Wharton Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Wharton Admissions GuideWharton has released its admissions essays and application deadlines for the 2013-2014 admissions season. Following the trend that we have seen at other top MBA programs this year, Wharton has cut its required essay count from three to two, although you will actually have more words to work with for the first essay this year.

Without further ado, here are Wharton’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Wharton Application Deadlines

Round 1: October 1, 2013
Round 2: January 7, 2014
Round 3: March 27, 2014

Wharton’s application deadlines have barely changed since last year. Note that applying to Wharton in Round 1 means that you will receive your decision by December 20, giving you time to work up some more Round 2 applications for other business schools if you don’t receive good news from Wharton.

Wondering if your application timing matters? The Wharton admissions committee has gone on record with advice for both first-time applicants and reapplicants: “We strongly encourage you to apply in Round 1 or 2. The first two rounds have no significant difference in terms of level of rigor; the third round is more competitive as we will have selected a good portion of the class. However, there will be sufficient room in Round 3 for the strongest applicants.” Note that word “strongest”… Yes, you can get into Wharton in Round 3, but if you have any big weaknesses, a “wait till next year” strategy may be your best bet.

Wharton Application Essays

  1. What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

    The wording of this question is new this year, although we consider this question to be an evolution of Wharton’s Essay #1 from last year. Interestingly, while business schools have been shortening their essays, Wharton actually bumped up the word count for this essay from 400 words last year to 500 this year. And that’s on top of last year’s change, which increased the word count from 300 to 400 words. Since the school has dropped an essay this year, the Wharton admissions team seems comfortable giving applicants more room to run with this particular essay.

    Looking at what did change this year (besides the addition of 100 words), Wharton added the “personally” piece. You absolutely still need to nail the professional part — clear, realistic career objectives are key — but the admissions committee also wants to see maturity and introspection. How do you see yourself growing during your two years at Wharton? How do you hope the degree and the experience will impact your 10 years from now? Think about these things and try to jot down specific examples before proceeding.
  2. Academic engagement is an important element of the Wharton MBA experience. How do you see yourself contributing to our learning community? (500 words)

    This question is new this year. You could consider it a new version of one optional essay that Wharton featured last year, which asked you to write about an MBA course or extracurricular activity that interested you. The Wharton admissions team has elected to narrow the focus and put it specifically on academics. We tend not to love this kind of question many applicants are tempted to just find a class on a the school’s website and write about it, giving admissions officers what applicants think they want to see. This essay is about more than showing that you know how to use the school’s online course and faculty directories… Here you want to show credible evidence that you will be a smart, engaged student who takes Wharton’s academic rigors seriously. Your GMAT score and undergraduate GPA can demonstrate your smarts (and hopefully they’re great), so in this essay you can demonstrate the other key ingredient, which involves your devotion to learning and authentic interest in what you’ll learn in the classroom.

    Admissions essays that ask “How do you see yourself contributing?” are often getting at diversity, and that’s another way you can go with this essay. Note that “diversity” often means more than just your nationality and ethnicity, and that’s particularly true here… Remember that the focus is how you will contribute academically. One way you can do that is by bringing a new point of view based on your work experience. Especially if you come from a professional background that is not overrepresented, emphasizing how your work experience can give you a unique voice in the Wharton classroom can be a great use of this essay.

For more advice on getting into Wharton, get yourself a copy of our Essential Guide to Wharton, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum