Saturday, September 16, 2006

Supershrunk Wharton Essays

Wharton- very conventional essays, very few essays, very few words...

To me Wharton had the most frustrating set of essays, it's the only school that did not allow me to write all my stories. I just spent 2 hours chopping Wharton's "Career Progress, Career Goals, Why MBA, Why Wharton, Why now" essay. It's very very difficult to do justice to all these questions in just 1000 words, more so when the school has just 3 other microscopic 500 word essays :-). I know I'm exaggerating, 500 words is anything but microscopic. But that's how I feel now. I wish I could throw a fit and get some more words from Wharton :D. Maybe Kellogg and Stanford have really spoilt me with their liberal wordlimits. Or maybe I want to say too much :-). Kidding aside, no applicant would want to choose between important stories that collectively show you in the best light. But Beware! Wharton might just make you do it. Wharton essays are a true test of your zipping abilities. Discretion and conciseness are the need of the hour.

First of all you might end up spending hours wondering how to distribute the space in the first essay between the various questions it wants you to answer. Secondly because of the wordlimit you might not be able to provide too much of anecdotal evidence in the first essay itself. To make your story strong elaborate key professional incidents in the one of the other essays and refer to them in the first essay. Of course if you can elaborate everything in the first essay itself then you are God!

Another problem you might face is with the failure essay. You may not find a failure significant enough to talk about, your failure might be too significant to talk about, you may be tempted to make a masquerage out of the failure essay and talk about an incident that's simply not a failure etc. As long as you have an incident where the expected outcome did not occur, a worse outcome occured, you learnt something from it and applied it to your life, you are safe. Just articulate it well.

Thankfully Wharton offers a lot of choice in the remaining essays. You can create a balanced story by choosing essays and stories that will highlight your personal and extracurricular life and complement the professional side projected in essay 1. Now again, if you use one of these essays to elaborate on incidents refered to in essay 1, then you might have to compromise a little on the non-professional you. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the ethical issue essay is optional. Although I did write on this topic for HBS, that was too futuristic and will not make sense here. The "What do you do best and Why" is the only open-ended question. Practically anything can be twisted around to answer this question. But the word "Best" is the key. While you need not be THE BEST at it, you will have to justify why you really are good at whatever you choose to talk about. So this essay could be a little tricky if you don't pick the right topic. The remaining essays work differently for different people, but they are fairly standard questions.

Wharton essays are like the blurb of your autobiogrpahy. You need to write just enough to attract the readers and make them want to meet you to get to know the rest of you!

Also check out: My take on Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Kellogg essays.