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Tuesday Tips: Duke Fuqua Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

Duke Fuqua is a community focused MBA program that seeks “leaders of consequence.” Fuqua sees a new business environment, where impeccable ethics, a disruptive attitude and other personal attributes are more and more important. This …

Duke Fuqua MBA essay tips

Duke Fuqua is a community focused MBA program that seeks “leaders of consequence.” Fuqua sees a new business environment, where impeccable ethics, a disruptive attitude and other personal attributes are more and more important.

This set of essays provides significant room to explain who you are and why Fuqua is the right next step for you, both personally and professionally.

In this essay set you are asked for 25 new facts, to outline your career goals and explain why Fuqua to round out your resume, academic profile and recommendations.

As always, it is important to demonstrate that you know Duke Fuqua well and are a strong fit with the program. Starting your research and personal networking now will put you in a solid position to prepare the most specific and effective essays.

Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you prepare a compelling, individualized strategy to approach your Duke Fuqua application this year, contact us to learn more.

REQUIRED SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS

Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
2. What are your long-term goals?
3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

This career goals essay asks for your plan in three parts. First, you should describe what you plan to do immediately after your MBA. Then you’ll explain the long-term vision for your career. Finally, Duke admits that many career paths are forged through circumstance, and asks you for your Plan B.

Think big picture and focus on the overall story trajectory. What would be the most logical (and interesting) progression from your current skill set and MBA education? How will your next step flow from the combination of those experiences? And your alternative path ideally isn’t a massive departure, but simply shows the areas you could see yourself exploring if your primary plan doesn’t materialize.

For example, perhaps you are focused on becoming a marketing executive within the consumer packaged goods industry, such as General Mills. If you don’t find the suitable position after Duke, maybe you would consider marketing for a retailer, such as Target, as your alternate career path because marketing is still the function you are interested in developing a career within.

Alternatively, you may have two disparate interests and want to consider both of them. Perhaps your Plan A is to join a strategy consulting firm after graduation, but if you don’t receive a spot among your top choices you would think about co-founding a start up as another possible path. Think about your range of interests and go from there.

Because you have limited space, you’ll have to boil your plans down in a clear statement of what you plan to do, but ideally any plans are supported by the information provided in your resume, recommendations, and other essays.

FIRST REQUIRED ESSAY: 25 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF

Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.”

As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript.

You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

This essay is entirely open ended and you can cover topics spanning your personal background, work experiences, values and hobbies. If you have a particularly interesting story in any of those areas, this is the place to tell that story.

Whatever areas you choose to highlight, make sure you are following the admissions committee’s advice to share what makes you a dynamic, multi-dimensional person.

Coming up with 25 random things to list in this essay may seem daunting at first. To jumpstart your creative process you may want to brainstorm with friends and family about what is most interesting and memorable about you. Or keep a notebook with you to record thoughts as you go about work and personal activities.

Once you have 25 random things, how do you structure your list? There’s a few possible ways to proceed: chronologically, chunking the list into themes, or even alphabetically.

You may want to organize the list so that it builds from shorter to longer items, or you may want to intersperse some of the 25 random things that require a paragraph explanation between sets of things that are easy to understand in one sentence.

Structuring the list to make it easy to read and follow will be appreciated, but resist the urge to package the list too perfectly. Content is always the most important factor and remember that the primary purpose of this essay/list is to show Duke your multi-faceted life and interests.

SECOND REQUIRED ESSAY

Instructions: Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society.

Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

The best essays will be both specific and personal, while demonstrating you have done your homework on Fuqua. 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, also offer specific examples from your past experiences to show your consistent personal or professional passions.

Your fit with the program is crucial, and therefore you must exhibit the qualities Duke is seeking as well. The Duke MBA program is especially interested in your role within the community, and will place significant weight on this factor. If you research thoroughly and are specific, you should be able to clearly demonstrate why you are going to be strong contributor and teammate.

This essay can also be a place to talk about how the Duke MBA fits into your 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 Duke?

However, the main focus should be your community involvement and how you plan to improve the experience of others at Duke both in and outside the classroom.

Optional Essay

If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance).

• Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
• The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your circumstances only.
• Limit your response to one page.

As with most optional essays, the Duke MBA asks that you use this space only to explain extenuating circumstances. If you have a low GPA, lack a recommendation from your current supervisor or have gaps in work history this is the correct place to address those issues. If you do not have any of those areas to explain, it’s best to skip this question and focus only on the previous three essays.

When approaching any concerns about your background in the 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. The essay should convey, in a positive manner, that you know there could be questions about your background but you have thoroughly improved in any areas necessary.

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Tuesday Tips: Carnegie Mellon Tepper School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business has posted the essay questions for the 2016-2017 application, which includes only one required essay. Tepper offers several options for completing your MBA, from Full-Time MBA to Part-Time …

CMU tepper MBA essay TIPS

Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business has posted the essay questions for the 2016-2017 application, which includes only one required essay.

Tepper offers several options for completing your MBA, from Full-Time MBA to Part-Time On-Campus MBA to Part-Time Online Hybrid MBA. The Tepper community is diverse with various goals, and Tepper is not looking for one particular profile, but rather candidates who are willing to engage with a tight-knit community and are interested in a highly analytical course structure.

Questions about your Tepper MBA application? Contact us to learn more about how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.

REQUIRED ESSAY
Imagine that you meet up with a member of the admission committee at an airport while on a layover. You have an opportunity to make a memorable impression. Use this essay to introduce yourself. Include any information that you believe is important for the committee member to know about you both professionally and personally. (Maximum 300-350 words, 12-point font, double-spaced)

This is the only required essay for CMU Tepper’s MBA application, and it will be important to explain anything about your personal and professional background that can enhance the data Tepper’s admissions committee has already received from your resume, academic scores and recommendations.

Think about describing the key moments that have been formative in your path thus far, and that are relevant to your pursuit of an MBA now.

As you consider what to describe about your professional background you should focus on accomplishments and filter your experiences with your future goals. For example, if you are seeking an MBA to make a career switch in either function or industry, focus on career stories that show a transferable element to the way you work.

You may want to highlight your analytical skills or how much you enjoy tackling tough issues at work. If you are looking for an MBA to enhance your current career path then you may want to highlight the moments you are most proud of in your career history.

On the personal side, CMU Tepper has a small and close-knit community, and your personality and background will be of interest to the admissions committee. What would your future classmates and professors want to know about you? How might you contribute to Tepper both while in school and after graduation? To add a solid example, think about the formative experiences in your life that might illustrate how you think and behave in a community.

OPTIONAL ESSAY
• Use this essay to convey important information that you may not have been otherwise able to convey. This may include unexplained resume gaps, context for recommender selection, etc.

• If you are a re-applicant, explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.

CMU Tepper’s optional essay provides room to explain any important context to potential issues in your application. As outlined, resume gaps, a recommendation that is from someone other than a current or former supervisor, etc.

Other possible explanations may include academic issues like low grades in quantitative classes or academic probation. A low GMAT score or other profile issue may be worth addressing if applicable.

Re-applicants should always use this space to showcase a strengthened candidacy. If you have improved your profile with a stronger GMAT score or new grades from quantitative classes, that is great information to highlight. If you have increased your responsibilities at work, refined career goals or added new extracurricular activities those are also valid updates to communicate.

CMU Tepper is not asking for you to explain anything you want in this essay, and it will be wisest to stick with the two categories of information specifically outlined. The required essay is open-ended enough to provide the space to offer all other information needed for an admissions decision.

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Tuesday Tips: MIT Sloan Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

MIT Sloan School of Management has streamlined the application considerably this year, removing all but one optional open-ended essay from the application, and reviving the cover letter essay that was a staple of previous admissions cycles. …

MIT Sloan application adviceMIT Sloan School of Management has streamlined the application considerably this year, removing all but one optional open-ended essay from the application, and reviving the cover letter essay that was a staple of previous admissions cycles.

While the essay formats have changed, MIT Sloan continues to seek MBA candidates with integrity, passion, creativity, intellectual abilities, drive and determination. Consider how to communicate these attributes as you approach both the cover letter and possibly the optional creative essay.

“This year, instead of responding to an essay question, we are asking applicants to submit a cover letter along with their resume. Your cover letter is an opportunity to introduce yourself, describe your past successes, and explain why MIT Sloan’s MBA Program is the right place for you.”

Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions. (250 words or fewer)

MIT Sloan has asked for a cover letter for many years in past admissions cycles, and now for the Fall 2017 intake application is asking for a cover letter again. The benefit of the cover letter format is that you must think about your application to Sloan as if you are applying for a new job.

Necessarily, that will require you to distill your most relevant and impressive experience and apply it to achieve your goal of a place in the class. With only 250 words to work with, you will need to have two or three concise and focused examples to introduce yourself and make your case.

The best cover letters will work cohesively with your resume. That means you should imagine that the admissions committee is reading the cover letter with your resume right there and repeating content will be redundant. For the cover letter focus on the stories that will illuminate who you are and why you should attend MIT Sloan, not every accomplishment at work.

Optional Essay:
The Admissions Committee invites you to share additional information about yourself, in any format. If you choose a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us with the URL.

Suggested guidelines:
Please keep all videos and media limited to 2:00 minutes total in length.
Please keep all written essays to 500 words or less.

MIT Sloan’s entirely open-ended optional essay invites applicants to respond to the essay in any format desired. This allows you to do anything you need to with this space, including clarifying any concerns or highlighting interesting aspects of your background or profile. The format can be a creative way for you to showcase any technical or design skills you have, but the content should be your primary focus.

As you consider whether to answer this essay question and what content to include, think about how the rest of your application will communicate your background, goals and any unique experience you bring to the class.

You will be submitting a resume, the cover letter and your recommenders will write about you. What information, if any, do you think will fall through the cracks? If there is something additional you need or want to communicate, address it here.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has advised candidates on everything from photo journalism projects to customized multimedia presentations for this type of essay question. We treat the application as a holistic process and would advise you on which aspects of your background to consider revealing in this optional essay.

Stumped by your MIT Sloan MBA application? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help.

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Tuesday Tips: Wharton School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania released the essay questions for the class of 2019 with the inclusion of a second required essay. This additional essay focuses on teamwork and complements the main …

wharton school essay advice The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania released the essay questions for the class of 2019 with the inclusion of a second required essay. This additional essay focuses on teamwork and complements the main essay question that asks candidates to reflect upon their fit with Wharton both personally and professionally.

As you consider how to approach this set of essays make sure you are conducting thorough school research. Getting to know the Wharton community through campus visits, online research and the many admissions events around the globe will help you understand the personality of the school and the alumni network to write an effective set of essays.

Essay 1: (Required) What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

This is both a standard career goals question and an inquiry into your personality and potential success in the program.

Be careful to answer the specific question in this career goals essay. Notice that you are not asked about your professional background or your key accomplishments. To answer the question asked, you will want to focus mainly on the future and what you are planning to pursue with your MBA degree.

At the same time, there is certainly room to add color by using your background information where it is most relevant to your goals. Think about the key moments of your professional life that crystallized your goals for you, and focus on illuminating those decision points rather than reciting your entire resume.

Understanding exactly how you fit in will help you describe what Wharton will do for you, as well as navigate interviews and other interactions with the Wharton admissions committee. Consider including specific information from your Wharton research in this essay such as Wharton faculty you would like to study with or unique educational opportunities at Wharton.

When you address your personal goals for the MBA make sure you are making the case for Wharton specifically. Consider what living in Philadelphia might be like, the many clubs and student activities, and leadership development opportunities like traveling to Antarctica with your classmates that may address some of your personal life goals.

Essay 2: (Required) Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Wharton is an intense environment, but also one that takes pride in collaboration and community. This question seeks to understand how you work with others and what your leadership style is. Collaboration and teamwork are important key concepts to illustrate in this essay.

Your contribution to Wharton could be in the classroom, clubs or within small group projects. You might bring your experiences launching a new product to your marketing case studies. Maybe you will lend creative ideas to your learning team as you prepare a research project.

Perhaps you will tutor your learning team mate in accounting principles because he has never done accounting at work. Or you might contribute to the Media and Entertainment Club by leading a career trek or bringing a new speaker to campus. Think about what you have learned in your career and in prior academics that may help those around you.

This essay does not explicitly require examples of teamwork or leadership from your past experiences, but it will be a stronger essay if you provide evidence. Think about a time you demonstrated your collaborative approach to team problem solving, and consider how you can prove what you contributed to your community in your workplace or extracurricular activities.

Essay 3: (Optional) Please use the space below to highlight any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your candidacy. (400 words)

If you think that your application materials and the required essays are enough to provide a complete picture of your candidacy you may want to forgo this essay. There is no need to submit additional material just to submit something – consider whether the admissions committee will appreciate the information or think you are wasting their time.

If you do choose to answer this question note that the essay can be used for any topic that you would like. If there is something about your personal background you did not cover in the required essays and it is relevant and useful for your application, this is the place to cover it.

Perhaps you didn’t have room in the required essays to describe an important accomplishment or to tell a story about your life that is relevant to your pursuit of an MBA. Anything that you think will be an asset to your application is fair game as a topic for this essay.

All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete this essay. Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)

All applicants, including reapplicants can also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

All reapplicants are required to provide information that supports your renewed candidacy. The most successful version of the reapplicant essay will provide tangible evidence that you have improved the overall package you are submitting this year.

Improvements like GMAT score or new quantitative classes are especially tangible and convincing, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can serve as reasonable updates.

A rejection or waitlist last year is a form of feedback, and may have led to soul searching for you. When you describe your changes make sure reflect your ability to take feedback and improve. Describe how you approached the reapplication process after assessing your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and making the appropriate efforts to improve.

If you are not a reapplicant this essay is a potential space to address any areas of concern in your application. If you have a low GPA or GMAT, gaps in your resume, disciplinary action in undergrad or anything else that you want to explain, this is where you would provide a brief explanation and any supporting evidence to show you have moved past the setback.

Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting for customized advice to give you that competitive edge in your Wharton application

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Tuesday Tips: Harvard Business School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

Harvard Business School continues to provide one open-ended essay question to applicants. This year the essay is required (unlike two years ago) but the essay question has changed from last year, and is instead much …

HBS essay adviceHarvard Business School continues to provide one open-ended essay question to applicants. This year the essay is required (unlike two years ago) but the essay question has changed from last year, and is instead much more flexible (like two years ago).

Last year the HBS admissions director blog noted that the “optional” element was dropped because: “this season, every applicant submitted a response. We get it. You want to tell us things.”

The most challenging part of this essay is remaining disciplined. With unlimited space to make your case, you may be tempted to compose a laundry list of everything interesting or impressive you have ever done.

That urge could backfire, as the essay is used to determine who isn’t a fit for HBS as much as those who deserve the chance to move into the interview round. Maturity, accomplishment, and leadership are highly valued qualities and this essay is your chance to display those qualities through the stories you choose and the voice coming through your writing.

There is one question for the Class of 2019 application essay:

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

From HBS: There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

A note on word count: HBS values brevity in essays. Do not be tempted to go overboard with a 2,000 word essay, rather focus on concise and clear writing and consider keeping this essay to 1,200 words or less. Our clients have successfully composed essays anywhere from 500-1,300 words, though you should take a pass through your essay to cut any unnecessary words if you find yourself on the upper end of that range.

The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two to demonstrate your fit for the school. Your first task should be to evaluate all of the other aspects of your candidacy – what is the story your resume tells? What do you think recommenders will say? How does your transcript communicate your skills, accomplishments and interests? Then you need to evaluate how to fill the gaps with the essay.

Last year HBS recommended a video on the case method, which is worth watching now. The video clearly shows that diverse perspectives are valuable to the case method experience. Think about what diverse experience you bring. We have found that both personal and career oriented topics can work, and most candidates tell more than one story in the essay. In the past we have observed that successful HBS essays also demonstrate a core driving passion. HBS students are ambitious, motivated and never boring.

As you consider possible stories to tell in this essay keep in mind that HBS has always been highly focused on leadership and really loves candidates with a track record of leadership impact and a success trajectory that indicates upper management potential.

Accomplishments have traditionally been a strong focus of HBS essays, and using at least one accomplishment story in this essay may be a good strategy, particularly if your accomplishments are not obvious when reading your resume or transcripts.

A note on what not to do: We see many applicants tempted to include “why HBS” type information in HBS essays. Explaining why the case method specifically is a good fit for you and your learning style is absolutely appropriate, but more detailed “why HBS” content has never been asked for in an HBS application essay question. HBS admissions is quite clear on the value of an HBS degree, and they would rather see you use the space to provide more information about yourself and your candidacy.

Looking for guidance on your HBS application? Contact us to learn more about Stacy Blackman Consulting.

Image credit: Chris Han (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Tuesday Tips: NYU Stern Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

As the NYU Stern School of Business website states, “Stern develops leaders who make an impact on business and beyond.” Evolving from a pure finance school into one that focuses on areas like entertainment and technology, …

NYU Stern essay tips

As the NYU Stern School of Business website states, “Stern develops leaders who make an impact on business and beyond.” Evolving from a pure finance school into one that focuses on areas like entertainment and technology, Stern takes advantage of the vibrant and changing business opportunities in New York City.

The individual components of your application will be academic ability, professional achievements and career aspirations, and personal characteristics. Stern provides podcasts to describe each component on the admissions website, and it’s worth starting your research there. While your academics will be evaluated mainly through your GMAT and GPA, the essays are a crucial part of your application strategy.

The personal expression essay offers you the opportunity to present yourself creatively, but also requires you to apply structure to a completely open-ended question. It’s a great test for a life solving business problems after your MBA.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
(750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
• What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
• What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Why MBA, why now, is an important question to answer. While many people seek an MBA degree, NYU wants to invest in those who can use it most effectively. Perhaps you’re seeking an MBA for networking or professional credibility, or maybe you want an MBA to learn specific skills to change careers. Whatever your own personal reasons may be, make sure you can point to specific aspects of the MBA education both generally and specifically at Stern that are necessary to achieve your goals.

Note that this question specifically asks about your interest in pursuing an MBA at this point in your life. Why is now the right time for you, both personally and professionally? What will an MBA add to your already successful career trajectory to get you to the next level? If you are an older applicant you will need to spend time carefully communicating that you realize what an MBA can and can’t do for you at your professional level, and that you have a plan to leverage the MBA professionally in your next job.

This essay also offers an opportunity to demonstrate your fit with NYU Stern and describe why NYU Stern is the right place for you to spend the next two years of your life. Certainly personal experience of the campus through visits or student touch points would be ideal, but even if you are halfway around the world you can illustrate the many ways in which you learned about the NYU Stern experience.

Your post MBA goal should be both achievable and demonstrate the need for an MBA. An MBA from NYU Stern will open professional doors for you, and you should demonstrate that you are ready to take advantage of those opportunities. Think about a logical sequence that starts with your past work experience, then your MBA education and ends with your immediate post MBA goal. Ideally your goal pulls from both your current work experience and the skills you will gain in the NYU MBA program.

Essay 2: Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

If you submit a non-written piece for this essay (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit this essay via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.

Open-ended essays like this one can be intimidating. You are allowed any method to introduce yourself to your classmates, and you’re probably wondering what the best medium for your message is.

However, your content is king in this essay. The best first step is to brainstorm the information you want to convey. Reflect upon your unique personal qualities and what is valued most by your friends and family. How would you want your classmates to see you? What are some of the personal stories you would share with a new friend?

Once you have established the content you want to use for the NYU Stern essay 2, it’s time to consider the medium. If you are a visual person you may chose a drawing, painting or photo series. If you are a creative writer perhaps it’s a poem or short story. If none of the “creative” approaches feel right to you, feel free to write a standard essay where you explain who you are and introduce yourself to your classmates. The medium is not the most important aspect of this essay. What is most important is the message and content of your composition to demonstrate your motivations and who you are to the admissions committee.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped countless aspiring NYU Stern MBA students to showcase personal and professional stories that cut through the clutter. Contact us to learn more.

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