Tuesday Tips: UVA Darden Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips

Darden MBA essay tipsThe Darden School of Business is a top tier MBA program at University of Virginia. Due to the strength of its academic community, UVA has significant entrepreneurial activity and is interested in fostering innovation within the MBA program.

Darden has only one required essay as part of the application. While answering only one essay question may seem simple, it requires discipline to highlight all of the important parts of your profile for the admissions committee in one short essay. Writing a successful essay with such limited space requires you to focus on your most compelling attributes.

Think about the other areas of your application and what they cover. Your academic potential should be highlighted through GMAT or GRE scores and your academic transcripts, leadership and professional accomplishments should come through clearly from your recommendations, and finally your essay is a chance to outline your personal qualities.

When considering which personal qualities to highlight in this essay, consider that leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. Your ability to work well within a team of peers is also important to Darden, a school with a small, tight-knit community.
Talking to a current student is a great way to learn more about Darden, and the admissions committee makes it easy for you to reach out, directly on the admissions website.

REQUIRED ESSAY QUESTION
When preparing for class at Darden, students formulate an opinion on each case before meeting with their learning teams and class sections. When encountering different views and perspectives from their own, opinions frequently shift. Tell us about a time when your opinion evolved through discussions with others. (500 words maximum)

This question is called a behavioral essay question, because it asks for information about how you behaved in a specific situation in order to evaluate how you might behave in the future. An essay question that asks for a specific example (“tell us about a time”) is often a behavioral question.

Darden, similar to HBS, is devoted to the case method of teaching. The case method requires the ability to communicate and learn from your peers through discussion-based classes. With a question like this, Darden wants to understand how you behave and interact with others.

When choosing a story to tell for this essay, think about a situation that may also showcase a key accomplishment or tell the admissions committee something about your work tasks or responsibilities. Many jobs require collaboration across teams or within your team, and you have likely worked with a group that contains diverse viewpoints. To answer this question you should clearly lay out the situation, describe what you did, and also take time to describe your thoughts and feelings as your perspectives and opinions changed.

It is particularly important to describe the process you went through as your thinking evolved. Did you change your mind because the facts were clear? Did empathy for another person evolve your viewpoint? Or were you able to see another side of the question because of your own new experiences? Darden is interested in how you think.

Because you have only one essay question to present yourself, make sure you have a trusted reader to tell you if you are effectively communicating why you are going to be a strong leader who deserves a spot in the UVA Darden MBA class.

Looking for perspective in your approach to your Darden MBA application? Contact us to discuss how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.

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