Duke Essays Analysis

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom? Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.

Your ultimate goal here? To elicit a reader response that goes something like:

  • “Yep, this kid clearly bleeds Duke.”
  • “Yep, this kid is gonna light a fire here.”
  • “Yep.” {Translation: I believe the commitment behind his/her words here.}

The key to this question is… are you convincing? This is the part, folks, where what you say matters less than how you say it. It is very possible to say all the right things. To indicate that you are going to start Club X, and to engage in Duke Thing Y, and to contribute Awesome Thing Z thing to the Duke community. But how? By doing research, by organizing your arguments so that they are logically sound, seem well considered, etc.

But… if the Adcom thinks that you would probably pick, say, Darden or Ross or Yale SOM over Duke, none of those arguments will weigh much. What you need to achieve is the exact opposite. Let’s take those statements above and ADD another crucial one:

  • “If we admit this kid, there is an unbelievably good chance he’s gonna accept, regardless of where else he gets in.”

If you establish THIS as your burden, it will (it should, anyway) focus your approach to this response in an excellent way. Imagine, for example, that your reader does NOT believe that you are sincere in your stated desire to attend Duke. How would you use this essay prompt to convince him/her otherwise? Address the elements in this question, but in reality, prove to the reader that no matter how many acceptance letters you receive, Duke is the place you are going to engage with the most.

Now. How exactly do you do that? Well for starters it helps if that’s actually the case, ha! But let’s suppose your are business-school-agnostic at this stage, and simply want to attend whichever TOP MBA program accepts you. Allow yourself to APPEAR to be that first guy, the one who would rather attend Duke than Harvard. In order to achieve that, you need to demonstrate two things:

1) Demonstrate deep knowledge for what makes Fuqua… Fuqua.

In other words, if the Duke experience is supposedly different from the Yale experience, or the Ross experience, how so? (And then map those differences to things you need – THROUGH your explanation for how you will engage in the Duke community.)

2) Make an emotional argument for why Duke revs you up.

Show how Duke fulfills something inside you that another school doesn’t. Or, why Duke’s version is somehow more appealing to you. This is art, not science. Do you have a girlfriend? Boyfriend? Husband? Wife? Child? Can you explain to someone why you like this person? Try it. Do it on paper. Maybe it starts with “quantifiable” traits. But hopefully, at some point, you reach a moment where you find yourself… unable to quantify the way a loved one makes you feel. Try – like hell – to explain IN WORDS what that thing is. What your emotion is, and how this person elicits that emotion. You won’t be able to, or you may discover a way to. It’s all gold. All of it. Take a look and see what that looks like, and then see if you can adapt it to the Duke community somehow.

When you put all of that stuff together, you should end up with some interesting stuff in your first draft. Here’s one version of an outline that may help kick things off:

  1. Establish what you’re looking for in a B-school. Establish the experience you’re hoping for, and how this corresponds to optimizing your personal potential to succeed (and perhaps to help others succeed).
  2. Now explain why certain opportunities at Duke afford you the ability to not just experience these things, but quite possibly the best version of them. If you can indicate contrasts to other schools, do it. If it’s just highlighting something unique to Duke, do it. As always, relate each example back to something you specifically need, and be very specific about the ways in which you are going to engage.
  3. Lastly, see if you can somehow explain where this sense came from. Give us a taste of the research, the “due diligence” that led to your conclusions. This is also the section where you may wanna “fumble” around those inexplicable reasons that are emotional at their core. Let us see the genuine-ness of your words here.

Organization-wise, it doesn’t necessarily need to follow that order. And to be sure, what we’re calling “Section 3” here is truly something that should be interwoven through the essay. But separating it out this way may at least give you a target for your V1.

 

Fuqua is often a favorite! And much more competitive than some applicants seem to believe. If you’ve got your app in for Round 2 then we wish you good luck!!

 

2017 Duke Fuqua Full-Time MBA Essay Questions – Class of 2020

They’ve kept the questions the same again – which is kinda good, since they’re decent questions, but it’s kinda disappointing, given how all the other schools are working so hard to innovate. Our 2017 Duke Essay Guide explains strategies on how to answer them. It could be said that Duke was an early adopter of the more innovative form of bschool essay, with their 25 Random Things list, and we do concede that that’s a great question which applicants tend to have fun with, and which can reveal a lot about a person. But…. keeping the status quo is kinda communicating that Duke is fine with how things are going, and it just seems like they’re a little bit stalled out and stagnant right now. Granted, they hit #3 on the BusinessWeek rankings in 2016, so who is the ‘Snark to say?

Anyway, here are those questions that you’ll be tackling:

Duke 2017 MBA Essay Questions

Three short-answer questions of up to 500 characters each (please note we said CHARACTERS and not WORDS – yes these need to be SHORT):

  1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
  2. What are your long-term goals?
  3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

Duke is pretty much the only school that invites you to present a “Plan B” for your career goals. For most other applications you’ll want to focus on just one set of goals.

Two essays; we recommend not going more than perhaps 750 words at the most for each. Please please please don’t go down to 10-point font even though they say that you can.

See the full set of requirements around essay length and formatting and the questions in their entirety as posted on the Duke application website .

  1. [A very involved preamble, then:] [T]he Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
  2. [Another preamble about Fuqua, then:] Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

That second question is quite similar to what Wharton is asking, and it’s also got a lot of parallels with Columbia essay 2 as well as with the MIT pre-interview “mission” essay. Duke was the first to start with this type of question, so you can see how they’ve put an emphasis on culture for a long time.
 


Our Duke 2017 MBA Application Guide is ready to help you — it covers everything that this school likes to see in an application!


 

Duke Daytime MBA Deadlines – Class of 2020

Remember, regardless of which round you intend to apply in you can get on campus from September 11 to October 5 to take advantage of their Open Interview period — which is highly recommended!!

Duke Full-time MBA Application Deadlines

  • (ouch that hurts – this one is IMMEDIATELY after the holiday – the only one worse is Ross)

As with other schools, we don’t suggest apply in Round 3 at Duke – and in fact, if you’re an international applicant, they won’t let you due to visa issues.

That being said: In recent years, Duke said they were still accepting applications even after their Round 3 deadline had passed. Which is weird, and, we feel, not entirely fair. It’s pretty darned difficult to get in then. Were they really trying to say that they didn’t have enough good candidates for their class at that late date? When every other school out there was turning away well-qualified applicants right and left all season? Hmmm. EssaySnark is not a fan of this.

 

Check out the Duke Essay Guide for 2017 to learn more on rounds, interviewing, and multi-school strategies including Duke Fuqua!

Interviewing at Duke

Duke has two phases of interviews: the Open Interview Period when anybody can come to campus and interview at will; and the By-Invitation Interview Period. EssaySnark strongly recommends that everyone go through the Open Interview; it’s a huge opportunity and if you’re serious about Fuqua you won’t miss out on it! This year’s Open Interview Period is September 7 to October 5, 2017; see details at Duke’s Interview Process page . You do not need to apply in the Early Action round in order to take advantage of the Open Interview; applicants planning on submitting at any time may do so. You really should consider it.
 

Duke Fuqua General Info

school pages

  • Duke Student Blog – this used to be an dedicated admissions blog but now it’s just a topic of posts on the student blog. It still has some useful info for BSers so we’ll leave the link.

Hmmm… Not much there huh? Duke just isn’t the most social media savvy school we’ve ever encountered.
 

EssaySnark content

We’ve reviewed a number of Duke essays on the blahg:

The Duke adcom looks for the same strong career goals and personal angles as Ross and other schools, so check these reviews out for some additional guidance:

In terms of the Fuqua Principles, you might want to peruse some posts we’ve written about Berkeley: Haas and culture and A BSer is sick of the “culture” shtick.

 


 

For Reference: Duke’s Past-Season MBA Essays & Analysis

We don’t have every year listed out separately here since Duke has kept nearly the same essays and requirements for many years running.
Click to view 2016 info


2016 Duke Information

Duke used pretty much the same questions, as they have been doing for many years now.

In 2016, they cleaned up the “culture/contribution” prompt which made it easier to tackle for Class of 2019 applicants compared to what previous crops of BSers had to deal with.

We’ve done lots of posts on the Duke essays over the years, so that’s an advantage, too!

2016 Early Action and Open Interviews

The most important thing to know about Duke right now? That they offer OPEN INTERVIEWS on campus in late summer, for a rather short window of time. It’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that everyone – regardless of which application round you’re aiming for – makes plans for a trip out to Durham for this opportunity. We discuss the reasons why in our Duke app guide.

Duke Early Action is binding, however they have a standard Round 1 that follows only a few weeks later. If you’re not fully convinced that Fuqua is the place for you, then stick with Round 1 – but if you are ready to commit, then Early Action can be a real advantage.
[end discussion of early-season 2016 info]


Click to view 2015 questions

2015 Duke Information

Last year’s questions (these are old)

Excellent!!! Duke has kept its same questions for 2015 except that they’re giving you more space in the important Career Goals short-answer questions. YAY DUKE!! Our Fuqua strategy guidecovers everything you need to know on tackling these questions and the essays.


Three short-answer questions – — NOW 500 CHARACTERS EACH! THAT’S HUGE! You’ll be able to actually pitch a complete career path now.

  1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
  2. What are your long-term goals?
  3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

Two essays, up to two double-spaced pages each:

You really need to read the full questions as posted on their website .

  1. [T]he Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
  2. Choose one:
    • When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.
    • [A very involved question asking you to understand the 6 Fuqua Values and then:] At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.

Very minor changes to the wording of that option #2 question: They deleted the phrase “should reflect the research you have done.” Hmmm. Interesting, Duke!

For the career goals, Duke is pretty much the only school that invites you to present a “Plan B.” For most other applications you’ll want to stick with just ONE set of goals. It’s tough enough to convey those in the limited space the schools allow!! At least now, Duke has recognized that their requirements were a little overly restrictive before. You have a fighting chance this year, Brave Supplicant! You’re applying at like the best time ever. 😉

Also, that second question sure does have traces of Berkeley-Haas lingering around it! Unsurprising. Both of these schools have a distinct focus on culture, and both want you to understand what that culture is about before applying. The risk with the second option for essay 2? You could come across a little stilted if you try too hard. Check out the Duke Essay Guide to learn more.

Duke 2015 Deadlines

  • Early Action (binding): (two days earlier than 2014)
  • Round 1: (almost a week earlier than last year)
  • Round 2: (same day as last season)
  • Even though Round 3 is closed, they’re accepting apps on a rolling basis until April 25 (with decision coming on May 6 – are they saying that they would really be able to admit you in that little time?!?? we don’t suggest trying now)
As of Fall 2014 when Duke hit the top of the charts (i.e., BW put them at #1), interest in this school has been increasing. Like, a lot. Class of 2017 Round 2 at Fuqua was WAY more competitive than it had ever been, and they used the waitlist a lot.

[end discussion of Fuqua’s last year questions]


Click to view 2014 questions

2014 Duke Information

Duke won our informal Best MBA Questions contest for two years in a row (2012 and 2013) – their essay questions are awesome! We’ve therefore been thrilled that they’ve kept them exactly as they are for so long – including this year! They keep resisting the urge to make changes just because all the other schools are changing. Bravo, Fuqua! 😀

[end discussion of Duke’s 2014 application]


We’ve got the 2016 SnarkStrategies Guide for Duke available to help you craft a strong strategy for this great school!

 

[Index of essay questions by business school]

One thought on “Duke Essays Analysis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *