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• 6 fatal application blunders that can cost you your match.
• Advice on writing a persuasive, compelling personal statement.
• Tips on choose the right program for YOU.

…and more!

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Duke Fuqua 2015 MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines

Want to learn more about Duke Fuqua? Click here!Leadership, teamwork, ethics, and a global approach to business are essential elements of the Duke Fuqua MBA, which is why you’ll need to make sure you express your passion for these ideals in your application essays. Impress the Fuqua adcom by positioning yourself as an innovative leader and team player, as someone who can see the big picture, work collaboratively, and shape global business.

My tips are in blue below. 

Three short answer questions and 2 essays are required from all applicants.

• Responses should use 1.5 line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
• Respond fully and concisely.
• Responses must be completed before submitting your application.
• Prepare your responses carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your answers important in the selection process.
• All essays are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is considered a cheating violation within the Honor Code and will not be tolerated in the admissions process.

Application Tip: Check out Fuqua’s section criteria.

Short Answers

Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each short answer question, respond in 250 characters only (the equivalent of about 50 words).

1. What are your short term goals, post-MBA?

State what you see yourself doing in terms of function and industry. If location or geography are important to your goal, include them.  If you know the type of companies you would like to work for, you can include that information too, but don’t say you want to work for Company X, unless Company X is sponsoring you. That’s probably too narrow.

2. What are your long term goals?

Your long term goals should flow logically from your short-term goals. They can be fuzzier and both in terms of direction and timing. But you should have them. They can, but don’t have to, include larger aspirations and present a broader perspective on where you are headed. But please don’t go so general and say something like “I aspire to be a good person” or “I strive to leave a lasting impact on my community.” Nice sentiments, but way to general.

3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short term goals that you provided above not materialize, what alternative directions have you considered?

What’s your Plan B? If you can’t get a job at a leading strategy consulting firm, what do you want to do? If Plan A is investment banking, what’s Plan B?


1. Answer the following question — present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU. 

Have some fun with this list. It certainly allows a more creative approach than permitted by most essay prompts. Note that the questions asks you to go “beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript.”  So you can list your Pez collection or perhaps your brief membership in a rock band or the fact that you took violin from age 6-18 or your membership in a gospel choir or your volunteer work in a hospital, your needlepoint, your favorite recipe or photo. Gosh the list is endless. Just let it reflect you. Think of this list as an introduction to potential friends.   For more insight into this question and the  motivation behind, please read Megan Overbay’s, the former Director of Admissions’, advice. I believe you will find it helpful. And very friendly.

2. Choose only 1 of the following 2 essay questions to answer. Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.

Choose to the prompt that will let you reveal something important to you and impressive about you. Write the essay that you will be able to draft most enthusiastically and easily.

1. When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you

Why Duke? But you’re not talking to the admissions committee, whom you just may be a tad less than candid with. You are talking to your family, friends, and colleagues, people you know and like (at least the friends).  The Fuqua admissions staff really wants to get to know you. Authenticity is the goal. The admissions readers want to be able to imagine you as a part of Team Fuqua — their family — as a friend or colleague. Will you be real stiff and formal? Of course not. You will be friendly in a professional way. Don’t take this as an invitation to be inappropriate, coarse, or rude. Just friendly.

What appeals to you at Duke? What about its program, culture, and professional opportunities propels you to apply and would compel you to accept an offer of admission? Maybe address a letter to a close friend and tell her why you want to go to Duke.  That letter may morph into this essay.

2. The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality are a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect the research you have done, your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.

1. Authentic Engagement: We care and we take action. We each make a difference to Team Fuqua by being ourselves and engaging in and supporting activities about which we are passionate.
2. Supportive Ambition: We support each other to achieve great things, because your success is my success. The success of each individual member of Team Fuqua makes the whole of Team Fuqua better.
3. Collective Diversity:  We embrace all of our classmates because our individuality is better and stronger together.
4. Impactful Stewardship: We are leaders who focus on solutions to improve our communities both now and in the future. We aren’t satisfied with just maintaining the status quo.
5. Loyal Community: We are a family who looks out for each other. Team Fuqua supports you when you need it the most.
6. Uncompromising Integrity: We internalize and live the honor code in the classroom and beyond. We conduct ourselves with integrity within Fuqua, within Duke, and within all communities of which we are a part.

Do your homework about Fuqua (and yourself) before responding to this question. What activities and groups appeal to you? How do you see yourself participating? Making a difference? Then look at the list of six principles above. Which do you most identify with? Imagine how you would exemplify that principle in your activities. The story of that role and how would see yourself earning an award is your essay.  While you can reference similar activities in the past, keep the focus of this essay on what you would do at Fuqua and why you would earn recognition for exemplifying one of these six principles.

Optional Essay Question:

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).

• Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
• The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
• Limit your response to two pages.

Why isn’t your current supervisor writing your rec? Why is there a six-month gap on your resume? Why did your grades dip during the first semester of your senior year? What are your responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious investment bank, and why did you make the change? Answering any of those questions (but not all) could be the topic of your optional essay.

If you would like professional guidance with your Duke Fuqua MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Duke application. 

Duke Fuqua 2015 MBA Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decision Notification
Early Action Sept. 17, 2014 Oct. 29, 2014
Round 1 Oct. 20, 2014 Dec. 19, 2014
Round 2 Jan. 5, 2015 Mar. 13, 2015
Round 3 Mar. 19, 2015 May 6, 2015

Click here for more school-specific MBA application essay tips!

Apply with an admissions pro at your side! Click here to learn more.

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


Related Resources:

• What I Wish I Knew Before Entering the Duke MBA
• Culture, Location, and Support: A Duke MBA Speaks
• 2015 MBA Application Essay Tips


Interview with MBA Reapplicant, “Top Dog”

Click Here for More MBA Applicant Interviews

This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing our anonymous blogger, Top Dog.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job?  

Top Dog: Hello, and thanks for the opportunity to talk about myself! I was born and went to school in the UK, studying for my Bachelor of Science at the University of London. I’m currently working in southern Europe as a global relationship manager for the largest corporate and investment bank in the energy and commodities sector.

Accepted: When did you first apply to b-school?  

Top Dog: I applied to five top 10 U.S. business schools in 2013/14 (Rounds 1 and 2). I got two interviews (at MIT Sloan and Wharton) but unfortunately failed to get an offer.

Accepted: What do you think went wrong and what are you doing this time to improve your candidacy?

Top Dog: I don’t think there were any obvious issues – aside from my 12 years WE and relatively low GPA – but my applications were maybe a bit bland and failed to fully explain what I have actually achieved so far and my detailed reasons for wanting an MBA. This year I got the chance to lead an international team after my boss resigned – that’s definitely an experience I’ll be writing about in my applications that I didn’t have last time.

Accepted: Where do you plan on applying this time?

Top Dog: I’m going to be focused and reapply to MIT Sloan and Wharton, plus INSEAD for the first time. I’ve done a lot of research and love the location, culture, collaborative spirit and emphasis on entrepreneurship and social enterprise at these b-schools. I’m toying with reapplying to Stanford too – the lure of the West Coast is difficult to resist!

Accepted: Can you talk about your decision to apply to/attend a European program versus a U.S. program? What are the pros and cons on either side?

Top Dog: I have tried to balance my target b-schools this time and, while most top b-schools will give you a great education, there are differences. In Europe, I really like the international classes (INSEAD’s incoming class has 90 nationalities with c. 60% from outside Europe), but 10 months is short to fully experience the teaching, culture and career prospects on offer. In the U.S., b-schools simply rock the MBA – this is where the MBA was born and it’s still the best place to study it – plus it broadens my otherwise European profile, while the con would definitely be the cost – ouch!

Accepted: What stage of the application process are you up to so far? What has been the most challenging step and how did you work to overcome it? 

Top Dog: I’m in a good position as I have my experience from last season so I’m all done with research, profile building and I’m about to start my essays. I’ve blogged about my mistakes from last time and I’m already falling into the first trap – leaving it too late to start writing my essays (where did July go!?). Another challenge was not keeping on top of my recommenders, and I’m definitely going to be focused on this this time around.

Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry post-MBA, or changing to a new field/career?

Top Dog: A big motivation for the full time (rather than exec) MBA is the ability to transition into a new field. Post-MBA I’ll go back into banking with a focus on business development and corporate social responsibility – ideally in the emerging markets – where innovation and entrepreneurship are rewarded skills. Longer term I want to combine my finance experience in a start-up, potentially a social entrepreneur focused micro-finance venture in an emerging economy.

Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?

Top Dog: I got a lot of knowledge and comfort from other bloggers last season and I’d like to give something back to the MBA applicant community. My blog encourages me to keep on top of my applications while testing ideas with others in the same position (and some helpful consultants too!). In exchange, I hope I’m giving some useful insight, sparking a bit of debate and creating a sense of companionship among fellow and future applicants.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages.

You can read more about Top Dog’sb-school journey by checking out his blog, TopDogMBA, and Twitter, @topdogmba. Thank you Top Dog for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.



Related Resources:

MBA Applicant Interviews
Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
2015 MBA Application Essay Tips

5 Questions to Help You Decide Where to Apply to Med School

For more med school admissions advice, download your free copy of Navigate the Med Maze!

How do you choose where to apply?

There are literally hundreds of medical schools in the U.S. to choose from – how do you choose where to apply? Ask yourself the following five questions – their answers will help you narrow down you school selection list and choose the ones that are best for YOU.

1. Should you go in-state?

This is a great place to start as state schools are often cheaper, not to mention easier to get into for residents.

2. Where do you stand competitively?

You need to know where you stand when compared to other applicants. While some aspects of your profile won’t be able to be measured objectively (your clinical experiences or unique background), others are simple facts that are easily comparable. Check out recent rankings to determine average MCAT scores and GPAs for entering classes at the schools on your list. Then narrow down accordingly.

3. What’s your area of interest?

If you have a strong interest in doing health policy, then you might want to look at somewhere like Georgetown in Washington, D.C. as it offers great access to different health policy resources. Look at different areas that interest you or that you have some background in and then select the schools that focus on that, whether it’s infectious disease or rural medicine or emergency medicine or whatever it is that you’re passionate about pursuing.

4. Who do you know?

If you are friends (or friends of friends) or colleagues with professors, doctors, students, or alumni who are connected with one of the programs on your list, then you should definitely talk to them about their experience – their likes and dislikes.

5. How are the vibes?

A school could look perfect on paper, but if you step foot on campus and get negative vibes, then the school may not be for you. A school’s culture – the atmosphere on campus, the way the classes are run, the professor/student exchanges, and the students themselves – can get lost in translation. Often first-hand experience is needed to truly get a feel for what the experience of med school will be like. While it may not be feasible to visit every school on your list, you should certainly visit as many as you can, and then fill in the gaps by attending info sessions/pre-med fairs, and connecting with students and alumni off-campus (as in #4 above).

The advice in this post is based on a conversation we had in our recent webinar, Ask The Experts: Medical School Admissions Q&A with Cydney Foote and Alicia McNease Nimonkar. Check out the full transcript for more tips on applying to med school successfully!

Download your free special report: Navigate the Med School Maze!


Related Resources:

Med School Rankings & Numbers: What You MUST Know, a free downloadable guide
• Applying to Medical School: Selecting Extracurricular Activities
• Identity, Community, and the World of Med School Admissions, a podcast interview