Harvard | Mr. Consumer Goods Senior Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 8.27/10
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Evolving Teacher
GRE 328, GPA 3.26
Columbia | Mr. Indian I-Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 8.63
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Tech-y Athlete
GRE , GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Deferred Financial Poet
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Harvard | Mr. Lieutenant To Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Ms. EV Evangelist
GRE 334, GPA 2.67
Wharton | Ms. Product Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Indian Engineer + MBA Now In Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 8.7 / 10
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indonesian Salesperson
GMAT 660, GPA 3.49
Berkeley Haas | Mr. LGBT+CPG
GMAT 720, GPA 3.95
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Tech For Non-Profits
GRE 312, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Combat Pilot Non-Profit Leader
GRE 329, GPA 3.73
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Actual Poet
GMAT 720, GPA 12.0/14
MIT Sloan | Mr. Indian Healthcare Analytics
GMAT 720, GPA 7.8
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Administration & Policy Latino Advocate
GRE 324, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Asian Mexican Finance Hombre
GMAT 650, GPA 2.967
Stanford GSB | Mr. Filipino Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Columbia | Mr. Fintech Data Scientist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
Tuck | Mr. Opportunities In MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Harvard | Mr. Strategy For Social Good
GRE 325, GPA 3.5
MIT Sloan | Mr. Spaniard
GMAT 710, GPA 7 out of 10 (top 15%)
NYU Stern | Ms. Hopeful NYU Stern Marketing Ph.D.
GRE 297, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Strategy Consultant Middle East
GMAT 760, GPA 3.4

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 Accepted.com 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.

Our Series On Perfecting Your MBA Essays: