If you’re applying to the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA program, you’re one of thousands of applicants competing for the 300 spots in the incoming class. One of the most interesting and perhaps challenging parts of the application process is the essays. In this article we’ll share some tips on how to approach the Berkeley Haas MBA application essays so you can demonstrate that you are a must-have applicant.
Berkeley Haas has two required essays and two optional essays. One of the required essays asks you to think creatively, which can be fun for some and a little stressful for others. The other required essay puts a slightly different twist on a pretty standard question. For the optional essays, while the second is the usual “tell us relevant information not addressed elsewhere in your application,” the first is quite unique and perhaps challenging, but a great opportunity to demonstrate your maturity and self-awareness.
Required Essay One: Tell us a six-word story that reflects a memorable experience in your life-to-date. Elaborate on why it is meaningful to you. (300 words)
Reveal the real you.
The objective of this essay is for the reader to get to know who you are as a human being. Think of this essay as a chance to bring your application to life. Help the admissions committee get to know the person behind the achievements and career goals. This essay should pique the reader’s interest for the rest of the application.
It’s clear that the Berkeley Haas admissions team wants to get past the normal jargon and stuffy language and get a real sense of your personality here. That means you shouldn’t be afraid to have a little fun or reveal the real you. If an admissions officer reads this essay and still has no sense of what it would be like to meet you in person, then you haven’t made good use of this essay. That doesn’t mean your six-word story needs to be wacky or so deep that it will make the reader cry, but avoid the temptation to choose one that merely echoes one of the more straightforward themes you will cover elsewhere in your application.
In the spirit of this essay, we’ve decided to put together a few pieces of advice, obviously in six words.
“Trust your gut. Show your heart.”
Go with your instincts on this one. It doesn’t matter where your six-word story ranks on the tragedy chart, what matters is your authenticity.
“Please — what else have you got?”
Avoid cliches. See the next six-word story for more underwhelming been-done ideas.
“You’re really determined? Aren’t we all!”
Avoid cliches about success. If you hear nothing else, hear this!
“Comparing yourself to others? No way.”
Don’t ask other applicants what they are doing. And don’t go all WebMD and start Googling what to do. You’ll get in your head and end up with something way less original and creative than if you had just gone for it yourself.
Required Essay Two: Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal, and discuss how it will put you on a path to a meaningful and rewarding career. (300 words)
Use approximately 50 words to discuss the industry and function you’d like to go into after graduation. You may even mention specific companies. Provide enough detail so the reader can easily understand and clearly picture what you want to do upon graduation. The trick is to not make this goal so narrow that there’s only one job in the entire world that will satisfy you, while not making it so broad that you seem directionless.
Being able to answer the second part, how your immediate post-MBA career goal will put you on a path to a meaningful and rewarding career, requires you to convey what’s meaningful and rewarding to you and why. Did you notice that the word meaningful appeared in both essay question 1 and essay question 2? For this career-focused question, perhaps you’ve always been interested in helping others through healthcare, as evidenced by your community involvement, and now you want to make that part of what you do in your day job. Or maybe you’ve been working in technology and innovation and your post-MBA plans will enable you to continue progressing on that path and even accelerate your progress toward a goal you’ve been working toward for several years already, like starting your own company, and that would be meaningful and rewarding because (you fill in the blank). Whatever you see yourself doing, try to show the reader why your post-MBA career path is meaningful and rewarding.
Optional Information One asks several questions with the aim of helping the admissions committee better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements and provides an opportunity to elaborate on any of your responses. Alternatively, you may use this opportunity to expand on other hardships or unusual life circumstances that may help them understand the context of your opportunities, achievements, and impact. (300 words)
Don’t think that you need to have overcome great obstacles to be admitted. Haas wants to see the path that you’ve walked. And if that path has exposed you to challenges, they want to learn more about how you view the world and what you’ve done — and are going to do — about it.
Use the SAR method.
Whatever you write about, the SAR (situation, action, result) approach can help you organize your thoughts, making sure to allocate sufficient space to not only describing the situation, or circumstances, but also the action you took and what you learned or how you grew as a result.
What do you do if you haven’t experienced hardships or unusual life circumstances? It is optional, but think hard, think back. Was there ever a time when you overcame something really difficult? Are you unsure if it qualifies as unusual? Talk with your friends and family and you just may uncover an experience worth sharing in answering this question.
We hope you found the above information helpful. For more insights and advice, check out Veritas Prep’s Essential Guide to Top Business Schools. To speak with an MBA admissions expert, call us at 800-925-7737. Or sign up for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
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