Wharton Business School Essay Tips for the 2014-2015 Admissions Cycle
Over the past five years, Wharton has steadily decreased the number of essays required in its application. This year, that trend continues, as Wharton announced that it will require only one, 500-word essay, a far cry from the four essays totaling over 2,000 words that it required half a decade ago.
At face value, this may just be an attempt by Wharton to reverse the decline in applications they saw with the Class of 2015, the latest class for which stats are available:
Requiring less essay writing lowers the cost of applying, likely increasing the number of applications Wharton will receive (and also making the school’s admissions stats seem more selective – something that can only help it stay at the top of the US News business school rankings).
But this change also raises the stake for applicants, who have a lot less space to capture the attention of the Wharton admissions committee. In about half the words that are in this blog post, candidates must answer:
What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA?
The question is nearly identical to the prompt provided for last year’s applicants, which asked, “What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA?” Perhaps this biggest different is the word choice Wharton used to set up the question. “Hope to gain” is a lot more down to earth than “aspire to achieve” – likely a subtle cue to applicants that went a bit overboard with their answers last year. Wharton isn’t looking for applicants dreaming of solving poverty and ending hunger; they want to get to know you in a very personal and real way. The shift in language is a subtle hint at that, and something applicants should be mindful of when they’re deciding how lofty they want to make their goals.
Last year, Wharton made a similarly subtle shift in this essay question, which previously had read, “How will a Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives?” The addition of the word “personal” last year was an important prod to get applicants to talk more about their passions and values, as well as their professional ambition and vision. The admissions committee wants to know how you’ll participate in the broader school community – and what you expect to gain from that involvement. It wants to know how you think you’ll grow as a person, so you have to go beyond the commonplace reasons almost all applicants give for why they want an MBA: enhance their skill set and grow their network.
So, given all of this, what does a good Wharton essay response look like? Here are the keys: