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Fuqua Class of 2020 Essay Analysis

June 30, 2017

2017/18 essay questions

Short answer questions (required to answer all three)

  1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA? (500 characters)
  2. What are your long-term goals? (500 characters)
  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? (500 characters)

Essay 1: 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. (2-page limit)

Essay 2: Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences. Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom? (2-page limit)

Optional question: If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance). (1-page limit)

Our Take

Short answer questions

With only 500 characters, you’ll need to have concise objectives for both your short and long-term goals. The same holds for potential future roles and alternatives you share. What surprises most people is how much easier it is to answer the questions when you focus on the impact you want to have in your career, rather than specific roles you’re going after. Focusing on the impact you want to have will help you differentiate from other applicants, and will help you identify several paths towards your goals.

Essay 1

In the past, successful clients keep each bullet brief, focusing on characteristics that aren’t reflected elsewhere in the application. For example, this isn’t the place to discuss your great analytical or leadership skills. Save that for the resume. Instead, focus on your softer, more light-hearted side. What are some of the funnier stories and experiences from your past? Caution: keep it workplace appropriate. How did you develop your key relationships? The more differentiated stories you can write (hint: almost everyone loves their family, especially mom), the better you will separate yourself from other applicants. Your goal should be to give the reader a clear understanding of how you will fit into Fuqua. That doesn’t mean you have to be a softie…last year, a combat fighter pilot had one of the best essays from amongst my clients. Just give the reader confidence that you will fit in.

Stuck? Crowdsource examples from friends and family. New ideas will cross your plate when you least expect it!

Essay 2

Core to this question will be your understanding of Fuqua’s resources outside of the classroom – from informal events to class traditions. You’ll want to connect with students and alumni to get the inside scoop on the campus experience. Also, have at least one clear (and specific) contribution that you would want to make on campus – it could be anything from organizing a conference, starting a club, building relationships with a new community, etc.

Optional essay

The optional question is available for you to explain any additional information that you may not have had the space to clarify in other parts of your application. This is particularly important if there are any gaps or weaknesses in your application that you want to address directly.

2017-18 deadlines

Early Action: Application deadline: September 12, 2017 at 11:59 ET, Decision date: October 19, 2017

Round 1: Application deadline: October 10, 2017 at 11:59pm ET, Decision date: December 15, 2017

Round 2: Application deadline: January 3,2018 at 11:59pm ET, Decision date: March 15, 2018

Round 3: Application deadline: March 20, 2018 at 11:59pm ET, Decision date: May 1, 2018

Other application details

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The online application is expected to be released mid-July.


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