Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Wharton scholarship essay

I've been getting quite a few queries about the scholarship essay for the fellowships/grants at Wharton. This post will hopefully collate the information I collected to help me complete the essays. I will also write a bit about the approach I adopted.

I believe there is a single question that rankles every applicant. I will address it here:

Should I make a case for need or merit?

Most of the fellowships are merit-based. The need based grants are for people who are in dire financial circumstances. Given this fact, it is a trifle too risky to make a case only for need. Ideally one should devote most of the space to demonstrate merit and make a mention of need if he/she will really be unable to meet the part of the expenses not covered by loans. Since the financial aid office does not see the rest of the application, one can pick and choose from examples used in the application essays. However, the personal statement is only 500 words long and it would be wise to use one's discretion and wisely pick only 2-3 best examples to elaborate on. I personally feel this will be more effective than attempting to summarize every achievement within 500 words. It is not enough to just talk about achievements here, real merit can be demonstrated if one's learnings and how these learnings will enable him/her add value to the Wharton community is evident.

I feel the resume needs to be utilized really effectively here. Remember it's just a single page. So it can be used to quantify all your achievements and serve to trace out the milestones in your life(for which there is no space in the personal statement). A crisp resume with all the important stuff (bulleted and aptly bold faced) that logically leads to the explanations in the personal statement might just do the trick.

Another space-saving thing I came know is that it is not necessary to mention any particular fellowship(s) you are applying to. They themselves determine which ones the applicant is eligible for and evaluate him/her for all of them.

Hope this information is useful. Feel free to leave a comment about any query that you might have.