Emory University’s Goizueta Business School Essay Analysis, 2019–2020

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School Essay Analysis - mbaMission

*Please note: You are viewing an essay analysis from the 2019-2020 admissions cycle. Click here to view our collection of essay analyses for the current admissions season.  

Although the content covered in the essay questions for Emory University’s Goizueta Business School has not changed much this season, the school has switched things up a bit by making one of its required submissions a video essay. Thankfully for its applicants, Goizueta not only provides the question(s) for the video in advance but also gives candidates three options from which to select. In their written essays, applicants must discuss their short-term career goals and a past leadership experience, and in the video, they are expected to address either a personal passion, some valuable counsel they once received, or a value they have in common with the school. Candidates may use the Additional Information option to provide clarification or explanation about elements of their candidacy, if necessary, but must do so very succinctly, given the 100-word limitation. On the whole, Goizueta’s essay prompts focus more heavily on applicants’ professional sides, though perhaps the combination of a personal question and the video component is enough to sufficiently round out each candidate’s profile for the admissions committee. Read on for our complete analysis of the program’s 2019–2020 essay questions.

POST-MBA CAREER GOALS: Define your short-term post-MBA career goals. How are your professional strengths, past experience, and personal attributes aligned with these goals? (300 word limit)

Like most business schools, Goizueta wants to learn the reasons behind its applicants’ decision to pursue an MBA, but unlike many programs these days, it still asks candidates to actually write an essay on the topic. Very simply, the admissions committee wants to know that you have given serious thought to your professional trajectory and have identified where you want to go, how equipped you already are to get there, and how an MBA will help you move forward. The specific goal you present is less important here than showing that you understand what is involved in progressing toward your objectives and recognize the qualities and abilities you currently possess that will help position you for success.

Because this essay covers several key elements of a personal statement, we encourage you to download a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which discusses in depth how to approach and write these types of submissions (with numerous examples).  

LEADERSHIP IN BUSINESS: The business school is named for Roberto C. Goizueta, former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, who led the organization for 16 years, extending its global reach, quadrupling consumption, building brand responsibility, and creating unprecedented shareholder wealth. Roberto Goizueta’s core values guide us in educating Principled Leaders for Global Enterprise. Provide an example of your leadership in a professional setting and explain what you learned about yourself through the experience. (300 word limit)

Goizueta Business School clearly holds the leadership abilities and professional accomplishments of the former trustee after which it was named in high regard. The leadup to the actual essay prompt mentions the business leader’s core values and lists some of his most impressive accomplishments at Coca-Cola’s helm. However, the prompt itself makes no reference to values and does not request that applicants discuss a comparable achievement. The implication, we believe, is simply that the school has high expectations for the members of its community and seeks individuals who aspire to make a real impact on the world around them. They are guided by their values and seek to create positive outcomes for others as well as themselves. The admissions committee is not expecting you to be able to claim an accomplishment on the level of Roberto Goizueta’s, but you should strive to identify a story from your career that best illustrates both your leadership style and your long-term potential.

Because you have only 300 words for this essay, we recommend responding in a straightforward manner. Launch directly into the story of your leadership experience, detailing the specific actions you took in directing others to achieve your result. Although we often note that not all great leadership stories end in success, in this case, you should discuss a situation that had a positive resolution. The key here is to show you shared a valuable experience with colleagues, extracted the most from your team members, and attained a desired outcome. 

We recommend using a narrative approach for your story, but be sure to include the thought process and motivation(s) behind your actions. This way, the admissions committee will take away both a clear picture of what you accomplished and the aspects of your character that inspired you and helped enable your success. Lastly, do not forget or neglect to explain what you learned from the experience—the admissions committee specifically requests that you do so! Omitting this element from your essay could be viewed as an indication that you are not good at delivering what is asked and/or at engaging in constructive self-reflection, and you definitely want to avoid this. You also want to avoid sharing that you learned a specific skill or business truth, because the prompt specifically says, “learned about yourself” (italics ours). To craft a compelling response, you will need to give serious thought to how the situation made you aware of a facet of your character that you had not previously perceived.

VIDEO ESSAY: Please select ONE of the following topics to share with us using the video essay feature. Your comments should last no more than 60 seconds and you have the option to re-record until you are satisfied, before submitting.

  • Of Goizueta Business School’s core values (Courage, Integrity, Accountability, Rigor, Diversity, Team, Community), which one resonates the most with you and why?
  • What is the best advice you have received and how have you used it in your life or career?
  • Outside of family and work, what is something that you are passionate about and why?

First, try not to panic. Most MBA programs that include a video component in their applications do so to get a better idea of who their candidates are beyond the statistics in their files and the written words in their essays. They are not looking for the next prime-time anchor or expecting an Oscar-worthy performance—they want to get a sense of your spoken communication style, personality, and perhaps demeanor. So, even though you will obviously want to practice delivering your oral response so that it conforms to the school’s 60-second timeframe (ideally without being delivered at lightning speed!), take care not to entirely memorize your essay or rehearse it to the point that you sound flat or artificial. You want to speak as naturally as possible so that the admissions committee can get a feel for your character and bearing. 

All three question options are pretty straightforward, and we encourage you to select the one that holds the strongest appeal for you personally rather than trying to figure out which is the “right” one or which one the admissions committee really wants you to answer (hint: neither one exists). Authenticity is key here, and you will be at your most natural and charismatic when you are speaking about a topic that truly resonates with and holds meaning for you. Although you have only one minute in which to deliver it, your response will be most compelling if you share a story from your life that illustrates your answer. The second query essentially demands that you do so, but the first and third would benefit from this kind of approach as well. 

Let us repeat that none of these questions has a “correct” answer, and you are not going to be judged on how energetic or enthralling you are in delivering your response. Let the knowledge that you can rerecord your video as many times as you need until you feel comfortable give you further reassurance. Simply breathe, relax, smile, and give the school a short glimpse of the unique individual you are.    

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Should you feel there is an important part of your story missing from your application (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic probation issues), please use this section to provide a brief explanation. We ask that you limit your response to 100 words; responses in bullet point format are preferred.

With this prompt, Goizueta obviously wants to give applicants an opportunity to clarify any potentially problematic elements of their profile, but the admissions committee is clearly not interested in long-winded expositions or unnecessary filler. Its note about favoring bullet points is evidence of this. So do not view this option as a chance to squeeze in another accomplishment story or pander to the school in any way, and only take advantage of it if you have complementary information the admissions committee truly needs to hear to be able to fully and fairly evaluate you as a candidate. For more information about deciding when and how to respond to these kinds of prompts, download a free copy of the mbaMission Optional Essays Guide.    

Reapplicant Essay 1: Define your short-term post-MBA career goals. How are your professional strengths, past experience and personal attributes aligned with these goals? (300 word limit)

Reapplicant Essay 2: Explain how you have improved your candidacy for Goizueta Business School’s MBA Program since your last application. (250 word limit)

Interestingly, Goizueta asks its returning applicants to respond to the same first essay question that new applicants face. And because this has been the program’s first prompt since 2015, we imagine that most of the school’s reapplicants this season will have written an essay response to it before. If this is not the case for you, we direct you back to the first part of this essay analysis, in which we discuss our advice for the question. But if you are a reapplicant who has addressed this query in recent years, you will need to revisit your original answer. If your goals have not changed, do not simply resubmit what you provided in the past. Instead, give some thought first to what more you have learned in the interim about the career you are targeting or about why it is a fitting for you, and use these insights to enhance your essay. If you have not gained any additional knowledge on these topics, now is the time to do so—before you make any amendments to your essay. Read industry magazines and websites, for example, or reach out to individuals in your preferred field or role to get their first-hand perspectives. You want to show Goizueta that you are truly committed to your desired path and have continued to progress and learn, despite the setback with respect to your MBA goals. If, instead, you have revised your post-MBA aspiration, you will obviously need to craft an entirely new essay.

For the school’s second reapplicant essay, whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on some sort of personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is conveying a very deliberate path of achievement. Goizueta wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, and that you have seized opportunities during the previous year to do so, because an MBA from its program is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, because each person’s needs and experiences differ. We are more than happy to provide one-on-one assistance with this highly personal essay to ensure that your efforts over the past year are presented in the best light possible.

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