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March 10, 2009

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Nearly all applications will feature a question that asks about your reasons for wanting to obtain an MBA at this stage of your career. Some will explicitly ask you to tie these reasons into your background and your goals. Even for schools that don't offer this specific direction, you should plan on such a discussion of past and future, as it provides essential context for your application.

"Why MBA?" is often the first question asked and without a doubt the most important essay you will write. It includes essential information about whether you're qualified, whether you're prepared, and where you're headed. The other essays fill in details about these fundamental points, but a strong answer about, for example, how you overcame a failure will not revive a candidacy that failed based on a lack of career focus.

Every answer should contain the following elements, unless the application has separate questions addressing them individually:

  1. Your long- and short-term goals.
  2. Your relevant past experience.
  3. An assessment of your strengths and the gaps in your experience/education.
  4. How an MBA program will bridge your past and future and fill in those gaps.
  5. Why this particular MBA program is a good match for your needs.
Occasionally there will be overlap with other answers, and you will have to use your judgment on the extent to which you should reiterate important ideas. For example, some schools will ask about your goals in separate questions. In that case, the bulk of your discussion should fall under the goals question, but you will have to bring over key points from that answer to establish context for your reasons for obtaining an MBA.

There are no groundbreaking reasons for pursuing an MBA. This is not a place to aim for bold originality. Rather, you should focus on articulating detailed reasons that are specific to your situation. Moreover, there is plenty of room to distinguish yourself when discussing past experience and future goals; the reasons themselves, however, come from a more limited set. That said, you should not try to drop buzzwords for their own sake. Make sure you tie your specific objectives to other aspects of your application.

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Filed Under: Education
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