How to answer the Wharton MBA required application essay question

“How will the Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives? (400 words)”

In order to answer Wharton’s required application essay question, you must be concise. 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” (http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/admissions/apply-to-wharton.cfm). Most applicants struggle to answer this question because they haven’t taken the time for introspection and an honest assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. In order to convey your best self, write the essays as though they would be read by a trusted friend. Then, with the help of a friend or editor, eliminate the clichés, generic statements and vague phrases that inevitably fill any first draft. 

With only four hundred words, you need to get right to the point. Your professional objectives should include your short-term, post-MBA goals as well as your long-term career goals. Think in terms of positions (a C-level job at a consumer goods company), accomplishments (decreasing high school drop-out rates as a social entrepreneur) and achievements (being recognized as an innovator in the green technology sector). In order to answer this question, you need to give specific and focused career goals. If you are still unsure of your post-MBA path, you can still give your most likely options. 

When answering the second part, you must go beyond praising Wharton for its “world-renowned faculty,” “brilliant student body” and “rigorous curriculum.” In other words, do your research! Find a Wharton professor whose publications inspire you (http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/faculty/faculty-publications.cfm). Mention the core courses or electives that you are most excited to take (http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/academics/curriculum-structure.cfm). Discuss a conference or seminar that you hope to chair (http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/faculty/conferences-and-seminars.cfm). Talk about a research center or initiative that truly impresses you (http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/faculty/research-centers-and-initiativ.cfm). Praise a Wharton alumnus whose career you hope to emulate (http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/your-career/alumni-profiles.cfm). Be specific and genuine. If you can’t give specific reasons, take the time to read through the website, talk to Wharton students and even cold call a professor or two. This extra effort and attention to detail will make your application stand out from the crowd.

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