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Recommenders must write “essays” supporting Wharton MBA applicants

July 11 2017 By The MBA Exchange
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In a dramatic departure from the traditional MBA recommendation process, Wharton is now requiring that 2017-18 applicants be supported by two 300-word essays from each recommender.

Before you panic, let’s start by understanding Wharton’s motivation in initiating this new requirement. In a recent blog post, the school explains that this new approach is motivated by their desire “to get a deeper understanding of a candidate’s personal characteristics and their impact on others throughout their career.”

So, the reality is that there is no change in what Wharton would like to learn from recommendations. In fact, business schools have always wanted to get objective, third-party insights about the personal traits and professional influence of applicants. The biggest difference is that, now, Wharton is demanding that recommenders elaborate on those topics.

While the general focus of recommendations hasn’t changed, Wharton is raising the bar regarding the depth of insight and information that it expects from recommenders. This is confirmed by analyzing the actual recommendation topics:

Question 1: Please provide example(s) that illustrate why you believe this candidate will find success in the Wharton MBA classroom.
>>>To answer this question fully, the recommender needs a solid grasp of not just the applicant’s candidacy but also what an MBA education is about and, in particular, how students learn at Wharton. So, unless the recommender is a recent Wharton MBA alum, this will require some research and extra effort on the part of the applicant to “educate” recommenders about Wharton. Otherwise, recommenders may either ignore the specifics of the question or try to bluff their way through it, thus jeopardizing the applicant’s chances for admission.
Question 2: Please provide example(s) that illustrate why you believe this candidate will find success throughout their career.
>>>This question expects the recommender to go beyond merely confirming or documenting the applicant’s past and present job performance. Rather, Wharton wants to see whether the recommender understands the applicant’s current post-MBA goals or has a vision for the career direction that the applicant can or should pursue. In essence, this question elevates the perspective of a recommender from that of merely a knowledgeable endorser to that of a fully-informed mentor and champion.So, Wharton MBA applicants, what are you going to do about this new challenge? The immediate questions racing through your head probably include:
– How does this influence who I approach to be a Wharton recommender?
– What should I do if my recommenders are not good writers?
– How can I ask busy recommenders to devote even more time to preparing my rec?
– What information should I provide to my recommenders that would help them?
– Should I drop Wharton from my target list and apply somewhere else?
– Should I write these “essays” for my recommenders?
These questions are far too important to rely on speculation, online chatter or uninformed friends. Having a thorough, proven strategy and tactics for selecting, developing and guiding recommenders is essential. That’s why The MBA Exchange includes “recommendation planning” as a key component of our Comprehensive Consultation. Your greatest asset could be the experience and expertise of Wharton ex-adcoms and graduates, like the 12 featured on our consulting team, who know Wharton’s admissions process and priorities best.So, Wharton applicants, it’s time to step up and accept the fact that your recommendations are now more important than ever. Take the smart, necessary steps to ensure that your candidacy will be well-supported by confident recommenders who accurately present you as a candidate with an exceptional value proposition worthy of admission. Start with a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy.