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Many candidates apply to business school thinking that it will be a great transition starter from one sector to another. But one of the most common pieces of feedback that we hear from admissions committees is that too often applicants are rejected because their long-term career goal seemed unrealistic based on their current position and experience.

Long Term Goal

In short, the committee rejected the applicant because they believed that the “jump” from one area to another seemed too big to make, based on the long-term goal stated in the application essays.

Many students apply to business school not completely sure what they want to do in their long-term goal. This is understandable — who knows where they want to be in 15 years?

The truth is, many of us aren’t sure where we are going to be in five years, let alone 15 years. Regardless of this fact, your long-term goal essay matters a great deal to the admissions committee. They need to see that your goals fit in well with what they have to offer and with what you are currently doing to get there.

After all, admitting an applicant who has set unrealistic expectations or shows a large disconnect between their current experience and what they hope to do in the long-term can raise some serious red flags. The way that you frame a career transition can matter a great deal, reducing a substantial risk in your application and increasing your odds of admission.

So how do applicants successfully transition from one industry to another in their applications? There is an important difference between a career transition and making a complete 180-degree change. In a transition, you can connect the dots between what you do currently and what you are transitioning to doing in the future. For example, maybe you want to go from a project manager role in a technology manufacturing company to a top corporate executive of a technology company. The connection here is clear. In a complete change, admissions committee will have a hard time seeing the goal as reachable.

For example, the person trying to go from a project manager role in an engineering division to the head of a retail clothing company will have a harder time in MBA admissions.

Making a transition is possible, but it must be accompanied by a well-crafted, well-connected application. Make sure your answers to the long-term goal essay are realistic and sensibly ambitious, and your responses will be an asset to your application.

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