Business School Sample Essay

Essay 1

Fuqua (Duke University): Accepted

   Coming from a public high school in a small Kansas town, Ivy League standards were all very new to me in 1992. Most of the students I would come to know at Yale had studied at private schools for their secondary education and had already taken most first-year classes during their senior years of high school. Subsequently, I was playing catch-up from the beginning. I entered my freshman year intent on studying medicine. My schedule was full of pre-med courses, I played basketball for three to four hours a day, and struggled to adjust to my new environment.

   As the year wore on, I became certain that I did not want to be a doctor. I disliked every class that I took in the pre-med track, and was doing poorly in my studies in general. I simply did not receive the type of preparation for college that others seemed to have received. In addition, I was convinced that I should have a roaring social life from the first day I arrived on campus. In short, I did not recognize what needed to be done to achieve excellence at that level, both academically and athletically. I barely survived my freshman year.

   Over the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I declared war on Yale University. I had suffered a great setback freshman year. I had achieved an unacceptable G.P.A. and was disappointed in myself. I vowed never to allow anyone to outwork me again. I would not quit basketball. I would redouble my efforts in the classroom, and if need be, I would quit going out on weekends until I felt more comfortable with my grades.

   Sophomore year I fed off of this determination. I made great strides in the classroom, having shifted my focus from medicine to organizational behavior, a field I enjoyed much more. I lived in the library and used my weekends wisely. My study habits improved, I learned to budget my time and prioritize my activities, and witnessed the benefits of these new skills. As a result of my single-mindedness in achieving excellent grades at Yale, I developed a work pattern that would stay with me permanently. By graduation I had achieved a respectable academic record and was elected Captain of the basketball team.

   If confronted with a similar situation now, I would not let the problem persist for as long as it did. My struggle taught me to identify situations in which drastic changes need to take place, and then take steps to remedy the situation. I have gained self-confidence as a result of this victory and know that this confidence will see me through any tough times that lie ahead.


Because the theme of this essay is very common, the writer needs to work doubly hard to make this narrative unique. As it is, this essay sounds like it could have been written by several different people. While the applicant does address the given essay question by presenting a setback, there is really little more in the essay than a rather thoughtless explanation of the reasons behind his or her initial difficulties and a rushed description of the superficial ways in which he or she went about overcoming them. There is, in other words, little introspection in this essay-and the reader therefore learns little that is meaningful about the writer.

In addition, the writer would do well to make this essay more succinct and efficient. It seems to take the writer a lot of time and space to tell the reader how he or she learned to budget time and excel in academic pursuits.