Fuqua’s introduction this year of a new essay question is interesting because it is markedly different than “typical” admissions essays. The new required essay has potential to trip up applicants, especially international applicants, who could misunderstand the question and respond inappropriately.
What does Fuqua’s admissions committee ask?
From Duke’s website, the complete essay prompt is:
The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.
In this spirit, the 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.
Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.
Essay example from the Director of Admissions
From Duke’s Daytime MBA Student Blog, Megan Lynam (Director of Admissions) explained the question in detail last July. Unfortunately, if you are rushing to do your application or haven’t spent much time really getting acquainted with the admissions process, you could have missed this important post. These examples (and the other dozen in their post) demonstrate “Random Things” Duke is looking for.
- 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?
Essay examples that don’t seem to satisfy their vision
Here is an example of an alternative list of items that was created in response to this essay question. Fortunately, they were not submitted. Anyone not seeing the admissions office examples could be working on a list entirely inappropriate for submission as this was. It is particularly important for international applicants to understand that this idea of a “Random Thing” includes an expectation of humor and interesting items. Unfortunately, that is not obvious in the prompt and requires more subtle understanding of English, and some cultural experience, to understand it clearly. The list below are characteristics or traits. This is not what you should submit in response to this question.
- Flexible and open-minded, capable of adapting to new circumstances and to people, not afraid of trying the new one and open-minded
- Benevolent and always happy to do favor.
- Social and rapidly forming network
- Idealist, to add value to humanity, never-ending self-expectation, in order to accomplish great things
- A good son and a good brother
- Romance, living my feelings intensely, and appreciating the people who deserve it.
- I love my country and my nation.
- Loving to travel, taking pictures and exploring the delicious food.
A few final examples
My own list would include these random things:
- I have been able to ride a unicycle since I was 8 years old (but I cannot juggle).
- Responding to an unexpected opportunity, I hiked completely across the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to the North Rim.
- To afford a college summer study abroad in Rome while, I didn’t stay in the dorms. I brought a tent and camped all around Rome. Each day I walked to campus from a different place and by the end of the summer, had seen virtually the entire city intimately.