Application Essays Change to Gain Greater Insights

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.

Complete essay questions and instructions are available on the Daytime Admissions pages.

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!

admissions blogger
Blogger Megan Overbay

Megan Lynam Overbay, Director of Admissions

Willie Green
Willie Green

Willie Green, Assistant Director of Diversity Initiatives

Kalina Monti
Kalina Monti

Kalina Monti, Operations Coordinator

See more examples from and insight on Fuqua’s 25 Random Things essay

Megan Lynam Overbay, former Duke Fuqua director of admissions

Megan Lynam Overbay

Former Director of Admissions

I served as director of admissions from 2010 until 2014, and I'm a 2003 graduate... Read More

Learn more about Megan | View all of Megan's Posts