On Thursday February 1st, while many RCs were raring to devote a job search day either to skiing in Colorado or to an equally exhilarating interview for that elusive summer internship, hundreds of Class of 2020 Round 1 admits descended upon the HBS campus for Admitted Students’ Weekend (ASW). The visitors encompassed 316 admits, 82 partners, 3 parents, and 2 children. They were treated to a packed schedule of panels, mixers, information sessions, happy hours, alumni MyTakes, and even a case method simulation to serve as an amuse-bouche to the quintessentially HBS activities that would likely consume the next 2 years of their lives.
The admissions office worked in collaboration with a newly revamped student leadership team to organize the weekend with an emphasis on more current student involvement. This break with recent tradition came in response to feedback from previous classes. Ope Awosan (HBS ’19), a member of the team, was motivated to “help the incoming class to make connections and to help them see how amazing the HBS experience can be.” She was most looking forward to the student experience panel with the hope that it would be “fun for admits to ask honest questions and to receive honest, open answers in return. It’s a chance to understand what’s going through their heads as they navigate this decision.” Indeed, the student experience panel featured questions running the gamut of the anxiety scale:
A: “Have a backup plan.”
Q: “What’s the social life like?”
A: “There will be more going on than you can ever possibly attend, so it’s up to you to prioritize. Pro tip: there’s always a last-minute secondary market to allay your anxieties.”
Q: “What happens if I can’t make it to Yacht week?”
A: “Don’t worry, you’ll meet 90 people on your first day of class anyway.”
Q: “How long does it take to get through a typical case?”
A: Suffice it to say, the answers to this last question were varied.
As to what attracted admits to apply to HBS in the first place, Hanyin Cheng, a Bostonian admit with a background in growth equity, pointed to the case method as a major draw. Cheng has been involved in non-profits that provide college students with a platform to design courses around their passions and connect them with high school students to instill a sense of excitement for learning: “One of the best ways to learn is by teaching others, and I feel like that is an underlying philosophy of the case method. Having been able to sit in on a few of the classes, I’ve seen it work, and it’s something I really wanted to be a part of.”
The Dean’s welcome address to the prospective Class of 2020 provided another opportunity for Q&A. In fielding admits’ questions, Dean Nohria encouraged students to avoid being “too careerist” within the confines of the HBS academic environment and implored students to “use [their] own sense of self as [their] guide,” despite the fact that what everyone else is doing is so visible. He closed the Q&A by sharing the most useful piece of advice he ever received: “don’t live your entire life thinking about the future. Do the best job that you can today, and you will be blown away by the opportunities that will become available.” It was salient advice for future and current students alike.
Joe Feghali (HBS ’19) worked across various commercial and corporate finance, and HR roles for Kraft Heinz in Pittsburgh, the Netherlands, and Chicago. He is very passionate about financial aid, recruiting, and admissions efforts for HBS.