Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
IU Kelley | Mr. Clinical Trial Ops
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.33
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Rice Jones | Mr. Simple Manufacturer
GRE 320, GPA 3.95
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Harvard | Mr. 1st Gen Brazilian LGBT
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5

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.