What makes Wharton’s MBA program unique, and how to demonstrate to the adcom that YOU belong there [Show summary]
Blair Mannix, Wharton’s Director of Admissions, shares the ways the admissions committee aims to reduce stress in the application process and offer a positive experience. She dispels myths about the Wharton admissions process and offers advice for students seeking acceptance to the MBA program.
From the structure of a TBD to why standardized testing is here to stay: Your guide to the Wharton admissions process [Show notes]
Welcome to the 440th episode of Admissions Straight Talk. Thanks for tuning in. Are you ready to apply for your dream business schools? Are you competitive at your target programs? Accepted’s MBA Admissions Calculator can give you a quick reality check. Just go to accepted.com/mbaquiz. Complete the quiz, and you’ll not only get an assessment but tips on how to improve your qualifications and your chances of acceptance. Plus, it’s all free.
It gives me great pleasure to have back on Admissions Straight Talk Blair Mannix, Director of Admissions at Wharton. Blair first came to Penn as a graduate student where she earned her Masters in Higher Education Management in 2010. She joined Penn’s undergraduate admissions staff in 2008. She’s been at Wharton’s since 2012 and became Director of Admissions in 2017. She was last on Admissions Straight Talk just under two years ago. And what a two years it’s been. Let’s catch up on life and admissions at Wharton.
Blair, welcome back to Admissions Straight Talk.
Can you just start by providing a basic overview of the Wharton MBA program for listeners who may not be that familiar with it, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [1:56]
Absolutely. It’s difficult to put Wharton into five to seven sentences, but I will try. So, Wharton was the first business school in the United States, established in 1881. Wharton’s first MBA class was in 1921 so this year it was actually the 100th class that Dean Erika James welcomed in August, which was really, really exciting. It is a perfect bookend in terms of 100 years of classes for me that this year’s class is more than 50% women, which I’m sure we’ll talk about. But it just feels like this beautiful bow. One hundred years, 50% women. That’s great.
What I think makes the Wharton education distinct is that it’s very hands-on. It’s very practical. It’s very tactile. You’re never going to look at a problem from 30-feet away. You’re going to get right into the guts of it and try to figure it out. And that’s what we teach because that’s what we believe that businesses need.
We’re known for innovation across many disciplines. We are certainly known for finance, and we’re really proud of that reputation. 100 years of the best finance education you can get, but we are many other things, and I think that’s important for people to understand.
There are two distinguishing centers that I really want to mention: The Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance, which is financial technology and the Harris Center for Alternative Investments, which is VC, hedge funds, and a hub for all of those research projects, corporations, communities, students, and businesses. These are both at Wharton, which is really exciting. I’d love for your listeners to check out the Stevens Center at Wharton or the Harris Center at Wharton.
The last thing I’ll say that I think is a differentiator is we’re a pretty large program, 864 students, but we really work hard to make sure that it is a robust social experience. Business is a team sport. It’s not a solo sport. You have to meet and interact with your classmates, and we stop at nothing to make sure that that happens.
So to summarize, I would say: first in its class, started in 1881, finance, tactile, practical, and then a robust social life as well.
That’s great. Thank you. Can I add something? [4:19]
One of the things that I’ve been struck with, whenever I’ve interacted with the Wharton admissions staff, is the amount of time and attention devoted to supporting students. There are so many options at Wharton, and I think Wharton is very intentional and very dedicated to helping each student find their path through all those opportunities. [4:49]
I’ll just say two words on that. We have a group called the Advising Support Network. Everything at Wharton is an acronym. We call it the ASN. Basically it’s your personal board of directors, advisors across academics, career management, student life, and leadership that will help guide you through two years. You’ll never be more supported than you are during a Wharton MBA.
What COVID-19 adaptations has Wharton made that you think are going to stick? [5:26]
I love this question, because the way I think of this is everything has changed. Everything has changed in your personal life, your professional life, in school life, everything has changed for all of us. So, there are a couple of things, and actually probably more than a few things that are going to stay post-COVID. I don’t know if there are any parents listening. A lot of the schools have gone to outside the building drop-offs. And I have a feeling that teachers like that. They’re like, “I don’t want these parents coming in.” I’m sure that will stay, there are just so many things personally and professionally that will stay.
At Wharton, a couple of the things I like to mention are virtual advising appointments. That board of directors that I mentioned, your advisors across five different divisional offices, they’re going to continue advising in-person if you would like or online, virtually via Zoom if you would like that. Sometimes it’s just more efficient for schedules, particularly the students’. If you’re recruiting in New York and you want to take a Friday advising appointment, you can do that. So, why would we get rid of these beautiful advances? So hybrid advising across all departments will stay. Hybrid recruiting in the Career Management Office – corporations, companies, staff coming to campus, there were so many wins in the virtual recruiting space that we will now dovetail into a hybrid recruiting space. Really big Wharton alums that wouldn’t necessarily fly from L.A. or San Francisco to come to a recruiting event on campus can now pop in virtually. I think the wins in that space will stay as well because they’re just so clear. The last thing is admissions recruiting will, at least for the foreseeable future, remain hybrid.
I’ve done a ton of focus groups with our prospective students on whether or not they enjoyed meeting us virtually or enjoyed meeting us in person , and I’ve really gotten a plethora of answers. A lot of people say, “No, I really liked seeing you guys in New York. I really liked you guys coming to Houston.” And some were like, “Listen, I can get the information online at 7:30 at night and have not had to leave my house. I loved it.” So, for at least the Wharton MBA admissions staff, hybrid admissions recruiting is here to stay.
In the past, Wharton offered many global study opportunities. COVID probably put a crimp on the global gallivanting that the MBA students enjoy. What’s going to come in place? How do you see it coming back, if it’s going to come back? Is it going to be hybrid? What do you see happening? [7:47]
What a funny statement, a global gallivanting. That is the most perfect way to describe it. I feel like that’s picture-perfect, Linda. There’s a lot of global gallivanting at Wharton. It’s part of the culture, part of the program, something that we’re proud to give our students just because business is global, the world is global, Wharton has been global for decades. That’s one of the reasons folks come to Philadelphia to be in the program.
Like you mentioned, there’s been a pause on global gallivanting for the last 18 months for sure, but Wharton doesn’t like to take things lying down, so we actually welcomed the first cohort of students, our Lauder Institute cohort, which is a joint degree, a masters in International Studies and an MBA in two years. They’re actually in Alaska right now. We sent about 70 students, and they’re studying Indigenous cultures relative to the American history context. I actually just got an email from them yesterday that they’ve had a lot of bear sightings. They’re not climbing mountains in Kathmandu, but they are doing similar things in Alaska because we were not going to take those experiences lying down. They’re also going to Iceland in October as part of that program.
I think these are the two early breadcrumbs you can see of Wharton trying to ramp up our global gallivanting because the larger programs like our Global Modular Courses will kick back up in January. So, we’re really excited about that.
Is the hope that the Global Modular Courses will actually include travel as opposed to being more virtual? [9:45]
I think I’ve learned a lesson during the pandemic to not try to predict anything. Certainly, some of 2020 I did that, and I wasn’t always correct. But yes, the world is opening back up. People are vaccinated. Vaccinations are required at the University of Pennsylvania, so my hope is the plans for that can go full steam ahead. But who knows what will happen? We could get hit by a meteor. Who knows?
What are some myths that you’d like to dispel about Wharton?
I love this question. You mentioned meeting some of my admissions colleagues on the road. We are such a small subset of the Wharton community, but often, we are some of the first faces people meet so we hope desperately that we can get across this notion. The first myth I’d like to displace is that Wharton’s a cutthroat place. We hear so often, “I thought Wharton was cutthroat and competitive, and then I meet you guys, and it’s not like that at all.” And I’m like, “Well, we’ve done one portion of our job, but really my job is to convince people that we’re not cutthroat before you meet us. I always feel like people saying that is actually a detriment. I feel like I needed to do a better job on the forefront. So, people think that way about Wharton, but it’s actually a massively collaborative place. Group interview prep is one of the most common things you’ll see on campus. They’re not all competing for the same jobs. They’re actually helping each other.
And we have grade non-disclosure. For 40 years, the students vote and say that they all agree not to share their GPAs with potential employers. So, that cuts down on the competition in the classroom, which is something that’s bedrocked to our culture.
You mentioned finance. We’re really proud of our finance background, and clearly, we’re doubling down on that as it relates to some of our new centers in innovation and financial technology, but really, if you are not a finance person, I really want people to understand that you have a home at Wharton. People don’t always understand the depth and breadth of expertise we have across disciplines.
The last thing I’d love to dispel, which is kind of cultural and kind of admissions, is this phrase I hear a lot: “I’m a traditional student.” or “I’m a non-traditional student.” And I just kind of want to dispel the idea that there is a traditional and non-traditional student right now in 2021. I had never used that lexicon in almost 10 years of sitting on the Wharton ad com. What is traditional? We’ve seen the diversification of our applicant pool. I can only speak for 10 years. So anybody listening to this, I would love for them not to say, “Oh, I have this background. I’m non-traditional,” or, “I have this background. I’m traditional,” because it really just doesn’t operate like that anymore. We have talent, and we want that talent to be at Wharton. Whether or not your background is deemed in the historical context of non-traditional or traditional, that’s not something we really talk about. But I just like to say that out loud sometimes.
Wharton requires either the GMAT or the GRE. You’re not accepting the Executive Assessment? [14:27]
Are there any plans to accept a wider variety of tests? Any plans to lessen reliance on the GMAT/GRE, either by going test-optional, offering waivers or opening the door to other tests? [14:37]
Such a good question, and thank you for asking it. We have no plans to diversify from the GMAT and GRE, and I will get into that. No plans to go test-optional. No plans for waivers. We’re really excited to have added the GRE onto our docket. Obviously, this was 10 years ago, but we’ve seen a lot of admissions businesses do that like law school admissions now accept the GRE.
It really opened the aperture of talent that feel like they can find a home at one of these programs, and that’s something we’re excited about. The reason we’re not looking to diversify the testing or go test-optional or go test waiver is we are Wharton. We do a ton of data dives on the back. Wharton’s such a data-driven place so we wouldn’t just have an admissions component and a criteria and not study it. Admissions has a full-time data scientist. She is the smartest person I’ve ever known. She and I share an office. Our walls come apart, and we talked before COVID, literally person-to-person through the walls every day. She has done more than one study that says how predictive testing is to your success in a program. So, that’s why we’re not going to go optional or offer waivers.
I will say that testing is predictive of your success in the program, but a wide variety of scores are predictive for different pieces of success in the program. So, when people say, “Wharton’s GMAT mean is X. I have to hit that to get in,” if anything, we pay attention to the GMAT and GRE way less than any human being outside my walls would ever believe me, and nobody will ever believe me. But I swear, we pay attention to it way less than people think. But it has been proven as significant, and that’s why we’re going to keep it as part of the application.
What other elements are you finding to be very significant in terms of being predictive of success? [16:33]
Well, there’s a white paper on my desk right now that is waiting to be published so, maybe I shouldn’t give them now, but I will say two things, neither of which will be surprising. Both quantitative, testing, transcripts, things like that, and a lot of qualitative things that Wharton and my staff particularly have spent the last seven years trying to quantify the unquantifiable. There are a lot of soft skills that we’ve been trying to quantify a lot of the stuff in your extracurricular lists, how do you quantify that? A lot of your behaviors in our team-based discussion, which we’ll talk about, how do you quantify that?
We’ve quantified more of the soft skills and those have been predictive of success. I’m not trying to leave you hanging but it is sitting on a white paper and I think it needs to be approved. So when it is, I will tell you.
What happens to applications after the applicant hits submit? [17:28]
I love this question. My bones and my bread and butter are in the fair and accurate evaluation of candidates. I could do that all day, every day, and did for years until I was fortunate enough to be put into this role kind of as my core job.
So, after you press submit, one question that always comes into this is, “Does it matter if I apply in July or if I apply one day before the deadline?” Nope. It does not matter. We will not read anything until every application is in, the deadline is closed, and then we start reading them the next day.
Each application gets two blind reads. And when I say blind, it means I read the application, somebody else on my staff reads the application without having any knowledge of each other’s commentary on the talent coming across in the file. And that’s really important because bias in evaluation, bias in hiring is rampant and problematic, and you can do … and we do … a lot to get the bias down. You can never get rid of it. Blind reading is one way to do that.
So, two readers read the application in a blind context. Then, we actually- and people are surprised by this one- but we sit in committee for a week to 10 days to determine the interview class. I tell our staff all the time, if we don’t get it right now in terms of talent selection, we will not have the opportunity to get it right later. That is actually one of the biggest weeks of our year, those three weeks, round one, round two.
We announce the interview class all in one day. It’s very important to me to get that stress level down. We’re not doing drips of interview releases. You find out if you were interviewed on one day and it’s within one hour of when I’ve told you we’re going to release it on the website, or I feel like I have failed. If I say mid-day on Wednesday and it gets out at 2:00, I’m like, “That was a failure.”
The day it comes out, the hour I said it would come out, we run through our team-based discussion interview. When it comes back from team-based discussion again, we’re trying to quantify the unquantifiable. Certain behaviors that have been indicative of success in the classroom and future careers are what we’re looking for. An additional read is done by a different staff member, third touchpoint on the file, third read in order to decrease bias. So there are three readers and one interview reviewer.
We do blind interviews, meaning the person walking into the interview doesn’t have your resume and hasn’t studied up on you. There are different academic opinions about that, but the way Wharton believes, and I believe this because I’ve studied it a lot, is you can be really biased for or against somebody if you have a piece of documentation walking into the room. So, we feel very strongly about getting a different viewpoint.
Wharton has two required questions and one optional which is, “Please use this space to share any additional information about yourself that cannot be found elsewhere on your application and that you would like to share with the admissions committee.” It has a 500-word limit. It gives a lot of latitude. Is it truly optional, and do most admitted students write one? [20:31]
Such a good question. The answer is it’s truly optional. To answer your second question, “Do most admitted students write them?”, this is in service to probably the answer of the first question: I don’t know. I don’t know if most admitted students write them, and that probably can prove to people that the first answer is a real answer. It’s not required. I really don’t know.
The reason we have it worded like that is because there’s just something in the admissions business that is lacking in terms of trying to get to know applicants. Essays kind of get there, but they don’t fully get there unless there’s a whole overhaul on how we do admissions. I’m really looking to give somebody a chance to just be a human being and tell us their story. So that’s why we have it written like that.
The advice I give is twofold. If you want to talk about why you had a C in statistics your sophomore year, write me a bullet: “I had a C in statistics. I got mono. I’m really bad at statistics. I wanted to let you know that. Something happened with my family, and I didn’t do really well junior year.” That’s just a bullet point. That’s great. Please put that.
But the other piece of advice I give is: finish your application and walk away from it for a couple days. If you feel like there’s a story that you need to tell somebody reading it to have that person understand who you are and how you’ve operated through your life and career, write that story. A lot of times, there’s a project, a client, a deal that really kicked you into wanting to come to business school. Sometimes there’s not a place for that, and detailing that whole story, even if it’s just 150 words, can be really, really helpful.
If there’s a piece to your story that can be just unpacked in a couple of words, write that there. Also, leave it blank. Also, give me bullet points.
It seems to me that the professional story is pretty much covered in the required essays, but somebody might have a non-professional story, obstacles overcome, a triumph, whatever, that is part of their story. It doesn’t necessarily relate directly to their profession. Are you interested in that too? [22:50]
Yeah, you’re right. The first essay is the professional essay, so a lot of those professional, I call them pivot moments are explored in that first essay. But, again, I have read absolutely 10,000 hours of applications, and it would be not correct to say that everybody’s true professional story can be gotten across in 500 words so, a lot of times, I do see professional stories in that optional essay. Again, it’s up to the student what component of their life they still need to get across to the ad com.
We’ve touched briefly on the TBD. What is an interview like at Wharton, and what are some of those soft skills that you are looking for? [23:48]
So this is how I like to talk about the team-based discussion. I like to get the stress level from high to low. I think I’ll get it to medium but I’ll try for medium-low. A couple of things on the top, on the macro. As I said in the intro, business is a team sport and not a solo sport. Wharton is a team-centric culture, and team-centric learning experience. Why would we have a solo inbound? So almost 10 years ago in 2012, we did our first team-based discussion based on these principles, also based on the principles that one-on-one interviews, whether they’re behavioral or another style, can be very biased.
What if somebody sat down across from me and we went to the same school or have the same passion in an extracurricular. I can’t turn that off in my brain in terms of bias or no bias. And so, we like to run a skills-based interview, team-based, obviously, for the other reasons that I mentioned. So, that’s ideologically why we do it.
As I mentioned before, every interview notification goes out the same day. When you get invited to interview, in that email, you get two things. One, you will get your prompt. We’re not going to torture you and not give you your prompt until 20 minutes before the session. You will have your prompt. You will have step-by-step instructions, minute by minute, of what the team-based discussion will look like.
You will also get a series of slots across three weeks of which you can sign up to do a team-based discussion. We do not orchestrate the groups. One, because that would be a logistical nightmare, and two, because of the diversity of our applicant pool we find that the groups are actually naturally very diverse, especially now that they’re virtual. Virtual interviews over Zoom will continue through the next 2021/2022 cycle. We have actually been running team-based discussions via Zoom since 2012. So, we were Zoom beta users, none of this was new to us.
This is what the interview feels like. You will get a prompt. You will get a problem to solve in that prompt, something that is very generic. We are not going to ask high finance questions. That’s not fair to the fighter pilots. We’re not going to ask education questions. That’s not fair to the energy space employee, right? Or the investment banker, totally not fair to the investment bankers. Something that’s very general, approachable, and typically Wharton-centric. 35 minutes in a Zoom call, a discussion on how to solve that problem. The way I say it to students is, “It feels like you’re meeting at work.” You’re at work, and you’re trying to solve a problem in 35 minutes with five other strangers.
To dovetail to the second part of your question, there are skills, of which I’m actually not going to share, not because they’re in the white paper, they are, but because that’s the whole point of the team-based discussion. There are behaviors and skills that have been academically researched that if you have them and if you do them, you are better and stronger in teams and in the classroom and in your future career. So, that’s what we’re looking for on the macro.
Right under that in stuff that I like to talk about is that a lot of folks think that in any admissions context you would hit the interview marker and you either do well and get admitted or do poorly and get denied, right? I’m actually really excited to say that it doesn’t work like that at Wharton. I cannot speak for the rest of the business schools, but it doesn’t work like that at Wharton, and this is why.
There are some students that have gotten all A’s in computer science, physics, mechanical engineering. That’s a certain type of person. That person is not always the room runner. Someone who sees and feels people’s energies and knows how to solve a problem and bring quiet people in and advance ideas and build on others’ ideas, that’s a skill. We’re a school. We want to teach you that skill, but we also want the people who have that skill innately coming into the interview process to learn from people that got A’s in physics. That’s why we feel pretty strongly about this because we’re admitting students all the time that do really well in the application process but maybe not so well in the team-based discussion and vice versa.
Is there also an individual component to the interview? [28:23]
Yes. There’s an individual component, 10 to 15-minute one-on-one after the group interview where you’ll discuss the role you took on, if that’s typically a role you take. I’ll give an example, in your work meetings, anything else about your CV that you want to detail, and then, of course, questions for the interviewer. Here’s an example of how this manifests itself.
I interviewed someone about five years ago, and he sat back in the team-based discussion and was more kind of just providing commentary on the side, kind of steering the group with a subtle sentence here and there. And I asked him about it in the one-on-one, and he said, “Well, I own my own company, and it’s a small company, under 10 employees. And we have a staff meeting every Monday, and I like them to solve problems. So, I’m just used to sitting at the table and kind of slightly redirecting the conversation.” And he said, “So that was what I did.” And that was what I saw so it was a really interesting one-on-one post group interview.
It’s something you can’t prep for. You really can’t prep for it, so we tell people in the instructions upon invitation to interview that they can’t really prep. You can prepare your introductory commentary, but after that, it really is innately kind of who you are and how you react to others. And that’s something that we had a lot of success with over the last decade.
What are the most common mistakes you see applicants make in the application process? [30:11]
I always have such a tough time with this question just because when I read applications I just don’t think of things like that. I think an answer that I have had solid feedback on giving in the past that has helped people is this. A lot of students have asked me the question, “Hey, I work at a company that doesn’t have a standard promotion structure.” For example you come in as an analyst. Typically you get promoted to senior analyst, and you kind of move through the structure.” They say, “It’s a flat organization. I’ve been there for four years with no promotion. What do I do? Are you going to think negatively of that? How do I communicate to you that it’s a flat organization?”
And I say, “Let’s flip the question. And let’s flip the answer.” You don’t have to communicate to me that it’s a flat organization, but that you’re a different person now than when you walked in the door four years ago. So, your resume needs to reflect that. Okay, fine you don’t have a different title, but you’ve learned different things. You’ve become a different person. So, I encourage people to write resumes kind of like skills development ladders. It’s not a great way to describe it, but it’s the best way I’ve found that you come in and you know A skill and B skill, and then the next year you learn this and you learn this and you take on this. And then the third year, you’re a different person. Having me follow your professional growth in that way, first of all, is more satisfying than following your title growth and that can really help your application because you’ve grown even though you haven’t grown in title. We love to see that.
Let’s say somebody had a dip in grades or perhaps a period of unemployment due to an emotional issue, depression, anxiety, whatever it might be. Should they keep it a secret? Should they hide it from you? Is it going to be held against them if they disclose it? [32:21]
No. So, two things I think about this question. One, and I’ve said this often, we’re human beings reading other human beings’ stories. To me, that’s part of a lot of people’s journeys and if that’s an authentic part of your journey, it needs to be in the file. The second thing is, especially in 2021, the struggles of mental health have become so much more in the forefront. I was actually just listening to a podcast that Adam Grant did, one of the Wharton faculty and the title was Sad Days Should Be Allowed Just As Much As Sick Days.
Especially in 2021, I think it’s much more in the forefront of the culture, so I would say, please talk about it if it affected your employment or your grades or something like that. We are humans trying to understand other human beings’ stories.
What about people who had academic infractions as an undergrad, or perhaps a misdemeanor on their record? [33:43]
I would just say there’s a question on the application, “Have you had an academic infraction or misdemeanor,” and you need to answer that truthfully.
I say that because we’re going through a situation right now where somebody did not mention that truthfully. You sign on your application that everything is true and accurate to the best of your information. So, just kind of on a broad base, it needs to be truthful.
In terms of an evaluative-based, it really depends, to be honest. What we have seen though- again through the lens of human beings trying to understand other human beings’ stories- is that say you had a disciplinary infraction. This honestly happens all the time. You had a disciplinary infraction, plagiarism when you were a sophomore. You’re now 29 years old. You are not the same person that plagiarized that one paper in sophomore year English.
So, in that case, it’s not going to be a big deal, right? But if it was something more serious in terms of a pretty serious crime committed last year, we may look at it a little bit more closely. It just depends on what it is. But I would say the vast majority of things we see come through are very benign and even if they’re not benign, they’re so far away from your current reality that we don’t give them a ton of weight.
What advice do you have for applicants wanting to join the class of 2024, those applying this cycle? [35:51]
I would say engage with the resources that the Wharton admissions committee is putting out. One of the ideologies I had when taking this role three years ago was, how do I be as transparent as possible, and how do I democratize the information? If you’re not checking out our website, we’ve actually been pumping out a ton of content, application tips, webinars, etc. I did an application tips webinar on YouTube that’s gotten over 25,000 views and I’ve just gotten feedback that it’s been really helpful to people.
We also started a new program called Ask the Ad Com and we’ve been doing these biweekly, where we just crowdsource questions and try to answer them as quickly as possible. I would just say engage with the stuff that we have going on and know that the folks that are trying to give you this information are not hiding anything. We’re just trying to be as transparent as possible to democratize the information.
I know a lot of people normally answer that question by saying something like sit with your authentic feelings and really figure out why you want to come to business school. And that’s a tough thing for someone in my seat to say because it’s so personal. A lot of folks don’t need to sit with their authentic feelings. They know exactly why they want to come to business school. And maybe some other people listening will really need to do that.
I will say that you’ll have a better success record in business school no matter where you go if you come in with really focused and dedicated reasons for being there. I’ve actually heard people saying putting it on a little card, three things, just to have them be your true north. So, I think exploring those in prep is never a bad thing, but we’re trying to help you craft the best application you can so take us up on it.
What advice would you give to somebody planning ahead for a fall 2022 or later application? [37:40]
I would say the same. Engage with our content. We’re not going to be changing anything. We’re not going to be changing deadlines or rounds or essays. The world is already chaotic enough, so the Wharton admissions is committed to at least the next 18 months of not going crazy. So, a lot of the things you see online in terms of prepping for applications in this current cycle will remain the same going forward.
That would be my same advice, whether you’re prepping for round two spring 2021, fall 2021, or spring 2023.
What about applicants for the Deferred Admission Moelis program? [38:22]
My first goal with the folks that are applying to our deferred admissions program is to get this information in the hands of as many students as possible. I know this is probably common, but we talk about this all the time internally. We’re like, “Okay, it would be easy to go get this information out to the top 25 schools in the country, but that’s not actually what we’re doing.” We’re trying to make sure that folks around the country at a variety of state schools, private schools, small schools, big schools, urban schools, rural schools – everybody knows that this exists because I think this is a really interesting moment in time.
If you are 19 or 20, many times, if you’re not at the flagship Ivy League school on the East Coast, you’re not going to be thinking about an MBA. We want folks all over the country to be thinking that an MBA and especially an MBA at a top school can be a place for them. So, we have spent a ton of time, effort, and talent trying to make sure that that information is democratized.
In terms of prepping them, again, just knowing that it exists, I feel, is my victory in prep. The documents, webinars, resources on our website will be the same for them as it is for the full-time. I would encourage them to check it out and connect with our staff. We do a lot more one-on-one conversations for those folks than we typically have time for with full-time applicants. So, reach out to our staff, and we’ll be happy to have a one-on-one conversation with them.
Has Wharton started matriculating any people admitted through the Moelis Program? [39:55]
Yes. So, I believe 2016 was our first admission intake, and last year was the first year we started matriculating. And the matriculations are going to go up exponentially. It’s like two, six, 12, 50. So, that’s what we’re going to be doing. We have our second class, I believe, of Moelis Fellows who just entered into the class of 2023. And we’ll have exponentially more in the class of ’24. They’re some of the most talented students we welcome every year. They’re amazing.
Is there anything you would have liked me to ask you? [40:31]
The only last thing that I like to bring up, and I kind of touched on it around the edges is we talk about democratizing the information. We talk about being transparent with the information. We talk about making sure the reach for the Moelis Deferred Access Program goes as far and wide as humanly possible, but the main most important thing we talk about- and I don’t have it on little gold plaques on all our offices, but I probably should- is this philosophy, and I know you’ve heard me say this before, that’s called “Read To Admit”, which means every application we open, we are looking for reasons to admit you and not for reasons to deny you.
I think folks don’t probably think that’s a big deal on the other side of the desk, but it’s a huge deal. Your application is going to be read with people that are looking for your best day and not your worst day with positive headspace and not a negative headspace. So, don’t self-select out. If you’re thinking that business school at Wharton could be a place for you, just know that the people that are reading your story are on your side. And I just like to say that as many times as I can.
Where can listeners and potential applicants learn more about Wharton’s MBA program and admissions processes? [41:41]
Absolutely. A couple of resources that I want to call your attention to, I mentioned the application tips webinar, the Ask the Ad Com Webinars that we have on our website as well as all the information sessions you would expect. But one specific program I would love to call anybody listening’s attention to is our Admissions Fellows Program. There are a ton of questions that people have that full-time admissions committee members are not best suited to answer.
“What is it like moving from a partner from the West Coast to Philadelphia?” “How is it you recruit for consulting out of tech?” “What is it like to try to network into your next job through alumni?”
Students are better off answering those questions. We have 55 second-year students on our payroll. Please use them because I pay them to answer your questions. Admissions Fellows, right on the admissions website, you can search and filter their backgrounds by passport, and company, and internship, and leadership, and club, and you can connect with the person you want to connect with.
They have personal email addresses and links to calendars in which you can auto-schedule appointments too. So, please check them out because, again, they’re on my payroll, and they can give you some great intel!
- The Wharton MBA Program
- Ask the Adcom Webinars
- Wharton Admissions Fellows
- Wharton 2021-2022 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
- Mock Wharton TBD
- Get Accepted to Wharton, an Accepted webinar recording
- Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting Services
- How to Present a Winning Wharton Application
- Applying to Wharton Lauder? Do Your Research!
- A Bain Consultant-Turned Wharton MBA Starts Her Own Business
- Wharton’s Executive MBA, Where East and West Meet and Mix