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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for University of Virginia (Darden).

Darden has tweaked its single essay question ever so slightly, changing the second part of the prompt  from How did this experience change your perspective? to What did you learn about yourself? Although the phrasing is a little bit different, the spirit is largely the same. Because Darden offers you such little leeway in revealing the breadth of your experiences, we strongly advise you to make the most of your resume and short-answer responses within your application to ensure that the school learns as much as possible about you. In particular, you will need to rely on your resume to reveal important accomplishments, but you will have to be careful not to overstuff it. Do not mistake quantity for quality.

Our analysis of Darden’s sole question follows

DardenShare your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. What did you learn about yourself?  (500 words maximum)

Choosing a situation to discuss that required clear and measured consideration on your part is imperative, given that Darden asks explicitly for you to detail your thought process. Simply describing the nature of the situation and how it played out is not enough for this essay”you must reveal the process of contemplation that ultimately led you to action in your efforts to resolve the issue. Interestingly, you do not necessarily need to show that you achieved your desired results, and the type of challenge you describe is not of primary importance. The key to a successful essay here is not only showing that you invested an appropriate amount of thought for the problem or situation at hand, but also the progression and development of your thinking. The other crucial element of this essay is demonstrating that you learned from the experience”and specifically, learned something about yourself. So, claiming that you gained a new skill, for example, would not constitute an appropriate response. You will need to delve more deeply into how your understanding of yourself differed after the situation and clearly explain what the experience brought out in you that you had not known about yourself before.

For a thorough exploration of Darden’s academic program/merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment and more, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Darden School of Business Administration.

We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for University of Pennsylvania (Wharton).

Wharton’s essay prompts for this application season may seem a bit perplexing. At first glance, the two questions seem rather similar. However, the first is basically a question about what you hope to get from your MBA experience at the school, and the second is mostly about what you can give to the Wharton program. With only 500 words for Essay 2 to give the school a sense of your personality and experiences, you will need to think especially carefully about what you want to say. At other schools, an interview will give you the opportunity to share these parts of your profile, but Wharton’s group interview will not be the place for you to talk about yourself, so this essay is your opportunity instead. Proceed thoughtfully

Wharton

Essay 1: What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

This essay prompt has the markings of the classic personal statement question, though it differs slightly in that it includes your personal aspirations in addition to your professional aspirations. With respect to your personal aspirations (note that the phrasing is through Wharton’s program), your goals can be anything from advancing your intellectual development while at the school to experiencing new cultures and personalities after graduating with your degree. The goal you claim is not as important as truly owning it and connecting it directly to what Wharton offers, revealing a very clear understanding of the school’s strengths and resources and of how you will use them. Avoid vague statements about how great the school is and focus on demonstrating a clear connection between your aspirations, what you need to achieve them and what Wharton in particular offers that will enable you to fulfill those needs.

Because Personal Statements are generally similar from one application to the next, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. We offer this guide to candidates free of charge. Please feel free to download your copy today.

For a thorough exploration of Wharton’s academic program/merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment and more, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Essay 2: Academic engagement is an important element of the Wharton MBA experience. How do you see yourself contributing to our learning community? (500 words)

Here, Wharton gives you a chance to discuss how your past activities, professional experiences and, in some cases, even personal adventures could be harnessed for the benefit of others at the school. Consider identifying and exploring one or two specific instances in your life that were extraordinary or formative and allowed you to claim specific knowledge or expertise. Then connect them to specific elements of the school’s MBA program, revealing that you have a thorough understanding not only of the school itself but also of how your personal strengths could enhance the experience for your fellow students.

Your experiences need not be totally unique, but they must be conveyed in a way that paints them as specifically yours, and they need to be capable of being leveraged academically.  Note that the school’s question specifies a contribution to the learning community. However, this does not mean that you must have some sort of strictly academicknowledge. In fact, most essays written from that angle would end up being quite boring: I worked on discounted cash flows modeling, so I can help others with such models would be an almost sure loser. Unless you can claim a truly exceptional academic achievement that has direct application in class (My PhD in nanotechnology would advance discussions on the topic of emerging technologies), you would be better off delving into how you developed particular skills or traits and then explaining how they could be applied. For example, if you have experience managing flexible teams, you would be well equipped to facilitate discussions on your learning team and thereby add value in that capacity.

As you approach this essay, be sure to not simply tell the admissions committee how great you are at something. Instead, use a narrative to illustrate that you have certain applicable experiences, skills and/or qualities and fully understand their value to others.

iStock_000012655127XSmallCatch up on some business school news and tips with a few of this week’s top stories:

Where Six-Figure MBA Pay is a Done Deal (Poets & Quants)

According to John Byrne at Poets & Quants, there are 39 business schools in the U.S. alone whose graduates make six-figure salaries and bonuses right out of the gate.

Striking Out: Five Ways MBA Applicants Go Wrong (Bloomber Businessweek Business Schools)

What happens if you don’t receive an acceptance letter from anywhere? Here are five common pitfalls that applicants experience in the application process.
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Note We at Manhattan GMAT are very excited to welcome mbaMission Founder/President Jeremy Shinewald to our blog to offer his analysis on some recent MBA application news. Here’s what he has to say.

mbaMissionLast week, Bloomberg Businessweek published two articles on declining MBA application volumes, going so far as to call the current application environment a drought. In its first article (Columbia, NYU MBA Applications Plummet), Bloomberg Businessweek noted that Columbia Business School (CBS) and New York University’s Stern School of Business (NYU Stern) saw declines in the number of applications last year of 19% and 12%, respectively, from the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of applicants to Harvard Business School (HBS) declined by 2% and to Wharton by less than 1%. In a separate article (At Top Business Schools, an MBA Application Drought), Bloomberg Businessweek revealed that the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the Yale School of Management (SOM) saw drops of 3.5% and 9.5%, respectively. So, is this truly a drought or is this just a blip”and what does it all mean for you?

Let’s start by taking a look at some incomplete numbers (some schools do not release data on application volumes) for a few schools mentioned in the articles:

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Planning Ahead for your MBA (Part 2)

cclay —  February 12, 2011 — 6 Comments

Original Schedule/Timeline photo by Peter Kaminski on FlickrThe folk at mbaMission always recommend getting started with your MBA applications as early as possible. By taking action now, you can dramatically improve your chances of gaining admission to a top MBA program in the coming years. It is never too soon (and certainly not too late) to take several crucial steps to shape your MBA candidacy. So we’re presenting a five-part series to provide a step-by-step timeline to help guide you down the long road of applying to business school. These guidelines assume that you are setting out a year ahead of the January deadlines. Even if you are starting later, you should be able to leverage this timeline to help you prioritize each step along the way. This week, they lay out what you should be doing February through April. For more information on mbaMission and how they can help you in this process, click here.

View Part 1 here.

February

Meet with Alumni and Students
As you contemplate your choices and begin visiting campuses, consider augmenting your process of a priori discovery by meeting with your target school’s alumni or students, so that you can Continue Reading…