UVA Darden 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

UVA_DardenDarden led the way with a one-essay application.  Some may feel that fewer essays indicate that essays are losing importance. My suspicion is that the remaining essays and short-answers are as or more important than they ever were. Especially at a program emphasizing the case method and experiential learning, evidence that you can communicate, analyze a problem from multiple perspectives, and handle the rigorous program that Darden is famous for are all critical. 

My tips for answering the Darden application essay are in blue below.

Essay:

1. Describe the most courageous professional decision you have made or most courageous action you have taken at work. What did you learn from that experience? (500 word maximum)

First of all, I strongly encourage you to watch the video with Darden’s Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions Sarah Neher where she lays out what they’re looking for in this essay:

What is courage? The strength to act in the face of fear, difficulty, criticism, opposition, and possibly danger. Hopefully you didn’t need courage because you were facing true danger on the job, but perhaps you needed it for some of the other reasons I provided. When did you have the strength and courage to take ownership of a project, position, or initiative? When did something become your baby?  What was the decision?  What did you do? Why was it so important to you? What was the result? And most importantly (per the video), what did you learn? 

They not only want to know your reaction to a particularly challenging situation; they want to see how you respond when you are personally invested and excited about a challenge, initiative, or project.

Final tidbit: Make sure you answer all elements of the question. That’s critical.

If you would like professional guidance with your UVA Darden 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 UVA Darden application. 

UVA Darden 2015 Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decisions Released
Round 1 October 10, 2014 December 17, 2014
Round 2 January 7, 2015 March 25, 2015
Round 3 April 1, 2015 May 6, 2015

Have our MBA admissions experts critique your UVA Darden application!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com 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.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for UVA Darden, please provide the following info:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

  • Isaac

    Linda, thank you in advance for your time and comments.

    1.Work experience
    – Employer: petrochemical industry technology and engineering design leader
    – 4 years experience upon matriculation (Fall, 2016): 1 year as a design engineer before moving into a product manager role (youngest in my company to do so)
    – Responsibilities include managing vendor relationships, composing technical and commercial documents, writing a new employee training manual, quality (ISO) auditor

    2. GMAT (results after third time)
    – 730-96%ile (49Q-79%ile, 41V-94%ile, 5IR-52%ile, 6AWA-92%ile)

    3. College info
    -3.4/4.0 GPA
    -BS Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University (ranked 10-15 depending on the source), graduated 2008

    -Semester long study abroad in Shanghai, China

    4. Extra-curriculars
    – Resident Assistant last year of Undergrad (39 residents, ~50% of applicants are accepted to the position )
    – Volunteer one-to-one professional mentor to community college students through Chicago non-profit/scholarship program (2013-present)
    – New volunteer member on a board responsible for events and marketing/fund raising for the same program as above (selective position)
    -Completed multiple marathons, half marathons, cycling events (non-competitive), black belt in karate

    5. Certifications
    Lean Six Sigma Green Belt; ISO 9001 Internal Auditor

    6. Goals
    -My goal is to work as a consultant in the energy industry, ideally in the areas of sustainability and ethical operation

    7. Misc
    -Born/raised in the Midwest, USA
    -26 upon matriculation (aiming to start Fall, 2016)
    -I want a collaborative environment. I believe in succeeding with those around me, not at the expense of those around me
    -I would like to be stretched personally in the ways that I think, relate to others, and approach problems

    Thank you again for your time.

    Regards,
    Isaac

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a competitive profile for Darden and are applying appropriately. You may also want to consider Ross, Tuck, Duke,Yale, and UT Austin. For a stretch, consider MIT Sloan or Kellogg.

  • SMK

    Thanks for this information. Do you think it would be appropriate to discuss a risk I took by moving across the country following my graduation in order to find a job in NYC (turning down local offers to do so)? I am debating between using this and an experience directly from work which, although arguably “courageous”, was far less risky in absolute terms.

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    – Will have three years as a general product analyst in the wealth management division of a global Bank. Promoted but retained same title (so to a more senior analyst position).

    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    GMAT – 720 (78% Quant, 94% Verbal)

    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    University of Colorado – 2012, 3.7 GPA, Finance major

    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    In college, two years as a VP on Interfraternity Council (probably 15 – 20 hrs/wk)

    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    Series 7, 66

    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Goal is to get into strategy – consulting short term and internally running a business unit in the longer term.

    Thanks!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      SMK,

      You have a competitive profile for Darden, and it’s a great school considering your goal.

      In terms of your question, it’s really hard from me to respond with only the information you are providing, but I would say go with your gut feeling and use the story about leaving job offers in your home city to go to NYC without a job and look for the job you really wanted, which is I assume the story. Go with the riskier experience.

      Best,
      Linda

  • Arjun Dhawan

    Hi Linda. Thanks in advance for your time

    1. Work Experience: 5 years with a garment manufacturing and export organization in the operations and supply chain vertical. 1 year as an industrial engineer and spearheaded a lean transformation on the factory floor. 2 years as a assistant manager in the supply chain department. The organization is a family enterprise where I represent the second generation.

    2. GMAT: 680 (Q49-79%ile V34-71%ile) AWA 5.5 IR 7

    3. University of Mumbai-St Xavier’s College, 68% (First Class) Graduated in 2009, B.Sc Statistics with a minor in Math. 3 year degree

    4. Taught in a school for underprivileged children.

    5. Certifications: None

    6. Post MBA goal: To come back to the family business and contribute in a more robust manner. Diversify the organization globally and raise funds for expansion

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Arjun,

      Darden is a stretch. Consider Indiana Kelley, Vanderbilt, Broad, and Penn State.

      Best,
      Linda Abraham