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UVA / Darden Essay Topic Analysis 2011-2012

UVA Darden’s MBA application essay questions for the 2011-2012 season are brand new for this year, with a greater focus on leadership in an increasingly global world.  Requiring three essays with an allowance of just 150 words for the shorter two prompts found in the personal information and employment history sections of the application, UVA’s application is now one of the shortest  among leading business schools.  Of course, “shorter” doesn’t translate to “easier;” less room to comment on one’s background forces candidates to think carefully and strategically as they decide which aspects of their experiences to highlight.

Let’s consider each of the school’s questions for this year:

Essay 1: Share your perspective on leadership in the workplace and describe how it has been shaped by the increasing influence of globalization. (500 words)
New to Darden’s application, but similar to last year’s second topic, this essay gives applicants the opportunity to discuss their perspective on leadership and to offer their thoughts how globalization has shaped this perception.  It’s important that applicants follow Darden’s instructions and include their general observations on leadership as well as a detailed discussion of the influence of globalization on how they view leadership in the workplace.

Ideally, applicants will use an example from the workplace that highlights them in a leading and active role to explain the origin of their perspective on leadership.  As there isn’t much space for elaborating on one’s professional experience and achievements in other essay questions, it’s crucial to take full advantage of this chance to do so.  No matter how you choose to frame how globalization has affected your perception of leadership, the admissions committee is looking for applicants who are clearly attuned to current realities, have thoughtful ideas about leadership, can adapt to changing circumstances, and are prepared for increasingly global management positions down the road.

Personal Information Essay: At Darden, a core part of your academic experience is your participation in and contributions to your learning team. What will you contribute to your team? (150 words)
This straightforward question presents an opportunity for applicants to highlight their team work skills, strengths, personality and general interests to the admissions committee.  Keep in mind that this question also offers applicants a great chance to showcase their familiarity with the Darden program and prove that they’ve done their homework, as well as demonstrate that they’ve thought through the contribution they would make and the strengths they could bring to the program.  With only 150 words allotted for this essay, applicants will need to be highly efficient with their writing.

Employment History Essay: If you were on an elevator with your dream company CEO or angel investor, what would you tell him/her about your professional ambitions and goals? (150 words)
Rather than have a full-length essay devoted to an applicant’s career plans, Darden has framed the typical career goals essay as an elevator pitch.  With only 150 words at the applicant’s disposal, it is imperative that one present a clear and concise statement of his or her career goals. Given the restrictive word limit and that the essay should address a CEO or angel investor, it is not prudent to include one’s reasons for applying to Darden in the pitch.   

Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis

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