June 9, 2021

Berkeley Haas School of Business MBA Essay 1

UC Berkeley (Haas)

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

This question certainly stands out compared to the common MBA essay fare. One cool way to start is to establish a FEW things you really like to do, and are good at. Think about them, and what makes you really enjoy them. Write it all down and make a list.

Now, look at that list… which of those activities/processes/things makes you feel MOST ALIVE? You have a sense of the status quo, of what you enjoy, but one of these things is special. More exhilarating, somehow. How is that NEW THING different from the rest? This exercise should help you zero in on the key element of an activity that makes you, personally, feel alive. That element will be different for everyone, you just need to identify what it is for you.

We want to open with that key difference between “things you enjoy” and “things that make you feel alive.” After you’ve established that, now we need to know why we should care. Well, let’s put that differently… this section should leave us wanting you to BE IN THAT “ALIVE” STATE. We want to convince the adcom, through your sincerity and passion, that enabling you is likely to lead to good things. That’s the cynical read here, folks. People who are really truly passionate, people who can get into a flow state… don’t quit. That’s what you’re REALLY conveying here. That when the going gets tough, you’re the kind of person who will stick with the MBA and not withdraw (costing the school a bunch of money).

So, initially you’ll explain what makes you feel alive, and here in “part 2” you’ll explain the “why.” But as you do, keep in mind that sincerity will beat melodrama, flowery tear-jerking or inspirational prose any day. Just be clean and earnest, and try to put your finger on what gets activated in you and why.

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