By Russell Davis, MBA Prep School
As the former Associate Director of Admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and now an MBA Prep School Admissions Consultant, I’ve had many conversations with current students and alumni on what they valued most about their time at Duke. Their responses largely revolve around three themes: the culture, the experience, and the people.
Students sincerely value Duke’s culture and consider themselves lifelong members of ‘Team Fuqua’, a term used to describe the school’s collaborative community. Duke students feel stronger because of the supportive culture that abounds on campus and continues in the alumni community after graduation. The sense of community and collaboration comprises the core of their MBA experience. It is not uncommon for students to say that they didn’t fully understand what ‘Team Fuqua’ meant, or how important it was, until they arrived on campus and experienced it firsthand. As a Duke alumnus, ‘Team Fuqua’ is reflected in the close-knit alumni community in which they continue to support each other as they navigate their careers and lives. If an applicant doesn’t mention ‘Team Fuqua’ in some form in their application materials, the Admissions Committee will likely question how much they really know about Duke.
Customize Your MBA Experience.
The breadth of Duke’s course offerings allows students to explore a wide range of interests. Students can choose from 12 concentrations including – Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship, two Finance concentrations, two Marketing concentrations, Leadership & Ethics, Financial Analysis, Management, Decision Sciences, Operations Management, and Strategy. They can dive more deeply into finance and healthcare by earning the Certificate of Finance and Health Sector Management Certificate. Duke has seen more students pursue the Energy & Environment and Energy Finance concentrations in recent years as a result of the growing interest in careers in energy, renewables and sustainability. Students are also able to take classes at Duke University’s other top graduate schools, including the Nicholas School of Environment, the Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Duke Law and Medical Schools. Duke looks for students who want to blaze a trail; showing an interest in the wide range of curricular, extracurricular, and experiential opportunities available in the university system showcases that pioneering spirit.
Tell Us 25 Random Things About Yourself.
Duke prides itself on getting to know applicants beyond their professional profile, and applicants appreciate their interest. In the Poets & Quants’ annual applicant survey, respondents are asked, ‘How well did you feel the school got to know you in the application process?’ Duke consistently ranks at the top of the pack. One likely reason: the fun, unconventional MBA essay question, ‘Tell Us 25 Random Things About Yourself’. MBA Prep School clients use this essay to share insights into who they are as a person, not just as a professional, and what they value most. The most compelling responses to this question leave no stone unturned. When used strategically, the essay allows applicants to explain issues of interest to the Adcom, like a low GPA, an employment gap, or a career transition, without having to use the optional essay.
Top Ranked Business School in Bloomberg Businessweek 2014 MBA Rankings.
Duke graduates are highly valued by corporate recruiters. In 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek adjusted the criteria for their MBA rankings, using three simple measures: 45% of the ranking was based on its survey of employers; 45% on a student satisfaction survey; and 10% on their assessment of faculty. The answers of employers who hire more MBAs were given additional weight, which boosted Duke’s ranking. Employers know that Duke graduates excel in corporate environments because they gravitated toward a collaborative culture in choosing to attend Duke, where they developed their hard AND soft skills by engaging completely in the academic and social MBA experience Duke is famous for.
During my eleven years at Duke, I often heard prospective applicants ask alumni, ‘What do you miss most about your MBA experience?’ The most common answer: ‘the people’. Duke attracts students who want to be fully engaged inside and outside the classroom, and who embrace learning from each other. It is this experience and culture that makes Duke’s MBA experience exceptional and sets students up for success in their post-MBA careers. I encourage every client I have who is applying for an MBA to give Duke a closer look. I know when they do they will come away impressed by Duke’s culture, campus experience, and remarkable students, alumni and faculty.