Still, Hoff believes that what he has seen with clients who applied to Wharton in the first round shows a more concrete mindset change. “I never even gave it a second thought that they wouldn’t get an interview. That is upsetting. A couple of clients were almost given certain assurances last year in the process. It was almost like an extra slap in the face. One client who was interviewed last year, was told to reapply, and she would be in great shape. She was dinged. There are some inconsistencies over there,” he says.
“Admissions officers often have a ‘if you believe it you can achieve it!’ sense of optimism about candidates, whereas career services folks deal with the gruesome reality at the end of that rainbow,” writes Hoff in his blog post. “An admissions purist sees likely success where a career services professional often sees great difficulty. At extreme ends of the spectrum – such as Venture Capital (almost impossible) or Management Consulting (a very steady path) – both parties are pretty much in agreement. However, on more nuanced paths, such as post-MBA Private Equity, you might have an admissions officer thinking “I know those jobs are tough to get and it is a shrinking pie, but I’m sure it will work out,” whereas a career services officer might think “bad idea.” It’s a huge difference and when the latter impacts the former, it impacts the way we need to think about such things.”
WRITING THE CAREER GOALS ESSAY FOR A CAREER SERVICES OFFICIAL–NOT AN ADMISSIONS OFFICIAL
Hoff goes on to say that when “a Career Goals essay has to be written for a career services officer – rather than an admissions officer – that means it has to be conservative in detailing a job you can surely get, and you should probably include an alternate short-term goal to reach your ultimate path. In other words, do not think in terms of ambition or striving to reach your potential (as you would with HBS, Stanford, MIT, and others – Wharton was always definitely in this group), think in terms of “am I a slam-dunk to get one of those jobs so that I keep this school’s employment report pristine?” There is honestly no other prudent way to go about the task. You simply must adopt the hyper-conservative mindset of a career service officer, if, indeed, that person is in charge of the office that will decide your fate.”
Wharton isn’t the only school that weighs career goals in admission decisions. Columbia Business School has been known to do the same as well. It is not unusual for many admission officials to seek the opinion of their career management directors on some applicants. Emory University’s Goizueta School goes further, having its career services director sit in on admission committee meetings.
“Schools like Wharton and Columbia and I would argue MIT, consider your post graduation ‘hire-ability’ greatly and always have,” says Kreisberg. “They don’t want disgruntled and un-employed grads hanging around, lowering the schools’ rankings, and not paying back their massive loans. The factoid that Wharton admissions is now being run by a person from career services is interesting but confirmatory of this basic truth — it was also how Wharton operated last year. And as noted in many places, the GMAT/GPA numbers at Wharton, Columbia and MIT, always super important, are now super important plus, as shown by the fact that they have risen.”
HOW HARVARD DOES IT
In contrast, says Kreisberg, Harvard Business School takes a slightly different approach to the issue of career goals. “HBS barely asks for your post-MBA goals, and many Round 1 applicants have gotten interviews with that small part of the application (How does an MBA support you post-MBA industry choice?) executed in a vague or odd way. What can screw you at HBS is a brain freeze or something close to it on a FAIQ (frequently asked interview question): What is your career roadmap after HBS, how will you get to your goals? If you cannot be coherent about that, you can do something very, very rare in HBS interview world: screw an interview which was otherwise OK at 15 minutes. Usually if you are OK at 15 minutes in an HBS interview, you are OK, sorta like a blind date.”
Applicants who met Wharton’s round one deadline of Oct. 1 already have been invited to the school’s team-based discussion and admissions interview, rejected outright or waitlisted. Many of them have already been interviewed by the school. All round one candidates who gained invites will be notified of Wharton’s decisions on Dec. 17 unless they are put on the wait list.
At GMAT Club, a forum for applicants, some 288 users said they applied to Wharton by its first round deadline. Exactly a third, 33%, said they have already been through the school’s team-discussion test and interview, with another 4% invited to interview. So far, 16% of those who applied have been admitted, with 3% on the wait list.
Wharton’s round two deadline is Jan. 7, and its final third round deadline is March 27th.