Keeping a Journal for MBA Applicants

We can all likely remember our high school days when our English or Lit teacher required us to keep a journal...Are you cold sweating yet?  

The painstaking process of writing down what you did every day typically found everyone frantically making up journal entries the night before it was due, since most had bypassed the daily ritual in favor of the other distractions of youth.  Your English teacher was on to something, however, and for those who are disciplined enough to keep a daily log of your thoughts and adventures can find it easier to lay the introspective groundwork that is required for a good MBA application.  Why?

Much of the reason people who make it into top schools are successful can be traced back to clarity of vision. 

After all, you can’t know where you are going if you don’t understand where you’ve been.  Clarity of vision communicates to the admissions committee you are mature, and you have a good grip on reality and where you fit into this world.  It’s a risk admitting students who fail to demonstrate this important attribute, since schools often find those who have little vision for their future and seemingly no grasp on their place in the world can blow up during the high stress environment of business school.  And blowing up to them means not getting a job at the end, resulting in a potential hit to the school’s ranking. 

Business school is not a place to “find yourself,” but rather a place for those who are generally already on task to go somewhere that has been pre-determined.  This is why business schools are so picky about assessing your post MBA plans. 

The best way to forge a solid post MBA plan is to take a realistic look at your achievements thus far in life and then mix in your passion going forward.  Keeping a journal can help you tap into both.  Even if you haven’t kept one in the past, you can start with some reflective entries, where you sit quietly and concentrate on past phases of your life.  What excited you?  What stands out as significant memories?  It’s likely that these moments from your past can shed light on who you truly are and what makes you tick. 

While the MBA is a great time to shift gears, b-schools are wary of applicants who have no demonstrable proof that they will succeed in a given area of interest. 

Keeping a journal, even if it’s just during the season leading up to your b-school application, can be a calming and insightful exercise.  Give it a try!

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