The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is adding an ‘early action’ round with an open interview schedule for this year’s 2018-2019 MBA application season. The new option, which is non-binding, is for candidates who believe that Darden’s MBA program is their top choice and are ready to move forward with their application at the earliest point possible.
The early action deadline is Sept. 7th, with admissions decisions due on Oct. 17th–just a few days after the school’s regular round one deadline of Oct. 4. Applying in the early round allows candidates to schedule their interview without waiting to be invited. Darden will host open interviews for early action candidates between mid-July through end of September. The online application for 2018-2019 went live today.
The new early round is just one of several admissions innovations launched by Dawna Clarke, the long-time admissions chief at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, who became executive director of admissions and financial aid at Darden last year. The school is also significantly increasing scholarship support for MBA students and hosting a fuller array of info sessions and on-campus visits for prospective students.
“I’m a huge fan of the inclusive nature of open interviews,” Clarke told Poets&Quants. “Applicants who apply during our Early Action Round can choose to participate in an open interview. Open interviews will enable more of our applicants to participate in an on-grounds visit to experience why Darden is so well known for the quality of teaching and its tight-knit community. It also enable applicants see our phenomenal facility as well as Charlottesville.”
Darden’s 2018-2019 MBA Application Deadlines
|Berkeley Haas Rounds||Application Deadline||Interviews||Decisions|
|Early Action||September 7, 2018||Mid-July to Late Sept. Open||October 17, 2018|
|Round One||October 4, 2018||NA||December 12, 2018|
|Round Two||January 10, 2019||NA||March 20, 2019|
|Round Three||April 3, 2019||NA||May 8, 2019|
Darden’s round one deadline of Oct. 4 will allow candidates to get a decision on Dec. 12. The round two deadline is Jan. 10, with decisions due on March 20. And the third and final round cutoff is April 3, with decisions posted on May 8th. For the trio of regular round applicants, interviews are only available by invitation. The school does not post specific dates for sending invites but notes that candidates could get an invitation up until the decision date.
Applicants who live in the U.S. are required to interview on the Darden Grounds. If you live outside of the U.S., the school offers interviews via Skype. Candidates may have the option to interview during several West Coast Interview Days. In addition to the applicants also are expected to participate in a case discussion with a member of Darden’s top-ranked faculty.
This year, Darden also changed its essay approach, ditching one longer essay for five shorter questions. “I believe that prospective students really appreciate the opportunity to talk about multiple dimensions of their background,” says Clarke. “So we chose to go with multiple, short essay questions including a greater emphasis on leadership and impact.”
“Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or both.”
“Each year, Darden connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to go with Darden? And why?”
“Darden strives to identify and cultivate leaders who follow their purpose. At this stage, how would you describe your evolving leadership style and please provide an example.”
“Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact.”
“What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why?”
Darden said that fundraising for scholarships at Darden has increased 700% over the past two years. Innovations to the s school’s scholarship offerings include:
- The Batten Scholars Program: Sponsored by Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, this competitive program supports full- and partial-tuition scholarships for top students with interest and experience in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.
- New Batten Foundation Darden Worldwide Scholarships: Beginning in the 2018–19 academic year, the scholarship program will fund the course fees for all full-time students who participate in a Darden Worldwide Course.
- Madison and Monroe Scholarships: These prestigious scholarships will be awarded each year to top candidates.
- Darden Jefferson Fellowships Competition: Top candidates from around the globe will now have the opportunity to compete for a nomination for the prestigious Darden Jefferson Fellowship, directed by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. International candidates interested in the fellowship must apply in Darden’s Early Action round. Applications will be reviewed by the Darden Admissions Committee and considered for nomination to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. U.S.-based candidates interested in the fellowship should apply Early Action or in Round 1.
- New Darden Showcase Events: Darden will offer several new showcases built to highlight its vibrant and engaging learning environment on Grounds. Prospective students are welcome to attend any of the events, and more will be added through the summer. See the full schedule.
- New Admissions Events: Darden will host a series of admissions events in major cities on six continents and participate in the Poets&Quants’ CentreCourt MBA Festival in multiple cities. See the full schedule.
DARDEN RECEIVED 2,736 APPLICANTS FOR 326 CLASSROOM SEATS LAST YEAR
Last year’s entering class at Darden lived up to the school’s usual high standards. Darden received 2,736 applications during the 2016-2017 cycle, up 10.8% from the previous year. In the process, Darden continued its yo-yo class size trend. Last year’s incoming class totalled 326 students, down from the 345 students who arrived in Charlottesville in 2016…but still larger than the 316 students who enrolled in the program four years ago. Overall, Darden accepted 24.5% of applicants, putting it in the same company as Chicago Booth, the London Business School, and Michigan Ross.
Academically, the class’ performance mimicked its predecessors, with a 713 GMAT that’s a point higher than the 2018 Class (but a seven point improvement over the last graduating class). The mid-80% range of GMATs went from 650 to 760, with domestic students coming with an average score of 712 and international students at 715. For the fourth straight year, undergraduate GPAs remained at 3.5, with the lowest reported average being 2.1 and the highest coming in at a perfect 4.0.
ADVICE FROM RECENT DARDEN GRADUATES
“Darden, students work extremely hard for their classes and the case method forces us out of our comfort zone on a daily basis. I’d encourage those who want to get into Darden to emphasize the skills and qualities needed to survive the rigors of the program in their application and interviews. Selflessness, team working skills, resilience and a desire to pursue a professional transformation are key themes that Darden looks for in each candidate and applicants should really focus on demonstrating those in their application.” — Ilja Orre, Class of 2018 MBA graduate from Darden now working as a consultant for Bain & Co. in its Helsinki office
“Darden is an academically rigorous program – in order to thrive here, you need to be thirsty for challenges and being uncomfortable. Come ready to work, individually and in teams. After interviewing at Google’s Mountain View Headquarters with Darden alumni and interacting a second time with Admissions Director Sarah Neher, I had a gut-feeling. I knew that Charlottesville could become a second home for me; indeed, Darden is a place where students are encouraged to drive change and where faculty are some of my best friends and most trusted advisors.” — Catherine Aranda, Class of 2018 MBA graduate from Darden
“Showcase your best self. That requires being authentic and true to your interests, but it also means reflecting on what makes you unique and different from other applicants, and highlighting those aspects. Take the time to craft your story, clearly outline your goals, and showcase your passions. In putting in work up front, talking about yourself in interviews will become second nature and you’ll feel more relaxed going through the whole process.” — Devin Underhill, Class of 2018 MBA graduate from Darden now working as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group