MIT Sloan | Mr. Healthtech Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.44
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45
Kellogg | Mr. Social Impact Initiative
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Navy Nuke
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
London Business School | Mr. LGBT Pivot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4

Lady Gaga On This MBA Essay?

Lady Gaga’s “I Was Born This Way?” Or Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart?” Or maybe some other catchy tune?

With all the changes in MBA application essays this year, you knew it had to happen sooner or later.

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is now asking applicants to choose one song that “expresses who you are” and why you picked the tune. “Pick a song that is meaningful to you—it doesn’t have to be popular, in English, or even have lyrics,” says Stephanie Fujii, director of full-time MBA admissions at Haas, in a post on her admissions blog.

The new 250-word question replaces an essay that had asked applications to name their greatest joy. Explains Fujii, “Why are we asking this question? It’s not a test.  We hope your answer will reveal something about what makes you who you are. A piece of advice — your song doesn’t have to be a popular or well-known song, or even a song with lyrics — pick the song that has meaning for you and make sure we understand why.  Last year a number of applicants over-thought the joy question instead of answering from the heart. This year, we’re trying something new.”

The school also reduced the number of required essays in its full-time MBA application and slashed the maximum words required in the essays by a full third to 1,500 words from last year’s 2,250. Haas cut last year’s five 250-word maximum questions to just three and reducing its long two-part response question by 250 words to a maximum of 750 from 1,000.

The novel question comes amidst massive changes in MBA application essays this year. The upheaval began in May when Harvard Business School cut the number of its required essays in half and added a post-interview reflective email to the mix. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School followed by introducing a novel team-based discussion requirement for applicants who pass the first application review hurdle.

Some of the application alternations are quite novel. Columbia Business School is requiring applicants to view a three-minute promotional video on school community and then write up to 250 words on the film. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, for example, is asking applicants to create a numbered list of the top “25 random things about yourself.” The school is telling MBA candidates that they can share important life experiences, likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps the school’s admissions staff understand what makes “you who you are.”

“It must go in phases,” says Betsy Massar, of Master Admissions, a consulting firm.. “Schools are trying to outdo themselves with individuality questions.”

The complete set of this year’s questions for Haas:

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

What is your most significant accomplishment? (250 word maximum)

Describe a time when you questioned an established practice or thought within an organization. How did your actions create positive change? (250 word maximum)

Describe a time when you were a student of your own failure. What specific insight from this experience has shaped your development? (250 word maximum)

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.)


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.