Darden’s two essay questions are about as tidy as their Charlottesville campus—but looks can be deceiving. This gem of a school has methodically built a global MBA program focused on turning out responsible business leaders, and in our opinion places an above average emphasis on what is, and isn’t said, in an applicant’s admissions essays.
Essay 1 appears to be a straightforward challenge/accomplishment essay, but again—looks can deceive. Maybe a challenge/failure experience would be more fitting given they are looking for lessons learned. The answer lies in the applicant’s ability to tell a story that illustrates their integrity, take risks, assume responsibility, get their hands dirty,and have an impact on the world around them — whether their world is Heartland America or the Pacific Rim.
Darden’s Essay 2 should become the standard goals essay for every business school. Its focus on the “short term” is achingly practical when considering how rapidly the world is changing, especially within the context of Asia. Essay 2 also provides a tidy framework to connect the dots between an applicants’s to-date professional and undergraduate experiences in a way that makes their short-term career objectives realistic and well thought out.