Make the Most of Your Summer: Preparing a Strong Application

Starting the MBA application process can be daunting. What school is right for you? Where will you be happiest, learn the most, and most importantly, get a job?!

Make the most of your summer and the time before the admissions deadlines for Wharton/Lauder’s joint-degree MBA/MA program to do your research on programs so you can feel confident in submitting the best application you can.


Here are some tips and tricks to think about as you start working on your application:

Tip #1 – Learn More

The time before the admissions deadlines is a great time to research programs to see what is the best fit for you. Talk to alumni and students. Reach out to admissions offices. Watch our webinar and follow us on social media to see what is new with Lauder. Lauder admissions staff travels with the Wharton admissions team in the summer and fall to meet with applicants all over the world. This summer we will be in Asia, Latin America, and Africa before heading to Europe in September. We hope to meet you at one of our events!

In addition, during the summer, our most recent incoming students are on their 8-week summer immersion. Updates and stories on their experiences are posted regularly on our website and Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Take a look to see if you can see yourself in their shoes next year!

Tip #2 – Fear not!

Not a quant jock? No worries – neither are many students. There are so many ways to show evidence of your academic strengths in other parts of your application beyond the quantitative portion of the GMAT or GRE score. Run models at work? Aced calculus in undergrad? Took some post-bac courses to improve your overall quant knowledge? Great! Those are all good things to include in your application. The most important piece of your application in the academic arena is to show evidence that you can handle the rigor of the programs, in regard to quantitative work, as well as other academic components like writing and presenting.

As I have told countless applicants over the years, your test scores are truly just one component of your application – they are important, but not the end-all-be-all. Take your time to prepare, and retake the test if you feel you can do better, but be sure to round out other parts of your application highlighting all of your academic accomplishments.

Tip #3 – Get Creative!

For Lauder, we want to see evidence of a global mindset and often that comes across in the richness and variety of your international experiences. This can include an array of experiences. Many Lauder students spent time growing up, studying, living and working outside of their home countries and regions, but others have also had robust global exposure while on the job – perhaps coupled with brief international stints during a study abroad or volunteer project. Any and all international experience counts. Manage a global team? Work on projects with your colleagues on the other side of the world? Travel regularly for work projects or to broaden your cultural experiences? Fantastic! That is what the admissions committee for Lauder likes to see – be sure to highlight your international experiences across all dimensions of your application including your personal and professional profile, essays, and interviews.

Tip #4 – Parlez-Vous…?

Having advanced knowledge of languages is essential for the Lauder program. To apply to one of our regional Programs of Concentration, applicants must speak the language they intend to study at Lauder at least at the Advanced Low level. For our Global program, students must test at the Superior level in any language other than English. Applicants indicate their language abilities through a test called the Oral Proficiency Interview or OPI, a 20-30 minute phone conversation that will test your language speaking abilities. Much like a GRE or GMAT, applicants can take the OPI as many times as they like.

Need a few months to brush up on your French or Arabic to ensure you test at the Advanced Low level or above? Then go for it! You can take the OPI any time after July 1, 2018 for the current admissions cycle – and you can take the OPI in as many languages as you like and retake it if need be. For questions regarding the OPI, do not hesitate to reach out to me directly. And be sure to listen to the OPI language clips on our website!

Tip #5 – Patience!

Take your time! I often hear from applicants that they think they must apply for the Round 1 deadline to improve their chances of getting in – not so! I always tell prospective students that the most important thing is to submit the strongest application you can, when you can. If they means taking an extra few months to work on your essays, waiting until your boss has wrapped up her latest project to get a great recommendation, or retaking the GMAT or GRE, then take the extra time to do so. There is no advantage to applying in Round 1 before Round 2 in terms of your chances of gaining admission. Both Wharton and Lauder admit around the same number of applicants in each round – so again, work on strengthening the quality of your application overall and not rushing to apply sooner rather than later.

Best of luck to all applicants for the upcoming 2018-2019 admissions cycle.  Be sure to take a look at our deadlines and application info for important reminders and information!


For questions related to the Lauder programs, including information on our joint-degree program with Penn Law, reach out to us at lauderinfo@wharton.upenn.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!