Early Thoughts on Berkeley Haas’ 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

UC BerkeleyApplication season at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach the essay prompts, which are essentially the same as the prompts from last year. There are three full essay questions for Haas, with Essay 2 providing the applicant multiple options to choose from.

Essay 1:
If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 words)

The most important thing about what song you choose here is that the song you choose does not matter. The fact that the school does not care what language, culture, or even what the lyrics are should signal this to you. It is all about “why” this song is so important to you, so when selecting a song think long and hard about a song that provides some insight into who you are. The more authentic the better, so use this as an opportunity to really let the Admissions Committee in so you can stand out from other candidates.

Essay 2:
Choose one:

  • Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you
  • Describe a time when you were challenged by perspectives different from your own and how you responded
  • Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging

(250 words)
There is a common theme between these three potential essay prompts, so it can be difficult for applicants to decide on which one to pick. Overall, with all three of these prompts, Haas is looking to understand how you have handled uncomfortable situations in the past. Again, which prompt you choose does not really matter for this essay – what is most important is to dive deep and be vulnerable and reflective on the experience you choose to share.

Essay 3:
Tell us about your career plans. How have your past experiences prepared you to achieve these goals? How will Berkeley-Haas help you? (500 words)

Essay 3 is the longest of the three essays and is by far the most traditional. This is your opportunity to really connect the dots for the Admissions Committee and help them understand how a Haas MBA will uniquely position you for success in your future career path. Spare the generalities here and get specific – highlight how your past, present, and future all link together with the Haas MBA. Hint: Haas’ “Defining Principles” are a great place to start!

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from the Haas School of Business – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Berkeley and its application essays, check out our free Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Berkeley Haas or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and 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 articles by him here.

How I Chose Berkeley

UC BerkeleyToday we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep SAT instructor Courtney Tran. Courtney is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament. She was always active in local politics, including speaking against budget cuts in and closings of Oakland Public Libraries.

When I received my acceptance email from the University of California at Berkeley in February of last year, I didn’t even finish reading the letter before closing it and resuming my Tetris game.  I was happy to have been accepted, but I had never seriously considered attending Cal; I had already fallen head over heels for the University of Southern California.  After all, I had lived in the Bay Area for more than a decade.  I was ready for a change of scene.

A couple of high scores later, I reopened and skimmed the letter, which noted that I had been invited to a scholarship interview.  I attended later that month, figuring that I had no excuse for skipping out on a prestigious scholarship opportunity within jogging distance of my mother’s apartment.  A few weeks later, however, I received notice that I had been awarded several scholarships that would enable me to attend Cal nearly free of charge.

Grudgingly, I accepted.  In April, when some calculator-crunching of the financial aid packages from my college acceptance letters revealed that Berkeley was by far the most financially sensible of my options, I even more grudgingly submitted my deposit to the University of California.  Don’t get me wrong—I was and still am extremely grateful for the generous financial support I received for my education. But I had grown up waiting for a chance to see what the world looked like beyond the Bay Area, and attending Cal felt like taking the easy road instead of following my dreams.

I moved into my dorm room a few short months later, lugging four duffel bags and outlining transfer application essays in my head.  Despite my reluctance, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the diversity of my class and the enormous range of classes and activities available.  Bit by bit, the school grew on me: the beautiful North Side architecture, the surprisingly tasty dining hall food (who knew?), and my peers’ enthusiasm for learning. I was delighted by the fact that, for the first time in my life, school was fast-paced and challenging: memorizing wasn’t enough anymore, and I often had to study late into the night in order to keep up with my classmates.

Before I knew it, I woke up every day excited to go to class.  My dorm-mates became my second family, the exposure to new cultures and types of people broadened my perspectives, and I slowly grew to appreciate the convenience and comfort of living close to home.  Even better, Cal’s alumni network and internship programs fed my interests in travel, politics, languages, and the field of public policy by helping me secure two winter break externships—one in Washington D.C., and one in San Jose—and a place in a summer program that will allow me to intern in the state capital for eight weeks.  I got my wish after all.

It’s January now. I’ve just finished my first semester as a Golden Bear, as well as a few applications for study abroad programs. New classes start in two weeks. I’m writing this from beneath a bundle of fuzzy blankets on the couch in my mother’s apartment; and as comfy as it is here, I can’t wait to go back to school. I never did submit those transfer essays, because it didn’t take me long to realize that UC Berkeley, despite my initial reservations, was the perfect place for me. I wear my Golden Bear hoodie with pride.

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