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University of Pennsylvania The Wharton School MBA Essay Topic Analysis

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The following essay topic analysis examines the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School’s (Wharton) MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Wharton MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

Essay 1

What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words; Required)
A variation of the typical career goals essay, this question asks applicants to adopt a big-picture view of their aspirations, touching on their professional goals.  Along with describing their immediate post-MBA career goals, applicants should explain their long-term career goals and the broad impact they hope to have on their industry, community, country or region.  A brief career summary can naturally lead to the gaps in one’s professional skill set that the Wharton MBA would fill.

While the new second essay is dedicated to how one may, in turn, contribute to the school, it is still important to balance a sense of gain with giving here. It will require that applicants be very thoughtful and as concise as possible. For instance, if you are interested in consumer goods, do not limit your exploration of the topic to the idea that you would acquire knowledge individually, e.g. in taking a particular course; instead, consider how you may get involved in organizing a conference or bringing a speaker to campus so that you may share this knowledge with fellow students. The key is to define what you need to learn, and integrating a sense of individual growth balanced with knowledge sharing, so that you may be seen as part of a community. Also consider what clubs and activities could help you grow on a professional level—e.g. how would you learn to motivate others by organizing a specific event?

Of course, to craft a truly compelling essay, applicants must also display a strong and specific understanding of how Wharton’s program would enable them to accomplish their goals.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities—whether by visiting campus, speaking with members of the community, or reading the Clear Admit Guide to Wharton—will pay dividends here.

Essay 2

Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words; Required)
This second question is another classic in terms of MBA essays; adcoms are interested in people who make an impact, whether at work, or in other avenues of their lives. They want to know you’ll make an impact while on campus at Wharton, as well as an alumni, as you pursue your career and life goals.  Whether you choose to cull an example from your professional or personal life, it’s important to put the story in context before clearly outlining the actions you took and the results you achieved.  The more detail you’re able to provide about your role in achieving a positive outcome, the easier it will be for you to accurately demonstrate your leadership skills—then connect to how you would contribute to Wharton.

As you approach the second half of the prompt, think about how you can translate your experience and related lessons into involvement on the Wharton campus as well as further along in the future as an alum. Indicate specific contributions that you would like to make. Creating a link between your past and your potential future at the program will enable you to present a consistent and clear picture of your candidacy, as well as your professional and personal interests.  Also consider the importance of extending impact via your long-term goals. The more information you can provide about how exactly you would contribute (playing a certain role in organizing a particular annual event, for example), the more reason you’ll give the adcom to admit you.

Required Reapplicant Essay / Optional First-time Applicant Essay

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).  First-time applicants may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)
Given the narrow word limit for this response, reapplicants will want to offer a straightforward account of the specific steps they’ve taken to strengthen their applications since last applying to Wharton. Candidates should aim to be as exhaustive as possible as they cover improved quantitative records, enhanced professional qualifications, efforts to become more familiar with the Wharton MBA program, and other ways they’ve worked to become a stronger applicant this season.

As for first-time applicants, Wharton notes that this space may be used for extenuating circumstances.  The narrow framing of this prompt suggests that this response will be best reserved to address glaring weaknesses or liabilities in one’s application (as opposed to offering “bonus information” about one’s candidacy). Applicants should keep their responses brief and to-the-point, offering explanations without making excuses and humbly bringing mitigating factors to the reader’s attention.

Clear Admit Resources
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