Wharton 2020-2021 Essay Analysis

by Personal MBA Coach, Jun 12, 2020



The Wharton School has confirmed the 2020-2021 application essays. For the first time in two years, Wharton has decided to change the second essay question while essay 1 will remain the same. Wharton has an additional required essay for reapplicants along with an optional essay.

Below, please find this year’s deadlines along with Personal MBA Coach’s advice for how to approach the two essay questions.


Round 1: September 15, 2020

Round 2: January 5, 2021

Round 3: March 31, 2021

Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

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)

Required Essay for all Reapplicants: Please use this space to share with the Admissions Committee how you have reflected and grown since your previous application and discuss any relevant updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, and extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)

Optional Essay: Please use this space to share any additional information about yourself that cannot be found elsewhere in your application and that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee. This space can also be used to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, areas of weakness, etc.) that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider.

Personal MBA Coach’s Tips:

As a Wharton graduate, I am intimately familiar with the MBA program and culture at Wharton and advise candidates to think about each question differently to ensure answers complement each other while showing readers multiple aspects of their candidacy.

Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

With this first question, you should discuss your specific short-term goals, but also think more broadly. Essay 1 allows you to reflect at a higher level on your aspirations. Where do you see yourself in 10, 20 or even 30 years? How will you get there? It is also expected that you touch upon your past successes, explaining how they are relevant to your future objectives. This question does not require you to walk through your entire resume, and candidates are advised not to do so. Instead, focus only on your past to establish what your key skills are as well as how and why you will succeed in the future.

As you think about your future, also think about your skill gaps and how a Wharton MBA, specifically, will help you to close these gaps. It is important that you allow adequate time to research all that Wharton has to offer. I suggest being very specific in detailing the opportunities you plan to take advantage of on campus. Think about classes you are particularly interested in or perhaps professors you are looking to study with, etc. Do not include a laundry list. Instead, carefully think through how each offering will allow you to fill in your skill and/or experience gaps. Be sure to show an understanding of Wharton’s culture here. Avoid vague statements and copy and pasting from other essays.

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)

This new approach to essay 2 will give candidates a bit more flexibility than last year’s question to share past accomplishments and detail potential contributions to the Wharton community. What have you done beyond what is in your resume? (Or what do you wish you had space within your resume to elaborate on?) What makes you special? This question gives you the freedom to consider talents, impressive extracurricular accomplishments and/or unique professional skills. I advise candidates to think broadly here about what makes them unique and how they have succeeded both professionally and personally in the past.

Then, consider how you might share these passions, experiences and successes with your future peers. Tell the reader how you will improve and enrich the Wharton campus. Be sure to do your research on all that Wharton has to offer and to be specific on the contributions you will make. Is there a club you want to join? Perhaps there is a talent you want to share? As with essay 1, avoid listing items. Instead, select a few unique areas where you will contribute and discuss the mark you hope to leave. Then, as you discuss the specific contributions you will make, tie these to the past experiences have just brainstormed. A strong essay will cover multiple contributions that flow naturally from your personal story, passions and career goals.

Reapplicants should use the required additional essay to demonstrate growth. I advise candidates to review our tips for reapplicants before tackling this essay. Finally, the optional essay should only be answered by those with extenuating circumstances. Read more on our approach to optional essays here.

Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 13 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email [email protected] for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!