Business schools evaluate an applicant on many parameters, one of them being work experience (role, responsibilities and learning). Prior work experience is either mandatory or desirable. However, there are business schools that do take freshers.

The Harvard 2 +2 programme is unique. It requires you to work for two years before entering its MBA course, but it does not evaluate you for nature of work experience, for when you are offered an admit you are still in college.

If you are a candidate who can benefit from and contribute to a class of potential leaders who will play a role in the world economy; if you have a wide range of interests and share a demonstrated capacity for leadership and a desire to effect positive change, Harvard is for you, whether your interest is in sports or art (creative/performing arts), activism (environment/ community development), scholarship (literary interests) or science (technology).

If you intend to take the 2 +2 route to Harvard, start building your profile in the first year of college itself.

Use opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, to organise events, to engage in welfare work and to be active in social causes.

Use your semester breaks wisely. Search the Internet to locate start-ups in your city and interact with them, share and bounce ideas, attend workshops on entrepreneurship, be active on the campus entrepreneurship cells and interact with B-school alumni.

In the second year, you may do an internship project with an organisation, take up part-time work or form a team and start something on your own.

Consider the following areas for internship/project:

sustainable livelihood projects

inclusive education

improving access for the common man

healthcare

localised solutions to community problems

participative and collaborative programmes of government and NGOs.

You must do all these with a commitment to bring about positive change and must love doing them and not do them merely to satisfy the admission criteria. All these rich experiences will serve as the right training ground for the Harvard rigour.

GMAT

Phasing out your preparation is vital. The GMAT examination can be taken early or mid-pre-final year. On an average, 4-5 month preparation works. You should target 700+ in the GMAT (the Harvard batch comes with a 670+ score).

However, a high GMAT score is only one of the many requirements to qualify for the Harvard 2+2 programme.

GMAT is a computer-based test, the challenges of which are math problem-solving and complex verbal and reasoning questions.

Start early and bring out your best in the first attempt itself (you can re-take the GMAT and send your best score).

Your success will depend upon how you plan and take one step at a time, how you balance both academics and profile-building, and how you do all these the smart way.

The Harvard B-School 2+2 programme is exclusively for college juniors. Students can complete their undergraduation, work for two years and then join the programme. Applications for class entering September 2014 will be available in 2011. Students passing out in 2012 can apply in April 2011.

Dr. Vijayakumari

Head - Academics,

Semantics, Chennai

Email: vijaya@semanticslearning.com