Tuesday Tips – Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley

Haas has continued with the unusual format of asking several short answer questions and two longer required essays. The short answers are quite short, at only 250 words they are about the length of one of the three accomplishments you will outline for HBS. This challenge is an opportunity to provide a very concise and specific example for each, and to demonstrate several different aspects of your personality.

As Haas asks for your career goals last, the admissions committee will be getting to know you as a person before they understand what you are planning to do with your future. Make sure your career goals aren’t a huge surprise at the end, and that they logically flow from your attitude, personality and experiences.

Haas values leadership, teamwork and management potential as much as any other MBA program, yet specifically calls out innovation and creativity in essay 3. If you are a proactive, creative and innovative person this will be a great example for you to shine. While most of the new essay questions are quite similar to last year’s, there is a replacement for question 1, which was a mistake essay last year. This year you are being asked to describe what you are most passionate about, and why. It’s a good way to start the set of essays and should reflect a big picture passion in your life that may be reflected throughout the set of essays.

Short Answer:1. What are you most passionate about? Why? (250 word maximum)

Similar to what matters most, and why, this question seeks to get at your core values. What do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about? (You may want to keep a pencil by your bed to get your creative thoughts flowing!) What common threads have been woven throughout your life, whether altruistic, artistic or personal?

Whatever your passion is, make sure you can draw a conclusion about why you are passionate, and preferably you are able to weave your passion through this entire set of essays.

2. Tell us about your most significant accomplishment. (250 word maximum)

Your accomplishment can be big or small, but it should be significant to you. While you have limited space, this is an opportunity to demonstrate what matters to you and to showcase one of your proudest moments.

While you are asked only about the accomplishment, the best essays will use this limited space to demonstrate clearly what the accomplishment was (be specific!) as well as commenting upon the significance of the accomplishment.

3. At Haas, we value innovation and creativity. Describe a time when you created positive change in a group or an organization. (250 word maximum)

Your own innovative and creative efforts can shine in this essay. This is an ideal place to demonstrate fit with Haas. Even if you are not someone who constantly strives for a new way of doing things, you likely have an experience where you either innovated upon a process or creatively solved a problem. This is likely to be at work, though can certainly be a significant leadership position you have held in an extracurricular organization. The key aspect of this question is to concisely describe what you did, and to elucidate what the impact on the group or organization was.

4. What steps have you taken to learn about the Berkeley MBA program, and what factors have influenced your decision to apply? (250 word maximum)

This is another great opportunity to demonstrate your fit and enthusiasm for the Haas MBA program. Basic research will certainly include a visit to the website and perusal of the course catalog. To really demonstrate fit you will benefit from visiting campus, attending an informational session or connecting with alumni or current students. The personal touch is often the most helpful, and will give you an opportunity to really understand how you can personally be connected to the school.

Required Essays:
Give us an example of a situation in which you displayed leadership. (500 word maximum)
Both required essays are the same as they were last year. In this essay you will want to think about a specific leadership experience and what you did, said, felt and accomplished. Leadership can be expressed in many ways. Perhaps you lead a team of people at work, or in a volunteer capacity. If you do not have a formal leadership role you might have led a project or contributed as a strong leader from a team perspective. Whichever type of leadership experience you had, make sure to provide specifics of the situation. Strong results always stand out!

What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How do your professional experiences relate to these goals? How will an MBA from Berkeley help you achieve these specific career goals? (1000 word maximum)

This is a fairly typical career goals essay that asks for both short- and long-term goals and the background that led you to this juncture in your career. This year it will be especially important to logically connect your background and your future, as schools will be looking for candidates who can be successful in a challenging job market.

Be specific about why Haas is the right program to pursue your goals as well. Make sure you have determined exactly what courses make sense for your career goals and the programs and clubs that you will participate in to reach your personal and professional goals.

Optional Essays:
(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)

This optional essay can be used for any weakness you would like to address, or simply as an opportunity to end with some additional information that will help you stand out from the application pool. If there is an aspect of your background that was not illustrated in previous questions this can be a great opportunity.

If you have a weakness you would like to address here, focus on specifics. Describe what happened, why it is not representative of your potential, and provide specific examples of how you have performed better in your life since. Explanations and not excuses are always the best path.


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