Emory University’s Goizueta Business School Essay Analysis 2020–2021

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School Essay Analysis - mbaMissionWithout completely changing things up, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School has definitely made a few meaningful tweaks to its application essays this year. The school’s first essay question remains the same, asking applicants to discuss their short-term career goals and why the choices are fitting ones. For the second essay, candidates must again share a past leadership experience, but the school has removed the phrase “in a professional setting” from the prompt. We actually commented last season that on the whole, Goizueta’s essays were focused rather heavily on applicants’ professional sides, but this adjustment has now broadened the scope of potential topics beyond the workplace and opened the door for more balance. Also, a third essay has been added that asks candidates to discuss their interest in the Goizueta program in particular and their anticipated give-and-take relationship with it. These changes to the school’s written essays should not create any anxiety for applicants, but the admissions committee’s new take on the video essay might. Goizueta used to both provide the question options for the video in advance and allow candidates to select the one they preferred. Now, however, applicants will be presented with several unknown questions and are therefore expected to respond extemporaneously. If needed, candidates can use the optional essay to provide clarification or explanation about elements of their candidacy, but with only 200 words maximum, they will need to do so very succinctly. Read on for our complete analysis of the program’s updated essay questions.

  1. 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 annotated examples).  

  1. 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 and explain what you learned about yourself through the experience. (300 word limit)

Goizueta Business School clearly appreciates the leadership abilities and professional success of the former trustee after which it is named. 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 that 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.

  1. Why Goizueta? What are you looking to gain from the Goizueta MBA program and how do you see yourself contributing to the Goizueta community? (200 word limit)

With this rather straightforward and traditional essay prompt, the admissions committee is requesting fundamental information that will help it understand your motivation for pursuing an MBA from Goizueta specifically and why you believe its program is the right one for you. By asking this question separate from its request for your short- and long-term goals, the school leaves the decision of how to frame your motivation(s) up to you. Briefly explain why you are inspired at this point in your life and career to have the “MBA experience” and earn this advanced degree. 

To illustrate how Goizueta can help you, you must demonstrate a thorough understanding of what the program offers and a well-thought-out game plan for engaging with these offerings. Effectively doing this and subsequently writing a reasoned, nuanced essay requires that you familiarize yourself with Goizueta’s various resources and pinpoint those that truly pertain to you and the direction in which you hope to head. Go the extra mile in learning about the school. This is where we would normally encourage you to visit campus and sit in on a class, and/or at least attend an admissions event in your area, but the ongoing pandemic precludes such options at this time. Instead, connect directly with students and alumni (online or via phone, Skype, Zoom, etc.), read student blogs and the program’s recent press releases, and peruse Goizueta’s YouTube channel. This will provide the kind of in-depth insight that will show the admissions committee you are serious about the school and are confident you belong there. Simply presenting a list of classes and clubs you think sound interesting will not suffice, and absolutely avoid vague, pandering statements about how great the school is. You must reveal clear connections between your aspirations, what you need to achieve them (e.g., skills, experience[s], connections, exposure), and what Goizueta in particular can provide that will enable you to fill those gaps.

Thoroughly exploring what and who the Goizueta program entails is also key to identifying what is unique about you viewed against this backdrop—so that you can highlight what you would bring to the mix and how. As you research the school, pay special attention to the aspects of and areas at Goizueta that speak to you personally in some way, and consider social events/clubs and professional development opportunities along with course work and academic offerings. Business school is meant to be a comprehensive environment and experience that enriches students in ways not just related directly to business, and perhaps your best potential for contribution lies in one of these areas. If you have years of experience teaching, for example, you could perhaps help facilitate discussions among the students in your study group or on team projects. If you have a depth of knowledge or years of experience in a particular area, whether through your job or in a personal capacity (such as being a dedicated wine aficionado), you could serve as a kind of subject matter expert for those around you in the program or even a valuable component in someone’s recruiting network. If you are particularly funny, creative, or athletic, you may be the ideal fit to lead an extracurricular group or play a significant role in a nonacademic project or event.

This prompt, like the school’s first, deals with several basic components of a typical MBA personal statement, so we again recommend downloading a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide

VIDEO ESSAY: Telling [y]our story in the written essays is an important part of the application process, but we also want to hear you tell some of your story. The video essay lets every candidate talk to the Admissions Committee and we enjoy getting to know you through the “cocktail” questions. 

  • You will have up to 3 attempts to record a video essay.
  • A different question may appear with each attempt.
  • You will have 30 seconds to prepare your answer to the question on the screen.
  • You will have up to 60 seconds to respond to the essay question while recording.

First, try not to panic. Most MBA programs that include a video component in their applications do so just 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 just want to get a sense of your spoken communication style, personality, and perhaps demeanor. Because the school is no longer offering applicants a choice of questions to which to respond or letting them know ahead of time what their question will be, the admissions committee is likely also using the video as a way of gauging how you deal with the unexpected, think on your feet, and convey relevant answers in a time-conscious way. This is, after all, similar to what you will be doing in the Goizueta classroom as an MBA student.

Although the school does not provide any specific questions in advance and refers to the queries as “‘cocktail’ questions” in the prompt, a slight possibility exists that you could ecnounter one (or more) of the three options offered last year:

  • 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?

If nothing else, these are good practice queries. [Note: If/as we learn more about what the actual questions are, we will update this analysis with additional information.] You could also ask a friend or family member to help you prepare by asking you questions (consider Googling “MBA interview questions” and/or downloading a free copy of the mbaMission Interview Guide for some options) and providing feedback. This will give you a feel for what delivering an oral response within the school’s 60-second timeframe feels like (ideally without talking at lightning speed!). As you practice, strive to minimize your use of filler words and phrases (e.g., “um,” “uh,” “like,” “you know”) so that you are less likely to depend on or default to them when the time comes for your actual video submission. 

But again, do not panic. If you make a small mistake or bungle your words, just pause, smile, and get back on track. If you make a more significant blunder—perhaps you run out of time before you have finished answering the question or totally draw a blank and fail to provide any real answer at all—take comfort in knowing that you can try again. The twist, however, is that you will not necessarily be asked the same question, and you are limited to just three attempts, so you cannot simply keep repeating the process until you perfect your response. 

Let us reassure you that none of Goizueta’s questions will have a “correct” answer, and you are not going to be judged on how energetic or enthralling you are in delivering your response. You should speak as naturally as possible so that the admissions committee can get a feel for your true character and bearing. And if possible, sharing a story from your life that helps illustrate or support your answer will make your response even more compelling. Otherwise, simply breathe, relax, and give the school a brief glimpse of the unique individual you are.    

Optional Essay:  If 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. Please use bullets if you need to address more than one topic. (200 word limit)

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 in favor of 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 (defined as those reapplying within two years of their previous application) 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 to what more you have learned in the interim about the career you are targeting or about why it is 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 temporary 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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2020–2021 MBA Essay Analysis

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