Our Insider Top Tips on Applying to Ten Top Schools – Wharton

September 10, 2014 | by Matt Symonds

With additional b-school Round 1 deadlines just a few short weeks away, Wharton is next up on our list for insider tips to share. As one of the oldest business schools in the world, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business is regularly ranked in the top five, this year it ties for #1 with HBS and Stanford in the US News MBA ranking. The Learning Team model, developed first at Wharton and now emulated by many other b-schools, is integral to the learning experience in the program.

Wharton is much more than a finance school and in recent years, Wharton’s focus on entrepreneurship has grown, with a higher percentage of students starting their own business at graduation than at HBS. The number of women at Wharton is also on the rise, with the highest percentage of women, over 40%, for a top-ranked MBA program.

Regarding admissions procedures, in 2012, Wharton added a team-based discussion component in which applicants participate in a discussion with other applicants who do not know each other. The team is observed as participants share their ideas and interact with others, emulating a small team environment that would be encountered in the program. Wharton values individuals who will work well in a team setting and this activity allows Admissions to see how applicants communicate their ideas and work towards achieving a tangible outcome within a group.

Fortuna Admissions’ Judith Silverman Hodara was Acting Director of MBA Admissions at Wharton – read on for her tips.

Wharton Tip #1 – Demonstrating your team orientation

One of the common stereotypes is that Wharton is an “eat or be eaten” kind of environment. Contrary to popular belief, uber-competitive Wharton is actually home to an extremely collaborative and team-oriented learning environment. The utilization of learning clusters, cohorts, and teams (you may work with 15+ teams over your time in the program) provides a platform for collaboration and learning to lead through teamwork. Accordingly, your application needs to reflect your ability to actively contribute and thrive in these settings. Individuals who present themselves as lacking a team-orientation or having a leadership style that is closed, rather than facilitative, will be at a disadvantage in terms of being invited to interview and ultimately being granted admission.

Wharton Tip #2 – Balancing your professional & personal profile

Wharton looks at each applicant file holistically, understanding that what you do for a living is not who you are or what you will bring to the community. You certainly would not want someone to consider you only by your profession, so it’s a good idea to use some balance within the framework of your application. Your essay examples should reflect things that the committee may not know about you from outside the workplace, in addition to showcasing your professional skills. If you can keep in mind that you are a sum of about 10,000 parts, and show that in the application, the admissions officers will see that passion and connection too.

Wharton Tip #3 – Conveying your interest in Wharton

Choosing to focus on a particular field of interest in your application is key. Of course, applicants have a variety of interests that they intend to pursue during their MBA. However, in the application it may not be a good idea to be a generalist. Therefore you may want to speak specifically about a professor or a class or a club that interests you, and have them all be connected, so that there is a theme to your writing. With 200 other electives and an incredibly rich student life there are any number of ways to immerse yourself in the MBA experience so think about how you can contribute and make a difference.

For Judith’s additional top 10 insider tips on Wharton click here, and for other b-school application tips see our Fortuna videos. Make sure to check out Judith’s video on applying to Wharton!

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