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Important Posts from Darden Class of 2016 Discussion

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Important Posts from Darden Class of 2016 Discussion  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Apr 2015, 06:22

GMAT Club’s Best of the Best
Collection of Important Posts from Darden Class of 2016 MBA Applicants’ discussion.


GMAT Club’s MBA Resources
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Live Chats with Adcoms of leading B-Schools
Application Experiences of Applicants
MBA Admission Consultant Reviews – 2015
2015 MBA Applicants’ Profiles
MBA Applicant Blogs
Current Student Blogs


Darden (Chicago) Class of 2016: GMAT Club Application Stats


“As a high level summary, Darden is among the top ranked business schools, and has a strong reputation for having a General Management focus. This bodes well for consulting and general management rotational programs. Darden also does very well as an Investment Banking feeder program. That said, I'm recruiting for marketing and have just as many great opportunities (specifically for Brand Management and Mktg rotationals).”
- Darden14student, GMAT Club Member and Darden MBA Graduate


Current Student | Application
kunzi wrote:
I'm in for R1 too.. considering we got some time in hand, what shall we be doing right now to increase our visibility and admission chances?

Make sure you are reaching out to current students (Darden has a whole page on their website with admissions ambassadors) and setting up calls to chat with students. Getting this first-hand knowledge will help you craft strong essays, and it'll also give you more insight into the culture and opportunities at Darden. If you're able, make sure you visit campus. They're probably approaching the end of the school year now, but it's not too early to start thinking of planning a visit in late August once classes start up.

Good luck! It was very tough for me to turn down Darden--it really is a fantastic program. Probably the best facilities of any b-school I saw and the campus community is really strong. - lb2015


Current Student | Application
kunzi wrote:
Hey lb, Thank you so much for the insights. However, I have a different issue at hand here:

Ok, I contact current students and alumni.
I get first hand information about the college community, interesting courses, interesting profs, club details etc.
But I am unable to figure out how would I weave this information in my essays, interview etc?
I guess I can use it in the Why Darden essay, but how do I make it sound like I am genuinely interested in this energy course or this MC course or club because everyone interested in energy or consulting would be doing the same. How do I portray my uniqueness here?

One more question is: does participating in online webinars/ info sessions increase my visibility to the adcom? What else can be done so that the adcom knows me before the interview? (I am in India and school visit is an infeasible affair for me. Yes, World Tours are one of the options, but few schools participate in the World Tours organized in India.) Any help on this will be highly appreciated.

Sounds like you’re off to a good start!

The way I approached this question was to think about how my leadership , volunteer, and work experiences would help me contribute to the campus community. For instance, I’m really passionate about education (done a lot of volunteering with local schools) so I said that I would take on leadership in the Education Club. I’ve also worked in the securities division of an IB for the past three years, so I discussed how I would help my classmates learn about finance, accounting, and investments.

It’s also good to think if there are any gaps in your profile that you’re looking to help fill with the MBA. For me, I didn’t have experience being a manager, so I’m looking forward to gaining insight on organizational management from students who do have this experience.

If you haven’t already, it’s be good to spend the summer really reflecting on your strengths, your weaknesses, your accomplishments, your personality traits, your goals, etc. It’s much easier to demonstrate fit when you have this level of self-awareness.

Living in India, the adcom shouldn’t hold it against you at all if you can’t come visit. So yes, use online chats and keep reaching out to current students and alumni to get their perspective. Also the Darden adcom is INCREDIBLY responsive (by far the most so of any school I applied to—and that’s saying something considering I looked at the more high-touch, community-oriented schools), so as long as you aren’t too pesky, you should absolutely reach out to them periodically with thoughtful questions. - lb2015


Current Student | Admission Tips
hamm0 wrote:

Great! thanks for the heads up.

Can you share some of your background and maybe some tips that made you successful @ Darden?

My background is:

GMAT: 740, Q50, V41, AWA 5.0, IR 8.
GPA: 4.33 out of 5 from a small not very well known college
Work experience(WE): 3 years audit, 3 years private equity
Nationality: Eastern Europe
Age: 28
Gender: M
Extra-curriculars/community: Few higher roles in smaller activities, lets say it this way.

You see, the problem here is that it's difficult to say WHAT actually makes you successful when you are applying. I see some great examples of diversity in my future class, and there is no straightaway answer, like "have GMAT over 700" or "be a Goldman Sachs Analyst" or "Be the captain of your college football team" or "Fly the helicopter in Afghanistan".

My general approach to the whole application process was, after a long thought, as follows:
1) Determine your starting point - your childhood, family, primary education - everything until you have chosen your college
2) Determine where you are now
3) Summarize all your path until now - what have you done from (1) to (2)
4) Answer honestly - where do you want to be when you are 60 years old? Have a really good thought about it. It's not about going to management consulting after you graduate. It's not about high salary and bonus. What will make you happy?
5) How would you proceed in next 5-10 years to make (4) happen?

After all you'll have some line, which started in past and will end someday. Your current position is some point on this line. When you understand this - just tell your story. Just tell why do you think this is a good idea to go for an MBA, and why it is good right now, and how this particular school helps you?

The most important here - you always have this story to tell. ALWAYS. You dont need to invent it, because every decision you make in your life - you make it because you think something is good for you, something is bad, something leads in a right way, something doesn't. You always have some good perspective - if you cannot formulate it, you just didn't think about it too much. Think - and you'll have a perfect picture in your head soon.

Different schools can help you differently, and its perfectly fine if you see something positive in every school you are applying to. And these positive things are actually about smaller differences, nuances you'll notice. But they must be very real and you must perfectly understand them.

For example, some schools especially emphasize teamwork skills development. Why do you think it is good for you? Some general answer like "it's better to be a team player than not" doesn't work here. I am feeling just great in a private equity business, where nobody cares about your teamplay. You must be reasonably social, of course, but its not like in consulting where drinks with your colleagues are a must. So if you come to some school, you say that you want to work as a quant analyst in a hedge fund, and you apply to this particular school because of their great emphasis on social interactions and general management curriculum - well, you have problems.

So, just be honest to yourself, have a good thought on why, when and where, be open and DO SOME GOOD RESEARCH :)


Admission Consultant | Essays
SyedSan wrote:
Hello EssaySnark, Thank you so much for the quick response!

Just wanted to share my understanding and perhaps your can confirm it or tell me to think more.
Q1) Learning teams are an integral part of Darden’s academic experience. What personal qualities and expertise will you bring to your Darden learning team? (250 words)
The question is about candidate's personal qualities and expertise - The skills and characteristics one has, and would be supported by past experiences.
Q2) At Darden, a core part of the academic experience is participation in and contribution to your learning team. In what ways will your teammates say that you add value? (150 words)
The question is about participation in and contribution - over here, one would you use one's skills/expertise supported by past experiences, and would explain what and how he/she will contribute to Learning Team.

What is surprising to me is that, both questions are very specific to learning team; so you can not talk about Darden community in general. Thoughts?

Generally we'd say yes, you're on the right track. There's no one right answer so we don't want to dictate a strategy. We can see a few other angles to pursue too. However the way you're looking at it could certainly result in some good responses!!

On the learning team... it's a BIG part of the bschool experience, particularly at Darden, and we'd just offer up that maybe you could say it's a major part of their culture. It's not the full extent of it, but it sure does matter. One reason for the method that Darden uses in their interview process is to make sure that they're accepting people who will fit in - and the learning teams count for a lot in that!!

Remember too that these are super short answers - you won't be able to fit in too much. That's one reason why they've scoped the question so tightly. - essaysnark


Admission Consultant | Essays | Reapplicants
SyedSan wrote:
Hi EssaySnark,

I am surprised that unlike other MBA programs, Darden did not ask a separate re-applicant question - something like "how have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied." Any thoughts?

Thank you!

SyedSan, Darden does a lot of things differently in their application - we kinda like it. :-) If you like, you can use the Additional Information field at the end of the app to state the changes to your profile.

At the same time, the improvements should be obvious. For example, if you have a new GMAT score, they'll see that; if you got a promotion, it'll be on your resume; etc. You recommendation letter is very important in this regard, it should be focusing on how you were awesome and added value in the past year, so that's a key asset for you to be focusing on. Be sure to choose your recommender wisely and have a candid conversation with him or her on topics. (It's fine to discuss your recommendation with them as long as you're not involved in actually writing it in any way.) The resume should be highlighting any changes too. So, lots of places to communicate this stuff!

Good luck with the reapp - Darden is quite friendly to reapplicants (obviously, given how they so generously offer feedback!) so hopefully it works out for you this time! - essaysnark


Current Student | School Info
Hey All,

I'm a current second year Darden student. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about the school, community, recruiting, etc.

As a high level summary, Darden is among the top ranked business schools, and has a strong reputation for having a General Management focus. This bodes well for consulting and general management rotational programs. Darden also does very well as an Investment Banking feeder program. That said, I'm recruiting for marketing and have just as many great opportunities (specifically for Brand Management and Mktg rotationals).

Darden is as tight knit as it gets with aprox 320 students per graduating class. Everyone tends to live nearby and build really strong bonds together. I'm sure its one of the reasons the Alumni Network is as notoriously supportive as it is. Charlottesville weather is very mild, and there are lots of outdoors activities. The local airport is only 10 min away and DC is only 2.5 hrs drive.

The curriculum is 100% case method based which drives a high level of student engagement and participation. I found this refreshing since I would probably fall asleep in a lecture based class. The school is rigorous as its reputation would suggest, but we definitely know how to blow off steam! Plus, cab rides to the main bar area (aka "the corner") are a mere $6 fare. Overall cost of living is extremely affordable. I rent a room for $467/month!

I can't say enough good things about the school. If you're on the fence, I implore you to come check it out and I'm confident that you will be impressed. - Darden14student


Darden Blog | Female Applicants
FROM Darden Admissions Blog: Women in Leadership at Darden and the Forté Fellows Program
Continuing our progress in attracting and recruiting more women to business school, the Darden School of Business enrolled a record percentage of women (35%) in the Class of 2014 — the School’s highest percentage to date.

Women excel in leadership positions at Darden. Seventeen of Darden’s student organizations are led by women and more than 40 female students have taken on roles as vice presidents. Of note, Darden’s four largest career clubs — the Consulting Club, Marketing Club, General Management and Operations Club and Finance Club — each boasting between 200 and 400 student members are all led by women.

This year, two ambassador positions were created within the Darden Forté Fellows, a group of students who actively participate in the Forté community. Darden’s Forté ambassadors strive to connect Darden women with the educational and professional resources — ranging from fellowships to webinars and networking opportunities — that Forté Foundation offers women pursuing their MBA. One of the new programs launched this year was the mentorship program between women in Darden’s Class of 2014 and 2015.

Learn more about the Forté Fellows program in this podcast with Forté ambassador Jennifer Forman.

You can read more about women leaders at Darden on our website.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors


Darden Blog | Application
FROM Darden Admissions Blog: Weekly Chat Transcript: Non-Traditional Backgrounds, Application Criteria and More
Join us every Wednesday at 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. (EST) to chat with a Darden Admissions representative.

Question: Do you need some experience in business to apply to Darden?

Answer: No. You do not need a traditional business background to apply. We build a class made up of students from all industries and experience. We value diverse perspectives to contribute to the discussion during the case method and to provide a unique perspective for your learning team. We want to better understand your career goals and how our MBA fits into them.

Question: Does Darden have resources to help students from non-traditional backgrounds transition into a career in business?

Answer: Any of the three formats provide a broad enterprise perspective in General Management allowing you to advance in your current industry or develop the skills and knowledge to seek out other opportunities. You receive individualized career counseling from a functionally-aligned career advisor, as well as a Second Year student career coach. Both are available to meet with students one-on-one to review resumes and cover letters, prepare for interviews and negotiation processes, conduct mock interviews, etc. ... rces/Home/

Question: What are the differences between the full-time and executive MBA formats?

Answer: Executive MBA students receive the same MBA degree as our full-time students. They’re also taught by the same top-ranked faculty using the case study method. The main differences are the experience level of the cohort and the format/schedule in which instruction is delivered. Executive MBA students work full time while earning their MBA degree in 21 months.

Question: I’m a round one applicant wondering about interview invitations. Any news? Or still just be patient until the December deadline?

Answer: We are still in our review process of Round 1 applications and are continuing to read through them. All first round candidates will be notified with a decision by December 17th.We will be continuing to send invitations for interviews over the next few weeks.

Question: What qualities do you look for in a typical applicant?

Answer: We take all aspects of a candidate’s application into account. We will review undergraduate work, professional experience, GMAT scores, essays, professional letters of recommendation, etc. We are trying to get to know you as a person as much as we can.

I encourage you to watch Darden MBA Admissions Dean Sara Neher’s video blog on how to approach your MBA application. It contains very useful advice.

Question: Is the application process for the dual degree programs any different from the regular MBA programs?

Answer: Here is a helpful link to our dual degree programs. You do need to apply separately to each: ... l-degrees/

Question: Are GRE scores waived in any circumstance?

Answer: We require the GRE or GMAT for all full-time MBA applicants, so there are no waivers.

For our executive MBA applicants (EMBA or GEMBA) — In a very few exceptional cases, a waiver of the GMAT may be granted to candidates who hold an advanced degree in an analytic field. To request a waiver, please e-mail your résumé, academic transcripts and standardized test scores to
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors


Current Student | School Info
Hey All,

There may be a select number of students that applied to the full-time MBA, but whom Admissions thought would be a better fit for one of the executive MBA formats due to their background and experience levels.

Here is some information that may help to clear up some of the confusion. Darden’s EMBA and Global EMBA (GEMBA) programs both cover the same core curriculum as the school’s full-time MBA format, are taught by the same faculty, utilize the same Darden case method and result in the same degree. Regarding the concern about making a career switch, this has actually become a more and more common occurrence among EMBA students, and Darden provides strong resources to support this, including allowing EMBA and GEMBA students to participate in on campus interviewing.

For more specific information, I’d encourage you to visit the Darden website, reach out to the Admissions Office, and/or contact the EMBA programs at Additionally, there are many EMBA and GEMBA students that are available to answer any questions you have: Please know that Darden can help connect you with students in the program, including some who were in the same situation last year. I hope this is helpful! - Darden14student


Darden Blog | Application | Scholarship
FROM Darden Admissions Blog: Admissions Q&A: Entrepreneurship, Scholarships and Application Materials
Here is the transcript from today’s weekly chat.

Question: I’m looking at the general MBA program but with a focus on social business & entrepreneurship. Are there such specializations or classes at Darden?

Answer: We are a general management MBA program, and there is a concentration in Entrepreneurship that you could consider. Here is a link with some additional information:

We also have an i.Lab Incubator that provides faculty support, industry mentorship and $13,000 in funding for selected students to launch ventures at Darden. Darden offers more than 25 entrepreneurship electives, award over $1 million in entrepreneurship scholarships per year, and hold various entrepreneurship competitions throughout the year. Darden’s Batten Institute gives out 10 full scholarships to student entrepreneurs every year. Students can get involved in entrepreneurship as early as the summer before their First Year through our incubator program.

Question: Is the incubator a competitive process?

Answer: There is an application process for the incubator program. You can learn more about the application process here:

Question: I’m also very interested in the design thinking courses. Are they part of the Entrepreneurship program?

Answer: Yes, there are design thinking elective courses that you can select. One of our professors (Jeanne Liedka) is also teaching a Design Thinking course right now through Coursera as a MOOC. I’d encourage you to check it out.

Question: Does Darden allow flexibility in elective selection?

Answer: Yes, you can start choosing elective courses during the last term of your first year all the way through your second year. There are a variety of courses to choose from depending on your interests.

Question: Does Darden accept GMAT scores that are submitted after the application submission?

Answer: Yes. We will need a GRE or GMAT score to complete your application, but if you have an updated score after you have submitted your application we encourage you to send that to us and we can update this in your file.

Question: Do the recommendations need to be completed by the application deadline?

Answer: Yes, we do need to receive the recommendations by the application deadline. We encourage you to check in with your recommendation writers in advance of the deadline to make sure they are on track with submitting your letter in time.

Question: Are you still extending interview invitations to international students?

Answer: Thank you for your patience as we are still deep into our Round 1 review process. The majority of Round 1 interview invitations have now been sent, but please be aware that every year interview invitations are extended up until the decision release date of 17 December.

Question: Is there a separate application process for scholarships?

Answer: There is not a separate application process for scholarships. We have a committee that considers all applicants for scholarships. They are merit based. There will still be scholarships awarded during Round 2 and 3.

Question: Can I submit a recommendation letter in addition to the required two?

Answer: We will use the two letters of recommendation provided with your application in our review process. You are welcome to send through the additional information to to be added to your file.

Question: I have already scheduled my GMAT and TOEFL test for March. Is it still possible for me to apply for Round 2, or should I consider applying in Round 3? Is there any difference in acceptance rates between rounds?

Answer: You will need to apply in Round 3 when you have scores available to complete your application. Our rates of acceptance vary each year during each round. Everyone should apply when they have their strongest application ready to submit.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors


Darden Blog | Waitlist
FROM Darden Admissions Blog: Update for Waitlisted Applicants
If you were placed on the waitlist for Round 1, please inform us of your decision to remain on the waitlist by submitting our Waitlist Response form. The link to the Waitlist Response form can be found on the letter located in your application status update page.

We will reach out to those of you who wish to remain on the waitlist in January, when you receive an email assigning you to a waitlist manager. Your waitlist manager will be a member of the Admissions Committee and will provide feedback on your application. Please inform your waitlist manager about pertinent changes in your professional responsibilities, new test scores, additional coursework and involvements outside work.

The Admissions Committee will continue to review your application periodically. We encourage you to keep in contact with us throughout this process and appreciate your continued interest in the Darden School.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

Dean's Message to Waitlisted Applicants


Applicant | Interview Debrief
chandler999 wrote:
Hello guys,

Can you please share interviews experiences with the DARDEN admission Committee, Alumni or 2yr student.

Thank you

It was very easy and relaxed. You start out with breakfast with other applicants, then you get coffee with students, and maybe take a tour of campus and visit a class. later, you have lunch with some professors or staff. I had lunch with a career development office member focused on general management. After this, I had my interview.

My interviewer was an incredibly nice second year student. The interview lasted 40 minutes exactly. She just said "Tell me about yourself. You have 20-25 minutes. No pressure." She asked one or two probing questions during this to get clarity, but with no pressure at all. It eventually led to "You seem successful already, so why do you want an MBA?"

After this, "Why Darden?" was asked, and then she asked me if there were any campus activities I want to be involved with, and whether I've considered the global opportunities available at Darden. Throughout all of this, she took pains to make sure I wasn't pressured or uncomfortable at all.

Last, I asked her a few questions. Overall, it was a fun interaction.

I'm very glad I visited the campus. It is gorgeous. I had no idea it was so nice before. Also, the Decision Sciences class I sat in on was amazing. I've visited schools of all different ranks, and this professor's passion and teaching ability was better than all of them. I was extremely impressed.

Good luck on your interviews!! - noodlesnyc


Applicant | Interview Debrief
Just had my interview, thought I'd share my notes - I got quite a few more questions that I was prepared for (had heard it was just "tell me about yourself" type of deal.) but nothing too difficult. We started with why I picked my major, my first internship out of college, why I picked my career path (I'm a non-traditional applicant - work in politics), specific examples of when I've shown leadership, what type of skills I feel I've developed, and what skills I want to develop with an MBA.

Maybe I got more than most because I am a non-traditional applicant, but my impression is that there are people in politics and policy at Darden, so I was surprised. But all in all, it was a good experience - very relaxed. The interview went an hour and 10 minutes- not sure if that's a good sign or not. - hah204


Applicant | Application Experience | Admit from Waitlist | Consortium Applicant
gunterz wrote:
Lots of confusion around interview invites. I would really request someone with good knowledge of the Darden interview process to share her/his wisdom. Can we really expect more invites (especially for international candidates) or is it game over for us? Any help would be hugely appreciated!

I'm not sure how helpful this is, but I figure sharing my experience may help some of you since it's a story of hope :). I was accepted last year off the wait list, and was granted a deferral due to some serious family illness issues, so will be attending this year!

I applied R2 through the Consortium to Darden, with an average GRE score/GPA and a background in marketing for small, technology start-ups in solar and biotechnology in San Francisco. I got an interview invite in mid-February of last year. During the interview, I had major technical issues with my Skype interview - and ended up having to do it over the phone with a current student. It went pretty well, but I was fairly frazzled and felt I could have done better overall. Afterwards, after many stressful weeks I found out I was waitlisted.

Now, the first thing I did with this information was frantically google anything and everything there was to know about waitlists. It seemed bleak at first, but I was determined to give it all I had and requested an application evaluation from the admissions staff in April. I was surprised to find that the Darden staff were some of the nicest, most helpful admissions representatives I have had the pleasure to know. They walked me through things I could improve upon, and things that I did not reiterate as well as I could have in my interview (why specifically Darden, why the case method). Once I got off that call, I wrote a short email re-iterating my interest and explaining some of those points to better clarify why Darden is my top choice.

Long story short, I eventually got the call! I could not have gotten in if I had not taken the extra steps in the waitlist process. I hope this helps anyone that might be losing hope, MBA admissions can feel like such a luck of the draw process, but sometimes persistence pays off. - alto88

Good luck everyone!


Applicant | Interview Debrief
Recently headed out to Charlottesville for my interview and campus visit. Due to my schedule, I was unable to sit in on a class, but I was able to participate in the other activities held for interviewing applicants. It was a great experience overall. Beautiful campus, and nice weather (at least when I was out there). Of the activities, I really enjoyed having lunch with a member of the faculty and a current student the most. Definitely provided a lot of insight into the experience students have at Darden.

As far as the interview goes, I felt like it went really well. In fact, of all the interviews I have done, Darden's was the most enjoyable. I really felt like I wasn't restricted by the questions asked and I was able to paint a clearer picture of myself versus other interviews. It was really conversational. The adcom member that interviewed me was very kind and seemed genuinely interested in my story. Just like many other interview reports that have been posted, my interview started with about 15 minutes of my just telling my story. She told me I could start where ever I wanted, but that she wanted to know more about my background, interests, etc. and that we could get into the resume portion a bit later. While I spoke, she interjected periodically with a question. By the end of our conversation, we had naturally covered why and MBA, what my goals were, and why Darden. For those that are yet to interview, my biggest recommendation is to make sure you know your story inside and out, and be comfortable just talking for most of the interview, as there won't be as many structured questions like other schools (at least from my experience).

Good luck to everyone still interviewing or waiting for an invite! - MBAreapplicant84


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Important Posts from Darden Class of 2016 Discussion   [#permalink] 13 Apr 2015, 06:22
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