Wharton Deadlines, Essays & Analysis (Class of 2015, Starting Fall 2013)

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How will Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives? (400 words)

Analysis: After experimenting with the world’s shortest (300 words) goals essay last year, Wharton has returned to something more traditional with this year’s professional objectives question, with an apparent emphasis on “Why Wharton?” Last year’s question didn’t require or provide the space to explain Wharton’s advantages vis-à-vis an applicant’s goals, which makes us think Wharton felt something was missing. So while 400 words is not much, be sure to balance a clear explanation of your objectives (not necessarily the de rigueur short-term and long-term goals of most MBA applications) with the Wharton resources that are most important to your success.

For further information, please see: The MBA Goals Essay and Why MBA School X?


Analysis: For most of our clients, we will suggest question 3 to share a professional accomplishment, and then either question 1 or 2 to balance the set with personal information.

1. Select a Wharton MBA course, co-curricular opportunity or extra-curricular engagement that you are interested in. Tell us why you chose this activity and how it connects to your interests. (500 words)

Analysis: We think you’re making a mistake if you choose something directly related to your goals here, since your answer will be obvious and will necessarily repeat information from your professional objectives; i.e., you are not introducing any new information. This essay is a chance to show 1) that your past experiences and interests can be built upon at Wharton, 2) that you can contribute to this particular area of Wharton life, and 3) that you know what Wharton offers and can relate it to your own situation. Think of this as “Why Wharton?”, but in the personal sphere. 

2. Imagine your work obligations for the afternoon were cancelled and you found yourself "work free" for three hours, what would you do? (500 words)

Analysis: Obviously this is a chance to highlight your personal interests and perhaps your spontaneity and resourcefulness, since the joy of having three free hours in the middle of a workday comes as a surprise.

DO NOT: explain how you would study for your Series 7 or upcoming CFA exam or do your taxes, see a movie, or sleep (no matter how realistic that last one may be).

DO: describe how you would run in the nearby hills, go shopping to cook your significant other’s favorite meal, write letters, music, or poetry, pick your kids up early, work for your non-profit, etc. Your answer should hopefully reveal some aspect of your life not reflected anywhere else in the application.  

3. "Knowledge for Action draws upon the great qualities that have always been evident at Wharton: rigorous research, dynamic thinking, and thoughtful leadership." - Thomas S. Robertson, Dean, The Wharton School 

Tell us about a time when you put knowledge into action. (500 words)

Analysis: “Knowledge for Action” is Wharton’s new “brand platform”, which in turn might be behind the drastic change to this year’s candy-coated questions. As far as this question is concerned, Wharton is looking for a leadership/accomplishment that stems from some piece of knowledge – something you read, heard about, experienced, etc. It seems like a strange distinction to make since presumably any action you take would be based on something more than pure instinct or intuition. Even if you are acting on a hunch, you would hopefully back that up with research before jumping in. In any case, we read this as a standard leadership/accomplishment essay, as your action should lead to success, but be sure to include where your initial idea, motivation, impetus, etc. came from.

For further information, please see: The MBA Leadership Essay


All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete the Optional Essay. Please use this space to explain how you have reflected on the previous decision on your application and to discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). You may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

Analysis: Straight Up – Please see The MBA Re-applicant Essay


If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words)

Analysis: Straight Up – Please see The MBA Optional Essay