For Wharton MBA Admissions, with the start of the New Year comes the start of our Round 2 application process. The Admissions Committee has been eagerly and carefully poring over the thousands of applications we received from all over the world. This past weekend, we also welcomed our Round 1 admitted students to campus for Welcome Weekend with a two-day event that provides a firsthand glimpse into the academic, professional and community life at Wharton.

It is hard to believe that on December 20 we called our admitted students on decision day to congratulate and welcome them personally to the program. It is truly one of the best days of the year; nothing is more fulfilling than hearing the excited screams (and at time cries) of joy from candidates who have lived and breathed this process with us.

After feeling like Santa Claus for a few hours, the MBA Admissions team and I let out a collective sigh of relief having wrapped up a successful Round 1 of the application process.  For some, it might have appeared to be just another round in our process, but for our office and our Round 1 applicants, last year was game changing.

In collaboration with the Wharton Innovation Group, MBA Admissions launched the team-based discussion last fall. This marked an evolution in not just Wharton’s process, but in the MBA Admissions landscape. As our alumni know, teamwork is a fundamental part of the Wharton MBA experience with students participating on 15 to 25 teams inside and outside the classroom during their two years in the program.

For us, the team based discussion not only provides Admissions with insight into how candidates interact, operate and communicate, but also allows them to “lift off the page” of their “2-D” written applications and come to life. In addition to providing our candidates with the opportunity to showcase more of their personal qualities and how they navigate their way within a group setting, we also are able to give our candidates a firsthand glimpse into life at Wharton.

As an added bonus, the team-based discussion fostered a great deal of collaboration and engagement outside of the admissions process. We watched candidates connect on professional interests, exchange contact information, high-five each other after they were done, and—probably most touching— observed them patiently waiting for one another to finish their one-on-one interviews after their team discussion and go to dinner or drinks after to celebrate. For more observations from the experience, you can read my Round 1 wrap-up blog here.

A recent article featured our innovation at Wharton. While we have added the team based discussion, we continue to conduct a one-on-one interview with our applications and value the written application, which includes essays, professional recommendations, and academic and professional achievements.

All of these puzzle pieces collectively give us a window into our applicants.

We look forward to seeing how the team-based discussion and our process continue to evolve through Round 2. Please be sure to stay up to date on the team-based discussion and all MBA Admissions events through the MBA Admissions Blog.