2008 Wharton MBA Admissions Chat with Thomas Caleel

2008 Wharton MBA Admissions Chat with Thomas Caleel

Please feel free to let us know if you would like to be informed of future chats by sending an e-mail to chat@accepted.com. We would also be interested in knowing if you would prefer a different format or different topics.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 12:58:15 PM)
Thank you very much all for coming. I want to introduce our special guests from Wharton:

  • Thomas Caleel- Director, MBA Admissions and Financial Aid 
  • Jackie Zavitz- Associate Director, MBA Admissions (formerly of Wharton's office of MBA Career Management) 
  • Naomi Tschoegl- Senior Associate Director, MBA Program Office 
  • Barry Mattson- WG'08 
  • Sarah Sugarman- WG'08
Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:00:09 PM)
I’m going to post a little background information for Barry and Sarah so you can better direct your questions:

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:00:15 PM)
Barry is currently completing his MBA at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Prior to pursuing his graduate education, he graduated from the US Air Force Academy and served on active duty in the US Air Force until 2006, achieving the rank of Captain. Barry is currently the Social VP of the Men’s Rugby Football Club, the Co-President of the Texas Club, the VP of Admissions for the Veterans Club, and a full-time Graduate Assistant on the Wharton Admissions Committee. An Iraq veteran, Barry now represents the US military as a Leadership Venture Fellow, bringing groups of 90 Wharton students to Quantico, Virginia twice per year to experience a taste of military leadership training at the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. Over the summer, Barry worked for an agribusiness company in New York on their commodity trading desk. His post-MBA goal is to become the best grain trader in the industry. Barry is looking forward to graduating in 2008 with a double major in Finance and Entrepreneurial MA.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:00:27 PM)
Sarah Sugarman is a second year MBA student, majoring in marketing and operations at Wharton. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and spent her time between undergraduate and graduate school working in marketing research at the GFK Group, specializing in international consumer trends. At Wharton, she is a member of the admissions committee, a leadership fellow helping to mentor members of the first year class, vice president of marketing for Wharton Women in Business and a tutor for a West Philadelphia high school student through the Say Yes to Education program. Although she is still deciding on her post-Wharton career path, Sarah plans to pursue a career in marketing.

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:00:39 PM)
Hello Linda. Thanks for this opportunity to interact with the Wharton-ites.

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:00:49 PM)
Thomas, Thanks, I feel my application lacks ONLY in this area of international exposure...So, how do I handle it?

Shob (Sep 20, 2007 1:00:53 PM)
Thanks Sarah...given the academic rigor of the program, how do you find the social balance? (from a student's perspective)

Indian (Sep 20, 2007 1:01:12 PM)
Thanks Barry and Sarah for sparing your time.

SarahSugarmanWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:01:22 PM)
Shob, I think this is a very work hard, play hard place. There are a ton of social events and it's great getting to know people outside of the classroom.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:01:29 PM)
wps09- Why are you so concerned about int'l exposure? Present your experiences to date and don't worry about what you don't have. I know there is a rumor that we give weight to int'l exposure, but it is just one component of a person's file.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:01:41 PM)
Naomi, what is Wharton's greatest programmatic strength? What is it working to improve?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:01:57 PM)
Linda - analytical skills.

vish (Sep 20, 2007 1:01:59 PM)
Thomas, I worked for an NPO where I worked as a fundraising canvasser for the summer of 2002. I did very well having a season average much greater than the average canvasser – I would like to how important are such kind of achievements in my application.

BarryMattsonWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:02:02 PM)
I can reiterate what Sarah said... the social aspect is a huge side of what goes on at Wharton.  There are more events than you can possibly attend.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:02:16 PM)
vish- we always look for demonstrated examples of excellence in work, extra-curriculars, etc.

Shob (Sep 20, 2007 1:02:27 PM)
Thanks Barry and Sarah.

nelldd (Sep 20, 2007 1:02:35 PM)
Thanks to you all for organizing this talk - my question is perhaps most suitable for Sarah regarding coursework and other opportunities in marketing. More specifically, is there any coursework in social marketing? I am interested in communications for public sector and non-profit organizations.

vish (Sep 20, 2007 1:02:57 PM)
Thanks Thomas.

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:03:00 PM)
My question regarding an Admissions event that is scheduled to happen in Washington, DC. I happened to learn about it a little late and almost all the slots were gone by the time I got to the website. In this regard, I wrote an e-mail to the admissions general e-mail listed on the website inquiring if I can still participate in case there are any last minute drop outs from this event.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:03:27 PM)
Wizard, you can usually just show up at the event- there are always no-shows.

SarahSugarmanWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:03:48 PM)
nelldd, there is a large group of MBA's who are interested in social marketing and non-profits. I'm not sure of the exact classes that fit into what you are looking for, but one nice thing about being part of Penn is the extend of classes to take both inside and outside of the Wharton school.

Indian (Sep 20, 2007 1:03:52 PM)
Thomas: How much role does involvement in community service play during admission?

anand (Sep 20, 2007 1:04:04 PM)
Hi Naomi- Wharton is traditionally well known for finance. Would you recommend it for those who are interested in entrepreneurship and/or marketing?

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:04:17 PM)
Thanks, Tom.. That's the answer I was expecting. I greatly appreciate this opportunity.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:04:17 PM)
Indian, we don't "weight" any one part of the application. Some applicants will have strong work experience, some strong community service. We always like to see involvement outside of oneself, however unidimensional candidates don't really fit into our community. The key is to show us what you are passionate about, and again, there's no "right" answer.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:04:34 PM)
anand-yes, very helpful. Those are common double majors.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:05:25 PM)
Barry & Sarah, What is Wharton’s greatest strength? What would you like to see improved?

MBA07 (Sep 20, 2007 1:05:44 PM)
Thomas: How much would taking courses to build an alternate transcript help if you have a low GPA (below 3.0) and a high GMAT (750+) ?

BarryMattsonWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:05:47 PM)
Linda, by far the greatest strength is the caliber of students and the sense of community here...

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:05:52 PM)
We have students who have started non-profits, been Olympic athletes, played professional sports, cooked, traveled, etc. Tell us what makes you unique.

SarahSugarmanWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:05:55 PM)
For me, Wharton's greatest strength is its people. The quality of my classmates is outstanding.  I've learned much more from my classmates than I expected due to their diversity of backgrounds.

Shob (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:06 PM)
Jackie: Is it possible for the Wharton MBA student to explore different classes by enrolling in a course that is offered in another program at PENN to supplement your learning?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:06 PM)
MBA07, use your own judgment.  If you think extra classes will help solidify your record so that we are comfortably with your academic abilities, then you should probably go ahead and take some.

nelldd (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:29 PM)
Thanks, Sarah. So, some of the other schools might offer courses in this area?

abhishekg (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:38 PM)
Sarah: Could you give me more information on how I can join as a student member of the Adcom? What are the roles and responsibilities of a member?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:39 PM)
Shob - up to four credits can be taken outside Wharton.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:49 PM)
Shob-- yes. Wharton allows students to count up to four classes outside of Wharton, elsewhere in Penn, toward your degree. In addition, about 18% of our students are dual-degree.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:51 PM)
Naomi, what's your experience with this?

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 1:06:58 PM)
Naomi: Can you elaborate on the joint program with INSEAD that Wharton offers?

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 1:07:05 PM)
Barry - what are the perceived strengths and weaknesses of military applicants?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:07:10 PM)
Anupman, they take a number of courses - from languages to politics.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:07:36 PM)
USAF-weaknesses - there are none - you guys are great!

BarryMattsonWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:07:59 PM)
Strengths: Leadership, teamwork, lots of responsibility at a young age; Weaknesses: lack of business/finance knowledge, lack of exposure to a diverse community.

SarahSugarmanWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:08:27 PM)
abhishekg, second years Adcom members help review applications as they come in. Last year, I was involved as a member of the admissions committee in helping out with information sessions and having lunch with perspective students.

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:09:10 PM)
Jackie: thanks...is it advisable to project your plans (in the application) to obtain an international exposure in the near future before entering Wharton, if admitted?

vish (Sep 20, 2007 1:09:37 PM)
Thomas: I am an Indian and I have heard that an Indian applicant is always compared to his pool of applicants the Indian pool -- I have lived more than half of my life outside my home country India; would they still put me in the same pool when it comes to application at Wharton?

BarryMattsonWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:09:45 PM)
USAF_Deployed: Military veterans do well at Wharton, we have a strong community here and a great veterans club. Most end up going into consulting or sales and trading... some investment management.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:09:54 PM)
Vish, everyone goes into just one pool: the total applicant pool.  Everyone is unique, and we look at all your accomplishments and goals, not just one factor of who you are.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:10:09 PM)
wps-- many of students do not have international exposure prior to Wharton. In fact, that is why many students choose to come to Wharton. While it's great to have, it's in no way mandatory, and often the growth that students are looking for.

nantar (Sep 20, 2007 1:10:15 PM)
Thomas: Hello, I believe that I am a good fit with Wharton, however, my major problem is my age, I am 32 and coming from some-how a traditional field (IT business development for the aviation industry in Africa). What is your comment about this...What is the age range of the students and is Wharton friendly with applicants of my age?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:10:44 PM)
Nantar, our age range for WG'09 is 20-42 (average age 28), so you will be fine.

Muraari (Sep 20, 2007 1:10:58 PM)
Thomas: How does Wharton view graduate education in terms of credentials? Does this count towards work experience in any way?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:11:06 PM)
As in everything, quantity of work exp. is always less important than quality of work exp.

Lafille (Sep 20, 2007 1:11:15 PM)
Jackie: Hi all, how does Wharton admissions view consultants who went on to start their own entrepreneurial ventures, the consulting part's validation is clear (from recommenders, etc.), but what about the entrepreneurial part?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:11:33 PM)
muraari, graduate education is another part of your profile. We look at experience overall, not just "work" experience. Be sure to tell us why you took the degree, and why you are now looking for another advanced degree. For those who might already have an MBA, be sure to tell us why you want/need a second one.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:11:54 PM)
Naomi, do you recommend that applicants, especially non-traditional applicants, take courses other than calculus prior to arriving in Philadelphia?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:12:13 PM)
Linda - an accounting or statistics course can be very useful.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:12:19 PM)
Lafille-- entrepreneurial experience is fantastic-- it requires a lot of initiative, decision-making and judgment. Applicants with e-work experience should make sure to clearly explain their work, rationale, etc. so adcom can get a clear picture.

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:12:36 PM)
Thomas: How would my candidacy be affected because of an unfinished MS Civil engineering degree, which I totally lost interest in continuing any further? This happened 8 years ago..and I have no interests of finishing this program anymore.

Shob (Sep 20, 2007 1:12:45 PM)
Jackie: What percentage of the incoming class are career switchers?

abhishekg (Sep 20, 2007 1:12:55 PM)
Sarah: So, do only second years get to participate in the volunteer admissions committee? How do I join? Is there a selection process?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:13:09 PM)
Wizard, it would be important to explain why you decided to leave the MS program. Also, be sure to include the partial transcript from the MS.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:13:20 PM)
Barry, do you feel you faced any unique challenges coming from the military to Wharton?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:13:32 PM)
Shob--I don't have a hard number on percentages of career switchers, but I can tell you it is many, if not the majority. Many students come to Wharton looking to change industry and/or function.

SarahSugarmanWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:13:45 PM)
abhi: Everyone can become a member of the Volunteer Admissions Committee their first year. It's open to anyone who wants to be involved in various capacities.

nantar (Sep 20, 2007 1:14:29 PM)
Thanks Thomas, but what approach should I most likely follow to convince the adcom that the full time and not the executive format is the best match to me?

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:14:45 PM)
Jackie: I recently (two years ago) became a U.S. Permanent Resident but still retain my Indian citizenship. Would I be counted towards the Indian applicant pool or towards the US applicant pool?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:15:16 PM)
Nantar, that falls under the "Why Wharton" part of the first essay question. Don't worry about "convincing" us, just lay out your reasoning clearly in a way that makes sense with your overall application.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:15:22 PM)
Naomi, what’s new at Wharton in terms of programming?

Lafille (Sep 20, 2007 1:15:37 PM)
Thanks Jackie, so going from a brand named firm to one that you're starting yourself, hence no name, is not necessarily a detriment?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:15:39 PM)
Wizard-- we don't review applications in pools as such-- your permanent resident status has no bearing on your application.

BarryMattsonWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:15:44 PM)
Linda, I think the transition was very smooth coming from the military to Wharton. I'm the kind of person who needs to be constantly busy, and Wharton takes care of that very well. I struggled a little bit in accounting, so looking back I would have liked to take some classes in that prior to getting here, but it's not absolutely necessary. Pre-term gives a good foundation to work from.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:16:06 PM)
Lafille-- if we went on that, we would surely miss many qualified, exceptional candidates. Not at all.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:16:20 PM)
Linda - we have two new Global Immersion Programs to both India and Africa. The GIPs are very popular international study/travel programs.  We also have two new exchange programs to China and one to Israel.  In India, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and in China, GIP visits Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:16:43 PM)
Any specific locations in India or Africa?

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:17:13 PM)
Jackie: Considering the status of US economy and visa problems, how tough it is for Wharton international students to get good jobs and repay the loans?

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:18:02 PM)
So you have been expanding opportunities to study abroad? How does taking advantage of these opportunities affect recruiting?

abhishekg (Sep 20, 2007 1:18:33 PM)
Thomas: If I had an unusual reason for leaving an internship in college and I have explained that on the data form, do you think it is useful to also write an optional essay to cover it? I think I have explained it well enough in the data form, but I just wanted to know if an optional essay would also be recommended in this case?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:18:39 PM)
wps--International students have consistently had equal job placement rates as our domestic students, even in tough economies. That being said, the visa issue is a serious one. Wharton is working closely with employers to keep abreast of their visa sponsorship policies and will work with students on this.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:19:04 PM)
abhishek, there's always a fine line between an explanation and an excuse.  My advice is to be clear, be succinct, and communicate the facts. If you believe additional color is warranted, feel free to use the optional essay.

nelldd (Sep 20, 2007 1:19:14 PM)
Barry and Sarah: How do you feel (as students) about the large size of the Wharton community?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:19:14 PM)
Linda, students can elect exchange programs during May-June (INSEAD) or summer. If there career ops are fall related, they might travel in spring. We help students figure out what is optimal.

SarahSugarmanWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:19:19 PM)
Hi everyone. Unfortunately, I have to go to a class now, but best of luck with everything!

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 1:19:45 PM)
Naomi: what can Wharton offer to people interested in entrepreneurship?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:19:47 PM)
nelld-- IMO, Wharton has the best of both worlds in terms of size.  Many resources that come from having such a large class (largest b-school faculty in the world) but also cohorts that allow students to work in smaller groups, as well as learning teams.

Indian (Sep 20, 2007 1:20:10 PM)
Thomas: I have been working with one supervisor for last two years and he would continue to be my supervisor next year too.To avoid conflict of interests. I didn't wanted to have a recommendation from him. Can you suggest how much difference would it make to my application for not having any recommendation from person who has supervised me through my professional life?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:20:30 PM)
anupmm - we have an excellent group of courses, frequently offered, to help you prepare to run a businesss. There is also an entrepreneur in residence program.

Shob (Sep 20, 2007 1:20:40 PM)
Jackie: For those of us who are looking to change both industry and function, do most students attempt to land 1 internship between their 1st and 2nd year? Or is there a possibility to do 2 internships given the length of the summer?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:20:49 PM)
Indian, if you don't select your direct supervisor, you should explain why in the optional essay.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:21:26 PM)
Anu, as an entrepreneur myself, I'd also add that the wide range of students and alumni can also be helpful as you think about starting a business. You also have access to over 81,000 alumni in a wide range of countries and companies that can provide introductions, networks, and potential business.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:21:29 PM)
Shob-- Traditionally, students pursue 1 internship in the summer. Of course, some students will do two. There are benefits (obvious) to this, as well as risks (limited time at both internships may hurt chance of FT offer, etc.)

BarryMattsonWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:22:20 PM)
nelldd, I think the size of the Wharton community is great. I feel like I've met most of my classmates, and the way they split it up into cohorts and learning teams allows you to get to know a select group very well. The clubs and extra-curricular activities help with the social aspect as well.

BarryMattsonWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:22:47 PM)
I'm off to class as well. Take care everyone.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:22:50 PM)
kc241, there is a basic algorhythm that sorts students based on int'l/domestic and by gender to ensure a basic balance.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:23:08 PM)
Thanks Barry and Sarah!

Indian (Sep 20, 2007 1:23:33 PM)
For all of you: What do you think is in Wharton curriculum which differentiates it from other schools of the IVY league?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:23:35 PM)
dw -It wouldn't be an issue. If you do well, you might want to use it to waive these core courses by exam.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:24:41 PM)
Indian-- certainly the international aspect of Wharton (39% int'l) and alumni network is compelling. I also think the co production element is an amazing opportunity for students to get involved, get real leadership experience and have a 'hand' in the strategy and vision of the school.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:24:51 PM)
The Wharton curriculum is extremely well balanced, blending lecture, case study, and experiential learning.  As Jackie mentioned, we also have over 200 electives and over 250 faculty, which gives you tremendous flexibility.

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 1:27:03 PM)
Jackie: What's the best way to build BA experience/skills in one year? BA classes, a quick CLEP test, BA extra-curriculars, any other ideas?

abhishekg (Sep 20, 2007 1:27:39 PM)
Naomi: What aspects of Wharton related to curriculum, community, etc. are being improved?

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:28:20 PM)
Tom, my intended goal after finishing the Wharton MBA is to move back to India and work with the Indian Government.  I'm curious to know if there is a strong connection for the Wharton Alumni in India with the Central and State Governments?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:28:31 PM)
USAF-- we're looking for candidates who are bringing unique passion and skills to Wharton that are a part of who they are, not something they're doing for a b-school application. You should of course focus on professional and personal development, but avoid doing things for the sake of an application!

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:28:36 PM)
Abhishekg - we constantly review to be sure that materials are current. Instructors work with each other to integrate the courses and departments really work to give you electives that prepare you for today's careers.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:28:52 PM)
Wizard, we have a strong alumni presence in India, including members of the Gov't. You will find that the alumni network can be helpful as you reach out to companies or groups, even if there is no direct Wharton connection, however, as alumni are very willing to share their experience and contacts with fellow Wharton grads.

Shob (Sep 20, 2007 1:29:36 PM)
Thomas: During the last downturn/recession, how did the Wharton Alumni community reach out to help the graduating classes when many companies went on a hiring freeze? Reason I ask is because some people think that in the next few years, we may be in a similar situation.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:29:40 PM)
Wizard, last year's Global Immersion Program to India met with the Prime Minister, thanks to our alumni.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:29:58 PM)
Shob, you mean like the one I graduated into in 2003? The MBA Career Management Office really helped a lot that year.  They worked with the school to reach out to alumni to encourage hiring.  I'd also note that even in the down years, the big companies still came to Wharton to recruit.

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 1:30:48 PM)
Naomi: What are the current institutional issues/goals that Wharton is trying to move towards? Ex. ND is trying to be more academic while keeping its deliberately Catholic values-base.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:30:55 PM)
Shob-- in darker economic times, we actually had alumni step up and create a program called "Alumni That Care" which helped match students to jobs in various industries at companies with alumni. The program still goes on today through our Career Management office.

vish (Sep 20, 2007 1:31:22 PM)
Jackie: Everyone says tell us about yourself -- but then there are at least 50% applicants who say WHY MBA and when they join school they do something totally different, so what sense can one make of this?

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 1:31:48 PM)
Thomas: Is Wharton making a conscious effort to recruit candidates with lower work experience?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:32:05 PM)
USAF - the school always wants to see that its grads are totally prepared academically while understanding the realities (and the difficulties) that you may be facing in the next few years.

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:32:19 PM)
Thomas, how many students change their career goals (as mentioned in the application) after entering the school...is there a tracking and is the change considered negative?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:32:28 PM)
Vish-- understandable question! The why MBA tells us a lot about your rationale and the way you think, but we certainly don't wed you to it-- exposure to myriad career paths and a whole new network can change plans.  That is the beauty of b-school.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:32:31 PM)
Anu, Wharton is allowing those with less work experience (our "Early Career" applicants) to apply. They are held to the same standard as all other applicants. Quality always trumps quantity.

dw (Sep 20, 2007 1:33:01 PM)
For anyone: As an aide in a state legislature, I feel my background is fairly unique and will bring a lot to an MBA class. Do you see many applications from people in gov't backgrounds?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:33:15 PM)
wps, we don't really track that statistic. You will find, for example, that in 2006, nearly 74% of the class went into consulting or financial services.  We didn't admit the class that way, but that's how they graduated. One of the best things about Wharton is that it expands your horizons and offers new opportunities that you may not have considered.  So it's a balance between having some direction while remaining open-minded.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:33:15 PM)
vish - changing your goals is ok - we know that exposure to new classes and opportunities might change your path.  It's surprisingly common to find that first year classes and the internship change your focus.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:33:45 PM)
dw-- we certainly see candidates from the this background-- we look for you to highlight your leadership & experience, as well as your interest to shift to business.

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:33:50 PM)
Thomas, what are the mechanisms that adcom uses to cross check the accomplishments of the applicants?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:34:24 PM)
wps, we use several methods, including a background check by Kroll and Associates.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:34:46 PM)
Indian, you need to use your best judgment. Pick the two people who know you best.  Not sure if someone who hasn't worked with you in 2 years is the best choice.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:34:55 PM)
Muraii-- we look at extracurricular and community service from undergraduate and beyond.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:35:21 PM)
Jackie, you're not usually interested in highschool and before, right?

abhishekg (Sep 20, 2007 1:35:30 PM)
Jackie: Can you clarify what you mean by "coproduction element"?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:35:32 PM)
Linda- generally speaking, no.  UG and beyond.

kc241 (Sep 20, 2007 1:35:59 PM)
Naomi: How actively does Wharton try to integrate partners into the community? Apart from the partners club which provides support, what else is there?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:36:40 PM)
Abhishek-- coproduction is a philosophy at Wharton that has students involved in many aspects of the school, from running events like conferences to working with the dean on setting the strategy & vision for the school.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:36:57 PM)
Muraari, I think you will find Wharton alumni in a wide variety of fields.  Many serve on art boards, some work in the industry.  One of my cohort-mates worked in the music industry immediately after graduation.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:37:04 PM)
kc241-one of our senior associate directors has started a program to help partners, from social to career assistance. Partners are often invited to our social events, also. Penn hires quite a few partners, as well.

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 1:37:39 PM)
Jackie: DW has similar questions/concerns as me. I'm interested in working in private industry but for a more pronounced purpose of public service.... whom can I contact to get ideas about these kinds of jobs? What's the best way to reach career services?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:37:46 PM)
Did you have a particular arts community in mind?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:37:46 PM)
Vik-- the middle 80% of students' GPAs range from 3.1 to 3.9, but that is only for students that report on a 4.0 scale, which excludes quite a few.

kc241 (Sep 20, 2007 1:38:05 PM)
Naomi: What does Wharton have in place to deal with conflict in the learning team? With so many accomplished people, there are bound to be a few bruised egos!

abhishekg (Sep 20, 2007 1:38:33 PM)
Jackie: What are the employment opportunities in the city of Philadelphia itself for my wife who will be completing her undergrad in eco right before I start my MBA?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:38:52 PM)
kc241, actually, one of the things we pride ourselves on is admitting accomplished people who have a good sense of humility.  Also, leadership fellows (specially selected and trained 2nd year students) who work with the LTs to facilitate group interaction. Conflict is a great learning tool sometimes.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:39:02 PM)
USAF-- we have a Social Impact management club here on campus that is extremely active, and hold an annual conference. Unfortunately, our Career Office can only service current students, but Wharton does work with Idealist to talk to prospectives-- you may want to attend an event at which we'll be.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:39:20 PM)
Thomas, you have people who actually have something to be humble about?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:39:29 PM)
kc - bruised egos? Well, sometimes there are tensions but sometimes there are pressures. The Wharton Leadership Program has fellows (great give-back opportunity, by the way, and very popular) who help teams negotiate with each other.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:39:45 PM)
abhishek-- there are many WG students who have spouses that work in Philly in a variety of industries. We have a partners club which is a resource to many students and spouses for the job search.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:40:05 PM)
Linda, humility is a noble trait.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:40:20 PM)
Jackie, how is recruiting looking for the class of '08?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:40:25 PM)
Spouses are also very integrated into the social fabric of Wharton.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:40:54 PM)
Thomas, noble, but rare among the highly talented.

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 1:41:18 PM)
Naomi: How much does Wharton focus on individuality as compared to team work?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:41:27 PM)
Linda-- so far, strong, but time will tell; nothing is ever certain, of course! MBACM works with employers to get a sense of hiring needs and ensure a diverse representation of industries on campus. Second year recruiting is underway and seems solid so far-- banking, consulting, Hedge Funds, Pharma, RE.....

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:41:30 PM)
Thomas: Regarding the essays, how strict is the word limit enforcement?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:41:32 PM)
Linda, I'd disagree. You can be accomplished but still respect the accomplishments of others.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:42:01 PM)
Wizard, my advice is to follow the guidelines as closely as possible.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:42:47 PM)
anu-there's lots of teamwork in the first year, but less in the second, so you'll be working more on your own at that time. You also have lots of chances to take classes which appeal just to you (we have Independent Study Projects that you can take if there is a topic you want to research but we don't have a class in that area.)

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:42:54 PM)
Definitely. You can also view and admire growth and direction as opposed to accomplishment which can truly instill humility among the gifted. But sometimes that perspective is rare among the talented.

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 1:43:20 PM)
Thomas: What are financial aid packages based off of? Personal savings, personal income, parent's income?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:43:30 PM)
Linda, I'd agree 100%. That's why we take the time to read the files in detail several times.

vish (Sep 20, 2007 1:43:34 PM)
Jackie: Does the time I worked for a NPO before I apply matter or only the impact - for example if I worked for 6 months and did a great job but worked for 3 years and achieved the same as 6 months but slowly - can you compare the effect of them on the application point of view?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:43:44 PM)
USAF, they are based on a variety of factors. Need, merit, etc.  Parent's income is not included.  But I would encourage anyone applying to clean up their personal balance sheet. Pay off debts, clean up credit cards, etc.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:44:01 PM)
vish-- we're concerned with the quality of experience, not the number of years. We are very sensitive to the fact that progression can vary widely by industry.

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:44:18 PM)
Thomas, what is more important -- stability in work experience with one company or diversity with multiple companies?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:44:58 PM)
wps09, there's not one that is "better." Excellence can be demonstrated in both examples. Just be sure to explain "why" if you have changed companies.

Lafille (Sep 20, 2007 1:45:43 PM)
Jackie: To anyone, how does Wharton fair in the general management sphere, in terms of job placement in directors of strategy roles, etc? It seems that Wharton is usually seen more of a pick-a-function/field type of school?

lai (Sep 20, 2007 1:45:50 PM)
Naomi: What is the average GPA of the graduating class (not the admits, the graduates)?

jersey guy (Sep 20, 2007 1:46:20 PM)
Thomas: My undergrad program in India does not provide a GPA but % points. How should I handle this?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:46:47 PM)
Lafille-- I would disagree.  Many of our students are looking for long-term careers in general management.  In fact, our marketing program, for example, is great in that the broad curriculum sets students up for GM tracks, rather than necessarily being pigeon-holed into a CMO track.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:46:50 PM)
lai-we started a new grading scheme last year, so where the average used to be 3.0, it should be about 3.3 from now on. The upswing is due to the change.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:47:04 PM)
jersey, we've seen this before, no worries... Just be sure to note the scale (i.e. x% out of y possible), and if available, tell us the passing grade or rank in class. This applies for everything in the application. Be sure to put things in context so that we can get a sense of the accomplishment.

Vik (Sep 20, 2007 1:47:51 PM)
Thanks Jackie. Would it be safe to say that being on the lower end or even below your lower limit of 80% would be quite detrimental to the application? I do understand that the application process is holistic and looks at the complete application, I guess a question to ask would be that the rejection rate of people below 3.1 is much higher than the percentage of the total applicant pool that these folks represent? Essentially, is the primary reason for a ding who has a GPA < 3.1 is sub-par academic achievement or is it because of other factors (lack of leadership, career progression, motivation, essays etc)?

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:48:18 PM)
Thomas, is the education and profession of parents also a criteria for selection?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:48:58 PM)
wps09, no it is not. We like to see the environment people come from, however, as it tells us something about their motivation, exposure, etc.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:49:05 PM)
Vik-- it's one aspect of the application. As I said, the GPA range cited is only for those students who reported on a 4.0 scale, so there are many students not factored into that range. We also take into acct the rigor of the curriculum, etc. We have many students with below a 3.1 in UG here at WG.

anand (Sep 20, 2007 1:49:22 PM)
Thomas - a specific question- do you have courses in Six Sigma or Lean - electives?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:49:42 PM)
Anand, I believe the answer is no.

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:50:09 PM)
I was recently invited to serve as one the Board of Directors for a local Not-for-Profit organization. Apart from the BoD position, I manage an annual fundraising program for the same Not-for-profit by training teams of amateurs (couch potatoes, literally) to run marathons.  How would this be looked upon if I reflect this in my application?

abhishekg (Sep 20, 2007 1:50:38 PM)
Jackie: Thomas: Do you all read the applications for a particular round only after the deadline has elapsed or if someone completes an application today, you would look at it immediately?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:51:05 PM)
Wizard-- we're looking at all aspects of candidates, from work to XCs to personal qualities. We encourage you to include everything in your application that you deem important, substantive and for which you have passion.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:51:07 PM)
abhishek, we do not begin reviewing applications until after the deadline. So for R1, we will begin reading on Oct. 12. On that note, there is NO order in which interview invitations are released. Applications are read by three people (GA, AdCom, myself) before being invited to interview, so there is tremendous variability in the process of when the invitations are released. Don't read anything into the timing of the release.

dw (Sep 20, 2007 1:51:49 PM)
Thomas: On the note of humility: I had the common undergrad problem of a lousy GPA in my first 2 years. After one poor semester, I woke up, became the person I am today, and earned nearly a 4.0 GPA in my last 3+ semesters to end with a 2.99 cumulative. Though that GPA is still low, I would hope my efforts and work experience since would still give my application full consideration.

Lafille (Sep 20, 2007 1:52:43 PM)
Jackie: Thanks, regarding recommendations, is it preferred that the recommender use the Wharton specific forms over a generic recommendation letter?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:52:58 PM)
dw, this is one of the reasons we included Essay #2. Learning from a setback or failure can be a very good thing.

lai (Sep 20, 2007 1:53:22 PM)
Thomas: I have a question about recommendations if ones work experience is at a family owned business. Our business is family owned, but I have worked to the bone to achieve the successes that I have achieved (and worked hard, despite some setbacks). So the people who know me the best are the ones employed by the organization who have burnt the midnight oil with me. I've heard Thomas say that if you're the boss's child, what are the others really going to say about you. But I know how hard & intensively I have worked, and to leave out one of these people as my recommender's would really be short changing myself. I do feel strongly about this, but I am concerned about Thomas' comments. Any advice?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:53:42 PM)
lafille-- we do encourage recommenders to use the form, though it's not mandatory. At a minimum, you need to ensure all the questions are answered. The easier it is for us to see all the answers are there, the better.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:54:42 PM)
lai, the problem is finding a truly objective recommender. If the company is professionally managed, you can use one recommendation from the firm, but I'd strongly encourage you to get a second recommendation from an outside source. This could be a client, mentor, manager in an extra-curricular activity.
Be sure to clarify in the optional essay as well. Rest assured we know this is a problem, and my comments were intended to help give you guidance as you select the recommender.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 1:55:16 PM)
Would a professional like an attorney or accountant work? A major supplier or vendor?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:55:41 PM)
Linda, that would be a great idea. Just be sure they know you well enough to answer the questions.

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 1:56:30 PM)
Thomas: Round 1 Vs Round 2 ... what is the difference for candidates?

jersey guy (Sep 20, 2007 1:56:41 PM)
Jackie: Does having a Six Sigma Black Belt and lean manufacturing experience provide an advantage towards general management and strategy focus?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:56:54 PM)
No difference between the rounds. One just has an earlier deadline and decision release.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:57:24 PM)
jersey-- it certainly shows your training and familiarity, and may be an asset to you down the road.

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 1:57:29 PM)
Thomas... You read all the interview-eligible apps!! Must be some task.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:57:53 PM)
Anu, I read all the apps over the course of the cycle... It is an enjoyable but daunting task.

wps09 (Sep 20, 2007 1:57:59 PM)
Jackie: If reapplicants change their goals from that mentioned in previous application, how is it viewed by adcom?

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 1:58:26 PM)
Great :)

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:58:38 PM)
wps-- we look for a clear rationale for the change; many reapplicants do so, which is fine-- just make sure we can understand your thought process.

jersey guy (Sep 20, 2007 1:59:17 PM)
Thomas: I have had 5 managers since I started with my company 15 months ago. Some got transferred to another location and some are not with the company anymore. I do not feel comfortable getting a recommendation from anyone here. Suggestions?

Wizardofwashington (Sep 20, 2007 1:59:23 PM)
Tom, in your opinion, what are a few elements that stood out in the best of the applications submitted last year? What is that that appeals to you as a reader?

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 1:59:41 PM)
Jackie: Earlier I was advised against taking BA courses/doing BA activities just to prepare for an MBA program. However, I'm not sure how else I could compensate for not having had that BA exposure so far.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 1:59:50 PM)
jersey, that's a tough call. Try to look at your entire universe of work and extra currics, and see where the two best people might be.

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 2:00:00 PM)
Naomi: How can I contact someone who could answer questions about their experiences with the MBA/MPA program with Kennedy?

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:00:42 PM)
USAF: write to mbaprogram@wharton.upenn.edu. We'll put you in touch with our Dual Degree Coordinator who can help you find a contact.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 2:00:52 PM)
Thomas, what makes a good recommender?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:00:55 PM)
Wizard, each admitted applicant is unique in his/her own way. Don't worry about the others, focus on your own abilities and presentation. What appeals to me is sincerity, intellectual curiosity, a demonstrated record of achievement, and passion.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:01:13 PM)
USAF-- many, many of our students do not have BA curriculum before they get here-- in fact, that is why they come here. We don't expect you to take the courses before you get to Wharton; that's why you come, we think! As long as we know you can handle the work and have the ability.. thats what we look for.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:01:16 PM)
Linda, it's someone who knows the applicant best and can answer the questions well.  For example, one question is "describe the applicant's sense of humor. Seriously."  We need that level of detail.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 2:01:30 PM)
Thanks. Title isn't important?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:01:48 PM)
Title is absolutely NOT important.  If you work closely with the CEO every day, then ask him/her. If not, it can show bad judgment not to ask the most important person you know.

anand (Sep 20, 2007 2:01:55 PM)
Thomas- in terms of percentage of acceptance - is there any difference between Round 1 and Round 2?

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 2:01:59 PM)

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:02:32 PM)
Anand, none at all.

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 2:02:33 PM)
For the recommendations, there are many categories and being an ace at all of them seems a trick. How heavily are these weighed into the decision? Do the accepted score in the top 5% for most categories?

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 2:02:54 PM)
Naomi: Tell us about one outstanding aspect of the Wharton life.. something really unique to Wharton.

scientist (Sep 20, 2007 2:03:06 PM)
Jackie: I assume applications from Canada are exempt from the TOEFL requirement correct?

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:03:15 PM)
USAF-- no one is an ace at all.

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:03:36 PM)
USAF, don't assume we only admit those with "perfect" recommendations.  We look for recos that give us a sense of the applicant as a complete person. We specifically ask for the applicant's weaknesses.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:03:46 PM)
anupmm: The personalized contact. You really get to know everyone here - even though it's big program. And you can call on us at any time.

Ug (Sep 20, 2007 2:03:47 PM)
Jackie: What is the bearing of having been declined at the undergrad level for Wharton on the adcom's decision for grad school? Should I bother applying, I was declined twice for undergrad - but I have a lot of respect for the school and want to make it part of my career track.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:04:05 PM)
scientist-- we require the TOEFL of candidates whose first language is not English and did not receive schooling in English.  Most Canadians are fine without TOEFL, although there could be exceptions.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:04:37 PM)
UG--your UG admission at WG has no bearing on admission to the MBA program.

Bill (Sep 20, 2007 2:05:43 PM)
Naomi: Are there any unique aspects of Wharton that will help the school train students to build talented and diverse organizations?

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:12 PM)
All, many thanks for your time an excellent questions! I very much look forward to reading your applications this fall.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:19 PM)
Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Thomas, Naomi, Jackie, Barry & Sarah for joining us today.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:28 PM)
Bill: The Entrepreneurial Program has a whole range of classes, speakers, events, and business plan competitions.

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:30 PM)
For more information about Wharton admissions, please visit the web site at or Wharton adcom's blog. Highly informative and helpful!

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:37 PM)
For Accepted.com’s information about Wharton, including previous chats and interview feedback, please visit the Accepted.com’s Wharton Zone.

JackieZavitzWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:46 PM)
Thank you all... great chatting with you!

ThomasCaleelWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:47 PM)
Linda, thank you again for inviting us.

NaomiTschoeglWHARTON (Sep 20, 2007 2:06:54 PM)
Good luck to everyone!

Linda Abraham (Sep 20, 2007 2:07:02 PM)
Wharton is hosting receptions around the world. Here are the locations and dates:

Receptions Week of 9/24: Registration is required.

  • Toronto, 9/24 
  • Boston, 9/25 
  • Atlanta, 9/26 
  • Detroit, 9/26 
  • Tokyo, 9/26 
  • Washington, DC 9/27 
  • Minneapolis, 9/27 
  • Chicago, 9/28 
  • Los Angeles, 9/28 
  • Taipei, 9/29

anupmm (Sep 20, 2007 2:07:38 PM)
Thanks a ton to Thomas, Naomi and Jackie ... And special thanks to Linda.

USAF_Deployed (Sep 20, 2007 2:07:41 PM)
Thanks for the support...greetings from the sandbox...cheers.

Bill (Sep 20, 2007 2:08:09 PM)

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