Yale | Mr. Army Pilot
GMAT 650, GPA 2.90
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
INSEAD | Mr. Tesla Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Tech To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
INSEAD | Ms. Investment Officer
GMAT Not taken, GPA 16/20 (French scale)
Cornell Johnson | Mr. SAP SD Analyst
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Startup Of You
GMAT 770, GPA 2.4
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Admit
GMAT Waived, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Mr. International PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.3
Harvard | Mr. Policy Development
GMAT 740, GPA Top 30%
Ross | Mr. Brazilian Sales Guy
GRE 326, GPA 77/100 (USA Avg. 3.0)
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Hopeful
GMAT -, GPA 2.9
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Against All Odds
GMAT 720, GPA 2.9
Wharton | Ms. Finance For Good
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future VC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Investment Associate
GMAT 700, GPA 3.67
Kellogg | Ms. Public School Teacher
GRE 325, GPA 3.93
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Reform
GRE 331 (Practice), GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Fund
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Mr. Future In FANG
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Officer
GRE 325, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Italian In Tokyo
GMAT (710-740), GPA 4.0
Kellogg | Mr. IDF Commander
GRE Waved, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
Yale | Mr. Healthcare Geek
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
USC Marshall | Mr. Low GPA High GMAT
GMAT 740, GPA 2.44
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80

Will Your Goals Convince the Adcom to Accept You?

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted, offers some Stanford GSB application tips

Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted

As we’ve discussed before, thinking deeply about your goals is an important step for an MBA applicant. Being able to articulate in specific, concrete terms both what you want to do and why you need an MBA to do it is a key part of the pre-application thought process. Having a clear, convincing goal is not only crucial to your application, but it will also help you get the most out of your b-school experience, since you’ll go in with a clear idea of what you are looking to get out of the experience.

How can you make your goal so compelling that it makes the reader root for you? How can you inspire the adcom to think, “Wow, it would be great if they could achieve this goal!”?

You’ll need to take your goals to the next level with “goals plus”: show the adcom how your goals developed from your experience and describe your motivation and vision.

  • Experience:show when, where, and how your goals developed.
  • Motivation: this is the pivot point when you became engaged and captivated in some way so that you knew you wanted to pursue a given path.
  • Vision: demonstrate the broader impact of achieving your goal.

These three elements work together in your essay, and you’ll likely combine them. Here is a brief example, taken from a sample goals essay:

Last year, when I was in Taiwan advising a global financial services company on consolidating its Asia strategy, I found myself thinking what a shame it was that my relationship with the client proved responsive rather than proactive. With my knowledge of the region’s changing demographic and logistical realities, I could have recommended strategic opportunities a year ago to prevent the client from getting bogged down in redundant acquisitions and incompatible markets. Following that experience, I envisioned a new consulting paradigm resembling primary care medicine, based on a long-term, prevention-focused relationship between the consultant and client.

In this example, adding experience, motivation, and vision transforms the goal from static to dynamic.

There are three other advantages of “goals plus”:

  1. Basing your goals in your experience enhances credibility.
  2. Adding the personal context for your goals – how they developed from your experience and where your motivation comes from – also adds an element of story, which is more engaging and memorable than pure exposition.
  3. Your goals inherently differentiate you and, because it’s your story, it’s naturally unique.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block as you sit down to tackle a goals essay, you’re not alone! But you also don’t need to struggle. Just take some time to think about your experience, motivation, and vision – and you’ll be on your way to a goals essay…“plus.”


Why do you need an MBA? Will you be ready to answer this important question – for the adcom and for yourself? Learn proven strategies for defining and refining your goals. Read Why MBA today!   Linda Abraham is the founder of Accepted, the premier admissions consultancy. She has coached MBA applicants to acceptance for over 20 years. The Wall Street Journal, US News, and Poets & Quants are among the media outlets that seek her admissions expertise.