With several close friends currently at Wharton, I expected to have a positive experience, but walked away from my interview/lunch/class experience extremely disappointed. Perhaps it was coming off the positivity of Haas’ Super Saturday, or a very enthusiastic interview at Fuqua the day before – I’m not sure. I will explore this after running you through the process.
My group of 6 was ushered into a small conference room by two current second-year students. They sat in opposite corners of the room to observe from different angles, and read our prompt (the same prompt that we had received via email with our invitation to interview). As promised, we were given 30 minutes to discuss our ideas, choose an idea or fuse multiple ideas into one, and present our course offering to the current students with warnings when 15 minutes had past and when 5 minutes remained.
Then the play began… Everyone was very bright and articulate, but there was not an ounce of truth in the encounter. Everyone was on their very best behavior, as is to be expected, but it could not have come off more inauthentic. I am a very positive person and leader, but I cringed as everyone offered artificial affirmations at every opportunity (great idea! when someone would suggest that we take the caps off our pens before attempting to write) and looked for a way to show off everything that they knew without acting like they were showing off everything that they knew. I love working in teams and truly enjoyed Haas’ team building activity the previous weekend, but could not have been more turned off but this exercise.
We ultimately settled on one idea that was focused, and purposeful, but also had sex appeal. With six people in our group, we split the course into three days and each presented in pairs on different aspects of Day One, Day Two and Day Three of the course, its work, who we would meet with, where and why. We focused on what the coursework would do for students, the gaps it filled in current offerings, and what it could do for Wharton. The current students observing us were stoic and cold through the presentation and after. They exhibited virtually no personality and providing no encouragement or spirit.
After, we had our one-on-one interviews. I love interviewing – it’s my 100% strength, but our interview was soulless and my interviewer’s responses to my questions could have been more interesting and passionate coming from a robot. The current students at lunch seemed equally uninterested and unenthusiastic, as if they did not want to be there at all. I was completely turned off not only by them, but by the narcissistic air of the candidates around me. I am a tough person to rattle, but whole thing was, frankly, upsetting and hard to watch and participate in.
I’m keeping an open mind because, as I mentioned, I have very dynamic and talented friends at Wharton whom I would love to have as classmates. I also remember my information session at my undergraduate institution in which the admissions officer looked around the room and literally told us that maybe 2 of us would get in… but at least the students were passionate and engaged and interesting. I would really suggest that Wharton work on injecting some of the school’s soul into the process for candidates who are applying to programs with similar academics and selecting their school based on its student culture and fit.
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