20 Myths about Applying to Haas

There is always a set of assumptions that seem to be pervasive in every applicant’s mind when considering what Haas does and does not accept. Let me tell you something: there’s no set formula. There is no magical amount of internships you need to do, no set GPA, no amount of connections in your non-existent network; nor is there any key position you need to obtain in some business club. There is no perfect candidate. It’s an arbitrary process. In fact, there is literally no key to getting into Haas. Here are some myths, debunked, when you’re thinking about applying to Haas as an undergraduate.

1. I need a 4.0 to get accepted into Haas.

FALSE. You saw it coming: of course you don’t need a 4.0 to get accepted. In fact, you don’t even need to come close. According to the class profile of the entering Class of 2013, the average GPA of a Berkeley applicant was 3.68, while the GPAs of the middle 80% were anywhere from 3.39 to 3.93At least 80% of applicants got below a 4.0. Don’t worry if your GPA is not up to snuff, because chances are, you and everyone else are worrying about their GPAs too. Remember, GPA isn’t everything, but keep in mind that you still need to do your best.

2. I need to get all A’s in the major pre-requisites (UGBA 10, Econ 1, Stats, Math).

FALSE. GPA and grades aren’t everything. In fact, I received a B- in UGBA 10, a grade I don’t find particularly flattering. Of course, the grade only made me doubt my chances of acceptance more, but apparently it did not degrade me of being a strong candidate in the Haas School of Business.

3. The only way I can get in is if I join a business fraternity or a Haas sponsored business club.

FALSE. Although business fraternities boast high acceptance rates, you need not participate in neither frats nor Haas business clubs in order to obtain admission. While these organizations may be Haas sponsored or affiliated, there is no connection between the Haas School admission committee and business fraternities and Haas sponsored clubs.

4. I have to join a business club.

FALSE. Join a business club if you would like more hands-on experience with a field in business, or want to meet like-minded people. But you don’t have to. There are quite a few people I know who did not participate in any business clubs and were offered admission.

5. I need to get internships to prove to Haas that I’m capable of business.

FALSE. In truth, most of the internships you get as a freshman or a sophomore will be fake, a ploy to get cheap labor, since companies know you don’t know squat. Most of the time you won’t be doing anything important, not to mention not getting any money for your services. You don’t need to prove to Haas through an internship. Feel free to get an internship, but do it because you want to learn more about how companies thrive and interconnect.

6. I need to be president of a club.

FALSE. You see a pattern here? Do what you love! While Haas may look for leadership, it doesn’t have to fit the mold of president-of-this-club or leader-of-this-group. It can be as simple as taking charge of a project, volunteering, helping your brother with homework. You know, something like that. As long as you see it as a leadership experience, it will be one.

7. All pre-requisites must be completed before I apply to Haas.

FALSE. You need to complete all pre-requisites by the end of your second semester sophomore year. You can take pre-reqs while you apply. Thus, we encourage you to spread out your pre-reqs as much as possible.

8. I must make sure my GPA is as high as possible: time to take popular GPA boosters!

FALSE. The so-called “GPA boosters” most of the time tend to be detrimental to your GPA, rather than boost it, because you aren’t interested in the subject material. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone say they’ve taken NutriSci 10, Scandinavian R5B, or another “popular GPA booster” and have failed because they underestimated the workload. Never underestimate a class. A natural GPA booster will be a class you are interested in, and pour time and effort to do well.

9. At Haas, I’m going to be a Finance / International Business / Accounting / Investment Banking / Marketing major.

FALSE. Unfortunately, the undergraduate program at Haas only has the Business Administration major. However, you are able to tailor the program so that you can focus on any one of the disciplines listed above, while still understanding how the other ones work.

10. Haas likes the Math 16 series more than the 1 series, and vice versa.

FALSE. Haas understands that everyone has different interests, and takes into account that the 1 series is harder than the 16 series. Take the one that suits your needs best, not because it’s easier or because Haas likes one or the other more.

11. I should skip out of as many pre-requisites as I can so that I can show Haas that I’m really smart and don’t need them.

FALSE. Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and A-Level tests that you’ve taken in high school are not completely sufficient, and are not perfect replacements of college-level courses. In fact, Haas prefers that you take the pre-reqs at Berkeley, so that they can “compare” your scores to other applicants, rather than guestimate your abilities from a test in high school. Now that you’re in Berkeley, high school doesn’t matter squat. 

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t pass out of them. Only do so if you’re 100% confident in your abilities. For instance, a majority of those who can pass out of a semester of math do it, because math isn’t on their agenda in college. Pay attention to your direction, and choose your classes accordingly. I would also suggest not passing out of Econ 1 if you don’t really know what you’re doing. The concepts in Econ 1 are important to build upon when you do intermediate macroeconomics and microeconomics.

12. If I already declared a major before applying to Haas, it will lower my chances of getting accepted.

FALSE. Again, Haas knows that people have different interests, and will not discriminate based on that factor alone.

13. I will not be able to obtain a simultaneous degree when I major in Business.

FALSE. Haas encourages those interested in other disciplines to pursue another degree (in L&S, CNR, COE, COC, or CED), if students are so passionate. In fact over 30% of Haas students pursue simultaneous degrees.

14. I should obtain a simultaneous degree in a useful discipline, like CS!

FALSE. Well, okay not really false, more like DON’T-DO-IT-UNLESS-PASSIONATE. Do not pursue two disciplines just because it’s useful. In fact, if you want to major in business because 1) it pays well, 2) it will give you a job, or 3) it’s prestigious, you’re here for the wrong reasonsValid, but wrong. Of course that’s your decision to make. Pursue your passion, not a brand name.

15. UGBA 10 will show me whether I’m ready for Haas or not.

FALSE. Unfortunately. If you don’t do well in UGBA 10, do not let it discourage you. If you don’t like how UGBA 10 is structured or taught, do not let it mean that you aren’t ready for Haas.

As I mentioned earlier, I obtained a B- in UGBA 10. At the time, I detested the class for its nitty-gritty, poorly chosen essays and activities, and the content. Yes, even the content. I forced myself to memorize little details, details in which are not important and are easily forgotten. Of course, you could say I’m biased since I received such a poor grade.

I have taken two upper division Haas classes, UGBA 101B (macroeconomics for business, Econ 100B equivalent), and UGBA 106 (marketing) as a sophomore the following year. I did well (compared to a B- in UGBA 10 standards) in both classes. I was more than ready, and my grade in UGBA 10 was clearly not a good indicator for me. So don’t let UGBA 10 completely dictate 1) how Haas is going to be, 2) class style 3) Haas students, and 4) the content and curriculum. The two are completely different. Take an upper division class before you give up and hate the class. Unless, you really hate the class.

16. If I don’t get into Haas, I’ll never find a job!

FALSE. One thing you will constantly hear upperclassmen or peer advisers say, major does not equal career. Never in any circumstance does the major you study in college have to relate to what you do after college. For some, it’s a necessity. For others, it’s a hobby or interest. So don’t let a rejection discourage you, you will always find a way to your passions.

17. All Haas rejects do econ.

FALSE. Econ and business pre-reqs line up nicely, and the subject matter is pretty similar; that’s why a majority choose to do economics. However, something to keep in mind when you talk to other economics majors. Not all econ majors are Haas rejects, and not all Haas rejects are econ majors. Do not make that assumption.

18. If I’m not in Haas, I can’t take any of their business classes.

FALSE. As long as you plan smartly (Phase 1 impacted classes, choose unpopular sections, etc), it is possible to enroll in business classes.

19. Everyone at Haas is a “Haashole”.

FALSE. Unfortunately, that is a common term. But not everyone is like that! I have met plenty of Haas majors in my upper division classes that fiercely reject that stereotype. Haas is much like every other department and major; don’t let one person ruin it for you.

20. A Haas education won’t give me any real skills.

FALSE. And far from it. Haas structures its classes in such a way that you learn theory behind every decision, and execute theory to application. You do this through participation, presentations, close study, and collaboration. So while you’re learning how to do business, you’re learning the best way to communicate and present how you know business. This is powerful, and it’s basically how the real world works.


And so there it is, twenty myths compiled and debunked! For answers to some other logistical questions about applying to Haas or the school itself, the Haas School of Business has an official Haas Admissions FAQ.

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