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These 4 Important Principles are Critical When Writing the Berkeley-Haas Essay

Understand the four key principles UC Berkeley-Haas looks for in the essays of MBA applicants.

Berkeley-Haas has a very close-knit, student-driven and collaborative culture. The school values innovative leaders who embody the four key principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Student Always and Beyond Yourself.

While you want to keep these concepts in mind as you answer the essay questions, also make sure you are authentic and express thoughts and ideas that demonstrate your true inspirations and interests.

Essay 1: (Required) If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 words maximum) Your song can be in any language, from any culture, and does not need to contain lyrics. The strongest responses will focus on answering why this song expresses who you are.

Berkeley-Haas wants to know what makes you tick. As expressed in the directions, the song itself is not as important as why it expresses who you are. Be authentic and use an example that shows what is unique about you. Think about a song that takes you back to a special place when you learned something significant about yourself. Or when you stood up for something you believed. Take this opportunity to show the real you when you exhibited one of the four key principles and dive deeper into something that is not on your resume.

Essay 2: Please respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words maximum)
1 – Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you.
2 – Describe a time when you were challenged by perspectives different from your own and how you responded.
3 – Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging.
In your response, clearly indicate to which prompt (1, 2, or 3) you are responding. We do not have a preference among the prompts and suggest that you select the one for which you can share a specific experience, professional or personal.

First, make sure you are very clear about which prompt you are answering. Use a number to highlight your selection.

Berkeley-Haas prides itself on the close interaction of its small class. With only 60 students per cohort, you truly get to know each and every person within your cohort no matter what industry, function, nationality or any other demographic. Much of your work will be done in teams, some of which you choose and some of which are chosen for you. Use this opportunity to describe how you will interact with other members of your cohort and teams. Make sure to address how you grew from the situation.

It does not matter which you choose, but commit and clearly state which you are choosing. Choose the response to the prompt that displays one of the four key principles.

Essay #3: Tell us about your career plans. How have your past experiences prepared you to achieve these goals? How will Berkeley-Haas help you? (500 words maximum)
You are encouraged to reflect on what it is you want to do after business school, including the types of roles, responsibilities, and organizations that are of interest. Through this essay we hope to learn about your professional journey to date and how an MBA will facilitate your success – broadly defined – in the future.

In this prompt, articulate your career goals, your past experiences and why a Berkeley-Haas MBA is an integral part of those goals. It is important to show that you understand the culture of the Berkeley-Haas program and that it is the right one for you.

  1. Describe your career plans. Explain how these career goals developed and how you see your career progressing over the next 10-20 years.
  2. Talk about your experiences to date that have led you to wanting a Berkeley-Haas MBA. Be clear about what you have learned and what you still need to learn. If you are changing careers, connect the dots to how your past experiences have led to this decision.
  3. Know the program and how Berkeley-Haas, specifically, can help you achieve these goals. Talk with alumni and current students, visit the school and attend a class, research and listen to podcasts or participate in an on-line chat. Make sure you can discuss specific programs, clubs or aspects to the community that will help you achieve your goals as well as how you will contribute to these programs to help them grow.

At Berkeley-Haas, innovation is at the forefront of the culture. Through your application, demonstrate how your past experiences combined with a Berkeley-Haas MBA will support your dreams to make a difference.

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