Duke Fuqua Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2012, Starting Fall 2010)

DEADLINES [table id=18/]


Overview: While Fuqua's questions are not that unusual in and of themselves, the detailed and passionate buildup to them (the green highlights below) provide a great manifesto and set of guidelines for approaching any school. I'm impressed that Fuqua has laid it out so clearly - no boring answers here! So open up, dig deep and show them what you got and who you are. I like this school!

Essays for Fall 2010 Entry

Three essay questions must be completed before submitting your application. Prepare your essays carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your responses to the following questions important in the selection process. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing. Your response to each question should be no more than 2 pages in length, with a font size not smaller than 10-point.

Candidates who applied to The Duke MBA between September 2008 and April 2009 are considered re-applicants. All re-applicants are required to complete the Re-applicant Essay in addition to the Applicant Essays.

All applicants have the opportunity to submit an optional essay to explain any extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware.

Applicant Essays: Answer all 3 essay questions.

Today, companies must navigate through complex and interdependent issues. They must deal with health and security matters, environmental impact questions, and diversity and cultural concerns. Leaders need adaptability, imagination, emotional intelligence, as well as business acumen. Thus, Duke is in the midst of an ambitious global venture that will embed and connect us around the world, and we are seeking future leaders of consequence, those who value diversity and collaborative leadership, and who aspire to impact the companies and communities of which they are a part in a lasting and positive way.

In an effort to identify, engage, and foster the development of future leaders of consequence, the Admissions Committee would like to get to know our applicants in a more holistic manner. We would like to know who you are, what has shaped you into the person you are today, and how you hope to impact both Duke and the communities of which you will be a part in the future. The essays are your opportunity to convey that to us. Please be open, genuine, and passionate. Share with us what makes you a dynamic, multi-dimensional person.

1. Describe your vision for your career, your inspiration for pursuing this career path, and the role of The Duke MBA in achieving your goals. If you are interested in a specific concentration or joint degree program, please discuss in this essay.

Analysis: Please see The MBA Goals Essay & Why MBA School X?

To avoid overlapping answers between "the role of The Duke MBA in achieving your goals" and the "attributes or characteristics of The Duke MBA program have most resonated with you and why" (see #3 below), I would consider the former the "nuts and bolts" of the program (i.e., classes, programs, events, study trips, clubs, etc.) that will empower you to reach your goals. I would consider the latter the broader "cultural" aspects of the program and the subtle differences you see between Fuqua and other MBA programs that you can only describe after doing serious research.

2. Discuss a person, event, or experience that has significantly shaped your life and explain why.

Analysis: As I write about in The MBA Personal Essay, one good way to begin on such a personal topic is to list up the major turning points in your life. And hopefully I don't sound too flippant, but choose the one that influenced you the most, and then explain what came before (probably neutral to negative) and what came after (positive). Perhaps another way to think about it is "Describe the biggest personal growth period in your life and what launched it." Actions speak louder than words, so if something really did affect you deeply, you should be able to demonstrate its influence through your choices and behavior. Since Fuqua wants to get to know you in a "holistic manner" you should try to express explicitly or implicitly any connections between your personal growth, your future career goals, and your reasons for applying to Fuqua. In my case, for example, after growing up in suburban California, I went through a huge growth experience from living and working in Guatemala for a year. That led me to a masters program in international relations/business, which took me to Japan where I wrote business articles for magazines, which led to journalism school at UC Berkeley, etc. None of those things would have happened without the life-changing experience of living in Guatemala. If I were applying to Fuqua, I would almost certainly have international goals and would emphasize the international offerings at Fuqua to complete the loop. A rough example, but hopefully illustrative.

3. Individuals choose a business school for many different reasons. Through your research, what attributes or characteristics of The Duke MBA program have most resonated with you and why? How do you plan to contribute to the strengthening and enhancement of those attributes and characteristics during your time at Duke and beyond?

Analysis: Please see my note in #1 about distinguishing these two answers. Use every resource you can to conduct your research, starting with the web and all it offers, and extending to first-person research via current students, alumni and staff, information sessions and - the ultimate sign of interest - a campus visit. Interpret the specifics you find to develop general conclusions about Fuqua's values and culture. After you've identified perhaps 2-4 attributes/characteristics that are of priority interest, connect those to specific experiences and accomplishments that show your Fuqua "fit". Within that framework, there is a lot of room to express yourself and to even include contributions that go beyond what you see as Fuqua's culture.

Optional Essay (not required)

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application).