Author: Casey Ryan, C’95
Last month, I traveled to DC to attend a club-hosted event, sponsored by Kaplan Test Prep: the MBA Admissions Panels. Through the work of an alumnus serving on our Alumni Programming Committee of the Penn Alumni Board of Directors, he made the connection with the test preparation company to give our Clubs the opportunity to partner together to offer this informative discussion to our alumni. This event started as a single discussion in Boston and has evolved into a multi-city panel event.
Our young alumni who are contemplating going back to graduate or professional school are looking for advice on how to apply. We are able to offer this chance those thinking about business school. Working with Kaplan, we invite admissions officers from Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management, MIT Sloan Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Penn’s own Wharton to explain the application process, as well as talk about the aspects of admissions process.
Moderated by a new member of the Penn Alumni Club of Washington, DC, the admissions officers elaborated about many of the facets on the process, including test scores, essays, work experience, volunteer work, MBA interviews and more. After the conversation, our moderator asked questions submitted to the panel by attendees prior. These questions went into more depth about specifics and the panel noted how very thoughtful the crowd was. At the conclusion of the panel, the speakers are available for our attendees to get more information about specific programs and talk one-on-one.
Currently, the Penn Alumni Clubs in Washington, Philadelphia and New York work with Kaplan to present this event. In DC, the event was a success with 300 alumni and friends in attendance. Club members and Kaplan employees were busy checking in all those who signed in on-line as well as taking care of the walk-on registrants.
The advice that I gleaned from the panel was that most people who apply to these selective MBA programs have the skills and the rigor to do the work. The fact remains that more people apply than there are spots in an incoming class, so one needs to differentiate oneself from the applicant pool. Honest, thoughtful and well-written essays are the key to telling the story about how one would both stand out and fit in at the Business School of choice.
I think this advice can be relevant to all us, regardless future aspirations, as long as we aim to be honest, thoughtful and clear in our objectives, we will stand out and be able to work together to get the goals for which we’re striving.