沃顿二年级学生(student member of adcom)详解essay review全过程

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I finished my first official set of application reviews this afternoon. I had been working on them throughout the weekend. I’m finding that it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to review just one. A week’s worth of work is easily a two to three day job. With lots of stuff going on both in and out of class (we just had some midterms, more to come, and full-time interviews start this week), it looks like this will consume most of my weekends for the near future.

The one thing that stands out the most to me is how applicants fail to mention why the Wharton program is of particular interest to them. As an applicant I often wonder just how much I needed to tailor my application essays to each school. Now I’m seeing things from the other side and realize it’s rather important. Just a modest bit of research (in the form of reaching out to current students, visiting campus, etc.) can go a long way towards making an application shine a lot more than it otherwise would. And given that the first essay question in our application point-blank asks for why this program is of interest, I think it’s really important to give it some thought.

Another thing that I’ve found is difference in how people approach improving their chances. Some applicants have obviously realized they needed to retake the GMAT (and did so close to the Round 1 deadline). Others, even with weak GMAT scores, did not retake even though it seems like they had plenty of time. This can be particularly important when other parts of the application (notably transcripts, work experience, and recommendations) reflect a common theme.

I have been going at it for a solid 7.5 hours now. I started reading applications that are due tomorrow a little after 1pm today and I’m about 70% done currently. I will probably end up putting the last couple to the side since I still have a midterm to study for this evening. I must say that one application in particular took me about an hour and forty-five minutes to read. I had to familiarize myself with the application a couple times (yes, I read the essays twice; I also skimmed the recommendations again after reading them a first time) and better understand some things about the applicant’s culture. It was a very good reminder that strong applications come in all flavors. Overall, when I really took an objective view, this was a solid application. Incidentally, the applicant chose to use an optional recommender and in this case it really did make sense.

This week I’m noticing many of the same things as last week, notably how little detail some applicants give to explaining why Wharotn is the ideal business school for them. While I don’t enjoy reading laundry lists of keywords that seem to be scraped from the admissions website, it is nice to read about how an applicant specifically plans to get involved while s/he is a student here.

A couple of the applications I have read this week shined in terms of overall presentation. This is where the recommendations, the essays (examples highlighted), career progress-to-date, and extracurricular involvement all seem to weave themselves into a coherent story. It’s great to read recommendations from people with two differing perspectives that also resonate with what’s mentioned in the essays. While it would be bad to coach one’s recommenders to the point to where the essays sound like the recommendations word for word, I hope my point is clear.

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