How to Get Noticed in just One Essay

June 19, 2014 | by Matt Symonds

Hot off the press this month, in an effort to simplify processes and distil the core information it needs, Wharton has decided to move to a single admissions essay model.

Wharton joins Harvard and UCLA Anderson in the single essay club. Many other schools have also reduced their essay requirements and word count. Last year both Yale and LBS cut their essay requirements in half; Chicago Booth, UC Berkeley Haas and Kellogg, amongst others, dropped at least one.

Many of you spend hours perfecting essays, managing word counts and doing GMAT practice exams, juggling this with full-time jobs, families and extra-curricular activities. As former admissions directors, all of us here at Fortuna have spent weeks at a stretch reading seemingly endless essays and applicant files. So it really is no surprise that one of the world’s most competitive programs has joined the tide of schools working to streamline its admissions processes.

The decision is not just one of practicality in terms of time and volume. It’s also about depth. With fewer essays to read, an admissions committee has more time to spend on its core question. Focusing on this bottom line, schools are trying to pre-empt the question most asked about candidates in the committee room – the proverbial ” So what”.

Some of you might be heaving a sigh of relief at the prospect of fewer essays. Others may feel you have less of an opportunity to share examples from your professional and personal lives. In one essay, it’s certainly harder to get across who you are and what you have to offer the MBA community. But with a bit of effort, there are other ways to highlight your abilities within the framework of an application.

• Let your recommenders speak for you – brief them on relevant examples that best represent what you bring to the table.
• Think about your resume. Is your wording best demonstrating your professional accomplishments? Does it show your real impact at work?
• Use the essay question as a jumping off point for self-assessment and thoughtful introspection.

Focusing on these other areas will support your essay(s), bring your application to life, and help you stand out from the crowd.

And to those of you applying to Wharton this year – check out our new video Insider Tips For Applying To The Wharton MBA by Judith Silverman Hodara, former acting Director of Admissions at Wharton.

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