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Haas Class of 2023 Essay Analysis

June 30, 2020

Haas released its 2020-21 application questions today with a few minor changes from the previous year.

2020/21 essay questions

Essay 1: What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words)

Essay 2: The definition of successful leadership has evolved over the last decade and will continue to change. What do you need to develop to become a successful leader? (300 words)


2020/21 essay question analysis

Essay 1

Similar to Stanford’s essay 1, the key to making this a great essay is answering the “why” to whatever topic you choose. This will be hard given the tight word limit, so choose a topic that doesn’t require much explaining about what it is. If you cannot explain what makes you feel alive in 50 words or less, consider another topic. Also, be honest about what makes you feel alive, rather than choosing something that sounds "cool". Your authentic passion for what makes you come alive will be easier to convey if it is actually true! 

When explaining why your activity makes you feel alive, bring the reader into your story by referencing the five senses; it will help your explanation be more memorable for the reader. Also try to weave in how the “why” helps you with other successes in your life. Has your activity helped you build key relationships you discuss elsewhere in your application? Given you the courage to start a business or negotiate for more responsibility at work? Something else?

Essay 2

A slight change from last year’s question on how Haas could improve your leadership profile, this question looks to probe how you plan to build your leadership skills. Unspoken is how you might use Haas to build those skills. The topic you choose doesn’t need to be a weakness or a gap you are looking to fill; instead, it could be a strength that you are looking to build upon to differentiate yourself from other top-performing peers.

A key challenge remains articulating something different than what other applicants write. “Enhance my communication skills” and “Learn to build empathy with diverse peers” are relevant, but won’t differentiate you from the experience others will have at Haas. Instead, focus on leadership characteristics that directly tie to your stated goals (i.e. refine my negotiating and influencing skills to earn funding for my business idea). The more specific you are in the examples of Haas experiences you will use, the easier it will be to be more memorable to the Admissions Committee.


2020/21 deadlines

Round 1: Application deadline: Sept. 24, 2020; Decision date: Dec. 17, 2020

Round 2: Application deadline: Jan. 14, 2021; Decision date: Mar. 25, 2021

Round 3: Application deadline: Apr. 5, 2021; Decision date: May 13, 2021


Other application details

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The online application is expected to be released in early July 2020.



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