Category Archives: Wharton

Wharton Essay Question Tips and Deadlines 2012-13

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From Wharton’s website: http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/admissions/apply-to-wharton.cfm

2012-2013 application deadlines and decision release dates:

MBA Program
Application Deadline Decision Release Date
Round 1 October 1, 2012 December 20, 2012
Round 2 January 3, 2013 March 26, 2013
Round 3 March 2013 May 2013

All deadlines are 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Class of 2015 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:

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

Wharton has changed this question twice before. Previously, the question used to be a long essay about goals. Then the question became a 300 word description of professional objectives. Now the question gives you 400 words to answer. Wharton wishes to have a summary of what you aim to learn from their MBA program. This short question requires you to be focused and succinct in discussing your goals and academic needs. It also requires you to demonstrate your familiarity with their program in order to show a strong academic fit.

RESPOND TO 2 OF THE FOLLOWING 3 QUESTIONS:

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)

Wharton wants to know why you are a good match for their MBA program and they want to understand more about your interests and/or values. Read through the course descriptions, the co-curricular opportunities, and the extra-curricular activities offered by Wharton. Wharton offers a very rich selection of co-curricular opportunities; see, for example, their entrepreneurial internship programs and networks,

http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/leadership-in-action/entrepreneurship.cfm

or their leadership and service programs,

http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/leadership-in-action/leadership-and-service.cfm.

A great example of using the leadership programs to further career development comes from Dominic Skerritt, in the current class at Wharton. He is an Australian with a background in the Australian military, and will be working at McKinsey in New York after graduating. Dominic explains that he was already a leader in the Australian military, and took part in three leadership programs at Wharton: climbing Mount Cotopaxi in Ecuador, leading classmates on a trek in Antarctica, and ice climbing in the Adirondack mountains in New York state. Just from these selections, you get a strong sense that Dominic is someone who looks forward to challenges. He relates that on the Ecuador climb, one of his teammates became ill from altitude sickness, and the team made a poor decision to push on to the peak. Dominic says that the next time this happens, he would stick to his values. This comment shows us another important, ethical angle to Dominic’s character. It’s also a good choice because it shows us that Dominic is being honest in his evaluation of his own weaknesses.

http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/student-life/dominic-skerritt.cfm

Find an aspect of Wharton that you can use to link your past activities and future goals, thus demonstrating a deep-seated interest in some area. For example, if you have an interest to help companies discover ways to use clean technology, find a Wharton course or activity that will allow you to develop this interest further. Also take advantage of this essay to demonstrate what you have done so far to pursue this interest. Be specific about why you’ve chosen the course or activity and how you see yourself engaging in it. Try to explain your choices in a way that illuminates your character.

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)

This is another way for Wharton to find out more about you and to learn about some aspect of your personal character and background that isn’t obvious from your professional experiences. For example, in the current class at Wharton, there is a Japanese student named Akihisa Shiozaki. He is a lawyer who graduated from Tokyo University. He states that he tried stand-up comedy for the first time after coming to Wharton, after being encouraged by a classmate who was a professional comedian. Akihisa mentions that the experience “completely pushed my limits. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into, but after I did it, it felt really good. It opened a new world to me. It was one of those things you’d only do in a low-risk environment like Wharton, which really pushes you to discover new facets of yourself.”

http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/student-life/1315.cfm

This story, like the one about Dominic Skerritt above, shows how a reader can glean quite a bit about a person’s character from his or her choice of activity. Keep in mind that there is no “right” or “wrong” choice of topic here; your goal is to allow the admissions committee to understand a little more about who you are through the non-work activity that you choose.

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)

The distinguishing aspects of the Wharton MBA are the ambitiousness and prominence of its alumni. These are not people who go to school to learn; they are eager to put the ideas into profitable practice. This question is an opportunity to show the Admissions Committee that you are an active, decisive person, rather than a passive watcher. Think about the times when you were able to take knowledge that you learned from school or other sources, and were able to apply that knowledge effectively. Ideally the story you choose will be taken from a business or work-related environment.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION FOR REAPPLICANTS:

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)

This is a chance to take advantage of any improvements in your application profile, such as improved test scores, workplace promotions, evidence of increased responsibilities or better focused goals. Reflect deeply on how you’ve grown since your last application and make a case for your improved candidacy this year.

OPTIONAL SECTION FOR ALL APPLICANTS:

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)

If in doubt, it is always best to explain extenuating circumstances to the Admissions Committee. Keep your explanations brief and to the point and address any issues that may be of concern to them in order to maintain the transparency of your application.

~~~

The above three questions are quite broad and you will need to spend some time planning a set of answers that will display your character to your advantage. Question 3 appears to be the most straightforward and I imagine it would be the easiest to answer for most candidates. You can think about your professional life and find situations in which you were able to apply knowledge in an effective manner. Questions 1 and 2 allow you the freedom to discuss aspects of your professional or non-professional self, and will help to round out your application. Consider the most compelling stories and characteristics that you wish to convey, and pick the set of questions that best reflects your strengths.

Reve Counselor Stephen Le is a graduate of the Masters in International Relations program at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University and holds a Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He has previously served as Lecturer at UCLA and as a writing assistant for international students at SAIS. He has advised numerous students in their applications to graduate programs around the world and has taught and/or conducted research in Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Washington, DC and Los Angeles.

Wharton Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines 2010-11

Please find below the deadlines for the regular 2-year MBA program and my comments/tips (beside the vertical orange bars) on the essay questions. (For deadline and essay question information for the MBA/MA Lauder program please refer to the Wharton website.) Wharton has changed its essay questions dramatically, and has done away with its traditionally long essay about goals and “Why Wharton.” They ask several specific questions to get at the qualities that they are looking for, and this essay set requires you to tailor your stories to Wharton.

All deadlines are 5:00 p.m. EST.

  Deadline Decision Notification
Round 1 Oct. 4, 2010 December 17, 2010
Round 2 January 4, 2011 March 24, 2011
Round 3 March 3, 2011 May 12, 2011

 

From Wharton’s website:

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)

This is a shortened version of their traditionally long goals essay question. In 300 words or fewer, you are to state your future career goals. You can go ahead and explain briefly why you wish to attend Wharton as well. My sense here is that they are more interested in finding out about you, and can make their own determination as to whether or not you are the right fit based on the three longer essays below.

Respond to 3 of the following 4 questions:
  1. 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)

This is an essay in which you can demonstrate your creativity, awareness of current and pressing societal issues, professional skills and experiences, personal qualities, future vision and potential to contribute to the Wharton community and beyond. A strong and credible essay would include your vision for a relevant course rooted in your own experience and expertise. Let’s say that you’d like to create a course to address the topic of microfinance. (And, by the way, you are not restricted to writing about topics related to developing countries.) Why would you be the right person to develop this course? What experiences, skills and knowledge do you have that will enable you to do this? Why is this course important and why would it be relevant (or be of interest) to Wharton students? What would be your mission in the course? When writing this essay, make sure that you focus not just on the future and the hypothetical but also on your own strengths and expertise. Ultimately, this essay is a way for them to learn more about you as a candidate.

2. 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)

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as some applicants will talk about a lost opportunity that they do not regret, while others may talk about having done things differently. Again, the admissions committee wants to get better insight into you as a person, and is more interested in understanding how you go about making decisions. The key question here is “What was the thought process behind your decision?” They are asking for an honest, reflective and thoughtful response. In business and especially in high level management, executives are asked to make significant decisions on a regular basis. Sometimes they must do so with limited time and limited information. Wharton wants to know how you go about making decisions. Are you thoughtful? Do you weigh carefully the different options available? What risks do you take? If you do regret a decision, what have you learned from it?

3. 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)

This is a standard question with a slight challenge at the end. It is important for business schools to understand how you respond to failure. No person will go through a career without making mistakes, and here it is not the mistake that the admissions committee cares about but your follow up and lessons. They want to know if you have taken the time to reflect on what you did and, if so, what you had gained from it. They want to see honesty, maturity and growth. In choosing an appropriate topic, don’t be afraid to go with a fairly big failure. The important thing is telling them what you learned as a result.

As for your own definition of failure as a result of this experience, think about what failure means to you. How would you define it? Is it a terrible? Is it a reflection of your character, or something else? What does it tell you about yourself? Think about what “failure” means to you now that you have experienced it.

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

Wharton wants to know how you handle conflict and difficulty, since this is something that you will inevitably go through in your future career, and how successful you are at managing relationships will be key in determining how successful you will be in your work. The word to pay attention to here is “navigated.” Show the process, how you dealt with with this person and evolved the relationship. And though they say “personal” here, I would limit the use of personal topics – e.g., no discussion of romantic relationships or other relationships that involve issues not relevant to business school. 

Wharton 2009-10 Essay Question Analyses and Deadlines

With a new admissions director, Wharton has basically changed all of its essay questions. Please see below for my analyses and comments.

http://engage.wharton.upenn.edu/MBA/blogs/mbaadmissions_blog/default.aspx

Deadlines

Round 1: October 1, 2009

Round 2: January 5, 2010

Round 3: March 9, 2010

From the Wharton admissions blog:

2009-10 WHARTON MBA APPLICANT ESSAY QUESTIONS

2009-2010 Questions – First-Time Applicants

Essay  1 – (750-1000 words)

As a leader in global business, Wharton is committed to sustaining “a truly global presence through its engagement in the world.”  What goals are you committed to and why?  How do you envision the Wharton MBA contributing to the attainment of those goals?

Worded a little uniquely, this essay question is still the standard goals essay: What are your career goals (short and long term)? Why? What resources at Wharton will you take advantage of?

In reading this question you may be asking yourself, “Do my goals have to be globally-oriented (international)?” The answer is ‘no,’ even though I can see how the wording of the question may be confusing. Wharton is talking about its own goals as a business school, its own desires to be able to educate business leaders in all parts of the world. This does not mean that your own goals need to be international in scope; if you want to work in a domestic company or organization in your home country, that is of course fine.

Essay 2 – (750-1000 words)

Tell us about a time when you had to adapt by accepting/understanding the perspective of people different from yourself.

This is a diversity question aimed at learning about your experience interacting with people who are different from you in some way (e.g.,  gender, culture, industry, age, religion). Furthermore, they want to know how you adapted because of these differences. This is different from some other diversity questions in that you have to talk about not only how you dealt with the situation, but how you yourself took in and accepted others’ differences. Wharton wants to see that you have the flexibility and open-mindedness to make necessary adjustments in order to try to understand and accept others who may think differently from you.

Essay 3 – (500 words)

Describe a failure that you have experienced.  What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself?

A critical quality of any leader – any human being – is the ability to recognize and learn from failure. In asking this question, Wharton wants to see that you have the self-awareness and humility to do this. When thinking of possible examples, feel free to choose a “real” failure, one where you really messed up. Doing this will not weaken your application. If you focus on being honest, and on discussing sincerely what you learned as a result of your experience, then your failure story will be seen as a success story.

Essay 4 – (500 words) Choose one of the following:

a.       Give us a specific example of a time when you solved a complex problem.

Wharton wants to learn about your intellectual ability here. Have you been confronted with a difficult issue, problem or situation at work, university or in your community work? How did you go about resolving it? What issues or points did you consider? Wharton is interested in seeing your problem-solving ability, so when you write this essay focus more on the process rather than the technical details of the actual problem.

b.      Tell us about something significant that you have done to improve yourself, in either your professional and/or personal endeavors.

This is a slightly open-ended question in which you are asked to talk about a time when you have done something to better yourself – e.g., learn something new, develop a new skill or perspective. Perhaps you worked hard to get into a different track at work, started your own business on the side, or moved abroad to experience a new culture. Wharton is interested in seeing how much of a self-starter you are, how interested you are in developing and improving yourself.

Essay 5 (Optional) – (250 words)
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, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application).

Use this space to explain anything that might be of concern to the admissions committee. It is definitely better to acknowledge and explain any unusual or negative issues rather than to not bring them up, as the admissions committee will notice them anyway and assume the worst. Given the specific wording of this optional essay question, please focus this essay on explaining extenuating circumstances, however, and do not use this space to add another essay.

2009-2010 Questions – Re-Applicants

(Please note: re-applicant essays are for those who applied during the application cycle in 2007-08 or 2008-09 only. Reapplicants from 2006-07 or earlier are to complete the first-time applicant essays).

Re-Applicant Essay  1 – (1000 words)

As a leader in global business, Wharton is committed to sustaining “a truly global presence through its engagement in the world”.  What goals are you committed to and why?  How do you envision the Wharton MBA contributing to the attainment of those goals?  How has your candidacy improved since the last time you applied?

Please see above for my analysis of this essay question. The only difference here is that you will need to also discuss how your candidacy has improved since your last application. If you are now more focused about Wharton (through additional research), or if you have improved your test scores, received a promotion or award, accomplished a new project, etc., please talk about that here.

For the remaining Essays 2-4, please see above for my analyses as the questions are the same.

Re-Applicant Essay 2 – (500 words)

Describe a failure that you have experienced.  What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself?

Re-Applicant Essay 3 – (500 words) Choose one of the following:

a.       Give us a specific example of a time when you solved a complex problem.

b.      Tell us about something significant that you have done to improve yourself, in either your professional and/or personal endeavors.

Re-Applicant Essay 4 (Optional) – (250 words)
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, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application).

Wharton Deadlines for 2009-10

Wharton has recently announced its deadlines for the coming application season:

Round 1: October 1, 2009

Round 2: January 5, 2010

Round 3: March 9, 2010

http://engage.wharton.upenn.edu/MBA/blogs/mbaadmissions_blog/archive/2009/05/29/wharton-mba-fall-2009-application-deadlines-announced.aspx

Like HBS, the first round deadline is even earlier than it was last year. At least, with a mid(ish) December notification date, you can decide in time if you will be needing to apply to another R2 school or not.

Theywill release their essay questions in the middle of July.