Wharton Essay Topic Analysis 2010-2011

5已有 2292 次阅读  2010-06-13 01:26   标签Analysis  Topic  Essay  Wharton 

Following the release of Wharton’s 2010-2011 MBA application essay questions, we would like to offer some advice on how to choose compelling anecdotes and craft strong essays.  Although applicants are still required to answer four essays, this year’s essay prompts are significantly different from previous years’, as this year’s questions inquire more about applicants’ ability to be self-reflective, to persevere, and to innovate.  Let’s take a look at this year’s essay topics:

Required Question: What are your professional objectives? (300 words)
A marked departure from Wharton’s standard 1,000-word career goals essay, this year’s applicants have only 300 words to describe their future plans.  While this is a variation of the typical career goals essay, Wharton’s use of “professional objectives” should prompt applicants to adopt a big-picture approach to this question: in addition to describing post-MBA career goals, applicants should ensure that they explain their long-term plans and the impact they hope to have on their industry, community, country or region.  With only 300 words allotted for this essay, applicants will need to be highly efficient with their writing.  It should also be noted that this prompt doesn’t specifically call for a discussion of ‘why Wharton’, although a few words on how the program would assist candidates in reaching their professional objectives may be appropriate.

Respond to 3 of the following 4 questions:

1. 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)
This question is new to Wharton’s application and offers applicants the opportunity to showcase both their innovative nature and unique interests as they design a course on a topic of their choice.  One tactic to take in responding to this prompt is to create a course that reflects your professional passions: with only 300 words in the previous essay to describe career objectives, this prompt offers applicants the perfect opportunity to provide more details about their academic and professional background as well as their future plans.  Offering this information would also help the adcom understand why the applicant would be interested in creating this course.  Another tactic to take would be to create a custom course that highlights a secondary interest or set of experiences that is not necessarily related to one’s career goals but enables the applicant to share another facet of his or her candidacy with the adcom.

With 700 words, applicants should have the space to provide some details about the course’s offerings as well as how the course would benefit the Wharton community.  Therefore, understanding of the unique merits of Wharton’s program is important to craft an effective response to this question.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities – whether through a visit to campus or conversation with alumni will pay dividends here.  In discussing Wharton, applicants may also have a brief opportunity to explain why they are interested in the school, and how it would help them achieve their career goals.

Finally, candidates might also take a hint from the two examples Wharton includes in this prompt.  As both of these example courses are focused on important issues in countries other than the U.S., and Wharton is known for its strong international programs, this prompt gives applicants the opportunity to show their interest in and commitment to the global community, thus demonstrating their fit with Wharton’s program.

2. 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)
Also new to the Wharton application, this question poses an interesting challenge for applicants.  While candidates could certainly respond to this essay with a time they turned down an opportunity and not make the same choice today, doing so classifies their decision as a “mistake,” and thus this essay might too closely echo Essay 3’s failure prompt.  To avoid this, applicants can instead interpret this prompt as a question about how they prioritize and make decisions.  For example, an applicant could outline a time she saw an opportunity but realized it would be unwise to take it because she was unprepared to fully benefit from it.  Another example could be a time when an applicant made a well-considered decision, undertaken for the right reasons, that opened up doors that accepting the opportunity would not have.  Regardless of the opportunity and if you would make the same decision today, the key is providing a sound explanation as to why you made the decision you did, so the adcom can understand your thought process and thus better understand how you would function at Wharton and in your future career.  We encourage applicants to think strategically about the topic they might use in answering this question and consider how the content would work with other essay topics: for example, this essay could offer a good opportunity to introduce a new aspect of one’s candidacy into the application.

3. 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)
This prompt appears on the Wharton application for its fourth consecutive year.  As a rule of thumb, one wants to highlight the most positive elements of one’s candidacy, but schools occasionally do ask directly about a failure one has experienced.  The adcom acknowledges that no one is perfect and seeks a perspective on each prospective student beyond his or her success, wondering about an applicant’s maturity (as evidenced by an ability to take responsibility for his/her actions, learn from mistakes and handle disappointment) in addition to his or her achievements.

As is always the case, it’s important to focus on the positive elements of this scenario.  A sound approach to any essay that explicitly asks applicants to recount a time when things went less than well is to summarize the failure itself as briefly as possible, spending the bulk of the essay relating one’s response and lessons learned.  Also along these lines, rather than commenting that he or she learned about a weakness as a result of the failure, it would be ideal for an applicant to select a situation in which something positive was discovered in the process.  This is not to say that your essay should fall into the trap of merely being a ‘veiled success’ (a failure that isn’t really a failure at all); however, it is important to demonstrate positive growth and the learning experience that can come from missing the mark.

4. Discuss a time when you navigated a challenging experience in either a personal or professional relationship. (600 words)
New to the Wharton application this year, applicants can answer this question with a story about a challenging episode in either their personal or professional lives.  The response to this prompt could be a story about recognizing a professional opportunity and struggling to bring someone else on board, or the challenge of leading a dissonant member of one’s team.  For those who are more inclined to tell a personal story, remember that no matter what the topic, the goal is to demonstrate one’s maturity and ability to overcome obstacles.

Whether the story is personal or professional, the major themes of growth and learning remain the same.  After describing the initial challenge in detail, applicants should comment on both their thoughts and actions in response, highlighting how they were able to persevere through this situation.  It’s important to present both one’s internal and external reactions in creating a full picture for the adcom.  This essay is a good place to highlight instances of resourcefulness as well as provide a comprehensive picture of personal and professional development over the course of the narrative.  Applicants should keep in mind that the adcom will be using this account of past thoughts and experiences as a barometer to measure applicants’ future performance.

Conclusion:
In order to present themselves competitively, applicants will need to think strategically about the optional essays they choose to answer and subsequently, the topics they choose to discuss in these optional essays.  For example, the choice between a personal or professional relationship in Essay 4 largely depends on an applicant’s response to Essay 2 and/or Essay 3: if Essay 2 focuses on a personal opportunity the applicant turned down, Essay 4 could round out the application by delving into a professional experience, or vice versa.

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