UVA (Darden) Application Essays for 2010-2011

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has released its application essays for the 2010-2011 admissions season. (We wrote about the school’s upcoming MBA admissions deadlines last week.)

You’ll notice that Darden has one of the shorter sets of admissions essays that you’ll find among top schools. Also, Darden’s essays are pretty different than most other schools’ essays, meaning that you won’t be able to do much copying and pasting. Darden wants you to put original thought into these essays and demonstrate your fit with — and your enthusiasm for — the program.

Here are Darden’s essays for the 2010-2011 admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:

Darden Admissions Essays

  1. The Darden 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 new this year, although it’s loosely descended from last year’s Essay #2, which asked what you will contribute to an MBA program. This new version is actually very focused compared to most MBA admissions essay questions: Darden doesn’t wallflowers, but rather active participants… Give them specific reasons to believe you are one of the latter. Ideally you can spell out at least one really good example using the “Situation-Action-Result” method outlined in Your MBA Game Plan. (One really good example beats two okay ones, hands-down.)

    Also, you only have 500 words, but this question is your best chance to demonstrate a measure of fit with Darden… Again, words are precious here, and the majority of your response will need to focus on you, but you need to give the admissions team at least some reasons to believe that you “get” the Darden community and understand what they’re looking for when they talk about valuing active contributors.

  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)

    This question is a revision of last year’s Essay #1, which asked “How have the changes in the global economy over the last 18 months affected you and your plan for the future?” We didn’t particularly like this question, since it tended to steer applicants towards talking about “big picture” issues instead of talking about themselves. Plus, built into the question was the assumption that everyone HAD been affected by the rocky economic climate, while in fact many applicants’ plans hadn’t changes at all. This left many strong applicants scrambling to generate an impressive-sounding story when they didn’t necessarily have one.

    So, we’re glad they changed the question, although the risk of an applicant focusing too much on “big picture” global issues — that don’t really shed any light on who they are and what they hope to achieve in life — still remains. The key here is to especially focus on the last few words, which put the emphasis on on YOU. If the global issue you want to discuss is rising energy prices and your alarm over what you think is a lack of a coherent national energy policy for your country, don’t just stop there. Bring it back to a time you witnessed a similar challenge at work, and how you took the steps needed to make sure your team wasn’t only making short-sited decisions. That’s the type of story that can turn a potentially murky response into a winner.

Plan on applying to Darden this year? Download our Darden Annual Report, one of 15 free business school admissions guides available on our site. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC, under a Creative Commons license.

UVA (Darden) MBA Admissions Deadlines for 2010-2011

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business recently published its application deadlines for the coming admissions season. Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

UVA (Darden) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 14, 2010
Round 2: January 5, 2011
Round 3: March 30, 2011

Like many other top business schools, Darden has moved its Round 1 deadline forward, by two weeks in this case. However, unlike some of those other schools, Darden’s Round 1 notification deadline comes in January, after most schools’ Round 2 application deadlines. So, if you’re waiting on your Round 1 Darden decision, there’s a good chance you will have to submit your other apps before you hear back from Darden. The schools’ Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines have barely changed vs. last year’s.


Darden has also released its 2010-2011 admissions essays (just two of them… short and sweet), which we’ll dig into on this blog soon!

Getting ready to apply to business school? Call Veritas Prep at 800=925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC, under a Creative Commons license.

UVA (Darden) Application Essays for 2008-2009

UVA’s Darden School of Business has released its application essays for the 2008-2009 admissions season. Here they are, with our comments in italics:

UVA (Darden) Application Essays

  1. What pivotal choice(s) have you made in your life that have influenced your decision to pursue an MBA? (500 words)

    (This question is new this year, and that emphasis on the word “you” is Darden’s. Last year’s first Darden essay was very similar to Stanford’s “what matters most to you, and why?” question, which probably was leading applicants to talk about everything BUT themselves. Now the admissions committee is explicitly putting the emphasis on YOU with this question. Of course, you should always keep the discussion in your essays and your admissions interviews focused on you — what you accomplished, what you were feeling when you made a decision, etc. — as much as possible. But this question goes directly after that, so make sure to answer the question.)

  2. From the following categories, describe the one that has taught you the most: a creative challenge, an ethical dilemma or an experience of failure. Why? (250 words)

    (This question is also new this year. This is a very short essay, so you’ll obviously need to keep it focused. At least the school gives you a menu from which you can choose a topic. You may be tempted to recycle essays from another application, but the fact that this is so short will make that very difficult.)

  3. Describe how you are a fit with the case study method. (250 words)

    (We think this is a great question. Darden takes the case study method as seriously as HBS does, and anyone who applies to Darden must be able to explain why that learning style is a good fit for them. Having trouble answering this? Then think long and hard about why you’re applying to Darden.)

For more advice on applying to Darden, visit the Veritas Prep UVA (Darden) information page, and let us help you develope your own MBA Game Plan for Darden.