Essay 1: Required Question: What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

Very straightforward question again this year. Even though Wharton is not asking for your career goals, I do think you need to give them a little context by providing a quick overview of what you plan to do with an MBA (e.g.  your professional objectives).  From there you can branch out an answer what you hope to gain specifically from the Wharton MBA! Notice that you have answer both personally and professionally, so make sure you touch on both aspects. See my blog post on “Career Goals” for further information when answering this question. As for the personal gains – try to dig deep and really think what you will gain from this experience. Steer clear of cliché responses such as alumni network, a strong support system, leadership and/or managerial skills. They are overused, too high-level, and not specific to you or to Wharton.

ESSAY:  There is one essay question, technically optional, for the HBS application:

You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

HBS adds this tip to the essay prompt:

There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.


This is the same question as last year so we finally have some “data” as to what kinds of essays gained notice from the admissions committee.   The final verdict – GO PERSONAL!   We found that those individuals that truly dug deep and revealed personal aspects/traits about themselves has the greatest success rate.  

Participate in this free event, led by Jana Blanchette, Former Senior Director of Admissions for Ross. Learn key Inside Tips for making your MBA Application truly stand out. This webinar will discuss what admissions committees are looking for in an application, what makes a good essay or recommendation letter, and will provide important advice on differentiating yourself throughout the application process. Following the presentation, a detailed Q&A will be led by Jana.


Date: July 29th, 2014

Time: 10am, Eastern Daylight Savings Time (GMT -4:00)

Location: WebEx


To register now, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We see numerous business school applicants each year who know that they need and want an MBA, but aren’t entirely sure what career path to choose.   They simply want to explore their options while in business school, maybe do an internship, and then see what “door” opens as they approach graduation.   One of the great things about business school is the ability to explore and discover educational and career directions of which you are unfamiliar. However, admissions committees expect their candidates to have a clear vision for what they want to achieve. We recommend discovering your “career story” before starting your application.


For the application process, it is very important that you convey to the admissions committee that you know what you want to do professionally and how the MBA will help lead you to that goal. You also need to describe your career goals with enough specificity that gives the reader a sense of experience – that you have been out in the workforce long enough to know what it is you want to do.   We often tell clients to make sure you can answer what industry, what function/ role, and what platform or specialization you will focus.   It is not strong enough to simply say you would like to go into consulting, for example.   A better goal is much more specific, like “I would like to be in the automotive industry, working as a turn-round strategy consultant, who will focus on operational efficiency improvements”.  


If you are not able to provide this level of detail then we always encourage applicants to figure it out. Do your research and some introspection.   Figure out what interests you or find a career path that fits with the work you’ve been currently doing.   Get creative – you can shadow an executive in your field of interest or conduct informational interviews. Whichever research method you choose – you need to figure out a logical career path – one that is convincing, fits with your current work experience, and has enough detail to impress.

Stay tuned for upcoming Inside MBA events!

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