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How to Ace the Haas Required Essays

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Joined: 30 Nov 2009
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Schools: Brown University, Harvard Business School
How to Ace the Haas Required Essays  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Dec 2019, 01:42
Haas has one of the shortest applications out there--only 600 words max across the two required essays--but don't be fooled, this application is anything but easy. The Haas prompts are not standard MBA essay fare, and you'll need to think hard and avoid rote answers. There's also an extensive set of "optional" essay prompts which we've analyzed in depth on our website. Let's take a look:

Required Essay 1 – What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)

Haas has gone in a new direction this year, and this question certainly stands out compared to the common MBA essay fare. One cool way to start is to establish a FEW things you really like to do, and are good at. Think about them, and what makes you really enjoy them. Write it all down and make a list.

Now, look at that list… which of those activities/processes/things makes you feel MOST ALIVE? You have a sense of the status quo, of what you enjoy, but one of these things is special. More exhilarating, somehow. How is that NEW THING different from the rest? This exercise should help you zero in on the key element of an activity that makes you, personally, feel alive. That element will be different for everyone, you just need to identify what it is for you.

We want to open with that key difference between “things you enjoy” and “things that make you feel alive.” After you’ve established that, now we need to know why we should care. Well, let’s put that differently... this section should leave us wanting you to BE IN THAT “ALIVE” STATE. We want to convince the adcom, through your sincerity and passion, that enabling you is likely to lead to good things. That’s the cynical read here, folks. People who are really truly passionate, people who can get into a flow state... don’t quit. That’s what you’re REALLY conveying here. That when the going gets tough, you’re the kind of person who will stick with the MBA and not withdraw (costing the school a bunch of money).

So, initially you’ll explain what makes you feel alive, and here in “part 2” you’ll explain the “why.” But as you do, keep in mind that sincerity will beat melodrama, flowery tear-jerking or inspirational prose any day. Just be clean and earnest, and try to put your finger on what gets activated in you and why.


Required Essay 2 – At Berkeley Haas, we are redefining leadership. We value different opinions and perspectives, recognizing that we always have more to learn about others’ lived experiences and histories. We encourage speaking up and listening, and courageously use our power to address barriers and drive change for positive impact. Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples. (300 words max)

Wow. That is one hell of a trick question. These guys don’t just drop words in for fun. If you were to answer the actual question-question (“Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples”) without paying much attention to that preamble, you could very easily go off on a VERY different (and potentially disastrous) path.

A good answer here MUST be characterized by HUMILITY and the capacity and desire to listen and learn from others. That’s what this question is all about. You need to explain how you’re gonna grow as a leader... by being a better LISTENER and OBSERVER and “EMBRACER” of people who have different backgrounds and perspectives. Because doing so will make you better at leading.

Or we can say it the other way, people who exhibit a LOW capacity or desire to consider the perspective of others (especially the perspectives of those with different backgrounds and influences) are likely to be “bad at leading... because of that.” Why? Well, for one, think about why Haas might believe that leadership needs “redefining” in this way. For example: “The world is more global today than it was several decades ago. Being stuck in a particular mindset can therefore be a real liability in the world of business.” See how we brought it back to business? Yes it’s Berkeley, but it’s still business school, folks. They want you to kick ass in the BUSINESS WORLD not in the “hug it out and sing kumbayah world.”

So, in 300 words, we need to know (a) Where you need to be stretched in this area, where can you improve; (b) Specifically how will Haas help you achieve that needed growth; and finally (c) What might YOU have to offer others? That last part is a bonus piece that many will miss. Don’t just get all high and mighty and tell us how you plan to GRACE others with your amazingness. Instead, talk about this as though your contribution were simply part of a chemical reaction where... the interaction w OTHER AGENTS (your cohort) will combust somehow and lead to something where everyone profits. So this isn’t you talking AT people about your experiences doing ABC cool thing. It’s “by contributing that kind of thing in a class filled w XYZ type people, I hope [ABC cool thing] happens.” This all ties to the ways in which you’re hoping to STRETCH as a leader, but the key aspect is that it’s mindful of others (and people’s impact on each other) every step of the way.


Feel free to reach out below if you have any questions!
GMAT Club Bot
How to Ace the Haas Required Essays   [#permalink] 16 Dec 2019, 01:42

How to Ace the Haas Required Essays

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