Wharton MBA Essay Analysis – 2012-2013

The Wharton School of Business is certainly near and dear to the hearts of the founders of Admit Advantage having walked the halls of Huntsman Hall for two (very short) years.   Wharton is certainly known for their analytical bent, so make sure you highlight areas of your background and career where you’ve demonstrated analytical rigor.  However, with the new curriculum focused on social impact, global presence and innovation, Wharton is looking to draw a broader set of students.  The Wharton MBA curriculum is focused on innovation, engagement, and learning by doing, so let’s gets going!

Essay 1 (400 words): How will the Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives?

This is the standard ST/LT goal/yWharton question.  Clearly lay out your professional objectives providing the bridge between jobs and enough background to tell the story of why you are on that career path.

Admit Advantage: 400 words will force you to be clear and concise, which is the goal.  Give enough background to “take them through the story”, but focus on the career post business school.  Career changers should be very specific with respect to how the MBA is going to help you make the transition in your career.

Admit Advantage: It should not be lost on you that it asks how the Wharton MBA is going to help you achieve your goals (if it was lost on you, thank us later).  Make sure to stress why Wharton, specifically, is the best place for you to achieve your goals.  With the new curriculum, you have lots to choose from, so do your research and compliment away!

Essay 2: Respond to 2 of the following 3 questions:

Wharton follows the application questions from last year with another set of behavioral questions.  The goals of these essays are to really understand the kind of person you are (values) and how you might react under certain scenarios.  These essays will tell quite a bit about your makeup as a future business leader.

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)

This question combines the yWharton question with insight into one of your passions and interests.  Think about what you are going to write about and make sure that it articulates a true academic or extracurricular interest.

Admit Advantage: We suggest you write-up various interests and see which story will best tie into the passions that you have exhibited historically.  It’s great to say that you want to take Jeremy Siegel’s class on investing (w/ no finance experience), but it is significantly more powerful to say that you’re interested in his class when you’ve been managing a fund with family and friends’ money for the last three years.  Btw, great class if you can take it!

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 question is intended to get to know a bit more about you, and what you do in your free time, to get a sense for who you are as a person.

Admit Advantage: This can be a tough essay to write (who can do much in 3 hrs), but it’s meant for people who have a true passion for something outside of work (i.e. avid horseback rider, loves to volunteer at a health clinic, building a side business, etc).  If you don’t have that, this is probably not the essay for you.  It would be great to hear that you would spend the time with a lime and Corona or have dinner with your friends, but you have limited real estate, so make it count.  Btw, keep it clean!

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)

This question gets to the very core of business: obtaining knowledge, creatively thinking about a solution to a problem, and leading a team to execute on your vision.  If you can’t think of a story here, you are down 0-2 in the count (for all you baseball fans).

Admit Advantage: A quality essay exhibits intellectual curiosity, creativity, and leadership.  Make sure to stay recent (w/in 3yrs or so, if possible) and relevant (focus on your contribution in the story even if it is a team story).  Whatever story you choose should have sufficient impact and serve as a strong advocate for your acceptance.


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)

Hopefully, you have reflected upon your last denial and have taken appropriate steps to address your weaknesses.  If you are unsure of your weaknesses from the last application, Admit Advantage has a ding analysis that will help you in that regard.  Read your previous application before addressing this question (Wharton Adcoms will be).

Admit Advantage: Make sure to address any weaknesses from before and how you’ve mitigated them.  In addition, provide any other general updates since the last application.  Keep the tone of the essay positive and keep it short.


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)

This essay usually formulates in one of two ways: 1) a weakness essay or 2) an area of strength/perseverance that you couldn’t fit in one of the other essays.  If you have a gaping hole (i.e. GPA, GMAT, long layoff, etc.), here is your opportunity to address it.  If you have a special talent or circumstance, go for it!  Keep in mind that this specifically asks for content that could not be addressed in the rest of the application.

Admit Advantage: Use your best judgment.  If you are a 710 GMAT and have good credentials otherwise, you probably don’t have to write about a low GMAT score.  Don’t feel compelled to write an essay here if you don’t need to, but don’t exceed the word limit.

Admit Advantage: Watch the tone of this essay.  Don’t apologize and rant about how life is hard (frankly, MBA admissions committee members have heard it all and don’t care too much).  Address the issue, talk about your mitigants and feel free to stop writing.

Admit Advantage: Don’t be afraid to talk about a positive characteristic that you couldn’t fit elsewhere.  If you’ve done the work upfront and identified what you want to say, you should know what you didn’t get the opportunity to highlight in the previous essays.  Do it here.

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