Tuesday Tips – Wharton Business School Essay Tips

Wharton Business School adcom values self awareness, leadership, teamwork and solid career goals. When choosing topics for this set of essays, be sure to consider examples that highlight your ability to learn and grow. Fit with the Wharton Business School community is important, and researching the program thoroughly to answer “Why Wharton Business School” will be crucial.

The Wharton Business School admissions committee and current students are extremely open about the process and the program, so even if you are halfway around the world you can experience a bit of the “Wharton Business School way” on the blogs or Student 2 Student chat room.

First-Time Applicant Questions

1. Describe your career progress to date and your future short-term and long-term career goals. How do you expect an MBA from Wharton Business School to help you achieve these goals, and why is now the best time for you to join our program? (1,000 words)

Wharton Business School’s career goals essay is the focal point of the application and the essay that provides you the most words to work with. The essay question is fairly typical of an MBA career goals essay, yet Wharton Business School uniquely focuses on “why now.” Why now is a crucial part of the essay and needs to be addressed when you answer the question about Why MBA and Why Wharton Business School.

Budget your words carefully on this essay and be sure to answer each sub question thoroughly. When discussing your career progress, focus on building a path from your past to your future short- and long-term goals. The adcom will be looking for evidence that you can achieve your career goals and your goals are a logical extension of your background and interests. Do your homework on Wharton Business School and provide very specific reasons why you want to pursue your MBA at the Wharton Business School.

2. Describe a setback or a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? (500 words)

This essay illuminates adcom’s interest in understanding how self aware you are. You will want to choose a setback or failure that has an ultimately positive result, and use most of the words to describe your actions and learning. Be candid and demonstrate that you are mature enough to see failure as an opportunity for growth. A specific and easy to describe failure will be best, allowing you to concentrate on the real communication of the essay.

3. Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential? (500 words)

This Wharton Business School essay question allows flexibility to choose either a professional or extracurricular example. The open ended nature of the question may tempt you to provide a laundry list of accomplishments. Focus instead on one or two examples and thoroughly describe your actions and thoughts, demonstrating what kind of leader you are. You can generalize on your leadership capacity and potential once you have provided the solid evidence through a specific example.

4. Please respond to one (1) of the following questions:

a. Describe an experience you have had innovating or initiating, your lessons learned, the results and impact of your efforts. (500 words)

Innovation is a popular catchphrase at Wharton Business School and is integral to Wharton Business School’s brand. This essay allows you to demonstrate your fit with the Wharton community by describing your own experiences innovating or initiating. Again, there is a strong focus on self reflection and understanding the lessons learned. Describe the situation very succinctly and focus most of the essay on the learning, results and impact.

b. Is there anything about your background or experience that you feel you have not had the opportunity to share with the Admissions Committee in your application?  If yes, please explain. (500 words)

This is an extremely open ended question that allows you to fill in any gaps in your application strategy. Avoid the temptation to recycle essays from another school (the attempt is transparent!) and focus on a topic that adds value to your communication, while remembering the Wharton Business School approach and culture.

OPTIONAL: 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, TOEFL waiver request, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words, maximum)

This Wharton Business School essay needs to address one of the items on the list. If you do not have any extenuating circumstances, you should not answer this question. If you are using this essay to explain a weakness in your application profile, focus on the positive and avoid the tendency to provide excuses. For example, rather than providing a story to excuse your low GPA, take responsibility for the mistakes you made and focus on the evidence in your life since college that demonstrates your academic potential.


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