It's time to cover Wharton, as it looks like I've locked myself into a pattern of covering every school's set of essays. The common response to Wharton's new essay set (one of which is required, one is optional) is "another case of schools shrinking this essays!" This is technically true, as the total words went from either 1,000 to 900 (if you use the Optional) or from 1,000 to 500 (if you don't). However, the next leap is almost always "as schools continue to try to make things easier for applicants." I'm sorry, I simply don't buy that line of reasoning. Almost everyone who truly knows admissions knows that fewer words makes things harder, not easier. This is because it requires confidence and clarity to approach such a task, it requires concise and structured writing to execute it, and it makes it far less likely that you will "accidentally" come up with something great, just by virtue of spewing out words. Now, it might be a byproduct of the essay shrinking that it's easier on the readers or that a few people might (mistakenly) think it's easier to apply, but I highly doubt that is the intent.