Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips 2014-15

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips
2014-15 MBA Application Essays for Duke Fuqua School of Business have been published. There are three required short answer questions (50 words each), and two required essays: one is in a list format (2 pages), and the second essay is required to be completed in 2-pages or roughly 1000 words. There is also an optional essay to explain about any gaps in employment history or course performance, Academic Weaknesses or other information about recommenders or general weaknesses in the profile.

Required Short Answer Questions: Answer all three questions. For each short answer question, respond in 250 characters only (the equivalent of about 50 words).

Before answering any of the short answer questions, you should have a sense of what 50 words means. It is equivalent to 4 lines. Therefore, the answer to the short questions should follow the format that is seen in mission statements of the company. This requires concisely presenting your answers, and rewriting the answer several times to fit the word limit requirement.

Short Question 1) What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

Short-term post-MBA goals should address your goals that are immediate, after an MBA. It should address the job function, industry, role, and location, if you have any preference. Elaborate on the job responsibilities in the last two lines. First two lines should state your intended job function, industry, and the role.

Short Question 2) What are your long-term goals?

Long-term post-MBA goals should address your goals, 5 to 15 years after an MBA. Since an MBA has the most influence over your long-term goals, the accuracy of the goals is questionable but the admission committee (AdCom) would like to see how you articulate your goals, and set realistic milestones. If the long-term goals are outlandish, or takes a trajectory that is completely different from your short-term goals, then it shows that you have not done enough research about Fuqua MBA and what it can offer.

Best Practices to answer short-term and long-term goals in 50 Words

1) Research and find out more about Fuqua MBA program, and learn about the courses, activities, and networking opportunities. Based on the research, find out how you can set goals both short-term and long-term that can be fulfilled with Fuqua MBA.

2) Edit and remove any unnecessary words or phrases that diminish the clarity of your goals.

Short Question 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?

AdCom wants to learn how your short-term goals are interconnected with the Fuqua MBA program, and whether you are a detail-oriented person. It’s easy to declare ambitious plans. Most professionals fail when it comes to implementing the plan.  A clear sign of a doer over a talker is how they start the project. Some might start a project, and fizzle out as they face challenges but one category of applicants who never get things done are the one who only plan without taking any concrete steps in skill development or the immediate next step to reach the goal.

Show evidence that you have already started working on your short-term goals. If it is a career switch, taking certification is evidence. For such pro-active students, Fuqua MBA is one of the integral tools to reach the goals but if they don’t get through, they still have a plan to reach the goal, even if that means taking a much longer route. The motivation to reach the goal becomes clear with the alternative plan. You will not develop drive by joining an MBA program. It should be evident much before the program. Otherwise, you are likely to be confused or burned out by the numerous career choices.

Required Essays: Answer both essay questions

Required Essays 1

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.

Essay Guideline: Please 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.

Tips on Answering 25 Random Things

1) The AdCom has clearly defined the expected area of focus in this essay question: experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements and fun facts. They have clearly mentioned that this question should be more about your background, personal achievements, experiences, and interest more than professional achievements.

2) Focus on Extracurricular activities: If you have an interest in sports, debates, entrepreneurship, music, or other interesting hobbies, mention that in this essay. Focus on achievements, or interesting experiences.

3) Mention habits that have helped you over the years

4) Give an insight into your personal relationships and unique personal attributes

5) There are no word limits as such for this essay but the essay should be completed in 2 pages, therefore, use more words for experiences, and 1 to 2 lines for your achievements.

To give you an idea about actual samples, here is an excerpt of what Dipesh Shah has written for 25 Random Things

1) I was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta—specifically Stone Mountain, GA. Stone Mountain is one of the largest pieces of exposed granite in the United States and also the fictional home of Kenneth from the sitcom 30 Rock.

2) I am a US citizen by nationality, an Indian-American by ethnicity, and a true Southerner by geography.

3) I worked for 5.5 years at Deloitte Consulting doing Human Capital consulting. If you have seen the movie Office Space, imagine the “Bobs” and you may get a picture of some of my work.

4) I have been dating my girlfriend for nearly 8 years.

5) My favorite television show in the entire world was Lost. I was so addicted to the show that my friends had a Lost viewing party with T-shirts for the finale.

6) I am obsessed with planning and being on time. I wouldn’t say I am OCD but I think 5 minutes early is late.

7) I never snooze. When the alarm goes off, I get up.

Read Dipesh Shah’s Complete 25 Random Things list at Fuqua Blog

Required Essay 2 (choose 1 of 2)

Option 1

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.

Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

Tips on Why Fuqua MBA

1) AdCom wants to know the real reason for applying to Fuqua MBA. That is why the question is framed as When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues. You have to convince that the Fuqua MBA program is necessary for achieving your goals.

2) Research about Fuqua MBA Program and find the feature that resonates with your goals. To help you understand the program, here is a summary of the program:

Summary – Fuqua MBA Program (For Details download our Research Guide)

Fuqua develops leaders who are also morally competent

Duke Fuqua strongly believes in Community Involvement, and guides the students to participate in the local community through various community service projects including Habitat for Humanity of Durham

Duke Fuqua MBA programs attract diverse candidates: Female: 33%, International Students: 36%, Minority Students: 10%

Other prominent Student Led Clubs and Initiatives:MEM/MBA Club(Inter-department initiative), MBA Games(Instrumental in organizing special Olympics of North Carolina), Net Impact Club(Solve Current Issues) and Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum(on-site consultation worldwide)

Fuqua attracts leaders who have: Accountability, Authenticity, Character, Collaborative, Commitment, Communication, Community, Courage, Creativity, Credibility, Empathy, Entrepreneurial, Excellence, Expertise, Global Mindset, Honesty, Honor, Humility, Impact, Initiative, Innovation, Integrity, Leading, Legacy, Listening, Loyalty, Mindfulness, Motivation, Open Mindedness, Passion, Perspective, Purpose, Reflection, Resilience, Responsibility, Service, Strategist, Team, Transparency and Trust.

Fuqua Professional Clubs include

• Asset Management Club
• Consulting Club
• Design + Innovation in Business
• Duke MBA Energy Club
• Duke MBA Finance Club
• Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club
• General Management Club
• Healthcare Club
• High Tech Club
• Hospitality, Travel and Leisure Club
• JD/MBA Club
• Luxury Brand and Retail Club
• Marketing Club
• MD/MBA Association
• Media, Entertainment and Sports Club
• MEM/MBA Club
• Net Impact Club
• Private Equity Club
• Real Estate Club

Option 2

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 the research you have done, 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.

Before we go into the 6 Team Fuqua Principles, it’s important that we have a strategy. You have to pick one principle, so pick one that resonates with you the most, and for which you have an anecdote either in your personal or professional experience.

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.

The word here is “passionate”. We become our authentic self when the cause or conversation is about something that we strongly believe, or for a situation that need change. Did you face an experience where you were your authentic self, and took actions that led to a lasting change?

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.

The word to note here is “team”. If you were a team player and supported not only your team but also the management with your initiative and leadership, use this principle as your core principle. If you do not have any tangible results either in revenue or in new clients, it would be tough to articulate how you supported the ambitions of your organization, and drove them to greater heights.

3) Collective Diversity:  We embrace all of our classmates because our individuality is better and stronger together.

Diversity is not limited to nationality, gender, or social class. It also includes embracing team members with different skill levels, temperament, perspective, and motivations. Explain how you were able to bring the best out from a diverse team. Schools realize that no matter how closely they monitor the admission process, they cannot bring together a team of like-minded people. Diversity brings conflict, and a broader perspective, two elements that you face in actual work-life.

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.

Resources are limited in a globalized world, and applicants who feel strongly about the conservation and efficient distribution of resources, look at tweaking the system, which has become synonymous with the status quo. Only candidates with an Entrepreneurial mindset are searching for a better “mousetraps”. If you had experience in changing systems and policies through your non-profit initiatives, use this as your core principle.

5) Loyal Community: We are a family who looks out for each other. Team Fuqua supports you when you need it the most.

A sense of community comes from candidates who have a balanced outlook about their career goals, and the goals that they have for the society. The balance can only come from someone who is empathetic; someone who feels a strong responsibility towards the community; someone who can listen closely, beyond the words.

Do you keep in touch with your Alma matter? How did you demonstrate your loyalty? These are evidence that you would continue to be an impactful Alumnus.

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.

Business Schools do not lack applications from qualified professionals but integrity is a trait that cannot be taught during an MBA. It is an acquired behavior. For schools, it’s important that they pick the right class, and uncompromising integrity is one trait that they actively look in a candidate. Most elimination happens when the candidate exaggerates, fake numbers, or narrates unethical behavior as competitiveness. Cite one example where you had to take a tough ethical decision. Why did you stick with your decision? The reason is more important than the circumstances.

Like our tips? Download F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay Guide

Optional Essay

If you feel there are extenuating 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, or any significant weakness in your application) – Two Pages

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