Getting Into the MBA Program: mbaMission’s Duke University Fuqua School of Business Essay Analysis, 2014–2015
These days, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is a veritable maverick in that it offers applicants vast opportunities to tell their stories. In its first three very short “essays,” applicants reveal their goals. In its second “essay,” applicants create a list of what should be far more than 25 diverse accomplishments and experiences. Then, applicants choose from two essay options in order to reveal fit with the Fuqua program. As admissions committees seemingly limit more and more applicants’ flexibility, Fuqua ensures that applicants can offer all of themselves. So, Fuqua may be a little more work for some applicants, but the payoff should be there in the form of creative control!
Required Short Answer Questions Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each short answer question, respond in 250 characters only (the equivalent of about 50 words).
- What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
- What are your long-term
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has decreased its number of application essays to just two this year and is giving candidates a whopping 900 words with which to distinguish themselves. We surmise that the influx of application essays can be overwhelming for the school’s overworked admissions officers, who find them somewhat deadening over time. So, by cutting back the program’s application requirements, they are able to stay sharp and still get what they need from you as an applicant. While this change may be helpful on the school’s end, the limitations make your job much harder. Wharton gives you a mostly boilerplate personal statement and a rather Harvard Business School–esque “discuss what you want” style prompt—seemingly not a lot of latitude with which to make an impression, but the key word here is “seemingly.” The smart applicant will make use of Essay 2 in particular to stand … Read full post
The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan has refashioned its essay questions, going “smaller” with its requirements, as have several other schools this application season. Ross’s broadly worded essay prompts give you ample breadth—if not an overabundance of words—in which to tell your story. As always, think carefully about what you want to say and the impression you want to make before you start writing, because more opportunity lurks here than you might realize at first.
Essay 1: What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)
Many applicants who read this essay prompt will conclude that they have an opportunity here to share just one anecdote. However, you actually have another option. You could, of course, take a “task-oriented” approach, showing how you did one thing remarkably well, or you might consider taking a thematic approach, presenting … Read full post
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) announced on Wednesday that prospective business students taking the GMAT will now be able to preview their unofficial scores on Test Day before deciding whether to report or cancel them. This change will be effective for all GMAT test takers at all testing locations starting on June 27, 2014.
Up until now, GMAT test takers have been given the option of reporting or canceling their scores immediately after taking the test but before seeing their unofficial scores. Under the new process, test takers will see their unofficial scores — Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal, and Total — and will be given two minutes to decide whether or not to accept them. If a choice is not made, their scores will be canceled by default. In addition, test takers who decide to cancel their scores at the test center will be able to reinstate them within … Read full post
New York University’s (NYU’s) Stern School of Business must be happy with the essay responses they received from applicants last MBA program admissions season, because the school has made no changes to its essay questions for this year.
Stern maintains its standard career essay prompt and again gives candidates two completely different options for the second essay, one that is professional in nature and another that is personal. Many applicants will likely be daunted by the “personal expression” option, because the significant latitude it offers can lead to uncertainty—as in, “Am I doing this right?” We suggest that rather than worrying about which format to choose, you first consider what you want to say as an applicant. Who are you? What do you want the Stern admissions committee to know about you? Once you can answer those questions, determine which option better allows you to showcase your message and your … Read full post
Last year, Harvard Business School (HBS) took a new approach to the application essay questions for its MBA program, moving from multiple queries to one very open-ended prompt with no clear word limit. This year, HBS Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold seems to have surprised even herself, judging from a recent blog post, by announcing that the school will be keeping its questions… err, question… exactly the same.
With the benefit of a year of HBS acceptances under our belt using this specific question, we can at least offer some confident guidance on word limits, an issue that really perplexed last year’s candidates. Last season, we had many successful applicants to HBS, some of whom used as few as 750 words while others used as many as 1,250. In general, we encouraged our clients to stick with 1,000 or fewer, but certain candidates who had plenty … Read full post
Following what seems to be an emerging trend this season, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College has decreased the number of required applications essays for their MBA program this year from (an already fairly minimal) three to just two 500-word submissions, one of which is a classic career statement, while the other asks candidates to share and reflect on a significant leadership experience. Having just 1,000 words with which to convey meaningful elements of their profile means that applicants will need to be especially judicious in choosing their messages and particularly efficient in their writing to get the most impact from these two rather circumscribed essays. As always, we recommend a thorough brainstorming session before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) so that your messages are clear, complete and fully on topic.
Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. There are no … Read full post
For the second year in a row, Columbia Business School (CBS) has kicked off the MBA application season. During an online event with mbaMission, CBS’s director of MBA program admissions, Christina Shelby, told the audience that the school has added urgency in releasing its questions, because it has to meet the needs of its January-entry (known as J-Term) applicants, whose application deadlines come much sooner (October 8, 2014, versus April 15, 2015). Whatever its rationale for the “early” application release, CBS is basically staying the course with its essay questions, though it has again reduced the allowable character count in its “Twitter-like” goal statement; from 200 characters two years ago, it was cut to 100 last year and now stands at a mere 75. Our analysis follows…
Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)
Examples of possible responses:
“Work in business development for … Read full post
Getting Into the MBA Program: mbaMission’s 2014-2015 Stanford Graduate School of Business Essay Analysis
The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) became the second top MBA program to release its essay questions this year, and the school follows a trend in application essays—“less is more.” Stanford has dropped its third essay question this season and stuck with two standbys, which we can summarize as “What matters most to you?” and “Why us?” The GSB’s choice to stick with the “Why us?” question is an interesting one, considering how selective the program is (the Princeton Review ranks it number one for Toughest to Get Into). Maybe one reason the school is so strong is that it still focuses on fit and does not take its desirability for granted (?).
Another big change in the Stanford application this year is that the number of recommendations required has dropped from three to two, leaving the candidate to make the vexing choice between a professional recommender or … Read full post
Imagine that you are standing in the lobby of a large building and have just pushed the button to go up to the 10th floor for an appointment you have in a few minutes. As you are waiting for the elevator to arrive, you strike up a conversation with the person waiting next to you. To your amazement, you find that your companion for the elevator ride will be none other than an MBA admissions officer from your top b-school – the very b-school that you are applying to this fall! What will you say in the 30-45 seconds you have to make a great impression and potentially secure your dream?
Before you begin to meet admissions officers and send in that application to your programs of choice, it is essential that you define and refine your elevator pitch. This is the synopsis, in under one minute, of what qualifies … Read full post