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Posted on October 30, 2020

Berkeley Haas Essay Tips & Deadlines: 2020-21

Berkely Haas

UC Berkeley Haas is an outstanding Silicon Valley B-school with a reputation for social responsibility and technology. It is a perfect school for entrepreneurial students interested in cleantech, healthcare, social ventures, and non-profits.

Application Deadlines:

Round Application Deadline Admission Decision
Round 1 September 24, 2020  December 17, 2020
Round 2 January 14, 2021  March 25, 2021
Round 3 April 5, 2021  May 13, 2021

 

Essays:

Like last year, Haas asks full-time MBA applicants to submit two required essays. The first essay remains unchanged while the second required essay ( the leadership essay) has been tweaked a little bit for the 2020-21 application season. The focus is now on leadership and on being yourself. Haas continues to lay stress on its core values and 4 principles.

From the Haas website: "Essays help us learn about who you are as a person and how you will fit with our community. We seek candidates from a broad range of industries, backgrounds, and cultures. Our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles - Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. We encourage you to reflect on your experiences, values, and passions so that you may craft thoughtful and authentic responses that demonstrate your fit with our program - culturally, academically, and professionally."

You need to prepare your Haas application with these four principles at the core.

Here is MER's analysis of Haas's 2020-21 essays:

Essay 1: What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum)

The admission committee of Haas maintains its style of asking creative questions, ("a song that expresses who you are", "a six -words story"), and asks about something that "makes you feel alive when doing it." This essay asks about an activity that motivates you to be your best. Think of some activities that you like to engage in, and then pick the most memorable activity that fuels your best performance and inspires you. Pick something which gives valuable insights into your style of functioning and personality. For instance, if you are deeply involved in volunteer work, you may explain how you are successfully encouraging your community to reuse and reduce plastic to conserve the environment. Highlight how your passion has helped your community and the cause of environmental sustenance.

It may be your hobby that invigorates you, e.g. singing, dancing, gardening, cooking, or it can be an adventure activity, such as hiking, scuba diving, parachuting, or any other activity. You may first describe that hobby and the way you pursue it, and then explain how you feel while engaging in that favorite hobby/ interest of yours and how it makes you 'feel alive'. This activity should reveal your passion and who you are as a person. The key here is the 'how' part of the essay as it will showcase your natural talents and emotions.

Considering the stringent word limit of 300 words, you need to make every word count. You can broadly use approximately 100 words to describe the activity and 200 words to describe how you feel while you are engaged in it.

Essay 2: The definition of successful leadership has evolved over the last decade and will continue to change. What do you need to develop to become a successful leader?  (300 words max)

Last year, the admission committee asked applicants how Haas MBA would enhance their leadership profile. This year's applicants will specify what they need to 'develop to become a successful leader.  The first essay showcases your interests or passions, and the second essay focuses on professional accomplishments. Begin your essay by defining your leadership style, your ability to lead, and explain how you have demonstrated leadership.

The introduction should propel the Ad Com to read the entire story. After sharing 1-2 leadership stories, discuss the areas where you felt you could have done better to become a successful leader. When choosing your examples, try to demonstrate how your leadership style is in sync with Berkeley's values/ defining principles. You can wrap up your essay by outlining how Haas will help you sharpen those leadership skills, helping you become a successful leader. Please familiarize yourself well with the Haas curriculum and their approach to management education. Please remember that the focus of this essay is on the following 4 components-

  1. Your leadership style
  2. Examples that illustrate your leadership style
  3. What do you need to develop to become a successful leader? Please illustrate this through an example. That is, you can cite an anecdote where you think you could have handled things differently if you had that leadership quality.
  4. Conclusion- how Haas will help you develop that quality

Keep in mind the 4 core principles of Haas.

Don't forget to watch this video to learn what  Haas students have to say about the 4 defining principles  (question the status quo, confidence without attitude, student always, beyond yourself)

Optional Essays:

The admissions team takes a holistic approach to application review and seeks to understand all aspects of a candidate's character, qualifications, and experiences. We will consider achievements in the context of the opportunities available to a candidate. Some applicants may have faced hardships or unusual life circumstances, and we will consider the maturity, perseverance, and thoughtfulness with which they have responded to and/or overcome them.

Information #1: We invite you to help us better understand the context of your opportunities and achievements:

  1. What is the highest level of education completed by your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
  • Did not complete high school
  • High school diploma or equivalency (GED) Associate's degree (junior college) or vocational degree/license
  • Bachelor's degree (BA, BS)
  • Master's degree (MA, MS)
  • Doctorate or professional degree (MD, JD, DDS)
  1. What is the most recent occupation of your parent(s) or guardian(s)?
  • Unemployed
  • Homemaker
  • Laborer
  • Skilled worker
  • Professional
  1. If you were raised in one of the following household types, please indicate:
  • Raised by a single parent
  • Raised by an extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)
  • Raised in a multi-generational home
  • Raised in foster care
  1. What was the primary language spoken in your childhood home?
  1. If you have you ever been responsible for providing significant and continuing financial or supervisory support for someone else, please indicate:
  • Child
  • Spouse
  • Sibling
  • Parent
  • Extended family member (grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin)
  • Other
  1. Please elaborate on any of your above responses. Alternatively, you may use this opportunity to expand on other hardships or unusual life circumstances that may help us understand the context of your opportunities, achievements, and impact. (300 words maximum)

This short answer question requires an honest and straightforward approach. You can elaborate on any of your above responses (1-5) in question 6 if you think some aspects of your personal or professional journey could be relevant for admission. You could also use this space to discuss any hardship or unusual life circumstances to help the admission committee better understand your opportunities and achievements.

These questions gauge your resolve to overcome adversity. Contemplate the circumstances that define your achievements. Overcoming hardships makes a person confident and strong- someone who is not ruffled by tough times, an efficient manager trait. Haas is interested in your attitude, whether hardships are a problem or an opportunity to excel for you. Everyone faces difficulties in life at some point or the other. For example, you might have seen a time when your parent lost the job. You may have encountered a severe health issue which tested your will power, patience, and determination. The key is how you faced adversity and emerged a stronger person in the process. Your positive mindset and objective outlook in the face of hardships will set you apart from others.

 Optional Information #2:

This section should only be used to convey relevant information not addressed elsewhere in your application. This may include an explanation of employment gaps, academic aberrations, supplemental coursework, etc. You are encouraged to use bullet points where appropriate.

As instructed in the essay prompt, submit the optional essay only if you have to explain any information or extenuating circumstances. (e.g. "unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance") not addressed in your application. If you have a low GPA or less than ideal GMAT, or if you cannot get a recommendation from your current supervisor, or have an employment gap, you may address these concerns in your optional essay. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality. This essay should convey that you are aware that these are areas of concern in your application, and you have made a sincere effort to improve upon these areas. For example, if you are discussing your employment gap, you may explain that you did something productive during that period, such as traveling, volunteering, or handling a family medical emergency.

If you do not have a strong quantitative background, you can use one or two examples from work to demonstrate your analytical ability. Also, if you have taken any supplemental coursework to improve your quantitative skills, you can explain that coursework here.

Your response should be positive, straightforward, and fact-focused and should not sound like you are making excuses for your weakness. Please note that the admission committee asks you to submit this essay only if you need to. Your response should be brief without making any excuses.

If you do not have any weakness in your profile but think that you didn't get a chance to throw a spotlight on a significant professional accomplishment or extracurricular accomplishments, you may use an optional essay to share that key aspect of your candidacy.

It will be helpful to check out the video where Senior Associate Director of Full-time Admissions, Cindy Jennings Millette, shares how they "look at, and evaluate, extracurricular and community involvement."

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2020-21

 MER Students Share their success Stories

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs, including Haas. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

For further guidance and writing that resonates well with Berkeley Haas, you may email Poonam at poonam@myessayreview.com with questions about your Haas application or sign up here for a free consultation.