Category Archives: Duke Fuqua Advice

Tuesday Tips – Duke MBA Essay Tips

The concise set of Duke MBA essays for the 2009-2010 application season requires focus. One of the essays is earmarked for your career goals, and another focuses on your interest in the Duke MBA. The other …

The concise set of Duke MBA essays for the 2009-2010 application season requires focus. One of the essays is earmarked for your career goals, and another focuses on your interest in the Duke MBA. The other essay is more open-ended and allows for flexibility in the topic choice.

A clear application strategy is crucial to approaching these essays. With a flexible 2-pages per question, and a mandate to demonstrate how you will fit in with Duke’s mission to “identify, engage, and foster the development of future leaders of consequence,” you will want to make it simple for “the Admissions Committee would like to get to know our applicants in a more holistic manner.”

Applicant Essays : Answer all 3 essay questions.
1. Describe your vision for your career, your inspiration for pursuing this career path, and the role of The Duke MBA in achieving your goals. If you are interested in a specific concentration or joint degree program, please discuss in this essay.

This career goals essay is fairly straightforward in its approach. You will want to start by thinking about the choices that have led you to your current career path, and what you plan to do for your future career. Focus on the inflection points that have inspired you ”“ whether coursework in college, early exposure to running your own business, or watching a family member pursue their dreams ”“ and clearly outline why you have made the choices in your life thus far.

Career visions can be either long-term or a combination of long-term and short-term goals. Think big picture and focus on the overall story, not just the job you hope to land immediately after school. When you look back at your career later in life, what do you want to have accomplished? What will make you proud, engaged and satisfied?

It’s important to clearly outline the role of your Duke MBA in these career goals. What do you know now that will be enhanced through your MBA education? And what crucial aspects of the skill set required for your future career will be augmented by attending the Duke MBA? Essay three will allow you to focus on the specific reasons Duke is right fit for you, but it’s important to seamlessly demonstrate the need for an MBA in your career goals essay.

2. Discuss a person, event, or experience that has significantly shaped your life and explain why.

This open-ended question will allow you to consider your overall application strategy. Think about the points in your background and personality you would like to explain. If you have a typical career path for an MBA applicant and fairly straightforward career goals, this essay would be a good place to show another side of yourself. What activities do you engage in outside of work and why? What are some of the key parts of your life that may not fit cleanly into your career and professional goals?

While you should not forget that you are applying to an MBA program and leadership, teamwork and management potential are paramount, this essay may be an opportunity to follow the admissions committee’s advice to share “what makes you a dynamic, multi-dimensional person.”

3. Individuals choose a business school for many different reasons. Through your research, what attributes or characteristics of The Duke MBA program have most resonated with you and why? How do you plan to contribute to the strengthening and enhancement of those attributes and characteristics during your time at the Duke MBA program and beyond?

This essay is entirely focused on why the Duke MBA is the right place for you specifically. This may be another opportunity to demonstrate your multi-dimensional personality as you explain which classes, clubs and community activities most resonate with you.

The best essays will be both specific and personal. While everyone benefits from a diverse alumni network, what specifically do you want to give and receive from your classmates? If you describe clubs and classes you are attracted to offer solid examples that demonstrate why these topics are appealing to you.

When researching schools it is ideal to speak with current students, alumni, and other members of the community to see a wide range of perspectives on the program. When you speak to those affiliated with the Duke MBA program ask them to tell you what most surprised them about the program, or what they like the best and dislike the most. Asking probing questions with surprising angles can help you unearth what is truly special about the program, and what is most appealing to you.

While the focus of the essay is the Duke MBA, you are also being asked to talk about yourself. Your fit with the program is crucial, and therefore you must exhibit the qualities the Duke MBA is seeking as well.

Optional Essay (not required)
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application).

As with most optional essays, the Duke MBA asks that you only use this space to explain extenuating circumstances. If you have a low GPA, a non-typical recommender or gaps in work history this is the correct place to address those issues.

When approaching any optional essay it’s important to focus on recent performance, whether academic or professional, and what such performance demonstrates about your ability. Your goal is to remove questions from your application and to address in a factual manner any information the admissions committee needs to know to fairly evaluate your application.

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Tuesday Tips – Duke MBA Essay Tips

The Duke MBA questions vary a bit from last year’s approach, and require applicants to answer all of the short and long answer questions.  The word limit is tight for the short answers, which will …

The Duke MBA questions vary a bit from last year’s approach, and require applicants to answer all of the short and long answer questions.  The word limit is tight for the short answers, which will require candidates to lay out a refined application strategy and be disciplined and focused in answering the questions.

To learn more about Team Fuqua, look at the Duke MBA website, student bloggers‘ sites, and always try to visit campus or attend admission information sessions to get a feel for the culture and the school.

Short Answer Essays – Answer all short answer essay questions.
What do you hope to gain from The Duke MBA? How does it fit into your short- and long- term goals? If you are interested in a joint degree or the Health Sector Management program, please address in this response.

This essay is focused on your career goals and how your Duke MBA will help you achieve them. While similar to other schools’ career goals essay, this question begins with an inquiry about the Duke MBA program, suggesting that a successful essay will clearly highlight the benefit of a Duke MBA to your goals. The response needs to be limited to one page, requiring a focused articulation of your short- and long-term career goals. Be specific about your goals, and draw a logical thread from your past work experience to your Duke MBA to your plans for the future. Clearly articulating your goals and why they are important to you, whether to yourself or someone helping you, before you begin this essay will help you remain focused as you tackle the essay.
Learning as much as possible about the Duke MBA program and its specific benefit to your individual aspirations will be very important for this essay. Since you have less space to address the need for an MBA, focusing on Duke specifically with a few strategic items you have researched will allow you to address your career goals with enough depth to fit into the allotted word limit.

How will you contribute to the overall experience of your peers at The Duke MBA?

An opportunity to differentiate yourself from the applicant pool is presented in this question. At the same time, you want to demonstrate clearly how you fit with the Duke MBA program. Because this question is a broad inquiry, you can highlight specific community activity, interests, your unique culture or hobbies that will benefit your peers at the Duke MBA. At the same time you can use the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the culture and how you will benefit your fellow students. Providing specific examples of your personality and unique attributes will have the greatest impact.
Detailed research into the opportunities at Duke and the personality of the MBA program will be important for this question. Fit is incredibly important to Duke, and this question helps select the type of applicant who fits into the program and distinguish the candidates who may not.

Discuss a person, event or experience that has significantly shaped your life and explain why. Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally.

The clear invitation to be personal in this essay allows you to go in almost any direction with your response. This is a great opportunity to highlight a particular inflection point in your life and discuss why you are on the particular path you are. In some ways it is a brief version of the Stanford essay on the topic of what matters most to you, and similar to the Stanford essay it will be best to link the response to your overall application strategy.

Long Essay – Answer the long essay question below.
Today, companies must navigate through complex and interdependent issues. They must deal with health and security matters, environmental impact questions, and diversity and cultural concerns. Leaders need adaptability, imagination, and emotional intelligence as well as business acumen.

Upon graduation, a Duke MBA will be a leader of consequence – able to deal simultaneously with complex matters and engage skillfully with colleagues, clients, and community. What impact do you hope to have as a leader of consequence?

This question requires you demonstrate you are aware of the some of the complexities and nuances of business in the 21st century: health/security, the environment, and diversity/culture.  You must also address some of the personal attributes listed: adaptability, imagination and emotional intelligence, along with the business acumen you likely already have demonstrated in other essays.  One or two examples of a time when you have dealt with some of the issues highlighted in the context of work or community involvement will be helpful.  When discussing the example, focus on your ability to innovate, build relationships and work effectively with others.

Linking the response to this question with the previous personal essay will help you demonstrate that your future goals and interests have more depth than just personal ambition – you are seeking to have an impact on the people and world around you.

Optional Essay (not required)
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application).

Optional essays are typically meant to address areas of weakness in your application. If your circumstances involve any of those listed in this question, you should take the opportunity to provide an explanation. Focus on describing the situation succinctly with little editorial comment, and explain why the situation is no longer an issue for you. If you are dealing with academic performance, highlight any bright spots in your transcript and demonstrate how your performance has improved through work examples, or in providing evidence through subsequent classes.

Reapplicant Essay
All reapplicants are also required to complete the Reapplicant Essay below. Please limit your response to two pages.

Write an essay describing how you are a stronger candidate for admission compared to the previous year’s application.

Reapplicants must be able to make the case that this year was a significant step forward. If you have obvious improvements like a higher GMAT or a promotion, that will be excellent material for this essay. Even if you don’t have anything quantifiable to discuss, taking the time to engage with the community, taking on new projects at work or otherwise developing yourself will be beneficial examples of your new, stronger application.

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Duke Essay Tips

Short Essay 1: Why are you interested in The Duke MBA and how will it help you achieve your goals? Please also discuss your career path, including your short and long-term professional goals. This question …

Short Essay 1: Why are you interested in The Duke MBA and how will it help you achieve your goals? Please also discuss your career path, including your short and long-term professional goals.
This question is similar to career goals/why MBA question for many schools. As with Stanford, Chicago, and UCLA, you must be specific about why Duke – which academic programs, classes, clubs, etc are related to your career goals. Because this essay is short, be efficient in your wording when discussing your path and future goals. However, it is worth it to spend some words on why your goals are meaningful to you.

Short Essay 2: How will your background, values, and non-work related activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add value to the diverse culture we strive for at Fuqua?
This is your opportunity to show them who you will be on their campus – how you will stand out from your classmates and impact their school. Get creative and show them your personality, unique aspects of your background (experiences from childhood or your culture), things you like to do outside of work (they do not have to be organized activities), and then explain how these things will play out on their campus. You can suggest clubs you’ll be a part of (or start) or just what you are like as a friend. Show them who you are and what that means for your future classmates. Try to be as specific as possible.

Long Essay 1: Please respond fully and concisely to one of the following essay topics. Clearly identify which question you have selected.
a. To be a good team player, one needs to be an effective individual leader and vice-versa. Describe an example of where you were challenged to become a leader in a team-oriented context. What was the challenge you faced, how did you address it, and what did you take away from the experience for your future development as a leader?
There are a few specifics in this question to note – they want an example from when you were leading a team and a challenge. Set up the experience quickly and focus your actions and reflection. Spell out what you did to address the challenge, but be sure to dedicate a lot of space for your reflection on lessons learned and how you have applied those lessons and what more you have to work on.

b. Describe a situation in which your ability to perform ethically was challenged. What was the issue, how did you handle it, and what did you learn from it?
In describing the situation, try not to disparage any other people. This essay is a good opportunity to demonstrate your values, just be sure to focus on yourself without making assumptions about other people involved. State what was challenging for you. Spend the majority of your words on your actions in handling the situation and, of course, your reflection and how you’ve applied lessons learned.

c. Describe a significant leadership failure in your life. What did you learn from this failure? How has it impacted who you are today and the kind of leader you would like to be?
This is a wonderful opportunity to show self-awareness. Again, be brief in describing the incident. Focus on the positive by giving thoughtful reflection and a description of how you’ve changed since then. Revealing weaknesses and how you’ve overcome them shows maturity. Show them your theory on leadership and the kind of leader you intend to be in the future.

Long Essay 2: How has your personal history and family background influenced your intellectual and personal development? What unique personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally.
Follow the instructions to focus on who you are instead of what you have done professionally. In discussing your family and background, you can tell stories about your childhood, cultural experiences, travel, etc. Don’t be afraid to get personal and emotional about the important people and events in your life and how they have shaped you. However, you don’t have enough space to tell your whole life story. So try to think back to what’s important and find themes that you can cleanly present with vivid examples.

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