Kellogg | Mr. Indian Globetrotter
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Jill Of All Trades
GRE 314, GPA 3.36
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Midwest Startup
GRE 328, GPA 3.51
Stanford GSB | Mr. S.N. Bose Scholar
GMAT 770, GPA 3.84
Wharton | Mr. Big 4
GMAT 770, GPA 8/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB
GMAT 740, GPA 3.95
Wharton | Mr. Swing Big
GRE N/A, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Big Brother
GRE 329, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Low GPA Product Manager
GMAT 780, GPA 3.1
Kenan-Flagler | Ms. Nonprofit Admin
GMAT 620, GPA 3.3
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Top Three
GRE 310, GPA 2.7
Kenan-Flagler | Ms. Big Pharma
GRE 318, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. NCAA to MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Kellogg | Mr. 770 Dreamer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.77/10
Tepper | Mr. Tech Strategist
GRE 313, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Musician To Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 1.6
Harvard | Mr. Bangladeshi Analyst
GMAT 690, GPA 3.31
MIT Sloan | Mr. Generic Nerd
GMAT 720, GPA 3.72
Darden | Mr. Military Vet
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. ELS
GRE 318, GPA 3.8
Wharton | Mr. Investment Banking
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
MIT Sloan | Mr. International Impact
GRE 326, GPA 3.5
Wharton | Ms. Product Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Indian O&G EPC
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. US Army Veteran
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Techie Teacher
GMAT 760, GPA 3.80

A New Trend? Wharton Adds An MBA Essay

The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Ethan Baron photo

The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Ethan Baron photo

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business today (June 14) did something counterintuitive. After a wide range of schools, including Wharton, have reduced the essay requirements for MBA admissions, Wharton has decided to add a new essay for applicants to this fall’s entering class.

The school also said that applications to its full-time MBA program rose slightly more than 1% to about 6,660, up from 6,590 a year earlier, when applications were up nearly 8%. “We had a pretty big increase last year and this year we held steady,” says Maryellen Reilly, deputy vice dean for admissions, financial aid and career management. Wharton is among the first of the elite schools to release application numbers. Yale School of Management has reported a 6% rise to 3,652 applications this past year for the 325 seats in this fall’s new class (see Yale SOM To Change Out Essays), while UCLA Anderson has said that its applications were slightly down (UCLA Class of ’18 To Start Early).

Wharton’s addition of a new second question essay — which asks candidates to weigh in on what they expect to contribute to the Wharton community and culture — is the result of feedback from current and prospective students as well as MBA admission fellows who are second-year students who do on-campus information sessions and help recruit and support candidates. “We got a lot of feedback from prospective students and admissions fellows about this and and we did student surveys asking about the process,” Reilly explains.


Wharton Deputy Vice Dean of Admissions Maryellen Reilly

Wharton Deputy Vice Dean of Admissions Maryellen Reilly

“People felt they weren’t able to show enough of themselves in a single essay,” she adds in an interview with Poets&Quants. “As much as everyone hates the essays, that is really a great place to tell us more about yourself. So we’ve gone against the trend now. What we are trying to do is get students to tell us who they are. With the way the traditional application lays out there, there is not a lot of opportunity for that.”

In her blog post, she adds that “by asking these two questions, effectively breaking apart and expanding on last year’s essay question, our hope is to give applicants ample space to more fully explain their aspirations, goals, and how Wharton fits into those. We want to be able to view applicants from both sides of their world – one where they are professionals developing skills and seeking career advancement, but also the personal growth side where they are seeking out enriching experiences to become better, stronger, wiser, and a more robust person.”

Reilly says Wharton will slightly reword last year’s 500-word essay which will now be: “What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA?” The new essay requirement, put in place of the school’s optional essay, will have a 400-word limit. The wording of the new prompt: “Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community?”

In a blog post today, Reilly set a first round deadline of Sept. 27th, with a second round deadline of Jan. 5, and a third and final deadline for MBA applications on March 28. The first and third round this coming cycle are both two days earlier than a year earlier. Though the school has yet to release decision dates, they will most likely be similar to last year’s dates: Dec. 17th for round one, March 29th for round two, and May 3rd for the final round.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.