Admitted Students Weekend – Part 2

As mentioned in my earlier entry, ASW was a action packed couple of days. I covered my first impressions of HBS in Part 1. In Part 2 I’ll take you through what my I got up to on my visit.


I arrived in Boston early, mainly to see an old school friend who was a tutor at Harvard, but also to visit and observe a case discussion. I was lucky enough to get a really easy to follow subject (Entrepreneurship) that focused on a business started by some HBS alums a few years earlier. It was fascinating and well worth visiting, and prepared me well for my own case later in the week. After that I trudged off again through the snowstorm to visit my friend and do a tourist trip around Harvard Yard, before capitulating to jet-lag.


Mostly optional events on the first day, I attended (for me at least) an essential Financial Aid and International Office joint presentation, and sat in on an entrepreneurship panel discussion, before the full cohort joined for an evening reception.

Financial Aid was full of details that aren’t particularly relevant if you aren’t attending HBS. However, it is pretty note-worthy that HBS only give out need-based aid and fellowships – the alternative of merit awards have always seemed a little like thinly-veiled bribes to me. What this means as an attendee is that;

  1. Probably at least some of your class wouldn’t have been financially able to attend HBS without these awards, and this surely encourages greater diversity than would exist otherwise
  2. HBS doesn’t have admitted students that have been ‘persuaded’ the join the school. Everyone has chosen HBS without financial incentives.

Details of financial aid are very personal circumstances and specific to individuals, so it can be difficult to know before you put your application in to do any real financial planning – it’s much more like guesswork.

I had the choice of an ‘Entrepreneurship’ panel discussion hosted by the Rock Centre for Entrepreneurship, or a similar ‘Established Companies Careers Service’ event. Being still very undecided about my future career path, I decided to check out the Entrepreneurship panel – after all, it was an area of HBS I was less familiar with and thought I’d learn a little more there.

HBS Panel Discussions - Careers Service and Centre for Entrepreneurship

HBS Panel Discussions – Careers Service and Centre for Entrepreneurship, & Financial Aid (Picture: HBS Admissions Blog)

One of the most exciting parts of the discussion was the fact that 3 out of the 4 panel members, when they attended ASW, went to a similar ‘established companies’ panel. They ‘fell into’ entrepreneurship at HBS. To me, this is far more exciting than hearing from a group who were always destined to be entrepreneurs. I want to believe this option is a possibility even if I don’t pursue it from Day 1. Of particular note was the way FIELD3 (the final part of the new experiential learning course in Year 1 where students begin a new microbusiness) had led to several new viable businesses being started, and these were continued during Year 2.

There was also a walking tour to have a good look at some of the housing options offered by Harvard University as a whole or HBS, most generously current students opening up their own apartments for viewing!

View east from One Western Avenue

View east from One Western Avenue

After registration, an introduction and a group exercise designed just to get some introductions started we heading off to an evening drinks reception. Putting me in a room with 400 excited fellow-admits and a low ceiling led to me developing temporary deafness…


The welcome began with introductions from the Co-Presidents of the Student Association and followed by the Dean, both very light-hearted and entertaining.

We were then split into mock sections, and participated in our first case. My own was discussing how to grow an expanding Indian textile producer and retailer, with a member of the faculty who had studied the business in question and had regular contact as they made critical business decisions. It was really interesting to work through a real-life problem and then get a “so what did the business do?” discussion afterwards with the thought process of the managers.

There was a huge amount of activities during the two days, with sub-groups splitting off and having special-interest discussions with what was relevant to them. It was quite an achievement by the admissions team to provide personal itineraries to over 400+ attendees!

Before heading off into Friday evening and an ‘extra-curricular’ event the incoming class had organised ourselves, the event was closed by Director of Admissions Dee Leopold and Associate Dean Youngme Moon – who appeared to be very passionate, warm and also both very funny!

Closing address of ASW: Dee and Youngme

Closing address of ASW: Dee and Youngme with the first half of Class of 2016 (Picture: HBS Admissions Blog)

We got a real sense of the scale of HBS here, with all the attendees of ASW together – and this is only half the incoming class!


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