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Berkeley Business Academy for Youth - High School Entrepreneurship: A Deep Dive

The Berkeley Business Academy for Youth or B-BAY is an initiative of the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley. It features four specific pre-college programs for students at different academic stages and levels of interest. There are two programs each for middle & high schoolers, one dedicated summer program for entrepreneurship and the other a digital after-school entrepreneurship program. All four courses dedicate their contents and pedagogy to teaching students entrepreneurship, leadership skills, business disciplines and presentation skills.


Aside from the prestige of studying at the world-class Haas Business School, the programs benefit from their top-notch teaching faculty and resident PhD candidates.


The programs for high schoolers are High School Entrepreneurship program and Academic Year. This post will focus on the High School Entrepreneurship program, which is the most select, rigorous and challenging of the four.



What is Berkeley Business Academy for Youth’s High School Entrepreneurship program?


The High School Entrepreneurship program is an intense, two-week residential course at Berkeley Haas. If selected, you will experience the combination of great ideas coupled with business acumen, by developing an idea to solve a real-world problem and creating a complementary business plan. There is classroom instruction by the university professors, supplemented with corporate guest speakers, followed by team-based ideation and business plan creation, culminating in a final presentation by all teams. The program is tailored to help you build confidence, enhance communication skills, explore a variety of business subjects, and learn how to write a business plan.


Eligibility Criteria & Selection Process

Being one of the stand-out pre-college programs at Berkeley Haas, B-BAY has a stringent eligibility criteria with only 50 seats available for the High School Entrepreneurship program. The selection process involves-:

  • Essay writing - a 600-word essay answering two out of four questions posed by Berkeley. The essays are graded on content, writing, critical thinking ability, presentation, and relevance.

  • Teacher recommendations - Two teachers must recommend each applicant directly to B-BAY.

  • Transcript - two years of grades as well as the applicant’s name should be available in the transcript. While B-BAY does not specify a minimum grade required, given the highly selective nature of the program, the better your grades the better your chances of admission.

  • Virtual interview - some applicants may also be asked to do a virtual interview with a member of the Admissions committee.

  • All high school students are eligible to apply, including international students.


Is it prestigious?

Given the eligibility criteria, it does have a selective admissions process and is not going to accept everyone who applies. The program is targeted towards academically motivated high school students. However, given that it costs upward of $6,000, you can expect the number of applications to be controlled.


This program will give you exposure to the faculty and pedagogy of one of America’s best business schools, and this is a great opportunity to perform well and secure a mentor and recommendation letter. The program in itself will teach you a lot too. Simply browsing the quality of submissions from previous year’s presentation winners will show the caliber of work that’s produced through this program. (I loved Memory Box 2019!)


Program Structure

As mentioned above, the program is completely residential. You will be living on the Berkeley Haas campus and interacting not only with your classmates, but also with Berkeley undergraduates and PhD candidates. Along with classroom lessons taught by Haas School of Business faculty, you will also be assigned independent research projects and computer lab assignments. Over two weeks, you will be taught courses on:

  • Teamwork and leadership: learn different leadership styles, qualities of effective leaders, and explore your own leadership style

  • Entrepreneurship: understand characteristics of entrepreneurship, how to identify market needs, principles of business structuring

  • Marketing: learn the purpose and process of marketing at different stages of the product life cycle, and the tools required to critically analyze and apply marketing strategies

  • Finance: understand the fundamentals of pricing, financial markets, capital and interest rates

  • Accounting: prepare and read financial reports, income statements, balance sheets

  • Game theory and negotiation: apply game theory to real life negotiation and conflict resolution

  • Management of organizations: decipher the impact of decision-making structure, cultural leadership, compensation, and strategy on business performance

  • Corporate social responsibility: learn to look at business beyond profits and dive into the identification and resolution of the moral quandaries of your business plan

  • Public speaking and presentation skills: master the perfect tone, phrasing, body language, and gestures


At the end of the course, you and your team will jointly present your business idea utilizing all you have learned.


Cost of the Program

The total, all-inclusive fee is $6,050 for California residents and $7,050 for out-of-state residents. This does not include any additional costs borne by international students for visa applications etc.


Pros and Cons

Pros:

1. The prestige of Berkeley Haas: You will be one of fifty students learning at the

second-oldest business school and one of the most renowned business schools in the US - from a peerless faculty including two Nobel laureates, an experience that you can borrow a great deal from.

2. The depth: the High School Entrepreneurship program has been structured, despite its seemingly short duration, to be extensive and comprehensive in its coverage of all the principles surrounding entrepreneurship and business in general.


3. The learning & skill-building: You also learn to develop a business plan, which is key for anyone considering entrepreneurship! It is also one of the hardest skill sets to build and requires multi-dimensional thinking (for which the coursework they offer comes pretty handy!). There is also a strong focus on research-based and informed business decisions so you can expect a lot of market and product research for an idea you have.


4. The jumpstart & high-quality mentorship: not only will you experience the rigor of college life, you will also get to interact with Admission Advisors to understand how to write your personal statement and college application essay. This and interactions with Berkeley undergraduate and PhD candidates will grant you a significant advantage come college application time. We recommend you seek mentorship opportunities to do further work, and eventually turn it into a passion project and request college recommendation letters (assuming you’ve added value). You also receive a UC Berkeley Business Academy for Youth Certificate of Completion.


5. The exposure: the pedagogy’s focus on case studies, research projects, guest lectures and real business challenges ensures that you will be forced to step out of your academic bubble and interact with professionals and the problems they face. This exposure will stand you in good stead when working on your own business or even later in your college applications. Here are some testimonials.


6. The network: with Berkeley admitting some 2300 students in a year, you will have access to an enormous network of skilled alumni in a vast range of professions, not to mention the professors themselves. This network can serve as a powerful lever in expanding your business idea or your future career.


Cons:


1. The cost: like many of the best things in the world, admission does not come cheap. While it is a great program, it may unfortunately prove to be prohibitively expensive for some.


2. The intensity: while this is not strictly a con, you must be aware before applying for the program that it is fairly rigorous. Since it covers a wealth of topics in a span of a mere two weeks, it is naturally time intensive and highly challenging. The website clearly mentions that you will be held to high academic standards, and there is no tolerance for poor performance.


3. The selectivity: again, if you’re selected then this is not strictly a con, but have a

plan b in place just in case. The admission process is rigorous, time-consuming, and selective. With only 50 seats up for grabs, there will be competition!


Our Review

The Berkeley Business Academy for Youth's High School Entrepreneurship is a great opportunity for the best and brightest to gain access to one of America’s premier business school’s pre-college programs. Since it only accepts 50 students globally, it will add value to your overall profile and won’t be dismissed as a non-competitive pre-college program. It features a compact but comprehensive curriculum, exposure to real-world business challenges, and a diverse and enriching pedagogy.


The prestige of learning at Berkeley Haas and interacting with its professors, students, and alumni make it a worthwhile investment, as many past alumni have consistently attested to. While the program is intensive and costly, the benefits it offers in terms of knowledge, skills, and networking opportunities make it a valuable experience for any aspiring entrepreneur.


If you're looking for a real-world internship that can help boost your resume while applying to college, we recommend Ladder Internships!


Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! 


The startups range across a variety of industries, and each student can select which field they would most love to deep dive into. This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas.


The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 


The fields include technology, machine learning and AI, finance, environmental science and sustainability, business and marketing, healthcare and medicine, media and journalism and more.


You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 


Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!


If you are passionate about conducting research (including business research), you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Berkeley Haas logo


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