Haas is known (around this here blahg at least) as a school with tricky essay questions. What does “beyond yourself” really mean? Or any of their other visions or values or key qualities or whatever they’re calling them these days.
For any school, you gotta do some research to get into the culture, the mood, the je ne sais quoi of it. Move beyond the website. Get past those essay questions. Yes, you may even need to leave your apartment.
For many schools, tremendous insights can be gained from just doin’ a little diggin’. We talked about this before, with the HBS/Prof Christensen link. You can find great stuff about a school on them thar interwebs.
For example, the Haas commencement speech in May was given by two graduates. You can read it here. It embodies much of what the Haas mentality is all about.
Commencement speeches in past years (at this and other schools) tend to offer similar gems.
Make sure you really UNDERSTAND what they’re saying. (We definitely do NOT recommend quoting such speeches in essays. Unless, maybe, you happen to know the speaker personally. Or you were there in the audience. Otherwise it can come across as a little contrived. Quotes in essays are a no-go if you ask us.)
Reflect on these values — particularly at Haas. Part of the challenge of writing a good essay is in figuring out what the h3ll they’re asking in the first place. At many schools, the questions truly are designed to get you to think.
(Yes, we know it’s hard, perhaps even painful, but it won’t kill ya. Promise.)
UPDATED 8/4/11: EssaySnark is pleased to announce the SnarkStrategies Guide for UC-Berkeley Haas available now in softcover!