AcceptU has assembled the largest team of former admissions officers to support applicants in the admissions process.

In this blog series, we invite you to learn more about our team and insights gleaned from their previous admissions experience.

Our next counselor Q&A features Carol, who previously worked at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

1. What can you share about the Wharton MBA application process that most people will not know?

Evaluating applicants for the Wharton MBA program was truly a group endeavor performed by a well-trained Admissions Committee. Because of the highly qualified nature and diversity of the applicant pool, multiple members of the Committee read each file giving us the ability to share different perspectives before rendering a decision. Our process allowed us the time to give the full consideration and respect the individual applicant deserved and, as a team, the confidence we were admitting those we believed could best benefit from and contribute to the Wharton community.

2. What is the first thing you read in an application?

For every applicant, there were four broad areas of evaluation – the academic profile, work experience, personal qualities and overall presentation – exhibited throughout the application. I used a methodical approach, reading the application in the order in which it was presented. I began with the biographical information which provided overall context on their background. I then spent much of my time reading the essays, enjoying the process of getting to know someone through the stories they chose to share. I followed up with the recommendations which helped provide further views on an applicant’s experiences and personality. Finally, if needed, I would reread certain parts of the application for clarity before making a recommendation.

3. What are the key qualities you wish to see displayed in the essays?

Essays were the primary tool to differentiate oneself from the rest of the application pool. Essays should be thoughtful and self-reflective, relaying those unique professional and personal stories which address the question being asked in an insightful and meaningful way. Therefore, the key qualities I liked to see displayed were authenticity, self-awareness and a sense of purpose. In addition, because Wharton trains future business leaders, qualities which exhibit a strong potential for leadership such as passion, respect, integrity and confidence, as well as the ability to work well with others, were also important.

4. Can you give an example of a mistake that caused an application to be rejected?

An applicant is expected to provide an honest representation of themselves throughout the entire process. Any misrepresentation of one’s background can ultimately lead to rejection. Examples include providing false background information, plagiarism or having someone else write the essays. If an applicant has something in their past to disclose, they should do so simply and honestly, conveying what they learned and how they grew from the experience. Some of the best stories I have had the privilege to read were those which demonstrated resiliency, growth and the determination to succeed.

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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