This blog post could very easily make for a giant chapter in a book on tackling B-school application essays. The book would be called “How to Navigate Through the Various Permutations the ‘Why MBA’ Question:”
– Why pursue an MBA at this point in your career?
– How will your education at [School X] help you achieve you achieve your goals?
– Elaborate on your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at School Y
– What are your reasons for pursuing an MBA?
These are just four examples. There are countless others, but mostly they look like that. Now, the most common mistake we see is in the blanket assumption that these questions are all more or less the same. They are, of course, not. Let’s pull it apart and simplify the whole thing to expose the complexity. First, I wanna BOIL these down to their core. The four basic categories are:
- Why do you want an MBA… AT ALL?
- Why do you want an MBA… AT THIS EXACT MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER?
- How will OUR SCHOOL… help… YOU?
- Of all the B-schools on earth, why are you interested in US?
This is part one of a four-part series that breaks down each these badboys, identifying the nuance of each, step-by-step.
(1) Why do you want an MBA… AT ALL?
Frankly, this is something you should ALL know the answer to backwards and forwards. You have goals, you have a solid education, you have work experience. Why BOTHER with this insane expense, and two-year outlay?
Well, there’s the obvious surface nonsense about classes and faculty and networking and blah. But all that stuff is true for everyone. To borrow the words of Max from the Mission Impossible (1996) film… “We’re asking about you.”
Suppose the MBA degree didn’t exist. All schools vaporize tomorrow. MBA bye bye. Further, assume that employers won’t differentiate between MBAs and non-MBAs. Now what? Do your dreams go out the window? No, of course not. You’re still committed to them right? Well, without this two year incubator thing, what do you DO to pursue your goals? There’s an answer to it, figure it out. Picture it. Get it straight in your head.
Got it? Okay…. Abracadabra. Wallah, MBA programs just came back and are available to you, and now you DO have that option. Compared to your “alternate” plan that you just figured out, why is the MBA degree a much BETTTTERRRRR plan?
Of the two scenarios, the MBA version is BETTER. Explain why. What is it about this degree, this compressed and abstracted form of education, this exposure to other like-minded enterprising peers, this… THING… that makes for a smart career decision for you?
That whole “imagine if the MBA program vanished” idea is the KIND of device which can be hugely beneficial. Exercises like this can be helpful in moving you away from generalized answers, and more toward crisp, focused… bullseyes.
Read the next post in this series about articulating why you want an MBA at this exact moment in your life.