Three Essential Keys To The Goals Essay

There are 3 essential ingredients to a successful MBA goals essay, arguably the most common and important essay in MBA applications. Your MBA goals essay must be:

  1. Focused
  2. Anecdotal
  3. Realistic

Let’s take a peek under the hood of each element:

Focused: Your short-term goal should include one function you would like to perform and one or two industries you would like to work in. You can also mention geographic location, if it is relevant. Your long-term MBA goal, usually your goal five to ten years after you earn your degree, can be fuzzier, but should progress organically from your intended studies in b-school and your short-term goal.

Anecdotal: Depending on the question asked, try to open with a brief, relevant story. An engaging anecdote, particularly at the essay’s beginning, draws your reader into your material, makes your goal more concrete and credible, and distinguishes you. It may also highlight a related achievement as well as strong, experiential reasons for your choosing this path to professional success.

Realistic: A realistic goal is achievable given:

  1. An MBA from this school. This program has to have the curriculum, career management services/recruiting connections, and extracurricular opportunities to help you achieve your objectives. If you are asked “Why this school?” show how these characteristics will help you realize your professional dreams. The fit between these school assets and your career goal builds a compelling case for your acceptance — and a winning answer to the question.
  2. Your past experience. Demonstrate that your past experience supports your ambitions. What transferable skills or knowledge, when combined with your MBA from this school, qualify you for the career you want? This is particularly important if you are making a major career change (industry and function) or if you want to go into a particularly clubby field, like private equity or venture capital.

Caution: Writing “I want to go into marketing, consulting, or investment banking…” screams “I haven’t a clue what I want to do.” Bad idea. Remember the F in FAR. Focus.

Go FAR in the MBA application process. Write a focused, anecdotal, realistic MBA goals essay. It will take you much closer to acceptance at your dream schools and your post-MBA goal.

By Linda Abraham, CEO and founder of and co-author of the soon-to released book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Linda has been helping MBA applicants gain acceptance to top MBA programs since 1994.

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