We had thought we actually blahgged about this very important issue for Wharton essay 2 but apparently not. Apparently the post that we wrote last year on the Wharton “contribution” essay that warned of tone does not cover this other very important point that we thought it covered. So when we kept pointing BSers to that post, saying “we covered this issue there”, we were wrong! And they were probably puzzled!
So, apologies to any of you who’ve gotten that remark in some Wharton essay feedback lately. That post is still valid and lots of BSers are making that mistake of tone and posturing in their Wharton essay 2. But THIS OTHER issue that we will tell you about today is actually much much more common, and just as bad of an issue.
The issue is this:
You write an essay about how you will contribute without saying anything about contributing.
This is how it goes:
Brrring brrrrring!![that’s a telephone in case you couldn’t tell]
You say, “Hello?”
Your sister says, “Hey, Thanksgiving is at my house this year. What can you contribute?”
You say, “OK great! I’m looking forward to it! I can’t wait to go to your house for Thanksgiving!”
Your sister says, “Cool. What will you contribute?”
You say, “I always pitch in at work and I love to collaborate.”
She says, “Awesome. What will you contribute?”
You say, “My friends all say I’m a really good listener.”
Your sister says, “Well listen to this, I’m asking you, what will you contribute?”
You get the point?
Wharton essay 2 isn’t about how you say you’re a nice guy or you’ll be happy to roll up your sleeves and help out. Or that you, errr, collaborate. (yawn)
Essay 2 is your chance to SHOW what you will do. HOW will you roll up your sleeves? In what way have you rolled up your sleeves in the past – and made a tangible contribution of some type, in some parallel situation that maps to what you will experience at bschool?
We’ve seen Wharton Essay 2 essays recently that talk about comforting a friend, and staying late to get a project done at work, and walking someone’s dog.
OK, well, maybe that type of stuff can work, but think it through, people.
We’re not saying that all those are totally irrelevant or that you can’t talk about how you’re a friend to your friends. But make it connected to what the MBA experience will be.
If you’re going to mention the Wharton Leadership Ventures — which is what EVERYONE this year is mentioning (it’s taking over for Wharton Executive Coaching as the most-mentioned thing in a Wharton essay) — then don’t just say that you’ll be a good friend and pitch in and help out and be on the team. Talk about what you have done in some type of extreme outdoors situation, where you stepped up and saved a life, or at least that you remembered to put the food in the bear-proof bin thingie in the campsite so that you didn’t get your rucksack ransacked by a Grizzlie. Do SOMETHING to make it relevant and meaningful. Tie those pieces together.
And to all of you to whom we posted that link to the other “tone and contribution in Wharton essays” post that warns about the paternalistic thing…. For most of you, we probably meant this. Today’s post. That apparently we’d never written yet.
When your sister calls to ask how you’re going to contribute for Thanksgiving, please tell her what you’re gonna contribute.
She’s not gonna be satisfied if your bum shows up and graces her house with the wondrous odor of your presence. Just being there is not enough (yet that’s what a lot of these Wharton drafts sound like – “I will bring my [insert good quality here] to Wharton” — like you’re God’s gift, and all will be blessed once you arrive on the scene).
Your sister’s asking for you to DO SOMETHING.
When Wharton asks that, please tell them.
What are you gonna contribute?
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