Wharton MBA Essay Analysis, Your 2015 Application

By - Jun 5, 08:25 AM Comments [0]

Are you ready to dig into your essays? Application essays are specifically and cleverly designed to get into your head. We like to turn the tables on the admissions committees and get inside their heads. Why are they asking these questions? What are they looking for? Read on as our experts break down application essay questions to help YOU plan the attack.

This year, Wharton cut down it’s MBA Essays to just one question. So the message is obvious - be clear, concise, compelling, and under 500 words. They know what they’re looking for and they’re not wasting any time to find it.

Let’s get into it.

Wharton MBA Essay Question 1

Essay 1: What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

A slight twist on the typical goals essay. To misquote Ferris Bueller, if you don’t stop and think about it carefully, you could miss it.

It’s all about that word “personally.” Kind of a head-scratcher, and good for Wharton. Have you ever thought about it that way? Typically, we are conditioned to define success in every way EXCEPT for how it affects us personally. Kudos to the folks here for getting y’all to think this through now. They may have just done you a huge favor simply by READING this question.

The “what you hope to gain professionally” is a touch easier, isn’t it? Maybe it comes in the form of a position, THROUGH WHICH you’re achieving something cool (remember, a position by itself isn’t an end—it’s a means to an end). It’s not that you want to be the CEO of Apple just to be the CEO of Apple. It should be more like this: AS THE CEO OF APPLE, I would like to change the way people… XXX YYY and ZZZ. The professional goal here is the XXX YYY and ZZZ piece, not “being the CEO of Apple.” See the difference? Fair enough, you’re all probably comfortable with that distinction by now. Let’s get to that tougher piece, the personal aspect of the goal. It’s a doozy.

What does it mean for you… personally? Let’s get inside it. What does it even mean to have a personal goal? Try this on—what if at the end of the day, you were operating from inside a sensory deprivation tank, and had NO IDEA whether your efforts were succeeding or failing. {It’s a strange conceit, try to go with it for a second.} Imagine it. You’re slaving day in and day out, pushing, grinding, with a very clear objective in mind, and you believe you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing to make it all happen, but… somehow, there are NO clues available to you to indicate whether it’s actually working or not.

Are you sated? Is there something about the work itself that fulfills something… personal? You’ll know when you’ve dialed into the perfect career here when even the belief/hope that you’re succeeding fills you with some kind of internal satisfaction. Otherwise, you may be pinning your prospects of “happiness” on purely external forces which is… dangerous. And Wharton is wise to wanna look into this and catch it early.

So then, what gets you internally fulfilled? What is it that you wanna be doing—regardless of the outcome—that will deliver a sense of “achievement”? Identifying that is gonna be a huge battle won.

After that, shaping this sucker shouldn’t be too hard. Maybe it can go something like this:

  • Walk us through the vision, same as you normally would. Quickly invite us in, show us the opportunity that you see, the problem you wanna fix, the thing that spurs you on. Then, with broad brush strokes (high-level), a glimpse into what you wanna do. (75 words or so)
  • Now give us the professional goals. Walk us through the plan—perhaps first in the short term. (100 words or so).
  • Part II of the goals, but longer term, where it’s headed. What you wanna achieve (not just in job title, but what happens because of it). (100 words or so)
  • And now, dip into the forgotten child of “personal” fulfillment. (100 words or so)
  • How does Wharton give you BOTH those things? Focus on the how, and use specifics. Make an argument here, not in the abstract—treat it like a mathematical proof. (75 words)
  • In a neat twist, it may be strong to CLOSE with a solid, assertive justification of why you need an MBA. Restate your personal and professional goals, and explain why this is a must for you at this time. (50-75 words)

There are a few ways this essay can take shape. This is just one example to get you going if you’re stuck.


Wharton MBA Essay - Optional

Optional: Please use the space below to highlight any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your candidacy. (400 words)
Here’s everything you need to know about writing the Optional Essay… the right way.

Reapplicant Essay:
All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete the Optional Essay. Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and 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)

And for all you reapplicants out there… let’s show the adcom a better version of yourself this time around, eh?


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