Wharton Breaks An MBA Admission Tradition

An MBA graduate in Wharton’s Class of 2019. Courtesy of Wharton’s Instagram feed

MBA candidates who applied to the Wharton School of Business in the second and largest of three applicant rounds will be notified today (March 25th) of their decisions but the school has decided to break with tradition and do something different.

Instead of calling admitted applicants by phone to welcome them to the Wharton community, the school will send out its notifications via an online portal. Blair Mannix, director of MBA admissions at Wharton, says the change was made in an effort to reduce “unnecessary stress” by anxiety-ridden applicants who would normally wait by their phones worrying about their fate.

“As many of you know, our admissions team typically starts off decision release day with calls to our admitted applicants to congratulate them on their admission,” wrote Mannix in a blog post. “For my team, this is one of the great highlights of our year as we welcome in the newest members of the Wharton MBA class.

‘WAITING FOR THESE PHONE CALLS HAS CAUSED UNNECESSARY STRESS’

“Over these past few months, however, we’ve learned that for applicants, waiting for these phone calls has caused unnecessary stress. That’s the last thing we want to do. As we pass the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic, I want to be mindful of our applicants’ mental space. That’s why, for the rest of this application season, we will announce decisions first through our online application portal on the morning of decision release day. We hope that this change adds some predictability to an otherwise unpredictable year.”

When and how a business school announces admission decisions varies from school to school. At Harvard Business School, candidates are notified online instead of called by telephone. When an admissions staff telephones candidates with good news, it obviously takes longer to get all of its notifications out quickly. That process inevitably encourages anxious posts on community boards on Reddit, MBA Watch, GMAT Club and other forums about whether a candidate was admitted, rejected or waitlisted, leaving those who have yet to receive word jittery over their decisions.

On MBA Watch alone, about 125 active applicants who have targeted Wharton as their ‘first choice’ school have posted their profiles. Several R1 applicants have reported on their outcomes. Several were accepted, including Mr. Global Perspective, a manager in the CEO Office of a Fortune 500 power company with a 750 GMAT and a 3.6 GPA from the University of York, while some reported rejections, including Mr. FinTech Entrepreneur, a technologist who has been with six startups and has a 710 GMAT with a 3.0 GPA.

In making the change at Wharton, Mannix noted that her admissions team would still be available for follow-up conversations. “While this tradition is changing, not everything is changing,” she added. “After we release decisions via our portal, we will still be available for a chat on the phone. Admitted students will still have the opportunity to connect with both the Admissions Fellows who interviewed them and our admissions team for any lingering questions — or just to have a point of contact to help navigate next steps.”

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