What steps have you taken to learn about the Berkeley MBA program, and what factors have influenced your decision to apply? [250 words]
Mostly straightforward, but I want to talk about “low-yield” statements. And urge you to avoid them at all costs. This phenomenon is rampant with applicants, and is probably why the minds at Haas created this specific question in the first place, phrasing it just so.
First, let’s identify the typical mistakes, and then talk about how to do it correctly.
“Having spoken to so-and-so alumni or current student, I am excited about XXX class and YYY club offering at Haas. Also, Haas’s location in Silicon Valley is particularly exciting.”
Okay, but we haven’t actually SAID anything yet. Low yield. They know what classes they offer. They know all about Silicon Valley. None of this is news to them. The key here is PERSONALIZATION.
What are the aspects of Haas that caused you to raise your eyebrows and say “Hrm. IN-teresting.” or “Ooh, that would be PERFECT for… ME.” Forget reputation, forget diversity, forget strength in blahhh… what things specifically speak to YOU?
See if you can spot the difference between the following examples:
EXAMPLE 1 – I want a McDonald’s cheeseburger because McDonald’s is the biggest chain around, and they are famous for their Cheeseburger the world over. It has amazing taste!
EXAMPLE 2 – I want a McDonald’s cheeseburger because they are the only ones who flatten their patties to 1/4 inch thickness. While others come very close, with a McDonald’s cheeseburger, I end up experiencing a perfect balance of meat and bread given the size of my bite.
Night and day. The first example is stock. It is stating the obvious. It is applicable to Burger King, and countless others. There is no specificity, despite the IMPRESSION of specificity.
In the second example, we have a bulletproof argument for why this kid like the McDonald’s cheeseburger. How’d he do it? He made it personal to HIMSELF. In this case, with the physical dimensions of his mouth and his preference for how meat and bread should balance together. I don’t need to check the veracity of his 1/4 inch claim, because I’m convinced with that level of detail that this guy has done the research.
When you attack this question for Haas, or others like it, make the school seem like it was BUILT for you. Show us the fit. Reveal your “need” (for your ideal meat to bread ratio) and then describe the ways in which you’ve discovered that Haas has addressed that exact need.
Slightly different structural approach. Try it out, see if it works for you:
1) First describe what you were looking for in the perfect MBA program.
2) Then describe HOW you went about looking for it. [these two can be combined.]
3) Finally, reveal how (and WHERE) you found it. Describing what that finding actually was.
The difference between THIS approach and the one normally taken, is that once you talk about what it is you find desirable about a school, it will click since you’ve explained what you were HOPING to find in the first place.