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Berkeley Haas MBA Sample Essay: “What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why?”

So, in the ApplicantLab interactive admissions consulting platform, for EVERY major question for EVERY major school, I provide detailed analyses and also step-by-step guidance on how to build your strongest essay possible. Instead of charging you a whopping $5,000 for this advice though, I offer it through the Lab platform, thus fulfilling my mission of leveling the playing field for access to great MBA admissions advice!

In order to test out my own advice, when I encounter a totally new or  different question (like the Berkeley Haas MBA admissions essay question: “What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why?”, which has been introduced for the 2019-2020 admissions season for the class of 2022), I put myself in your shoes, follow my own guidance, and see if I like the result.

Below is a sample essay that I wrote as if I were applying, following the guidance I give in ApplicantLab.

While the below is just a first draft, I believe that it hits the right directional notes (and avoids the mistakes I think a TON of other applicants are going to make on this essay!).  If you’re curious as to the choices I made (both in terms of what to include and what to leave out), as well as the ONE part of this sample that I’m torn on,  you can sign up for ApplicantLab now (at $299, it costs less than an hour of a traditional admissions consultant’s time!) and watch my videos / read my advice on how to tackle this tricky essay:

There is a moment when a roller coaster has finally clanked its way to the top of the hill and is about to be dropped (but hasn’t yet). It’s the moment of in-betweens. You’re in-between stillness and motion. In-between terror and joy. It’s the moment you most dread and yet it’s also the moment you stood in line two hours for. It’s the moment in which I feel most alive.

It all started in high school when my best friend at the time – the friend who entered my life when I was in “maximum insecurity mode” and whose boisterous support taught me confidence in myself – dragged me on to a coaster. At first, I was terrified and refused to go – I was too scared of the drops, the uncertainty.  She described what she loved about it – that it’s scary if you think of it as “falling”, but it’s exhilarating if you think of it as “flying”. I vowed to be brave, felt the safety harness lower, and tried to see the ride from her perspective: “This is flying. This is flying…OH MY GOSH, THIS REALLY IS FLYING!!!”

Since then, any coaster I’ve encountered has been ridden (usually multiple times), and I’ve found myself  facing more “drops and uncertainty” in life than I ever expected:  overcoming challenges helping build an orphanage in Ecuador, adapting to a new life in Hong Kong, and gripping white-knuckled through the biggest roller-coaster of all: entrepreneurship.

I also now find myself married to a wonderful but easily-nauseated man who, unfortunately, throws up on coasters.

Even the baby ones.

Fortunately, my young son shares my enthusiasm, and today, amusement parks provide special “mother-son” time, when we leave Daddy at home and spend the whole day together, laughing, screaming, and making memories I’ll cherish forever.

(297 words)