It feels like an eternity has passed since I was sitting in the Wharton MBA Admissions Office with clammy palms two Novembers ago. The 6-month period leading up to that time had been filled with all the necessary (and tedious) paperwork…not to mention, a reaffirmation of how much I enjoyed school while studying for the GMAT (nerd alert!). As I sat there waiting for them to call my name for the interview, a wave of uncertain questions flooded my mind. Would I get in? Would I like it if I did? Would it change me? At the time, I wanted to look through a crystal ball to find these answers, but we all know that life doesn’t work like that. Call it hindsight bias, but as I sit here and reflect on my two-year Wharton anniversary with my B-school-sized glass of wine, it all seems so clear.
Would I get in? Welp, that’s an easy one, but boy did I underestimate what it really meant to get into Wharton. Of course there’s the excitement/relief that happens when you see that “Accepted” status on your profile in the Wharton application site, but with Wharton, there is so much more. They don’t just tell you, they show you. Whether it’s that excited call from a genuine first year wishing you a heartfelt congrats on your acceptance or the welcome weekend leading up to the acceptance deadline that is filled with all future prospects — new friends, frat party-style bumping and grinding, Philly BYOBs, and plenty of Wharton swag — those first few dates with Wharton weren’t just another Tinder moment…they were the start of something wonderful!
Would I like it if I did? When you’re going through the business school application process, it’s hard to differentiate one school from another. Beyond what schools are known for academically, there’s a lot of enigma about the culture. The claims that business schools make all seem to say the same thing: “the people here are incredibly intelligent, but so down to earth”, “we have a ton activities you can get involved in…you’ll definitely find something here you like”, “you can get any job here”. With such general speak, it can be hard to get a feel for a place. But with Wharton, there was one element that made it feel different: passion…passion for everything. Whether that’s sitting on the board of a non-profit, leading First Years through 360 feedback sessions, dressing up as your Cluster’s Bumble Bee mascot, or even, showcasing your blackboard abs as a shot boy/girl during the renowned Wharton 54 party. Passion is what makes my life at Wharton truly different, and suffice it say, better for me than anywhere else.
Would it change me? As I look back, I think “yes” and “no.” I’m mostly still the same person (my goals haven’t changed, I still have the same values). If anything, my two-year experience here has only sharpened the picture of the person I am and what I need to do in order to achieve a full life. I came in with the intention of switching careers, and Wharton, through Career Management and the incredible Professional Club support, has given me the opportunity to explore and do just that. I still can’t say no to anything (note to self: MUST take Negotiations with Diamond in the Spring). But I’m different and my life is, too. I’m more open and more willing to seek out and find that coveted “Wharton stretch experience”. And most importantly, I have an incredible array of new people in my life. People who inspire me, make me laugh, drink with me on Sundays (or Mondays or Tuesdays) to numb my bruises from riding the ice in the Wharton Wildmen hockey game, ask for my advice or who give me their two cents…people who’ll be in my corner for all the ups and the downs that I can’t even begin to predict.
Well Wharton, I think this might be a match made in heaven…let’s celebrate! Irish Pub? Bonners? Ladder 15? You pick the spot, I’ll bring the passion.