Emory University’s Goizueta Business School demands two relatively brief written essays and a one-minute “small talk” video essay from its applicants. The school’s first essay question asks candidates to discuss their short-term career goals and provide some basic context. For the second essay, applicants need to discuss a past leadership experience that relates to or demonstrates one of the program’s core values. The school’s video essay might cause some applicants a bit of anxiety because Goizueta provides no advance information about what the question will be. Candidates must therefore be ready to respond extemporaneously. If needed, applicants can use the optional essay to provide clarification or explanation about elements of their candidacy, but with only 200 words in which to do so, they will need to be rather succinct. Read on for our full analysis of all Goizueta’s 2023–2024 application essay questions.
Emory University’s Goizueta Business School Essay Analysis 2023–2024
Essay 1. Post-MBA Career Goals: What will professional success look like immediately after your MBA experience? Please describe where you would like this degree program to take you professionally. Include information such as desired job title, responsibilities, company, impact, and/or industry. Explain how your professional experiences and personal strengths align with your post-MBA goals. (200 word limit)
Like most business schools, Goizueta wants to learn the reasons behind its applicants’ decision to pursue an MBA, though fewer and fewer programs these days seem to still ask candidates to write a full 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. The school has cut the maximum word count by one-third from last year and added an explicit request for such details as “desired job title, responsibilities, company, impact, and/or industry,” so this is not the place to discuss your plans at a high level. Be direct, clear, and specific, and give the admissions committee the information it wants.
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).
Essay 2. Leadership in Business: Goizueta Business School is a values-driven community with a mission to prepare principled leaders to have an influence on business and society. Please tell us which of the Goizueta Core Values (Courage, Accountability, Integrity, Rigor, Diversity, Team, Community) resonates most with you and share a personal account of demonstrating leadership in this area within your current or previous company or service organization. The committee is interested in a personal story of leadership. (200 word limit)
Goizueta Business School clearly has high expectations for its graduates and community members and seeks individuals who aspire to make a real impact on the world around them—people who are guided by their values and seek to create positive outcomes for others as well as themselves. For this essay, strive to identify a story that illustrates which of the listed core values you have embodied, your leadership style, and your long-term potential. Be sure to start by familiarizing yourself with how the school specifically defines and interprets the seven highlighted values so that you can be sure your story aligns properly. Do not try to guess which value the admissions committee “wants” you to choose or which one is the “right” one because neither of these exists. Likewise, do not focus on the leadership story you think might be most “impressive” because of the financial value involved, the size of the team you led, or any other such factor. The best choice here is one that clearly illustrates and substantiates that you conduct yourself according to the value you claim to, and especially when serving in a leadership role.
Because you have only 200 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.
VIDEO ESSAY: Telling your story in the written essays is an important part of the application, but the video essay lets us hear your words in your own voice. In the required video essay, every candidate will answer a “small talk” question to help the MBA Admissions Committee get to know you. The video essay instructions and link are located in your application portal.
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 simply want to get a sense of your spoken communication style, personality, and perhaps demeanor. Because the school does not offer applicants a choice of questions to which to respond or let 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 present any sample questions in advance and refers to the question as a “‘small talk’ question” in the prompt, a slight possibility exists that you could encounter one of the options offered in past years, such as the following:
- 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. 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. 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 MBA 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: What will professional success look like immediately after your MBA experience? Please describe where you would like this degree program to take you professionally. Include information such as desired job title, responsibilities, company, impact, and/or industry. Explain how your professional experiences and personal strengths align with your post-MBA goals. (200 word limit)
Reapplicant Essay 2: Explain how you have improved your candidacy for Goizueta Business School’s MBA Program since your last application. (200 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. So, we direct you back to the first part of this essay analysis, in which we discuss our advice for this question. 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 dive into writing 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.
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.