes will involve the half of the class that used to work in banking arguing with the professor about deal structure. Marketing and Strategy will involve all of the ex-consultants arguing with just about everybody about stuff they made up on the spot. No-one will talk at all in LEAD except for in the Goldman Sachs promotion case, and nobody at all will have anything relevant to say in TOM. Any marketing cases involving brands from before the 90’s will need extensive appendices.

There will be nobody in class who is impressed by Excel keyboard shortcuts or the effective use of Powerpoint. On the other hand, everyone will be awed by any slightly out of the ordinary work experience (Wow, man, you worked in non-profit consulting? That is so radical.)

All treks and ‘immersions’ will involve visits to the offices of McKinsey and Morgan Stanley in every city, as these will be the only industry contacts anybody has.

Wine and Cuisine Society events will involve a primer on telling the difference between red and white wine.

The standard of all HBS sports teams will deteriorate dramatically, as nobody who regularly had to stay up all night on client calls to Asia will have trained for the past two years.

All resume books will be able to go to 2-to-a-page format.

Alternatively, one could view this program as an extremely stealthy and altruistic plot to starve hedge funds, VC firms and the PE industry of their future talent and brightest hope in order to bring global capitalism to its knees. Wink, wink, Dean Light, I shall say no more.

*I’m assuming that is a pen name. If not, someone should really have a word with security.

October 15, 2007
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