The ‘Why MBA’ question isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. There are the basic introspective aspects of whether you need an MBA in the first place, why this is the right time, what your post MBA goals are and if they are well-aligned with your pre-MBA experience.
If you aren’t absolutely confident about those aspects, check out this video first. It explains how you can get the basic foundation in place before you even think about moving to the essays.
If the concept explained in the video sounds logical, check out some more details about the MBA MAP.
The rest of the content in this post assumes that you have already managed the introspective and philosophical aspects (either on your own or by using the MBA MAP). Now you are planning to apply to MBA programs and looking at how best to articulate the Why MBA aspects in your MBA essays.
In this guest post for MBA Crystal Ball, Nupur Gupta shares tips and advice on how to write MBA essays for the ‘Why MBA’ essay question. Nupur is an admissions consultant and the Founder of Crack The MBA. She graduated from the full-time MBA program at The Wharton School in 2010 with majors in Entrepreneurship and Finance. Nupur obtained her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology in Upstate New York.
In this post, we will seek to understand the question which arises in most school applications in some form or the other – Why MBA?
How different schools ask the ‘Why MBA’ question?
Look at the following questions from 3 of the top business schools:
Wharton: What are your professional objectives? (300 words)
HBS: Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)
Stanford: What do you want to do – REALLY – and why Stanford? (450 words)
Do you sense a trace of similarity here? Even though they may be worded slightly differently, these questions effectively aim to understand one and only one thing – namely, your PROFESSIONAL GOALS. Yes, professional goals are important enough to warrant bold, underline and capitalization!
What is the AdCom trying to understand by asking this question?
Let me start off by saying that this question is one of the pillars on which your MBA application rests. This question helps the school understand your reasons for wanting an MBA and they use your answer to evaluate if your post MBA goals make sense and whether or not they are in tune with whatever you have done thus far. They are looking to see whether or not an MBA is the bridge that you need to take you from where you are right now to where you want to be as mentioned in your goals. The essay is also a great opportunity for you to reflect on whether or not you really need an MBA to fulfill your career aspirations.
Some things that schools are trying to screen for:
A range of responses from the same candidate and our commentary and rating for each response
Consider 3 different responses from a candidate who is a 2nd generation owner/manager in a family business setup in the ophthalmic lens industry currently wherein the firm is within the top 15 players in the market.
1. Weak: my goal is to make a long-lasting impact in the field of ophthalmic lenses
2. Average: my goal is to return to the family enterprise and position it as a leading ophthalmic lens provider in India by implementing the learnings at business school
3. Strong: my short-term goal following my MBA from Wharton is to return to the family business and to implement the learnings in operations and marketing to our production and retail divisions in order to position the firm as the leading distributor and retailer in India in order to make an impact in the field of ophthalmic lenses. In the long-term, I would like to position the company as a leading global player in the industry through inorganic growth made possible by the 80,000+ strong alumni network at Wharton along with learnings from courses such as ‘Cross Border M&A’.
Response #1 is a generic ‘wishy washy’ goal with no thought as to how the person intends to make an impact, how an MBA would help in the process. In general, it is extremely vague and does not provide any insight to the user.
Response #2 begins to address some of the issues in Response #1 by starting to show the MBA as the missing link which can help the student transform the company from its current state to its desired state which is to be a leading provider of ophthalmic lenses.
Response #3 breaks the question down into two pieces – short-term and long-term goal. It talks about specific learnings from the MBA program that would be useful for the student (operations, marketing) and it further polishes off the desired goal to make it seem achievable and hence, more realistic.
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