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Darden Class of 2026 Essay Analysis

UVA Darden has released its short answer questions for the 2023-24 application cycle.

  1. Community of Belonging: What would you want your classmates to know about you that is not on your resume? (100 words)

  2. Inclusive Impact: Please describe a tangible example that illuminates your experience promoting an inclusive environment and what you would bring to creating a welcoming, global community at Darden. (300 words)

  3. Careers With Purpose: At this time how would you describe your short-term, post-MBA goal in terms of industry, function, geography, company size and/or mission and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career? (200 words)

2023/24 essay analysis

The key to Darden’s essays is to provide direct, focused answers that touch on a single theme, rather than trying to spread your story too thin. This is especially true for Essay 1; 100 words will go by fast! Given the tight word limits, avoid details that might already be well-known to a reader. For instance, if working on a banking deal with a tight timeline, you won’t need to dwell on the fact you were working long hours. It will be taken as a given by the reader.

In educating your Learning Team, consider what makes you truly unique. It is an opportunity to share personal passions, such as musical or other artistic talents, or break down misconceptions that people may have about you. This is likely your best opportunity to surprise the Admissions Committee when learning about you.

For essay 2, gender, sexual orientation/identity, race, and nationality are obviously critical dimensions of DEI initiatives. However, we have also had clients tell powerful stories involving age, disabilities, and mental health. If you have an example involving including someone who had traditionally been excluded for reasons beyond their control, consider using that example.

As for essay 3, discussion of your short-term goals will likely overlap with what you write for other schools. Given the tight word limit, we suggest being concise regarding your goals. Instead of differentiating yourself on what your goals are (difficult to do when discussing your first 1-5 years after business school, unless you are starting a business), explain why your short-term goals are what they are. Explaining your motivation will help create separation based on what other applicants write.

2023/24 deadlines

Early action: Application deadline: Sep 7, 2023; decisions announced Oct. 18, 2023

Round 1: Application deadline: Oct 4, 2023; decisions announced Dec 6, 2023

Round 2: Application deadline: Jan 4, 2024; decisions announced Mar. 13, 2024

Round 3: Application deadline: Apr 3, 2024; decisions announced May 1, 2024

Other application details

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School resources

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