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Notre Dame / Mendoza Essay Topic Analysis

Notre Dame / Mendoza MBA deadlines

The following essay topic analysis examines the Notre Dame / Mendoza (Mendoza) MBA essays for the 2021-2022 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all of the other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Notre Dame / Mendoza MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2021-2022

Applicants need to respond to a short statement about their goals and the Notre Dame MBA. Then, they have a choice between two prompts for Essay 1, followed by a required essay and slide presentation. Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Statement of Purpose 

Please share your short term professional goals. How does the Notre Dame Master of Business Administration help achieve your career goals? (100 words or less)
Given the short length of this response, you’ll want to be clear and direct about your short-term goals, identifying industry, function and even a few target firms. Then, forge specific connections between Notre Dame’s offerings, whether courses, clubs, projects, etc., and your plans. You’ll want to stay focused on the skills you hope to gain through your education that would help you pursue your goals.

Essay 1 – Option 1

The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842, by Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C, with a mission to become “one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country”. In 1879, Father Sorin’s vision for Notre Dame appeared to be at a sudden, abrupt end. A massive fire destroyed the building that housed virtually the entire University. Instead of giving up, Father Sorin interpreted the fire as a sign that he had dreamed too small, and decided to rebuild, bigger and better than ever. That Main Building still stands today, topped by the gleaming Golden Dome, not only as an iconic campus building, but as an ongoing symbol of perseverance and vision.

Tell us the story of a time in your own life or career when you had to overcome an obstacle, start over, or rebuild. (maximum 2 pages, 12pt font, double-spaced)
This prompt is rather open ended, as candidates may choose from their personal or professional lives. While candidates are ultimately asked to account for overcoming a challenging experience, the situation should have some weight to it, as the preamble details a rather devastating loss—but also a powerful comeback—for one of the most important people in the school’s history. Hence, for example, this should not detail one’s struggles with time management or a minor setback in a project that was easily overcome, but rather a major hurdle that inspired an even greater change. Given the preamble, there is also a hint that the adcom will be looking for a sense of vision in executing one’s ultimate goal.

Overall, this essay is a good place to highlight instances of resourcefulness and persistence, and to provide insight into one’s personal and professional maturity over the course of a narrative. An effective approach might be to describe the initial obstacle and its broad implications in a few sentences, followed by a discussion of how you dealt with it—along with a brief illustrative example—before concluding with a reflection on the lessons you’ve learned and impact that you’ve had. Ultimately having a long lasting impact would also parallel the elements of the preamble anecdote. To conclude, it could work well to account for how you would bring the lessons forward as a student at Mendoza or even in one’s future career. Accounting for specific ways in which you would contribute to Mendoza based on this experience would not only support one’s sense of vision, but also understanding of one’s fit with the program.

Essay 1 – Option 2

Tell us about a time, in your personal or professional experience, when you created a vision for yourself, your organization, or your community. (maximum 2 pages, 12pt font, double-spaced)

Creating a vision is a main tenet of leadership. With respect to structure, it will probably make the most narrative sense to open this response establishing context. Be sure your vision is at least explained in your first paragraph—so, you can either open with the setting/challenge to lend meaning to your vision, or you can open with your vision and then fill in why it is important/impactful. Details of your supporting anecdote of executing your vision would ideally convey your leadership, communication skills and teamwork abilities, as well as reflection on how these efforts connect to your vision.

Essay 2 – Required

Mendoza is known for its position to Grow the Good in Business. It is more than just a motto; it is a concept that is taken to heart by our students, faculty, and staff. In order to live this concept, we actively build capacity toward servant leadership throughout the curriculum.

“A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the top, servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” – Robert Greenleaf

Tell us about a time in your life, either personally or professionally, when you did not demonstrate servant leadership and describe how this experience informed your leadership style going forward.
The admissions committee is looking for students who have really synthesized and internalized the Mendoza program, and who have a good understanding of their fit with its values. Essay prompts that invite reflection on failure or shortcomings need to be handled delicately. Do not spend too much time on the mistake, but instead describe it concisely and make sure you own your part in falling short of demonstrating servant leadership. Then, account for how you applied what you learned with a positive anecdote about your leadership style.

Slide Presentation

Effective communication is a central skill for managers and visual presentations are an important method of communication. Demonstrate your ability to clearly and concisely communicate by telling us about yourself, using a short slide presentation.

Please consider the following guidelines when creating your presentation:

  • Please submit four (4) slides.
  • You may create your slides in any software that works for you, but you must save and upload as a .pdf.
  • Do not use audio or video files.
  • You are free to share anything about yourself that you think would be of value to the Admissions Committee. You can have some fun and be a bit more lighthearted in this portion of your application. Your tone should reflect your personality.
  • Please be assured that the Admissions Committee will read your essay, your resume, and your transcripts in detail. Your slides are an opportunity to go beyond your academic and work history and show the Committee who you are as a person.

This does speak to Notre Dame’s interest in a candidate’s passions and personality. An easy way to approach this process is to ask oneself a few simple questions.  What new and important information about yourself can you introduce to the adcom through this slide presentation? In terms of organization, are there four separate topics to which you would like to devote a slide each? Or would you prefer to use the four frames to create a sense of progression through a current activity, past experience, “day in the life,” etc.?  We’re hesitant to provide too much guidance given the free-form nature of the task; the best advice we can offer is to think about who you are (and how this might be of interest to the Mendoza adcom), consider how you could translate this into words and images, and then give it a try.  Showing the initial result to someone who knows you well could be a great way to determine the effectiveness of a working draft.

Optional – Personal Statement / Additional Information

If there is information that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee that does not appear elsewhere in your application, you may choose to submit a personal statement. This statement can provide additional context for any part of the application that you feel requires more explanation. (Optional, 1 page maximum)
Review the rest of the application first, to ensure you are not repeating material. If you need to address issues such as gaps in employment, a weak academic record or other potential issues, applicants should keep their responses brief and to-the-point, offering explanations without making excuses and humbly bringing mitigating factors to the reader’s attention. That said, it’s possible that there are other elements of one’s background that would be appropriate and not covered elsewhere in one’s application, for example an anticipated promotion or an element of one’s identity not covered in the program’s data forms. While applicants should make an effort to fully represent their candidacies within the required elements of the application, this leaves a bit of room for short exceptions.

Clear Admit Resources
Before you start writing your responses to the Notre / Dame MBA essays, check out some of our Mendoza College of Business resources:

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