University of Virginia Darden Executive MBA 2014 Admissions Tips
Given that the Darden EMBA application presents only one essay question to answer, the balance of your application – the online form, the resume, the recommendations, the interview – all carry even more weight than they do in most EMBA applications that contain several questions (usually including one pertaining to your goals). The application as a whole must show that you are at the appropriate level in terms of organizational position and experience to both benefit from the Darden EMBA and contribute substantially to its program. Moreover, to be competitive you should also show that you are a high performer relative to peers.
Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. What did you learn about yourself? (500 words maximum)
The question may sound a bit daunting, but it is essentially asking for a story. “Your thought process” is simply your narrating an experience – the story – through the lens of your perspective as it happened. The “pivot points” – your decision points – are the most important points in this story, so when you get to these parts of the story, briefly include why you decided to do B. After you complete the story narrative, culminating the outcome, add a short paragraph briefly explaining how this experience gave you insight about yourself – note what this new insight/learning is, and relate it back to the story. With only 500 words to work with, I suggest keeping the structure simple. Devote about the first two-thirds to telling the story, and conclude with the reflection. This learning should be meaningful and significant – they are asking this question because they value your ability to grow and respond and adapt, and also your ability to self-critique and self-reflect.
With only one essay, selecting the topic – the work situation or complex problem – should be done strategically. The topic can show you advantageously – perhaps working in an underrepresented industry or function, or shouldering a difficult decision, or influencing executive decision makers, or grappling with issues of high importance. It should be fairly recent.
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