Thoughts on Wharton 2014-2015
I wrote the following last year, and after having 6-7 clients invited to interview at Wharton, I feel even more confident in this approach, especially the "personal" aspect. One change: Wharton could be a good first school since the essay requirements are so basic, and in fact I'm recommending it as a first school to many of my clients. (Here's the full Wharton page for this year.) So far, we're spending quality time discussing and identifying personal growth areas so we can avoid generic or overly broad descriptions such as "improving my personal network" or "strengthening my leadership", which anyone could say about any school. Anyways, here it is:
1. What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
Talking with my client recently, we both agreed that the “professional” aspect of this question represents a typical goals essay, though without the strict requirement of expressing your aspirations in the standard short-term/long-term goals format. Doing so won’t hurt you, of course (having more detail rarely does), but it seems that Wharton recognizes the fluid nature of one’s career development and so you can probably get away with something a little less detailed than I would normally recommend for a school like Haas, with its harder short-term/long-term format. (Note: Haas has changed its approach to Goals this year.)
As for the “personal” aspect of the question, I suggested that my client focus on the soft skill weaknesses he wanted to improve on, which is much more difficult to do compared with, say, a personal activity you want to pursue. But it’s that kind of intangible self-awareness that I think makes a key difference to adcoms. For that reason, I suggest completing a few other applications first before starting Wharton; the more essays you answer, the more you should learn about yourself, including your weaknesses.