Our Thoughts on Berkeley Haas’ MBA Application Essay for 2015-2016

UC BerkeleyEarly Thoughts on Berkeley Haas 2015-2016 Essay Questions

Application season at the Haas School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. Haas has three required essays, so keep in mind how you plan to balance out your narratives across them all.

 

Essay 1:

If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 words)

This is a very creative essay prompt from Haas. Candidates should rejoice at the opportunity to provide some insight into their personality and background. Typically, there are very few chances where candidates can bring the Admissions Committee into their world that does not conflict with remaining professional. Be authentic here and do not focus on what you think the AdComm wants to hear, but instead on what you feel is meaningful for you to share. The “why” is the most important aspect of this prompt so make sure the relevance of the chosen song is clear.

Essay 2:  Respond to one of the following prompts

1) Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you. (250 words)

Think broadly with this one – the prompt emphasizes “the world,” so identify something that is beyond you that strikes at the core of your belief system. Again, I caution against overthinking in your essay. The more honest the response the more authentically it will be received by the AdComm.

2) Describe a significant accomplishment and why it makes you proud. (250 words)

These situational type essay prompts will be structured very similarly for whichever one you choose. One key element that should be in each response is self-reflection. The AdComm is really trying to get at your thought process and whether these skills shared are repeatable or one-off examples. Make sure your response here comes full-circle with a focus on the relevance of the chosen accomplishment.

3) Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging. (250 words)

With each question option in Essay 2, your choice of topic can be quite telling for the AdComm. How you define significant, difficult or life changing provides a unique glimpse into your value system. Make sure the topics selected align with the value system you wish to present to the AdComm in your application.

Essay 3: 

Tell us about your path to business school and your future plans. How will the Berkeley-Haas experience help you along this journey? (500 words)

This is a very typical “Career Goals”/“Why School X” essay, so most applicants should have a pretty easy time handling the format and structure of this essay. Breakthrough candidates will avoid using a generic and repurposed career essay, and instead fashion a highly tailored response to the prompt. Haas has many unique aspects to their program, so make sure you are directly connecting your personal and professional development goals to the specific offerings of the Haas MBA.

One thing to keep in mind, the prompt does signal that Haas is looking for a bit of a recap of your career as well. This should be concise and really align tightly with where you see the rest of your career headed and how Haas fits into this vision.

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Haas, hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Berkeley’s deadlines and essays, check out another post here.

If you are considering applying to Berkeley Haas, download our Essential Guide to Berkeley, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Haas and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysThe Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley recently published its MBA admissions deadlines and essays for the coming application season. After chopping away at its essay count in the recent past, Haas has held steady this year, keeping the required essay count at three. But, interestingly, the school has made some changes that make this year’s application look more like the application that Haas used two years ago. We’ll dig in and tell you everything you need to know below.

Now let’s dig in! Here are Haas’s deadlines and essays for the Class of 2018, followed by our comments in italics:

Berkeley (Haas) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2015
Round2: January 7, 2016
Round 3: March 31, 2016

Haas’s Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines are exactly the same as they were last year. The one bit of news here is that while the school used to wait until mid-January to notify Round 1 applicants, now applying in Round 1 means that you will get your decision by December 17, giving you at least a couple of weeks before most schools’ Round 2 deadlines, should you need to scramble and apply to some backup schools. Looking at Round 3, Haas pushed back this deadline by nearly three weeks vs. last year, matching similar moves at some other top schools to hopefully catch a few more great candidates who may have missed the earlier rounds.

Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays

  • If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 words)

    This question is new this year, although Haas actually used it before dropping it last year. Now it’s back, and it’s clear that the Haas admissions team wants to get past the normal jargon and stuffy language and get a real sense of your personality here. That means you shouldn’t be afraid to have a little fun or reveal the real you here. If an admissions officer reads this essay and then still has no sense of what it would be like to meet you in person, then you haven’t made good use of this essay. That doesn’t mean your choice of a song needs to be wacky or so deep that it will make the reader cry, but avoid the temptation to choose a song that merely echoes one of the more straightforward themes you will cover below. And, we’re willing to take bets on the number of applicants who say their favorite song is John Lennon’s “Imagine”… Save the high-minded “I want to save the world” stuff for another essay! This one is more for just helping admissions officers feel like they know you at least a little bit.

  • Please respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words)
    – Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you.
    – Describe a significant accomplishment and why it makes you proud.
    – Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging.

    All three of these essay prompts try to get at the same thing — identifying an experience in your life that led to growth and transformation. The first one is essentially carried over from last year’s application, and the second one is quite similar to a prompt from last year, although it’s a little broader this time around (it can be any accomplishment, not just a professional one). The third question is new this year. And, most notably, you’re picking just one, while the first two questions were actually two separate required prompts on last year’s application. We like that Haas gives applicants three different ways to go about this one; your best story may come from an accomplishment, or from overcoming a setback, or from making a tough choice in life. Why not let you choose which story to tell here?

    No matter which essay prompt you choose, think about the “SAR” (Situation-Action-Result) essay framework here — describe what happened, what you did, and then what happened as a results. Sounds obvious, right? You would be surprised by how often applicants get lost in the details and end up using most of their words merely to describe to the situation… the result gets tacked on in two sentences at the very end! That’s too bad because the result — not just what happened in that situation, but also how you changed as a result — is what Haas really wants to know here! Even seemingly smaller accomplishments or life events, such as the first time you spoke in front of a large group, can make for a really impactful essay here.

  • Tell us about your path to business school and your future plans. How will the Berkeley-Haas experience help you along this journey? (500 words)

    This is the more conventional “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that MBA programs often ask. Ask yourself these questions: Where do you see yourself in a few years (and beyond that), and why do you need an MBA to get there? Specifically, why do you need a Haas MBA to get there? Why not another top-ten MBA program? Really force yourself to answer that question, even if not all of your answer makes its way into your final essay response!

    By the way, the Haas admissions team gave you a big hint here: On the Haas website, check out the paragraph that introduces the essays. It describes the four key principles that define the Haas culture: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Your goal here is NOT to see how many of these you can cram into your essay (this is not merely an exercise to see if you bothered to read the website), but if none of that appeals to you, and you can’t even articulate why Haas is the right way for you to invest in yourself, then you need to take a step back before drafting this essay. You obviously are an unfinished product, which is why you’re considering business school… Help the admissions committee believe that Haas is the right place for you to grow for the next two years, invoking those four key principles where you can.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for Haas and other top business schools, fill out a free profile evaluation and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysEarlier this summer UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. Like other business schools, Haas has chopped an essay yet again, dropping down to three required essays (although we should note that the school’s word limit for each essay actually increased). The Haas MBA admissions team has also made significant changes to the questions that it asks in its essay prompts, so we have plenty of new advice for applicants this year.

Here are the UC Berkeley (Haas) application deadlines and essays for 2014-2015:

Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2014
Round 2: January 7, 2015
Round 3: March 11, 2015

Another top-ranked MBA program has significantly moved up its Round 1 deadline! Haas has pushed its Round 1 deadline earlier by more than two weeks, meaning that only several other top schools have earlier first-round deadlines. Note that, while most schools will give you your admissions decision in December if you apply in Round 1, Haas may not notify you until January 15, 2015, meaning that you will probably have to have your Round 2 applications completed for most business schools before you get your Haas decision. Looking at the other rounds, Haas barely changed its Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines this year.

Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays

  1. Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world. How did this transform you? (400-500 words)

    This question is entirely new this year, and it replaces a fun one that asked, “If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why?” This new question, while more conventional, is still a good one. Note the second part of the question, which tips you off to what the admissions committee really wants to see: How did you grow as a result of this experience? Think about the “SAR” (Situation-Action-Result) essay framework that we so often tell our clients to use — describe what happened, what you did, and then what happened as a results. Sounds obvious, right? You would be surprised by how often applicants get lost in the details and end up devoting 300 words or more to the situation, and not devoting enough space to their actions or the results! And, in this case, the “result” is not only what happened in that particular instance, but — again — how the applicant changed as a result. You could have experienced a terrible setback that made you more mature, or achieved something great that you never thought you would accomplish… It can be a “good” or a “bad” story, but the key is that it will only be interesting to Haas admissions officers if it shows how you changed (for the better) as a result!
  2. What is your most significant professional accomplishment? (200-300 words)

    This essay almost carries over unchanged from last year, but it contains one very important change. This year the Haas admissions team introduced the word “professional” to the question. That’s right… Previously, any story would do, whether it was from your professional life or your personal life, but now Haas wants you to devote this essay specifically to a professional experience. Often this kind of change means that the admissions team hadn’t been getting exactly what it wanted, and is trying to nudge applicants in a certain direction. However, in this case, we think the change has more to do with Haas’s new Question #1 (above). Applicants are likely to give stories from their personal lives, leaving this one wide open for a good professional story. Said another way, if you were thinking about using a professional story for the first question, think again, since this is where Haas wants you to tell that story. Again, use the “SAR” framework, and put special emphasis on the results and how you grew or changed as a result.
  3. What is your desired post-MBA role and at what company or organization? In your response, please specifically address sub-questions a., b., and c. (500-600 words combined)

    a. How is your background compelling to this company?
    b. What is something you would do better for this company than any other employee?
    c. Why is an MBA necessary and how will Haas specifically help you succeed at this company?

    This question is also new this year, and it replaces a fairly typical “Post-MBA career goals” that Haas used to ask. What makes this version less typical is how specific it is. In part (b), for example, Haas practically makes you prove your worth and talk your way into a new post-MBA job on the spot! Note that this question is very focused on the near future. While many such questions ask what you see yourself doing in 5-10 years, with this question it’s clear that the Haas admissions team wants to see that you have a clear and realistic goal for what you will do right after business school.

    Several thought here: First, Haas knows that you may not totally, completely know what you want to do after you get your MBA, and that your career goals are certainly subject to change. This is fine. The admissions committee just wants to know that you have realistic goals, and that you seem at least somewhat like someone who will hold up well in the grueling MBA job recruiting process. Second, you are obviously not yet a finished product, because if you were, you wouldn’t need an MBA. So, use part (c) to really highlight the two or three things that you expect to get out of the program. Finally, resist the temptation here to try to zig when everyone else is zagging — e.g., don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to write that you want to do non-profit work when your heart is really set on the financial sector. Be honest, and be specific.

Do you dram of getting into Haas? Be sure to download our Essential Guide to The Haas School of Business, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top MBA programs. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Haas and other top business schools, fill out a free profile evaluation and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysUC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. Haas has not only dropped an essay this year (as many other top-ranked MBA programs have done), but it has also dropped a whole admissions round! Beyond that, the content of Haas’s application has actually changed very little this year, at least compared to the more radical changes we have seen in other business schools’ applications.

Without further ado, here are Haas’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
Continue reading “UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014”

Haas Introduces New Executive MBA Program

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysBack in March we reported that UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Columbia Business School would end their joint EMBA program. Now, three months after Columbia announced its own program, Haas has unveiled its own new EMBA program.

Starting in May, 2013, the new program will span 19 months and will meet every three weeks on Thursday through Saturday in a schedule designed to be very doable for working professionals. While most classes will be taught on the Haas campus, some sessions will held in other global locations depending on the market and the subject matter covered.
Continue reading “Haas Introduces New Executive MBA Program”

UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysUC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. As has been the case with nearly every other top-ranked MBA program this year, Haas has trimmed down its essays, going from six to five required essays in this year’s application, and shortening one from 1,000 to 750 words. Outside of that, there haven’t been too many dramatic changes this year, although the school’s new Essay #1 is an eye opener!

Here are Haas’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
Continue reading “UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013”

More MBA Programs Move into Online Learning

Just in the past week two top-ranked business schools announced new plans to add online learning components to their MBA programs. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Dartmouth’s Tuck school will deliver some of its introductory prerequisite classes online, helping students prepare for the school’s core curriculum on their own time, at their own pace.

At the same time, UC Berkeley’s Haas School has announced plans to launch three digital classroom pilots. Haas is also using its first foray into online learning as a way to deliver prerequisite courses for its Evening & Weekend MBA Program.
Continue reading “More MBA Programs Move into Online Learning”

Berkeley and Columbia to End Joint EMBA Program

They say breaking up is hard to do. Don’t tell that to Columbia Business School and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which announced that they will exit the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program in February 2013, when the current EMBA class graduates. In a joint announcement, the deans of the two schools said that the breakup was mutual, and was made in recognition of each program’s future plans.

The joint program, which has been around since 2002, was originally hailed as the ultimate “East Meets West” power combination, with Wall Street smart combining with Silicon Valley brains to create the next big thing in executive education. While the program has been a success by virtually any measure, one big thing has changed over the past decade: Both schools have announced or introduced their own in-house executive MBA options, leaving little room for the joint program.
Continue reading “Berkeley and Columbia to End Joint EMBA Program”

Haas School of Business Announces $70 Million Expansion

UC Berkeley (Haas)Last week UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business announced plans for a new building and extensive renovations of its existing facilities. The entire plan, which will possibly allow for the growth of the school’s MBA program, is expected to cost a total of $70 million.

According to an article in UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian, the school’s new construction plans will total approximately $50 million, with renovations of existing facilities costing another $20 million. $25 million of the total has already been raised as part of a large fundraising effort the school kicked off early last year. Just as the school’s current three buildings were completed with 100% donor funding (i.e., no money came from Berkeley), the new construction program is expected to be fully supported with donations from alumni and other sponsors.
Continue reading “Haas School of Business Announces $70 Million Expansion”

The Haas School of Business Is a Good Fit for You If…

UC Berkeley (Haas)We are big fans of the UC Berkeley MBA program here at Veritas Prep. The school’s “Confidence Without Attitude” thrust is one we can really get behind, and it’s that ethos (among others) that makes Haas grads so popular among hiring companies. Haas is also popular among Veritas Prep clients, which is no surprise given the school’s location in the Bay Area and progressive reputation. We know other applicants agree — Haas actually has one of the lowest acceptance rates among all MBA programs in the United States.

Are you thinking about applying to Haas? How do you know if the school really is a good fit for you? Today we present six reasons why UC Berkeley may be the perfect school for you to target for your MBA experience:
Continue reading “The Haas School of Business Is a Good Fit for You If…”

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysUC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2014. Haas made some big changes to its essays (lots of short ones!) this year’s so let’s dig in. Here are the school’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Berkeley (Haas) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 12, 2011
Round 2: December 1, 2011
Round 3: January 18, 2012
Round 4: March 7, 2012
Continue reading “UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012”

Five Things That Make Haas Different

Business School Admissions GuidesUC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business needs no introduction. In fact, only Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School had lower acceptance rates than Haas did last year. Given the school’s intimate learning environment and strong ties to Silicon Valley, it’s no surprise that so many applicants apply to Haas every year. What does surprise us, though, is that so few of those applicants really know the school beyond its obvious strengths. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start crafting their Haas applications.

If you’re considering applying to Haas, ask yourself: How do you know if Haas really is a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the Haas admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school? Today we look at five things that set Haas apart from other top-tier MBA programs:
Continue reading “Five Things That Make Haas Different”

Haas Announces Free Executive Education for Alumni

Business School Admissions GuidesIn a move that (sort of) matches Wharton’s recent pledge to provide ongoing executive education to its alumni, UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has announced that its new alumni will be eligible to attend any open-enrollment offering at Haas’s executive education center, within five years of graduation. This offer applies to all Haas graduates from the Class of 2011 and later.

Recently Wharton made waves when it announced that all of its alumni will be able to attend “enrichment classes” every seven years, free of charge. We loved when that news hit in December, and we’ve been hoping that other top MBA programs would follow. It looks like Haas was the first one to make a move.
Continue reading “Haas Announces Free Executive Education for Alumni”

UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays for 2010-2011

UC Berkeley (Haas)Recently we wrote about the Haas application deadlines for the coming admissions season. Today we’ll dig into the school’s admissions essays for 2010-2011.

You may notice that Haas has barely changed its essays since last year. When we school make few or no changes, that tells us that its current essay prompts are doing the job. By “doing the job,” we mean that they help the admissions committee get to know each applicant better, and they help the committee separate the great applicants from the rest of the pool. As long as the school gets what it needs, there’s no need to tinker with the formula too much.

Here are Haas’s MBA admissions essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays

Short Answers:

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

    Whoa! Did Stanford’s Derrick Bolton slip into the Haas admissions office? Actually, this question carries over from last year. The key here is to write about something that you really, really care about. A good litmus test is this: How knowledgeable are you about the subject? Many applicants will be tempted to go bold and say something like “Fighting income inequality is what I’m most passionate about,” because they feel like that’s just what one is supposed to say here, but then can’t back it up with facts… and passion. Admissions officers will see right through this, so try any stunts here!

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

    This question also carries over from last year. Ideally the story you choose will demonstrate at least one or two of the key themes in your application. All things being equal, a story from your professional life will serve you best, but don’t feel that your significant accomplishment MUST be from the workplace.

  3. At Haas, our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles -— question the status quo; confidence without attitude; students always; and beyond yourself. Give an example of when you have demonstrated one of these principles. (250 words, Review Berkeley-Haas’ Defining Principles)

    This question is new this year, replacing a question that put emphasis on innovation and creativity. The fact that the admissions office directs you to the school’s defining principles sends a very clear message that those ideas/traits matter to Haas A LOT, and that the admissions office will be looking closely for evidence of those throughout your application, not just in this essay. Any of the four should make for a good starting point for a compelling essay, although we have noticed the admissions office frequently bring up the the “confidence without attitude” one in our discussions with them. If you’re unsure of which one to choose, we’d say go with that one.

  4. There are many ways to learn about our program, what steps have you taken to learn about the Berkeley MBA? (250 words)

    Haas slightly reworded this essay since last year, although it essentially remains the same. One subtle but importance difference: The addition of “There are many ways to learn about our program,” almost says to us, “Please skip past the obvious ones like our web site and brochures… Show us some real effort, please.” Our stance on essays like this is always the same: You’d better have better reasons for applying than “Because it’s a top-ten program!” The Haas admissions team seeks evidence that you’ve really done your homework on the school.

Required Essays:

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

    This question has remained the same for the past several years. Haas hits on it directly: The admissions office wants you to show how you are a leader. This should give you a clear idea of how important this trait is to the Haas admissions office when evaluating applicants. You don’t need to have a big job title or have a team of ten people reporting to you. Think about any time when you showed leadership — maybe by overcoming an obstacle, or by helping a colleague or was struggling — regardless of your role or the circumstances.

  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 words)

    This question also carries over from last year. Note that last year Haas added the “post-MBA” part to the question, suggesting that some applicant had perhaps been speaking in terms that were too “big picture.” Pretty standard question here: Where do you see yourself in a few years (and beyond that), and why do you need an MBA to get there? Specifically, why do you need a Haas MBA to get there? Even though you will answer another “Why Haas”-type question, clearly it’s very important to the school that you answer this question.

Plan on applying to Haas or another top MBA program this year? Veritas Prep now offers the ability to start working with an admissions consultant today and pay over time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

UC Berkeley (Haas) MBA Admissions Deadlines for 2010-2011

UC Berkeley (Haas)UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has published its MBA admissions deadlines for the coming year. We’ll dig into the school’s admissions essays shortly, but first, here are the Haas deadlines, followed by our comments in italics:

Haas Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 13, 2010
Round 2: December 2, 2010
Round 3: January 20, 2011
Round 4: March 16, 2011

Note that Haas is fairly unique in that it actually has four rounds of admissions. In a way this makes it easier on you as you plan your Haas application — it gives you the option of applying at an “off-peak” time, such as early December, when you’re probably not yet cramming on a lot of other applications. Aiming for Round 1 and Round 2 is still your best bet, although we expect that Haas gets many more Round 3 applicants than most other schools do.

Like many other top MBA programs, Haas has moved its Round 1 deadline a bit earlier this year (by one week). However, unlike some other top schools, Haas won’t send your decision until mid-January, so you will have to have most of your Round 2 applications in order before you hear back from Haas. Most of the school’s other deadlines also moved forward by a week or two, with the exception of the Round 4 deadline, which is actually about a week later than it was last year.

Plan on applying to Haas or another top MBA program this year? Veritas Prep now offers the ability to start working with an admissions consultant today and pay over time. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Five Things that Make Haas Unique

Business School GuidesThe third round deadline for UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is still a few weeks away, but there’s still plenty of time for you to craft a winning application. Continuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we look at a few of Haas’s distinguishing characteristics. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free — all you have to do is register to access all of them — but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Haas research.)

  • The Haas Culture: An emphasis on collaboration inside and outside of the classroom is the cornerstone of the Haas experience. Small groups are formed in practically all classes, allowing students to exercise different team roles based on their interests and areas of expertise. Versatility is often a prized attribute of Haas students in the eyes of employers, and is one reason why the school tends to enjoy such success placing graduates into a broad range of industries and functions.
  • Technology: One of Haas’ truly distinctive elements is the school’s focus on technology and its ability to place students into the tech industry. Haas sends 30% of each graduating class into the tech sector, which is not only the highest percentage among elite business schools, but is also twice that of the next closest programs (Ross and MIT Sloan). This emphasis, combined with Berkeley’s tradition for innovation, leads to truly unique programs such as the school’s latest push for the commercialization of clean technology. Student members of the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative have teamed up with scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to create a program called Cleantech to Market (C2M) which sends five student teams out each year to study the commercial opportunities that might arise out of the various clean energy technologies under development at LBNL.
  • Leading Through Innovation: One of the principles that a visiting student is likely to encounter at Haas is the idea of “Leading Through Innovation.” Born out of current dean Rich Lyon’s time as the Chief Learning Officer at Goldman Sachs, the Haas approach to developing leadership is to establish confidence without breeding attitude. The school accomplishes this by providing a combination of theoretical and experiential learning opportunities that develops strong confidence and judgment for real-life situations. The experiential learning offerings at Haas range from the “Haas@Work” program, which puts student groups into actual company projects, to the International Business Development (IBD) program, a global management consulting initiative. Overall, Haas provides students with two overlapping skill sets: an ongoing emphasis on leadership and a toolkit of knowledge and relationships that provide the foundation for effective decision making.
  • Social Responsibility: Haas prides itself on being the preeminent educational institution for research, teaching, experiential learning, and community outreach in areas of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Woven into the core curriculum, Haas offers more than a dozen different programs and initiatives around social responsibility and business sustainability.
  • Global Reach: Nearly every business school currently espouses a “global perspective,” but Haas is one of the few that combines its international focus with its emphasis on experiential learning. IBD places students (the number of spaces in the program is set to double, from 80 to 160 per year) in all corners of the world for a three-week consulting project. This program allows students to confront and solve business challenges in unknown business settings, forcing the students to apply innovative thinking and problem solving skills while developing a global business mindset.

This advice was clipped from our Haas Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s top business schools, available for purchase on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Haas or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays for 2009-2010

Recently we posted the Haas School of Business’ application deadlines for 2009-2010. Haas has since posted its admissions essays for the coming year. Our comments follow in italics:

Haas Application Essays

(Note that we present these essays in a different order than what you will see on the Haas web site.)

Required Essays:

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

    (This question carries over from last year. Right out of the gate, Haas wants you to show how you are a leader. This should give you a clear idea of how important this trait is to the Haas admissions office when evaluating applicants. You don’t need to have a big job title or have a team of ten people reporting to you. Think about any time when you showed leadership — maybe by overcoming an obstacle, or by helping a colleague or was struggling — regardless of your role or the circumstances.)

  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 words)

    (This question carries over from last year, with the addition of “post-MBA” to the question. Pretty standard question here: Where do you see yourself in a few years (and beyond that), and why do you need an MBA to get there? Specifically, why do you need a Haas MBA to get there?)


Short answer:

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

    (This is new this year. This question reminds us a little bit of Stanford’s “What matters most to you, and why?” question. The key here is to write about something that you really, really care about. A good litmus test is this: How knowledgeable are you about the subject? Many applicants will be tempted to go bold and say something like “Fighting hunger is what I’m most passionate about,” because they feel like that’s just what one is supposed to say here, but then can’t back it up with facts… and passion. Admissions officers will see right through this, so keep it real!)

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

    (This question carries over from last year. All things being equal, a story from your professional life will serve you best, but don’t feel that your significant accomplishment MUST be from the workplace.)

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

    (This one also carries over from last year, although it’s worded a bit differently to take the emphasis off of an “innovative solution” you created and instead emphasize the impact you had on those around you. We consider this type of impact to be one of the real signs of leadership, so it’s not surprising that Haas asks for it here. Be mindful of that when you answer this question… What real, tangible impact did your solution have?)

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

    (This one also carries over from last year. Regular readers of this blog know how we feel… You’d better have better reasons for applying than “Because it’s a top-ten program!” The Haas admissions team seeks evidence that you’ve really done your homework on the school.)

Supplemental questions:

  1. If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain; otherwise, enter N/A.
  2. List in order of importance all community & professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Indicate the nature of the activity or organization, dates of involvement, offices held, & average number of hours spent per month.
  3. List full-time and part-time jobs held during undergraduate or graduate studies, indicating the employer, job title, employment dates, location, and the number of hours worked per week for each position held prior to the completion of your degree.
  4. Please explain all gaps in your employment since earning your university degree.
  5. Beyond the courses that appear on your academic transcripts, please discuss other ways in which you have demonstrated strong quantitative abilities.
  6. If you have ever been subject to academic discipline, placed on probation, suspended or required to withdraw from any college or university, please explain. If not, please enter N/A. (An affirmative response to this question does not automatically disqualify you from admission.)

    (Note the comment following that last question. If you have a blemish in your past, don’t try to hide it. Better to address it directly, explain what you learned and how you’ve changed, and move on.)

For more advice on applying to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, visit Veritas Prep’s Haas information page, or download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports!. And be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Berkeley (Haas) Application Deadlines for 2009-2010

The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley recently released its application deadlines for the 2009-2010 admissions season. Haas has not yet released its essays for the coming year, although you can review the Haas site to see last year’s essays and get a feel for what the school looks for in its applicants. Our comments follow in italics:

Haas Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 20, 2009
Round 2: December 10, 2009
Round 3: February 2, 2010
Round 4: March 10, 2010

(Haas has always been a little different than most other top MBA programs in how it manages its deadlines, keeping four main application rounds. Like other top programs, Haas has moved up its Round 1 deadline this year by a couple of weeks, although its deadline falls in late October, not early October. However, note that Round 2 deadline on December 10 — that gives you a nice opportunity to pace yourself if you want to apply to Haas along with a handful schools that have Round 1 deadlines in October. However, if Haas is your first choice, we still recommend applying earlier rather than later.)

To plan your application strategy for Haas, visit the Veritas Prep UC Berkeley (Haas) information page, or call us and talk to one of our MBA admissions consultants.

UC Berkeley (Haas) on Admissions Interviews

Peter Johnson, the Director of Admissions at the Haas School of Business, recently posted a message on the Haas blog to answer some questions and soothe some nerves regarding Haas’s admissions interview policies.

On the blog, Peter writes:

Contrary to popular belief, there is no fixed percentage of applicants who are interviewed, and chances of admission for those who do interview are based on the strength of the entire application package and the interview. In the past few years, between 25% and 30% of all applicants have been selected to interview–but keep in mind that this percentage has varied each year. It’s simply a reflection of the strength of the candidates in a specific round.

Although it’s a positive sign to be invited to interview, it doesn’t mean you’ll get an offer–but it does mean that the Admissions Committee saw enough strengths in your application to be seriously considering your candidacy, so it’s always a good sign!

Note that those percentages are just historical norms. You can consider them rough guidelines in terms of trying to determine your chances this year, but the number will always bounce around. So, spare yourself the insanity and just focus on nailing your admissions interview, rather than trying to calculate your chances! To that end, be sure to listen to the school’s admissions interview tips podcast.

If you would like more assistance in preparing for your MBA admissions interview at Haas or at any other top business school, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA admissions interview assistance package.

The Day the LSAT Died?

On November 7, the American Bar Association Journal posted an entry about a very interesting study being conducted at the UC-Berkeley School of Law. According to the ABA post, the study is being conducted by “researchers” and has unearthed tests that measure legal skills such as negotiation and problem solving (in addition to the rather ridiculous “skill” of stress management). The biggest news of all? Berkeley’s law school dean, Christopher Edley has announced that two professors have validated the test and is now pushing to take the study to a national level. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is taking a look and plans to help fund the research. Amazing!

Setting aside whether the LSAT is a valid test, or whether any test can (or should) assess “lawyering skills” (rather than the skills that would project well for law school success, which I don’t have to remind anyone, is a staging ground for more than just lawyers), it seems impossible that LSAC would ever throw its support behind any test other than its prized LSAT.

It is commendable that Edley and the good people at Berkeley are striving for a better test and the fairest possible assessment process, and I suppose that November 7 could go down as the day that the LSAT died, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

In the meantime, if you’re applying to law school, take a look at Veritas Prep’s law school application tips.

MBA Admissions Tips from Haas

The Haas admissions team just released a great new podcast detailing what they look for when evaluating MBA applicants. Peter Johnson (Director of Admissions) and Stephanie Fujii (Associate Director of Admissions) shared a few important insights into how Haas evaluates every Haas applicant.

According to Johnson and Fujii, the three key areas that Haas looks at when evaluating applicants are: academic aptitude, professional accomplishments and leadership, and personal qualities.

Academic Aptitude
When assessing your academic aptitude, the admissions committee especially looks at your undergraduate transcript and your GMAT score. Haas will also will take into consideration your coursework in other graduate programs, if applicable. According to Fujii, “Basically, we’re trying to evaluate your ability to succeed academically in our program.” Johnson made note that they pay attention to the caliber of your undergraduate institution, the rigor in your undergraduate classes, and the overall trend in your GPA from your freshman year to your senior year. The school does not have a hard GMAT score cutoff, but Johnson urges applicants to aim to at least be in the school’s middle-80% GMAT range (currently 650-750).

Professional Accomplishments and Leadership
Work experience is very important to Haas. Most incoming students at Haas have between three and seven years of work experience after college. The school rarely admits applicants with less than two years of work experience. But it’s about more than just quantity of experience. According to Johnson, “We really need to understand your career progression. Why have you transitioned from one job to another? How has your role progressed within each organization? Have your responsibilities increased? Have you had the opportunity to develop leadership skills?” Johnson went on to add that it’s impressive to see that a candidate has earned a series of promotions and increases in responsibility, rather than someone who “started out at the top.” Finally, the Haas admissions team looks closely for signs of how you’ve impacted your organization, which is a key yardstick of your leadership ability, regardless of your job title.

Personal Qualities
Like all other top business schools, Haas puts a lot of emphasis on who you are, not just what you’ve accomplished. As Johnson says, “We’re interested in understanding our applicants as individuals. In other words, what’s important to you? What are you passionate about?” They go on to emphasize that you really need to be your self in your MBA application. Says Johnson, “The number one mistake that applicants make in their essays is that they spend too much time trying to write what they think the admissions committee wants to read.” Finally, they give another important piece of advice that we often give our clients: Don’t underestimate how much time and effort it will take to create truly great, personal MBA essays. Finally, they explain Haas’s interview policy: The school typically invites 25%-30% of its applicants to interview (usually conducted by alumni or students), and Haas rarely admits an applicant without an interview.

These are just a few of the tips that Haas includes in their podcast. We definitely recommend that you give it a listen if you’re interested in Haas, but give it a listen even if you don’t plan on applying to Haas this year.

For more advice on applying to Haas, visit the Veritas Prep UC Berkeley (Haas) information page and let us help you develop your own MBA Game Plan for Haas.

New Dean at Haas

Yesterday, the UC Regents approved the appointment of Richard K. Lyons to the position of Dean at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Prior to his appointment, Lyons served as a professor at the school, and as the chief learning officer of Goldman Sachs, New York. As the chief learning officer, he directed the group in charge of developing leadership in Goldman Sach’s managing directors and partners.

Lyons stated that he “learned that you can’t overestimate the importance of great people in building great firms. And that’s the business we’re in here at Haas.”

Congratulations to Dean Lyons!

Learn more about the Haas School’s newest Dean here.
Learn more about applying to Haas here.

UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2008-2009

The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley has just released its application deadlines and admissions essays for the 2008-2009 season. Note that as of 7/16/08 Haas still notes on its web site that these are subject to change for the 2008-2009 application season. Our comments are in italics:

Haas Application Deadlines

Round 1: November 4, 2008
Round 2: December 9, 2008
Round 3: January 30, 2009
Round 4: March 11, 2009

(These are virtually identical to last year’s deadlines.)

Haas Admissions Essays

(Note that we have presented these in a different order than what you will see on the Haas web site.)

Required Essays:

  1. Give us an example of a situation in which you displayed leadership. (500 word maximum)
  2. What are your short-term and long-term career goals? How do your professional experiences relate to these goals? Why do you want an MBA from Berkeley at this point in your career? (1000 word maximum)

Short Answer:

  1. If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be, and how would you do it differently? (250 word maximum)
  2. Tell us about your most significant accomplishment. (250 word maximum)
  3. At Haas, we value innovation and creativity. Describe an innovative solution you have created to address a specific challenge. (250 word maximum)
  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)

Supplemental Questions:

(These are meant to accompany — and explain parts of — your Haas application data sheet, so we won’t dive into too much detail here.)

  1. If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain; otherwise, enter N/A.
  2. List in order of importance all community & professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Indicate the nature of the activity or organization, dates of involvement, offices held, & average number of hours spent per month.
  3. List full-time and part-time jobs held during undergraduate or graduate studies, indicating the employer, job title, employment dates, location, and the number of hours worked per week for each position held prior to the completion of your degree.
  4. Please explain all gaps in your employment since earning your university degree.
  5. Please identify the course(s) you have taken or intend to take to demonstrate quantitative proficiency. Provide the course name, date, grade if any, and institution at which the course was or will be taken. If you wish, you may discuss other ways in which you have demonstrated strong quantitative abilities.
  6. If you have ever been subject to academic discipline, placed on probation, suspended or required to withdraw from any college or university, please explain. If not, please enter N/A. (An affirmative response to this question does not automatically disqualify you from admission.)

(Note their comment in that last question. If you have a blemish in your past, don’t try to hide it. Better to address it directly, explain what you learned and how you’ve changed, and move on.)

Optional Essays:

  1. Please feel free to provide a statement concerning any information you would like to add to your application that you haven