Context, folks. Context. Two scenarios to illustrate:
The blind date is almost over. It went VERY well. But now you’re both in the car, having arrived at her place.
Scenario 1 – “So… would you like to come in for a nightcap?”
Scenario 2 – She looks at you and says “One thing you should know about me… I love rabbits. Love em. I like them as pets, but to be perfectly honest I like them even more as friends and spiritual guides. Sometimes, I like to pretend I AM a rabbit. I sleep in a pile of shavings, for example. Oh, also, I’m collecting rabbit fur so that I can make a suit to sleep in at night to help me think more like a rabbit. So… would you like to come in for a nightcap?”
I don’t care how desperate you are, you will likely say “YES” to Scenario 1 but almost certainly “NO” to Scenario 2.
But… notice how the actual question posed in both scenarios is exactly the same.
Alas, context is everything. The stuff that comes before that question is significant. And this is a big part of Wharton’s first essay option. They’re not JUST asking:
“If you were able to create a Wharton course on any topic, what would it be?”
Other schools do ask questions like this. But Wharton wants something specific. They’re looking for more of a measured response, and the clue is their inclusion of all that stuff preceding the question itself. The interface between faculty/alums and you and your ideas.
Why? Could easily be because they genuinely want new ideas for sensible new classes that they can actually mount. Including alums and faculty makes perfect sense here because these are the seasoned veterans who know the school inside out and would be the first stop in setting a course on an executable idea. Or, it’s just a clever way to glimpse the gears of your business mind.
There are THREE key pieces to this sucker. Thaaaaat’s right. THREE.
(1) Coming up with a cool idea for a class that doesn’t exist.
(2) Coming up with a cool idea for a class that doesn’t exist… and has relevance to NOT JUST YOU.
(3) Mapping out a plan-of-action for how you’d leverage the expertise and knowledge-base of Wharton alums and faculty.
No matter what the motive, it’s a very clever way for Wharton to see how your mind churns. Can you come up with an executable idea? Does the idea have broad value? Do you have a sensible plan that will work?
This essay will be incomplete if it’s lacking in a single one of these components. Give them a cool idea. You won’t realize it, but you will have just sold them on the idea that you’re someone who’s gonna succeed at whatever you set your mind to…