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Haas Essays

 

Good luck if you’re interviewing for Round 2!

 

 
Like other schools, Berkeley has been seeing an increase in apps – up 12% recently, which was almost 500 more apps. Average GMAT is 717. The competition is turning up! Our Haas essay guide for 2017 can be a big assist if you’re thinking of applying!

 
 

2017 Haas Full-Time MBA Essay Questions – Class of 2020

The essay questions for the Berkeley-Haas full-time MBA app are:

  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)
     
    This is going to be HARD. You should not try Haas as your very first application! Get your essays to a school like Columbia under your belt first; you will struggle with this first question if you don’t have some essay development experience under your belt. This post discusses the six-word story, and this one on branding from way back in 2011 also may be useful.
     
  2. Choose one: (250 words)
    • Describe a significant obstacle you have encountered and how it has impacted you.
    • Describe how you have cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture.
    • Describe a leadership experience and how you made a positive and lasting impact.

     
    These are very very short, but they’re nicely focused and clearly worded, and you should not have trouble sharing something important with your reader — once you cut through your own fluff! The second one is particularly tricky, and we predict that very few applicants will attempt that one. Want to stand out? Try for option 2 (if you can pull it off with a story of substance that truly answers the question!). The adcom will be impressed by BSers who do that well.
     

  3. Answer both:
    1. Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goals (50 words maximum) 50 words? Dang.
    2. How have prior experiences motivated and prepared you to pursue these goals? (250 words maximum) Not much space here either. 🙁

     

We’re not crazy AT ALL about these changes. Sorry, Haas, these are not Haasome; actually, you’re making it ha-ha-ha-HARD on your applicants. Sorry but 50 words is just not enough to present a robust career goal. It’s enough to state the very essence of it, which apparently is the point, but then all they get is 250 words to provide foundation for it? We get it, that part is super important, but there’s JUST NOT ENOUGH ROOM!!! When other schools have squeezed essays this small – Duke, Wharton did so in the past, and they expanded them again the year after. Haas, we encourage you to be more generous! You always were before!!!!

For question 1, start here.

The whole “authenticity” thing is paramount on question 2 also.

EssaySnark’s Career Goals App Accelerator will help you define the essence of what you need to cover. Career goals has always been one of the most important parts of the Haas application, though certainly not the only one. Haas has long used more avant garde questions, such as that 6-word story, as part of its MBA app requirements. All told, this is an opportunity for you to show who you are — though you only have 800 words total to do it! Aaaaargh!

Be sure to study the tips that the adcom has offered on their instructions page.

And while career goals are indeed important, it’s also wise to start your research process by diving in to their Defining Principles – understanding those is critical!

Each of those three Essay 2 options is asking you to share a difficult situation that you overcame – and each is also an opportunity to highlight a success. There’s definitely a chance to show how you’ve worked with others in a productive way. Stories can be personal or professional, though generally speaking, we suggest that Essay 2 lean in the professional direction, depending on what else you’re able to cover in the other essays. You need a balance.

You will certainly want to get our 2017 Haas application guide. Pro Tip: Be careful about buying used hardcopy versions on the Internet; they are ALL outdated. We have not published to hardcopy in many years. The only current versions of school-specific guides are available right here on essaysnark.com.

You can see the archive of essay questions down below for insights (and criticisms) that we offered in previous years, some of which are still relevant today. You can also see our Haas essay reviews for a discussion of BSers attempts to answer past years’ incarnations of these questions.

The class size is increasing at Berkeley, to the 300 level, which is a dramatic change from where they have traditionally held it (they’d been around 240 students for a long time). Given how much app volumes have been up, this is a good thing!

 


 
In light of these new questions, the Berkeley Haas Application Guide has been totally revised for 2017 — this is your absolute best resource available for figuring out what to say in your stories for these essays and where to give your “Why Haas?” pitch.


 

2017 Recommendations

Berkeley is again using sort of quasi standardized recommender questions with one very different question.

They ask the four questions that certain schools including Stanford are asking, plus one more – and that last one is really tricky since it’s so specific to Haas. You definitely should consider picking up our Recommender’s Instruction Sets if you’re applying here.

 

Berkeley-Haas 2017 Dates and Deadlines

Haas Full-Time MBA Application Deadlines

  • Round 1: This year, the Round 1 deadline has been moved up a week, so it’s now in the same vicinity as schools like MIT, Wharton and Stanford. It had been nice when the Haas deadline was staggered. Unfortunately this means that some people are going to be scrambling for Haas and based on the patterns of BSer behavior that we know too well, their apps will suffer. 🙁 That extra week had been beneficial to Haas in giving them stronger apps. Also, interview invites are scattered at this school, they can come at any time, all the way up into December (though that’s pretty rare)
  • Round 2: — extended to due to severe weather on the East Coast of the U.S. during the first week of the year Originally it was set as yet another after-the-holidays crunch date. Since they extended it for whether, we’re just not sure why they couldn’t have set it out a few days later in the first place.

NOTE: Haas used to have four rounds, then in 2013 they standardized to three. We are telling you about this in case you come across a really old post here on the blahg that talks about four rounds at this school or that says it’s OK to apply in round 3. Now, it’s not advisable to do so (really most definitely not, given how popular Berkeley has become recently). Just like with other American schools, you should aim to apply to Haas in either Fall or January and don’t bother with Round 3.

 

UC-Berkeley Haas General Info

Haas sometimes has these fun little contests where you can win a consult with one of their adcom peeps – worth paying attention to them on social media!

from the EssaySnark blahg:

EssaySnark Essay Reviews

We’ve offered quite a lot of Haas essay advice on the blahg:

And some really old reviews – but still very relevant, given the Haas Defining Principles and all that jazz:

 

For Reference: Berkeley’s Past-Season Questions

Included in case anyone wants to see what Haas asked before.
Click to view 2016 questions


2016 Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

Here’s what we said when last year’s questions came out… remember this analysis is from *last year*.

They’ve maintained nearly the same essay requirements this year, but they’ve helped all of you new Brave Supplicants (sort of) by adding clarifications to the questions on their instructions page. A lot of those clarifications were already covered in our Haas Essay Guide in past years so that’s more validation that the ‘Snark will steer you in the right direction!

The new essays for the Berkeley-Haas full-time MBA app are:

  1. If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 words)
     
    Your song can be in any language, from any culture, and does not need to contain lyrics. The strongest responses will focus on answering why this song expresses who you are.
     
  2. Choose one: (250 words)
    • 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.
       
      In your response, clearly indicate to which prompt (1, 2, or 3) you are responding. We do not have a preference among the prompts and suggest that you select the one for which you can share a specific experience, professional or personal.
       
  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 maximum)
     
    You are encouraged to reflect on what it is you want to do after business school, including the types of roles, responsibilities, and organizations that are of interest. Through this essay we hope to learn about your professional journey to date and how an MBA will facilitate your success – broadly defined – in the future.

Phew! They fixed the problems with essay 3! Last year’s version was not our favorite; it made it tough for BSers to focus on the elements that we know are important to Haas. It’s great that Berkeley has gone back to a more productively-phrased prompt for all of you. EssaySnark’s Career Goals App Accelerator can guide you towards a rock solid pitch that covers the elements they’re asking for.

And while career goals are indeed important, be sure you start out by diving in to their Defining Principles – they’re critical!

It’s also nice to see the clarifications on the song essay, but we actually suggest that you stick with an English song with lyrics. It’s much easier to talk about why the song is important if you can easily describe the song, which is what lyrics (in English) will do. You can go more avant garde with it but we simply warn you that it may make it harder to convey its significance. Don’t get too creative. Stay grounded in the realities of WHY this song is so important as a descriptor of who you are. (And a special tip from the ‘Snark: You may want to rethink that idea to use the U2 song “A Beautiful Day” for your answer. You’re not the first BSer to have thought of that one.)

Update August 2016: We wrote a post about the most common problem we see with answers to this question!

Each of those three Essay 2 options is asking you to share a difficult situation that you overcame – and each is also an opportunity to highlight a success. There’s definitely a chance to show how you’ve worked with others in a productive way. Stories can be personal or professional, though generally speaking, we suggest that Essay 2 lean in the professional direction.

Even though the questions appear largely the same, you will still want to get our Haas application guide for the current year – which, good news, is now available! (Please be careful about buying used hardcopy versions on the Internet; they are ALL outdated. We have not published to hardcopy in several years. The only current versions of school-specific guides are available right here on essaysnark.com.)

And, good news: We’ve heard that Berkeley is increasing the size of the Class of 2019. It’s been around 240 students for a long time and we believe they’re edging up to maybe 250 or 260 (unconfirmed numbers) in the coming admissions season. Given how much app volumes have been up across most of the schools, this is a good thing!

[end discussion of last year’s questions]


Click to view 2015 questions

2015 Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

Once again they have three essays, including Essay 2 where they’ve re-instituted a take-your-pick construction, where you can choose among several prompts to answer. Those used to be really common but many schools have abandoned them in recent years as they scrambled to reduce the number of questions in their apps. While it’s nice to have choices, to allow you to answer the question for which you have the strongest possible story, mostly we believe that this is designed to prevent adcom boredom. It means that more applications will be varied, which is always nice when you’re on the receiving end of them! You will note, though, that each of those three Essay 2 options are basically asking you to brag a little. What are you proud of? What’s been significant in your life? Tell a quick story, and then explain why. Keep the focus on YOU throughout.

All of these Haas questions are similar to what Haas has asked in past years – in some cases, as with Essay 1 on the song, re-instituting a question they had for a few seasons running but then had ditched. (It was in the 2013 app too – see below.)

Basically this set of questions are new in the combination that they’re asking for, but none are really new for Haas.

That being said, you will want to get our Haas application guide. There are some specific nuances to this year’s questions and you’ll want to take advantage of the most up-to-date advice we can offer.

Here are this year’s full-time MBA essays from Berkeley-Haas:

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

Unfortunately they’ve radically reduced the word count for Essay 2 and that is not so great. As comparison, the first option for Essay 2, about an experience that “transformed” you, allowed up to 500 words last year. It’s going to be VERY difficult for most BSers to cover the transformation needed in so short a space. The same is true for either of the two alternates, as well.

Also unfortunately, last year they had an amazing part a-b-c structure to their career goals question, which really helped people because it guided them in what to say. This year’s question is much more loosely formed. Haas still wants you to tell them the same stuff, but there’s plenty more opportunity for you to go sideways with what you say this year, based on how broad-seeming the actual prompt is. You need to be very focused and structured in how you present yourself. Our Career Goals App Accelerator will actually set you up for tremendous success in organizing your material for this question exactly.

The essay on a song? It’s fine but it’s gimmicky. It may be fun for you to come up with your response (please see the archive of past questions below where they’ve asked this question before). Some people do great things with this essay. Lots of people are very predictable on it though. (Hint: Please do not use the U2 song “A Beautiful Day” for your answer. It’s been done before.) Check out our Haas essay reviews for a discussion of BSers attempts to answer past years’ incarnations of these questions.

While we were ga-ga over the Haas questions last year, this year, in 2015, we’re feeling much less excited. They took a great thing and made it harder on you people, with the shorter essays, and the more vaguely-worded career goals question. Essay 2 also does not excite us. Having choices of what to answer doesn’t make for a more applicant-friendly app. Having sufficient space to present yourself does.

Also: Please don’t overlook the importance of their Defining Principles.
[end discussion of 2015 questions]


Click to view 2014 questions

2014 Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

These are very applicant-friendly changes; you’re going to have an easier time of it than last year’s crew did. The cool and distinctive thing that Berkeley has done is that they’ve now suggested a essay length range – this is great. This shows you what a minimum essay that would sufficiently answer the question could look like, and they give you an upper max that is very reasonable. This is an AWESOME way to handle this.

Three essays:

  1. Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world. How did this transform you? (400-500 word maximum)
  2. What is your most significant professional accomplishment? (200-300 word maximum)
  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.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?
    (500-600 word maximum for 3a, 3b, and 3c combined)

There’s also several Supplemental Questions for everyone to answer and a bunch of Optional Essays too (here’s the link to their site with it all laid out ).

The main change – besides the detailed subparts for the career goals question, which makes it an awesome opportunity for you to share your plans with the adcom – is that they ditched a “failure” question from last year, along with the “song” essay, and they inserted the word “professional” into the “most significant accomplishment” question.

Here’s the deal, Brave Supplicant: These questions are totally long enough, and the prompts are clear enough, that you’re going to be able to do a fabulous job of sharing who you are with the adcom. Berkeley is a school that cares about career goals and WHOA is that ever reflected in this year’s version of their career essay! The one issue we take with it is that they crammed in a third subquestion this year while simultaneously reducing your word count by 150 words. That’s not so fun. It’s still very doable – and our Haas essay guide will still help you out with this.

These are THE BEST BERKELEY QUESTIONS EVER – it’s like Goldilocks, not too many, not too cryptic, very reasonable lengths, and kind to candidates. Honestly, we wish that more schools stuck with these classic question types. Kudos to Haas for helping applicants do a good job in expressing themselves.

The main downside with Haas Round 1 in 2014, at least based on how it’s gone in past years? You may not get a final answer on your app until mid-January – well after Round 2 deadlines are past for other schools. They do often notify admits ahead of this date; it’s not quite rolling admissions, but sort of. Maybe “rolling decisions” is a better way to describe it.

The good part of this policy? Your deposit for a successful Round 1 app doesn’t need to be paid until March – and you’ll likely know outcomes at other schools by then, including even for some Round 2 apps. This ends up being to your advantage. Because of this, we recommend you apply in Round 1 if you can.

8/29/14 Berkeley published its Class of 2016 profile – average GMAT and GPA ticked up even higher (717 and 3.62), plus they went from 29% women to an impressive 43%. Apps increased slightly too.

[end discussion of 2014 questions]


Click to view 2013 questions

2013 F/T Haas Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis

The F/T essays are nearly the same as 2012 (see below), except that as expected, there’s fewer of them, and the questions are simplified. It’s possible that their app volumes went down last year due to how much they made the BSers write (compared to other schools’ apps, it was a little excessive). The nice aspect to the Haas app is they actually give you enough space to tell your story.

Four essays:

  1. If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 word maximum)
  2. What is your most significant accomplishment? (250 word maximum)
  3. Describe a time in the last three years when you overcame a failure. What specific insight from this experience has shaped your development? (250 word maximum)
  4. a. What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How have your professional experiences prepared you to achieve these goals?
    b. How will an MBA from Haas help you achieve these goals? (750 word maximum for 4a. and 4b.)

There’s also several Supplemental Questions and a bunch of Optional Essays too (here’s the link to their site with it all laid out ). And don’t overlook the importance of their Defining Principles. Buckle your seatbelt. You have to be committed to apply to Haas (which is probably the adcom’s intention…).

[end discussion of 2013 questions.]



Click to view 2012 questions


2012 questions – these are REALLY OLD
They used to have FIVE ESSAYS!!
  1. If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why?
  2. What is your most significant accomplishment?
  3. Describe a time when you questioned an established practice or thought within an organization. How did your actions create positive change?
  4. Describe a time when you were a student of your own failure. What specific insight from this experience has shaped your development?
  5. a. What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How have your professional experiences prepared you to achieve these goals?b. How will an MBA from Haas help you achieve these goals? (750 word maximum for 5a. and 5b.)

[end discussion of 2012 questions.]


 
The SnarkStrategies Guide for Berkeley Haas covers the 2016 questions – and Haas is a great school to tackle as your first MBA application. Time to get started?

 

[Index of essay questions by business school]

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!

The admissions committee has helpfully provided sample six-word stories and video tips.

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!

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