There’s a little gem of a podcast from the Haas-Berkeley admissions committee, “Admissions and Application Information for Prospective Full-time MBA Students,” answering the question: “What are we looking for as we evaluate candidates?” It’s only 12 minutes long and really worth listening to. It’s up on this link at iTunes (item 10) or click here.
Haas adcom aims to dispel a few mysteries and shibboleths from MBA admissions. The podcast is from 2007, but that’s no matter. Everything they say is still current, and valid for other top b-schools too. The highlights:
Haas looks at three key areas. (1) academic readiness; (2) professional accomplishments and leadership experience; (3) personal attributes
(1) They consider college GPA + GMAT (+ post-grad scores, if applicable.) They also put value on the caliber of undergraduate institution, difficulty of major, trend in your grades, and level of quantitative preparation. There is no preference for any type of major.
(2) Work experience is about quantity (most have 3- 7 years) and, more importantly, quality. They focus on your career progression, why you have made the transitions you have made, how your role has progressed and responsibility increased. Quick advancement and significant progress reflects well. Leadership can be demonstrated on many ways, and closely correlates with how much of an impact you have made in your organization(s).
(3) The Haas admissions committee, like all adcoms, wants to enroll a class with diverse attributes and backgrounds (there is no right or wrong personal or professional past.) The question is “What can you uniquely contribute? They glean this by what you reflect as important to you — what you are passionate about. High extracurricular activity suggests you will be active on campus too, but they do understand and forgive where work and travel issues prevent meaningful extra-mural or community involvement.
Generally, it’s worth keeping up with b-school podcasts, which are coming online all the time. Some are admissions-related. Others give worthwhile insight and information about the school and its culture, which can feed into essays about fit (“Why this school particularly?”) See for example: