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Fuqua Class of 2022 Essay Analysis

June 21, 2019

Fuqua has released its application details the 2019-20 application cycle, having made changes to its short answer prompts while keeping the core essay questions the same.

2019/20 essay questions

Short answer question 1: Why is pursuing an MBA the right next step for you? (500 characters)

Short answer question 2: What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first choice career plan and your alternate plan. (500 characters)

Essay 1: Fuqua believes different types of people, points of view, and experiences bring out the best in everyone. And above all, we place a premium on succeeding while making a positive impact on businesses, organizations, and the world.  These ways of thinking set the Duke MBA experience apart, and this concept 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. Instructions: 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 two pages.

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? Instructions: Your response should be no more than two pages in length.

Optional essay: If you feel there are circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance), please explain them in an optional essay. Please do not upload additional essays or additional recommendations in this area of the application, and limit your response to one page.

2019/20 essay question analysis

Short answer questions

With only 500 characters, you’ll need to be concise in answering each question.

For the first question, the key to explaining why an MBA is the right choice now is to focus on personal explanations. If you come from a consulting or investment-banking background, Admissions Committees will generally know why you need an MBA to keep your career moving forward, but it is helpful to personalize your motivation as much as possible. If you have another background, you have a bit more work to do. Focus your MBA motivations on what impact you aim to have in the future, and what experiences and relationships you will tap into through an MBA to achieve that impact.

When explaining your short and long-term goals, also tie your answer to the impact you want to have, rather than the roles you are targeting. Doing so makes your employability appear greater to the Admissions Committee (a big plus), differentiates you from other applicants, and makes it easier to later on explain how you will leverage Fuqua towards achieving these goals. What you mention should represent your first choice; the best “Plan B”s are variations to your preferred plan (i.e. consulting if you cannot join a startup), rather than something fundamentally different from the goals you articulate earlier in the answer.

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 (yet workplace appropriate) stories and experiences from your past? How did you develop your key relationships? The more differentiated stories you can write (hint: almost everyone loves their family, especially mom, so don’t use too many of your bullets on topics like that), 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.  The funnier your bullets, the better. Even sprinkle in a few self-deprecating ones!

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. The more you can explain that contribution in detail, the more you will separate yourself from other applicants in a good way.

Optional essay

As with other schools, keep this direct and concise. Avoid coming across as defensive. Instead, focus on what you learned from the experiences you are sharing this in this essay, and how it better positions you to achieve your longer-run goals.

2019/20 deadlines

Early action: Application deadline: September 19, 2019. Decision date: October 28, 2019.
Round 1: Application deadline: October 14, 2019. Decision date: December 18, 2019.
Round 2: Application deadline: January 6, 2020. Decision date: March 19, 2020.
Round 3: Application deadline: March 11, 2020. Decision date: April 20, 2020.

Other application details

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The online application is expected to go live by August 1, 2019.


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