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Mission Admission: Back-Up Goals? Really?

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

For many years, one of the ineluctable truths of applying to business school has been “MBA candidates must present very well-defined goals to admissions committees.” Well, it seems that change is in the air. HBS does not even require applicants to discuss goals, but asks about a broader “career vision,” and this vision need not be addressed in your essays because this question is optional.  Now, no less than six top admissions officers, whom MBA Mission has spoken with, have shown an openness to candidates discussing primary and secondary short term goals, especially if the candidate is proposing to enter into a field that is not hiring during the recession or if the candidate is a career changer who may have trouble making the switch.

So, if you are planning to write about making the leap into investment banking during the downturn, you might want to offer a reasonable back-up plan as well that will provide the same or even different but nonetheless applicable skills that will still lead you to your long term goals.  During tough economic times, the schools want to know that you are employable and part of your messaging might just be that you are flexible and have truly considered your options if Plan A does not work out. Yesterday’s heresy is today’s reality.




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