Wharton joined the MBA application shrink parade and has cut one essay from its application reducing the required number of essays from three to two while retaining one optional essay question. Another change: last year applicants could elect two out of three options for two of the required questions. This year all essays are required or optional; nothing is elective.
My tips for completing the Wharton application essays are in blue below.
The Admissions Committee is interested in getting to know you on both a professional and personal level. We encourage you to be introspective, candid, and succinct. Most importantly, we suggest you be yourself.
1. What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
What do you want to achieve personally or professionally that you can’t do now and that a Wharton MBA will help you achieve? Note the questions is not just asking what you want to do after you graduate and not asking for exclusively professional aspirations. It is giving you the option to dream a bit and really talk about a grander vision for your future.
As with most goals questions, Wharton still wants to see how you connect it to your future. Keep in mind that Wharton has an incredibly rich curriculum. How will you take advantage of its premier offerings to prepare yourself to achieve your vision for the future?
FYI, this essay question last year, which only referenced “professional objectives,” was 400 words. This is one of the few cases where an MBA program in the 2013-14 application cycle is actually giving you more space to answer a question.
2. Academic engagement is an important element of the Wharton MBA experience. How do you see yourself contributing to our learning community? (500 words)
Realize the central role of the learning team and the growing importance of the cluster and cohort as critical social units and networks at Wharton. Are you going to organize events for your cluster? Do you aspire to be a Leadership Fellow during your second year? Are you going to take an active role in particular clubs and student groups? Are you quantitatively strong and willing to help fellow students who may be struggling with the math in Wharton’s data-driven, rigorous curriculum? Are you going to assume responsibility for organizing an event — anything from Wharton Follies to the Wharton Business Plan Competition?
Don’t wax poetic on a 30,000 foot level about the importance of engagement or contribution. Discuss a few specific ways that you intend to contribute at Wharton’s learning community.
Reapplicant Essay. All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete the Optional Essay. Please use this space to explain how you have reflected on the previous decision on your application and to discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). You may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)
The key part of this question is the update part. Don’t ignore reflection on your previous decision, but focus on the new and improved you. For more suggestions for your reapplication, please see MBA Reapplication 101.
Optional Esssay. If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words)
Why isn’t your current boss writing your recommendation? Why is there a eight-month gap between your first and second job? Why did your grades dip during the last semester of your junior year? What are your responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious consulting firm, and why did you decide to go into the family business? Your optional essay can respond to any of those questions (but not all).
If you would like professional guidance with your Wharton MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Wharton MBA application.
|Application Deadline .||Decisions Released|
|Round 1||Oct 1, 2013||Dec 17, 2013|
|Round 2||Jan 7, 2014||Mar 25, 2014|
|Round 3||Mar 27, 2014||May 6, 2014|
*To be considered for a round, you must submit a complete application by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on the day of the deadline.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.