Darden was the trendsetter two years ago when they first introduced the single MBA essay question. The other school most devoted to the case method, HBS, has followed suit this year and many other programs have streamlined the number of questions or the word counts for the essay portion of the application.
While writing only 500 words may seem simple, it gives you much less room to highlight all of the important parts of your profile for the admissions committee. Writing a compelling essay with such limited space is actually quite challenging and requires you to focus only on the most important aspects you need to communicate. Leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. Personal qualities are also crucial to Darden, a school with a small, tight-knit community. Learn more about the school by visiting the Darden website, attending events and speaking with current students and alumni.
MBA Application Essay Question:
Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. What did you learn about yourself? (500 words maximum)
In this question Darden is asking to understand how you behave in a challenging or complex situation and what such challenges have taught you about yourself. The best use of this essay space will use specific examples to illustrate how you handled the challenge or problem and how you arrived at your change in perspective.
Before you start answering the question it may help to brainstorm some of your best professional accomplishment stories. As you think about the areas where you have excelled you may find that many of your accomplishments were preceded by a challenge or problem you needed to solve. Work backgrounds from the accomplishment to see where the challenge or issue arose and how you transformed it into a learning experience.
Once you have a list of all of the potential experiences to discuss, choose the examples that will also demonstrate some of your personal qualities to the admissions committee. You have your career history submitted in your resume. Your GPA, transcript and GMAT will demonstrate academic ability. This essay is one of your few opportunities to show how you think, what your leadership approach is, and how you handle teamwork and conflict. Think about the situations that showcased your best performance at work, or that taught you something about your interests or future career goals.
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.