Wharton Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2013, Starting Fall 2011)

DEADLINES [table id=40 /]

ESSAYS & ANALYSIS Fall 2010 Essay Questions The Admissions Committee is interested in getting to know you on both a professional and personal level. We encourage you to be introspective, candid, and succinct. Most importantly, we suggest you be yourself.

REQUIRED QUESTION: What are your professional objectives? (300 words)

Analysis: For more years than I can remember, Wharton’s Goals Essay was one of the longest (750-1000) and most standard around. Actually, with the exception of last year’s Adaptation essay, that goes for the rest of Wharton's questions as well. Not any more. At 300 words, this is probably the shortest Goals essay you’ll find this year. Even HBS gives you 400, though it’s optional. That means just the lean muscle of your career ambitions, and little to no “Career Background”, “Why Now?” or “Why Wharton” (until recently a pro-forma question that more and more schools are, thankfully, eliminating). Instead of those components, I recommend choosing topics and examples from the questions below that can help reveal the source of your goals and your potential for achieving them.

Please see: The MBA Goals Essay


Student and alumni engagement has at times led to the creation of innovative classes. For example, through extraordinary efforts, a small group of current students partnered with faculty to create a timely course entitled, “Disaster Response: Haiti and Beyond,” empowering students to leverage the talented Wharton community to improve the lives of the Haiti earthquake victims. Similarly, Wharton students and alumni helped to create the “Innovation and the Indian Healthcare Industry” which took students to India where they studied the full range of healthcare issues in India. If you were able to create a Wharton course on any topic, what would it be? (700 words)

Analysis: This is a juicy, multi-dimensional question, offering a lot of potential to shine for those brave enough to tackle it. When formulating your answer, I would consider the following:

1) The course should be something you have a demonstrated interest in and/or a personal connection to, but not so much expertise in that an entire course would be redundant. Choosing a course related to your goals and supporting it with relevant experience makes good sense, especially if you can show leadership or initiative in your chosen field. At the same time, the course should appeal to a clear segment, if not all, of your Wharton classmates. After all, a course needs people to be a course. Otherwise, it’s self-study.

2) Once those things are established, I would turn to the course itself. How would you design it? Who would you ask to teach or guest lecture, or would it be a completely student-driven class? What teaching materials would you use? What resources do you have to contribute? Is there travel involved? If so, how would you fund it? Are there possibilities for corporate sponsorship or involvement? What is the ultimate goal/purpose/output of the course?

Reflect on a time when you turned down an opportunity. What was the thought process behind your decision? Would you make the same decision today? (600 words)

Analysis: If you turned down an opportunity, your decision was either right or wrong; a 50/50 answer is unlikely to provide a clear enough picture of your values, morals, ambitions, risk-orientation, and decision-making process, some of the bigger ideas behind this question. If your decision was right, why was it right? What was the outcome? Perhaps the opportunity crossed ethical boundaries, and refusing it was clearly the right decision. Maybe it was a legitimate opportunity that just wasn’t right for you because of your personality or preparedness, or the sacrifices it entailed. Perhaps you would make the same decision, but just because it was right before, doesn’t mean you or your circumstances haven’t changed and that you would refuse the opportunity a second time. If that’s the case, explain what’s different the second time around.

If your original decision was wrong, why was it wrong? What happened? What were your original concerns and how did the experience affect you? Were you ever presented a similar opportunity, and if so, did you embrace it the second time?

Describe a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? How did this experience help to create your definition of failure? (600 words)

Analysis: Wharton’s only “typical” essay this year, with the added requirement of including your definition of failure. It’s an interesting addition, as it pushes for the same kind of self-awareness promoted in the Opportunity question above. Obviously, you should embrace the idea of failure in a measured way for the learning opportunity it is. Spend some time crafting your own definition and avoid cliché, since Wharton will likely be inundated with uniformly positive viewpoints.

Please see: The MBA Failure Essay

Discuss a time when you navigated a challenging experience in either a personal or professional relationship. (600 words)

Analysis: Everyone experiences difficult relationships, caused by differences in standpoint, motivation or personality, and handling them effectively and productively is one of the most difficult of human endeavors. It takes insight, discipline, initiative and maturity to put the brakes on a deteriorating situation, especially one you are deeply involved in. Those with true interpersonal gifts can even sense potential conflict before it erupts and take steps to avoid or minimize it, while remaining true to themselves and getting the job done. I suggest writing in the context of a goal or endeavor, and don’t feel that ending up best friends with your former nemesis is obligatory. Success, however, is important as the ultimate measure of your ability to handle the interpersonal challenge.