As a tutor, I found that it was important when starting with a new student to find out where his/her discomfort with math began. Often, this meant going back several years in their education to explain important basic concepts. For some students, fractions and decimals were the point at which math stopped making sense. For many others, it was the introduction of letters to represent numbers in algebra. Some students found that identifying their weaknesses was an embarrassing process. I explained to them that it was not their fault. Everyone comes to understand new concepts in math in a slightly different way, and the problem was that no teacher had taken the time to explain their "problem area" in a way which would make sense to them. Since math was a system, once they missed out on that one building block, it was not surprising that the rest of it did not make sense. Our mission together would be to find the way in which the system worked for them.
If your goal is simply to continue what you are doing now, that is too realistic. It is a waste of an MBA. If your goal, however, is to do something radically different from what you are doing now, and there is not a clear sense of how you are going to get there, that is too ambitious. Many of my clients use MBA to change careers. Others want to lead their current industry.
You can be authentic even if you ultimately decide to pursue other career goals after graduation. Many MBA holders end up pursuing different goals than they wrote in their admissions essays. Out of the nearly 500 applicants I have helped, I can think of only a few that did what they wrote when applying. Adcoms know this, and respect it. In fact, they want you to change and grow as a result of your MBA experience. Some schools, most notably MIT Sloan, do not ask you to explain their future goals because they hope that you will co-create their future vision from within the MIT community. I respect MIT for this. For those of you applying to nearly any other program, you need a goals story.
Start with your direct goal on graduation. Adcoms want to see a goal that is both believable and ambitious. If your goal is simply to continue what you are doing now, that is too realistic. It is a waste of an MBA. If your goal, however, is to do something radically different from what you are doing now, and there is not a clear sense of how you are going to get there, that is too ambitious. Many of my clients use MBA to change careers. Others want to lead their current industry.
The key to getting your admissions essays right is knowing what each question seeks – what the school expects from your response in each case, and what bonus information can legitimately be added. But schools each ask different questions. Or do they? They appear different but if you look closely they are just variations on a few classics and the most common of all is "Why an MBA?"