Friday, December 15, 2017

How I got into Harvard Business School ….

September 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Practice, Work

In the numerous years since I was accepted to pursue my MBA at Harvard Business School, the one question that I am asked to this day, often with a great deal of incredulity, is “Harvard!  How did you get into Harvard”?  And every time I am asked, I respond with these two simple words “I applied”.


It’s never the response that people expect or seek – they really do want to know the secret of how a girl from small island Jamaica was accepted into the most prestigious and competitive business program in the world.   Most people who would like to attend Harvard, and who perhaps are ultimately more qualified than I was, never apply.  My position was that Harvard hires and trains staff to manage admissions.  They are more than qualified to evaluate applications and make the right decisions.  So I don’t need to do their job for them.  My only task is to submit my application.  Which I did.


Everytime I respond “I applied”, I smile and remember the bigger lesson:  How many times do we want to do grand things, yet don’t because we have not taken the first step?  Because we have assumed the outcome is stacked against us, so why bother?  How many times do we do other people’s jobs for them, cutting ourselves out of situations because we THINK, we ASSUME that we don’t qualify?  So many situations face us throughout our lives where we make the decision not to try, not to apply.  It’s the surest way to fail.


Success in life is not always about being the best and brightest (trust me – I met some real doozies at Harvard).  That helps, but it’s of no use without the willingness to take the necessary steps.


Want that promotion that “everybody” says you are not ready for?  Apply

Thinking of that business idea that “everyone” says is crazy?  Do it

Tempted to leave that boring job to follow your passion?  Start

Always wanted to go to Harvard?  Take that first step.  Apply.  You never know – you just might be accepted.



9 Responses to “How I got into Harvard Business School ….”
  1. Nadine A Marriott says:

    If you apply and are accepted – “Nothing beat a failure but a trial!!!”
    And if you are not accepted – you are no worse off than you were before!!!

  2. Marguerite Orane says:

    So true Nadine. Best way to not fail is to not try!



  3. Sound advice MO. Having lived in the Boston area for a while, I can understand why people could be intimidated by the thought of even applying to Harvard. I have spent many hours at the COOP, and learnt firsthand, and from reading books on the subject “Getting into Harvard” or similar titles, that there are people with the desire to perpetuate the popular belief that getting in is near impossible and that spaces are reserved exclusively for the exceptionally gifted.

  4. Marguerite Orane says:

    Ha ha Mike – if they only knew ….. so good to hear from you!

  5. Dr Kamugisha A.W. Byabato says:

    Thanks for your communication. Yes you are right!!!! However when you try and fail you worry for your time (and other resources) “wasted” in the application process. Want to hear my story? Yes, as young man I dreamt about the Harvard Business School and APPLIED!!!! That was in 1988 and I was studying in France. I got some response about the requirements, some of which were confidential reports from previous study authorities. Although I was in France by then, my previous completed studies had been undertaken in Soviet Russia. So I had to ask my former academic superiors in Leningrad to send my confidential report directly to Harvard. Instead the sent it to the Russian Embassy in Paris and I had to go there to collect it. By that time the deadline was long past.
    So, my dear, applying is just the first step, but there are many others more and sometimes the task may be daunting and so cumbersome that one is discouraged along the way.

  6. Carl Bliss says:

    Thanks Marguerite for that simple yet power packed message. I’m always amazed at how we complicate our lives all the time. Love and blessings!!

  7. Marguerite Orane says:

    Yes Carl – simple is good. That’s why children and dogs are so happy – life is simple for them. And if we make this our life journey, then we will be happy too.

  8. Marguerite Orane says:

    Oh Kamugisha – thanks for sharing this. Yes, there are no guarantees – but you tried! Had you not tried, you would always be berating yourself. You did your best, and I am sure it all worked out in the end. Love and blessings to you!


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