Long-term Goal Essay: Changes? Transitions?- Does it Matter?

Posted By SWatts on Sep 8, 2011 |

I have received a lot of emails from candidates who did not receive admission to one of their top choice schools when they applied on their own last year, and they indicate that when the admission committees supplied feedback as to why, one of the main factors was the fact that the admissions committee did not believe they could successfully make a “change” to achieve the long-term career goal they had put forth in their essays.

This taps back into a question that many candidates have: does it really matter what you write when you respond to the question, asked in many MBA application essays, that asks you to state your long-term goals. Isn’t it a little ridiculous, candidates ask me, to expect that they can know at this point what they want to be doing in 15 years?

In my experience, your response to the long-term goal question can matter a great deal, and when there appears to be a major disconnect between what you have been doing over the years in your career, and what you state you intend to do in your long-term goal, you can be introducing substantial risk into your application, reducing your admissions odds. There is a big difference between “transitioning” to a new type of role or industry—where there is some connection to what you have been doing professionally over the years—and making a large change. For example, the person trying to go from a project manager role in an engineering division to the head of a retail clothing company will have a harder time in MBA admissions than a person trying to go from a project manager role in a technology manufacturing company to a top corporate executive of a technology company. So take care when stating your long-term goal and as you write about it, try to make sure your response will serve as an asset for you.