Below you’ll find two examples of Wharton’s essays for the 2019-2020 full-time MBA admissions season. You’ll find additional essay examples and essay topic analyses for leading MBA programs at the preceding link.
The Wharton admissions committee has two goals a) to select the best applicants; and b) to balance the skills, aptitudes,backgrounds, and experience of the incoming MBA class. Any top-20 MBA admissions committee can take half of the applications it gets and throw them in the proverbial poubelle (that’s French for la garbage). They can do that right off the bat because at least half of applicants won’t meet their baseline criteria (at Wharton baseline criteria = 710+ GMAT).
Other criteria include ‘insufficient work experience,’ ‘lackluster recommendations,’ ‘low GMAT/GPA,’ ‘too old,’ etc. For the admissions committee that’s the easy part. The challenge is in what to do with the other half of the applications – the ones that aren’t in the garbage. The admissions committee needs to distinguish the super-excellent candidates from the merely excellent ones. The truth is, if the admissions committee were to take the academic and file data from all competitive candidates with ‘good numbers’, ‘good jobs’ and proven attributes, and compare them all with each other, they would all be astonishingly similar.
Good essays are what distinguish you as a super-excellent candidate among a pool of excellent candidates.
Analysis. Wharton 2019-20 MBA Essay One.
Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
This is a classic Career Goals/Why MBA? essay. There are five main components to a Career Goals/Why MBA? essay:
- The Past: Personal and professional experience that have brought you to this moment in your life and have planted the seed for your future ambitions.
- The Present: Why do you want an MBA at this point in your personal life and professional career?
- The Future: What are your short and long-term goals/vision and how will you leverage your experience as a student, your MBA degree and the alumni network to achieve those?
- Why an MBA?: Why an MBA and not another kind of degree or why not forego a degree altogether in favor of just working and networking your way towards your goals?
- Why Wharton?: Why do you want an MBA from this school in particular?
What I like about these five components is that you can start off by answering them one by one. Then you can mix and match the components into paragraphs that flow well together. You don’t necessarily have to begin by talking about the past.
Here is an example of how you might leverage the five components to create your own, unique outline. You could lead with your short-term goal to transition from consulting into non-profit strategy (The Future). Then you might give us some of the backstory: What you’ve done in the past (work or personal experiences) and how that led you to be extremely passionate about the non-profit world (The Past). Next you might talk about how an MBA from Wharton will enrich you on a personal and professional level such that you’ll be uniquely prepared to take on future challenges (Why an MBA?). Finally you might circle back to your future vision and paint a picture of where you hope to be in 10-15 years time (The Future).
In this essay you need to discuss your professional goals and very briefly contextualize why those goals are realistic for you within the context of your career progression to date. You then need to aboard how you will leverage and engage with the resources at Wharton in order to pursue and reach your goals. You can do that by showing the Adcom that you understand the school’s offering and have given thought to how you will engage with the Wharton community and all the school has to offer. Don’t just rattle off a few course offerings, but look for deep connections between your goals and interests and the activities you plan to participate in. If you’re a bit stumped, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left list resources at Wharton that will benefit you. On the right list resources at Wharton that you can impact upon and benefit through your knowledge, experience or interests. Basically you’re breaking things down into take and give relationships.
When thinking about the personal growth aspect of this essay I would encourage you to have a good think about what your true weak points are and how you might leverage your two years at business school to work on them. Would you like to be just a bit more extroverted? You’ll have plenty of opportunities for public speaking and voicing your opinion in the classroom. Has your leadership experience been limited to superior/subordinate type situations (with you leading from the front as the superior or you leading from the middle as the subordinate)? Think about how you might gain experience you don’t have by leading peers in your study group or being the president of a club? Do you just want to get outside of your comfort zone? Think about how a trek to a foreign country or the Wharton Follies might help you do just that. The idea here is to simply demonstrate a certain level of maturity and self-awareness.
Example. Wharton MBA Essay One.
Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
I wanted to let you know that my client came in today upset because we still cannot process her case. She’s raising three grand kids and her only income is her RSDI. The food bank near her won’t have boxes until Wednesday.
In early March of 2016, e-mails like the one above flooded my inbox. The issues stemmed from the implementation of the California Integrated Eligibility project, a computer system responsible for administering government assistance programs including food stamps and welfare. The personal stories of these individuals hit home, reminding me of the challenges my own family had faced in the past and the importance of my current work for the citizens of California. Back in 1992, my family had emigrated from the Ukraine, penniless and escaping impending war. The U.S. government helped my parents feed our family while they learned English and secured employment.
Workingwithin the public sector over the last three years, I’ve realized that the samefundamental business challenges private enterprise face, such as budgeting andmanaging changes in policy and technology, are fundamentally the same onestackled by governmental organizations. After honing my business skills atWharton, post-MBA I hope to return topublic sector consulting to deliver strategic and fact-based policyrecommendations. In the public sector, our stakeholder is the everyday taxpayerwho rightfully demands that their money be spent judiciously. I view managinglarge-scale projects that improve access, lower overhead, and provide effectivegovernment services as worthwhile and gratifying professional endeavors.
I’ve beenimpressed by the strategy and data-driven policy recommendations developed byfirms like McKinsey, BCG and Bain. In fact, the project I’m currentlyimplementing for the State of California is founded on strategic advice fromMcKinsey on freeing individuals from a cycle of poverty through effective jobtraining.
One policy issue I’m particularly drawn to is food availability in rural and inner-city areas, where a lack of grocery stores limit access to nutritious food and negatively impacts quality of life. By majoring in Business Economics and Public Policy, I want to learn to leverage analytical frameworks to promote effective policy decisions. To that end, courses like Introduction to Business Economics and Public Policy, Risk Management, and Urban Fiscal Policy would be particularly relevant.
In addition,courses that address policy implementation on the global stage, such as Conflict, Leadership and Change: Lessonsfrom Rwanda, are unique to Wharton and would allow me to stretch myself beyonda purely domestic perspective.
Through case studies and in-classroom discussions I know that my fellow students and professors will challenge me, helping me to question presumptions and expand my understanding of international affairs. That process is crucial for anyone who aspires to develop effective policy in the globalized world. I also hope to build a strong network of fellow classmates interested in tackling similar domestic and international challenges.
I’d like tobring my perspective and experience on governmental policy and my vision forthe future of governmental services to Wharton and I’m eager to grow myleadership skills within the Wharton community of distinguished professors and swell as my future classmates.