If it’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s someone who says they are “going to business school to figure out what they want to do.” THAT IS DUMB. And incidentally, also very EXPENSIVE, because it’s a waste of your precious TIME. Get clear on your career goal first, so you can pick a program that will help you achieve it. Then leverage your time in business school to achieve said goal. Believe me, when applicants try to conceal their lack of direction, and BS their way through, it comes through loud and clear in their essays. It’s impossible to hide. And the essays are painful to read.
Business schools want to bring in students who will be successful, make them look good, have a positive impact on endowments. It’s difficult for students achieve greatness if they have no direction. This is why business schools ask you – hey, applicant, how do you plan to spend your time at our school ? I heartily recommend that you do the introspection work….with a coach if necessary… to construct your career plans before attempting to draft your applications. Do the inner work first. The application essays should be a manifestation of this process, not be the beginning of it. I often hear, “I just want to get into a school and then I’ll figure out the rest when I’m there.” OK. Let’s say you get into a school. Without clear intentions, you will be caught in a tidal wave of courses, clubs, classes and recruiters. Not to mention speakers, internships, externships…you get the picture. Instead of tapping into your heart’s desire, it’s more likely that you’ll be thrown about the sea, shipwrecked, 20 months having slipped through your hands and all you have to show for it is a huge bill. I will end with these words of advice from one McCombs MBA student to an applicant:
“I didn’t realize how busy I would be! I knew that business school was going to be challenging but the first few months really tested my time management skills. Looking back I was amazed at how much we all accomplished in the fall term. Advice I would have for that is to think about what you want to get out of business school before you get here. Do you want to focus on recruiting, social, academics? And are you okay with priorities shifting as you progress in the year?”