So often applicants think about other aspect of their application (school selection, resume etc.) prior to considering their MBA goals, and I really feel this is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.
To write a persuasive application, it’s critical that you have those goals honed and refined. Background + MBA = Post-MBA Goal. So in order to solve for “MBA” part here, you need to figure out the right side of the equation.
Then, take Goal + Experience = Long Term Goal. Hopefully this long-term goal will stir the adcom on both an emotional and analytical level.
Consider this: schools invest more money in you than you pay in tuition. So while many consider this process to be shopping for an MBA program, in fact, your application should be likened to a pitch. Think Shark Tank.
Why should they invest foundation dollars in you vs. someone else? They are more likely to choose the applicant who has carefully considered why they are applying to the school, and what they are trying to make manifest by going there. Successful Shark Tank applicants rarely walk into the room presented a with few different “options” for potential products, or a generic, half-baked idea. They don’t say, well, give me the money, I want to explore first, and see what sounds good to me once I get there. That would be a ridiculous way to approach starting a business, a sure plan for financial ruin. Yet, business school applicants do this all the time.
Check this out. For the admissions committee, in this case, *YOU* ARE THE BUSINESS. You are the business they are investing in. Show them you have a business plan for business school. Show you have a strategy and specific tactics to carry out said strategy.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t engage in big, blue-sky thinking. Schools like to see a big vision. One of my recent Wharton Lauder admits has a goal of establishing a consultancy in Africa that will allow Africans to effectively increase the percentage of arable land, solving part of the hunger crisis, and make the agriculture market a viable means of economic growth there.
So, big vision is encouraged, however, you need to connect the dots. Background + MBA = Goal. In this case, he had visited Africa, traveled extensively, and has a masters in Engineering. All he needs is a business education – knowledge if marketing, finance – mentorship, and an understanding of the competitive landscape there. The Lauder program allows students to spend time abroad doing these things, so this is a fit. What Wharton-Lauder offers matches what he needs to achieve his goal. But we couldn’t establish that fit with crappy, fuzzy, generic goals.
So my message is this – set MBA goals first, to show how your Background + MBA = Goal. Demonstrate how YOU will leverage the opportunity – a key reason for adcom to admit you. Once you do this, the process of writing your applications becomes far easier, you gain momentum, and the passion and precision shines through.
Next week, I’ll post a blog on how to identify these goals. It starts with your values. There is a huge amount of freedom that comes with making decisions based on your values. For me, it’s important that I work with clients who allow me to be authentic, honest and in a sense, playful. We can laugh together. These things reflect my values. When I sense a fit on this level, it is likely to be a good match. So this is a great guiding principle for selecting new clients. Complete this exercise to find out yours.