Once again, we bring you expert MBA admissions insight from a member of the Stacy Blackman Consulting team. Anthony joined SBC following a nine-year stint at Wharton as an Admissions Officer and Career Center Manager. Notably, he was at Wharton during and after the 2008 economic crisis. He knows firsthand how MBA students endured the last economic downturn.
So, in the age of coronavirus, we asked Anthony to share what he considers relevant lessons for applicants to consider today. Also, we wanted to find out what prospective students should keep in mind as they think about the MBA application for Wharton.
But first, let’s start with the hot question on everyone’s mind right now.
Is there any advice you have for MBA applicants that you learned from working at Wharton (especially at the Career Center) during the 2008 economic crisis and the recovery years afterward?
Really think about what you want to do post-b-school. One silver lining to the downturn sparked by the 2008 economic crisis, we saw MBA students moving into new careers that they felt super passionate about. It is very easy at a school like Wharton to get caught up in recruiting for “traditional” post MBA careers like finance or consulting. But make sure that’s what you really want to do and explore some new options as well.
Many people will change their goals throughout the program as it exposes you to so many new opportunities. Take advantage of that! Wharton has a lot of unique resources for students interested in all sorts of careers—from Healthcare, entrepreneurship, technology, and non-profit space.
What are the qualities of Wharton’s MBA program that applicants appreciated the most?
Wharton’s collaborative culture always came up as I worked with applicants, and when talking with alumni from the program. Their focus on team dynamics and the emphasis they put on the importance of working in teams is top-notch.
From the interview process using a team-based discussion format instead of a traditional interview to their approach in forming Cohorts, Clusters, and Learning Teams, Wharton students constantly grow their abilities and skills to become more thoughtful and well-rounded team players.
What did you love about Wharton’s MBA program and its students?
Wharton attracts talent from all over the world. Having the opportunity to meet and learn from them was always my favorite part about the program and my job on the AdCom. Watching these students grow and transform over their two years in the program always inspired me. Also, seeing how a program like Wharton’s can change someone’s life was always a highlight.
Wharton students are always up for a challenge. So, challenging them to step out of their comfort zones while in the program really allowed them to grow both personally and professionally. Wharton offers a ton of opportunities to take risks and try new things from Leadership Ventures in Antarctica to innovative team-building experiences with the New York City Fire Department.
What were the common mistakes you saw in the applications for Wharton?
Sometimes, applicants can lose their authenticity in the application. We see them trying to tell a story that they think the AdCom wants to know, instead of being sincere and vulnerable. Wharton looks for students that they can help grow personally and professionally. But they also seek someone who will bring some unique perspectives to the classroom and the program overall.
Don’t be afraid to get personal in the application. Let the readers know who you are and why Wharton would be a good fit for you. Take some time to self-reflect before starting your application. This will help you understand why you really want to go to Wharton and what is it about this program that attracted you to it—outside of it being one of the best business schools in the world.
Can you think of any “dealbreakers” that would be risky in an MBA application for Wharton?
I think timing is everything when it comes to applying to any business school, including Wharton. Make sure the timing is right for you, whether that is two years after graduation or six or seven. Think about why now is the right time for you to go back to school. Next, think about how this opportunity will allow you to change your career.
When reading applications, it’s very easy to see who has taken the time to really reflect on this question and is applying for the right reasons. Don’t rush business school and trust your gut that the timing is right for you personally. Then, make sure to clearly tell that story in your application.
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