Wharton's New (Group) Interview, Importance of Goals Essay - report from Harvard Club MBA Admissions Panel

Written by Michele Rabin

On Tuesday evening I attended a closed MBA Admissions Panel hosted by the Harvard Club in San Francisco. There were over 100 prospective Ivy League alumni in the audience and admissions representatives from six schools on the panel (Columbia, Haas, HBS, Stanford, Tuck and Wharton.)

The word of the evening:  innovation. All of the school reps spoke about how their schools were being innovative—through the development of new classes,  leadership training, global internships, incubators, etc.

The biggest take away from this panel came from a question from the audience. The question:  “I have a lot of interests.  Do I really need to know exactly what I want to do after I finish my MBA in order to be considered a strong candidate?”  HBS was the first school to respond and basically said that at their orientation for new students, only 5 incoming students (out of 925!)  had raised their hands and said 'yes' when asked if they knew what they wanted to do after they graduate.   Most of the school reps echoed this and one even said that they expected you would change your goals after being in their program and taking advantage of all of the opportunities available. So while the goals essay needs to show that you have done some serious thinking about your future plans and have done some soul searching about your strengths and achievements, this essay is less about forecasting your future and instead is more about showing the Adcom that you know yourself and can come up with a feasible plan that utilizes your abilities and strengths.  

The other news of the night was from Wharton. Per Associate Director Anthony Penna, this fall Wharton will very likely (98% chance, he said) be rolling out a new team-based exercise (á la LBS) in addition to the required one-on-one interview. Penna said that the one-on-one interviews would be shortened and that the applicants would be put into groups of 5-6 people to ”demonstrate, firsthand, their intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, teamwork and leadership skills.” Of course we'll track these developments and keep you posted.