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UC Berkeley Haas School of Business 2009-10 Deadlines and Essay Question Analyses

Haas is a great option for those of you interested in learning about innovation within a general management program at a top university. It’s also well known for its diversity and small and collaborative student body. To top it all off, Berkeley is in one of the greatest cities in America! No, Haas is not paying me to say all this but I decided to write something when, talking to some of my new students, I realized that there are a number of people unfamiliar with the Haas MBA program. Some of my most impressive students have gone on to Haas over the last few years (and love it and have done well) and so I have a pretty good impression of the school.

Below, please find the deadlines and essay questions along with my comments in orange:

http://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/fall.html

**The on-line application will be available mid-August, according to their website.**

Deadlines (before midnight Pacific time)

Round 1:     October 20, 2009   (decision date: January 27, 2010)

Round 2:    December 10, 2009   (decision date: March 17, 2010)

Round 3:    February 2, 2010   (decision date: April 28, 2010)

Round 4:    March 10, 2010   (decision date: May 19, 2010)

Fall 2010 Essay Questions

Listed below are the supplemental questions, short answer questions, required essays, and optional essays for the fall 2010 application.

Supplemental Questions:  [ I will not provide any comments to the Supplemental Questions as they should be self-explanatory; brief answers and lists are fine here.]

  1. If you have not provided a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, please explain; otherwise, enter N/A.
  2. List in order of importance all community & professional organizations and extracurricular activities in which you have been involved during or after university studies. Indicate the nature of the activity or organization, dates of involvement, offices held, & average number of hours spent per month.
  3. List full-time and part-time jobs held during undergraduate or graduate studies, indicating the employer, job title, employment dates, location, and the number of hours worked per week for each position held prior to the completion of your degree.
  4. Please explain all gaps in your employment since earning your university degree.
  5. Beyond the courses that appear on your academic transcripts, please discuss other ways in which you have demonstrated strong quantitative abilities.
  6. If you have ever been subject to academic discipline, placed on probation, suspended or required to withdraw from any college or university, please explain. If not, please enter N/A. (An affirmative response to this question does not automatically disqualify you from admission.)

Short Answer:

  1. What are you most passionate about? Why? (250 word maximum)

Haas wants to learn more about you through this question. There is no right or wrong response, and the answer could be something concrete like a hobby or it could be completely abstract, like a life philosophy or belief. Whatever you choose, it should be something that will allow the admissions committee to understand you better. I do have this piece of advice, though: choose something that will balance out the rest of your essays, and it is great if you have something personal to talk about. If you look at the rest of the essay question set, you’ll see that most of the questions ask about career-related experiences. I would avoid saying things like “I am most passionate about working hard” or “I am most passionate about my career”; you want to show that you have some balance in your life!

2.    Tell us about your most significant accomplishment. (250 word maximum)

When choosing a topic for this question, be sure you don’t overlap with the innovation question below (#3) or the leadership question (Required Essay 1). You can select a non-work experience to discuss as well. For example, if you feel that your greatest accomplishment is overcoming a long-term illness or some other personal obstacle, you can certainly use that story for this essay.

3.    At Haas, we value innovation and creativity. Describe a time when you created positive change in a group or an organization. (250 word maximum)

They changed this essay question slightly this year (in the past they asked for a creative problem-solving/solution example); the question seems a bit more open-ended now. Haas is a school that prides itself on innovation, and so likewise they are looking for applicants with the same mindset. What is an example of a time when you took initiative to introduce something new? They are looking for examples of new and creative solutions or ways of doing things. Try to think of a time when you changed something, created or invented something, thought of a new solution (etc.). Discuss how you thought of this and implemented it and briefly what the impact was. 

4.    What steps have you taken to learn about the Berkeley MBA program, and what factors have influenced your decision to apply? (250 word maximum)

Quite frankly, a number of applicants apply to Haas with a personal preference for Stanford. The two schools share many similar qualities, including an innovation-based curriculum, small community, and location near Silicon Valley. Haas needs to be sure that you are sincere about your interest in their school, that you are not considering it simply as a safety net in case you don’t get accepted to Stanford! This is why you are asked here to write a separate essay simply discussing how you have researched their program and how you decided to apply. (Please note this is different from the goals essay in which you explain in more detail how you will use the resources at Haas.) Be sure to mention any campus visits, conversations with Haas students, alumni/ae, and/or staff, attendance at Haas events, etc. And be sure you sound sincere and specific.

Required Essays:

  1. Give us an example of a situation in which you displayed leadership. (500 word maximum)

This is a straightforward question in which you have to talk about a time when you took initiative to create a positive impact. The best example should be a recent experience from work, although the most important thing is to look at the rest of your essay set to see what examples you have already used. Make sure that whatever example you use that you show balance and sufficient professional leadership experience.

2.    What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How do your professional experiences relate to these goals? How will an MBA from Berkeley help you achieve these specific career goals? (1000 word maximum)

This is also a straightforward question asking about your goals, how your experiences have led you to your goals, and how you believe you will use the resources at Haas to help you reach those goals. Since Haas has a relatively unique curriculum and philosophy, make sure that you convey well the fit between their program and your professional and academic goals.

Optional Essays:

  1. (Optional) Please feel free to provide a statement concerning any information you would like to add to your application that you haven’t addressed elsewhere. (500 word maximum)

This is a very open-ended question and you may write another essay here. Look at the rest of your essay set; if there is another compelling story which you have not had a chance to tell, please use this space to write it. If you feel the regular essays already represent you fully, then don’t feel obligated to write this optional essay. It is better to leave it blank than to write another essay that doesn’t add significant value to your candidacy.

Reapplicants: Please read the specific instructions on Haas’ website regarding materials to update.

http://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/fall.html

Chicago Booth 2009-10 Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines

Please find below the deadlines and essay questions (much simpler this year!) for Chicago. My analyses and comments follow the questions. Despite the unfamiliar wording of some of them, the questions are all fairly basic.

http://www.chicagobooth.edu/fulltime/admissions/apply.aspx

Deadlines

Round 1: October 14, 2009

Round 2: January 6, 2010

Round 3: March 10, 2010

Essays

1. How did you choose your most recent job/internship and how did this experience influence your future goals? What about the Chicago Booth MBA makes you feel it is the next best step in your career at this time? (750-1000 words)

This is a straightforward goals question that asks about how your most recent position is connected to your goals. Note that they ask you how you chose your most recent position, which means you will probably need to explain your overall career a bit as well (in order to explain how you arrived at your most recent post). It is interesting that Chicago chooses to use the word “most recent” and not “current,” showing that they are sensitive to the fact that some applicants may have lost jobs.

Finally, you are asked to explain why Chicago’s program is the best next step for you. As with all schools, you need to show specifically how the features of this particular program will allow you to gain the skills, knowledge and experiences that you will need in order to continue with your goals.

1a. FOR REAPPLICANTS ONLY: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (250 words)

In addition to writing the above goals essay, you will also need to, if you are a reapplicant, write this short essay reflecting on your thoughts regarding your future. Unlike reapplicant essays for most other schools, you will not be focusing on listing the various changes in your candidacy since your last application (e.g., increased test scores, promotion). Of course, if appropriate, you should definitely highlight any improvements in your application. However, Chicago is most interested in hearing an honest reflection of how your thoughts have changed regarding Chicago and/or your goals. Are you more focused now? Have your goals changed? If so, why or why not? Ultimately, they want to make sure that you have put serious thought into reapplying, rather than simply repackaging everything to resend.

2. Please choose one of the following (500 – 750 words):

Describe a time when you wish you could have retracted something you said or did. When did you realize your mistake and how did you handle the situation?

This question is basically a failure or mistake question. Chicago wants to know about something that you regret having done. (Now, a common question that I get is, “Can I talk about something that I regret having not done?” The answer is usually “yes” since neglecting to do something is also an action.

The point of asking this question is to see if you have the self-awareness and humility to admit to having made a mistake, and the maturity to recognize and learn from it.

-or-

Describe a time when you were surprised by feedback that you received. What was the feedback and why were you surprised?

This question falls into the same category as the above question. You’ll recognize it as the “constructive criticism/feedback” question that some other schools ask about in essays and/or recommendations. You’re basically asked to describe a time when someone gave you feedback that you did not expect. And while they do not specify positive or negative feedback, given that you are offered a choice of a failure or feedback question to answer, I think it is safe to discuss an episode in which you received negative feedback. (Being surprised at receiving positive feedback could also work; it would all depend on your story.) And while they also do not ask you to talk about how you handled the feedback, I would suggest that you do, in order to provide the admissions committee with the information that they are looking for. You should talk about how you reacted to the feedback and how you reflected on it. If possible, talk about how you have accepted and incorporated that advice. The point of the question is to find out, again, if you have the humility, self-awareness and maturity to learn from mistakes.

Slide Presentation

In four slides or less please answer the following question: What have you not already shared in your application that you would like your future classmates to know about you?

We have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation.

  • The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach to this essay.
  • Feel free to use the software you are most comfortable with. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.
  • There is a strict maximum of 4 slides, though you can provide fewer than 4 if you choose. 
  • Slides will be printed and added to your file for review, therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points. Color may be used.
  • Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
  • You are welcome to attach a document containing notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. However the hope is the slide is able to stand alone and convey your ideas clearly. You will not be penalized for adding notes but you should not construct a slide with the intention of using the notes section as a consistent means of explanation.

This Slide Presentation reminds me of NYU Stern’s Personal Expression question in that it is a creative means of telling the admissions committee something – anything – about yourself. You’d need to look at what you’ve written for the other essays, and then prepare the slides to talk about the other parts of you that you haven’t yet shared. This could include work accomplishments, community work, sports, university experiences, and/or personal experiences. Be sure to make the slides informative and interesting but well-organized. Follow Chicago’s guidelines carefully and focus on the content rather than the artistry of the slides. In the end, you are “selling” yourself, not your technical expertise.

Optional Essay

If there is any important information that is relevant for your candidacy that you were unable to address elsewhere in the application, please share that information here.

This is an open-ended question in which you can talk about something important that you did not have a chance to address elsewhere, including the Slide Presentation. In particular, if you have any unusual or extenuating circumstances (e.g., inability to get a current supervisor recommendation, weak test scores or university grades), this is the place to explain them.

Kellogg School of Management 2009-10 Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines

 

Kellogg also has its essay questions and deadlines out for the coming season. I’ll list the deadlines first, in the simplest way possible, since their system is a bit more complicated than most other schools. Please be aware that in order to apply you need to submit a short Part 1 application and interview request 2-4 weeks before the actual application deadline. You will need to pay attention to several deadlines:

All deadlines are 11:59 CDT (central time)

Please also refer to Kellogg’s site: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/Programs/FullTimeMBA/Applying/Deadlines.aspx

Deadlines for Round 1 Applicants:

Part 1: 10/3/09

Off-campus interview request: 10/3/09

On-campus interview request: 10/17/09

Interview completion: 12/19/09

Part 2: 10/17/09

Deadlines for Round 2 Applicants:

Part 1: 12/22/09

Off-campus interview request: 12/22/09

On-campus interview request: 1/12/10

Interview completion: 3/9/10

Part 2: 1/12/10

Deadlines for Round 3 Applicants:

Part 1: 2/23/10

Off-campus interview request: 2/23/10

On-campus interview request: 3/9/10

Interview completion: 4/20/10

Part 2: 3/9/10

If Kellogg is a top choice, I strongly advise submitting part 1 and interview request as early as you can reasonably do so. I have seen applicants run into difficulty scheduling interviews due to the high volume of requests that Kellogg receives. At the same time, these are also applicants who had very low test scores, and I believe that they were given low priority as a result. So I don’t really know how their process works – if it is truly first-come/first-serve or not.

Below are my essay analyses/tips:

Essay #1 –

a) MBA Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg. (600 word limit)

This is a thorough and straightforward question asking about your career and academic goals. You should, as instructed, discuss your career development and how it has led you to where you are now – not only your present position but also your goals. The linkage between your career and your future goals should be clear, even if you are making a career change. The reader needs to understand how you got from Point A to Point B.

After discussing your goals, you should talk convincingly about how Kellogg’s program will meet your academic and professional needs.

As with all Goals/Why this School essays, the admissions committee is looking for focus, sincerity and fit.

b) MMM Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. How does the MMM Program meet your educational needs and career goals? (600 word limit)

The same guidelines apply (please refer to my comments above). When addressing your reasons for choosing the MMM program as opposed to the traditional MBA program, be very clear and specific about why this particular program is a good match for you.

Essay #2 – Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experiences (600 word limit)

Please note in the question that they are asking about “key…experiences” PLURAL, so you should be prepared to discuss your unique set of leadership experiences. Of course, given the word limit, you will not be able to present a detailed story about each episode. When I work with my students, I like to have them summarize their overall leadership experiences as an introduction, and then go in more depth about two – preferably complementary or different – significant experiences.

This is your opportunity to show the various leadership talents that you have. When choosing examples think of different abilities you can show – intellectual/strategic ability, interpersonal and coaching skills, domestic and international experiences, etc. Perhaps you have both work and community and/or sports experiences. Take advantage of this opportunity to show the different sides of your leadership.

However, unlike many leadership essays, here you are also asked to assess your weaknesses and to talk about some of the areas that you would like to further develop. Many applicants focus too much on the first part of the question and pay little attention to this last part. I suggest giving this section serious thought and choosing one or two aspects of leadership that you can write about sincerely. Doing so will show the admissions committee that you have the self awareness to understand how you can still improve (this will go hand-in-hand with your goals essay as well).

Essay #3 – Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would your peers select you to become a member of the Kellogg community? (600 word limit)

This question is brand new but not so different from its counterpart from last season. Last year, Kellogg had an open-ended question that asked about how your background, values and experiences would add value to the diversity of the entering class. This question is similar.

Admissions committees in general are often comprised of faculty, staff and students. Having sat on a number of committees in the past, I know that each member has a different perspective given his or her position. Faculty, for example, tend to focus much more on academic qualifications – test scores, GPA, etc. Students, on the other hand, want to make sure that they would enjoy having this applicant as a future classmate. Given this, you should consider the following when writing this essay:

– What kind of learning team member would you make? Will you participate actively? What kind of knowledge, expertise and experience will you be able to contribute?

– What kind of Kellogg community member will you be? Will you fit in well with Kellogg’s teamwork-oriented community?

As you think about those points, think of what examples you can use from your past – work, university, community – to support your story. If you want to say that you will be an active participant in classes and learning teams, you should show some example(s) from the past where you have participated actively in group settings. Did you contribute ideas? Did you support other members who had trouble? Had you ever been involved in a culturally diverse team? These are some ideas to think about.

Likewise, when thinking about how you might behave as a member of the Kellogg community, think about other times that you have worked as part of a team or community. In what ways did you contribute?

Essay #4 – Complete one of the following three questions or statements. (400 word limit)

Re-applicants have the option to answer a question from this grouping, but this is not required.

a) Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

This is a question about your determination and leadership ability. It is a difficult but necessary aspect of leadership to make hard decisions that other people do not like. If you have such a story, explain what the situation and decision were, and most importantly how you reached that decision. The admissions committee wants to understand your decision making process.

b) People may be surprised to learn that I….

This is a very open-ended question and you can use it in almost any way you wish as long as it allows the committee to understand you better. This is a good time to look at the rest of your essay topics and to see if there is anything missing that you would like Kellogg to know about. Perhaps you have an unusual talent or a personal story or background that many people may not suspect. There could be many possibilities here. The main purpose is to let the committee know you a bit better.

c) I wish the admissions committee had asked me……

This is the most open-ended question of the set, and it allows you to balance the rest of your essay set. Is there something you believe they should know about you that you did not have a chance to discuss in the other essays? Be sure the story adds value to your overall candidacy. I do not recommend using this space to explain practical matters like low test scores, non-supervisor recommendations, etc. Take advantage of this essay to discuss something else related to your background or achievements.

Required essay for re-applicants only – Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit)

Kellogg would like to see that you have made the effort to improve your candidacy since the last time you submitted your application. While not much time may have passed, they would still like to see that you have assessed your weaknesses and taken steps to make improvements. For example, did you retake the GMAT or TOEFL? Did you try to get a new assignment at work? Did you do more research about Kellogg?

エッセイ課題分析: Tuck (Dartmouth)

Moto and I had a very nice visit at Tuck back in May, when we were invited to the Tuck Conference for International Advisors. To really get a sense of how strongly Tuck feels about teamwork and collaboration, one does need to make a visit on campus. Even as conference attendees we were overwhelmed by the warmth and personal attention shown to us. The community feel and supportive atmosphere are palpable. Non “people persons” and non team players will have a difficult time here. I say all this as this understanding of their unique atmosphere will give you a sense of how to approach your essays for Tuck. They are looking for intelligent, hard working and accomplished leaders, but they are also going to pay much attention to your personality and to how well you will fit into their culture and campus.

 

Deadlines:

 

Early Action
October 15, 2008

November Round
November 12, 2008

January Round
January 7, 2009

April Round
April 1, 2009

 

Please see below for the essay questions and my comments and advice:

 

Although there is no restriction on the length of your response, most applicants use, on average, 500 words for each essay. There are no right or wrong answers. Please double-space your response.

 

1.   Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA program for you? (If you are applying for a joint or dual degree, please explain how the additional degree will contribute to those goals.)

 

This is a straightforward question regarding your goals and reasoning for getting an MBA at Tuck. As with other goals essays, be sure to give some background of your career experiences that have led up to the establishment of your goals. And be sure to do as much research as possible to be able to explain why Tuck is the right school for you.

 

2. Tuck defines leadership as “inspiring others to strive and enabling them to accomplish great things.” We believe great things and great leadership can be accomplished in pursuit of business and societal goals. Describe a time when you exercised such leadership. Discuss the challenges you faced and the results you achieved. What characteristics helped you to be effective, and what areas do you feel you need to develop in order to be a better leader?

 

In line with Tuck’s people-centered culture, this leadership question is different from other more typical leadership questions in that it has a “people focus.” The key is Tuck’s definition of leadership as stated in the first sentence; Tuck is concerned with how you inspired and how you enabled others to carry out a team or project goal. Thus, this essay will not be simply about how you took charge of a project in order to reach a successful outcome, but how you coached, motivated, inspired and/or taught staff or team members to reach the final outcome together. In writing this essay be sure to think about both the strengths and weaknesses that you showed during this experience.

 

3. Discuss the most difficult constructive criticism or feedback you have received. How did you address it? What have you learned from it?

 

Constructive criticism or feedback is negative but helpful comments and feedback that you receive from another person. For example, when your boss tells you that you have a tendency to take on too many projects because you are afraid to say “no” to others, that is constructive criticism. Constructive criticism or feedback is something that might be a little painful to hear, but is designed to help you improve yourself. The reason Tuck asks this question is to see how you react to feedback. Do you accept the feedback in a mature fashion, or do you tend to get angry and defensive? What do you do with that feedback afterwards? Do you reflect on the feedback and try to make improvements? You may use feedback that comes from any person – a supervisor, colleague, professor, team member, friend or family member – the important information is the feedback and what you did with it. For most applicants though, a work-based example is typically most appropriate.

 

4. Tuck seeks candidates of various backgrounds who can bring new perspectives to our community. How will your unique personal history, values, and/or life experiences contribute to the culture at Tuck?

 

This essay is where you are best able to show your non-professional side. The essay is quite open-ended and you are free to find the best way to show the non-work dimensions of your background. When I advise my students, I typically ask them to focus on their values, which is usually a good springboard for writing about their unique life experiences (your personal values typically come from some particular life experiences, as well as become the impetus for pursuing certain experiences and activities). Focus on what is particularly unique to you, but don’t worry about having to show something that few other applicants have. You may be an accomplished tennis player or mountain climber, or you may have lived in 5 different countries or speak 6 languages. Given the strengths of Tuck’s applicant pool, though, there will be many applicants with such impressive backgrounds. The key to making your essay memorable is not the type of experiences you have had but the impact those experiences have had on you. Just listing accomplishments and strengths is not enough; you will need to openly reflect on how these experiences have made you the person you are today, or why these experiences are important to you. The more personalized the story, the more unique it will be, even if you talk about something as commonplace as enjoying swimming and traveling.

 

5. Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

 

This question is self-explanatory; use this space to mention anything that might not be clear to the admissions committee. Many of my students worry about writing explanations that sound like “excuses.” If you are offering an honest explanation to clarify an issue of potential doubt, then you will actually be helping the admissions committee rather than making excuses. An explanation will only sound like an excuse if it is written in a self-protective, defensive way (e.g., “I couldn’t achieve a high enough GMAT score because I was so busy with my work, working 80 hours a week because my colleague took vacation…”). When you write this kind of essay, be sure you are offering information that will be useful for the admissions committee; think of it as helping the admissions committee to do their job more efficiently.

 

Also, Tuck has a reason for asking for 4 main essays (they don’t have much time to read extra essays). Try your best to include your most representative stories in the 4 main essays, and use Essay 5 only to talk about something that you really couldn’t in the essays above.

 

6. (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

 

Tuck would like to see that you are a stronger candidate this year than last. When you write this essay, think about any growth areas in your work (differences in responsibility or projects accomplished, promotions, awards) and personal life (community activities, English (if TOEFL or GMAT was an issue in your last application), personal experiences (e.g., travel). If your goals were not as clear last year, you should also use this essay to discuss how your career goals and/or reasoning for an MBA at Tuck have further solidified.

 

エッセイ課題分析: Wharton (Univ. of Pennsylvania)

(1) The Wharton on-line application will becomes available on Monday, August 4 US time. Create your account at:

https://app.applyyourself.com/?id=UPENN-GSB

(2) Wharton will have an information session in Tokyo in October:

Date: Thursday, October 9, 2008

Time: 19:00-21:00

Place: Conference Square M+, Mitsubishi Building, Chiyoda-ku

RSVP by: Thursday, October 9 at 18:00

Register at:

http://register.applyyourself.com/?id=UPENN-GSB&pid=1584&eID=15389&rid=1

And finally, the deadlines. Wharton has one of the earlier first round deadlines so some of you may want to start on this application soon. Also, because of the broad range of essay questions asked, Wharton is typically a good school to start with as it will help you form a good base for other schools.

Deadlines:

Round 1: Thursday, October 9, 2008 (the day of the info session!)

Round 2: Thursday, January 8, 2009

Round 3: Thursday, March 5, 2009

Essay Questions – Please find the questions below followed by my comments:

First-Time Applicant Questions

1. Describe your career progress to date and your future short-term and long-term career goals. How do you expect an MBA from Wharton to help you achieve these goals, and why is now the best time for you to join our program? (1,000 words)

This is a classically worded and thorough goals question, and Wharton is giving you plenty of room to tell your story. Here you should discuss how your career has developed the way it has and how your experiences along the way have led you to your future goals. Avoid giving simply a list of positions and responsibilities held (that is better suited for your resume); you should give explanations where necessary (e.g., why you chose to enter manufacturing or a foreign firm, why you left companies) and highlight significant points along your career development (e.g., promotions, major responsibilities and/or accomplishments, important lessons learned). Then, your goals should follow and they should make sense; in other words, the reader should be able to understand well how the story of your career connects with your stated goals.

The second part of the essay requires you to talk about Wharton: why you need an MBA, why you want to study for one at this point in your career, and why you want to get it from Wharton. Make this part specific and be sure it cannot be easily cut and pasted to another school.

2. Describe a setback or a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? (500 words)

Wharton wants to know how you react in difficult situations. Do you show strength of character and humility or do you give up easily or blame others? You can choose to talk about either a setback or failure. A setback is something disappointing (or worse) that becomes an obstacle in your life, preventing you from progressing as you wish. It could occur at work (e.g., budget cuts, failed promotion) or in your personal life (e.g., major illness or surgery, inability to enter university on time). A failure is simply something you couldn’t do or couldn’t do well. Typically, the bigger the setback or failure, the better the story. However, the most important thing to focus on is what you learned about yourself in the end. It is important that you show the admission committee that you are a self-reflective person and that you can learn and grow from a difficult experience.

3. Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential? (500 words)

There are a couple of ways to answer this question – by discussing one particularly significant leadership episode, or by highlighting various leadership experiences in your background. My personal preference is to do the latter since Wharton’s wording of this question is open-ended and invites you to tell them about any evidence you have of your leadership. This is especially important if you choose not to write about leadership in Essay 4 below and if you have diverse leadership experiences (e.g., work, sports, university, volunteering). If you choose the latter option, be sure to remain focused, however, given the tight word limit. You may want to select 2 areas of your background to talk about (e.g., work and sports), highlighting perhaps 2 or 3 particularly notable experiences.

4. Please respond to one (1) of the following questions:

a. Describe an experience you have had innovating or initiating, your lessons learned, the results and impact of your efforts. (500 words)

This is like a leadership or accomplishment essay, with the emphasis placed on doing something others have not done before. Perhaps you introduced a unique or even revolutionary new method of solving a problem, or you took on a lead role when other members were hesitant to take action. They want to see your initiative and/or creativity here.

b. Is there anything about your background or experience that you feel you have not had the opportunity to share with the Admissions Committee in your application?  If yes, please explain. (500 words)

Write this essay if there is some significant story that you wish to tell that doesn’t fit into any of the essay questions above. The topic should be one that you feel “completes” the portrait of your candidacy. When you choose your topic, be sure to keep in mind the overall balance of your essay set. Have you written many essays about work? If so, try and write about something more personal here.

OPTIONAL: 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, TOEFL waiver request, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words, maximum)

This space is for you to offer an explanation or clarification of your application. As I had done in my early career as an admissions committee member, admissions officers tend to think the worst when faced with doubt. If you do not submit a recommendation from a current supervisor, they will assume that you don’t get along with him/her; if you took 5 years to graduate from university, they will assume that you had failed your courses and thus has to study another year. Be sure to explain anything that may raise doubts or concerns!


Wharton Reapplicants

The questions below are for Wharton Reapplicants who applied over the last 2 years. Aside from Question 1 which I comment on below, please refer to my original post on Wharton for the rest of the essay analyses and comments.

If you applied for Wharton’s entering class of 2006 or earlier, you should complete the new essay questions. Wharton only keeps applicant files for 2 years so older applicants would need to apply from scratch.

Reapplicant Questions (for candidates who have applied for admission for Fall 2008 or 2007 only)

1. Describe your career progress to date and your future short-term and long-term career goals. How do you expect an MBA from Wharton to help you achieve these goals, and why is now the best time for you to join our program? How has your candidacy improved since the last time you applied? (1,000 words)

This goals question is the same as the one you answered last year; the one and important difference is your need to discuss how you have developed since your last application. Wharton wants to see that you have made efforts to strengthen your candidacy and that you are an even stronger applicant this year. Possible examples include improved test scores, promotions or increased responsibilities at work, new achievements, more focused goals, more focused reasons about why you want to go to Wharton, new outside of work activities, and awards or honors.

2. Describe an experience you have had innovating or initiating, your lessons learned, the results and impact of your efforts. (500 words)

3. Please respond to one (1) of the following questions:

a. Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential? (500 words)

b. Is there anything about your background or experience that you feel you have not had the opportunity to share with the Admissions Committee in your application? If yes, please explain. (500 words)

OPTIONAL: 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, TOEFL waiver request, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words, maximum)

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