UVA Darden Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2012, Starting Fall 2010)

DEADLINES [table id=20 /]


Overview: With only two questions this year (vs. last year's three) and tight word limitations on top of that, Darden's less-is-more approach will make it a challenge for most applicants to get across their key messages.

MBA Application Essay Questions 2009-2010

1. How have the changes in the global economy over the last 18 months affected you and your plan for the future? (400 words)

Analysis: To its credit, Darden is (so far) the only top MBA program to ask you directly to use the current recession as a frame for your career goals. Have you been laid off or otherwise hurt by the recession and need an MBA to prepare for your next move? Has the recession revealed an intriguing possibility or inspired you to pursue your true career dream? These are all possible starting points, assuming you emphasize what you are working towards and not what you are leaving behind. Considering the poor hiring environment right now, if you have a good job, you'll have to justify why leaving it for the unknown is the right decision. If you are aiming for a super-competitive field like consulting or finance, you should highlight what would make you a stand-out candidate and potential contributor among the thousands of other hopefuls seeking similar positions. Your personal business plan, as described in The MBA Goals Essay, needs to be tight for every school, but Darden is paying extra close attention this year.

2. What will you contribute to an MBA program and what are your personal and professional expectations of the program you attend? (600 words)

Analysis: At only 600 words, you really don't have space to address a general "MBA program", so you should just dive right into your potential contributions and expectations of Darden. Contributions can range from professional to personal, and I would recommend a blend of the two, especially if you can link your personal qualities and motivations to your personal and professional successes (think self-awareness), and then show how those qualities will add to specific aspects of Darden's program and culture. Hard skills are important, of course, but they alone will not distinguish you; no matter your field, someone can probably match or best your technical abilities. Instead, try focusing on how you've used those skills to make unusual contributions. Specific examples of your best work are key here, since this is the only place to really describe your accomplishments and where they come from in any detail. Be disciplined. Pick your best ones and consider presenting them in separate, concise paragraphs so your essay doesn't collapse from trying to do too much. Consider your expectations in answer to a typical Why MBA School X section to show how Darden is a good fit for you personally and professionally.