This Wharton 2012 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Check out the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice.
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.
What are your professional objectives?
This is a direct question that requires little explanation. What are your professional post-MBA goals? 300 words should allow you enough space to discuss short- and long-term goals. Please define your goals in terms of the function you want to perform and the industry you would like to work in. If geographic location is important, you can include that to, but recognize that your professional objective is NOT what you want to study.
You could take a day-in-the-life approach to this question, but you don’t have to do so.
Respond to 2 of the Following 3 Questions:
Which two questions should you choose? Easy. Choose the ones, that when added to the other elements of your application and each other, add valuable insight into you. Minimize overlap.
Essay 1: Reflect on a time when you turned down an opportunity. What was the thought process behind your decision? Would you make the same decision today?
This question asks about the past. It asks about “a time when…” No fuzzy plans or hypothetical “what-if’s” will do. The “time” must have really happened.
I think this question is seeking to know your attitude towards opportunity and risk, because the two are almost always connected. First choose a time when you said “no” to an opportunity. Consider opening with the offer, proceed to weighing the pros and cons, the moment when you actually turned it down, or perhaps the feeling of relief when you finally had made your decision. Discuss why you declined the opportunity and how you feel about the decision today. With 20-20 hindsight, would you make the same choice? Again, why?
2. Discuss a time when you faced a challenging interpersonal experience. How did you navigate the situation and what did you learn from it?
This question asks about a challenging experience in which other people are involved. Wharton doesn’t want to know about a challenge you faced solving a technical problem or doing bench research. It wants to hear about your ability to navigate interpersonal relations. That ability is critical in Wharton’s learning teams, and it is a critical to your ability to advance as a leader in the business world.
You can start your essay with the moment of tension or the moment of relief, when you knew you had successfully handled the situation. Then give the background. How did you overcome the hurdle? What did you learn?
3. “Innovation is central to our culture at Wharton. It is a mentality that must encompass every aspect of the School – whether faculty research, teaching or alumni outreach.” – Thomas S. Robertson, Dean, The Wharton School
Keeping this component of our culture in mind, discuss a time when you have been innovative in your personal or professional life.
New question. The dean last year announced an increased focus on innovation at Wharton, and this question reflects that increased focus. Like options 1 & 2, this is a behavioral question. It asks when have you innovated. It does not want your theory of innovation. It doesn’t ask for someone else’s example. It ask for one time when you created something, solved a problem in a new way, or initiated a distinctive program, project or event. There are many ways to innovate. Show one time when you have done so, preferably while also revealing leadership and impact.
Reapplicant Question: 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 Section for All Applicants: 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).
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).
|Round 1||Oct 3, 2011||Dec. 20, 2011|
|Round 2||Jan 4, 2012||Mar. 30, 2012|
||Mar 5, 2012||May 8, 2012|