From the Adcom 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.
What are your professional objectives? (300 words)
Three-hundred words? Yes, three hundred words. Well, once you get over the unusual structure of this essay, a fairly straightforward assignment exists: you need to state your goals. However, your goals do not need to be stated in the traditional short and long term sequence. Wharton gives you the opportunity (likely a nod to the fact that few people actually pursue the narrow goals that they describe in these statements) to discuss the bigger picture - your professional objective may not simply be defined by an industry and a title, but you may discuss the type of organization you want to be a part of (a series of start-ups for example) and also explain why.
Remember, as you start to write, you need not offer a lengthy work history, because the question does not ask for it and the word count does not allow it. Still, you may want to give fifty to seventy-five words of context before stating your professional objectives, especially if you are a career-changer or plan to pursue a highly atypical, particular and competitive career path (manage a sports franchise, for example). Some basic context will lend credibility to your ambitions by establishing purpose behind your goals.
Because Personal Statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, complete with four free sample essays. We offer this guide to candidates free of charge, via our online store. Please feel free to download your copy today.
For a thorough exploration of Wharton's academic program/merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment and more, please check out The mbaMission Insider's Guide to the Wharton School.
Respond to 3 of the following 4 questions:
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)
Due to the long lead-in for this question, some may be confused or even daunted by it. How do I even start to conceive my response. However, you not be concerned and should simply focus your attention on the final sentence: If you were able to create a Wharton course on any topic, what would it be? This question is actually far more open ended than you might realize. You might discuss an existing area of expertise and then try to bring some additional focus to what you would hope to learn and what others might gain from your interest. Or, you might consider an area where you have an intellectual interest, but no expertise, but obviously still think that it can add to others experience. It is important to note and thus we are underlining this for emphasis, you do not need to conceive of a course in corporate social responsibility.
As you explain what your course will be about, you can certainly take some time to explain where your interest comes from, why you think the course will be important and what the course might be like, functionally - suggested guests speakers or field trips, for example. You should not delve into the world of fantasy (Bill Gates on Monday, Warren Buffet on Tuesday) and you should not pander to the AdCom, but you can use your proposed course to reveal knowledge of the Wharton experience, by incorporating the school's resources.
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)
Many schools try to learn about you through your mistakes. Missed opportunities - errors of omission instead of commission - provide significant opportunities for the AdCom to learn about you and your thought process as well. Whether you declined to start a business, take on a project (big or small), take time off to travel or (truly) any other missed opportunity, the admissions committee will need to understand the manner in which you weighed your options and your perception of the risks of either decision.
Of course, you may have made the right choice in turning down an opportunity - you may have made no error of omission at all. In such a case - maybe you made a bold move and eschewed an i-banking offer for a less lucrative path or chose to gain external experience instead of joining a family business - you will still need to show that you went through a thorough process of consideration and that show that your decision making was difficult, but ultimately correct.
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)
When a school asks about a failure, they want honesty and expect you to take responsibility. You will certainly not impress the AdCom, if you elect to answer this question and then choose not to own up to your contribution to whatever problems existed. Let us be unequivocal: your worst possible response will occur if you try to lay the blame off on others.
As you construct this essay, you should start by showing positive momentum toward your goal - even if you only had an idea that was promising and the process was a disaster from the start - and then reveal how the experience turned. The sharper the relief between expectations and reality, the more compelling the essay should be. After all, if there was nothing to lose, what kind of impact will you have on the reader?
A curious aspect of this question is the request for a definition of failure. Many will start their essays with, My definition of failure is X, but through this experience, it became Y. You should be cautious about such a start, as it will likely throw you into a pool of typical essay writers. Instead, you might choose to reflect on your experience and offer your definition implicitly via your conclusion. You may never need to write, My definition is... and this will be refreshing for the reader.
Discuss a time when you navigated a challenging experience in either a personal or professional relationship. (600 words)
Clearly, the admissions committee wants to understand how you manage yourself vis-à-vis others - they want more knowledge of your emotional intelligence. As you discuss a challenging experience, you need not think exclusively of loud and public conflicts, but can simply consider instances in which you experienced clashing styles or values. Maybe you struggled to motivate someone or had a different understanding of an ethical issue. The emphasis here is not on the problem itself - though it would help if the problem itself were quite challenging - but is on your navigation of that problem. You will need to show your emotional intelligence in attempting to resolve the issue, regardless of whether you were successful or not. Your thought process and actions, as they affect the desired and actual outcome, are crucial.