Demonstrating the Need

As you fill out your business school applications, you will undoubtedly encounter some very challenging essay questions. To be successful, you will go through a lot of soul searching and self discovery. Most applicants are bound to encounter the “why MBA” question frequently. It is surprising how difficult this relatively straightforward question can be. Applicants who have focused goals and defined reasons for wanting to apply often still struggle.

Demonstrating that you will benefit from the experience offered by your target program is critical to your success. Even if you are not asked the question explicitly, you should be aware that your story needs to illustrate that the program can help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Every year, I work with reapplicants who solicit feedback on applications they submitted in prior years. Here are some highlights from recent feedback sessions that illustrate the point above:

Applicant A:
GPA – 3.9
GMAT – 680
Experience – 2 years strategy consulting
Goal – career in IT.
Feedback – not clear why you need an MBA. Seems like your goals are more technical than managerial.

Applicant B:
GPA – 3.1
GMAT – 710
Experience – 4 years venture capital
Goal – continuing current career in venture capital.
Feedback – not clear why you want an MBA. Seems that you are gaining relevant experience on the job. What can the MBA provide?

Applicant C:
GPA – 3.6
GMAT – 700
Experience – 3 years strategy consulting
Goal – career in arts management
Feedback – not clear why you need an MBA, the degree is generally not required for Arts Management.

The moral of this entry is – make sure it is clear to the admissions committee that the MBA can help you reach your stated goals in a very specific way. Understand what you will gain from their program and communicate that clearly to them. Your explanation should demonstrate an understanding of what an MBA can provide, and the benefits of their specific program. This can also include insights into their culture, and ways that being immersed in that environment can help you develop.

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