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In a fascinating New York Times article, HBS openly discusses its struggles with how to handle online courses.  How does it affect your candidacy?

By Ben Feuer

In the increasingly interconnected world we live in, it is less and less surprising every time the curtain is pulled back from a storied institution, only to reveal the same kind of fear, uncertainty, innovation and courage one encounters in every other walk of life.  For those of you that put top B-Schools on a pedestal, who live and die by the US News Rankings, take a look at how the professors at these schools actually see themselves -- potential future dinosaurs.

Harvard Business School, quite possibly the most storied institution in all of business education, is openly in crisis.  The internet has disrupted many well established business models, and education might well be the next tower to crumble.  The New York Times article linked above shows the professors's thinking about this crisis and how to handle it.

So you're planning to apply to HBS this year.  How does this affect you?

Well for one thing, you should be aware of HBX, a new initiative by the business school to offer a kind of 'pre-MBA' certification at a (relatively) low cost.  Is it free, like Coursera or Edx?  Nope.  But it doesn't really function like those services do -- it's more interactive, and the pieces of paper it plans to hand out are potentially more valuable, although ultimately the marketplace will determine that.

Another thing to be aware of is the potential for top teachers at these institutions to become free agents, educating the world and earning top dollar for doing so.  This should matter to you because understanding your professors, and finding common ground with their ambitions and initiatives can really help you in your application process.  You have valuable insights to share on which teaching methods work for you and which don't, and the more articulate you can be in your feedback, the more potential there is for you to help your teachers grow.

But the most valuable aspect of this article is that it gives you a firsthand opportunity to watch how top thinkers in leadership deal with potential future crises (spoiler: they don't all agree about what should be done, but they are equally proactive and thoughtful in pursuing their various approaches).  You can emulate this in your own work and nonprofit initiatives and make a good impression in your essays.

So the next time you find yourself thinking that Harvard is a magical land where everything always goes smoothly, remember this article, and know that it takes at least as much work to remain the best as it does to become the best.


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