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Wharton Class of 2022 Essay Analysis

June 19, 2019

Wharton's 2019-2020 essays have been released, having kept its core essay questions the same.

2019/20 essay questions

Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

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)

Optional question: Use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

2019/20 essay question analysis

Essay 1                                                                                                                

Unchanged from last year, Wharton’s main question expects you to share your future aspirations, sharing how an MBA will help you to grow on a professional level. This has been a challenging question in the past for some applicants, because some tend to blend personal and professional growth. While it is helpful to share your short-term post-MBA career goals, your long-term career goals are more likely to differentiate you. 

Some clients have fallen into a trap of using a lot of words to narrate their answers. While safe, it is difficult to differentiate your essay from others with similar goals, and thus will likely not lead to success. Instead, leverage the short answer section to clearly articulate your goal(s), and instead use this essay to detail specific examples of how you will leverage Wharton to achieve those goals.

As with any school’s essays, before you start writing this essay, make sure that you’ve taken the time to learn about Wharton’s program. Talk with students and recent alumni (ideally 1-3 years after they graduate), visit campus (or attend an info session), learn about classes and groups, and even specific professors.

Essay 2

While on the surface this seems like a straightforward question to answer, there are several traps.

First is defining what is “impactful”. There is a natural tendency to focus on big dollar items (working on a $25 billion deal is more important than working on a $25 million deal, right?), but that is a mistake. Rather, think of the time your decisions had the most influence on a successful outcome. Did you intervene to enable someone’s promotion? Build bridges with a community that made both you and them better? Save a life? Focusing on that will help you differentiate from others.

The second is to avoid talking about things elsewhere in your application, such as your resume. If your example relates to work or one of your professional accomplishments, ensure that when you tell the story, you focus on elements that wouldn’t be apparent from reading your resume. Otherwise, you risk getting dinged for simply not following the essay directions.

A third trap; if writing about a personal example of an accomplishment, ensure you relate the insights learned from that experience to your future contributions at Wharton. Accomplishing marathons/triathlons are great, but are difficult to relate back to future contributions at Wharton (other than encouraging others to run/bike/swim that won’t significantly differentiate you from other applicants). Instead, your experience facing difficult family dynamics gives you an opportunity to explain how you will build bridges with underrepresented communities at Wharton and in the surrounding community. Or how protecting those weaker around you has taught you the unique value of any team member on any of your future teams.

Keep the example short and direct, and have fun with it. There are many directions you could take this essay!

Optional essay

The optional question is available for you to explain any additional information that you may not have had the space to clarify in other parts of your application.

2019/20 deadlines

Round 1: Application deadline: September 17, 2019 at 5:00pm ET, Decision date: December 18, 2019
Round 2: Application deadline: January 7, 2020 at 5:00pm ET, Decision date: March 26, 2020
Round 3: Application deadline: April 1, 2020 at 5:00pm ET, Decision date: May 8, 2020

Other application details

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The online application is expected to be released in mid-July.


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School resources

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