Duke Essays 2011

 

Fuqua is often a favorite! And much more competitive than some applicants seem to believe. If you’ve got your app in for Round 2 then we wish you good luck!!

 

2017 Duke Fuqua Full-Time MBA Essay Questions – Class of 2020

They’ve kept the questions the same again – which is kinda good, since they’re decent questions, but it’s kinda disappointing, given how all the other schools are working so hard to innovate. Our 2017 Duke Essay Guide explains strategies on how to answer them. It could be said that Duke was an early adopter of the more innovative form of bschool essay, with their 25 Random Things list, and we do concede that that’s a great question which applicants tend to have fun with, and which can reveal a lot about a person. But…. keeping the status quo is kinda communicating that Duke is fine with how things are going, and it just seems like they’re a little bit stalled out and stagnant right now. Granted, they hit #3 on the BusinessWeek rankings in 2016, so who is the ‘Snark to say?

Anyway, here are those questions that you’ll be tackling:

Duke 2017 MBA Essay Questions

Three short-answer questions of up to 500 characters each (please note we said CHARACTERS and not WORDS – yes these need to be SHORT):

  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?

Duke is pretty much the only school that invites you to present a “Plan B” for your career goals. For most other applications you’ll want to focus on just one set of goals.

Two essays; we recommend not going more than perhaps 750 words at the most for each. Please please please don’t go down to 10-point font even though they say that you can.

See the full set of requirements around essay length and formatting and the questions in their entirety as posted on the Duke application website .

  1. [A very involved preamble, then:] [T]he 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.
  2. [Another preamble about Fuqua, then:] Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

That second question is quite similar to what Wharton is asking, and it’s also got a lot of parallels with Columbia essay 2 as well as with the MIT pre-interview “mission” essay. Duke was the first to start with this type of question, so you can see how they’ve put an emphasis on culture for a long time.
 


Our Duke 2017 MBA Application Guide is ready to help you — it covers everything that this school likes to see in an application!


 

Duke Daytime MBA Deadlines – Class of 2020

Remember, regardless of which round you intend to apply in you can get on campus from September 11 to October 5 to take advantage of their Open Interview period — which is highly recommended!!

Duke Full-time MBA Application Deadlines

  • (ouch that hurts – this one is IMMEDIATELY after the holiday – the only one worse is Ross)

As with other schools, we don’t suggest apply in Round 3 at Duke – and in fact, if you’re an international applicant, they won’t let you due to visa issues.

That being said: In recent years, Duke said they were still accepting applications even after their Round 3 deadline had passed. Which is weird, and, we feel, not entirely fair. It’s pretty darned difficult to get in then. Were they really trying to say that they didn’t have enough good candidates for their class at that late date? When every other school out there was turning away well-qualified applicants right and left all season? Hmmm. EssaySnark is not a fan of this.

 

Check out the Duke Essay Guide for 2017 to learn more on rounds, interviewing, and multi-school strategies including Duke Fuqua!

Interviewing at Duke

Duke has two phases of interviews: the Open Interview Period when anybody can come to campus and interview at will; and the By-Invitation Interview Period. EssaySnark strongly recommends that everyone go through the Open Interview; it’s a huge opportunity and if you’re serious about Fuqua you won’t miss out on it! This year’s Open Interview Period is September 7 to October 5, 2017; see details at Duke’s Interview Process page . You do not need to apply in the Early Action round in order to take advantage of the Open Interview; applicants planning on submitting at any time may do so. You really should consider it.
 

Duke Fuqua General Info

school pages

  • Duke Student Blog – this used to be an dedicated admissions blog but now it’s just a topic of posts on the student blog. It still has some useful info for BSers so we’ll leave the link.

Hmmm… Not much there huh? Duke just isn’t the most social media savvy school we’ve ever encountered.
 

EssaySnark content

We’ve reviewed a number of Duke essays on the blahg:

The Duke adcom looks for the same strong career goals and personal angles as Ross and other schools, so check these reviews out for some additional guidance:

In terms of the Fuqua Principles, you might want to peruse some posts we’ve written about Berkeley: Haas and culture and A BSer is sick of the “culture” shtick.

 


 

For Reference: Duke’s Past-Season MBA Essays & Analysis

We don’t have every year listed out separately here since Duke has kept nearly the same essays and requirements for many years running.
Click to view 2016 info


2016 Duke Information

Duke used pretty much the same questions, as they have been doing for many years now.

In 2016, they cleaned up the “culture/contribution” prompt which made it easier to tackle for Class of 2019 applicants compared to what previous crops of BSers had to deal with.

We’ve done lots of posts on the Duke essays over the years, so that’s an advantage, too!

2016 Early Action and Open Interviews

The most important thing to know about Duke right now? That they offer OPEN INTERVIEWS on campus in late summer, for a rather short window of time. It’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that everyone – regardless of which application round you’re aiming for – makes plans for a trip out to Durham for this opportunity. We discuss the reasons why in our Duke app guide.

Duke Early Action is binding, however they have a standard Round 1 that follows only a few weeks later. If you’re not fully convinced that Fuqua is the place for you, then stick with Round 1 – but if you are ready to commit, then Early Action can be a real advantage.
[end discussion of early-season 2016 info]


Click to view 2015 questions

2015 Duke Information

Last year’s questions (these are old)

Excellent!!! Duke has kept its same questions for 2015 except that they’re giving you more space in the important Career Goals short-answer questions. YAY DUKE!! Our Fuqua strategy guidecovers everything you need to know on tackling these questions and the essays.


Three short-answer questions – — NOW 500 CHARACTERS EACH! THAT’S HUGE! You’ll be able to actually pitch a complete career path now.

  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?

Two essays, up to two double-spaced pages each:

You really need to read the full questions as posted on their website .

  1. [T]he 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.
  2. Choose one:
    • 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.
    • [A very involved question asking you to understand the 6 Fuqua Values and then:] 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.

Very minor changes to the wording of that option #2 question: They deleted the phrase “should reflect the research you have done.” Hmmm. Interesting, Duke!

For the career goals, Duke is pretty much the only school that invites you to present a “Plan B.” For most other applications you’ll want to stick with just ONE set of goals. It’s tough enough to convey those in the limited space the schools allow!! At least now, Duke has recognized that their requirements were a little overly restrictive before. You have a fighting chance this year, Brave Supplicant! You’re applying at like the best time ever. 😉

Also, that second question sure does have traces of Berkeley-Haas lingering around it! Unsurprising. Both of these schools have a distinct focus on culture, and both want you to understand what that culture is about before applying. The risk with the second option for essay 2? You could come across a little stilted if you try too hard. Check out the Duke Essay Guide to learn more.

Duke 2015 Deadlines

  • Early Action (binding): (two days earlier than 2014)
  • Round 1: (almost a week earlier than last year)
  • Round 2: (same day as last season)
  • Even though Round 3 is closed, they’re accepting apps on a rolling basis until April 25 (with decision coming on May 6 – are they saying that they would really be able to admit you in that little time?!?? we don’t suggest trying now)
As of Fall 2014 when Duke hit the top of the charts (i.e., BW put them at #1), interest in this school has been increasing. Like, a lot. Class of 2017 Round 2 at Fuqua was WAY more competitive than it had ever been, and they used the waitlist a lot.

[end discussion of Fuqua’s last year questions]


Click to view 2014 questions

2014 Duke Information

Duke won our informal Best MBA Questions contest for two years in a row (2012 and 2013) – their essay questions are awesome! We’ve therefore been thrilled that they’ve kept them exactly as they are for so long – including this year! They keep resisting the urge to make changes just because all the other schools are changing. Bravo, Fuqua! 😀

[end discussion of Duke’s 2014 application]


We’ve got the 2016 SnarkStrategies Guide for Duke available to help you craft a strong strategy for this great school!

 

[Index of essay questions by business school]


Duke / Fuqua 2015-2016 Essay Topic Analysis

Following up on the release of the 2015-2016 Fuqua MBA essays, we wanted to offer some guidance to business school applicants targeting the Duke Class of 2018.

Duke’s essay section of the MBA application is largely unchanged from last admissions season. The Fuqua adcom has doubled the length limit for the school’s three short answer questions about the applicant’s professional plans. Meanwhile, the structure of the program’s longer essays remains the same: all applicants must respond to the first required response, and may choose between two options for the second required essay.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the Fuqua MBA essays for 2015-2016:

Short Answer Questions (500 characters; about 100 words each)
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?

These three questions are quite straightforward, calling for applicants to concisely state their short-term goals, long-term goals, and a professional back-up plan. Although asking about career alternatives is a bit unusual as far as b-school applications go, Question 3 is still fairly direct; applicants simply need to identify a second post-MBA position that would also lead them toward their stated long-term goals.

Of note, the Fuqua adcom has doubled the character limit for each of these responses, giving applicants a bit more breathing room as they provide this information and explain their professional plans to the admissions reader. This suggests that last year’s 50-word responses didn’t yield as much information as the adcom might have liked as they made admissions decisions, so it will be wise to take advantage of the extra room and provide as much detail about your plans and motivations as the length limit permits.

Essay 1: 25 Random Things
Required Essay 1: 25 Random Things
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 nontraditional MBA application essay has been a staple of the Duke application for several years running. This suggests that the format is working, i.e. that the adcom has been pleased with the information this exercise provides about candidates’ backgrounds and fit with Team Fuqua. This open-ended prompt allows applicants to showcase interesting and meaningful facts about themselves that they otherwise might not get a chance to share with the adcom. It also amounts to a test of the applicant’s creativity and judgment in arriving at a well-rounded set of admissions-appropriate tidbits.

So, in the spirit of the prompt, here’s our list of ten not-so-random things to think about when developing your response to this prompt:

  1. Keep it positive! Share happy memories, silly details, interesting talents, or (very short) stories of resilience and accomplishment. Steer clear of failure or disappointment (unless you can be light-hearted or self-effacing about it).
  2. Aim to cover all domains of your life, including your interests outside of work and even important personal details and relationships. Writing about the reason you admired your grandmother growing up or what you learned during a long-distance phase in your relationship will help the adcom get to know you on a level beyond your resume.
  3. Short list items are okay!
  4. In fact, the most effective responses to this question will intersperse very brief items (of just a few words) with longer ones that might include several sentences, creating an almost poetic effect.
  5. First-date and job-interview rules apply here — think twice before discussing religion or politics. If these areas are important enough to you to warrant mentioning, limit your comments to personal meaning and community aspects (i.e. don’t try to educate or persuade the reader).
  6. Take a lifespan view. Sharing a few details from your childhood can give the admissions reader insight they won’t find anywhere else in your file. Meanwhile, covering present-day favorites (e.g. food, film, travel destination, place to visit in your city or town) can show the reader who you are today.
  7. Brief anecdotes — for example, about learning something the hard way while traveling internationally or working hard to improve at a new hobby — can showcase both your interests as well as your process when faced with a challenge.
  8. We recommend a maximum of 5 work-related list items (and suggest that you aim for even fewer). As the preamble hints, the adcom can read about your professional background elsewhere in your application.
  9. Aim for balance in content throughout your list; rather than listing items chronologically or by domain (i.e. professional, personal, extracurricular), change things up throughout and keep your reader on her toes to make this truly “random.”
  10. Show your draft to a close friend or relative to get feedback on how well you’re capturing your personality (and on whether you’re overlooking anything).

Required Essay 2
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.

Essay Option 2.1: 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.
Asking applicants about their interest in the school to which they are applying is standard practice among MBA programs, though Fuqua takes a more personal approach to the question. The adcom is looking for applicants to convey a sincere sense of excitement about Fuqua’s MBA program. As the admissions committee has written about this essay in the past: “When you tell your best friend why you are applying to a specific school, you do so with genuine passion and enthusiasm. We want to hear that honest emotion, along with the reasoning that you give your best friend/mom/significant other/mentor about why you are applying not just to MBA programs, but to Fuqua.”

Keeping that in mind, one way for applicants to approach this essay might be to actually speak to family, friends, and colleagues about their interest in Fuqua, and note which aspects of the school end up being discussed the most frequently in conversation. This could serve as a strong basis for this essay, which should cover the ways a Duke MBA would prepare you for your stated goals (including specific curricular offerings and student clubs), as well as the potential you see to have a positive impact on the Fuqua community and your classmates’ learning experience. Is there an elective course that you can’t wait to take because it fits perfectly with your goals? An experiential learning opportunity you’re eager to take part in? A student club that runs an annual event to which you’d love to bring new ideas? Make sure to let your sincere enthusiasm come across by channeling those conversations with important people in your life. And, given the more personal bent of this prompt, it’s acceptable to (briefly) mention more personal considerations that make Fuqua appealing to you, such as job opportunities for a spouse in the research triangle, your love of college basketball, or the prospect of being closer to friends and family on the east coast.

Ultimately, the adcom is looking for students who feel a personal connection with the Fuqua community and who are also excited about the academic program. This might mean zeroing in on a particular special program or student organization that makes you feel energized about the prospect of attending. And of course, demonstrating an understanding of the unique merits of Fuqua’s program is going to be crucial to an effective response to this question. Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus or an off-site information session, conversations with students and alumni, or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to Fuqua – will pay dividends here.

Essay Option 2.2: 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 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.

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.
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.
Collective Diversity: We embrace all of our classmates because our individuality is better and stronger together.
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.
Loyal Community: We are a family who looks out for each other. Team Fuqua supports you when you need it the most.
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.
Appearing on the Fuqua application for second consecutive year, this essay asks applicants to discuss the ways their behavior in the classroom and contribution to the Fuqua community would embody one of six student-identified values — to an award-winning extent. Choosing which of these principles to discuss will be the first strategic decision that candidates will have to make with this essay. With their emphasis on community engagement and support, it’s hard to go wrong; rather, applicants should consider which will enable them to make the strongest case about the potential contribution to the Duke MBA community. Applicants may want to begin by thinking about the principle with which they find the greatest resonance, and should also consider which are already evident in their activities and accomplishments to date. In fact, after clearly identifying their choice in the first sentence of their response, applicants would likely do well to demonstrate an existing commitment to the chosen principle. This would likely mean a brief (100-150 word) description of 1-2 examples that illustrate their skills and potential to make a positive impact in line with the Fuqua principle in question.

Of course, the majority of this response should center on the applicant’s planned activities and contribution as a Daytime MBA student. Given that the adcom explicitly states that this response should reflect the research one has done into Fuqua’s program, applicants will be expected to be fairly concrete in their comments about how they’ll embody the topic principle, to the point of discussing their behavior in the classroom and identifying specific student organizations in which they might take a leadership role.

Going back to the element of the prompt that anticipates that the candidate will win an award in this area, applicants might even aim to describe the magnitude or scope of the impact they hope to make during their two years on campus. Candidates should note that speaking convincingly about their ability to make a positive difference will likely require some informed sense of the areas of opportunity and need on campus. Conversations with students and alumni (as well as other resources) will be very important in producing the most effective essay possible.

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).
This is a fairly narrow prompt, and applicants should only use this optional essay to address liabilities in their candidacies. While the adcom allows responses of up to two pages, applicants should keep their responses as brief and direct as possible.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Fuqua MBA essay topics. As you work on your Fuqua MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Duke offerings:

Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis

Schools: Duke / Fuqua

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