Last week I spoke with a friend who is a Haas alum. Great conversation with lots of good tips for the application that I'm happy to share here. He served as a student on the adcom so he's got the experience to back it up. I think some of his advice is unique to Haas, but a lot of it is applicable to other programs as well.
1. Be sincere & be original. Don't say what you think they want to hear. It's boring and it dilutes who you really are, which is what they are after. The adcom is looking for diversity in the class so if you're trying to sound like someone else, you're not helping your case.
2. Be consistent. Make sure the story you tell in your essays aligns with the story told by your resume, recommendations, short answer questions, etc.
3. Short answer questions are very important! Take them seriously. Be creative and have fun with them. They are just as important as the long essay questions so give them the same level of attention and due diligence.
4. Give your recommenders plenty of lead time and do not be passive. Don't write the letter for them, but give them some guidance. Also, sincerity in the recs is just as important as in the rest of the app. Make sure your recommenders have an understanding of business school in general and the application process so they can write their letter in that context. (It should be much more professional than recs for undergrad and you need to set those expectations with your rec providers, he had a personal experience with this issue.)
5. Student involvement is a big deal at Haas so make sure to incorporate how you plan to get involved into your story.
Work should be getting back to normal next week. Today we make our final budget submission to corporate and then I get to breathe again. Woo-hoo! I had an excellent birthday Labor Day weekend and last weekend we had an awesome crab feast at the bay. I have several friends here from Maryland/Virginia so about 25 of us went in on getting 2 bushels of crabs (~150) overnighted from MD and we had a 3+ hour crab picking extravaganza last Saturday afternoon. Beer, crabs, & sunshine...it was perfect! Well, almost perfect. After winning their season opener at New Mexico, my Wazzu Cougars lost to Colorado in an ugly game. I was glad I was too busy with the crabs to watch it (although, I did Tivo it and watch some of it later). Tomorrow they play our neighbor university, the Idaho Vandals. WSU & UI are the two closest D-I public universities, separated by only ~8 miles. An old tradition is for the losing team to walk home after the game. I don't think my fellow Cougs will be making the walk this year.
Survivor returned last night. I Tivo'd it while I was at the Kellogg info session and watched it as soon as I got home. This season is battle of the sexes and the ladies won it last night. Go team! How much would it suck to be the first person voted off one of these shows? Actually, it would be embarrassing, but then you'd get to spend the rest of the time on a 35 day vacation in paradise...that might be even better than staying in the game, except for the million bucks, of course!
Tonight I've got a date with the boyfriend, we're going to do the traditional dinner & a movie. Tomorrow, the girl that I mentor and I will be participating in Hands On San Diego and volunteering for Meals on Wheels. Should be fun. Other than that, it will be a weekend filled with football & b-school apps.