Category Archives: UPenn Wharton Advice

Tuesday Tips – University of Pennsylvania Wharton MBA Essay Tips

On the front page of the Wharton MBA admissions website the adcomm states: “At Wharton, admissions is all about the right fit.” The questions this year continue on that theme, with several behavioral essay questions …

On the front page of the Wharton MBA admissions website the adcomm states: “At Wharton, admissions is all about the right fit.” The questions this year continue on that theme, with several behavioral essay questions seeking to understand how you approach your life and work.

Understanding yourself and your fit with Wharton, and telling a cohesive story is key to success with this set of essays.

When contemplating the optional essays, it will be important to choose topics that will allow you to demonstrate both achievements at work and your extracurricular or personal activities. In addition, refer back to your application strategy and strengths and weaknesses to determine which personal qualities you want to highlight in your two essays.

Required Question:
What are your professional objectives?

The career goals essay is a standard MBA prompt. For this particular prompt, notice what is NOT asked. You are not asked about your professional background or your key accomplishments. To answer the question asked, you will want to focus mainly on the future and what you are planning to pursue with your MBA degree. At the same time, there is certainly room to add color by using your background information where it is most relevant to your goals. Think about the key moments of your professional life that crystallized your goals for you, and focus on illuminating those decision points rather than reciting your entire resume.

Respond to 2 of the following 3 questions:
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 Wharton Business School essay asks about the path not taken. The opportunity could have been professional, either a job or a project you decided not to pursue, or perhaps personal. Think about the areas you have already covered in other essays and decide what situation would be best for this question. Whatever situation you describe, make sure you spend equal time on the second and third part of the question.

Be clear about exactly how you decided to turn down the opportunity and the factors you considered. Are you the kind of person who weighs pros and cons or goes with your intuition? What criteria did you consider? Why did you ultimately decide not to take the opportunity presented?

The final question is whether you would make the same decision today. Think about the outcome of turning down the opportunity ”“ did it ultimately lead to a better job or project? Did you ultimately reach your goals, or do you think the opportunity may have led you down an interesting path? Either way, clearly articulate how you consider the decision today, and 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?
Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.

Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Think about the type of person who will be successful in an MBA program, and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?

The challenge could range from a difficult boss or coworker, to a relationship with a friend or family member. The key to a successful essay is to demonstrate how, specifically, you navigated the experience. A lesson learned or beneficial outcome to the experience would end the Wharton Business School essay well and allow you to illustrate your leadership, teamwork or social skills.

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.

This essay is a great way to demonstrate your capacity for creativity and innovative thought. In addition, this essay can be an opportunity for you to highlight experiences in your professional or personal life that may not have been covered in the previous essay due to limited space. If your professional experience doesn’t demonstrate the innovation you would like to highlight in this essay, perhaps your extracurricular or academic pursuits offer ideas.

Along with the behavioral part of this question, there is an implied direction to show your fit with Wharton through your innovative mentality. Wharton no longer asks candidates “Why Wharton” explicitly in essay questions, but rather seeks to understand how your unique personal qualities fit with the overall Wharton culture. Doing your research on the culture and understanding exactly how you fit in will help you approach this entire set of essays, as well as navigate interviews and other interactions with the Wharton adcomm.

For Reapplicants:
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.

All reapplicants are required to provide information that supports your renewed candidacy. The most successful version of the reapplicant essay will provide tangible evidence that you have improved the overall package you are submitting this year. Improvements like GMAT score or new quantitative classes as especially tangible, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can apply.

A rejection or waitlist last year is a form of feedback, and may have led to soul searching for you. When you describe your changes make sure reflect your ability to take feedback and improve. Describe how you approached the reapplication process after assessing your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and making the appropriate efforts to improve.

Optional Section:
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).

This question is truly optional and should only be used if you have extenuating circumstances in your background. If you do have an area of concern that is on this list, make sure you spend your optional essay space on explanations, not excuses. While you might be embarrassed to explain your D in undergrad Chemistry, better to explain that you had a difficult semester in your personal life than to leave the admissions committee to speculate.

Before you start your applications, make sure to take note of the deadlines!

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Wharton School Posts Info for Waitlisted Applicants

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has an update for waitlisted applicants, especially those wondering if there’s something they can do to sway the admissions committee in their favor. As I write in my recent …

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has an update for waitlisted applicants, especially those wondering if there’s something they can do to sway the admissions committee in their favor. As I write in my recent post on the U.S. News “Strictly Business” blog, landing on the waitlist of your dream school is actually terrific feedback, as it means that you are qualified to attend the program, and that the school was interested in your application and your profile.

Here is what the Wharton School has to say about waiting out the waitlist:

Changes to your professional or personal situation (a promotion, professional recognition, etc.) are indeed examples of your accomplishments. We recognize that applications are, in fact, a ‘snapshot in time’ and that many candidates are likely to experience growth since the submission of their application. That said, in an effort to ensure equality across the board, we do not accept supplemental documents for inclusion in your application.

With regard to timing, waitlisted applicants can expect to remain on the waitlist until the third round of decisions are released, at which point you will be notified of any change in the status of your application. Therefore, decisions regarding the waitlist may be made any time from now through May, with an update sent to you by May 12th. At that time, applicants will be notified of one of three possible decisions: continuation on the waitlist, admitted or denied.

In the meantime, if you wish to withdraw from the waitlist, please email mbaoperations@wharton.upenn.edu. In the subject of the email, please include “Waitlist Remove.”

While the waitlist may be a frustrating place to be, try to view it as a positive indication for your application and you may be fortunate enough to receive final admission from your chosen program.


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B-school Buzz: Interviews, Acceptance, Book Recs and More

This week, our B-school Buzz bloggers share some exciting news on their b-school applications and internship interview tips, among other updates.

This week, our B-school Buzz bloggers share some exciting news on their b-school applications and internship interview tips, among other updates.

Accepted! – If you’ve ever had the gratifying experience of learning that your b-school application has been accepted, then Ellipsing My Way… To Business School’s post about hearing from the Cornell Johnson School of Management will take you right back to that magical (and overwhelming) moment. He writes, “I didn’t know what to do or say. To be honest I barely remember what was said…  ‘Congratulations this…  deposit that…’  All I could do is keep saying ‘Thank you… Thank you…. Thank you….’  I do remember saying ‘I’m sorry I don’t even know what to say other than thank you…'” Way to go, Ellipsing!

Interview invites – Mako at Random Wok had good news to share this week as well: He’s been invited to another interview, this time with the Wharton School. This was especially great to read, given that Mako was dealing with a rejection from Harvard Business School last week. Once again, he writes with emotional candor about his application process so far, and ends the post on a positive note: “I’ve been invited to interview at more than half the schools I applied to, and reaching this milestone is a good feeling.”

Internship interviews – Meanwhile, Praz at Columbia MBA Class of 2012 reminded us that the interviews don’t end once you’re accepted to a program. He shared his preparation strategies for on-campus internship interviews, explaining how he readied himself for both the technical and behavioral/fit parts of his interviews. The result? “For the summer I’ll be here in NYC at American Express as a finance manager intern,” he writes. Nicely done!

A couple of other posts worth checking out this weekMilitary to Business shares some research he conducted to find out how many military personnel have made their way to Harvard Business School, and the GMAT Prep blog highly recommends the book The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma, commenting, “I like the way Robin Sharma makes success look so easy and achievable…. Consistent simple steps followed daily lead you to success.” Sounds like a book worth checking out.

Posted in BSchool Buzz, Cornell Advice, Harvard Advice, UPenn Wharton Advice | Tagged , , ,

B-Schools Affected by Budget Deficits, Too

Though the labor protests in Wisconsin have focused our nation’s attention on state budget woes, many other organizations have been adversely affected by budget shortcomings, including top business schools.

Though the labor protests in Wisconsin have focused our nation’s attention on state budget woes, many other organizations have been adversely affected by budget shortcomings, including top business schools.

In the article “Business Schools Get Lean,” BusinessWeek‘s Francesca Di Meglio reported that many b-schools have been forced to reduce spending, due to decreased endowments and state cuts to higher education in the wake of the recent recession. Avoiding layoffs has been a priority for most schools, but could not always be avoided. Here are a few of the cutting-back strategies employed by the b-schools featured in the article:

Tuck School of Business – Reorganized existing tasks, such as centralizing the school’s recycling system, which saved labor hours. Also reduced travel in favor of technologies such as videoconferencing.

Chicago Booth School of Business – While Booth didn’t lay off existing faculty, the school held off on filling openings and has reduced its temporary and contract workers. Like Tuck, Booth has also cut its travel budget and implemented a policy requiring approval from the dean’s office for travel.

Wharton School of Business – One round of layoffs in executive education department. Renegotiated contracts with vendors and cut down on travel and entertainment expenses.

Harvard Business School – Turned off heating and cooling systems during non-business hours. According to Meghan Duggan, assistant director of sustainability and energy management at HBS, this simple action resulted in six-figure savings.

Program cuts aren’t the only concern for potential b-school students. As businesses also struggle with their budgets, many of them are cutting back on tuition assistance programs, another BusinessWeek article reports. In “Tuition Benefits Drying Up,” Erin Zlomek writes, “In 2010, 56 percent of employers offered graduate school assistance, down from 69 percent in 2003, according to annual benefits data collected by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).”

Posted in Chicago Booth Advice, Dartmouth Tuck Advice, General, Harvard Advice, UPenn Wharton Advice | Tagged , , , ,

MBA Advice From Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School and Tuck School of Business

Whether you’re diving into the application process full-throttle, or just starting to test the waters, good advice is always welcome. Today’s tips come courtesy of the Career Insider blog at Bucknell University, which posted a …

Whether you’re diving into the application process full-throttle, or just starting to test the waters, good advice is always welcome. Today’s tips come courtesy of the Career Insider blog at Bucknell University, which posted a comprehensive entry yesterday with pointers on the MBA application process supplied by panelists representing Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School and Tuck School of Business.

Here are some edited excerpts of the advice culled by Bucknell’s Jamie Leacock ’11; click on the link above for the original entry, which also covers selecting recommenders, taking the GMAT, the admissions process and what a typical schedule looks like during an MBA program.

What are MBA graduate programs looking for?

One myth surrounding the MBA admissions process is that applicants are accepted based on their credentials (e.g., what undergraduate school they attended, an internship they completed). However, schools are not looking for what you have done; they are looking for why you have done it and how well you did it!

The panelists urge prospective students to be able to explain the choices they made and why they excelled. Talking about the quality of your experience and why it was right for you is a surefire way to exude individuality. The best job is not what you think schools are looking for; it is what you are passionate about.

What qualities do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

When reviewing applications, the panel asserts that admissions officers are thinking about the long-term ”“ what kind of alumni are you going to be?

One panelist who has worked at Bucknell, Tuck Business School, and Wharton says he seeks the following when making decisions: applicant’s integrity, their risk-taking ability, their leadership as expressed in the context of their own life, and (his highest weighted criteria) their initiative.

One way to demonstrate these characteristics during an interview is by using the mirror technique. When asked to tell about a leadership experience, after answering, re-frame the question and ask the interviewer about opportunities for leadership at that school. Utilizing these tips can certainly be beneficial to your application process.

Should I re-apply if I don’t get in the first time?

One panelist said 10% of Wharton Business School applicants were re-applying. He advises re-applicants to be very careful not to look like the main goal is to get into that particular school. At schools where the application can be re-activated, he was very impressed when applicants started over, treating the re-application process as a blank state instead of reusing old essays. It can be a good idea to paint a new self-portrait of yourself based on the new experiences you gained during the past year.

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Tuesday Tips – Wharton Business School Essay Tips

Wharton has substantially changed its essay questions for this year’s application. This week we provide tips to help you tackle this set of questions and create a strong application.

Wharton Business School consistently seeks well rounded and community minded applicants that can demonstrate innovative thinking, a record of accomplishment, and very solid career goals. The essays this year are consistent with the admissions goals, though very different from the previous years’ essays. The required essay asks for career objectives, and telling a cohesive story is key to success with this set of Wharton Business School questions.

When contemplating the optional essays, it will be important to choose topics that will allow you to demonstrate both achievements at work and your extracurricular or personal activities. In addition, refer back to your application strategy and strengths and weaknesses to determine which personal qualities you can highlight in these essays.

Required Question:
What are your professional objectives? (300 words)

The career goals essay is a standard MBA prompt. While in past years Wharton Business School provided plenty of space to explain your background and goals, this year’s essay asks you to keep your career aspirations brief and focused. With only 300 words, you will want to focus mainly on the future and what you are planning to pursue with your MBA degree, using your background information where it is most relevant to your goals.

Because you have limited space, you will likely want to briefly cover why Wharton Business School in this essay, and use one of the optional essays to delve deeper into your interest in the Wharton Business School and fit with the community.

Respond to 3 of the following 4 questions:
1. Student and alumni engagement has at times led to the creation of innovative classes. For example, through extraordinary efforts, a small group of current students partnered with faculty to create a timely course entitled, “Disaster Response: Haiti and Beyond,” empowering students to leverage the talented Wharton Business School community to improve the lives of the Haiti earthquake victims. Similarly, Wharton Business School students and alumni helped to create the “Innovation and the Indian Healthcare Industry” which took students to India where they studied the full range of healthcare issues in India. If you were able to create a Wharton Business School course on any topic, what would it be? (700 words)

This essay is a great way to demonstrate your capacity for creativity and innovative thought. In addition, this essay can be an opportunity for you to highlight experiences in your professional life that may not have been covered in the previous essay due to limited space. Think about the areas where you are an expert, and how you could share your knowledge with the Wharton Business School community. If your professional experience doesn’t demonstrate the innovation you would like to highlight in this essay, perhaps your extracurricular or academic pursuits offer ideas.

Along with describing the course you would create, this question can provide the opportunity to delve into why Wharton Business School is the right place for you to pursue your MBA. You can discuss faculty you would like to collaborate with, clubs and activities that demonstrate an interest within the community that you also share, or existing classes that are an example of the type of class you would design.

2. 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? (600 words)

This Wharton Business School essay asks about the path not taken. The opportunity could have been professional, either a job or a project you decided not to pursue, or perhaps personal. Think about the areas you have already covered in other essays and decide what situation would be best for this question. Whatever situation you describe, make sure you spend equal time on the second and third part of the question.

Be clear about exactly how you decided to turn down the opportunity and the factors you considered. Are you the kind of person who weighs pros and cons or goes with your intuition? What criteria did you consider? Why did you ultimately decide not to take the opportunity presented?

The final question is whether you would make the same decision today. Think about the outcome of turning down the opportunity ”“ did it ultimately lead to a better job or project? Did you ultimately reach your goals, or do you think the opportunity may have led you down an interesting path? Either way, clearly articulate how you consider the decision today, and why.

3. Describe a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? How did this experience help to create your definition of failure? (600 words)

While this essay question has appeared in prior Wharton Business School applications, the final question takes a new twist on the question. When thinking about a situation you would like to discuss in this essay, you might want to consider situations that were pivotal in your development and that led to your point of view on what success and failure mean to you.

Many Wharton Business School candidates dislike the “mistake” or failure essay because of the misconception that adcomm is seeking to find your deep personal flaws through such an inquiry. Far from looking for your weaknesses, the mistake or failure essay is an opportunity to demonstrate your own confidence and ability to learn from challenging situations.

The failure can be a situation at work, your personal life or an extracurricular project. Far more important than the failure will be your response to the situation. What did you do and say? Be specific about the events and your contribution to the failure. The last prompt in the question is perhaps the most important. Explain what you learned from the situation, and especially why this lesson has been important to you. Perhaps it has helped you to avoid similar situations in the future, or taught you something important about yourself and your working style that has helped your impact in future situations.

4. Discuss a time when you navigated a challenging experience in either a personal or professional relationship. (600 words)

Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.

Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Think about the type of person who will be successful in an MBA program, and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?

The challenge could range from a difficult boss or coworker, to a relationship with a friend or family member. The key to a successful essay is to demonstrate how, specifically, you navigated the experience. A lesson learned or beneficial outcome to the experience would end the Wharton Business School essay well and allow you to illustrate your leadership, teamwork or social skills.

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