Penn students looking to transfer into the Wharton School now have to prove themselves through words, not just numbers.
This was the first year applicants were required to write a 300-word essay explaining why they wanted to study at Wharton, in addition to meeting the minimum GPA requirement of 3.4, Senior Divisional Director of Wharton Celia Cameron said.
A hundred students were accepted this year, a number which has remained consistent with previous years, she said.
She added that the essay requirement allowed Wharton to accept students with a much larger range of GPAs than before.
Wharton sophomore Alec Barnes, who transferred from the College this fall, believes the essay is a good way to “see whether people are actually interested in studying business instead of just liking Wharton as the name,” he said.
This new addition, however, may not be all positive.
“Students see the admissions process as a series of many obstacles. [Wharton] wants to encourage people who are interested, but [they] also don’t want to put so many obstacles that it changes the dynamic of Wharton and the rest of Penn’s relationship,” said Steven Goodman, Top Colleges admissions strategist, who graduated from Penn’s Graduate School of Education in 1989.
While the essay makes internal transfer admissions more holistic, it brings Wharton closer to creating a second admissions process, he said, using Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy — which offers the university’s only selective major — as an example. Sophomores at Princeton wishing to enroll at the Woodrow Wilson School must go through a second admissions process.
“Penn is more than a sum of its parts. If Wharton becomes this entity on a hill that is different from the rest of Penn, it would be hurtful to both Wharton and the university as a whole,” he said.
Cameron, however, maintained that the essay will not have a negative effect and will ultimately benefit students.
“A 300-word essay isn’t that much of an application process … it shows we just want the student to have a good fit,” she said.
College and Wharton sophomore Elaine Liu, who just transferred said the essay made her think carefully about her decision. Liu, who was accepted into Wharton this fall and is pursuing a dual degree, thinks it was effective in stopping some students from “haphazardly applying.”
Goodman thinks the essay could also discourage students from “backdooring it into Wharton,” where high-school applicants apply to a different undergraduate school with the intention of transferring into Wharton.
“If it becomes clear that it is a two-step process, students may think of going to another university instead,” he said.
Michael Goran, a 1976 College graduate and founder of IvySelect College Consulting, thinks the most important consideration is the student’s compatibility with a particular school.
“It makes sense for Wharton to do the essay, even if it might cause some angst. It’s important to see if you really belong there,” he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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