Tuesday Tips – UVA MBA Essay Tips

With only two essay questions and 1000 words to communicate your qualitative benefits to the UVA MBA program, you will need to be incredibly strategic when approaching the UVA MBA essay questions this year. Leadership and the Darden community are the main focus of the two questions and you are never specifically asked about your career goals or why an MBA is necessary for you.

Remember to formulate your examples and answers strategically ”“ you will want to hit upon your management and leadership experiences at work and community service as well as your fit with the unique UVA MBA culture. If you focus on providing specific examples in the questions you will be able to demonstrate who you are and how you benefit any community you are a part of, as well as your approach to leadership.

MBA Application Essay Questions 2010-2011

1. The UVA MBA program expects students to actively participate in learning teams, the classroom, and the broader community. Please share one or two examples from your past experience that best illustrate(s) how you will contribute to this highly engaging and hands-on learning environment. (500 words)

This question is an opportunity to both describe your fit with the UVA MBA program 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.

Because you are never specifically asked about your accomplishments or even your goals, this is also an opportunity to hit some of that material as you discuss your contributions at work and in the community that highlight how you will contribute to Darden.

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.

2. Please discuss how a global event that has taken place in the past two years has impacted the way you think about leadership broadly and personally. (500 words)

Last year, Darden asked specifically about the economic upheaval in the prior 18 months. This question is more open-ended and therefore might be even more daunting to approach. Start by brainstorming about the events you can easily recall over the last two years. Were there any news stories that struck you either personally or professionally?

For example, perhaps you are interested in focusing on clean energy in your post-MBA career and the Gulf oil spill highlighted the importance of this choice for you. Or you were laid off during the financial crisis and had to learn what was really most important in your life. Once you have a list of potential events, think about the ones that have the most personal resonance and why. If the reasons are consistent with an MBA application and will inform the UVA MBA program about your potential as a student and a leader, consider using that topic.

An additional layer to your topic is the second part of this question, which deals with your approach and thinking about leadership. To thoroughly answer this question you will need to establish how you previously thought about leadership and how the global event you are writing about has either reaffirmed your attitudes or completely changed them. While a personal example is not specifically called for in this question, it would enhance your essay.


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