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!