The “Wharton Difference” And Fit With The Program

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The Wharton MBA adcom offers you some help in shaping your Wharton application – by clearly and succinctly defining the four core components of “the Wharton difference.”  Understanding these components is a key to conveying your fit with the program.

These four components are encompassed in Wharton’s emphasis on “putting knowledge into action.”  This value should guide your application approach: action is always specific, anecdotal.  Therefore, keep your resume, essays, and application answers specific, anecdotal, and action focused.

In this post I’ll discuss two of the four components that are tightly correlated, then I’ll do one post each for the remaining two.  In all, I’ll keep on the radar screen the overarching “putting knowledge into action.”

Largest Global Network and Culture of Engagement are the two interconnected components.  They go hand-in-hand:

•  The vast global alumni network is an immense resource, and culture involves a cyclical process of using, synthesizing and creating new resources.

•  A network and a culture are both built on and serve people.

•  The network component uses the phrases “call on” and “tap into” while the culture of engagement component uses the words “join” and “collaborative” – reflecting dynamism, connection, proactivity.

There is another fascinating but perhaps less intuitive point of alignment between these two components: impact.

•  “Increase your impact through the resources of this diverse, connected community” (from Global Network).

•  “…Turning knowledge into impact” (from Culture of Engagement).

What does all this add up to?  PEOPLE TAKING ACTION CREATE IMPACT.  That’s basic.  What you want to demonstrate, and what Wharton seeks, is you being part of PEOPLE TAKING ACTION TOGETHER TO CREATE CONSTRUCTIVE, DESIRED IMPACTS.

Here’s how you can demonstrate fit with Wharton by incorporating these values into your application:

•  Refer specifically in your application and interview to how you will use the global alumni network to advance your goals and/or how you will engage with it (specific actions as opposed to the ubiquitous but bland “contribute to”).

•  Give examples and anecdotes in essays that illustrate your resourcefulness and collaboration leading to concrete outcomes.

•  In discussing how you will achieve your goals, include these elements, which also align with the action orientation.

• Ensure that your resume reflects these values, and start bullet points with verbs to underscore action.

•  If your recommenders are open to your input, ask them to use examples and present strengths that reflect these attributes (and not just “ability to” but also achieving impacts).

•  In your interview frame your answers and points to reflect these elements and even refer specifically to them, if you can do so naturally.

Register to learn how to get accepted to Wharton!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

• Global Business Leadership at Wharton’s Lauder Institute
• Wharton 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• The Wharton Executive MBA Program: An Insider’s View [Podcast]

Short And Sweet: Tips For Writing “Mini” MBA Essays

Click here for school specific MBA essay tips and deadlines!

Make sure you’re answering the exact question asked.

What is an admission committee’s message, intent, behind limiting an “essay” answer to 100, 200, or 300 characters? Just the facts, please. In fact, just the key facts.

No adornment, no backstory, no extended rationale.

Columbia Business School has had such a goals question for a few years, Darden has had a 140-character Tweet question, and now HBS has a couple of these mini-essay questions. Yes, it’s a trend.

In working with clients on such questions, I’ve been struck by how hard providing “just the facts” really is – it’s counterintuitive, it’s letting go. It makes the writer feel, well, a little naked out there. Adornment, backstory, rationale – those are the comfortable “clothes” now in a heap on the floor.

OK, but how do you give them what they want – while simultaneously serving your goal of creating a compelling application that differentiates and distinguishes you?

Here are some unadorned tips to answer that question.

• Read the question carefully and weigh each word, to make sure you’re answering the exact question. (Seems obvious? I’ve witnessed many very smart people misread the question, with predictable results.)

 Short doesn’t mean easy. The opposite is often true. Allocate and devote some up-front thinking time to what you’ll say. The fewer words you have, the greater weight each word has.

• In this thinking process, decide the 1-3 key points you must convey. Don’t even consider anything else.

• Also in this thinking process, consider the application overall. These mini-essays must work within a larger whole. For example, if you only have 200 characters to write about your goals, and you’re planning to shift careers, look for other places in the application to indicate that you have relevant skill sets, understand the industry/function, etc.

• In drafting, write a little over the limit and pare down.

• Make sure each word is meaningful. Stick to nouns and verbs. Use short, direct sentences, which allow you to “squeeze” the most out of the limited characters.

• Avoid repeating the question (if it’s about post-MBA goals, the reader will know what you’re referring to, you don’t have to say, “Post-MBA I plan to…).

You know the expression “short and sweet.” Turn brevity to your advantage. A short statement can have great power, propulsion. The key is to do it right.

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid In Your MBA Application Essays - Download your free guide!

 

Cindy Tokumitsu By , Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

• Twelve Terrific Tips for MBA Applicants [Free Guide]
School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
• Choosing Topics For The B-School Essay

Understanding Stanford GSB’s Interest In Personal Qualities And Contributions

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Stanford

What are the qualities that Stanford GSB is looking for as they build their class? How do successful applicants stand out from the crowd? At a school as competitive as Stanford, it’s a fact that many smart, accomplished applicants won’t get in—so how can you demonstrate that you have that “it” factor? Let us walk you through Stanford’s evaluation criteria and give you some advice.

Criteria #3: Personal Qualities and Contributions

In an MBA essay on a meaningful personal experience:

• Applicant A describes his ascent of Machu Picchu; we learn that it was awe-inspiring, challenging, required excellent teamwork, and that he was moved on a deep level.

• Applicant B takes us on a walk around her block. We learn about the struggles of her neighbors in the face of gentrification and how she feels as one of the gentrifiers; how she informally refereed an argument among residents about the stop-and-frisk policy; the diversity of canine life on the block and the particular friendship between her pug and a neighbor’s Rottweiler.

We conclude from these essays that Applicant A spends a lot of money on personal fulfillment, lacks imagination, relies on banalities, and relishes physical challenges; and that Applicant B is alive to the richness of daily life, has humor, is compassionate, is attentive and alert, and cares about meaningful issues. Point: our personal qualities flow from and mirror our character. And when it comes to personal qualities, be assured, Stanford will prefer those of Applicant B – even though Applicant A’s topic is superficially more dramatic – because of the quality of character they reflect. There’s not anything different or mind-blowing about Applicant B’s personal qualities – they simply represent an engaged, thoughtful person. And there’s nothing wrong with climbing Machu Picchu – but it’s not the fact of doing it that will impress; rather, what you have to say about it, arising from your personal qualities and reflecting your unique perspective that will catch the thoughtful admissions reader’s eye. Lesson:

• Don’t struggle and strain for “unique” things to say.

• Rather, for Stanford, share your life. Open it up, let it dance or swagger or sashay or skip or march or cartwheel, whatever your style is.

Now the contribution part. Because Applicant B is attentive to and cares about her surroundings, she can respond and contribute to the daily life of her neighborhood. Again, nothing particularly dramatic or unique; mainly interactions with neighbors. But they’re quality interactions. She cares. She has specific questions and concerns and feelings and insights – which become her offering. She can bring this abundance, this world, this humanity “to the table.” You just know this person will be a big contributor wherever she is. She doesn’t have to explain that fact – it’s obvious! Follow her example. Let your personal qualities come alive by sharing what’s meaningful to you in your essays (and elsewhere if/as possible in the application). Don’t explain that you will contribute; show that you do contribute, as a result of these qualities. It’s simply who you are.

Check out the rest of the What Stanford GSB is Looking For series!



Register for our free webinar: Get Accepted to Stanford GSB!



Cindy Tokumitsu By , author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted. She can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and develop a winning MBA admissions strategy. She is a member of the Association of International Graduate Application Consultants. 

Related Resources:

Stanford School of Business Zone
Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
4 Ways to Show How You’ll Contribute in the Future

Understanding Stanford GSB’s Take On Demonstrated Leadership Potential

Applying to Stanford GSB? Join our live webinar for tips on how to get in!

Naturally you’ve got leadership, or you wouldn’t be applying to Stanford.

What are the qualities that Stanford GSB is looking for as they build their class? How do successful applicants stand out from the crowd? At a school as competitive as Stanford, it’s a fact that many smart, accomplished applicants won’t get in—so how can you demonstrate that you have that “it” factor? Let us walk you through Stanford’s evaluation criteria and give you some advice. 

Criteria #2: Demonstrated Leadership Potential

Of course Stanford GSB seeks demonstrated leadership potential – don’t all b-schools? And naturally you’ve got leadership, or you wouldn’t be applying to Stanford.

Wait. There are some unique nuances to Stanford’s conception of leadership that are essential to understand in order to portray it effectively in your application. Let’s break the phrase down word by word, starting with the core principle.

Leadership. Principle? Yes, not just a quality or an activity in Stanford’s eyes, but an actual principle. Whatever change you’re guiding the client to achieve, or whatever vision you’re advocating, or whatever project you’re driving the team through Hades to complete on time – it should be constructive and beneficial according to your own values and ideals. In GSB’s view, leadership isn’t just rallying the troops to achieve a given end – it’s having an end worth achieving (and, conversely, declining to pursue an inappropriate end). Therefore, if you are to provide such leadership, you must have core values or ideals and be guided by them as you lead, both how you lead and where you lead. GSB’s preferred leadership is essentially value- and ideal-driven, what it calls “directed idealism.”

Potential. Even if you are already a leader per the above definition, you’re not satisfied. You know that improving will only enable you to achieve more of what you value – therefore you actively seek growth as a leader. You are open to critique and feedback, you are resourceful, you are humble, and you are hungry to learn.

Demonstrated. Concrete evidence that allows the adcom to conclude that you will grow as a leader and provide leadership in the future. You must demonstrate both leadership and potential to grow as a leader. For the former, provide this evidence by portraying experiences in your application boxes, essays, resume, and recommendations that reflect your leadership to date. For the latter, in these same application components frankly reflect on where you are in your leadership development – you understand what parts are innate to you, and where you need to improve.

So “demonstrated leadership potential” is actually rather complex, at least per GSB’s perspective of leadership. Plan to spend some time and effort on a strategy to integrate these points into your entire application.

Check out the first post in this series, Understanding Stanford GSB’s Core Value Of Intellectual Vitality.





Register for our free webinar: Get Accepted to Stanford GSB!




Cindy Tokumitsu By , author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted. She can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and develop a winning MBA admissions strategy. She is a member of the Association of International Graduate Application Consultants.

Related Resources:

• Stanford School of Business Zone
• Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• What Stanford is Looking for: Personal Qualities and Contributions

Understanding Stanford GSB’s Core Value Of Intellectual Vitality

Get Accepted to Stanford GSB! [Register for the webinar]

Do you have the smarts SGSB is looking for?

What are the qualities that Stanford GSB is looking for as they build their class? How do successful applicants stand out from the crowd? At a school as competitive as Stanford, it’s a fact that many smart, accomplished applicants won’t get in—so how can you demonstrate that you have that “it” factor? Let us walk you through Stanford’s evaluation criteria and give you some advice.

Criteria #1: Intellectual Vitality

You’re smart. But this isn’t about smart. Most of the people Stanford GSB rejects are smart (often very smart). A person of average IQ may have enormous intellectual vitality, while a person with a stratospheric IQ may have scant intellectual vitality. Pretty much everyone uses their raw intellect, whatever its degree, in practical application – to get things done. People with intellectual vitality do that and more – they nurture and refine their raw intellect to make it a force in itself, one that draws them into new and challenging territory. No wonder Stanford wants it.

So what does intellectual vitality consist of? Here are 5 key components (separated for discussion purposes only, as they’re interconnected).

1. Zest for ideas. When you encounter a new or challenging idea, you’re tantalized. You have to find out more. What does it mean? Where did it come from? And how, and why? You relish ideas for their inherent meaning; they’re alive to you. You value them as a new lens to see through.

2. Dynamic, engaged mind. You’re always mentally comparing and contrasting, probing limits and boundaries, seeing overlaps between disparate points and differences between similar ones. To you, an event is not static, but rather part of a continuum, with a history to explore and future ramifications to consider. And you never take things at face value!

3. But why…? When you were a child, you probably were told you’re too curious. But curiosity underpins intellectual vitality. It drives you to learn more and more and more about something, to set off on thrilling learning journeys. (And you sometimes snag other people along for the ride!)

4. There’s a reason for what you believe and for what you do. Back to ideas – they animate you. Whether you’re politically conservative, moderate, or liberal, you’re not that way because your family or friends are, but because you’re interested in and think about the issues – from multiple angles. Your thought process informs your decisions, beliefs, actions.

5. Open, as in unafraid. So, you have your beliefs, your ideas. But you don’t hide behind them. You welcome them being challenged – it’s actually … fun. Intellectual fun. And you challenge back thoughtfully. You’re a skillful devil’s advocate, able to argue from multiple perspectives, even ones you personally disagree with. You relish learning what drives and underlies opposing ideas and beliefs (there’s that curiosity again…).

Hopefully the above points make clear that intellectual vitality is not something ponderous – it’s a thrill! Yes, it engages matters of seriousness and gravity. But it’s fundamentally invigorating. It fuels you. And it scintillates others.

Now, how do you let Stanford know you have it? The application essays are the perfect venue for showcasing this quality – integrate it into anecdotes, details, and reflections. If you are invited to interview, that’s an ideal place to demonstrate intellectual vitality.

Register for our free webinar: Get Accepted to Stanford GSB!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.

Related Resources:

Stanford School of Business Zone Page
Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• Valentine’s Day, Economics, and Stanford GSB