Duke Essay Analysis: 2010 – 2011

Overview:  Don’t be deceived by the basic Duke essay questions—these “open” questions can be some of the toughest to write.  There is quite a bit of room for you to deliver your message to the Fuqua MBA admission committee by plotting out your story in advance.   Make sure to think abut what you want to deliver in advance so you have a plan for attacking the essays.   Also think about the strong focus on teamwork that Fuqua prides itself on.

Applicant Essays : Answer all 3 essay questions.

1. Describe your vision for your career and your inspiration for pursuing this career path.

Overview:  This is a forward looking career goals essay but asks you to reflect on your inspiration for pursuing your career goal.  Clearly, you are going to want to articulate your short-term and long-term goals and include why you are pursuing said goals.  If you are a career switcher (and many folks are), try to make the connection about how and why you are changing your career.  Remember, you may not be completely sure about what you want to do, but make sure the story aligns with your current interests, is well researched, and makes sense. 

Admit Advantage:  You may need to layout a bit of your background to address your inspiration and rational for choosing the career path, but don’t spend too much time focused on your background as you will adequate room to address that in Essay #2.

 2. How will your background, values, and non-work activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add value to Fuqua’s diverse culture?

Overview:This is the question that will allow you to articulate your brand, highlight what differentiates you and how you are a good fit with Fuqua.  Your background should touch on the strengths that differentiate you and NOT be a regurgitation of your resume.  There are a number of ways to lay out your values; focus on demonstrating your values through specific stories rather than telling.  Finally, the non-work activities are an important part of this essay.  These extracurricular activities will demonstrate your willingness to contribute the Fuqua MBA community and the impact you’ve had.  It will also provide the admissions committee with additional color on any unique skills that you may have developed by working with these groups outside of work.

Admit Advantage:Fuquais very collaborative and has a team-based approach, so be sure to highlight any experiences that exhibit this approach.  Don’t forget about the power of non-work activities to show the impact that you’ve made in your community and would ultimately bring to the Fuqua community. 

Why Duke? (If you are interested in a specific concentration, joint degree, clubs or activities, please discuss how you would contribute to these in this essay.)

Overview:  Your success will be dependent upon how well you 1) know yourself and 2) do your research on Fuqua.  In this essay you should demonstrate a fit between you (your background, interests, and personality) and Fuqua (culture, values and educational approach).  In terms of knowing yourself, think about what you’re trying to get out of the MBA program.  As far as Fuqua, in addition to the points mentioned in the question above, think geography, learning style, the broader Duke University and alumni base as other ways to show a fit.

Finally, think about the impact you plan to make at the FuquaSchool of Business.  Think about the question “Why Duke” from the perspective of the school (“Why should the FuquaMBA admissions committee accept you?” – i.e. how are you going to add value to the school) and your perspective (“Why should you choose Fuqua?”).   Be as specific as you can.  If you identify particular areas that you would like to make an impact, be specific about what you would like to do and the role you would like to play.

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). 


Overview:  This should be selected for candidates who have a unique and explainable situation that is outside of the normal.  The admissions committee has given you a few common examples; others may include low GMAT score, personal tragedy, or a specific strength that you could not highlight in your previous application question.  Keep in mind that this specifically asks for content that could not be addressed in the rest of the application.

Admit Advantage: Use your best judgment.  If you are a 680 GMAT at a 720 mean school and have good credentials otherwise, you probably don’t have to write about a low GMAT score.  Don’t feel compelled to write an essay here if you don’t need to.

Admit Advantage: Watch the tone of this essay.  Don’t apologize and rant about how life is hard (frankly, MBA admissions committee members have heard it all and don’t care too much).  Address the issue, talk about your mitigating factors and feel free to stop writing.

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