UC Berkeley Haas MBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines
Haas, like several top MBA programs, is looking for a new dean to replace its dynamic, innovative dean, Richard Lyons, on July 1. He has served as dean for the last eleven years. I expect an announcement any day.
Despite the impending change at the top, Haas is extremely difficult to get into. It has for the last three years been #3 in Accepted’s selectivity index, right behind Stanford and Harvard. While the acceptance rate and average GPA have remained pretty stable, Haas’ average GMAT has soared 10 points to 725 from the entering classes of 2015 to 2017.
At the same time, while Haas has made it very clear that you need outstanding academics to get in, they will not compromise their values to maintain those stats. The Four Principles are taken very seriously by Haas’ administration and admissions team. You need to show you share and live by those principles if you are to receive serious consideration at Haas. The Four Principles are:
• Question the Status Quo
• Confidence Without Attitude
• Students Always
• Beyond Yourself
Keep those principles very much in the forefront as you prepare your Haas application.
My comments are in blue throughout. The black font represents quotes from Haas, which provide excellent resources and advice on their website.
Haas School of Business Application Essays
The Full-time MBA program annually enrolls approximately 300 diverse, talented, and creative future business leaders. We admit candidates from a wide variety of industries and backgrounds who demonstrate professional achievement, academic aptitude, and leadership potential. Our community is enriched by students who embody our Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself, and we seek candidates who will contribute to our distinctive culture.
The admissions team takes a holistic approach to application review and seeks to understand all aspects of a candidate’s character, qualifications, and experiences. We will consider achievements in the context of the opportunities available to a candidate. Some applicants may have faced hardships or unusual life circumstances, and we will consider the maturity, perseverance, and thoughtfulness with which they have responded to and/or overcome them.
All interested candidates are encouraged to apply.
Haas MBA Essay #1
Tell us a six-word story that reflects a memorable experience in your life-to-date. Elaborate on why it is meaningful to you. (300 words maximum)
1. Think about what you want Haas to know about you that isn’t covered in the other information that you provide. Realize that by asking this question, Haas is seeking to get to know you better. This is a great place to show fit with Haas and its Four Principles (or at least some of them).
2. Then choose the six words that best reflect this memorable experience and perhaps make them curious to know more. Haas says contractions are OK, and perfect grammar isn’t necessary. The “what” clearly isn’t nearly as important as the “why.”
3. The elaboration – the why – is where the rubber meets the road. You may have to briefly provide context so the reader will know what you’re talking about and elaborate on the significance of those six words. Most of those 250 words should be devoted to why the event is important and the meaning you ascribe to it.
Please note that the six words and subsequent elaboration are supposed to focus on one experience, not your whole life or several experiences.
Haas MBA Essay #2
Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal, and discuss how it will put you on a path to a meaningful and rewarding career. (300 words maximum)
Your answer, as Admissions Director Morgan Bernstein says in her video on the essays, should “connect the dots between what you’ve done in the past and what you want to do in the future.”
To answer this question you need to know two things:
1. What you define as a “meaningful and rewarding career”
2. The post-MBA job that will start you down that path
The essay could start with a future day when you are on that meaningful career and then flash back to your first post-MBA job. You could also include a brief paragraph reflecting why this career is meaningful to you.
Alternatively, you can start with an experience, preferably an accomplishment that reflects one or more of Haas’ principles, and discuss how the experience shaped your desired career path, and specifically your understanding of “meaningful.” Then discuss the post-MBA job and the path you want to take after attending Haas.
Haas MBA Optional Information #1
We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements.
1. What is the highest level of education completed by your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
• Did not complete high school
• High school diploma or equivalency (GED)
• Associate's degree (junior college) or vocational degree/license
• Bachelor's degree (BA, BS)
• Master's degree (MA, MS)
• Doctorate or professional degree (MD, JD, DDS)
2. What is the most recent occupation of your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
• Skilled worker
3. If you were raised in one of the following household types, please indicate.
• Raised by a single parent
• Raised by an extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)
• Raised in a multi-generational home
• Raised in foster care
4. What was the primary language spoken in your childhood home?
5. If you have you ever been responsible for providing significant and continuing financial or supervisory support for someone else, please indicate.
• Extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)
6. Please elaborate on any of your above responses. Alternatively, you may use this opportunity to expand on other hardships or unusual life circumstances that may help us understand the context of your opportunities, achievements, and impact. (300 words maximum)
Simply and honestly answer the short answer questions and then elaborate in #6 if relevant or use this essay to discuss hardships or “unusual circumstances” that are the context for the rest of the application.
In providing that context, especially when talking about hardships overcome, provide enough information for the admissions committee to understand the hardship, but not so much that you end up writing a pity essay or you end up appearing somehow “damaged” or broken.
Overcoming hardship can strengthen a person. That’s the kind of image you want to create if you choose to write on the topic. Yes, you may have experienced something difficult, maybe even tragic or terrible, but you have overcome this and are stronger as a result. The reader’s reaction? Admiration, not pity.
Haas MBA Optional Information #2
This section should only be used to convey relevant information not addressed elsewhere in your application. This may include explanation of employment gaps, academic aberrations, supplemental coursework, etc. You are encouraged to use bullet points where appropriate.
This optional essay is a restrictive optional. Only use it to provide context for events and outcomes, like a dip in grades or employment gap. You don’t want the admissions readers to (wrongly) assume something or imagine what caused that gap or dip. Just tell them succinctly what happened if you haven’t done so somewhere else in your Haas application.
For expert guidance with your Berkeley Haas MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Berkeley Haas’ MBA program and look forward to helping you too!
UC Berkeley Haas 2018 - 2019 MBA Application Deadlines
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
• Why MBA?, a free guide to writing about your MBA goals
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