Holidays At Harvard Business School

Photo: Harvard Crimson

The holiday season looks a little different this year. With travel restrictions in place and much of the US experiencing yet another surge in COVID-19, many b-schools students are left spending their holidays without their families.

The Harbus recently looked at how students at Harvard Business School are spending their holiday season this year without their loved ones.


For many international students, traveling back home during this time is simply not plausible or safe. But those who decide to stay on campus for the holidays aren’t alone.

Yarden Halperin, HBS MBA Class of 2022, decided not to see her family in Israel this year. In turn, Halperin says, she had a unique opportunity to experience the holidays of other cultures.

“It is great to be here and celebrate other cultures,” Halperin tells Harbus. “I can’t imagine I’ll ever get another opportunity to experience so many new holidays.”

Halperin says she was able to experience Diwali with other classmates and, in exchange, hopes to introduce her friends to Hanukkah.

“I am planning on making traditional foods like homemade donuts and lighting the candles with friends who have never celebrated the holiday before,” she tells Harbus.

And while holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, are often widely celebrated in Western countries, many other countries don’t partake in celebrating. In turn, many international students who have stayed on campus have been able to experience the holidays that they wouldn’t normally celebrate in their home countries.

“I think this is such an exciting opportunity to be able to have unique experiences with different cultures and new people,” Zehra Soysal, HBS MBA Class of 2022, tells Harbus.


For many, this year is the first time they’ve spent winter break away from family. And while they may be apart from loved ones, many students are just grateful to be safe at HBS.

“HBS is one of the best places in the world to be in right now,” Ramya Sundar, HBS MBA Class of 2022, tells Harbus. “I am grateful that I am here and not somewhere else. If that means having to spend the holidays away from my family and not travel, I think the tradeoff is worth it.”

Adding a little holiday spirit just to make HBS feel more like home doesn’t hurt either.

“We are dedicated to making Cambridge feel like our home, Brooke Baker, a partner at HBS, tells Harbus. “We are going to put up a tree and get some holiday decorations in order to make it feel homey.”

Sources: Harbus, The New York Times, WBUR

Emory Goizueta Exterior View

For professionals looking to brush up on their skills, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School is now offering 19 MBA courses on a non-credit basis.

The elective courses cover topics such as accounting, finance, marketing, general management, operations, and information systems and are a part of Goizueta’s evening MBA and executive MBA programs, according to Business Wire.

“It is even more critical today to bring up to the minute skills and knowledge to your work, whether it be the latest thinking on pricing, the foundations and business applications of fintech, structuring and negotiating private equity deals, mastering new methods of modeling and analyzing data to support decisions, or the concepts and principles in consumer psychology that inform marketing decisions,” Nicola Barrett, Chief Corporate Learning Officer at Goizueta Business School, says in the press release.


Each course will be fully online and taught by Goizueta faculty. Additionally, participating professionals will be studying alongside Goizueta MBA students.

The courses will go live in January with classes being held once a week throughout the semester. For more ambitious students, Goizueta is offering two of the courses as Accelerated Course Electives, which can be completed in one week.

“This is about rethinking how we help business professionals upskill, reskill, and increase their impact and realize the idea of career-long learning,” Barrett says.


Like many other B-schools, Goizueta’s new offering is just another example of how MBAs are shifting to more flexibility and options for students.

Many B-schools now offer online MBA programs, where students can earn a degree without having to forgo work by being on campus.

“There’s still a thought that the online MBA is not an integral part of a school,” Ramesh Venkataraman, associate dean for Information and Instructional Technologies and the Chair of the Kelley Direct MBA, tells P&Q. “In many places, the online MBA is a way to make money, which is not the case here. For us, it’s another offering.”

Sources: Business Wire, Poets & Quants

Booth faculty member heading to class

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business ranked as the number two business school in Poets&Quants’ MBA ranking this year.

And while other B-schools saw a decline in applications, Booth was one of only two top-25 U.S. B-schools that didn’t experience a slump. In fact, the Chicago B-school grew its MBA while keeping its admissions selective.

But what exactly does it take to get into Booth and what does the B-school look for in applicants?

Krista McNamara, an Expert Coach at MBA admission consulting firm Fortuna Admissions and former Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, recently broke down Booth’s 2020-2021 MBA essays and how applicants should address the prompts if they hope to gain admission into the prestigious institution.

“Chicago Booth aims to create a well-rounded, diverse, and unique class, and is looking for individuals who like to challenge conventional wisdom,” McNamara writes. “Given that most students enter the program from a business, economics, and engineering undergraduate background, the essays represent a valuable opportunity to distinguish yourself from other high achievers with similar profiles.”


The first prompt asks applicants: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)

McNamara says this question is a version of the old ‘Why an MBA and why this school.’

To answer the prompt, she suggests breaking the approach into two parts: self-reflection of your own goals and journey and aligning them to Booth’s own values as a B-school.

“Your ability to articulate clear goals – even if they evolve throughout the MBA journey – show the Admissions Committee your confidence and maturity,” she writes. “It also requires a deep understanding of Booth’s values, culture and what makes it special. Without a nuanced appreciation of its unique community and program offerings – gained by thorough research, thoughtful networking and, whenever possible, a visit to campus – the admissions committee may not see you as a good fit. Acknowledging the specific things that stand out about the school and why they are important to you is key.”

Essay 2

The second prompt asks applicants: An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are. (250-word minimum)

This question, according to McNamara, is more personal and goes beyond the professional resume and test scores to get to know you as a person.

“This essay is new this year, and Booth is mining for a glimpse of who you are above and beyond a shimmering track record of excellence,” McNamara writes. “Booth admissions can glean your professional journey and goals from your resume, letters, and first essay. Now, in this essay, they are looking to find out about what motivates you outside the workplace.”

Because this essay is personal, experts say, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to go about answering it. Rather, applicants should think about the overall theme in their personal life and use it to add color to conveying who they are outside of their professional life.

“You should also think about what gets you most excited, where you spend your time, or what you talk about when you aren’t talking about work. Travel, hobbies, sports? The latest episode of the Queen’s Gambit? Why are those things important to you? How did you get involved?”, Bill Kooser, Director at Fortuna Admissions and former Chicago Booth Associate Dean, says. “Booth isn’t looking for anything in particular here – they really do want to get to know you. Therefore, if it’s important to you, it will be a relevant topic for your essay. It’s a chance for your personality to shine through and demonstrate that you would be a great addition to what is sure to be an accomplished, diverse, and occasionally quirky class.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, Poets & Quants, Poets & Quants



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