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Inside Wharton MBA Admissions: Top 10 Applicant Myths We Encounter
1. It is better to apply in Round 1 than 2. The chances of admission are comparable in both rounds. Round 3 is more selective and allows less time for international students to process visas.
2. Wharton is a finance school. Wharton is widely recognized for its breadth and depth of curriculum across 18 disciplines, each of which is taught by world renowned faculty.
3. Wharton looks for a set profile of candidate. Wharton seeks a diversity of academic, professional, geographic, and personal backgrounds. We accept many students who have neither studied business nor worked in consulting or investment banking.
4. There are minimums or cut-off scores for the GPA and GMAT. Both measures are evaluated jointly, along with measures of ability to handle quantitative coursework. The distribution of GPA and GMAT scores among admitted students is broad.
5. Work experience is a pre-requisite for admission. Candidates are evaluated on both demonstrated and potential leadership and management skills. Wharton actively encourages individuals to apply when they feel they are ready. For some, this will be directly from undergrad or with only 2-3 years of work experience.
6. Candidates are assessed on their number and/or type of extra-curricular activities and community service. We seek well-balanced students who possess a broad perspective on life. Candidates may have less formal commitments that exhibit this balance. Quality is always valued more than quantity.
7. Applications are pre-screened. All applications are read in their entirety by at least several members of the Admissions Committee. Admissions decisions are made across multiple criteria; it is the rare candidate who is denied based on one area of an application.
8. Applicants are evaluated relative to others with the same professional or geographic background. Applicants are evaluated relative to the entire pool. There are simply too many ways to disaggregate and assess candidate profiles.
9. I have a better chance of being admitted if I visit or interview on-campus. We are committed to fairness and equity and recognize that there are applicants who are unable to visit us for monetary and/or personal reasons.
10. International students are not eligible for loans or scholarships. International students are guaranteed loans for up to the student budget (tuition and living expenses) through Citibank. Other loans may be obtained and may require a cosigner. All students are eligible to apply and be considered for a fellowship.
Of course, these are Wharton specific, but I found #6 and #9 the most interesting.
MBA Admissions Essential #7: Extracurricular Activities & Community Service
What do these MBA Admissions folks want from me? Not only do they expect me to take the GMAT test, demonstrate an ability to handle the academic rigors of b-school, write essays that outline my entire life history and goals, but they also want me to describe every club, hobby, volunteer activity, and/or community service in which I’ve been engaged since high school! What if I don’t measure up? What if I don’t have the right number and mix of activities? What if the adcoms don’t find my interests of value?
Relax… It’s as simple as this: we adcoms simply want to know more about you and your values. What matters to you beyond academics and work? What motivates and inspires you? How well rounded are you? For many applicants, these questions will be answered through formal, organized activities and events. For others, they will be addressed through less formal means: commitment to family or religion, observations made by recommenders, information revealed in essays. And for some, the answers reflect a combination of formal and less formal contributions.
And why do we care about these things? The MBA is a professional degree that develops individuals for leadership and management positions at work and in the world. Applicants who are well-rounded possess a greater capacity to develop these skills. Indeed, there are significant differences around the world as to the level of extra-curricular activities and community service in which people engage. It is with this awareness in mind that we seek applicants who are broad-minded in perspective, if not in deed.