Wharton requires two essays this year.
Essay #1 (Required): What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
Be introspective. You will need to discuss clear, realistic career objectives here—and then tie those objectives to Wharton’s program. It’s not enough to write in general terms about how you will benefit professionally from “business school” or “an MBA.” Wharton wants to know why you’re a fit for their specific program, and vice versa. So do your homework and ask yourself: “What is it about a Wharton MBA in particular that will help me achieve my career aspirations?”
Focus on the future. Note that the essay prompt is asking what you want to gain from the Wharton MBA, so the focus is on the future and what you plan on pursuing post-MBA. You can still touch briefly on what has brought you to this crossroads in your professional life, and how your past has shaped your what your goals are now, but maintain a primary focus on the professional path you’ve been following, where you see it going after graduation, and how Wharton will help you on that journey.
Why Wharton? As mentioned you should tie in specific examples of how the Wharton program in particular will help you to achieve your goals. You may wish to reference professional clubs or specific companies that recruit regularly on campus. Make sure you demonstrate a strong understanding of the wide array of professional opportunities available to you on campus and back up your story with clear examples.
Be specific and personal. Resist the urge to do a few web searches and then simply drop the names of some programs or professors into this essay. An effective response will provide specific details about aspects of the academics, activities, events, professional opportunities, or culture that tie back to your future goals. The best essays will show firsthand knowledge of the opportunities and resources available at Wharton through personal conversations with currents students and/or recent alumni.
Essay #2 (Required): Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)
Use SAR method. Think about the SAR (Situation–Action–Result) essay framework here: Describe what happened, what you did, and then what happened as a result. Sounds obvious, right? You would be surprised how often applicants get lost in the details and end up using most of their words merely to describe the situation. Then, the result gets tacked on at the very end!
Be sure to include what you learned. The result is not just what happened in that situation, but also the impact you had as a result and/or the impact it had on you. How did you change? This is an important part of answering this question! Even seemingly smaller life events, such as the first time you spoke in front of a large group, can make for a really impactful essay. Like most essay questions, this one is a way for the school to gain a deeper understanding of who you really are, beyond the resumé and the GPA.
Be specific. What Wharton is most interested in learning is how you will contribute. What extracurriculars and clubs will you join? Are there specific conferences you want to be involved with? How will you add to a culture that’s already overflowing with accomplished, ambitious students? Dedicate ample word count to talking about how you will use what you learned to contribute to the Wharton community and be sure to connect your experience to where you plan to contribute at Wharton.
Additional Question (required for all Reapplicants): 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). (250 words)*
* First time applicants may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)
As we always advise our clients when it comes to optional essays, only use this 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 are simply making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay. If you have gaps in your employment, poor academic performance, undergraduate disciplinary actions, or other things to explain in your profile, do so in a straightforward way. Simply explain the circumstances and take responsibility for your actions, focusing on how this experience helped you learn, grow, and mature.
If you are a reapplicant, this essay should be all about showing the admissions committee how you have changed (and hopefully improved) in the time between applications. Take inventory of all the great things you accomplished since the last time you applied and frame them for the admissions team. Perhaps you took additional coursework, received a promotion, improved your GMAT score. Share your hard work and show your growth.