University of Pennsylvania Wharton MBA 2019-2020 Essay Tips
The Wharton MBA application process is in full swing, following the announcement of the program’s deadlines. While the essay topics are the same as those of last year, it should be noted that Wharton has reduced the second essay from a 500 word to a 400 word limit. While at first glance this may seem to offer a relief to weary typists, it should be kept in mind that word restriction actually makes the question more difficult by requiring greater precision and clarity of the writer.
What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
This essay needs to concentrate on two major themes: your post-degree career (especially in the immediate future) and Wharton’s unique assets. Wharton has amazing educators, courses, clubs, events and more. And the school knows it. So, they don’t want to read a hagiography about themselves; what they really want to see is a logical series of connections between your needs, relative to your future professional endeavors, and their resources.
A lot of people try to wrench different concepts into this essay, especially relative to their background. While it might help to include a small number of examples, if they are absolutely relevant, keep in mind that the school is judging the seriousness and realism of the choices you’re about to make concerning your scholastic and professional future, not your past successes.
If you start struggling to identify what you might need for your future role (even what it might be) or what you might need from Wharton, it’s time to take a deep dive. You have to do some heavy digging into either potential occupational roles and what skills they require, ideally by contacting individuals in the industry; or what services Wharton offers, especially by contacting alumni, going to Wharton events and visiting the school.
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)
Wharton’s community is a cornerstone of its program. So, it’s no surprise that it’s looking for individuals that will contribute to upholding the high standards and engagement the school has come to expect. This essay goes straight to the heart of the matter by asking you to use an event in your past as an illustration of how you’ll contribute to the class.
One of the most important points to remember for this essay is that Wharton asks for an experience or accomplishment that they won’t run across in other parts of the application, which includes your CV and recommendation letters. Take the time to run through your personal and professional experiences. Try to identify those which have had an impact not just on you but on others. Ask yourself relevant questions. What was the outcome for those other individuals? Did it influence the way in which you interact with people? Did it change the way you behave?
When talking about how this experience will impact your involvement with Wharton’s student body, it’s ideal to identify concrete ways that you can apply the lessons you’ve learned. These can be general examples, such as how you would interact or work with other students, or they can be more specific, such as what clubs or events you could especially contribute to.
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)
If you happen to be a reapplicant, try to focus on the positive steps you’ve taken to alleviate any issues with metrics, such as a receiving a better GMAT score. If you had other issues in your application, it’s important to illustrate here how the evolution in your professional career or extracurricular activities, or reasonable changes in your goals have positively impacted your candidacy.
For first-time applicants, this essay should only be used to explain significant issues in your hard metrics (GPA, GMAT, or Quant grades), gaps in professional or scholastic activities, or other ‘red flags’. While excusing poor performance is one way to deal with a problem, if possible, it is better to explain how you’ve resolved an issue permanently by taking concrete steps to change your behavior to avoid repeating a past mistake.
If you’d like to build a powerful Wharton application, be sure to reach out to our experts to find out how.