Goals in MBA Admissions: A Must:

by on May 27th, 2011

When I give presentations, no matter what the topic, whether talking about applicant qualifications, choosing schools, the admissions perspective, or planning for the future, I end up talking about the importance of MBA goals. When speaking individually with applicants, I am frequently struck by the fact that many of you lack clear goals for your MBA — not even those of you who are definitely committed to applying this fall and working hard on GMAT prep.

Clear, well-defined goals are as much a requirement of MBA admissions as GMAT, GPA, and work experience.

To define your goals:

  1. Look inward: What do you enjoy and where do you excel?
  2. Examine what you have done off the job and see if there are lessons in your non-professional life for your professional life.
  3. Clarify and mine interests and past experiences. Where have you excelled?

Then look outward:

  1. Examine professional paths that will take advantage of your strengths and give you more of what you find satisfying.
  2. Research the schools to find those that support your professional goals and provide an educational environment where you can thrive.

Establish specific goals you want to achieve within a given program and a career plan for your post MBA years.

Clearly I go into much greater depth during a day-long presentation, but these few tips are critical. Most importantly realize this fundamental:

Goals are not an afterthought in MBA admissions. They are front and center in the minds of admissions readers. Put them front and center in your mind as you prepare to apply.

For tips on writing the MBA goals essay, please see MBA Goals 101.


  • Linda,

    I really appreciate your advice (define goals then look outward).  I've gained a serious interest in pursuing an MBA, started studying for the GMAT, but my main goal is really only to change careers.  I work in contracts with the federal government, which is not something I want to continue as a career.  I would really like to get into a good MBA program, but I have no idea of what my post MBA goals would be. 

    Should I just start contacting MBA alumni and ask them what they do, if I can do an informational interview, shadow them, etc?  I don't REALLY know what most MBAs do, I only know the many different concentrations that are offered.  

    What I feel is worse is that working in the federal government cuts me off from the rest of the world.  I can't go to anyone within my "company"  for MBA advice because I want to get completely out of the government.  

    Even if I scored great on the GMAT and wanted to apply next year, maybe I should just pick a concentration and say that my goals are in that field?

    I'm almost 29 and have no idea what I want to do, I just know an MBA would be a great investment in myself, I would really like the challenge of the education, and the ROI would be worthwhile.  I'm not too old, but I don't want to be 35 before I have an idea of what I want to do.  I need some direction and assistance.

  • I have a few pieces of advice for you:

    1) Think about what you like and dislike in your job. Make a list of what you would like more of and what you would like less of.
    2) Talk to friends and family out of the government. I realize that if you are in DC an enormous number of people are government-employed, but not 100%. If necessary go through your college undergrad alumni association or any group you belong to that has exposure to non-governmental employees. Then, yes, do informational interviews.
    3) If necessary, hire a career counselor. You can contact me offline and I will suggest a couple.
    4) If you have any idea, look at the career sections of the larger employers in those areas. Read some of the profiles of younger employees hired for those jobs. See if you can network your way to talking to someone in the positions you find attractive.

    You clearly need some direction and are very wise to be seeking it now. You should be in great shape to apply in the Fall by starting now.

    On a more general note, you might be interested in MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply!


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