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U Penn’s Wharton School Shares Details of New Team-Based Discussion Admissions Component

Applicants to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania recently received an email from the admissions office sharing details about a new evaluation method it will use as part of the 2012-13 application cycle – the team-based discussion.

Applicants who are invited to interview will now take part in a team-based discussion with five to six other applicants during a scheduled session. “Our hope is that this will give applicants a glimpse into Wharton’s group learning dynamic – which is central to our program,” read the email. “We believe that this type of assessment also serves as a tool to take prospective students ‘off the page’ and allows us to see firsthand the ways in which they can contribute to our community of diverse learners and leaders.”

According to the email, the group discussion “is additive and does not replace the opportunity for an individual exchange.” Time will be allotted for applicants to have a short one-on-one conversation regarding their candidacy with the interviewer, during which time they can ask any questions they may have.

Who will conduct the group discussions and short one-on-one conversations will depend upon where a candidate chooses to interview. Interviews on campus will be conducted by trained second-year students known as Admissions Fellows. Off-campus interviews, which will be held this year in Dubai, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, New Delhi, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo, will be facilitated by Admissions staff members.

Once a candidate is invited to interview, he or she will be able to schedule an in-person session through his or her Wharton account – either on campus or in an interview hub city. “While there are two options and no one way is preferred over another, we do encourage invited candidates to interview on campus to get a sense of our community and culture,” read the email. “We will not be able to accommodate all requests for a specific location, so we encourage all invited candidates to register for a slot as soon as possible,” it continued.

In terms of the format of the team-based discussion, each will have a prompt and a purpose, and participants are expected to work toward a tangible outcome with their group. The email provided the following examples of prompts that might be used:

• What one talent or strength should a leader rely on most in daily life?
• If you could teach one thing about innovation to a group of new employees, what would it be?

Applicants will receive more detail about the prompt for their discussion after they sign up for an interview session, according to the email.

Finally, the email advised applicants to spend no more than an hour preparing for the discussion, to come prepared to share individual thoughts and not to expect feedback from the interviewer. “Be careful to avoid any interpretation of verbal or non-verbal communication, as both may mislead you,” the message cautioned.

Good luck to applicants preparing to take part in this new evaluation method at Wharton. Remember, the Clear Admit Wiki is a great place to share your first-hand experiences with the team-based discussion and to learn from those of others.

Posted in: MBA News

Schools: UPenn / Wharton

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