Wharton Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

Wharton Admissions GuideToday we break down Wharton’s admissions deadlines and essays for the Class of 2018. Although Wharton frequently plays with its application’s essay questions from one year to the next, this year the admissions team has decided to stay the course. Consequently, our advice mostly remains the same.

Let’s get down to it. Here are Wharton’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Wharton Application Deadlines
Round 1: September 29, 2015
Round 2: January 5, 2016
Round 3: March 30, 2016

Wharton’s admissions deadlines have changed just slightly vs. last year. Its Round 1 deadline crept up two days, pushing into September, but that’s not a huge change. Wharton’s Round 2 deadline is the same as it was last year, and its Round 3 deadline was moved back by four days. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will receive your decision by December 17, giving you several before most top school’s Round 2 deadlines, if you need to hurry up and apply to some “Plan B” schools.

Many top business schools make a point of emphasizing that there’s no ideal time to apply, but not Wharton. The admissions team gives pretty explicit advice about application timing: “We strongly encourage you to apply in Round 1 or 2. The first two rounds have no significant difference in the level of rigor; the third round is more competitive, as we will have already selected a good portion of the class. However, there will be sufficient room in Round 3 for the strongest applicants.” So, unless you walk on water (and even if you do walk on water), you should plan on applying no later than Round 2 if you want to have a good chance of landing at Wharton next fall.

Wharton Application Essays

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

    As we mentioned above, this essay prompt carries over unchanged from last year. At its core, it’s really the same “Why an MBA? Why Wharton?” that the school has asked for years. Note the word “personally” in the question — Wharton isn’t just interested in what six-figure job you hope to land after earning your MBA, but also wants to know how you plan on growing as a person from the experience. You definitely still need to nail the professional part — you absolutely should clear, realistic career objectives here — 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 your two years at Wharton will impact your 10 years from now? This sort of depth will make the difference between a great response and a merely good one.
  • (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)

    You should only use the optional essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need to. However, as schools like Wharton have been cutting down on essays, the role of the optional essay has evolved a bit. No need to monopolize the admissions committee’s time, but since Wharton’s application now gives you far less space in which you can describe your interests and inject some more personality into your application, this essay provides the perfect place to do that. Have a passion or something else that goes “beyond the resume” and will help Wharton admissions officers get to know you better? This essay gives you room to discuss it and make your application that much more memorable.

    Our original advice still holds, too. If you have a blemish that you need address, then this is the place to do it. You don’t want to leave a glaring weakness unaddressed. However, if you don’t have too much explaining to do, don’t be afraid to reveal something personal and memorable about yourself here!

If you’re ready to start building your own application for Wharton and other top business schools, you can get a free profile evaluation from one of our MBA admissions experts. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum