The admissions process is all about showcasing an applicant’s greatest strengths, interests and values. The “10 Random Things” essay is a unique way for Fuqua’s Admissions team to genuinely get to know applicants for who they are. For applicants, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection and a platform for showcasing their authentic selves.

Here’s how we approached the “random things” essay.

Four students, three women and one man, in the Global Executive MBA Program at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Carolina Diaz Vargas

I started writing the “random things” essay by compiling a list of 30 facts about me, ranging from all areas of my life as well as different points in time. I wanted to capture facts that were not already covered in other parts of the application and that I don’t typically disclose when I first meet someone. These facts went deeper into me as a person, at the core of who I am, and ultimately demonstrated my values.

After that, I sent my list to my husband and sister because they know me best. I asked them to rate the top 10. Any fun facts that they both agreed I included and the rest I kept in the list. Then, I looked at the Team Fuqua values and narrowed my list to the things that linked back to the values without necessarily calling them out. One of the most important aspects for me when selecting the school was that it aligned with my values and the values that I wanted as a leader.

Some additional tips for applicants:

  1. Keep in mind that what may seem normal to you may be what makes you stand out.  
  2. Your “random things” should reflect your values and what matters to you.
  3. Don’t approach this essay by trying to match what admissions might find interesting, be authentic.
  4. The more range of experiences you can show, the better. We are not all one thing, we are the compositions drawing from many different experiences, and Fuqua values diversity.
  5. If you gave this list to a close family member, and they said, “Yes, this is you!” then you are on the right track.  
Six students, three men and three women, stand in front of virtual background showing Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Ekhoe Aifuwa

For my essay, I thought about pieces that I read recently that caught my attention. I modeled it after blogs by my segment CEO who always had an interesting way of introducing a seemingly unrelated topic at the start of his blog and tying it all together at the end. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I followed a style that I knew would be an easy way to get my point across in an engaging way.

Michael Owens, a student in the Global Executive MBA program at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, with his wife and child

Michael Owens

I took an approach that I believe highlighted my strengths and personality but incorporated a degree of vulnerability. I am passionate about fitness and goals because there was a time in my life when even the smallest goal seemed unachievable. I have a deep level of curiosity and desire to learn, but that’s tied to a fear of letting the unknown remain unknown.

In the end, I think all of these facts fit in at Fuqua because we really are a team. I’ve had the most success in this program when I’ve checked ego and insecurity at the door, and let my awesome cohort teach me so many things I didn’t know. 

Tyler Watkins, a student in the Global Executive MBA program at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, and his child and wife

Tyler Watkins

While writing the “random things” essay, I tried to focus on being genuine and authentic while keeping it fun. This may feel like an opportunity to sneak in some humble brags and flexes, but it’s not. Some of your fun facts may also be strengths or impressive facts, but it’s important to remember to give some context to the Admissions team. They read hundreds of essays, so I wanted to stand out.

My advice to applicants struggling to write this essay is to be specific—saying you “volunteer with kids” is redundant and boring. Explain why you volunteer with kids and the impact it has had on your and their lives. Don’t be afraid to be quirky and let your guard down. Team Fuqua needs students from all backgrounds and with all hobbies to keep the Fuqua system alive and well! Don’t think you need to tell them you are in the “Equities Investing Club” because that is a canned business school answer. Fuqua is different.