6 Traits Top MBA Programs Look For – #6 Clarity Of Goals

December 28th, 2012

| Last Updated on May 22, 2019

Here is an alarming statistic – there are several MBA aspirants who look forward to a great MBA program but are clueless about their post-MBA goals! These candidates do not reflect and research adequately on how an MBA will change their lives and advance their career – most often, they want to earn an MBA because it seems to be the current trend!
Every B-school, through essays, recommendations and interviews, is trying to evaluate whether you are clear about your goals in life. An unfocused candidate will find it very difficult to convince an AdCom that he/she is serious about doing an MBA. Thus, ‘Clarity of Goals’ is probably the most important trait that B-schools are looking for.

Do you have good clarity about your post-MBA goals?

I want to get into Marketing OR I want to get into Consulting are not acceptable answers!
Answering the following 6 questions will help you sketch out your post MBA goals!

1. Broadly speaking, what do you want to do in your life?


First things first: if you are considering an MBA, you need to think over what is your long term goal. What is the one thing you wish to do in your life in terms of your career? Think in terms of details and specifics!
For instance, your long term goal could be to become the Country Head of an investment bank or the CEO of a reputed IT company.
Unless and until you figure out your long term goals, you will not be able to optimize the time and effort you spend on applications effectively. All successful people lay down specific goals and create a plan for achieving them. AdComs expect the same from you!

2. What are your short term goals?

Once you decide what career you want to pursue, it’s time to divide it into smaller modules. i.e. your short term goals that will ultimately help you to achieve your long term goal. In fact, you cannot devise your short term goals unless you are very clear about your long term goals.
Essays like ’Where do you see yourself after 5 years?’ or ‘What are you most passionate about in your life?’ try to understand your immediate goals in life and why you are considering an MBA.

3. Where am I now and where do I want to reach?

Let’s say your goals are now well in place! The next step is to realize where you are at present and how far you are from your destination. Identifying this gap will actually help you to figure out how an MBA can bridge it in the least amount of time. B-schools expect you to create ‘SMART’ goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and also timed. It is therefore, essential that you know how far you are from your goals and what the delta is.

4. How will I get there?


It is not enough that you understand the gap between your goals and your current status – you also need to convince yourself and the AdComs – ‘Why should I do an MBA, what should I do after MBA or how an MBA will help me achieve my goals. For instance, if you aspire to become a successful IT entrepreneur, you may need some years of experience as a product manager, and for that you plan to do an MBA.
However, one word of caution-don’t go overboard! It is a bad idea to make AdComs feel that you are a disaster without an MBA! You just need to clarify that you have all the potential to reach your goals, though an MBA will enhance your skills and knowledge and accelerate the pace of fulfilling your aspirations. An MBA degree is, at the end of the day, a means and not the destination itself!

5. Why only this B-school? What is so special about this school?

Practically every B-school essay will ask you why you are applying to that particular school. But generic answers do not impress Admissions Committee at all! For instance, if you are applying to Harvard, an answer such as  “Harvard has a world-renowned management programme with world-class faculty…” will not work out at all.
Instead,  you need to be very sure and specific about how the MBA program at Harvard will help you out to advance your career in the right direction. It could be the curriculum, pedagogy, networking opportunities, students’ activities, the faculty or anything very specific about Harvard you think will give an advantage in your career progression.

6. Why is this the right time for you to do an MBA?


Why didn’t you consider doing an MBA last year? Why are you not applying next year? What’s so special about this year that you are applying for MBA? These are questions that often stump candidates. However, there could be several answers for this question.
It could be that you now have the right amount of work experience or that right now, you meet the age requirements or that you do not have any family responsibilities at present or that you have planned your career in such a way that doing an MBA at present will reap you great benefits in future. Whatever your reason is, it should be compelling enough to convince AdComs!
If you can find the right answers to all these questions, half your battle is WON! Moreover, these are the MBA interview questions through which AdComs try to judge whether you are clear about your goals.
Remember, AdComs always prefer specific, focused answers to a generic, ambiguous ones!
If you know where you stand with regard to all 6 of the traits we have been discussing in this series,  then you are through with all the self-analysis and introspection that is required before you actually apply to B-schools.
Here is the 5th trait top MBA programs look for, in case you missed out!
Give yourself a pat on your back, treat yourself with whatever makes you happy and get ready for the next step in your MBA journey by downloading an E-book on How to get into your dream B-School!
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