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Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips

Duke Fuqua’s website tells applicants to “Be a leader who demonstrates competence, character, and purpose—a thinker and a doer who can maneuver the complexities of interdependent issues.” With the right application strategy you can use this set of essays to demonstrate you are the kind of leader the admissions committee is looking for.

Don’t forget the personal – in this essay set you have the opportunity to add 25 new facts to round out your profile. As always, it is important to demonstrate that you know Duke Fuqua well and are a strong fit with the program. Starting your research and personal networking now will put you in a solid position to prepare the most specific and effective essays.

REQUIRED SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS

Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each short answer question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
2. What are your long-term goals?
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?

This career goals essay asks for your plan in three parts. First, you should describe what you plan to do immediately after your MBA. Then you’ll explain the long-term vision for your career. Finally, Duke admits that many career paths are forged through circumstance, and asks you for your Plan B.

Think big picture and focus on the overall story trajectory. What would be the most logical (and interesting) progression from your current skill set and MBA education? How will your next step flow from the combination of those experiences? And your alternative path ideally isn’t a massive departure, but simply shows the areas you could see yourself exploring if your primary plan doesn’t materialize.

For example, perhaps you are focused on becoming a marketing executive at a CPG company. If you don’t find the suitable position after Duke, maybe you would consider marketing for a retailer as your alternate career path because marketing is still the core function you are interested in. Alternatively, you may have two disparate interests and want to consider both of them. Perhaps your Plan A is to join a consulting firm after graduation, but if you don’t receive a spot among your top choices you would think about being in management for a start up as another possible path. Think about your range of interests and go from there.

Because you have limited space, you’ll have to boil your plans down in a clear statement of what you plan to do, but ideally any plans are supported by the information provided in your resume, recommendations, and other essays.

FIRST REQUIRED ESSAY: 25 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF

Instructions: Answer the following question — 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 2 pages.

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.

This essay is entirely open ended and you can cover topics spanning your personal background, work experiences, values or extracurriculars. If you have a particularly interesting story in any of those areas, this is the place to tell that story. Whatever areas you choose to highlight, make sure you are following the admissions committee’s advice to share what makes you a dynamic, multi-dimensional person.

Coming up with 25 random things to list in this essay may seem daunting at first. To jumpstart your creative process you may want to brainstorm with friends and family about what is most interesting and memorable about you. Or keep a notebook with you to record thoughts as you go about work and personal activities.

When you have decided what the 25 random things about you are you’ll likely be wondering how to set up the list. There’s a few possible ways to structure the list: chronologically, chunking the list into themes, or even alphabetically. Structuring the list to make it easy to read and follow will be appreciated, but resist the urge to package the list too perfectly. Remember that the primary purpose of this essay/list is to show Duke your multi-faceted life and interests.

SECOND REQUIRED ESSAY (CHOOSE 1 OF 2)

Instructions: Choose only 1 of the following 2 essay questions to answer. Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length, and should reflect your knowledge of the Fuqua program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.

Both of these essay question options are entirely focused on why the Duke MBA program is the right place for you specifically. This may be another opportunity to demonstrate your multi-dimensional personality as you explain which classes, clubs, and community activities most resonate with you.

Option 1: Why Duke: When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

The best essays will be both specific and personal. While everyone benefits from a diverse alumni network, what specifically do you want to give and receive from your classmates? If you describe clubs and classes you are attracted to, also offer specific examples from your past experiences to show your consistent personal or professional passions.

While the focus of the essay is the Duke MBA program, you are also being asked why these aspects are most meaningful. Your fit with the program is crucial, and therefore you must exhibit the qualities Duke is seeking as well. The Duke MBA program is especially interested in your role within the community, and will place significant weight on this factor. If you research thoroughly and are specific, you should be able to clearly demonstrate why you are going to be strong contributor and teammate.

This essay can also be a place to talk about how the Duke MBA fits into your career goals. What do you know now that will be enhanced through your MBA education? And what crucial aspects of the skill set required for your future career will be augmented by attending Duke?

Option 2: Team Fuqua Principles: The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality are a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.

1. Authentic Engagement: We care and we take action. We each make a difference to Team Fuqua by being ourselves and engaging in and supporting activities about which we are passionate.
2. Supportive Ambition: We support each other to achieve great things, because your success is my success. The success of each individual member of Team Fuqua makes the whole of Team Fuqua better.
3. Collective Diversity: We embrace all of our classmates because our individuality is better and stronger together.
4. Impactful Stewardship: We are leaders who focus on solutions to improve our communities both now and in the future. We aren’t satisfied with just maintaining the status quo.
5. Loyal Community: We are a family who looks out for each other. Team Fuqua supports you when you need it the most.
6. Uncompromising Integrity: We internalize and live the honor code in the classroom and beyond. We conduct ourselves with integrity within Fuqua, within Duke, and within all communities of which we are a part.

This option for the “Why Duke” essay requires as much introspection as the previous option, but more explicitly asks for research into the community and the aspects you identify with most. In some ways this a more structured question to answer and it may be a reasonable place to start whether you choose to answer this option or the previous option.

Choosing one of the six principles certainly doesn’t mean the other five are not relevant. While you will want to choose the one you think resonates most with your personality and values, it will enhance your application to touch upon the others that are particularly meaningful to you.

As in the prior option you can use this essay to also communicate a bit about your career goals at Duke, particularly if you focus on Supportive Ambition or Impactful Stewardship and factors of how the community will impact your future career and how you plan to give back to others or what kind of leader you will be. However, the main focus should be your community involvement and how you plan to improve the experience of others at Duke both in and outside the classroom.

Optional Essay

If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance).

Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your circumstances only.
Limit your response to two pages.

As with most optional essays, the Duke MBA asks that you use this space only to explain extenuating circumstances. If you have a low GPA, lack a recommendation from your current supervisor or gaps in work history this is the correct place to address those issues. If you do not have any of those areas to explain, it’s best to skip this question and focus only on the previous three essays.

When approaching any concerns about your background in the optional essay it’s important to focus on recent performance, whether academic or professional, and what such performance demonstrates about your ability. Your goal is to remove questions from your application and to address in a factual manner any information the admissions committee needs to know to fairly evaluate your application. The essay should convey, in a positive manner, that you know there could be questions about your background but you have thoroughly improved in any areas necessary.

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