Past accomplishments, roles, and career goals tend to dominate the essays of the typical MBA applicant. These factors, alone, tend to take most essays over the word count, and as such, many applicants never actually share the reasons behind the paths they have taken or why they want to pursue an MBA in the first place (unless the essay prompt specifically asks).
Sharing your personal motivations, and the factors that have led to the decision to attend business school, is just as important as identifying your goals. It will help you convincingly show that aside from having the tools to succeed in business school, you also have the motivation to accomplish your post-MBA goals.
Articulating one’s personal motivations is not as easy as it sounds, however. In many cases, applicants feel like attending business school is just where life “took them”. What then are some specific steps to help you articulate why you need an MBA?
Try recalling the highs and lows of your life, starting from childhood – these can include exciting personal triumphs, heartbreaking failures, and embarrassing mistakes. Such memorable events can provide the Admissions Committee with great context as to why you want to pursue an MBA.
Turning points for your family – such as experiencing the sudden growth or collapse of the family business – can also be underlying incentives for wanting to attend business school. Highlighting the lessons that were learned from any of these experiences, and sharing how these particular events have helped guide your decisions and career, will help you take the Admissions Committee through your thinking and motivations.
Not only does this exercise help you express what drives you, but it also allows you to paint vivid pictures and present relatable details in your essays. All of these will help bring your application to life and make your overall profile more interesting to your readers.
Another easy way to articulate your reasons for wanting an MBA is to remember the feedback you have received from past mentors, supervisors, or peers at work. Recalling this could help you explain why you got promoted or what allowed you to accomplish certain tasks at work, and can even help you identify areas for personal development than an MBA would help you achieve.
Articulating the feedback you have received from others will show the Admissions Committee that you are self-aware, receptive to constructive feedback, and able to plan your next steps clearly (including the step to achieve an MBA).
Finally, recollect the experiences that opened your eyes to opportunities that you eventually took on during your career. These could include world travels, extracurricular activities, or work you did in a new or challenging environment that have led you down the MBA path.
For instance, I once worked with a Canadian applicant who shared how travelling to Latin America made him realize the continent’s promising potential for his business venture. Sharing this epiphany allowed the Admissions Committee to understand why he wanted to pursue a global MBA, and also displayed his open-mindedness, reinforcing the credibility of his claim that he would greatly benefit from the multi-cultural environment of business school.
The above steps are all good starting points, but to probe deeper, it would be beneficial to have someone who can help you ask yourself the right questions (perhaps a Veritas Prep Consultant?).
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