Haas’ application this year has relatively minor changes. It replaced last year’s #1, which was a somewhat artsy question about a song that expresses who you are, with a straightforward question about a transformational experience.
The other significant change is that Haas provides word length guidelines that provide range, for instance 400-500 word maximum, instead of one number, for example 500 words max.
1. If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain. If not applicable, enter N/A.
Keep it short and sweet. This is primarily for those of you who don’t want to tell your boss yet that you plan to leave.
2. List in order of importance all community and professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Include the following information for each organization or activity using the format below:
• Name of organization or activity
• Nature of organization or activity
• Size of organization
• Dates of involvement
• Offices held
• Average number of hours spent per month
Whenever possible, quantify your impact or contribution. Please note that Haas is not interested in high school grades or activities. Note also that they want the list not in chronological order, but in order of importance — however you define “importance.”
3. List full-time and part-time jobs held during undergraduate or graduate studies, indicating the employer, job title, employment dates, location, and the number of hours worked per week for each position held prior to the completion of your degree.
Again, quantify as much as possible your responsibilities and impact. Focus on achievements. Avoid job descriptions that are obvious from your job title.
4. Please explain all gaps in your employment since earning your university degree.
Provide the circumstances, but as always, be succinct. If your position was eliminated during a restructuring and it took you three months to find a job, say so. No harm, no foul. If the layoff was much longer, also indicate how you used your time, other than job-searching. Learning new skills or serving your community, if true, would be great to mention here.
5. If you have ever been subject to academic discipline, placed on probation, suspended, or required to withdraw from any college or university, please explain. If not, please enter N/A. (An affirmative response to this question does not automatically disqualify you from admission.)
Please, please, please don’t “forget” to answer this question if it applies to you. It’s far worse to omit it than to answer it.
At Berkeley-Haas, our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles —Question the Status Quo; Confidence Without Attitude; Students Always; and Beyond yourself. We seek candidates from a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, and industries who demonstrate a strong cultural fit with our program and defining principles. Please use the following essays as an opportunity to reflect on and share with us the values, experiences, and accomplishments that have helped shape who you are. (Learn more about Berkeley-Haas’ Defining Principles).
As you are answering the following four questions really think about Haas’ defining principles and when possible tie your answer and experiences to those principles. As I frequently do, I want to warn you against simply repeating the principles or stuffing them into your essays. That’s a waste of time and space. Use your essays to reveal that you share those values and have those qualities.
1. Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world. How did this transform you? (400 – 500 word maximum)
This is a new and very different questions form the one that occupied this slot last year.
The question is fairly straightforward and clear. Plus it leaves you room to start with the experience. Paint a picture for the reader of the scene that had such tremendous impact, or tell the story of that experience. How has your life changes as a result? How did your perspective change? What do you do differently? While discussing perspective or outlook is fine, don’t leave your essay with theory alone. Transformation isn’t merely theoretical; it has to influence practice.
2. What is your most significant professional accomplishment? (200 – 300 word maximum)
What are you most proud of? When did you make a real contribution and go “beyond yourself”? Tell the story of your accomplishment, but also reflect on it. Why do you consider it the “most significant”? Was it the impact you had on others, or the impact the experience had on you, or what the experience says about you?
For a brief article on accomplishments, please see “What is an Accomplishment?”
3. What is your desired post-MBA role and at what company or organization? In your response, please specifically address sub-questions a., b., and c. (500 – 600 word maximum for 3a, 3b, and 3c combined)
a. How is your background compelling to this company?
b. What is something you would do better for this company than any other employee?
c. Why is an MBA necessary and how will Haas specifically help you succeed at this company? (250 word maximum)
This is a probing question. Generalities won’t do here.
It’s unusual that Haas is asking you to be so specific as to name a company you would like to work for. They’re not asking for a type of company or industry. Regardless, do the homework necessary so that you can specify a company as well as the roll you would like to play in that organization.
First, what role would you like to have after you earn your MBA and what would be your first choice in terms of employer. Now do your homework about the company. Read its employment site. If you can, speak to current employees. If you can’t interact with real live people, go on Vault or LinkedIn and network with current employees who are alumni of your college or somehow connected to you in some other way. What is a typical career path at this company? What does the organization seek in people it hires for your desired role? Why would this company want to hire you given your background and education? Why would you be (after you get your Haas MBA) a compelling candidate?
And finally, how will Haas help you snag your dream position at your dream company. What gaps will your MBA fill? What skills will it hone?
Think about a common thread between what you’ve done, your Haas MBA, and that dream position. That core idea can really unify your essay.
1. (Optional) Please feel free to provide a statement concerning any information you would like to add to your application that you haven’t addressed elsewhere. (500 word maximum)
A bonus! If there is an element in your background, be it personal, academic or professional, that you have not revealed elsewhere and would like the adcom to know about, this is the spot. Give them another reason to admit you, but don’t submit the grand summary, appeal, or closing statement. Keep it succinct and focused. Obviously, you could use this essay to explain a weakness, but that would leave your application ending on a weakness, which is less than optimal. Try to fit the explanation in somewhere else in the app or if necessary tuck the weakness into this essay, but have the main focus of this essay be something positive. For example: Your pride in working your way through undergrad, the challenges, and the ultimate satisfaction of learning to manage your time. An essay with this core idea explains a less than stellar GPA; it won’t justify a 2.0.
2. (Optional) If not clearly evident, please discuss ways in which you have demonstrated strong quantitative abilities, or plan to strengthen quantitative abilities. You do not need to list courses that appear on your transcript. (250 word maximum)
If you are a liberal arts graduate or the proverbial poet applying to business school or if you simply don’t have a lot of math on your transcript or on your resume, you need to respond to this question. You could show that your work may be more quantitative than initially assumed or you could discuss quantitative courses you are taking now that do not yet appear on your transcript.
If you would like professional guidance with your UC Berkeley Haas MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Haas MBA application.
|Application Deadline||Decisions Released|
|Round 1||October 1, 2014||January 15, 2015|
|Round 2||January 7, 2015||March 26, 2015|
|Round 3||March 11, 2015||May 14, 2015|
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.