This post has been marked as OLD. EssaySnark's advice and strategies for winning MBA applications don't change from year to year, but some of the school-specific admissions policies, essay questions, or other information covered in this article may be outdated.
We’ve got a long history of lovin’ on Haas around here yet in the past two seasons they’ve pulled some lame anti-applicant maneuvers.
In both cases, their ridiculously strict policies resulted in very fine applicants being moved to the next round.
In other words: These applicants submitted in Round X and because of a technicality, their apps were moved to Round Y.
The first time it happened, we brushed it off since it was really the BSer’s fault. But it was lame. This person was moved from Round 2 to Round 3 simply because they submitted the app a few minutes late. We were shocked that Haas was so inflexible but we also tsk-tsked because the BSer should’ve known better.
The second time it happened, on a different issue entirely, it was NOT the BSer’s fault. In this case, the BSer was only moved from Round 1 to Round 2, which is not the end of the world – but it’s also a MAJOR wrench in the works of a well thought-out strategy.
We didn’t name Haas in the original post where we warned BSers not to submit late because again it wasn’t really Haas’s fault. You submit late, there are penalties. That’s true for anything in life. We remain surprised that being a few minutes late on getting an MBA app in has such dire consequences but if that’s how they want to run things, they’re entitled to. When they’re so strict like that, they don’t exactly get a reputation for being customer friendly, though. By contrast, Harvard leaves their application open for several hours after their stated deadline time, to allow stragglers who are still working in panic mode to get everything in, and they’ll even give your recommenders a day or two extra to get recommendations in too.
Berkeley-Haas ESPECIALLY does not get a friendly reputation when you consider this second case: Haas has much more strict policies on the TOEFL for international applicants than most other schools do. No problem, we aren’t complaining about that, and it’s not customer-unfriendly for them to require the test in more cases than their peer programs do. That part is fine.
That being said: We will interrupt this post for a moment with the comment that some schools have done away with the TOEFL entirely. MIT has not ever required it for as long as EssaySnark has been in this business (which is a pretty darned long time now), and Yale ditched it after they rolled out their in-app video essay. The GMAT gives adcoms a pretty strong sense of verbal skills and the interview gives plenty of feedback on language abilities too so we don’t really see how the TOEFL is adding so much value – especially since most people do just fine on it. It’s really an outlier candidate who bombs the TOEFL and that person would also bomb the GMAT verbal sections. The TOEFL is sort of a legacy requirement, if you ask us. It’s kinda like the little toe; we’re told that as a species, we don’t actually need it, but we’re still hanging onto it. Little toe / little TOEFL. Hahahahaha.
Anyway, Berkeley is hanging onto their TOEFL something fierce. It’s actually a UC requirement, and now UCLA has the same rule too. These schools require a lot more applicants to submit a TOEFL than any other MBA program does, and we know that it deters people from applying. Berkeley does have rules by which, if you’ve done at least a year full time study in a degree-granting program in the U.S., Canada, or the UK or some other country where English is the official country language, then they’ll waive it.
This is where one of our peeps last season got hung up.
This BSer was educated in a non-English speaking country for college but then earned a Master’s in a country that qualifies for the exception. This person did what Haas instructs on their website: They called the Berkeley admissions office to confirm that they did in fact qualify for this waiver to the TOEFL. They were told by the person answering the phone that yes, the waiver applied in this case.
Great! So this BSer merrily submitted their app in Round 1 – excitedly submitted, even, since Haas had become their first choice school.
So then what happened?
Well, several weeks after the deadline, they were informed that they needed to take the TOEFL. There was a technicality based on the type of Master’s program that they attended, that DIS-qualified them from the waiver. The waiver did not apply – despite the fact that the Haas admissions person TOLD THEM THAT IT DID.
This BSer jumped through all the hoops, and were still caught in the net.
Lame Lame Lame.
EssaySnark is belaboring all of this to make a point (and no it’s not entirely about Berkeley-Haas):
You need to READ THE POLICIES in each of your target schools’ application carefully.
If you’re an international student especially, you need to research every rule that applies – not just about the TOEFL but also about transcripts and getting certified translations if they’re not issued in English.
If you took the GMAT awhile ago, make sure your score is still valid; the policies vary radically between schools.
You don’t want to be surprised on your first app – or your fifth. Check out ALL the apps and understand that policies may vary.
And in the end, remember that you can’t judge a school by its adcom. We still love Berkeley Haas and maybe with their new leadership in admissions, there may be opportunity for change.
Thinking about applying to Berkeley? The EssaySnark Berkeley Haas MBA Application Guide lays out all the details for answering those essays with aplomb!
Here's what others have said about this:
Mine too. And from being my dream school to this list isn’t even funny. Although my TOEFL score is still valid for the next 6 months, they won’t accept it because I gave the exam one month prior to the deadline they have set (1’st Jun). What’s worse is that there are no dates from now till their round two deadline to give the exam again. The closest date was 7th Jan and they won’t even allow a two-day reprieve. It’s just stupid and illogical. Especially for someone who has had English as the medium for instruction all their life, had a very high verbal score in GMAT and near perfect TOEFL score last year. What more data points does Haas?
I am in a similar situation. By any chance are you also trying to apply from UK? My TOEFL score expired and since other schools generally waived it off, I didn’t check for Haas specifically. How are you handling it? Did you speak to Ad-com?
@varu18114, this is indeed distressing! It’s a UC-wide policy that all their schools apparently must comply with, so that’s probably what’s going on with the rigid stance. If they give out exceptions then everyone would give out exceptions and the whole thing would fall apart. But it seems very backwards. Most schools WANT to get more applicants to choose from without artificially limiting things like this.
We’re confused on the exact circumstances you’re reporting though – what do you mean by the score being valid for 6 months? Each MBA adcom sets its own policies for when scores expire. The “2 year” thing on the TOEFL (and “5 years” on GMAT and GRE) is not set by the testing companies. There’s massive variability for the GMAT/GRE among schools too and we’ve seen that bite people sometimes.
We’ve also seen people have real trouble scheduling a TOEFL at this time of year, based upon demand, with everyone who’s applying to all schools – not just MBA programs – hitting the same requirement for their January deadline apps. The only thing we can think of is maybe it’s worth traveling to another city for this? Not sure if that’s really worth it, but we’ve seen people do it.
This is indeed very very frustrating, but it’s good that you did the research ahead of time. Would’ve been even more infuriating if you’d written the essays and submitted the app and paid the darned fee, and found out that it wouldn’t be considered. That would have s-u-c-k-e-d.
It still sucks but slightly less so now. 🙁
Thanks for reporting your experience. This is lame stuff from Haas.
Have you considered UCLA? Just as a curiosity, wonder if they would respond the same way to your situation.