University of Virginia (Darden) Essay Analysis

Note: The following essay questions pertain to the previous academic year. This section will be updated when the new question are released in early to mid-July of 2008. 

This year, Darden has completely revamped its essays, focusing on a few short statements and making no Darden-specific essay demands. While the first essay is quite broad in scope, the remaining two force candidates to make deliberate choices and identify specific aspects of their respective personas – an unusual choice for a school that prides itself on the versatility of its general managers.

1.  What matters to you most, both personally and professionally, and how does an MBA relate to these priorities? (500 word maximum)

This essay is seemingly a nod to both HBS and Stanford – an attempt to discover meaning and purpose mixed in with career goals. While the question does not specifically ask about your future goals, you should discuss your past personal and professional experiences and connect them with your need for an MBA. In doing so, it will be quite challenging to discuss your MBA in a vacuum. You will need to illustrate how this degree will allow you to continue to fulfill your “spiritual” needs.

Because of significant overlap from one MBA application to the next, we have produced the “MBA Mission Personal Statement Guide.” We offer our guide to candidates free of charge, via our online store.  Please feel free to download your copy today.

2.  Please select one word that describes you from the set below and support your statement using concrete examples. Professionally I am:   (300 word maximum)

(a) an innovator.
(b) a leader.
(c) an entrepreneur.

3.  Please choose one phrase that describes you from the set below and support your statement using concrete examples. Professionally I am:  (300 word maximum)

(a) involved globally.
(b) committed to diversity.
(c) socially responsible.

Essays two and three are relatively straightforward, but the challenges come with the need for many examples (not just one!) and the word limitations. While 300 words is very constraining, it is still possible to offer clear examples without resorting to a boring and uncreative list of experiences.

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