Alongside the deadlines for its MBA, Wharton has also revealed the essay topics for the season. There has been one significant change: a new second question. While it still follows the classical pattern of seeking to understand connections between you and the program, it does employ a more subtle and open formula than the previous version.


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.

Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Here we have a new question. 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 question takes both a personal and practical route by asking not only what makes you an interesting/unique/outstanding candidate, but also how those qualities and/or experiences will then benefit the school and its students.

As you begin analyzing potential events or attributes for this question that can be linked to Wharton’s community, try to highlight those which have had an impact beyond just on you. For every point in your background, there are a host of potential questions that can help you identify whether it’s worth including in the essay. For instance, did it require you to surmount some sort of difficulty or prejudice? What kind of effect did it have on other individuals? Did it influence the way in which you interact with people? Did it change the way you behave?

When talking about how such a trait or experience will impact your involvement with Wharton’s student body, it’s ideal to mention concrete ways that it can be applied. 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 particularly 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 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.

Optional Essay: Please use this space to share any additional information about yourself that cannot be found elsewhere in your application and that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee. This space can also be used to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, areas of weakness, etc.) that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider.

If you’re applying to Wharton, it’s very likely that you’re also sending out apps to a host of other highly competitive MBAs. Moreover, you might have written a really insightful essay for Stanford explaining what matters most to you or you’ve got a wonderful segment you’re proud of from your HBS essay; you may be thinking, wouldn’t it be great to show off that brilliant piece of writing to Wharton in this section? The answer is that it definitely wouldn’t be.

Applications are as much a test of what you don’t put in as they are of what you do. This section is exclusively for explaining away issues within your application that are going to stick out negatively to the admissions committee. Now, if you do have a problem with your profile, you absolutely should use this space to explain it away. More so, if possible and relevant, provide a solid example of corrective steps you’ve taken to make sure that the problem will not resurface.

While getting admitted to UPenn is a very difficult process, there are a lot of ways in which you can significantly improve your chances—reach out to your Wharton MBA experts to find out what they are. And, for more information on the technical side of Wharton’s application, be sure to visit the official site.

Published On: August 18th, 2020 / Categories: Essay, MBA, Wharton / Tags: , /