HBS 2+2: Why It Matters and How to Get In
HBS 2+2 is the ‘OG’ of deferred enrollment (or deferred admissions) MBA programs. It was the first to launch in 2007 and has rightfully earned a reputation as a spectacular opportunity for superstar college seniors (and those who entered a master’s program right out of undergrad).
What Is HBS 2+2?
On a basic level, HBS 2+2 (and other deferred enrollment MBA programs) allows college seniors to secure a spot in the traditional full time MBA class that will arrive on campus two to four years in the future. During their ‘deferral period’, HBS 2+2 admits gain professional experience that they can draw upon in the business school classroom.
Applicants to HBS 2+2 essentially complete the same application as applicants to HBS’ standard program. A GRE / GMAT test score is required, as are an essay, letters of recommendation, and an invitation-based interview. There is only one application deadline (as opposed to the traditional MBA application cycle where there are two ‘rounds’) and this year’s is April 28, 2022.
The Unwritten Benefits of HBS 2+2
If you scratch beneath the surface, however, the opportunity presented by the HBS 2+2 program is much greater than it appears ̶ for several reasons.
The first reason is that it is essentially an insurance policy on your early career. As an early career professional with an eye on the traditional MBA application process, it is easy to get wrapped up in how each choice you make will affect your chances of admission. You may feel compelled to pursue a grueling job in investment banking or management consulting instead of taking a risk on an interesting role at a startup. Knowing that you have HBS in your future regardless of the path you choose over the next two years allows you to truly follow your passion, even if it’s not a standard pre-MBA role.
Second, acceptance into HBS 2+2 (or any other top deferred enrollment MBA program) can be a big asset for a young professional, particularly for someone who is targeting a ‘riskier’ path like entrepreneurship. If HBS views you as a future business leader, it will undoubtedly be easier to sell yourself as one to potential employers, investors, etc.
Third, for those who are certain an MBA is in their plans, HBS 2+2 presents an opportunity to fast track the process. We regularly work with clients who have two really solid years of work experience under their belt and feel ready to go to business school. While these candidates generally have awesome accomplishments and leadership potential, it can be hard to stand out from the competition simply because they have been working for fewer years than the average applicant. Applying to deferred enrollment programs levels the playing field as all candidates are still in school.
Great, Where Do I Sign?
Applying to HBS 2+2 seems like a no brainer, right? Well, yes, there’s no debating that it’s a fantastic opportunity. That said, admission is extremely competitive, as you can imagine (even more competitive than the standard HBS program). Even if you fit the profile of the average HBS 2+2 admit (730 GMAT, 3.79 GPA), really devoting yourself to the application process is critical.
It can be tempting to view a deferred MBA application as your first attempt, knowing that you can enter the workforce and apply again in a few years on the traditional timeline. Don’t fall into this trap. It takes time, effort, and serious self-reflection to craft a thoughtful essay that highlights the qualities HBS seeks in applicants, especially when you have fewer years of ‘life’ to draw upon.
Whether or not you choose to engage an MBA admissions consultant, create a plan, and stick to it. Do your homework about how to put your best foot forward, learn all you can from those who have been successful in the past, and get an early start. These things can make or break your chances and, as we’ve shared, the opportunity presented by HBS 2+2 is one not to be missed.
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