Tuesday Tips – UVA MBA Essay Tips

This year sees a further reduction in the number and word count of the UVA MBA essays. You will need to be highly strategic for your 2009-2010 application and know exactly what personal attributes, leadership qualities, and accomplishments are key to highlight.

While last year’s set of questions focused on the case study method, your career goals and the lessons you have learned, this year’s question includes an acknowledgement that the last 18 months have been interesting for those in the business world.

Focus on your goals and a strong understanding of your fit with Darden’s unique program will be an asset to your essays this year. Focus on providing specific answers to the questions with examples that will allow the admissions committee to understand exactly how you operate and approach the world.

MBA Application Essay Questions 2009-2010
1. How have the changes in the global economy over the last 18 months affected you and your plan for the future? (400 words)

Last year, the UVA MBA program asked about pivotal choices that led to your pursuit of an MBA, and there is a flavor of that question in this revision. You will certainly want to work in some aspect of your future career goals in this essay, but can also approach it much like Stanford’s “What matters most” essay and discuss some of the perspective you may have gained in the last 18 months.

If you were laid off, for example, this essay allows you to transform such an experience from a challenge to an opportunity. What did you learn about yourself from the experience? How has it refined your goals?

Even for those whose job situation has remained stable, this question allows you to step back and think about your goals in a more holistic sense. Perhaps in the past you planned to pursue a career in a previously lucrative field and have re-assessed your options in light of the economy. Maybe a poor economy has led you to consider less typical MBA career paths. Whatever your personal path, you will want to relate it to the global situation and events of the past year and a half.

Your plans for the future are a second important factor of this essay question. This should certainly have a career component, and relate clearly to the changes you identify with in the economy.

2. What will you contribute to an MBA program and what are your personal and professional expectations of the program you attend? (600 words)

This question is an opportunity to both describe your fit with Darden and sell yourself to the program. Starting with what you bring to the table is an effective way to approach this essay. What are your points of differentiation from other MBA candidates? Do you bring a unique leadership style or knowledge you can share? How will you contribute to the classroom and the community? Do not limit yourself to purely academic pursuits as the close-knit UVA MBA community expects involvement.

For the second half of the question, you have the opportunity to set the context for your career goals and the need for an MBA. Think about the skills you will gain, and certainly expand your expectations into the realm of the personal. How will the community be an asset to your life? What kind of personal development do you expect?

Thorough school research will be a huge asset to this essay. Do not forget the personal touch, speaking with current students and alumni will be invaluable.

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