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University of Virginia Darden School of Business MBA Essay Topic Analysis

Darden School of Business (UVA / Darden) MBA Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business (UVA / Darden) MBA admissions essays for the 2018-2019 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all other the leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

UVA / Darden Essay Topic Analysis 2018-2019

After years of a single 500-word essay, UVA / Darden has mixed things up with several short answers.  Let’s take a closer look at the Darden 2018-2019 essays:

Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or both. (100 words)
Given the narrow word limit, applicants will need to reflect carefully on the aspects of their backgrounds they most want to highlight.  While a brief mention of your professional background and career goals may be appropriate, we encourage applicants to use this opportunity to showcase elements of their personalities and candidacies that they will not have the chance to address in their responses to the other application essays. Perhaps you have a particularly interesting work or extra-curricular experience to share, or a personal accomplishment or aspect of your heritage of which you’re especially proud. By focusing on a range of qualities and characteristics, this essay will allow applicants to demonstrate the well-rounded nature of their candidacies even within the 100 word limit.

Each year, Darden connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to go with Darden? And why? (50 words)
This prompt invites more research into Darden’s international offerings.  Applicants may start by reviewing the Darden Worldwide Courses, Global Consulting Project and Exchange Program offerings to see what piques their interest.  It would make sense for the choice to tie into one’s career goals, though the reasoning could favor the more personal side, e.g. wanting to show your classmates your home country.  You won’t have much room to elaborate, so ensure what you do share reveals more about you, your values or interests.

Darden strives to identify and cultivate leaders who follow their purpose. At this stage, how would you describe your evolving leadership style and please provide an example. (200 words)
Once you can define your leadership style, we recommend a basic STAR approach to structure the supporting example. Begin by describing the situation, the players, and stakeholders involved before moving into the task: what you needed to accomplish in your leadership goal. You should then move into the action, providing a chronological account of how you moved through the project or process. It would likely make narrative sense to introduce the challenges and how you overcame them as part of this narrative rather than addressing this in a separate section.

Finally, you should comment on the result — the outcome of your leadership efforts and the resolution of the story. For most applicants, this will likely involve a comment on a positive impact and happy clients, customers, or stakeholders. That said, we can also imagine effective responses that might cover less-than-flawless performance that resulted in valuable feedback and growth, which would feed into the theme of evolution.

Some may find it easier to start with a strong leadership example and then draw conclusions about their leadership style.

Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)
This question is a classic in terms of MBA essays; adcoms are interested in people who make an impact, whether at work, or in other avenues of their lives. They want to know you’ll make an impact while on campus at Darden and as an alumni, as you pursue your career and life goals.  Whether you choose to cull an example from your professional or personal life, it’s important to put the story in context before clearly outlining the actions you took and the results you achieved.  The more detail you’re able to provide about your role in achieving a positive outcome, the easier it will be for you to accurately demonstrate your leadership skills. You may also account for why the impact was meaningful to you, to shed more light on your values.

What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? (150 words)
This prompt is an abbreviated version of the typical career goals essay, focusing only on applicants’ career plans for immediately after graduation rather than for the long term.  In addition to describing their ideal target employer(s) and job position, applicants are also asked to explain the motivation behind their choices.  Connecting your detailed plans to your prior career experiences and demonstrated passions will go a long way towards proving to the adcom that your plans are realistic and well thought through.

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