Adding 2+2 To Equal Five

As Students Defer, HBS's 2+2 Program Learns To Be Flexible

She also said that she finds the social environment at the Business School more focused on forging new connections.

“At the College, if they weren’t in my concentration, or they weren’t in my House, or they didn’t live in my dorm as a freshman, it would be very hard for me to walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to get to know you better.’ But it’s really easy to start those conversations at Harvard Business School,” Deng said.

Alexandra Dickson ’09 pointed out that Harvard Business School’s case study method constitutes a “different type of learning” from what she experienced at the College. She added that her two years of work experience at a health care consulting firm assist her in the classroom.

“I think the two years have definitely been very, very valuable,” Dickson said. “It helps in understanding the interpersonal relationship piece in classes like leadership or ethics.”

Yet Deng, Dickson, and Kimball represent only a segment of the population in the initial 2013 cohort. Many of their would-be classmates told Harvard that they would put off coming back to school, and the 2014 cohort has made the choice to defer their matriculation in even higher numbers than the first class.


“The majority of 2+2 admits [from the 2014 cohort] are electing to do a third year of work,” Leopold said. “We’re very flexible [in saying], ‘Tell us what you need and we’ll work with you.’”


One of the students from the 2013 cohort who chose to postpone matriculation was Sergio Prado ’09. Prado had joined the staff of a gaming website called HeavenGames at age 13 and had quickly risen through its ranks. He became a manager at 15, a board member at 17, the owner at 18, and the CEO at 20.

Prado said he applied to 2+2 because it placed a focus on drawing students with technical experience. According to Leopold, the Business School aims to fill at least half of each cohort with students who have backgrounds in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

After graduating from Harvard, Prado worked for a year and a half as a software engineer at Microsoft. He is currently developing a fitness start-up that he founded with a friend.

Prado said that he is drawn to the idea of working on start-ups as a long-term career, and he wanted to have a full experience working in that arena before he entered Harvard Business School. He recently decided to defer enrollment for a second year—meaning that for him, the equation is at least 4+2.

“Based on my understanding, what you get out of business school is only as much as the experiences you had coming in,” Prado said. “What it came down to was I believed that the additional experience with a start-up would be hugely beneficial.”

Leopold said that students like Prado can defer the classroom component of the program at the Business School’s discretion. “We evaluate on a case-by-case basis when it goes beyond the three years,” she said.

If students forgo their admission offers, they forfeit a $1,000 deposit, according to Leopold.

Some admitted students might never make their way to the Business School.


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