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MBA Admission Essays: Darden School of Business

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business does not task MBA applicants with several MBA admission essays. Instead, it has a pretty clear set of demands for its lone MBA admission essay question.

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 words)

MBA Admission Essays

Unlike some of its competitors (especially Harvard and Stanford), Darden’s essay question is fairly specific. They want to know how you define professional courage and how you have lived out that definition in your workplace.

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As you brainstorm topics, think about what professional courage means to you. Write down your own definition. Then, find an example from your work history that you can draw on. This example should be fairly recent and should clearly demonstrate adversity or risk. It should also demonstrate the personal qualities that you value most about yourself and that make up your personal brand. Keep in mind that it does not necessarily have to be a success story- it takes courage to risk failure, and to learn from that failure.

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Once you have an example, cast yourself as a storyteller. Where does the story begin? What adversity or challenge were you facing? What led to your courageous decision? How did you feel before, during and after you took action? What were the results? Be as specific as possible and provide a lot of detail.

Finally, don’t forget the second part of the question. End the essay by reflecting on what this particular experience taught you and how it reshaped your definition of professional courage. How have you applied those lessons since that time? How might you apply them as an MBA student? Darden is interested in your past, but they really want to know who you are now and who you will be on their campus. End the essay with the future in mind.

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For more information, visit Darden’s website.
Deadlines: Round 1- October 10; Round 2- January 7; Round 3- April 1

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