We went into some detail the other day on the subject of “What major should I select on my MBA application?” and of course as soon as we published that, we realized that it could send some Brave Supplicants down a wrong path.
As we explained then, in choosing a major on your app, the stakes are highest for Wharton in one specific area: Their Healthcare Management MBA. If you apply to Wharton HCM, then you need to opt into that at time of application — and if they decide you’re not a fit to HCM then they’re not going to admit you to Wharton at all. This is apparently a change this year; in the past, you could say “Yeah, I’d love to do healthcare, but if you just want to accept me to the regular Wharton MBA then that’s fine too!” and they’d consider you for both, or then default you into the standard MBA applicant pool if they denied you to HCM. Now, if you say you want HCM, then it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. (They’ve made this change for Wharton/Lauder this year too, though that’s even more a different application than the Wharton HCM is.)
For other schools, and other majors at Wharton, you don’t need to declare your interest upfront. You just apply, and yes, most schools want you to indicate what major or concentration you’re interested in within the app, but you’re not committing to it, and they’re not making admit decisions based on what you pick.
Or are they?
We know of some applicants who like to overthink things. They look at a list of concentrations spelled out in an MBA app and they go, “Hmm. There’s probably not many people choosing X from this list! Maybe I’ll pick that! That way, I’ll stand out and be different!!”
Welllll…… yeah sure OK, they may be curious to read more about you if you choose an atypical or less-popular major, but then they’re going to study the rest of the application. Does that major line up with what you’re saying you want to do with the MBA? Is there evidence of past exposure or interest or studies, at least tangentially, that backs up your choice of that in the application?
If not, then this ain’t gonna fly. It could even work against you. Don’t get too creative with this.
This type of overthinking happens even more often on career goals — and it’s even more of a risk if you do it there. It’s basically the opposite of authentic if you’re strategizing on how to get noticed, instead of reflecting on what’s the true answer to each question you’re being asked.
And as we warned you in that prior post, even if you’re not intentionally trying to game the system, you still need to step back and do a reality check against everything you enter. Is everything consistent? Does it line up?
We see weirdness happening in app datasets all the time. If the adcom has a Scooby Doo reaction to anything you say:
Then that’s kind of not so great.
Say on the student clubs page, you choose the PE/VC Association, but then for the major, you choose Supply Chain. We can see how maybe those things work together, but that’s a non-obvious set of choices. Is it somehow touched on or explained elsewhere? Is it logical in the big-picture view?
Validate. Verify. Confirm.
Go through everything one more time when you’re fresh. At the beginning of the day, not at 1:30am.
You all are making great progress right now. You want to prevent those “Doh!” experiences later, where you review the application after it’s been submitted and catch all the things you wish you’d taken just a wee bit more time on before. Now is your “before” opportunity. Slow down, be methodical, and you’re much more likely to find these things before it’s too late!