Berkeley Haas Mba Essays Tips

Haas School of Businessat University of California Berkeley is both highly selective and a small class. With a much larger admissions pool than the school can admit, it’s important to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate fit with the culture and program. This year the essays have significantly changed, but continue to ask for creativity from applicants.

The Haas admissions committee has a series of videos and podcasts posted on the website that are worth reviewing for their key insights and tips.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has successfully coached applicants to the Haas MBA each admissions year. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you set a winning application strategy.

ESSAY #1
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)

The Haas admissions committee has their own six word stories in each profile, check them out for great examples.

Think of your six-word story as a compelling headline for the memorable experience you will describe. Just as journalists write the headline after the story, it will be easier to start with the elaboration and then encapsulate it in a pithy and captivating six-word story.

Haas has asked creative and open-ended questions for many years, and this is another version of that kind of essay. Brainstorm the most compelling story you can, preferably one that shows your diversity of experience. Ideally your experience also reveals something about you.

For example, we worked with a client who had a dramatic story about surviving a plane crash. The first time we read the draft it was highly exciting, but missed any description of his actions and what it meant to him. We worked on the meaning of the story and ended up with both a compelling and memorable narrative, and a story about leading through uncertainty, as he worked to help his fellow passengers through language barriers and lack of medical training.

Once you have written your own story, think about that six-word headline. You should reveal some of the plot while leaving enough to the imagination to grab your readers interest.

ESSAY #2
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.

The admissions committee is open to either professional or personal experiences in this essay. Think about what you have described in the prior essay and the stories you may use in the next one. What aspects of your background, experiences, and values have yet to be highlighted? This may be the right place to explore those elements.

This essay asks a behavioral question (“Describe” is the operative word) and you will want to briefly explain the situation, then explain in depth how you thought, felt and acted in the situation. If you choose the middle option and describe how you have cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture, make sure you have specific examples of what you did and how you did it.

Perhaps you first recognized that a diverse culture was needed in your workplace or extracurricular activity, then you researched how you could improve the situation, finally you took action and followed through to a result. If you faced challenges and stumbling blocks it will be interesting to read how you overcame them. It will be tough to provide detail in 250 words, so be selective and specific as you tell your story.

ESSAY #3
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)

This is a short career goals essay and asks you to describe your immediate goals succinctly and then how your past experiences have led you to those goals. path to business school along with your future goals. You should not focus on reciting your entire resume here – rather highlight the key experiences that will be relevant in your future career. Think about the experiences you would describe in a cover letter for your post-MBA job application, and tailor your approach accordingly.

Be specific about why the Haas School of Business is the right program to pursue your goals as well. As you consider past experiences and your future goals you will be able to see what you want to gain from the Haas experience to fill any gaps.

For example, If you have an advertising background and want to become a brand manager you’ll likely need classes in operations and finance to understand the analytical side of brand management. Other goals will require specific skills gained from an MBA and your own unique background will inform how you take advantage of the Haas experience.

OPTIONAL ESSAY
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

Note that there is a specific place to indicate that you won’t have a recommendation from your current supervisor in the supplemental information section, so you do not need to explain that here in the optional essay.

Haas recommends using this space to address any information that was not adequately covered elsewhere, specifically suggesting that any employment gaps or lack of apparent quantitative skills be covered.

If you have a strong quantitative background like an engineering or hard sciences degree, or you work in a quantitative field like finance, it is likely unnecessary to further explain your quantitative skills.Otherwise, you may want to take one or two examples to demonstrate that you have an analytical mind and can take a quantitative approach to problem solving and evaluating data.

As the question specifically asks you not to focus on the grades on your transcript, use this space to describe projects at work, additional post-graduate coursework, or your plans to strengthen your quant skills before you enroll at Haas.

A short gap between school and a secured job is not necessary to explain, but an unexplained gap of several months between two jobs should be addressed. If your resume has significant employment gaps you should describe what you did between jobs in this space. Ideally you can point to additional education, training, volunteering or traveling that you engaged in while unemployed.

Reapplicants can describe hard improvements to your candidacy such as an improved GMAT score, new grades from quantitative classes, or a promotion. Other improvements might include refined career goals and additional leadership responsibilities at work or within a volunteer activity.

This entry was posted in Application Tips, UC Berkeley Haas Advice and tagged application essays, Berkeley MBA, essay advice, Essay Tips, Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips, Haas MBA, Haas School, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
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Berkeley / Haas MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018

Now that the Haas MBA essay topics have been announced for the 2017-2018 season, we wanted to offer our thoughts on how to approach each of these prompts for business school applicants targeting the UC Berkeley MBA Class of 2020.

The Haas admissions website notes that the adcom seeks “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.”

Berkeley / Haas MBA Essay Question Analysis 2017-2018

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Essay 1

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.

Dispensing with their longstanding request for a representative song, Haas instead asks applicants for essentially a “snapshot” of a memorable experience.  Given the structure of the response—six words followed by a short explanation—we suggest taking the following approach.

  1. Choose the story.  This ideally needs to be something interesting that will be memorable to the admissions team.  In an ideal world, the story will fit with your overall positioning as an MBA applicant seeking to attend Haas, too. You may start by making a list of your top 10 most memorable experiences, then reflecting on what each reflects about your character or values. Consider what you want the adcom to know about you the most.
  2. Draft the 250 words to explain why this was an important experience. This will also need to provide context for the six words you come up with. This is the place to establish the who, what, when and where for the six-word statement.  Then, you should dig into why the experience mattered to you.
  3. Craft the six-word story, which could be considered a “headline.”  The words have to offer enough of a sketch to really pique the interest of the reader, but some ambiguity can be a good thing (after all, you want to push the adcom to read the 250 words). It would be worth reviewing the adcom’s personal samples, as some convey an overall lesson or attitude drawn from the memorable experience, while others draw on more concrete imagery. You may even wish to send just the six words to a friend or colleague and ask them for their reaction—do the six words capture the mood of your experience? Is the person intrigued or confused?  This may help you gauge how to tweak the headline.

Essay 2

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.
This prompt presents applicants with a range of experiences they might discuss: a challenge that yielded a significant paradigm shift, a team building situation based on diversity, or action that led to long-term positive results. We recommend that applicants begin by reflecting on their honest answer to each of the three options. While you may naturally gravitate toward one of them, generating at least two potential topics for each and then evaluating strategically will help you hone in on your best option in light of our next piece of advice.

Once you’ve got your list of examples, we recommend that you cross-reference each with (you guessed it) the four Haas principles. The adcom has signaled that fit with the program’s values is very important to them, so this should take priority in your topic selection. That is, facing an obstacle that required Questioning the Status Quo or entailed Confidence without Attitude will be a better choice than touting an experience that isn’t a fit with any of the four Haas values. Select the experience that feels truest to you while also allowing you to demonstrate that you’re the kind of student Haas wants to admit.

After you’ve identified your topic, you’re in for another challenge: distilling all of the relevant context for your story and an account of your actions in just 250 words. Effective responses will provide the essential who, what, when, and where of the situation in just 1-2 sentences, establishing all of the relevant players and what was at stake for you (and other important stakeholders). You’ll then want to comment on your actions and the outcome with comparable brevity before moving into the why or how of your chosen prompt. Applicants should aim to spend at least one-third of the essay commenting on what the experience meant to them and/or how they have grown as a result. And, space permitting, it would be a nice touch to end with a remark about how this experience has positioned them to make an impact on the Haas community and/or their chosen post-MBA industry or sector.

Essay 3

  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.
This is a fairly standard career goals essay, requesting one’s post-MBA plans and how they are a culmination of one’s experiences and interests.  Given the order of the prompts, applicants should open this essay by describing their plans upon graduating from Haas.  Due to the short length, the response should be concise in covering the particular role and responsibilities you are interested in.

Regarding prior experiences, rather than offering a chronological account of each of one’s previous jobs here, it’s likely a better strategy to capture one’s “path to business school” by commenting more broadly on industry and functional experiences, and zeroing in on projects or interactions that sparked one’s interest in one’s post-MBA plans. Candidates should use their best judgment (with an eye to the word limit) here.

Either way, the discussion of one’s path up to this point should lead logically to your future plans. If space permits, applicants should give the adcom a sense of what they want to do and what they hope to accomplish with their careers in the long term. The adcom will be interested in hearing applicants explain the reason they’ve chosen this path, with a particular emphasis on the impact they hope to make on an organization, sector, or region.

Because Haas ends its essay section with the career goals essay, this response will be the culmination of one’s message to the adcom. Applicants may therefore wish to close their response by tying together the themes and Haas principles that they’ve introduced in their other responses, and end on a note of enthusiasm about the program.

Optional Essay

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

New applicants should exercise discretion when responding to this prompt, as providing an optional essay creates extra work for the admissions reader. This will be a good place to address extenuating circumstances that have influenced one’s academic or professional history, to address weaknesses in one’s application, or to explain an unusual choice of recommender. The wording of this question is open enough that applicants may also choose to discuss an element of their background that is not reflected in their other materials (including data forms and résumé), though they will need to demonstrate sound judgment in doing so – i.e. the nature of the content should be such that it makes a material difference to one’s application – and should summarize the information as concisely as possible.

Meanwhile, re-applicants should seize this opportunity to cover developments in their candidacy that have not been covered in the previous essays. This response should be fairly action-oriented, with a focus on describing the steps that one has taken to become a stronger applicant to Haas since being denied, as well as the results of these efforts in terms of new knowledge and strengthened skills. This also poses an opportunity to demonstrate an enhanced familiarity with and commitment to Haas’s MBA program.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Haas MBA essay topics. As you work on your Haas MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Haas School of Business offerings:

Posted in: Admissions Tips, Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays

Schools: Berkeley / Haas

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