This is a nice example of how an evolved understanding of the application process can be leveraged. Essentially this is analogous to qualifying a prospect. Perhaps this is a facet of the process where investing in the services of skilled (and scrupulous) consultant could return good value. (or, ask Hjort)
I don't want to wander to far off topic but... do you think that your background (lit and law) makes you an apt fit for the pedagogical method at Darden and therefore enhanced your candidacy?
I think it was definitely a factor. I believe that just as some schools (Chicago & Columbia perhaps) are known to be very concerned about whether their students can hang with the program from a quantitative skills perspective, Darden takes a close look at whether their students will be good contributors in classroom discussions.
I absolutely noted a positive reaction from my interviewer when I mentioned that I thought I was well equipped to handle the work load and would have lots to contribute because the Socratic method used during th 3 years I spent at law school were closely related to the case-study method. Of course, she was interested not just in communications skills, but also with experiences I could share and my background was a good fit.
Yes, I would think that law school would be good practice for developing facility with case review. I initially felt quite sceptical about the case method but, after attending a class presentation, came to realize that it was ideally suited to my skill set and interests. It is actually a most engaging way of delving into a topic.
Darden's interview style is a really good test to see if people will be comfortable contributing in class. The interview is completely blind - they don't even look at a resume or any other background information. This allows for a completely free flowing discussion. They really try to get to know people on a personal level - as well as they can given the scope of the admissions process. As it worked out, I think valued by language skills, and I came away with a very positive feeling about the school. Honestly, this was really the place where I had a sense of fit.
I have read so many postive things about Darden that I finally took the plunge and sent off for their materials. I know that it will be a reach, but beyond the academics, it seems so strong in the "intangibles".
...Figuring out what the different schools value and what they are willing to overlook will allow applicants to focus their efforts where they have the greatest chance for success.
Yes, the difficulty here lies in the fact that, while it is relatively easy to quantify the schools, it relatively much harder to qualify them. There is no interactive table of "soft" features that one can sort for these kinds of factors. (though, at Hjort's suggestion I am trying to build one to cover my top 15 schools)