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How to get into Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania – the power of business and international exposure

by John

Wharton and UPenn business school admissions advice

So before we get started, I wanted to give you guys a few updates.

The first update is that I’ve actually added a few bonuses to Hopeless to Harvard. These bonuses are a really interesting they were fun for me to do and I think they’ll be extremely interesting for you guys to listen to. They’re actually 4 audio files of me talking about various college admissions topics from the AP test to race and ethnicity in admissions to how to get a great teacher recommendation – what separates great from good teacher recommendations.

Remember – you get the audio files (almost 20 minutes of me talking – not boring, I promise!) – completely free for purchasing the admissions guide. I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

The second update is that you’ll notice that the rate at which I am posting here on Hopeless to Harvard has slowed down. While I enjoy writing about Ivy League admissions topics, I’m trying to produce a really big project that has nothing to do with the site and is taking up a lot more of my time. So please bear with me! I really appreciate your readership.

So today let’s talk about what Ivy League schools like in their candidates.

It’s no secret that each school prefers a different profile of candidates despite the fact that they do want a well-rounded class.

As you know a school like Wharton prefers students that either have a strong business interest or a strong international focus.

A school like Stanford prefers students that have a strong entrepreneurial tendency or a strong student athlete profile.

A school like Princeton prefers students that have either a strong family legacy, student athleticism, and a couple of other factors.

By understanding better what each school prefers you’ll not only get a sense for where do you fit in the best but also how you can tailor your comment application to each University to improve your admissions chances

Let’s start with Wharton. Let’s be honest here – the University of Pennsylvania is a strong school – it’s an Ivy League school – but by far their strongest piece is Wharton. It’s one of the oldest and most preeminent undergraduate business institutions in the country and to be frank the rest of UPenn is just not that strong.

So what does Wharton prefer? Well Wharton likes two things:

Number one, they really like students that have a demonstrated interest in business. It really doesn’t matter where your interest in business comes from. They want to know that in general you see yourself building a career within the corporate world

So how you demonstrate this?

Get a serious part-time or summer job before you apply for college.

By serious I don’t mean a minimum wage job at McDonald’s or even a cushy retail job at something like gap or Banana Republic. What I mean is an honest job at a big corporate company or startup where you’re in a relatively serious role for a high school student.

A good example would be a marketing internship at an advertising agency, an internship at a local startup, or even a part-time sales job where you sell something more than just steak knives.

By getting this job you show a serious interest in business which is exactly what Wharton prefers.

The second important thing is to get global/international experience. You can do this by traveling overseas during the summer, by going on group study trips during school.

Ideally you would mix to travel with some component of work whether that is a business job, volunteer work, or something else.

A school at Wharton especially in a global business environment really prefers students that have to international exposure. To make yourself stand out I would encourage you not only to know a second language very well but have that international travel exposure mixed with some work and or volunteer experience overseas.

A big caveat here is that you don’t want to look fake. So don’t volunteer to build homes for two months in Sri Lanka if that’s not what you care about. Find something that you do care about.

The next question here is how you get those experiences?

There are a couple of ways:

1. Get your parents help! That’s something I’ve said time and again and I will continue repeating it until you get into Harvard. Get your parents to find job opportunities that are serious and look impressive on your resume. They have a network…they have work experience…you don’t. Have an honest conversation with your parents about what you want to do, what you’re good at, and see what kind of opportunities they can help you create. Try to avoid things like managing a family restaurant or interning at the family dental business it just won’t look as good if there’s a family connection.

2. Take initiative! This shouldn’t be a surprise what this means is you should go and scour job listings through Craigslist, online job boards, find startups in the area that you’re really interested in and really go out and try to talk to them. Sell yourself! The key to doing this is to number one be very direct in communication and number two have a professionally written and professionally looking resume.

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