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Wharton MBA: 730 GMAT, Non-Traditional Background & 8 Years Work Exp

Updated: Apr 24

Entering the prestigious halls of The Wharton School, one of the top business schools in the world is a dream for many aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs. However, getting into Wharton requires meticulous planning, dedication, and a strategic approach. Known for its rigorous curriculum, esteemed faculty, and robust alumni network, Wharton offers unparalleled opportunities for personal and professional growth. Its emphasis on innovation, leadership, and global perspective attracts top talent from around the world. However, with an acceptance rate of merely ~14% and ranking #1 in the Financial Times, it’s an uphill task to secure admission to this prestigious business school.

The MBA admissions process can be exceptionally overwhelming, especially for applicants from non-traditional backgrounds who are not familiar with it. Moreover, Indian candidates face intense competition due to the large number of applicants and a relatively lower acceptance rate compared to the rest of the world.

Anjika Nanda, one of our candidates who received admission offers from The Wharton School and four other top global MBA programs, shared her MBA application journey with us. Despite receiving a $60,000 scholarship from Booth, she opted for Wharton, her dream school! Let’s hear her story.

Non-Traditional Background & MBA Results

With eight years of experience in the advertising technology field, I worked in various roles such as business development, program management, and technical solutions. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Management Studies, and my career journey had been enriching with multiple promotions and opportunities within my firm.

I decided to apply to 6 top business schools globally - Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, Duke Fuqua in the US, LBS in the UK, and ISB in India. To my fortune, I had admits from five out of six of these and a waitlist from Duke Fuqua. I also received a $60K scholarship from Booth.

Why MBA?

I believe that I was always interested in pursuing an MBA. However, in the last few years, I realized that it was crucial for me to advance my career. The second reason was that I wanted to get more diverse experiences in terms of industry exposure.

For instance, I had 8 years of experience, but only in the advertising technology space. However, my goal was to move into consulting, which would require me to know a lot more about various industries and geographies. I believe that an international MBA would be the best way to get this global exposure and diverse classroom experiences, giving me a holistic experience - career advancement, diverse industry exposure and access to more leadership opportunities!

School Selection Process

After 8 years of my career, I felt it was important to do an MBA from a top business school. The extensive discussions I had with Piyush on which schools to apply to were extremely helpful. I wanted to keep the number of dream schools in my list much higher than target or safe schools, but these conversations also helped me realize that while aiming for the stars, I should still keep at least 1 school in each of these buckets. I had a plan B for all situations, and I was very happy when we chose 3 dream schools, 2 target schools and 1 safe school as the overall plan.


Application Building Process

I think the overall planning that Piyush helped me with was crucial for my final successes. With a highly structured approach, we were able to make the most of the limited time we had and create a truly memorable career story. This ensured that I spent enough time on each school application rather than just rushing everything and copy-pasting one essay to the other.

The second thing was the narrative that we built together. Having a compelling narrative that highlighted my professional accomplishments and showcased my unique skills and talents was important for me.

My cornerstone was that I wanted to stay true to myself, my passions and my story. The Self-discovery calls to evaluate my key strengths and weaknesses brought in a lot of moments of introspection. I was focused on bringing out my story on why I am looking for an MBA and why it makes sense for me now. Further, being mindful of what each of these schools required and how I fit into their program were the top areas I consistently worked on to perfect it.

Feedback for Management Masters

I believe it's crucial to have somebody that you can connect with, who understands your fears, your apprehensions, your goals, your motivations, and the real reason behind why you're doing an MBA and why you're doing it now. Coming from a non-traditional background with high work experience, I’m glad I found that mentor in Piyush because he was there through thick and thin, and was truly invested in my success. I remember once calling him at 10.30 pm, confused about which school to choose because I was short on time.

"Should I apply to Wharton or Booth?"

He replied, "Why not both?" I believe there are very few people who will be ready to do that.

I chose Management Master’s complete 8-step application framework because it perfectly matched my needs. It looked great on paper, but was even better in practice. I remember Piyush asking me "Why's", almost 20 times during a conversation, which eventually led me to identify certain personal experiences which became the cornerstone of my applications!

I also appreciated his promptness in reviewing my content such as essays and resume. The strict but manageable deadlines were key to ensuring each one of my applications was at its best quality.

Lastly, the level of emotional support that you need during this process is less spoken about. So, for the lack of a better analogy, it was like having a family member work with you. I can count on Piyush as a mentor more than as a consultant!

Advice For Future Candidates

My advice for future candidates is to have a network of people you trust. It is very easy to find free advice in the MBA admissions journey, but it is more important to find people who can guide you in the right direction. Having a community and Piyush as a mentor, I was able to talk freely about my fears and apprehensions. His emotional support heavily added layers of confidence to my journey.

Another sincere suggestion for candidates is to find one’s Northstar and be committed to it. Don’t get swayed by everyone’s opinion. Stay true to yourself and remain aware of what you expect out of the process.

When it comes to the application process, a myth I would like to debunk is that standardized tests are the only important factor and they can make or break your results. Yes, they are important, but the other aspects of the application - your essays, research and motivations matter equally. It is a very holistic selection process and each of these aspects matters. I scored a 730 [Q49, V41] on the GMAT, which is exactly the average of most top business schools, so there must have been some stronger aspects in my application which allowed me to stand out.

Another tip would be to not do everything at once. There are multiple elements such as essays, video essays, and resumes besides the examinations. Trying to balance all at once might get you overwhelmed. Prepare for the GMAT/GRE, research schools, seek advice from current students and alumni, and write essays with a structured approach. Remember to finish the exam early to allow ample time to focus on other equally important aspects of the application.

My ultimate advice for students is to remain grounded, authentic, and consistent throughout the MBA application process. Cut out the noise and just focus on YOU and why this is important to you.

Watch The Video Interview

You can also watch the complete video interview below.



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