UC Berkeley Haas 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

UC Berkeley Haas

UC Berkeley Haas

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.

Supplemental Information:

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.

Essays:

At Berkeley-Haas, our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles —Question the Status QuoConfidence Without AttitudeStudents 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.

Optional Essays:

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. 

UC Berkeley Haas 2015 MBA Application Deadlines:

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

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Linda Abraham By , 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.

An International Student and Career Changer at UC Berekeley Haas

Click here for more MBA student interviews!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now, introducing Max Anisimov, a first year student at UC Berkeley Haas

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What year are you at UC Berkeley Haas? 

Max: My name is Max. I am currently getting my MBA at University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business, in the class graduating in 2015.

I am originally from Russia, Tyumen City. I graduated in International Economics and Business from one of the best regional universities and then moved to Moscow in 2008 for the next five years and then to the US in 2013 to start my MBA.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Haas so far? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be? 

Max: What I like most about Haas are the people. It is inspirational and fun to be around people who have so much in common with you but at the same time offer such diversity, coming from different backgrounds, career paths and countries. It really makes you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and widen your perspective. Actually, I recently blogged about things I liked most about Haas, among them are also the school’s focus on technology and entrepreneurship, its location close to the Silicon Valley and being a part of large top university.

If I could change one thing, I would probably increase the number of top companies recruiting on-campus.

Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to b-school easier? What are some things you wish you had known before starting your studies?

Max: In a way, things that are important at business school are the same things that are important in life at large. If I had to boil it down to only one, I would say: FOCUS.

This goes both ways: in terms of how you focus your energy externally and how you frame a situation internally.

MBA experience is ironic in that it is the best time to be open-minded and try things you have not tried before, but also the most important time to focus on the most critical things. So, find the right balance and start with your vision coming to school. Which activities are critical for you making it a reality, which ones are nice to have, and which ones are detrimental? As David Allen said, you can do anything, but not everything.

Be grateful and have fun; do not forget that even though you might feel overwhelmed at a certain moment, that is what you worked hard for. Stay true to yourself. For example, if parties are not your thing, connect with classmates by doing sports together or by working on projects.

Accepted: Can you tell us about the independent studies you’re doing at Haas?

Max: Working with a team of three students and two UC Berkeley professors (John Danner and Mark Coopersmith), I have done an independent study on MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses, such as Coursera, EdX and Udacity) as EdTech is something I am interested in and believe that MOOCs have immense potential to disrupt the industry.

Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?

Max: The most difficult thing was to plan the whole process and stay motivated which is not easy for international candidates who are never sure about their chances to get admitted, get financial aid and get their visa. Sometimes, structured GMAT courses and admissions consultants help with this, but I personally decided to do it by myself as I had limited time and really valued flexibility of preparing on my own schedule.

For example, I did a part of my GMAT prep on a beach while having a vacation in Thailand. It made my wife quite amused. I later wrote a guide to studying for GMAT which hopefully some candidates will find helpful.

Accepted: What was your pre-MBA career? Do you plan on returning to that industry after you receive your MBA? Do you plan on heading back to Russia or relocating somewhere else?

Max: I wore different hats before. Most of my full-time job experience comes from working as a brand manager, marketing products for leading multinational consumer goods companies in Russia. I also launched several Internet startups, primarily targeting the Russian Web.

I am passionate about technology’s potential to make positive impact on people’s lives. So, one of the goals I had coming to Haas was to make a transition into the technology field, ideally Internet or software and consumer electronics. In terms of function, most likely I will keep doing marketing and strategy for now. I narrowed down my search to large multinational companies rather than small startups and going to intern at Hewlett-Packard this summer. Long-term I would like to plunge into entrepreneurship full-time as I have been often doing it part-time, and mid-term I would like to stay in the Valley.

Accepted: What role did Haas’ career management center or related clubs play in the helping you get your summer internship?

Max: The job offer I ended up accepting was received on campus – thanks career management group for this! Clubs can sometimes be helpful by providing some job postings and by organizing “career treks” – visits to companies’ headquarters.

Accepted: Do you have any admissions tips for our international readers?

Max: Keep in mind that schools are pragmatic in a sense that they want to minimize career and academic risks potentially associated with you. So you should clearly communicate that you will fit in. But they also want students with outstanding profiles. So you should standout as well, at least with one unusual thing.

Realistically speaking, I think that name-dropping is especially important for international applicants. Some of you might have much better local companies to work for in your given country than Procter & Gamble, McKinsey & Co and Goldman Sachs. But from the brand recognition perspective, I would argue that candidates from these have better odds, all other things being equal. So, this is something to keep in mind and adjust for in your essays, if needed.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? When did you start blogging? Who is your audience? What do you hope to gain from the blogging experience? 

Max: Sure! I blog about books, marketing, tech startups, wellbeing and travel. Recently, I have been writing more about my MBA. But really I view my blog as an experimentation lab where I might play with different cool things. It helps me meet like-minded people and to improve my English, as well as Internet technology, design and social media skills.

Accepted: What are your favorite non-school books?

Max: I mostly read non-fiction, listening to audiobooks when commuting. If I had to pick only few, I would settle for Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt (psychology, philosophy and science), Abundance by Peter Diamandis (future, economy and technology) and Your Brain at Work by David Rock (neuroscience, personal development and management). Oh, I need to add fiction. Let it be Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Sum by David Eagleman for pure fun. :)

Thank you Max for sharing your story with us! You can stay current with Max’s MBA adventure by following him on his blog or Twitter or by connecting with him via LinkedIn.

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The Economist’s Top 20 North American MBA Programs

How much do MBA rankings matter? Click here for the short answer. Below you’ll find The Economist’s top 20 American business schools, with a rank on the left (ranking the top 20 in the U.S. and Canada) and a rank on the right (the school’s place in the top 100 global rankings). As you’ll see, the American programs listed are all located at the top or very close to the top of the top global programs. The Economist article highlights the legacy of American programs – their size, their history, their all-star faculties (all of Wharton’s 245 professors have PhDs), and their financial magnitude.

As always when looking at rankings, you need to understand the methodology behind them. The Economist’s methodology is a weighted average going back to 2011 of some fairly quirky factors including “Diversity of recruiters,” “Number of languages taught,” and “Number of overseas countries with an official alumni branch.” If those and other factors considered by the Economist are not important to you, then this ranking probably isn’t that useful to you.

There are 16 schools on the global rankings that have an average GMAT score over 700; 14 of them are American (with Stanford GSB taking the cake with an average of 729).For opening up doors career-wise, the top 5 schools in the global rankings were all Americans – Chicago Booth, Dartmouth Tuck, UVA Darden, and Columbia. Interestingly, even with the top marks for job opportunities, graduates from American programs tend to earn less than those from European and Australian programs – the Economist article claims that this is likely due to the limited pre-MBA work experience of those accepted at American programs. (Even Stanford’s grads, who in America boast the highest average salary of around $130,000, earn less than grads from less prestigious programs like IMD in Switzerland and University of Queensland in Australia.)

In terms of cost, the American schools certainly rank at the top of the chart. A Harvard MBA will run students $112,000. A degree from Wharton costs $130,000.

How much do rankings really matter? Click here to view our 2-min answer.

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GRE vs. GMAT: Trends

A recent Poets & Quants article highlights some of the current data surrounding the decision applicants make in choosing between the GRE and GMAT. According to the Educational Testing Service, almost 10% of MBA applicants took the GRE instead of the GMAT in the 2012-2013 testing year, a 38% increase since last year’s testing period.

One factor responsible for this shift is the fact that some major MBA players (mainly Chicago Booth, UC Berkeley Haas, and Georgetown McDonough) finally decided to accept the GRE.

Here are some additional stats:

• 29% of b-schools surveyed by Kaplan Test Prep said that at least 10% of their applicants were GRE test takers. 18% of schools said that their GRE pool was at 18%. 6% of respondents said that their applicant pool was made up of half GRE test takers and half GMAT test takers.

• At Yale SOM, 21% of applicants submitted GRE scores last year, an increase of 18% since the previous year.

• 25% of Notre Dame Mendoza prospective students submitted a GRE score last year, up from 12% previously.

• At UCLA Anderson, only 3% of applicants submitted GRE scores.

• 5% of Columbia Business School applicants took the GRE last year, compared to 2% the year before.

• At Emory Goizueta, 8% of last year’s prospective students took the GMAT, up from the previous year’s 3%.

• Washington Olin’s GRE pool dropped 7% from 31% in 2012 to 24% last year (which is still high).

• Texas McCombs also took a slight dip, from 13% in 2012 to 11% last year.

• In India, the number of GRE test takers increased 68% last year, from 52,792 in 2012 to 88,884 last year. In the U.S., the increase in test takers over that same period was just 5.3%, from 401,286 test takers in 2012 to 422.668 this past year.

Reasons for the Growth in GRE

• Versatility of the GRE. Rob Weiler, UCLA Anderson’s associate dean, points out that many students are submitting scores from GRE tests they took up to a few years ago. “It’s clear that they had graduate school in mind when they took the test but were still considering the best avenue to take for their career,” he says. “Once it became clear that business school was their choice, they used their GRE score to apply.”

• Price. The GMAT is priced at $250, while the GRE costs only $195.

• Rankings and willingness to accept lower scores. The P&Q article states that admissions consultants are suggesting that applicants take the GRE over the GMAT because of the way official rankings take the GMAT into consideration. “So an admissions office might be overly sensitive to a low GMAT score, but might pass on a lower GRE,” states the article, which then goes on to compare GREs and GMATs of accepted students at Yale – the former being lower than the latter. (Using ETS’ comparative tool, the equivalent GMAT score based on the GRE scores accepted at Yale would be 660; the average GMAT score at Yale is 714. A similar phenomenon is found with other programs, with a 91 point gap at Cornell Johnson, a 126 point gap at Washington Olin, and a 118 point gap at Vanderbilt Owen.)

• The ScoreSelect option. This allows test takers to retake the exam and send only their best score to their target schools.

The following chart comes from the P&Q article and shows the percentage of 2012-2013 applicants who submitted GRE scores, as well as the GRE-GMAT differences.

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Source: Business schools reporting to U.S. News & World Report

My thoughts

On one hand, the focus on the comparator tool may be misplaced. When I have spoken to admissions committee members about the GRE we spoke in terms of percentile scores. I would love to see this data and the comparison between the GMAT and the GRE comparing percentile scores. I think that would be more worthwhile. I suspect it would still show similar results, but perhaps with smaller gaps.

Regardless of the validity of the comparator tool, this article suggests that the GRE may not only be cheaper, it may in a way take your score out of the public eye. And if you don’t need a high GMAT to snag an interview at an elite bank or consulting firm, and you’re struggling with the GMAT, the GRE may be a better test for you.

Although I can’t locate the blog post, soon after schools started accepting the GRE in greater numbers, I suggested that those of you with other evidence of academic ability who are struggling with the GMAT should contemplate applying with the GRE. I felt that because the GRE is not reflected in the published GMAT averages that applicants, alumni, and employers use as a quick-and-dirty reflection of student “quality,” submitting a GRE score instead of the GMAT would give admissions officers wiggle room to focus on other aspects of your application. It would allow them to consider your application without worrying about a hit to their GMAT average.

On the other hand if you can do well on the GMAT, go for it. Schools want GMAT bragging rights.

Got GMAT Questions? Visit GMAT 101 for advice.

Linda Abraham By , 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.

Top 10 B-Schools with the Most Satisfied Graduates

Trying to figure out which b-schools to apply to? Click here for some great advice.

Does money buy happiness?

Forbes surveyed 17,000 alumni at 100 schools on their satisfaction regarding the following three areas: their current job, their career preparedness, and their MBA education. 4,600 alumni responded. The following ten schools received the highest combined rates of satisfaction:

  1. Stanford GSB
  2. UC Berkeley Haas
  3. Carnegie Mellon Tepper
  4. Michigan State Broad
  5. Indiana Kelley
  6. Dartmouth Tuck
  7. Duke Fuqua
  8. Rice Jones
  9. Wisconsin School of Business
  10. Chicago Booth

One of the interesting points highlighted in this study is the age-old question: Does money buy happiness? The study (which also measured ROI – findings were publishing in October 2013) found that there are many graduates from top b-schools making $200,000+ salaries, but who offered only so-so marks on job satisfaction. (The article points to respondents from Penn, Dartmouth, and Chicago in regards to this disassociation.) At the same time, while job satisfaction may not be soaring, that ho-hum feeling doesn’t seem to stop alumni from ranking their school satisfaction extremely high.

The alumni who responded to this survey were already five years out of b-school, which means that they graduated in 2008, at the height of the recession. The Forbes article states that these alumni “overwhelmingly gave their schools high marks for their educations, but much lower scores for their current job satisfaction.” Though graduates from Berkeley Haas gave the highest marks for job satisfaction. Tuck and Booth ranked relatively low for job satisfaction, yet made it to the top 10 due to their high marks for educational satisfaction and preparedness in relation to other MBAs. (Stanford gave top scores for both these areas.)

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