Are you applying to University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business this year? Make sure to read our Darden MBA essay tips to learn more about what Darden is looking for.
Leadership, international focus, and a sense of passion and purpose are important to the Darden admissions committee. In all of these essays you will want to communicate who you are and what motivates you. Also, consider both career and your personal life in your essays. The restrictive word counts can be challenging. Therefore, be focused and precise in your responses.
How should you highlight personal qualities in this set of essays? Consider that leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. In addition, teamwork is important to Darden, a school with a small, tight-knit community.
The case method is the primary teaching method at Darden, similar to Harvard Business School. Engaging with the case method requires the ability to communicate clearly and bring your perspective to the conversation.
Talking to a current student is a great way to learn more about Darden. So, the Darden admissions committee makes it easy for you to reach out to students directly on the admissions website.
Looking for perspective in your approach to your Darden MBA application? Contact us to discuss how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with your MBA essays.
Darden MBA Essay Tips for 2019-2020
For the 2019-20 application cycle, Darden will again offer multiple short answer questions. The goal is to get to know all of the various facets of your background and personality.
1. Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)
This set of MBA essays provides a holistic view of your background, motivations and goals – and in some ways this question is a close companion to the career goals question at the end. When you examine your past leadership opportunities, what is the connecting thread? Are you a consensus builder or a director of projects? Do you keep the project running on time, or do you question the premise? What has been your style when dealing with difficult peers or bosses?
This example could be professional or extracurricular, but ideally describes a significant accomplishment that made an impact. Also, the impact could be big or small as long as it was meaningful to you and those around you. Ideally this example is an example of your larger interests and passions.
For example, if you are devoted to diversity, perhaps you started a mentoring program or funded internships for underrepresented employees. And the impact of that action may have been limited to your department or company. However, it shows your values and allows you to discuss how you would make a greater impact on the world.
2. Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community. Read University of Virginia’s Diversity & Inclusion Vision Statement. Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)
This question focuses specifically on diversity and inclusion. Therefore, you should consider your own record of engagement with a different community in your example. Also, consider any travel abroad experiences or a time when you lived or worked in a culture different from your own.
If you have not spent a significant amount of time outside your own country or culture, look at college or work. Many people live and work with different people at university or the workplace, and that can be a good source of examples. For example, perhaps you had a teammate who grew up outside your country. Did you learn more about your teammate’s culture? You may have learned more about holidays and celebrations, or perhaps experienced different attitudes about problem solving and community. Then, consider what this experience taught you about yourself.
3. The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel, and why? (50 words)
To learn more about Darden’s international programs, visit the Darden website. You can connect with an international location by participating in short visits through a Global Immersion Course or Global Topic Course, spend a semester abroad with an Exchange Program, or work directly with an international business as part of the Global Client Courses.
While Darden describes the current programs and countries on the website, this MBA essay question asks for your ideal location and why you are interested in it. Your interest in a particular region could be personal or professional and should have an academic basis.
The focus of these international programs is to learn more about the world of business beyond the United States. Therefore, with that context what would you like to know and where would you like to learn it?
4. Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personally, professionally, or both? (100 words)
Darden is a community, and the learning team is the smallest unit of that community. You will be assigned a team of diverse classmates to meet before class and discuss your case assignments. The purpose of these discussions is to ensure that all of you are prepared to participate in the class discussion. Ideally the learning team is a supportive environment and allows everyone to learn and express their own point of view.
This essay allows you to introduce yourself to the Darden community while imagining that you are speaking only to a small group of your peers. What should your learning team know about your background? What diverse perspective will you bring to the learning environment? Perhaps you have a unique professional background that will be new to your teammates.
You may be from an underrepresented region of the world, or you have an interesting personal background. In just a few words, describe what you think will set you apart from your peers and be interesting for the team to know about you. To learn more about your potential classmates, talk to a student ambassador or review Darden’s MBA Student Stories.
5. What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and why? (150 words)
This question focuses specifically on your short-term career goal. But since you are likely taking that next step in order to set the groundwork for your larger career goals it is entirely appropriate to describe your overall career aspirations. Because in the previous questions in this set of essays you have described your personality, motivations, impact and accomplishments, your career goals should fit seamlessly into that story.
Do not be intimidated by career goals questions if you are still exploring what you want to do with your life. Darden offers intensive career counseling and you will have an opportunity to explore many career paths in school. Therefore, the essay question seeks to understand why you are pursuing this path and what you hope to get out of it.
The goal is to understand how you think and plan, and what motivates your career decisions. If you are inspired by what you have experienced as a leader and as someone who has a positive impact on others, that inspiration should be part of your career aspirations as well. Darden will help you refine your goals and learn the skills you need.