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University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

This is How You Should Be Writing Darden’s MBA Essays

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is known for its intensive MBA program—one that hones decision-making skills and develops leaders. Ranked number 14 in P&Q’s ‘Top Business Schools’ ranking, Darden seeks out the best and brightest students.

Trisha Nussbaum, an MBA admissions coach at Fortuna Admissions, recently delved into Darden’s three short essay prompts and offered advice on how applicants should approach each.


The first Darden essay prompt asks applicants the following:

Given that you will be forming lifelong connections with your classmates that extend beyond the classroom, what is important for your classmates to know about you that is not on your resume? (200 words)

This essay is all about getting to know your personality and interests beyond a surface level. Nussbaum suggests approaching this essay by digging deep and getting personal.

“Instead of making generalized statements such as ‘I love to swim,’ talk specifically about experiences you’ve had with swimming and the impact it has had on your life, relationships, career, etc.,” Nussbaum says. “With only 200 words, choose to focus on one or two passions, motivators, or interests that mean the most to you. Then, describe why it is important to you and how you will share it with your peers in a way that will allow you to facilitate meaningful connections.”


The second Darden essay prompt asks applicants the following:

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

This prompt is designed to gauge your understanding of Darden’s values and how you fit in with the community at Darden. Nussbaum says it’s important to note that this essay is a behavioral style question.

“Start by getting introspective about the spirit of the question and consider the kinds of examples that demonstrate share values and awareness in your leadership,” Nussbaum says.

It’s also important to note that of the three essays, this one is the longest and requires a bit of structure to compose.

“Spend the introduction of the essay providing a brief example of a time when you promoted an inclusive environment,” Nussbaum says. “This example should demonstrate your motivation and your capacity to drive change through leadership.”


The third Darden essay prompt asks applicants the following:

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)

Similar to essay two, you’ll want to approach this last essay with a thought-out structure. Nussbaum recommends starting off the third essay by illustrating your short-term goals with as much detail as possible.

“Short-term goals involve your near-immediate plans – either for an internship and/or two to three years post b-school,” Nussbaum says. “During this period, you should be acquiring specific expertise or skills that’s essential for you to reach your long-term vision. Given the slim wordcount and the simple fact that Darden doesn’t ask for your past experience, spend less time, if any, discussing related details or skills that can be found on your resume to explain your short-term goal.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, P&Q, P&Q

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