My comments are in blue throughout. The black font represents quotes from Haas, which provides excellent resources and advice on its web site. In a nutshell, Haas kept the basic structure of its app similar to last year’s, but really changed the essay questions, #1 in a dramatic way. Essay 1 is entirely new and distinctive among MBA essay questions. Please see below.
Essays help us learn about who you are as a person and how you will fit with our community. We seek candidates from a broad range of industries, backgrounds, and cultures. Our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles – Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. We encourage you to reflect on your experiences, values, and passions so that you may craft thoughtful and authentic responses that demonstrate your fit with our program – culturally, academically, and professionally.
Below are the required essay and optional essays for Fall 2018.
Tell us a six-word story that reflects a memorable experience in your life-to-date. Elaborate on why it is meaningful to you. (250 words maximum)
Tip: A successful six-word story will pique the reader’s interest in the forthcoming explanation. Together, the story and explanation will share a specific and personal experience that helps the reader get to know you better, giving insight into your character, values, or how you would uniquely contribute to the Berkeley-Haas community. View sample six-word stories and video tips from the admissions committee.
First off, I strongly encourage you to watch the video and review the examples linked to above. Then follow these steps:
1. Think about what you want Haas to know about you that isn’t covered in the other essays or information that you provide. Realize that by asking this question, Haas is seeking to get to know you better. They want to glean “insight into your character, values, and how you will contribute to the Berkeley-Haas community.” 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 in this question. 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.
Respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words maximum)
• Describe a significant obstacle you have encountered and how it has impacted you.
• Describe how you have cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture.
• Describe a leadership experience and how you made a positive and lasting impact.
Tip: Responses can draw from professional or personal experiences. Through your response, the admissions committee hopes to gain insight into your achievements, involvement, and leadership footprint.
These prompts are all new this year, but like last year, you select the prompt you want to respond to.
First decision: Which to choose? Select the one that you can answer most easily and enthusiastically and that complements the other essays and information found elsewhere in your application. Please note that the first and third prompts are asking for one experience or one obstacle. While the second prompt isn’t as specific, the pattern in Haas’ questions suggests that they would prefer an experiential focus to your response. In most places in the application, Haas seeks an example that you find meaningful and illustrative of how you approach situations and events. They want a window into how you act and think. Whatever option you choose, answer the question in full.
Try to choose an event that illustrates you identifying with at least one of Haas’ Four Principles.
1. Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goals. (50 words maximum)
2. How have prior experiences motivated and prepared you to pursue these goals? (250 words maximum)
Tip: You are encouraged to reflect on both what you want to do professionally after business school and why this path interests you.
Last year’s Essay 3 was also a goals question, but it was less structured and specific, and gave you a little more room.
For #1, focus on the function you want to perform and the industry in which you want to perform it. If geography is relevant, include it. Note that this question is about your “immediate” post-MBA goal, not long-term.
For #2, focus on what is motivating you to pursue this goal and how past experiences have prepared you to achieve it. One possible approach: start with an achievement and then discuss how this experience reflects both your preparation for this kind of work and your motivation.
Use this essay to share information that is not presented elsewhere in the application, for example:
• Explanation of employment gaps or academic aberrations
• Quantitative abilities
• For re-applicants, improvements to your candidacy
Haas isn’t restrictive in terms of its optional question, but its examples suggest that the admissions committee is not seeking info about an unusual hobby or personal challenge. They seem to prefer context for possible issues in your application. If you want to go beyond that to the unusual hobby, distinctive achievement or personal challenge not discussed elsewhere, it’s a judgment call.
If you would like professional guidance with your UC Berkeley Haas application, check out 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 application.
***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.