Virginia Darden Essay Samples

We asked the former Darden Admissions Officer on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team, “What does Darden Admissions look for?” She shared, “Darden is very focused on your story and on fit with the program. Candidates need to know why a 100% case method program is the right match for them. Individuals who apply to Darden know it’s a pretty intense, rigorous program.”

We asked the former Darden Admissions Officer on our Stacy Blackman Consulting team what Darden does not want. She shared, “Darden does a great job at calling out students who are applying for the sake of applying to a top program vs. someone who genuinely wants to attend the program.”

SBC has former Darden MBA Admissions Officers and several additional Darden experts on our team. We know the nuances of applying to Darden successfully. If you’d like to speak with one of our Principals about your candidacy, please request a free analysis here.

In the meantime, please see sample Darden application essays here from past successful Darden admits.

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

When I joined ABC Consulting, the “Lab” – our program for early career consultants – consisted of 8 individuals. Over the past year, we’ve grown to almost 50 and expanded to include both Analysts and Consultants. As the City Lab Lead, I’ve played a major role in building the Lab’s reputation and firm contributions.

When I gathered feedback last year, I identified inconsistency in project onboarding experiences. This was a high priority as it was delaying Lab members’ ability to contribute to project teams. In response, I facilitated focus groups with stakeholders, synthesizing their input into the “Project Onboarding Best Practice Checklist”. Once it was socialized and had support, I trained the Lab and all relevant Project Leadership on implementation.

This initiative decreased Lab members’ time to value-add on projects. It educated the firm on the value of developing Lab members and enables Executive Leadership to hold managers accountable. The checklist’s effectiveness also spurred movement towards standardizing other processes. There’s now a checklist on client travel best practices that’s reducing firm cost, and one outlining Project Leadership responsibilities to support the long-term success of Lab members. These efforts have inspired Lab growth, raised morale and demonstrated that new consultants can contribute impactfully.

Your past experiences have likely informed your post-MBA plans. Touching on those most relevant will help you set the background for your current pursuit of an MBA. Don’t make this essay a mere rehash of your resume. Think about explaining the rationale for your decisions throughout the essay. Why did you pursue your past experience, and what has been the impetus behind subsequent career choices? At this point, why are you choosing LBS?

As you speak with current LBS students and attend virtual events, learn as much as you can about the programs, professors, and classes that may help you achieve your goals. Plus, consider what you will learn at LBS and in your time in London. What new skills and courses will lead to the achievement of your career goals? Also, the network you create during your MBA will open doors for you, and preparing for this essay can help you to make the most of the experience.

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

As a project lead in Missouri, I was challenged to unite a talented but diverse team of 4; the Troublemaker, the Veteran, the Protégé, and the Newbie. There was turmoil in the beginning as personalities clashed.

The Troublemaker often tested my authority. I noticed he responded well to being a role model, so asked him to mentor the Newbie. As I was young leader, the Veteran resented taking directions from me. To remedy this, I asked him to become our Subject Matter Expert, allowing him to contribute in a unique way. I personally took on coaching the Protégé, a new engineer, making sure he was exposed to all aspects of the job.

The small but important role changes I implemented led to a significant change in our team dynamic. The Troublemaker strove to show leadership. Our Veteran was consulted on issues and included in client meetings, so he no longer begrudged me. Under my guidance the new engineer quickly became adept and would eventually lead the project.

Our cohesive team shortened the project timeline by four months, saving nearly ten percent of the budget, but the development of each person was a far more of a meaningful impact.

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.

Shortly after I moved to City, which ranks dead last among America’s fifty largest cities in upward mobility, I joined the City Youth Coalition (CYC) Junior Board. CYC is a co-ed, selective after-school program dedicated to sending high-achieving, underprivileged students to college. I was excited to serve my community through a board, but it was only through spending time with students and families that I truly understood their obstacles.

In April, I participated on a panel to share advice on the college process. In this discussion, CYC students and parents asked dozens of questions revealing their deep concerns about college access and the associated financial burden. This experience provided me with insight into why so many students don’t attend or graduate from college. Growing up in an environment where a college degree is the norm, it’s easy to take for granted.

Board leadership can feel gratifying but distanced from the acute, complex needs of students, it’s easy to lose sight of their reality. I will carry this lesson with me as I continue contributing to education-focused nonprofits. As a Darden student, I aim to volunteer with an organization such as the local AVID chapter working to close the achievement gap.

Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you - personal, professional or both.

In fifth grade, I dressed up as broccoli for Halloween. I was captain of my high school soccer team. I went from Los Angeles to Boston for college because of the centrality of the honor code in both academics and student life.

I thrive in team-based environments because in the face of pressure-filled academics and jobs, I find immense joy in learning details like these about my teammates. Further, the highest performing teams that I’ve been a part of have approached building our relationships with genuine interest and curiosity. This deepened understanding of one another was critical to our success.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Wharton, Columbia CBS and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

Meet Erin, who has over seven years of experience working across major institutions, including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, and NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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