Tuesday, September 29

Berkeley Haas Admit Gets Candid !!

I had the opportunity to interact with a Berkeley Admit {Bhavin Parikh} and i would like to share the finer points of our conversation with all my fellow bloggers. Bhavin scored in the 99th percentile in GMAT and applied to Wharton, Haas and Stanford. This information will be extremely useful for all the applicants who are planning to apply to Haas. Also, Bhavin is a co-founder of  "GMAT preparation site Magoosh" {"Magoosh - a play on the Old Persian word "magush" meaning "one who is highly learned, wise, and generous."}. As of now, Magoosh offers Quant preparation at a killer price {INR 499/- or approx $12}. Below is the transcript, read on:

Braveheart: Bhavin, to which all schools you applied? and why you chose Haas ?

bkparikh: I applied to Wharton, Stanford, and Haas.
I had been living in Philadelphia at the time, which was the primary reason I applied to Wharton. However, the school was not a good fit for me. I prefer a smaller class size, And I was heavily interested in technology.

Braveheart: so Haas is good for people who intend to pursue career in technology? How about the scope of strategy or Finance at Haas?

bkparikh: being close to Silicon Valley, Haas is definitely good for technology. But many students come here pursuing finance, strategy, consulting and marketing opportunites as well.
While Haas may not be as focused in Finance or Marketing as some other schools, the school does provide resources to help students succeed. Especially if they want to stay in the California area after graduation

Braveheart: but do Management Consulting/ Finance firms recruit in same proportion at Haas as they do at Chicago or Kellogg?

bkparikh: To be honest, I don't know the levels of recruitment of those schools. However, I know that last year 7% of our class came from Deloitte Consulting, most from a management consulting role So Haas does bring in mgmt consultants and also sends out mgmt consultants

Braveheart: coming back to app process :) .. What are the factors that an applicant should keep in mind while applying to a b-school?

bkparikh: Ah, good question!

I sometimes think applicants, including myself, place too much emphasis on the GMAT

Braveheart: you are bang on...

bkparikh: the GMAT is important, however it is not the only factor. Many applicants who score 750+ still do not get into top schools while other who are below 700 do get in

The most important component of the application is your "story" meaning...why at this point in your life do you want to go to business school, and why is the particular school you are applying to the best fit for you. All your essays, short answer questions, work history, and interview are part of your story it needs to make sense

Braveheart: absolutely...

bkparikh: to add a little moreI also believe if you can show that you have a unique experience that others can learn from, that will help you. b-school is much different that undergraduate in that you often learn more from your classmates experiences than you learn at your classes

Braveheart: makes sense.. so, how one should approach the essays? should the essays be tackled while keeping the adcom in mind i.e what is it that adcom wants to hear or would you suggest applicants to be themselves...?

bkparikh: The applicants should be themselves.

When I applied to Haas, I was myself. And the school made sense for me.

If an applicant knows why he/she wants to go to bschool, he/she should just write the story. It will be more genuine and the adcom can see that

Braveheart: Can you please share the interview experience at Haas?and how was it different from that at other b-schools?

bkparikh: I only interviewed at Haas and Wharton. I traveled from Philadelphia to Berkeley for the Haas interview, even though I had the option of interviewing off-campus. For me, it was important to come to the school since I had never been there before.

I was interviewed by a 1st year student.

This also signalled something to me...that the student opinion really matters and that the community is very student-driven

Braveheart: right..

bkparikh: Anyway, he had no knowledge of my essays. He just asked about why I wanted to come to Haas and asked about my prior experiences in difficult situations, being a leader and some personal questions I was quite nervous, but the interviewer actually put me at ease made it more like a conversation than an interview

Braveheart: and do they ask the same typical questions like why MBA? why Haas? or were there any surprises for you?

bkparikh: There were no big surprises, they asked the typical questions. But because I was myself in my essays, I felt comfortable being myself in the interview knowing that my story would be consistent which I believe is very important

Braveheart: and there is only one round of interview or multiple rounds?

bkparikh: I only had 1 round

For Haas, it depends on when you interview

For instance if you apply in round 1 or 2, I believe you have multiple interviews on the same day

I was round 3, for which the process is a bit different

Braveheart: ok..thats interesting... Any special advise to future applicants for tackling the Haas interview? {apart from presenting your trueself ...}

bkparikh: (1) Like I said before, have a good story about why b-school at this time and why this particular school, you'll need to be your trueself because the adcom can see that

(2) Learn as much as you can about the school. All the extra activities, etc... Think about what activities you would take part in if you were a student and bring those out

(3) Don't be afraid to bring in your personal life if it helps with your story. My fiance was living in Hawaii and I was in Philadelphia. So Berkeley made sense because we could both move closer to each other

Braveheart: Any word of caution for Indian applicants {I think it is one of the most competitive group}?

bkparikh: Bring out your personality. Why are you different from another Indian applicant? What unique experiences do you have? Don't force it or lie just reflect and find out what makes you unique

Braveheart: How would you describe your experience at Haas? What is the learning model at Haas? How is the faculty? What %age of work/assignments are done in teams?

bkparikh: My experience has been amazing! I have met a great group of friends. The culture is very student-driven, so the students have a lot of responsibility but can also make a lot of things happen

The small class size 240 students enables everyone to know each other at some level fostering a great sense of community.

Tying into the learning experience...the collaborative aspect of the student body helps everyone learn. Everyone is always willing to help each other even though classes on graded on a curve. Students care more about helping each other than about their grades

For example, I had a classmates who waived out of the core Accounting class because she was an accountant. But she still helped me when I had questions on my homework

And I helped her in classes like Statistics and Economics

Braveheart: that sounds like a great student body..

bkparikh: It is! I honestly cannot say enough good things about it

They even welcome partners of students (like my fiance) making her feel like part of the community

Braveheart: Thats a great news for applicants with partners...

bkparikh: The classes are a combination of case and lecture. You can learn from specific case examples but also learn general theory from lectures

The first semester is very busy, with classwork, networking, recruiting for summer internships etc...It is really a lesson in prioritization and time management

You can't do everything so you must figure out what is most important to you

Much of the work early on is done in teams. Your team is assigned by the school. Usually to be quite diverse. Teams of 5 (typically 1-2 females and 1-2 international students per team)

Braveheart: and you work in a single team for entire semester or you get to be a part of different teams for different subjects?

bkparikh: for the first semester you work in a single team but afterwards you get to work in different teams for different subjects

Braveheart: How do you find the alum community at Haas?

bkparikh: I would need to check to be 100% sure but I believe most Haas alums remain in the California area at first. That being said, they are extremely helpful
You can reach out to them and they typically respond quickly and are willing to talk with you
Braveheart: and do they also offer support when it comes to recruitment?

bkparikh: I believe part of this is because the class size is small so you build closer bonds to the school than you may otherwise yes they do,

many come back to campus and talk with students or advocate for Haas students to be hired

in fact last year during the recession, our Dean sent a message to the alums asking for help in job openings and many responded within a day providing openings at their companies

One concrete example is that a former alum from Google sent an opening to Haas directly and to no other schools

Braveheart: Any idea as to how easy it is for a student to switch careers post an MBA from haas? Say can a person from manufacturing or IT enter consulting/finance?

bkparikh: It is possible but not easy. To switch careers requires a lot of work on the students' sides to prove to the company that they are truly knowledgeable and interestd in that space however, the career services office does provide a lot of support and as a student, you can get involved in your new interest in many ways but you must definitely work at it

Braveheart: one thing that you would like to change at Haas?"

bkparikh: wow, good question

Braveheart: :)thanks

bkparikh: I would like for Haas' brand to be more widely recognized. Haas consistently ranks very high in the MBA rankings but does not have the national brand of some other top schools

Braveheart: you are spot on...

bkparikh: Haas has a great brand on the West Coast, but for someone like me who has family on the east it would help

Braveheart: thanks a lot for sharing your experience at Haas.... You have started a GMAT prep company, tell us more about that..

bkparikh: I am working with 2 Haas classmates, and one other individual on the site. We feel that there's a gap in the market right now. Classes (whether in person or online) are very expensive, running hundreds or thousands of dollars

Books, while cheaper, do not provide any level of personalized instruction

We are trying to provide some level of personalized instruction and metrics at roughly the cost of a book

The site is still in its infancy, with only GMAT Quant right now. We have plans to expand to GMAT Verbal and GRE in the near future

Braveheart: You have already shared the USP of Magoosh ... can you please tell us by when do you plan to launch verbal prep section?

Any tentative deadline as to when the verbal section would be up and running?

bkparikh: Ideally the verbal content would be up by the end of October

Braveheart: And would the cost of verbal prep be same as that of quant prep? {499 INR/-}

bkparikh: At first, we may provide verbal for a free trial

we haven't finalized the cost yet after that

Braveheart: Would you like to throw some light on video explanation feature of Magoosh?

bkparikh: Yes. We and our expert tutors believe videos provide a better way for students to learn than just reading text. We do recognize that some videos go into a lot of detail that many students may not need. But the goal is to help all students. The more advanced ones can skip over the videos while the less advanced students get the benefit of a very detailed explanation

The videos are also created to help students learn general concepts from one question that they can apply to another question

Braveheart: Any comments on Quant faculty at Magoosh? Like Manhattan and Kaplan always boast of 99percentile tutors

bkparikh: All of our quant content is currently provided by one tutor who is 99th percentile scorer

Braveheart: I personally belive GMAT score is not reflective of one's teaching capability but still in order to market your brand you have to boast ...

bkparikh: he also used to be a featured expert on beatthegmat.

we also believe that your score is not reflective of your teaching ability. so we sought out a tutor that has a high score and a lot of teaching experience he has taught for over 7 years and has worked at a large test prep company

in addition, we plan to continually focus on 99th percentile tutors. However, because we may get only verbal content from a given tutor and math from another...its more important that the tutor is strong in that respective subject than being strong overall

Braveheart: How you and your team mates come into picture? Do you also plan to take some sessions or you are involved only in technology and financing part of this project?

bkparikh: We do not create the content. However the four of us, having scored very well, are willing to share our GMAT prep experiences. We do review the content.

Our main focus however is the technology, financing and marketing


Chantel said...

Thank you for sharing information on your quest for life/MBA. After much consideration I, too, have decided to take the GMAT and attend B-School. Haas is one of my top choices so this post is wonderful!

App2010 said...

Thank you! This was very informative!!