Innovative Leadership Learning: The “Wharton Difference” And Fit With The Program

Register for our webinar!My previous post on defining your fit with Wharton addressed two of the four components of “The Wharton Difference” (Largest Global Network and Culture of Engagement).  Here I’ll look at the third component: Innovative Leadership Learning.

On the Wharton website, the short paragraph introducing this component contains the keys to unlocking its real meaning and import.  Let’s look at those keys – literally, the key words and phrases.  They reveal the adcom’s core interests and values.

•  “You’ll find your leadership style…”  Leadership isn’t the pivotal word here, but rather find.  Of course MBAs are about leadership.  But “find” indicates that the adcom wants people who are “in process” – seeking, growing, and changing in response to what they learn.

•  “…by participating in unmatched entrepreneurship and leadership activities.”  What’s the pivotal word here?  Yeah, participating.  It means active involvement.  The little word by is important too, because it indicates that this participation is the way through which you grow, change (including finding your leadership style).

•  “You’ll take risks, try new roles…”  Wharton adcom equates risk-taking with action; putting yourself out there; opening up not just intellectually but personally.  Wharton’s leadership and entrepreneurship (and other) resources offer avenues for risk-takers to try new roles. And note the word try: you don’t have to follow a straight, smooth path to a goal; the adcom recognizes the growth value in varied experiences, which you internalize and synthesize along the way.

 “…inspire others, and work with peers to shape your experience.”  In a word, collaboration.  In Wharton’s culture, it’s the magic through which the alchemy of growth happens.  The verbs inspire and shape imply deep experience and profound, transforming outcomes.  Innovative Leadership Learning clearly is more than “gaining skills” and “building networks”…

Here’s how you can portray the “Innovative Leadership Learning” component to demonstrate fit with Wharton in your application:

•  Throughout your essay(s), weave in anecdotes and examples that show you participating, taking risks through collaboration, inspiring others in the process – and growing as a leader as a result.  Given the tight word counts, you can even do this within 1-2 sentences, e.g., “When I [did some activity/initiative], it challenged me to [think differently in some way; be specific], which proved valuable when I subsequently [led in a new capacity].

•  The Wharton interview process is a natural extension of this component – develop a strategy for portraying these qualities in a way that is natural to you.

•  In your resume and application form, mention activities where you took initiative and/or drew others in and/or “stretched” beyond your comfort zone.  These won’t be as in-depth as the essays, but they’ll enhance the related points elsewhere in the application.

Register to learn how to get accepted to Wharton!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

• Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One [Free Guide]
• Wharton 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• The “Wharton Difference” And Fit With The Program

So These Two Grad School Applicants Walk Into A Bar . . .

Learn the 5 fatal flaws to avoid in your grad school application

If used right, humor can help you stand out from your competitors in an unexpected way.

This might be a great opening line for a comedy night at a university student center, but can you use humor in a graduate school application essay? Should you even try?

The answer is . . . maybe. If you can use humor effectively, it will help you stand out from your competitors in an unexpected way.  (“Oh, is she the one who joked about her first time playing jazz in a live audience?”, an adcom member might ask while reviewing the season’s applicants.)  Humor can make us appear more human and relatable, especially with the most popular form of humor: the gently self-deprecating remark. For example, “My single New Year’s resolution this year is to buy a new bathroom scale, and, perhaps, one day, use it.” Or, “I discovered that I had a textbook case of ‘Congenital Fraidy Cat Syndrome.’  I knew it: my expanding medical knowledge was slowly killing me.”

This kind of humor reveals a writer’s vulnerabilities, making her sympathetic. However, as a grad school applicant, your goal is to show yourself as a focused, qualified, intelligent, and capable individual. If you lack the confidence to show that vulnerability, or the confidence to try to get a laugh, do not try. It is far more important to speak with your authentic voice. But if you have a track record of getting laughs among friends, don’t be afraid to use humor — judiciously — in a personal essay.

Here are a few examples of how – and how not – to use humor:

Good: “In all my travels, I had never before sipped anything called Toadstool Brew. After I was finished, I hoped never to have to sip it again.” This works because it is gently self-deprecating; you are poking fun at your own lack of appreciation for an exotic tea.

Not good: “In all my travels, I had never seen a more bizarre-looking individual. My first thought was, ‘This guy could get a gig on a reality TV show in the States.’” This doesn’t work because poking fun at someone else looks petty.

Never force humor into your writing. Use it when it feels natural, and perhaps try it out on another reader first. Adcom members will surely appreciate a laughter break while reading through all those serious essays!

From Example to Exemplary - Download your guide today!

Judy Gruen By , MBA admissions consultant since 1996 and author (with Linda Abraham) of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

 
Related Resources:

• From Example to Exemplary [Free Guide]
Can I Use Humor In My Application Essays?
• How To Think Like A Dean Of Admissions

What You Need To Know To Get Accepted To Wharton

Applying to Wharton? You are invited to attend our upcoming webinar!

Get Accepted to Wharton! Register for the webinar today!

On Aug 19th, Accepted CEO and b-school admissions expert, Linda Abraham, will share the secret to creating a standout application including:

• The 4 ingredients of a successful Wharton application.

• Insights into what the adcom is looking for.

• How to ace Wharton’s TBD/interview.

Save your spot!

Spaces are limited! Reserve your spot for Get Accepted to Wharton today!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Duke Fuqua 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out more school specific MBA Essay TipsLeadership, teamwork, ethics, and a global approach to business are essential elements of the Duke Fuqua MBA, which is why you’ll need to make sure you express your passion for these ideals in your application essays. Impress the Fuqua adcom by positioning yourself as an innovative leader and team player, as someone who can see the big picture, work collaboratively, and shape global business.

My tips are in blue below. 

Three short answer questions and 2 essays are required from all applicants.

• Responses should use 1.5 line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
• Respond fully and concisely.
• Responses must be completed before submitting your application.
• Prepare your responses carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your answers important in the selection process.
• All essays are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is considered a cheating violation within the Honor Code and will not be tolerated in the admissions process.

Application Tip: Check out Fuqua’s section criteria.

Required Short Answers Questions

Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each short answer question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

1. What are your short term goals, post-MBA?

State what you see yourself doing immediately after you earn your MBA in terms of function and industry. If location or geography are important to your goal, include them.  If you know the type of companies you would like to work for, you can include that information too, but don’t say you want to work for Company X, unless Company X is sponsoring you. Without sponsorship, a “Company X” answer is probably too narrow, but saying you would like to work for a firm like Company X would work.

2. What are your long term goals?

Your long term goals should flow logically from your short-term goals. They can be fuzzier and both in terms of direction and timing. But you should have them. They can, but don’t have to, include larger aspirations and present a broader perspective on where you are headed. But please don’t go so general and say something like “I aspire to be a good person” or “I strive to leave a lasting impact on my community.” Nice sentiments, but way too vague.

3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

What’s your Plan B? If you can’t get a job at a leading strategy consulting firm — your first choice — what do you want to do? If Plan A is investment banking, what’s Plan B?

First Required Essay: 25 Random Things About Yourself

Instructions: Answer the following question — present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

1. The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

Have some fun with this list. It certainly allows a more creative approach than permitted by most essay prompts. Note that the questions asks you to go “beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript.”  So you can list your Pez collection or perhaps your brief membership in a rock band or the fact that you took violin from age 6-18 or your membership in a gospel choir or your volunteer work in a hospital, your needlepoint, your favorite recipe or photo. Gosh the list is endless. Just let it reflect you. Think of this list as an introduction to potential friends.   For more insight into this question and the  motivation behind, please read Megan Overbay’s, the former Director of Admissions’, advice. I believe you will find it helpful. And very friendly.

Second Required Essay (choose 1 of 2)

Instructions: Choose only 1 of the following 2 essay questions to answer. Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length, and should reflect your knowledge of the Fuqua program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.

Choose to the prompt that will let you reveal something important to you and impressive about you. Write the essay that you will be able to draft most enthusiastically and easily.

1. Why Duke: When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

Why Duke? But you’re not talking to the admissions committee, whom you just may be a tad less than candid with. You are talking to your family, friends, and colleagues, people you know and like (at least the friends).  The Fuqua admissions staff really wants to get to know you. Authenticity is the goal. The admissions readers want to be able to imagine you as a part of Team Fuqua — their family — as a friend or colleague. Will you be real stiff and formal? Of course not. You will be friendly in a professional way. Don’t take this as an invitation to be inappropriate, coarse, or rude. Just friendly.

What appeals to you at Duke? What about its program, culture, and professional opportunities attracts you and would compel you to accept an offer of admission? Maybe address a letter to a close friend and tell her why you want to go to Duke.  That letter may morph into this essay.

2. The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality are a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect the research you have done, your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.

1. Authentic Engagement: We care and we take action. We each make a difference to Team Fuqua by being ourselves and engaging in and supporting activities about which we are passionate.
2. Supportive Ambition: We support each other to achieve great things, because your success is my success. The success of each individual member of Team Fuqua makes the whole of Team Fuqua better.
3. Collective Diversity:  We embrace all of our classmates because our individuality is better and stronger together.
4. Impactful Stewardship: We are leaders who focus on solutions to improve our communities both now and in the future. We aren’t satisfied with just maintaining the status quo.
5. Loyal Community: We are a family who looks out for each other. Team Fuqua supports you when you need it the most.
6. Uncompromising Integrity: We internalize and live the honor code in the classroom and beyond. We conduct ourselves with integrity within Fuqua, within Duke, and within all communities of which we are a part.

Do your homework about Fuqua (and yourself) before responding to this question. What activities and groups appeal to you? How do you see yourself participating? Making a difference? Then look at the list of six principles above. Which do you most identify with? Imagine how you would exemplify that principle in your activities. The story of that role and how would see yourself earning an award is your essay.  While you can reference similar activities in the past, keep the focus of this essay on what you would do at Fuqua and why you would earn recognition for exemplifying one of these six principles.

Optional Essay Question:

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).

• Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
• The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
• Limit your response to two pages.

Why isn’t your current supervisor writing your rec? Why is there a six-month gap on your resume? Why did your grades dip during the first semester of your senior year? What are your responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious investment bank, and why did you make the change? Answering any of those questions (but not all) could be the topic of your optional essay.

Duke Fuqua 2016 MBA Application Deadlines:

Check out our other school-specific MBA Essay Tips

If you would like professional guidance with your Duke Fuqua 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 Duke application. 

12 Terrific Tips for MBA Applicants - Download your free copy today!

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

How To Earn A Spot On Team Fuqua [Podcast]
• Culture, Location, and Support: A Duke MBA Speaks
• 2016 MBA Application Essay Tips