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Wharton 2015-2016 Essay Topic Analysis

Following up our announcement earlier this week with Wharton’s Class of 2018 application essays, we wanted to offer our Wharton 2015-2016 essay topic analysis for this year’s crop of UPenn MBA hopefuls.

The Wharton adcom has decided to retain the same essay structure it used for last year’s admissions season, with one required essay about what the applicant hopes to get out of the Wharton MBA, an open-ended optional essay capped at 400 words, and an additional 250-word space for use by reapplicants and first-time candidates who wish to explain extenuating circumstances. This would suggest that the admissions committee was satisfied with the data these questions yielded last season as they made interview and admission decisions (though it’s also possible that the adcom wants to preserve some continuity as a new Director comes on board).

Let’s take a closer look at each of Wharton’s prompts and consider how each might factor into an applicant’s strategy:

Essay 1 (Required): What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
A variation on the typical career goals essay, this question asks applicants to adopt a big-picture view of their b-school aspirations, touching on their hopes for both their personal development and post-MBA professional direction. On the professional front, candidates will want to share some information about their immediate post-MBA career goals, as well as their long-term aspirations and the broad impact they hope to have on their industry, community, country or region. This will help the admissions reader understand how business school fits into your professional arc and show that you’re making a well reasoned decision in applying.

Meanwhile, applicants will also need to touch upon how they hope to develop on a more personal level during their time in the Wharton MBA program. We recommend that you provide an authentic answer to this element of the question that provides a window into your values and/or your awareness around potential areas for growth. For example, some applicants might comment that they hope to hone leadership-related skills like their ability to motivate others, collaborate with colleagues from different disciplines, or more effectively work across cultures. This would reflect an appreciation for the soft skills that business schools — and employers — prize. Meanwhile, others may choose to highlight a personal interest that they wish to deepen alongside their classmates through participation in a student club, or comment on a planned involvement in the larger Philadelphia community. Such remarks will help the adcom form a fuller picture of the person behind the file. Of course, applicants would also do well to address how they see themselves contributing at Wharton, both in and out of the classroom — a topic in which the Wharton adcom has always been interested.

Given the tight word limit, applicants will need to write thoughtfully and concisely, demonstrating a strong understanding of how Wharton’s program would enable them to accomplish their stated goals. This will mean naming specific courses, clubs, and campus offerings that will facilitate the personal and professional goals that they identify in this response. Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities — whether by visiting campus, speaking with members of the community, or reading the Clear Admit Guide to Wharton — will pay dividends here.

Essay 2 (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)
This is a fairly open-ended and inviting optional essay prompt. While we once took a somewhat conservative stance on optional essays, as schools have reduced the number and length of required essay questions over the past several years, we’ve increasingly felt that it’s a good idea to take advantage of this kind of opportunity to share some more information with the adcom. We therefore recommend that all Wharton applicants aim to develop a response to this question.

That said, it’s important that the information you share in this response add to and enhance your candidacy (and not appear elsewhere in your written application materials, including data forms). In other words, this isn’t the place to elaborate on your reasons for applying to Wharton — these should be covered exhaustively in your response to the required essay on that topic. It’s also important that you share information that will make a meaningful difference in your application by highlighting a desirable skill, experience, or element of your personal background that will help the reader better appreciate what you would bring to the Class of 2018. This response could be used to explain a formative experience that’s shaped who you are today (and therefore what you would bring to the campus community), or to highlight an especially proud accomplishment and the lessons that you would be eager to share with classmates.

We’d also encourage applicants to think about the balance of content across their responses, and aim to incorporate something about themselves here that complements the material in essay 1. This is particularly true for applicants from traditional pre-MBA fields like banking or consulting, who would be better served by highlight something unique that will help them stand out than by a professional accomplishment or work-centric response. Finally, we encourage applicants to think about how they can use their comments in this essay to reinforce their fit with Wharton, which aims to build an international study body populated by humble, hard-working, and pragmatic students who area willing to leave their egos at the door and embrace a transformational MBA experience.

Reapplicant Essay (Required): 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). All applicants, including reapplicants can also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)
For those who are applying to Wharton for a second time, this prompt clearly asks reapplicants to address what they learned from their previous application process and how they’ve worked to become stronger candidates this year; those who are struggling with the 250 word limit here may also choose to elaborate on some element of their improved candidacy in Essay 2). Reapplicants should note that Wharton asks about both material improvements in one’s application as well as the growth and reflection that has occurred after (or as a result of) previously being denied. Effective reapplicant essays will therefore address both of these angles in explaining how an applicant is “new and improved” this time around.

Meanwhile, the adcom also invites first-time applicants to use this space to address the circumstances surrounding weaknesses in their candidacies. For example, this is the place to address a low GPA or GMAT score, or to explain why you’re not providing a recommendation from your current direct supervisor. Effective responses will be direct and to the point, providing a straightforward explanation without making excuses.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Wharton MBA essay topics. As you work on your Wharton MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s UPenn offerings:

Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis

Schools: UPenn / Wharton


Wharton Essay Questions 2017-2018

Following up on the announcement of their deadlines, the Wharton MBA blog has just announced the 2017-2018  Wharton essay questions for applicants targeting the Class of 2020.

Wharton MBA applicants for the 2017-2018 admissions season will respond to two required 400-500-word essays. The two essay questions remain unchanged from the previous year. 

2017-2018 Wharton Essay Questions

Essay 1 (Required)

What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

Essay 2 (Required)

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)

Essay for Reapplicants

Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words).

The adcom has noted that first-time applicants may use this section to address any extenuating circumstances (akin to an optional essay).

Stay tuned to this site for our in-depth essay topic analysis, which will be published later this week. And, now that the essays are out, get a jump start on your research with the FREE UPenn / Wharton School Snapshot!


Posted in: Essay Topics, Essays

Schools: UPenn / Wharton