This year it reversed course. It modified slightly the first required question and added a second required question in response to student feedback. According to an interview on Poets and Quants with Wharton Deputy Vice Dean of Admissions Maryellen Reilly, Wharton students felt that the old requirements and restrictions did not give them adequate opportunity to introduce themselves. Wharton listened, and now there are two required questions.
While requiring the second essay this year, Wharton has not changed the total word limits. Last year the required question had a 500-word maximum and the optional a 400-word limit. This year the first question again has a 500-word maximum and the second question has a 400-word maximum. The total word count remains 900 words, but the required amount of writing has increased. This change allows and encourages you to present a more complete picture of yourself, but does not give you license to write at length. You still need to write succinctly.
One other admissions change that Wharton announced, which is not directly related to the essays but still worth noting if you attended a non-English speaking undergrad institution: Wharton will now accept the Pearson’s PTE exam in addition to the TOEFL.
My tips for completing the Wharton application essays are in blue below.
What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words maximum)
Last year’s question included “professionally and personally.” This year, it’s exclusively “professionally.” What do you want to do professionally that you can’t do now and that a Wharton MBA will help you do? What “soft” and “hard’ skills do you hope to acquire at Wharton? How will a Wharton MBA – the education, the credential, and the experience – help you achieve your dreams?
As with most MBA goals questions, Wharton wants to see how you plan to connect your Wharton education 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?
To answer this question well, you need to have professional direction and you need to know which of Wharton’s tremendous resources make it the perfect place for the next stop on your professional journey.
Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words maximum)
By asking these two questions, effectively breaking apart and expanding on last year’s essay question, our hope is to give applicants ample space to more fully explain their aspirations, goals, and how Wharton fits into those. We want to be able to view applicants from both sides of their world – one where they are professionals developing skills and seeking career advancement, but also the personal growth side where they are seeking out enriching experiences to become better, stronger, wiser, and a more robust person.
Take these two questions as an important opportunity to express who you are and what and who you want to be. It is important for us to know the real you and be able to envision you as part of the Wharton community.
This is a new question. To respond effectively you have to understand the importance of clusters, cohorts, and student clubs at Wharton. Students constantly work in teams and groups in and outside of class. In addition, much learning and networking goes on outside of class. Finally Wharton values its community and wants to admit people who will enrich and contribute to it.
When have you contributed to a team? It could be a sports team, a band, a religious or political group. It could be that you spearheaded a fundraiser with a group of peers or started an exercise initiative at the office in cooperation with others. There are an infinite number of possibilities. However, in order to complement Essay 1, try to choose a non-professional team example. Show how that experience will allow you to contribute similarly to a Wharton club, resource, or event. Maybe you’ll start a new initiative using the lessons learned from this previous experience.
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.
*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 and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.