UC Berkeley Haas Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2012, Starting Fall 2010)

DEADLINES[table id=14 /] *12:00 Midnight Pacific Time


Overview: Haas admissions has kept the same format it's used for the past few years, but compared with last year's short answer (SA) questions, they've changed the focus on #1 from negative to positive, and nudged short answer #3 to highlight your impact on a group, rather than the looser "address a specific challenge." (Check out last year's questions for comparison.) Different questions can probably be answered using the same topic, so be careful not to repeat yourself. Always give the adcom something new and fresh in each essay, and make sure the overall set is balanced between personal and professional. I would save Haas one until after you've finished a few applications, since it requires a good variety of answers.

Short Answer:

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

Analysis: I can think of a few ways to approach this question, but I recommend starting with the truth: what are you truly passionate about? What gets you out of bed early or makes the hours fly by? What would you make a second career of if you could? (Hint: this is not a time for you to reiterate your goals or career ambitions, or express your love of Excel or calculating NPV.) It might be simple, like a hobby or volunteer activity, or more conceptual, like a value or aspiration.  I even had a client write a brilliant essay about his newborn daughter. The point is for you to reveal something important and meaningful that might not appear in the other essays. If you do take the hobby approach, be sure you explain what exactly about it excites your passion. In my case, I love photography because it gives me a chance to meet and relate with people on an unusual level. I can go deeper than that, but you get the idea. If you are espousing a value, such as fairness or creativity, then those things are hopefully evident in your other essays.

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

Analysis: Now this one can be either professional or personal, and as with #1, I would start with your most honest answer, checking for balance, integration and consistency with your other essays. Use The MBA Leadership Essay backgrounder for some suggestions on structure.

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)

Analysis: Don't be misled by the seeming non sequitur; if you made a positive, long-lasting impact on a group or organization, there's a good chance you were innovative and creative. Your answer will probably mirror a typical leadership essay. With the short word limit, a good approach is to include just enough background so the reader knows the importance and what's at stake, lots of detailed actions to demonstrate your ability to overcome the challenges that always accompany change, and a summary of the results as far out as you can measure them.

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)

Analysis: Being across the San Francisco Bay from Stanford may have given Haas concern that they are a backup school for the Cardinal. Different from the "Why Berkeley?" part of the goals essay (see Required Essay #2 below), your answer should emphasize the process you went through to research Haas, the effort you put into it. There is no excuse not to dive into the website, student blogs, chatrooms, etc. More serious applicants will try to attend information sessions, contact current students and alumni, and - the ultimate show of interest - visit the school. If you're coming through, let me know. I can recommend some great cafes.

Required Essays:

1. Give us an example of a situation in which you displayed leadership. (500 word maximum)

Analysis: Straight up - The MBA Leadership Essay

2. 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)

Analysis: Straight up - The MBA Goals Essay & Why MBA School X?

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)

Analysis: Haas doesn't put any restrictions on their optional essay, so they are trusting you'll use good judgment. That means covering any weaknesses with brief explanations and improvement plans, not excuses. For positive information, don't repeat anything covered elsewhere and make sure you are adding something significant to your profile. Don't use up the space just because you can.