如何写作一篇被哈佛商学院录取的文书?941 篇哈佛商学院录取文书精读分析

申请技术活儿 / 留学指南
本文共计 10371 字

撰文 / 李雅雯

编辑 / 灯塔学院编辑pengqigang@alighthouse.org

编者按 / 这是一篇精读分析 2018 年最新哈佛商学院录取文书的指南,由灯塔学院的编辑李雅雯完成。在文章最后,你可以得到一个从灯塔学院的 200+ 篇哈佛商学院录取文书的绝密数据中,获取随机一篇 2018 年哈佛录取文书完整全文的机会。

3 月 22 日,美国东部还没到中午,马克斯·威布斯(Max Wibaux)悄悄地离开了位于堪萨斯城的办公室,开车五分钟抵达他的公寓,冲到他的电脑面前,瘫坐在屏幕前,迫切地想知道哈佛大学商学院是否录取了他。

罗赛尔斯托福巧克力公司市场部总监威布斯在决定申请哈佛商学院后,投入了大量的时间和精力。据这位 30 岁的法国申请人自己的估计,在两三个月的时间里,他花了将近 50 个小时的时间,改了 30 多稿申请 HBS 的文书。他同时还兼顾了申请斯坦福GSB,西北凯洛格管理学院和欧洲工商管理学院的文书。

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终于我点了一下,然后一瞬间跳了起来。”

之后的一个小时,威布斯待在家,把他被 HBS 录取的好消息迫不及待地分享给家人和朋友。不过,最困难的事恐怕是当天下午带着最深的笑意回到自己的办公室,却还要保持平静,对老板和他的第二个推荐人之外的人,强忍住这份巨大的喜悦。

威布斯将在 8 月份开始他在哈佛大学的 MBA 课程,在被成功录取到 HBS 后,他加入了一个由哈佛大学 MBA 学生组织的编辑并发表所有 MBA 申请文书的项目里。起初,威布斯只是单纯想分享自己的文书,但是当项目里的大伙儿发现威布斯在葛兰素史克,欧莱雅,利洁时,和瑞士莲等公司近 10 年的品牌管理经验时,威布斯被获选为项目新一任的负责人,他的工作只有一个:阅读和分析今年成功录取哈佛大学商学院的学生提供的文书

“阅读的过程让我焦虑不已,因为这些文章的范围实在太广了。我本来只想着赶快完成这个任务,但之所以后来还是经历了这么多次的反复阅览。”

941 位哈佛商学院的录取人文书代表了来自世界各地,各行各业,思维方式迥然不同的学生主体。他们可能来自巴基斯坦,印度,象牙海岸,津巴布韦和埃及,之前从事的工作与石油和天然气,医疗保健,核工程,运输或社区服务有关,故事的内容从铁人三项的体验到坦率地描述自杀想法的严重抑郁症经历都有涉及。

从这些被录取的文章里,你能够发现语言娴熟到足以发表在《纽约客》上的文字,但同样也有水平平平,刚刚够到大学新生简介的文书。你并不知道文书这个部分在哈佛的录取决定中到底占了多大的比重。

威布斯说,“即使你的论文写得再惊艳,它也仍然只是申请中的一个部分而已。如果你其他的条件不够出彩,文书并不能从根本上挽救你。反过来说,你可以写一篇不起眼的文章但依旧得到录取。不过无论如何,论文是你能够用纯粹自己的声音讲述故事的唯一机会。”

几乎所有的论文都是几天甚至几周的努力和迭代的结果。一名 2 + 2 项目的法裔加拿大申请人说,自己投入了 50  60 个小时,修改了 75 个版本,甚至请了一位全球知名的心理学家来帮他逐字逐句地推敲这篇 963 个字的论文。

大部分人在对待文书写作上都是非常有条不紊的。一位第一轮申请就成功得到哈佛大学,斯坦福大学,沃顿商学院和芝加哥大学所有录取通知书的印度申请人表示,他在六月份就开始构思文书了。


“我开始梳理自己人生的主线,并努力搜寻那些值得讲述的‘决定性的时刻’。“为了应对斯坦福大学标志性的最重要的,以及为什么重要的问题,他花了三到四个星期的时间,进行了 8 次更改。至于哈佛大学商学院的文书,他则投入了四到六个星期,撰写了高达 10+ 份的草稿。

下面是他分享的关键申请要点

1.用足够时间头脑风暴,寻找并和真正了解你的人讨论你的“关键时刻“。

2.采用简洁的写作风格,多用短句。明确因果关系,最后检查通篇语法。

3.不要度在意人的反,因为一旦给太多人反馈,他们的评价往往是互相矛盾的,最终你的文书不是越来越好,而是在来回打转。相信你自己的直觉。

提交之前的两个星期定稿,然后把重点转向申请的其他部分 —— 简历,推荐信等。

4.花些时间和你的推荐人讨论你的申,并尝试给他们提供一些你觉得他们可以在推荐信里谈论的有趣的例子。

5.在所有的文书写作中,你会发现,一个足够亮眼的引入开头是极为重要的。

可以参考一下这位拿到哈佛大学商学院录取的年轻美国女孩是如何以她上大学时候家庭经济困难作为开头的。这样一来,招生委员会可能会更加欣赏她从事投资银行和金融技术领域类工作这个选择

“I would like to share some unusual, formative experiences from my upbringing and career which have helped shape who I am andwhere I would like to take my career next.

Duringmy first year at the [United States College], my parents declared bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was caused by my father’s growing drug addiction and it had acascading impact on our entire family. Since my parents were co-signers on mystudent loans, our bank refused to renew them after my first year. I did a number of things to get by, including working 3 jobs simultaneously to make ends meet. I alsotried to support my dad by helping to manage his rehabilitation process as muchas a teenager reasonably could. I tried to stay on top of his required check-ins and spent hours trying to locate any resources that could help him.”

再来看看这位之前在航空航天公司工作,刚刚拿到哈佛大学商学院录取的美国申请人是如何通过榜样的例子,引出他个人和专业能力的文书开头

“Reading about Tim Cook and Mary Barra, two business leaders I personally admire, I’ve often struggled to imagine them as twenty-something Associate’s – still wet behind the gills. Yet, like everyoneelse, that’s exactly where they began their careers. At twenty-seven, I sometimes think that my long-term goal, to become the CEO of a global manufacturing organization like [Name of big tech company], seems like a lofty one, but in those moments I remind (and reassure) myself that good business leaders aren’t born, but rather developed. For me, that development process is a three-fold one and involves cultivating knowledge, experience and good judgment.”

还有这位同样拿到哈佛大学商学院录取的美国申请人是如何用引人入胜的方式写下了他自己的一系列失败经历

“Awise woman once told me that I have had an extraordinary number of failures forsomeone my age. I’d never thought about it that way before, but she’s got a goodpoint:

At 16 years old, I proudly started my first business, selling performanceafter-market parts for hobby-class radio controlled cars. I designed my ownparts, contracted out the manufacturing, and sold the kits online. Within 5 years, it failed. In college, I declared my major as Mechanical Engineering and signed up for Calculus III. I failed. I landed a 3-semester internship at [TechCompany], but due to a last minute layoff, I was unable to return for my third& final semester. Expecting to work and not having registered for classes,I scrambled to find a new company for my 3rd semester, got an interview against all odds, and failed to get the job. I started a 2nd business, wiser from my teenage years, this time a real estate investment company. It failed. I ran for student body president, gained significant ground as an independent running against fraternity-backed competitors, and failed to get elected.”

这位兼任审计师和咨询顾问的申请者写的这篇 MBA 文书开头,表达了他对教育的坚定不移,这篇文书为他斩获了哈佛大学商学院的录取。

For a long time, my analytical left brain andcreative right brain battled to define me. Am I an accountant? A consultant? Anartist? A dancer? A writer? An education activist? Different words described me, but none defined me until the day I stumbled upon the term epistemophiliac: one characterized by excessive striving for or preoccupation with knowledge. Asan individual with great passion for learning, I perennially seek to expand theboundaries of learning not only for myself but also for others.

The pursuit of knowledgewas so revered within my household that my family named me [XYZ], which meansMother of Knowledge in my native language. My grandmother, who raised me,inspired my love for learning. Forced to quit school to marry, she was widowedat 21. Seeking financial support from a charity, she educated herself, became ateacher in one of India’s largest philanthropic institutions, and influenced thelives of thousands of students. Growing up hearing my grandmother recount her struggles and triumphs, I developed a deep-rooted belief that education is the most powerful lever in transforming individuals and communities. My beliefinfluenced not only my academic discipline and my drive to seek a wide range oflearning opportunities but also my commitment to support the cause of educationat every stage of my life.”

也有些候选人以反传统的方式写作自己的文书开头,甚至对申请 HBS 本身表示怀疑。 以下是一位被录取的津巴布韦会计师录取文书的开头

Why would you waste your time and money? My friend scored a 780 on the GMAT, has an uncle on the Board at Harvard, a HBS alumnus dad, and she has a great job in [Big Asian city]; still yet she was not accepted into HBS. Why don’t you apply to easier schools instead?

This was my best friend’s response upon learning I was applying to theHarvard MBA. The truth is she was not saying anything I had not recited to myself countless times; “HBS was too far a reach”. I chose to banish all doubts and instead to chase after what I believe to be the best thing I could do for my professional and social life at this stage: pursue the Harvard MBA. I would like to share briefly how I came to be where I am today.”

反思自己的写作经验之后,威布斯建议申请人不要准备得太过仓促。“最重要的是给自己足够的时间去反思。在下笔之前,我和朋友,同事,对我很熟悉的人展开了无数讨论,所以我能够确定我想说的故事。我从我所居住的地方,所从事的工作中剖析了我的生活,抽取了一些有代表性的时刻来阐述我的人生信念。“

“我从我想要表达的想法入手,改了 25 到 30 份稿件。其中有一些只是微小的调整,但还有许多稿拥有截然不同的主题。这样的过程会让你思考你到底想要传达什么。我能肯定最后的 5 次修改是非常细微的,但是我不希望最后上传一份我没有完全满意的文章。“



威布斯还记得在所有他审核的哈佛录取文书里,有一位女性工程师是在中东的一个石油钻井平台上写的文书。“她讲述了她是如何坚持不睡觉的,因为在钻机上没有单独的房间。“另一篇令人难忘的文书来自一个逃离西非内战最终跑去美国的申请人。“申请大学的时候,他必须接受英语授课的方式,但是他第一次考 SAT 就糟糕透了,他坚持了下来,最终顺利进入投行工作。”

“你能很明显地感受到这样的经历对他们确实非常重要。还有一些人表现出来的韧性也非常鼓舞人心,我能记住的是一名美国陆军军官,在阿富汗巡回作战时被告知他在科罗拉多州的家附近发生了火灾,他感到非常无力。他的家最后还是被摧毁了,幸好怀着他第一个孩子的妻子得到了及时的疏散。“

威布斯惊异于文书中故事的多样性。 “我无法总结出是什么让这些文书成为一个整体:一个被哈佛商学院录取的整体。不过,这样的多元性也才是申请 HBS 最美好的地方,它警示我们,没有一个通用的模板可以让申请者被哈佛商学院录取。也告诉我们, Case Study 的本质就是对多元性的渴望。”

那个修改了 75 稿论文的法国籍加拿大申请人承认他的初稿写得特别糟糕。 “我的第一稿就是我简历的详细版。”他说, “一个哈佛商学院的校友阅读了我的文章后,告诉我我的内容非常无聊,是一种非常烂俗的销售自己的方式。”那次讨论之后,我决定在文章里传达一些和简历不一样的东西,即阐述“我为什么是我”而不是 “我做了什么事情”。

我做了很多反思,包括和我的父母谈心,甚至还去找了一位心理学家深入探讨这个问题。 我一开始并不擅长这种很意识性的事,我写下了几个关键词,请了几个朋友和同事通读,细化这些事件,直到它们看起来完美无缺。“

那位 2 + 2 项目的候选人则用了一个高度个人化的例子,他分享了他对志愿工作的热情和对社会作出贡献的渴望。威布斯说,“他是一个忠于自己的人,他的价值观经受住了诱惑和挑战。通过分享深刻的个人故事,他让读者了解了他价值观形成的根源,从而这在个人层面上与读者产生了联结。“

他谈到他是一个经济尚可家庭中的第一代大学生,一个意识到自己对于家庭无比亏欠的年轻人,以及他如何从中培养出了强大的人文观念。

“High school put my values tothe test. When I was 14, my desire to make a contribution to society led me toinitiate the first blood drive in my school’s history. I went on to organize five more, and eight years later a blood drive is still heldthere every year. My being the youngest blood drive organizer in the provinceof Quebec did not go unnoticed. I received numerous prizes, as well as recognition by Héma-Québec (the provincial blood bank) and the school’s administration. However, all that publicity,combined with my good grades – not to mention my being quite tall for my age – earned me little respect from my classmates. I was so different that I could not be part of the group – or at least that was the message I received from my peers. Was Ipart of the problem? Probably. Did I deserve to be excluded? Probably not.”

I had a choice. I could try to blend in, or I could be true to myself,whether others liked it or not. I opted for the latter, and with the invaluable support of my family I overcame the hardships and even made some true friends along the way. My family’s influence and insights reinforced my social values and made me realizethat I was having a positive impact on those around me, whether through my volunteer workwith the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada or through my home tutoring of ateenager stricken with cystic fibrosis and unable to attend regular classes. Ibecame fueled by the smiles of the people whom I helped, and by their words ofgratitude. People in need have taught me that selflessness is the path tohappiness; it is the greatest life lesson that I have ever learned.”

而他的结论段呢?他是这样写的。

“When I look back on my life, I see how important my parents and grandparents have been. They have taught me perseverance, courageand selflessness, and they are at the root of my desire to help others and make a difference in the world. In their own way, they have shown me what true teamwork is: working together to achieve a common goal. By morally supporting me at all times, they have ensured that I leave no stone unturned as I strive to develop my full potential. My grandmother is now fighting Alzheimer’s disease and can barelyremember my name. I have always shared the greatest moments of my life with her, and I must admit that she is one of the reasons why I hope to succeed in the 2+2 Program.To live this moment with my grandmother while she can still feel my joy is one of my greatest wishes.”


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