By Megan Overbay, former Director of Admissions.
One of the more challenging jobs that the Admissions team faces each year is selecting our application essay questions. We strive for questions that will fill any gaps in the application, tie the applicant’s story together, and shed light on what truly makes the person who they are — beyond what is stated in the resume, test scores, and transcripts. Despite our best intentions, it can be difficult to convey what we are seeking through our essay questions, and we sometimes receive submissions that are regurgitations of information found elsewhere in the application, overly manufactured versions of what applicants think we want to hear, or in some extreme cases, plagiarism of content found online. This is why you may notice so many admissions teams adapting their approach to essay questions. We are in a constant search for the tool, question, or method that will evoke a sense of who the applicant truly is, and what makes him/her unique.
Who Are You?
This year at Duke, we are stretching the definition of “essay” in an effort to harness the sort of insight that we’re looking for from applicants. The Daytime MBA application now includes three very straightforward short answer questions about the applicant’s goals. Here, we’re just looking for the facts, with minimal embellishment. We do have an “essay question,” but what we’re seeking through it is a glimpse into the conversations that applicants have with the people who know them best. Think about it. When you tell your best friend why you are applying to a specific school, you do so with genuine passion and enthusiasm. We want to hear that honest emotion, along with the reasoning that you give your best friend/mom/significant other/mentor about why you are applying not just to MBA programs, but to Fuqua.
Finally, we are asking for a numbered list — a kind of top 25. That’s right. For one of the “essays,” we want a list of 25 things that illuminate your passions, personality, quirks, hopes, fears, etc. A couple of years ago, the “25 Random Things” list went viral, and back then, we shared our lists within the Admissions team at Fuqua. It became a tradition, and new team members share their lists when they join us. Like our new hires, our applicants are looking to join our Fuqua community. Thus, we thought that the Random Things would be an appropriate way to get a true sense of our applicants and how they would engage with and impact our community.
We Are Team Fuqua
Since applicants are also seeking to understand the schools to which they are applying, and whether Fuqua is a good fit, we will use the Random Things to help you to get to know us and our community. In my contributions to the blog throughout the year, I will include a smattering of Random Things about our staff, and I encourage our student bloggers to do the same! It is only fair that I start off, so below are a few selections from my 25 Random Things, as well as those from a couple of other amazing Admissions team members. We hope you enjoy getting to know us!
Megan Overbay, Director of Admissions
- I was a … ummm … headstrong child. I liked to dress myself, and would throw nasty temper tantrums when I didn’t get to do so. My mom finally stopped fighting me, and when she dropped me off at school, the woman who ran my Montessori school said that the hideous outfit I had put together was a sign of intelligence.
- My grandparents have traveled to every continent, every state, and pretty much anywhere you would ever want to go. They keep a map of the world with pins designating all the places they have seen. In my lifetime, I aspire to have a map that’s as full of pins as my grandparents’ map.
- There is an assumption that because I am a good baker, I am also a good cook. This is not true. Baking is a science. Cooking is a mystery. What does “add salt to taste” mean anyway?
- I didn’t start running for exercise/sport until I was a junior in college. I got my first bike (since my Huffy Pink Thunder) when I was 22. I didn’t start swimming until two years later when I got hurt and couldn’t run or bike. I’m now a triathlete. ANYONE can do it if they decide that they want to do it.
- I was waitlisted in Round 1 when I applied to Fuqua for the Class of 2003. When Liz Riley Hargrove (our Associate Dean) called me that March to congratulate me on being admitted, I thought I had won the lottery. I did.
Willie Green, Assistant Director for Diversity Initiatives
- My real name is Willie, not William. Seriously, it’s on my license, birth certificate, social security card and everything.
- I have asthma but during freshman football practice in high school, I decided I wasn’t going to use my inhaler and I haven’t used one since.
- At the age of 4, I told my parents I wanted to be a doctor, and was on my way until a couple of drag out fights with Organic Chemistry and Biology in undergrad.
- During my junior year of high school, I was nominated for a male beauty pageant. For the talent portion of it, my best friend and I lip-synced to Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True” with suits, and dreadlock wigs (sorry no pictures or videotapes exist).
- I have a pretty good memory about random stuff, especially when it comes to sports (teams, who was on the respective team, etc.), music and when songs came out, and people, and how and when I met them.
Kalina Monti, Operations Coordinator
- I can juggle. My uncle was a professional juggler at one time, and he taught me how to do it.
- As a child, my family raised a few chickens and goats. We also grew large gardens with fresh vegetables and herbs (I miss it terribly).
- I was bitten by a copperhead snake on my left foot while moving things on my back porch (it was hidden under a cabinet, and afterwards I was out of commission for several weeks).
- I took ballet and danced on toe shoes until said toe was broken. Then I moved on to Cross Country and Track in high school (loved it!).
- My favorite author as a child was Dr. Seuss, and I still love him (quote: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is You-er than You.”)