Revealing your inner self, hopes and dreams, is the purpose of the business school application essays. You must envision where you’ll be, after an MBA degree.

Yet, you don’t have to spell out specific, minuteby-minute goals. But how do you go about explaining your short- and long-term goals if you’re not really sure what you want to be doing. Here’s a little secret— the admissions committees doesn’t expect you to know exactly what you want to be doing decades from now.

If an applicant doesn’t appear to have given any serious thought that could be a red flag.

You should get used to thinking coherently about the question. If you already know how you’d like to progress, that’s great.

But if you aren’t sure, spend some significant time thinking about what kind of position would make you happy. Before you even think about writing your essays, you should take time for serious self-reflection by focusing on your strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations.

Also, reflect you’d like to create and how you could realistically achieve such goals. Finally, you must thoroughly research the schools, their programmes and courses, and the campus culture. Vague responses won’t differentiate you from other applicants.

Think about exactly what kind of company you want to run/launch, why you want to pursue a particular field and how you’ll get there. Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how you will pay for it.

An MBA must be seen as a long-term investment, and fortunately, schools are committed to working with students to find a solution. As you create your plan to pay for business school, you should contact prospective school’s financial aid office.

Look beyond your business institute or organisations that offer highly valuable scholarships. You may be considered for merit fellowships based on academic credentials, accomplishments and experience communicated in your application. Some schools also offer additional fellowships that you can apply directly.

If you did have difficulties with finances and would not be able to attend business school without such assistance, you may have a good argument.

Describe the situation and why you would have difficulty paying for your education. Avoid any complaining or blame, and instead focus on what you have been able to do with little resources. If you are going with a meritbased argument you should outline accomplishments, both academic and professional.

Sell yourself as you would in a job interview, and provide concrete evidence. The impact of financial assistance may allow you to pursue activities such as travel and leadership opportunities. Make sure you’re casting a wide net with the programmes you’re targeting.

Try to think positively, but still realistically, about your odds and select schools accordingly. Then buckle down, start politely declining as many non-essential commitments as you can, and get to work. Use that knowledge to fuel commitment and put together the best materials you can.

At some point during your preparations, you’ll probably think about asking a trusted friend or family member to review. There are obvious benefits to having a fresh set of eyes on your work, but there can also be a few drawbacks. The upside to someone new looking at your essays and data forms is that they may be more likely to spot a typo, missing word or extra period at the end of a sentence.

At some point you’ll have read responses so many times that errors will no longer jump out at you. However, it’s really tough for someone to read through your materials and not also want to give “advice.”

But the issue is that if you’ve already planned out application strategy, especially if you’ve worked with an admissions consultant, it would not be a good idea to derail the progress just because a well-meaning friend made you doubt yourself. If someone who has an MBA reviews, they may be under the incorrect assumption that since they were accepted, the way they approached certain essay questions is the only guaranteed path to admission.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the process, they may be confused. There’s a stereotype that MBAs need to be all business, all the time, and this leads to an expectation of essays filled with lists of achievements, not-so-subtle bragging.

They’ll probably still give you unsolicited advice, and you can always listen politely and share any concerns with your admissions consultant. Just keep in mind that it’s hardly ever a good idea to switch things up after putting significant effort into positioning.

Ultimately, the aim is to convince admissions officers that you are a candidate who will use your education to make a positive difference.

If you succeed, you will almost certainly increase your chances of being accepted by one of the top business schools.

(The writer is co-founder, Collegify)