How to write #BerkeleyHaas #MBA application essays and why

Berkeley Haas MBA Application Essays

for Fall 2016 (Class of 2018)

Berkeley Haas Fall 2016 Application Deadlines

Round One

Online Application Submitted

October 1, 2015

Tests Taken

October 1, 2015

Decision Posted

December 17, 2015


Round Two

Online Application Submitted

January 7, 2016

Tests Taken

January 7, 2016

Decision Posted

March 24, 2016


Round Three

Online Application Submitted

March 31, 2016

Tests Taken

March 31, 2016

Decision Posted

May 12, 2016

Below are the required essays, supplemental essays, and optional essays for fall 2016.

Required Essays

At Berkeley-Haas, we seek candidates from a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, and industries who demonstrate a strong cultural fit with our program and defining principles. Our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles — Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.

Learn more about the Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles.

Please use the following essays as opportunities to reflect on and share with us the values, experiences, and accomplishments that have helped shape who you are.

Essay #1

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

Essay #2

Please respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words maximum)

  • 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.

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 maximum)

Supplemental Information

  1. If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain. If not applicable, enter N/A.
  2. List in order of importance all community and professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Include the following information for each organization or activity using the format below:
    • Name of organization or activity
    • Nature of organization or activity
    • Size of 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. 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.)

Optional Essay

Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? You may also use this essay to provide further explanation of employment gaps or your quantitative abilities. (500 words maximum)

Next: Application Tips

Berkeley Haas MBA Essays – The Questions behind the Questions

First, change the order.

Answer Essay 1 (E1), the "song" essay, last. Why? Because it is the hardest. Also, it might end up being an edited version of Stanford's "what matters most to you and WHY" essay, set to music (more on that soon).

Agos Admissions Consulting suggests you change the order for brainstorming Berkeley-Haas MBA essays. Instead of answering them in the order they are asked (1, 2, 3), answer them in reverse order (3, 2, 1):

E3 (goals)

E2 (behaviorals)

Transformative experience

Signficant accomplishment

Difficult decision

E1 (song that expresses who you are).

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 maximum)

QbQ

Start by watching the videos in this “why MBA / goals” essay YouTube Playlist ▸ http://bitly.com/WhyMBA_playlist

Second, read my best “why MBA / goals” essay tips

Third, share your ideas in outline or bullet point form, as described

Essay #2

Berkeley-Haas admissions officers say, "Please respond to one of the following prompts."

Transformative experience

Signficant accomplishment

Difficult decision

Vince says,

Share all possible answers with your Agos admissions consultant. Doing so helps us get to know you. When you share your ideas, present us with a "frame" or outline. Don't spend hours and hours writing a full essay draft before you meet us. We want to understand your IDEAS first.

As always, please share your ideas in outline or bullet point form, as described here

2.1) Transformative Experience

The Question: transformative experience

Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you.

(250 words maximum - Vince tip: as always, ignore the word limit when brainstorming and sharing your initial ideas. Share all possible options with your Agos admissions consultant so we can help you find the story that adds the missing piece to your winning application)

The Questions behind the Question (QbQ)

Three questions: executive summary

1. Who were you before?

2. Who are you now?

3. So what?

Other brainstorming questions

  • What was the experience?
  • Who was involved?
  • When did this experience happen (what year)?
  • How old were you at that time?
  • Where were you at that time?
  • What situation did you face, and why did you need to change yourself?
  • Why was this experience important to you?
  • How did this experience change the way you see the world?
  • How did you see the world before this experience?
  • How did you see the world after this experience?
  • So what? Why do you want us to know this story?
  • How did this transformation of your world view impact your life?
  • How might this story show your potential contributions to your Berkeley-Haas MBA peers?

As always, please share your ideas in outline or bullet point form, as described

2.2) Significant Accomplishment

The Question: significant accomplishment

Describe a significant accomplishment and why it makes you proud.

(250 words maximum - Vince tip: as always, ignore the word limit when brainstorming and sharing your initial ideas. Share all possible options with your Agos admissions consultant so we can help you find the story that adds the missing piece to your winning application)

The Questions behind the Question (QbQ)

Three questions: executive summary

1. What did you accomplish?

2. Why was it significant to you and/or others?

3. So what? What do you hope this story will show us about your potential contributions to your Berkeley Haas peers and/or your ability to achieve your post-MBA goals?

Other brainstorming questions

  • What did you accomplish?
  • Where were you at that time?
  • How old were you then?
  • What problem were you trying to solve?
  • Why did you want to solve that problem?
  • What were you trying to achieve?
  • Why was this accomplishment signficant for you?
  • How did it impact you?
  • Why was this accomplishment significant for others?
  • How did your accomplishment impact them?
  • Why are you proud of this impact?
  • So what? Why do you want us to know this story?
  • How did this accomplishment change your beliefs and/or actions?
  • How might this story show your potential contributions to your Berkeley-Haas MBA peers?

As always, please share your ideas in outline or bullet point form, as described

2.3) Difficult Decision

The Question: difficult decision

Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging.

(250 words maximum - Vince tip: as always, ignore the word limit when brainstorming and sharing your initial ideas. Share all possible options with your Agos admissions consultant so we can help you find the story that adds the missing piece to your winning application)

The Questions behind the Question (QbQ)

Three questions: executive summary

1. What did you decide?

2. Why did you make that decision and not another?

3. So what? What does this story show us about your accomplishments to date, your potential contributions to your Berkeley Haas peers and/or your ability to achieve your post-MBA goals?

Other brainstorming questions

  • What was the situation?
  • Why did you need to make a decision?
  • What were your options? What other choices did you have?
  • What did you decide?
  • Why did you make that decision and not another?
  • What made this decision difficult?
  • What were you afraid of? What could have gone wrong if you had made a bad or misinformed decision?
  • So what? Why do you want us to know this story?
  • How did this decision change your beliefs and/or actions?
  • Would you make the same decision today? Why or why not?
  • How might this story show your potential contributions to your Berkeley-Haas MBA peers?

As always, please share your ideas in outline or bullet point form, as described

Essay #1

The Question: one song that expresses who you are

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

(250 words maximum - Vince tip: as always, ignore the word limit when brainstorming and sharing your initial ideas. Share all possible options with your Agos admissions consultant so we can help you find the story that adds the missing piece to your winning application)

QbQ

  • Start by framing or outlining your answer to Stanford's "What matters most to you, and why?" essay.
  • Past clients who were admitted to Berkeley-Haas often used Stanford Essay A (what matters most to you and why) as the foundation for Haas Essay 1 (one song that expresses who you are and why). As Stanford advises, focus on the WHY rather than the WHAT. The song itself is probably less important than the story you use to explain WHY it best captures who you are.

As always, please share your ideas in outline or bullet point form, as described

Supplemental Information

  1. If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain. If not applicable, enter N/A.
  2. List in order of importance all community and professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Include the following information for each organization or activity using the format below:
    • Name of organization or activity
    • Nature of organization or activity
    • Size of 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. 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.)

Optional Essay

Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? You may also use this essay to provide further explanation of employment gaps or your quantitative abilities. (500 words maximum)

As always, please share your ideas in outline or bullet point form, as described

Next: Application Tips