This post has been marked as OLD. EssaySnark's advice and strategies for winning MBA applications don't change from year to year, but some of the school-specific admissions policies, essay questions, or other information covered in this article may be outdated.
We start this week with a BANG!
Here you go – essay questions reviewed! Yes yes yes, long overdue. Big changes they made this year, no? It’s about time EssaySnark dissected them for you!
One strategy that we’re suspecting several schools are employing this year is to force you, Brave Supplicant, to write their essays from scratch. They are doing this by using g*dam wacky questions. Questions that no one else in any school all around the Big Blue World has. Questions that are Unique! Insightful! Probing! Questions that they obviously hope will prompt you, Brave Supplicant, to respond in kind, with Unique! Inisghtful! Probing! essays back at ’em.
Case in point? WHARTON.
OK, essay #1 from Wharton we admire. Straight and to the point. If you can’t cover your career goals in 300 words, then you’ve got a problem. Yes, other schools want you to spend more time on them, but you really don’t need to. This is a simple question with WHAT SHOULD BE a simple answer. How are you going to answer it when it comes up in your interview if it takes you 750 words to get to the point? 300 words is about perfect. ’nuff said.
The bulk of your blood-sweat-tears in the Wharton essays this year will be from the remaining 18- or 1900 words that you’ll be crafting amongst those pick-three options.
First though, NOTICE: That one question? About creating a Wharton course on any topic? You saw that one, right? And you saw that they’re allowing 700 words for that one? Do you think perhaps that 100-word difference is trying to SAY SOMETHING? This is pure guesswork and conjecture on EssaySnark’s part (as is absolutely everything else you’ve read on this blog) BUT: we’re thinking maybe the adcom wants you to answer this question. And the fact that it’s listed first. And that it took them over 100 words just to get the question out! Versus the mere 30 words for the next-longest one. Ya think maybe they’re trying to hint at something here?
Yeah, it’s a challenging question. Not an easy one. EVEN MORE REASON TO TACKLE IT! What, are you afraid of a challenge? Gee, that’s not the strongest message to send to the adcom! No milquetoasts allowed in essay writing! Step up to the plate, Brave Supplicant, and take aim! We throw down the gauntlet. Tackle this “create a course” question for Wharton — don’t be afraid to strut your stuff!
Okay okay okay we can hear you whining from here. “How?” you ask. “What do I say?”
This is a beautiful opportunity for you to SHOW OFF. Prove you KNOW SOMETHING. Prove you can SYNTHESIZE INFORMATION and prove that you have a REASON FOR GOING TO BSCHOOL. Take something interesting and relevant in your background — ideally in the very recent past — and poke at it. Ask yourself questions about it. Hold it up to the metaphorical microscope and examine it. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED TO LEARN ABOUT THIS THING? That right there could write your essay for you.
Or, tease it apart. Toss it against the wall. What is this thing similar to? What current affairs, social issues, political events, world-stage happenings are relevant to this thing that you’ve experienced and gone through? Cross-examine the puppy. What more could be said about this Topic At Large? Sounds like a possible essay topic (Wharton course) to us!
Anything multi-disciplinary, current-affairs-y, relevant-to-whats-going-on-y can all qualify here. There are no rules. That’s the beauty of it! The adcom will be as interested to see your interpretation of the exercise as they will to see the course you come up with. This is a chance to show them that YOU CAN THINK! (novel idea!)
Keep in mind that this course you’re proposing needs to be focused on the business world, and it should be relevant to you personally and your background and/or your goals. There will be a LOT of people talking about economic-crisis stuff here. That’s fine, just make your idea unique. Nothing cookie cutter here, that won’t cut it*. First of all, do some fact-checking and make sure that Wharton doesn’t already offer this class. (That would be a bit of a faux pas now wouldn’t it? To propose what already exists?)
You might also want to see if any other brand-name MBA program already offers the class you’re proposing – or at least see if the main Wharton competitors do, like HBS, Chicago, Columbia, whatever. You wouldn’t want to appear to be plagiarizing from one of them. And don’t be lulled into believing that Wharton doesn’t know what its peers are doing with their curriculum. Do some research! Be thorough! Attention to detail and all that! It can help you avoid looking like a dolt.
The other thing you need to demonstrate that you KNOW SOMETHING about with this course is… .(drumrol please) WHARTON! Yes! Amazing, isn’t it? That they’d ask a question that forces you to research their school! This is a sneaky sly underhanded way for those tricky admissions people to make you actually LEARN ABOUT THEM! Who is Wharton? What do they stand for? What do they offer? What should they offer? This is the adcom’s method of getting you to roll up your sleeves and do a little homework on their program. ‘Cuz you really can’t answer this question in a vacuum.
A catchy course name is always a nice add but make it clear what it’s about. Don’t go too cute with that part. It needs to communicate the intent of the course.
And make sure that this course you’re proposing will be relevant for more than, say, just one person. There’s gotta be relevance and potential interest in this from beyond a cohort of one (you). So it can’t be too niche. But it probably should be fairly niche. The more specific, the more opportunity for distinctiveness.
Okay, Brave Supplicant, that about exhausts the limits of our advice on this. We’ll continue with Wharton essay insights (if you can call them that?) very soon — here!
*Or, maybe it would, if it were a cookie. Mini mixed metaphor makes our heads spin.