Message from Admission Office
Common MBA Admission and Application Q&A for Japanese candidates
By Rita Morrow, Darden Admissions Committee
Rita can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Importance of Japanese students
The mission of the Darden School is to improve the world, and doing this requires the engagement of a globally diverse student body. Representing the 3rd largest economy in the world, Darden’s Japanese students assume an important role in sharing their cultural perspectives, mind-sets and business practices as well as their personal expertise.
Dean’s “20 Incredible Reasons”
Why should you consider pursuing your MBA at the Darden School of Business? How is it ranked? What is so great about Darden, the University of Virginia, and the City of Charlottesville?
To answer these questions, Darden Dean Scott Beardsley personally compiled his list “20 Incredible Reasons.”
Find it here: http://dardenjapan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/20-Reasons-1-pager-Press.pdf
How do I choose the best MBA program(s)?
Research schools months before you intend to apply using a few criteria that are important to you. Narrow your list to 5 or 6 for thorough review. Keep in mind that the school that fits you best is where you will excel and learn the most. Look at qualities such as the academic offerings/specialties, what the culture and people are like, teaching style, location, size of classes, career services. Attend information sessions of your target schools. Reach out to current students and alumni. Follow schools’ social media. Visit your top choices, if possible.
How do I prepare myself for the Application Process?
Identify your “brand.” What makes you a unique MBA candidate and in what areas do you excel? What are your 3 or 4 most significant character traits? At work, take advantage of opportunities to work on cross-functional projects and teams; also, to work on international projects and with international colleagues or clients. Fill gaps in your profile. Work on gaps now. Examples: English – take classes, get tutoring, join toastmasters, etc. Extracurricular activities – get more involved in an organization and in activities of sincere interest to you.
What about the GMAT & TOEFL?
Take the tests early, so you have time to retake them, if necessary. Do not assume you will achieve the score you have on your practice tests. Report all scores on your application. Sub scores are important. Last year at Darden, the GMAT scores of Japanese offers ranged from 690 to 720; TOEFL scores ranged from 105 to 109.
Is the Chance for Admission based upon the Round in which I apply?
In general, opportunity for admission is greater the earlier the candidate applies. We see an early application as an indication of strong interest in our program. However, we receive a majority of our applications in the first round and do make offers of admission to international applicants in all rounds, including the last one. We do advise candidates applying in the last round tell us why they are applying so late – this explanation can be provided in the Additional Information section in the application. In deciding when to apply, of most importance is to apply with the strongest application. For example, it is better to apply later if you need to retake the GMAT or perhaps spend more time to prepare the essays.
What does Darden look for in the Application?
Successful candidates bring a combination of competitive GMAT score, excellent performance in their previous university work, professional experience that shows continuous development of skills and knowledge as well as managerial experience or potential, positive comments from recommenders about the quality of work performed, excellent English communication and interpersonal skills that demonstrate willingness and capability to contribute to and learn from Darden’s case classes as well as our learning teams and extracurricular activities. In other words all parts of your application are important!
U.S. and international students have much the same challenges with the essay and short answer questions. Plan to spend a substantial amount of time preparing your material – it will probably take several writing sessions. Read the questions carefully to make sure you understand what is being asked. Answer each question in a direct way. Tell an interesting story. Be careful about sentence and paragraph structure as well as spelling. Write the answers yourself, but do ask a friend or two to read your answers and give you feedback. As mentioned before, you may need to revise your answers several times.
Identify your recommenders early. Your online application only needs to be started, not completed, before recommenders can submit their comments. Current managers who directly manage and observe your work are almost always the best recommenders. If it is a sensitive matter to obtain a recommendation from a current manager, good alternatives would be a former manager, co-worker or client. It is a good idea to schedule a meeting with each recommender to determine their willingness and available time to complete the recommendation. You may wish to share your rationale for applying to the Darden School and gently remind them of your accomplishments.
Make sure the recommenders are aware of the application deadline – it is a good idea to ask if you may remind them about completing the recommendation a week before the deadline. They are almost sure to say yes, and then you won’t feel awkward about contacting them. The application will not be reviewed by the admissions committee until it is complete including both recommendations. If one or both recommendations are not complete within a week after the deadline date, the application may not be reviewed until the next round. Recommendations received after the deadline, however, do not affect the evaluation of the candidate.
How Should I Prepare for the Interview?
Darden interviews “blindly,” which means that the person who interviews you will not have read your application, not even your resume. So, early in the interview expect to spend 10 to 15 minutes sharing information about your background. Most candidates present their backgrounds in chronological order – beginning with a bit about their early life/family, educational background, professional experience, extracurricular interests, etc. Prepare, but don’t over prepare – know the key points you wish to share, but do not memorize what you will say or read from a script. Make eye contact with the interviewer. Let your personality come through. You will have the opportunity to ask questions. Ask questions that cannot be answered by reading the website. Remember, the interviewer wants you to do well!
Is there an Advantage to be interviewed by Alumni vs Admissions Committee?
Interviews conducted in person by alumni and members of the admissions committee (including the student admissions committee) at Darden or by skype are seen as equal in evaluating the overall application. Darden alumni conducted nearly half of Japanese candidate interviews last year.
What is Darden’s Policy for”Couple” Applicants?
We encourage couples to apply and have several applying each year. Each individual’s application is evaluated independently first. Then, the Admissions Committee looks at the applications together. This year we have couples from Asia and Latin America joining our class.
Does Darden Encourage Re-applications?
Yes, we encourage unsuccessful candidates to reapply. During June of each year, members of the Admissions Committee offer 15 minute telephone calls to provide feedback to those candidates who are considering reapplying. Those who improve their application, according to the feedback they receive, have a very good chance for admission. (If someone wishes to receive feedback and has not yet done so, they are welcome to email me directly.)
Keep positive through the application process. Work hard, bring passion and energy to your application and very importantly… surround yourself with those who will cheer you on through the long process!