For Wharton MBA Admissions, with the start of the New Year comes a new round of applicants. Our Round 2 candidates submitted their applications last week and are now awaiting interview invitations, which begin to be released later this month. We welcomed our Round 1 admits right before the holidays.
For our whole team, decision day is one of the best days of the year. The Admissions team and I spend the morning calling our admitted students to congratulate and welcome them. Every year, we are tickled by the surprise and emotions of our admitted students. Many whoop with delight, some even shed a tear or two, and more than a handful ask if the call is for real or a prank. This year, one of our excited Class of 2015 admits jumped up in the air after hearing the news, and in doing so, accidentally hung up on my colleague. He called back to apologize, saying, “That has to have happened before, right?” There is a first for everything …
Speaking of firsts, Round 1 marked the debut of our new team-based discussion evaluation method as part of our application process. In true Wharton entrepreneurial spirit, MBA Admissions, in collaboration with the Wharton Innovation Group, launched this new evaluation method in order to give our candidates a glimpse into Wharton’s group learning dynamic, while allowing us to observe firsthand how they may contribute to our diverse community of learners. It is this type of pioneering spirit that we hope is attractive to students considering an MBA program, especially our budding entrepreneurs.
According to the Graduate Admission Council, the number of GMAT-takers intending to concentrate in entrepreneurship is growing—up 10 percent from five years ago. Likewise, we have seen increased interest in our entrepreneurship offerings at Wharton, from participation in our entrepreneurship-focused Admissions panels and eClub online chats for prospective students to frequent inquiries about the new Semester in San Francisco program.
Wharton’s reputation as a leader in entrepreneurship has benefitted from our longstanding—and outstanding—legacy of Wharton-founded startups: PayPal, Warby Parker, Half.com, and Alice +Olivia, just to name a few. In fact, Wharton’s MBA Career Management statistics show that about 10 percent of the Class of 2012 (full-time) and 2013 (interns) joined startups or started their own ventures; this is a greater percentage than those going into other industry groupings such as hedge funds and health care.
So what does all of this entrepreneurial buzz mean for MBA Admissions? Well, besides being thrilled that admitted students can now apply to finance their loans through Wharton startup CommonBond, it means that we’re seeing more entrepreneurial and diverse experience from our applicants. Just this fall, we saw applications from founders of innovative startups. These included social missions providing modular homes for the world’s rural poor or manufacturing affordable hearing aids. We also had numerous students running e-commerce sites in addition to their full-time jobs. We even had an applicant who invested in and manages Indonesia’s first widely marketed boy band (again, a first for everything!).
Wharton has no single definition for “entrepreneurship.” Students who don’t come to Wharton planning to start their own businesses benefit from the creativity, discipline, persistence and general management skills they learn from their entrepreneurial colleagues in Wharton’s classrooms. Entrepreneurial students bring these qualities, along with tremendous energy and desire to have impact on a particular community, consumer, industry or country. We are excited to see what future innovators make up the Class of 2015!
Editor’s note: This post first appeared on Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Blog on Jan. 11, 2012.