Darden has a slurry of essays and short-answer questions for you to deal with this year! And, a new Early Action round, which mimics the process at Duke.
To be updated for the 2018 requirements soon — but believe it or not, almost all of this year’s questions have been asked before, and are already covered in the existing version from last season. Pick it up now to learn more, and you’ll get free access to the 2018 edition as soon as it’s published!
2018 Darden MBA Essay Question – Class of 2021
We commend the increase in transparency here — the Darden admissions website makes it seem like they’re doing things differently by asking you all these separate questions this year, but actually they’ve done it this way for a long time! They just buried most of these within the application itself. For the 2018 app, they’ve made all of them more visible and they’re now inviting you to craft your application strategy more directly around this suite of questions (which is what EssaySnark has long advised our clients to do! Even the 2017 version of our SnarkStrategies Guide for Darden covers many of these questions, since most are not technically new this year).
How do you answer them?
Darden short-answer questions
- Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or both. (100 words)
We’d kinda lean towards something personal on this question, provided it’s relevant to what you think your peers would like to hear about you in your first introduction to them.
- 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? (50 words)
Eeek! 50 words is short!!! This one needs to be concise. The most important part is the WHY — don’t be tempted to name somewhere exotic just to sound interesting. Have a credible reason to back up the answer!
Darden slightly longer questions / mini-essays
- 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. (200 words)
This one is likely to be the most difficult of all of these to answer, both because it’s so hard to identify one’s “leadership style” but also and especially when you’re given only 200 words!! It’s kind of mean to limit it so severely. What we suggest? Instead of a drawn-out explanation to define your leadership style, identify two to three adjectives that capture it. The best way to do that? Figure out your strongest example of leadership. Built that out into a full story (should take about 150 words to do a tight, concise representation of the action). Then, examine that story and name three characteristics that it reveals about how you were successful and what leadership attributes it’s demonstrating. Easy? Nope. This one will cause you grief. 🙁
- Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)
By contrast, you should do just fine with 200 words on this one — it’s very possible to construct a powerful story that shows how you brought results in a significant way in that much space! This question seems to be open to you as an independent contributor adding value, but it’s not limited only to that. Obviously you need a different example here than you’ve used for the “leadership style” question.
- What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? (150 words)
A classic career goal question, nearly identical to what some other schools like Ross ask this year. This one should be straightforward! Pro Tip: The “why” part is the most important piece.
If you decide to get some assistance on your Darden application, then we’re able to support you with all five of these questions through our Standard Essay Decimator MBA essay critique service. Normally that service only allows for four essays total, however you’ll be able to combine your answer to Question 1 — 100 words on your learning team — and Question 2 — 50 words on where you want to go with Darden — into one file and submit that along with each of the other three answers in their own separate files (so, four files submitted together, with the first file containing two answers). Hope that flexibility helps you out! Click here for our Help FAQ topic on specific schools and how they’re supported through our Essay Decimator in 2018.
The Darden GMAT score for the Class of 2019 was 713 which was an all-time high for them; they were only around a 700 average GMAT score with the Class of 2012. Pretty impressive improvement!
UVA Darden 2018 MBA Deadlines
They’re mixing things up this year! Now Darden has an Early Action round that’s very similar to how Duke does it. You can see the Darden MBA Class of 2021 deadlines on their website and a full discussion of the advantages to Early Action — and possible implications for your overall application strategy — in our Darden MBA Application Guide.
- Early Action (non-binding): September 7, 2018 – and this is a REAL “early action” round! Darden is going to be issuing decisions on these EA apps really super fast, which is an incredible advantage, particularly since it’s non-binding. Duke is the only school that has a similarly-structured “early” process, yet theirs is binding (Columbia also has a binding “Early” option however their admissions is rolling, so it works somewhat differently). You need to get your butt to Charlottesville during their Open Interview period if you’re going to make the most of this opportunity!!!! Our Darden MBA guide will explain all.
- Round 1: October 4, 2018 This option is totally fine and won’t be at a significant disadvantage compared to Darden EA if you can’t pull everything together in time. Your decision will come in the December timeframe that most other schools release Round 1 decisions. If you can, it would still help to do the Open Interview on campus in the summertime, even if you choose a Round 1 or Round 2 application. If you don’t, then they’ll invite you to interview if they want to move forward with you. Assuming that part works the same as last year, then Darden Rd 1 interview invites should begin to come out at the tail end of November, and they can come all the way through the decision day in mid-December. They usually issue invitations to U.S. residents first; if you’re living here, you’re expected to travel to Charlottesville for your interview. The second wave is invites to international applicants, and those interviews are either with an alum local to you or via Skype with someone on campus.
- Round 2: January 10, 2019 – yay Darden for maintaining their applicant-friendly slightly-later Round 2 date! That’s awesome, says EssaySnark (and future BSers). For Round 2, don’t expect interview invitations to start coming till well into February.
UVa Darden MBA RecommendationsDarden had (pretty close to) standardized recommender questions in 2017; we need to see what they do for 2018.
Darden made our list of 5 favorite business schools in Fall 2014!
University of Virginia Darden MBA General Info
- Darden Admissions Blog
- Darden Admissions Tips Videos
- @DardenMBA on Twitter
- Darden full-time MBA class profile (GMAT score is now 712 – gulp!)
Our 2017 Darden guide will be rewritten practically from the ground up to help you with this year’s unique essay question about changing perspective!
from the EssaySnark blahg:
- Too much professional feedback – aka, I screwed something up! (December 2015)
- Darden’s “most important professional feedback” essay (December 2015)
- essay critique: challenging situation – written for the 2013 app but comments still relevant today (December 2014)
- essay critique: Darden courageous professional decision (August 2014)
- essay critique: Darden challenging work situation (September 2013)
- Rare opportunity: feedback available from Darden (June 2011)
- essay critique: How will you contribute? (May 2011)
- adcoms that we trust part 2 (October 2010) and The one less traveled by: DARDEN (December 2010)
Also useful: A local’s guide to the best 29 restaurants in Charlottesville! 2016 edition
For Reference: Darden’s Past-Season Questions
Included in case anyone wants to see what UVA asked before.Click to view 2017 questions
2017 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Here’s what we said when last year’s questions came out…
“When preparing for class at Darden, students formulate an opinion on each case before meeting with their learning teams and class sections. When encountering different views and perspectives from their own, opinions frequently shift. Tell us about a time when your opinion evolved through discussions with others.”
This is a VERY challenging question that Darden is asking! This is somewhat similar to what some other schools are asking about how your perspective has changed based on differences with others. This question is ideal for a discussion of any cross-cultural experiences you have had — or, what about politics? They’re clearly inviting you to talk about how you have been open-minded and flexible and receptive to others’ ideas (or even better, a time when you were not! and you had to change!).
The most important advice we can offer is don’t just make this a conceptual or intellectual discussion. Instead, the best way to present your story of how your opinion evolved is to show what you did differently as a result. We will go into a full layout of ideas, pitfalls and opportunities for this question in the Darden MBA essay guide (which we will be updating soon!).
See discussion of past season Darden application questions below to gain insight into what they cares about and trigger some ideas for how to handle this year’s essay. Darden also appears to have overhauled its website (at least, it’s way better than we recall from the last time we saw it); there is a lot of info and it’s clearly laid out in easy to follow sections. Be sure to study the information they’re offering to you there.
Darden also typically has some important questions within the application itself. We discuss what those have been in past years in the Darden application guide.
How do you write an essay about getting your perspective changed?!?? Well, we’ve got some ideas!!
[end discussion of 2017 questions]
Click to view 2016 questions
2016 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
For the Class of 2019 they used the same question as the prior year (2015).
Describe the most important professional feedback you have received and how you responded to this feedback. (500 words maximum)
Darden’s 2016 essay question was clearly inspired by the standard questions that some schools are asking of recommenders.
When Sara Neher introduced this question she offered this advice:
Warning: If your essay topic even remotely resembles the example she gave…. that’s not gonna be so great for you.
See discussion of past season Darden application questions below if you want to understand what they’ve asked before – that can often give you insight into what a school cares about, and may even trigger some ideas for how to handle this year’s essay.
Darden also typically has some important questions within the application itself. We discuss what those have been in past years in the Darden application guide, which is a great opportunity for you to prepare some meaningful answers both for the application dataset and also potentially for your interview experience.
You probably want to go for our 2016 Darden MBA essay guide which includes a complete discussion of best practices (and some gotchas to avoid!).
[end discussion of 2016 questions]
Click to view 2015 questions
2015 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Describe the most important professional feedback you have received and how you responded to it. (500 words maximum)
Now here’s a question that allows you to show your maturity! It’s also a really hard question to answer (at least, to answer well!).
You should be aware that this one essay isn’t the extent of the writing you’ll do for Darden. They also typically have some questions within the application itself.Darden had (pretty close to) standardized recommender questions in 2015.
You just need to warn your recommenders about an error in the Darden process!
So EssaySnark is on bschool QA duty today? Heads up @DardenMBA: The email your app sends to recommenders has LAST YEAR'S DEADLINES in it.
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 28, 2015
We don’t know if it’s been fixed.
[end discussion of 2015 questions]
Click to view 2014 questions
2014 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Describe the most courageous professional decision you have made or most courageous action you have taken at work. What did you learn from that experience? (500 words maximum)
NOTE 6/25/14: The words in bold above were ADDED after the question was originally posted on the Darden website . PAY ATTENTION TO THOSE WORDS WHEN YOU’RE FIGURING OUT WHAT TO TALK ABOUT IN YOUR ESSAY!
This question is a great change 2014 and it’s also a very refreshing alternative to the trend that’s been happening with other schools that have few essays all focused on goals and the school. This question actually a) will make you do some thinking, to come up with a great story, and b) has the potential to let you share something interesting and useful for the Darden adcom.
Bravo to Sara Neher and her team for this.
More bravo to Sara for this: “How to Approach Darden’s 2014-15 Essay Question”
Man, we almost don’t need to update the essay guide, when we get great stuff like this from the adcoms!
(But of course, we did!)
[end discussion of 2014 questions]
Click to view 2013 questions
2013 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Here’s what we said when the 2013 questions came out.
UVA has had just one essay in its MBA app for years. Here is this year’s version:
Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. What did you learn about yourself? (500-word limit)
They also have some questions within the application itself. Note: They don’t want you to talk about why you want to go to Darden in these answers. Instead, for each one, be sure to ANSWER THE QUESTION exactly as asked.
[end discussion of 2013 questions]
Click to view 2012 questions
2012 Darden Essays – EssaySnark’s Analysis
Here’s what they asked before — obviously this is very old!
- Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. How did this experience change your perspective?
[end discussion of 2012 questions]