Essay Analysis
Important Dates

Round 1


Round 2


Round 3


View School Profile

June 10, 2022

Wharton School Of The University Of Pennsylvania MBA Re-Applicant Essay

Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)

This is a typical re-applicant essay – a nice, specific question about updates on short-term and long-term career goals. It’s important to keep in mind when addressing this piece that it’s not just about the matter-of-fact update itself… we also need to assess the IMPROVEMENT you’ve pulled off.

In other words, one year later, your career plan has to become sharper or more plausible, or more exciting in some way. We need to understand HOW. And WHY. That’s the key: a crystal clear explanation of how your candidacy has improved and what it means given your (new and improved) reasons for getting an MBA.

Read More

June 10, 2022

Wharton MBA Essay 2

Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

The crux of the question is understanding (truly understanding) what makes a “specific, meaningful contribution.” Let’s break this down:

  • Specific: We’re not talking about character traits or general business skills here, folks. “I will bring to campus my ability to lead teams” is not going to cut it. The adcom wants to know exactly how you plan to contribute—specific events, organizations and projects where you can make an impact. Show the adcom that you’ve done your research on the Wharton community, have identified a niche where you can help, and have an actionable plan for what you’re going to do when you arrive on campus.
  • Meaningful: The worst thing you can do with a prompt like this is boldly declare that you are going to contribute something which every single student in the school is expected to have. “I will contribute my leadership skills.” Cool, so will every single other person in the class! A meaningful contribution is one that stands out and adds value that only a handful of other applicants might be able to provide. The value added should also align with Wharton’s values, and the goals of whatever specific part of the Wharton community you are planning to contribute to.

Start by doing your research. Look around the Wharton website, identifying classes, projects or organizations you’re interested in. Then—and this is CRUCIAL—leave the Wharton website and never go back! The adcom helped write that website, and we don’t want to just parrot their words back at them. Look for student blogs, the websites of student organizations and other outside sources of information. Better yet, talk to current students and alumni about the contributions you’re hoping to make. See what they think of your idea! You may find that something you thought Wharton really needs actually already exists.

Next, write down a few contributions which you feel meet the “specific” and “meaningful” criteria. List more than you’ll need to write the essay—a half dozen plus. Then flesh them out. How will your proposed contribution positively affect another individual, a group of individuals, and eventually… the Wharton community? Sell us on it. Show us in a way we can picture. We need to be able to imagine a few years at Wharton WITHOUT YOU, and then those same few years WITH YOU. And we should be able to see clearly (in our minds) that the version WITH YOU is somehow better. THAT’s your challenge here, to make that case apparent. Once you’ve done that for each of your potential contributions, identify 2-4 where the delta between “Wharton with this contribution” and “Wharton without this contribution” is largest. Those the contributions around which you should write this essay.

A few other tips:

  • Back up your promises with examples. Let’s say you plan to contribute by leading a Wharton intramural soccer team. Great! Prove that you’re the person for the job by explaining how you did a similar thing at your prior employer, leading the company team to five straight championships.
  • Aim for a bit of variety. The adcom wants us to take into consideration your “personal, professional and/or academic” background. You don’t need to have one example each or anything like that, but try not to have every single one of your contributions fit into the same category.
  • Add some fun. Show the adcom that your being on campus will be a positive for your classmates’ social lives, not just the academic environment. A lot of the value of an MBA comes from networking, and friendly, outgoing, entertaining people make networking a lot easier.

Rock and roll, comrades. Curious to see what y’all churn out.

June 10, 2022

Wharton MBA Essay 1

How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

We love using “Before and After” to tease out meaningful insights into… things. Lots. O. Things. This is another good opportunity. Let’s take ten minutes to do a little exercise and see what that looks like:

Wherever you are right now (self-employed entrepreneur, consultant, banker, marketing associate, whatever), imagine the next five years of your life WITHOUT passing through Wharton Business School. Don’t just say, “K, gotcha,” actually imagine it. Write it out even. On the left side of your “paper” draw a tiny circle that says “TODAY” then draw a long horizontal line all the way to the right of the paper and draw a second circle, “FIVE YEARS FROM NOW.”

Now let’s start filling this in with additional circles, but also, with content that can be compared. You COULD describe yourself today in terms of your WEIGHT, and then project what you think it’ll be, or want it to be, five years from now. You could also do it in terms of “marathons completed.” You could do “average number of hours slept per night.” As you can see, there are many ways to define the “Today You” versus the “5 Years From Now You”—the key thing is that to show PROGRESS, we need to measure both present and future by the same metric.

For our purposes here, we wanna focus on what are you CAPABLE of doing, professionally. Let’s start with what you HOPE TO BE CAPABLE OF five years from now, that you know you CAN’T QUITE PULL OFF today. What are the three to five bullets you wanna be capable of in FIVE YEARS? What are you aiming at? Write em down. Then do the same for who you are TODAY. List a few KEY bullets about what your skill set as it is today enables you to achieve. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can define it in a bunch of ways: “I can easily manage a team of five, I can grow my business 1.5x, I can…” If you’re a consultant at McKinsey, you’ll have a different version. So, fill in that second circle, and then the first. Hopefully much or all of that future list EXCEEDS your current skill level today, otherwise, you may be flatlining (which is fine, but not quite what business schools are looking for).

Now there’s all this SPACE in between. The intervening years. Walk us through maybe two or three nodes that might reveal key turning point moments, milestones, whatever, that propel you toward that future node. A promotion perhaps to a new role with new responsibilities that will allow you to learn new skills? A gig at a new and bigger company which then allows you to… xyz? Whatever those things are, lay them out on this timeline. Keep it simple, two to three circles and maybe one or two bullets for each explaining em.

Once you’re done, you should end up with an ARC that describes where you can go in five years (rather, what professional GROWTH you can experience)… WITHOUT attaining an MBA from Wharton. This shouldn’t be a bad arc, it should be a great one. Cuz what if you don’t get in? That shouldn’t stop you from CRUSHING your aspirations.

But now, you’re gonna do this process over. But this time you’re gonna do it LEFT TO RIGHT. Start with that left circle (the present), and DUPLICATE exactly “who you are professionally today.” And now play out the next five years, but maybe in the next circle, or perhaps two circles from now, you’re gonna include a NEW circle that’s gonna change the game completely. It’ll say “Wharton” and above it, will be the word “booya,” perhaps, or a thumbs up emoji. What does the NEXT circle look like NOW? And the next? And what does the FINAL “Five Years From Now” circle look like? If you do this correctly, that FINAL CIRCLE should look somewhat DIFFERENT from the first one you made. This is where your answer to this first Wharton prompt will be revealed… “what did you gain professionally from Wharton, that explains the DELTA between the first and second versions of this exercise?”

Once you’ve gotten a sense of what that difference is, now you can apply it to the actual essay. Keep in mind that only the first sentence of the prompt is actually asking us something. We “might consider” the elements listed in the second sentence, and a good essay will likely have some of them, but there’s no need to stress about fitting all those things in. The key thing is the overall career arc:

  1. This is the problem I wanna solve, or the opportunity I’m gonna take advantage of. This is my ultimate vision, not so much in terms of job titles I want, but the impact it’s all gonna have. Lemme sell you here on what results FROM my success. [100-125 words]
  2. This is my track record to-date, skills I have, proof that I’m credible in attacking this stuff. But, in order to achieve ABC aspects of my goals, I’m lacking XYZ. [125-150 words]
  3. While I can get these things at any business school, here are the specific ways in which the WHARTON VERSION will help me develop professionally … in the most profound manner. [150 words]
  4. Once equipped with the Wharton MBA, here’s a sneak peek at a very thoughtful short-term plan that follows, and a recap of how this all propels me to the BEST version of my long-term vision. [75 words]
View more essay analyses.

Need help with your
essay writing?

We got you.

View Our Services