Normally, the length of a personal statement will be dictated by the application—500 words or 800 words are typical limits, as are one-page or two-page limits. If you’re given, say, a count of 1,500 words, you need not write to the maximum length, but to compose only one-half of the word count might be an opportunity missed. In any case, what matters most is that the material you present conforms as closely as possible to these word or space restrictions—parts of your application might literally not be read if you violate the rules—and that your presentation is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. To achieve these goals, I promote the following tips:
- If your personal statement is a stand-alone document within your application, open it with a simple heading such as “Personal Statement for Janet Lerner.” Thus, if your documents would get separated somehow, they could more easily be reassembled.
- If there are any pages to your essay beyond one, number them, and perhaps include your name on those pages as well.
- Choose a publishing font that is highly readable, such as Times or Bookman. Some fonts allow for more tightness to the text, which is fine as long as the essay remains readable. Ideally, use no more than a 12-point size and no less than a 10-point size, favoring the larger, and use the same font size throughout the document.
- Allow for ample enough margins that the reader isn’t distracted by cramped-looking text. Margins of at least one inch are standard.
- Single space your text, skipping a line between paragraphs. You can indent paragraph beginnings or not, as long as you’re consistent.
At times, especially when you fill out an application electronically or have to cut and paste, word limits will be defined by physical space. In such a case, keep enough white space between your text and the application text that the material isn’t crowded, and choose a font different from that used in the application if possible. Also, if your application is electronic and requires you to cut and paste text or conform to a word or character count, check the material that you input carefully to be certain that it’s complete and reads just as you wish it to. In some cases, you may lose special characters or paragraph breaks, and words over the maximum allowable count may be cut off. The safest practice is to proofread anything you send electronically within the very form in which it is sent.
How To Get Into University of Pennsylvania’s
The Wharton School
The legendary cylindrical tower edging Locust walk houses Wharton, a business school with a history of shaping the minds and clarifying the values of top business leaders. Wharton prides itself on team work, leadership, and instilling lessons of self-reflection and growth into the Learning Team—a group of six students placed together during pre-term to support one another, share ideas and bond.
To become part of the esteemed Wharton class, you must first tackle the application. The prompts haven’t changed since last year, so here are a few tips to help you write a sensational essay and to bring you one step closer to admissions:
Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
This essay is the bridge from your past experiences to your future career. It is an opportunity to communicate to the admissions committee what you hope to accomplish and how.
1. Share your future: Be able to articulate your story. Tell admissions select tidbits about where you came from, your current life junction, and where you’d like your goals to take you. The context of your story is important—it can highlight defining moments, and help admissions understand why an MBA makes sense.
2. Show your research: Wharton is data-driven and research-focused school, and your essay should reflect this. This doesn’t mean you should rattle off the school’s rankings, mean student age, or average GMAT, but you should do enough research to show you know which resources the school offers and how they will help you reach your goals. Think about classes, extracurricular activities, and even the local community to answer “Why Wharton?” over any other B-school.
3. Be authentic: Don’t try to imagine what admissions wants to hear. Your passion will show in an authentic essay and trying to write about someone else’s dream isn’t going to help Wharton know the real you or to find that diverse incoming class. Don’t be afraid to write about something if it defines you or your goals—or admit that you still have decisions to make about your future. The important part is that you have a plan—and Wharton fits into it.
Essay 2: Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience, with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)
Some of Wharton’s key attributes include leadership, entrepreneurship, student-driven activities, and engagement. This is a chance to show Wharton that you will embrace their culture. Here’s how:
Teamwork. It will come up over and over again at Wharton, and you should allot a few of those sacred 400 words to this topic. The admissions committee doesn’t want to know whether or not you were a member of a team, rather they are interested in understanding the role you played and what it says about your future involvement with your team at Wharton.
Leadership. This is not necessarily about taking charge. As in the Team-Based Discussion, it is all about knowing your strengths and how you are able to create impact. Be specific about your plan to use your talents at Wharton or what your goals may be in terms of improving your leadership skills and how Wharton will help you do this.
Storytime. Your past can be good indicator of how you will react and work in the future. If you have a story that aligns, or even prefaces this, use it! These narratives can set you apart, and you won’t just be writing another essay talking about leadership in a generic and impersonal way.
And with that, I’ll leave you to brainstorm and outline.
Check out our Essay Blog for best practices on how to get writing.
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Topics: MBA Admissions Insights, MBA Application Tips, School Specific Articles, Your Top Schools | Tags: Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania