Before you begin your Haas application, take a moment to review the school’s key principles as these tenets define it and the student body: Haas Defining Principles
Do these values hit home? Do you see yourself as part of such a student body? If so, let’s look at the essay questions that you need to address in your Haas application.
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)
You could think of your six-word story as the “sizzle” and the elaboration as the “steak.” Be creative and grab the AdCom’s attention with your six-word memorable experience, but also back up your story with some substance and style in the explanation. Be genuine and bring out the personal importance of your short story; why is this such an important experience for you? At the same time, be careful not to go too over the top or melodramatic, because that’s not going to make your case any stronger!
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: Come up with a difficult situation and not something ordinary, it’ll bring out your resilience and the lessons you learned even further
- Describe how you have cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture: Haas is a very diverse and tight-knit community. The AdCom wants to see that you’ll be able to fit into such a group and not struggle to integrate into the student body
- Describe a leadership experience and how you made a positive and lasting impact: A standard essay question in most business school essays. An important component of this question is the positive impact, demonstrate that you’ve had impact on others in line with one of the key Haas principles
AdCom 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.
The goal here is to highlight your past experiences in terms of your leadership potential, ability to overcome challenges, and engagement with others. These are all important qualities that will get you through the Haas MBA experience and serve you well in your future career. Remember that, in general, business schools want to see their graduates become leaders of companies and organizations, which ultimately reflects well on the institutions.
Keep Berkeley Haas’ defining principles in mind as you address the question you choose. Demonstrating that your experiences reflect one or more of these principles will strengthen your application! Once you’ve laid out the circumstance or situation, try to bring out any possible result or outcome if you can, as this will highlight the impact of the experience you have written about, and give the AdCom a clearer understanding of you as an applicant.
Essay #3: Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goals (50 words maximum). How have prior experiences motivated and prepared you to pursue these goals? (250 words maximum)
This last essay is one you might find in any typical MBA application. That doesn’t mean you can cut and paste from one of your other applications. Much like a corporate recruiter, the AdCom wants to understand how your prior work experience aligns with your post-MBA career goals. There are a multitude of applicants with different experiences and career plans that apply to Haas each year, so you’ll also want to make a strong case for your fit with the school in this essay. Avoid a generic “Why MBA?” answer as it is a clear indication that you haven’t done your research about Haas. Show off your knowledge about how a Haas MBA will help you to achieve your specific career goals.
It’s very common for MBA students to switch career tracks or change their minds once in school and presented with a plethora of career choices. However, while the AdCom is aware that you may change your mind, they still want to ensure that you’ve thought through your post-MBA career goals clearly and thoughtfully, so describe a clear post-MBA plan. If you have a very specific career goal after Haas, which doesn’t necessarily align with the traditional tracks and paths that most graduates take, devote extra attention to explaining how Haas in particular will help your achieve your aims.
Haas has a small MBA student body when compared with other top business schools. Be prepared to work hard on these essays to give yourself the best chance to earn your place within this very selective group of MBA students. Good luck!