University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business really came through for its applicants during the pandemic. From providing a more diverse list of standardized tests for MBA application to allowing Test Waivers, the Darden admissions committee simplified the application process making it more accessible to MBA applicants across the globe.
“Standardized tests have always been just one indication of a student’s ability to succeed at Darden, and we continue to broaden our criteria for consideration, accepting a number of standardized tests and offering test waivers to create flexibility for applicants. Our message to applicants is to find the approach that’s right for you. Our Admissions Committee stands ready to help you consider your options and put your best foot forward in our application process.” explained Darden’s executive director of admissions, Dawna Clarke.
Darden also offered an optional binding Early-Action path for students who have Darden as a top priority. The school’s press release states, “As applicants fully commit to Darden, Darden will in-turn commit to them. Those admitted via this path will gain access to a host of opportunities, including networking opportunities, career resources and access to pre-matriculation learning modules to help them accelerate their MBA journey, and engagement with the Darden community.”
The Darden admissions committee truly goes above and beyond for MBA applicants that apply to the school. In the past, a lot of applicants have been contacted by admissions committee members themselves before being shortlisted. This contact is generally made to inform the applicant of what they could improve or add to their profile to make it fit for Darden.
An applicant that takes the advice, and improves their application, shows the school, commitment. This is exactly what you need to do as it shows the school that you’re really interested in them.
Taking another step to understand an MBA applicant’s story, Darden has also increased the number of its short essays. The school increased the short answer essays from 5 to 7 for its upcoming MBA intake.
Darden MBA Application Essays
- Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)
Simply because this essay prompt says high impact leaders, you do not need to look into your professional life only. Whether you choose a professional or a personal example to highlight through this essay, make sure you share it in the STAR format.
The STAR format stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
The Situation is the context or background of the task. The task is the problem or challenge you were faced with. Action is the steps you took to troubleshoot the task. The Result is the direct outcome of your actions, in this case, the impact you created.
In this question, Darden is trying to explore your leadership skill through a situational question. thus giving the answer in STAR format helps you share details about the experience while also maintaining clarity of thought.
- Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community. Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community, or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)
Indirectly, this question is to evaluate how perceptive to growth your mindset is. Through this question, the Darden admissions committee wants to gauge how open to listening you are.
Listening here means taking in the input from your environment whether verbal or visual and altering your relative action. The Darden MBA classroom follows the case study method, which means you will be having discussions with your peers to find solutions to problems real business are facing. If you can’t listen in such a situation, your presence doesn’t add great value to Darden’s MBA class.
- Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personally, professionally, or both. (100 words)
The learning team at Darden is a group of 4-5 students that work closely on case studies.
This essay is a perfect space to share information about yourself that a new acquaintance might not pick up right away. As the prompt suggests, this information can be both personal or professional. While choosing the information you share with your learning team, simply ask yourself, how this would benefit our interaction. Would it make communication a lot easier? In which way?
- What is your short-term, post-MBA goal, and why? (150 words)
Mere 150 words for your career goals essay doesn’t imply that you won’t have to be specific. Since Darden has seven total MBA essays, it doesn’t merge too many goals questions into one.
To start off this essay, detail your short-term MBA goal. This is the immediate position you wish to hold once you graduate from Darden’s MBA program. Get into the specifics of your short-term goals. From the industry to the job role, to the company you plan to work at, tell the admissions committee about everything.
Also, explain your thought process behind your choice. Explain why a certain job role or industry interests you. What drew you to the organization you wish to work at post-MBA? A point to note would be to choose an organization from the list of recruiters that frequent Darden.
- The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. Each year, Darden connects with over 80 countries.
If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel? (5 words) And why? (50 words)
The limit word you get to answer this prompt can either make your answer seem incomplete or concise. You get to choose.
As you answer this question, don’t stick to the book and say something like you’d like to study in London as it puts you at the centre of one of the world’s largest financial market.
Embrace your passions through this answer. If you want to study in Costa Rica so that you can run to the beach and catch a few waves as you take a study break, write this answer down. It only helps the admissions committee know you better.
- List up to three hobbies or interests you enjoy in your free time.
This is as simple as it gets. Just list three hobbies you have. Cross-check with other parts of your MBA profile to make sure you’re not contradicting yourself.
- What are you excited to explore in Charlottesville? (25 words; see video clip within the application)
Don’t just base your answer off of the video clip within your application. as you reach out to Darden’s community for pre-MBA networking, ask them questions about Charlottesville. Find out more about what to explore in and around the Darden campus. And if you find spots that help you follow your passions and indulge in your hobbies, make sure you mention them here.