Add rigor and system to your application to Wharton MBA

In my last post I outlined why I think most applicants to Wharton fail, and also gave a few pointers on what should be done instead. In this post I am offering a simple way to approach the application to Wharton and Wharton/Lauder in a rigorous and organized way.

In the Art of War, Sun Tzu summarized the fundamental principles for an MBA application strategy in a very eloquent and surprisingly up-to-date verse:

故曰:知彼知己,百戰不殆;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼,不知己,每戰必殆。

i.e. “So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”

If you want to get very strategic about your use of all the tools that the application form gives you, you could—for a sophisticated and targeted application—use the following approach:

  1. Outline your professional and personal goals. Your goals are a fundamental thing that define everything.
  2.  Define strengths that make you unique, or as Paul Bodine calls them in his wonderful book, which you should definitely buy,—your marketing handles. Think of them as supporting pillars of your application, or these can also be defined as short overarching themes of the application, i.e. “International Experience”, “Well-rounded”, “Animal Lover”, “Turnaround specialist”, “World Champion”, “From Rags To Riches” etc. This is where you place your bets, and it is important to market your candidature using the strongest marketing handles you got in your arsenal.
  3. Define other details that help you stand out, these are grouped in different categories such as hobbies, family background, special talents, i.e. “Hot Air Baloons” in hobbies, or “Brazilian Asian” in family background.
  4. Define strong stories from both personal and professional life that illustrate the #2 and #3. Then decide which of them tie into #1 and how.
  5. Analyze Wharton’s application form and process.
  6. Draw up a goals matrix based on analysis in #5. What is a goals matrix? —It is a table that maps your goals to the tools in the application. Download my generic example of the matrix so you can edit and expand it in all directions to suit a particular school. It gets really comprehensive when you add sub-goals, entries from #3 above, tactical approaches, stories, sketches, etc. You get the point.
  7. Write.
  8. Edit
  9. Collect all the 3-rd party inputs, i.e. exam scores for GMAT, OPI, TOEFL, school transcripts, notarized copies of all important documents, certified translations of foreign documents, follow up with your recommenders to make sure they are on schedule, etc.
  10. Repeat #7, #8, and #9 until you have reached all the goals in your matrix so that your application portrays you in a comprehensive and compelling way.
  11. Review and submit application to Wharton.

The point is—the first and very important step in applying to a top business school like Wharton is to analyze yourself and your target school. After that you absolutely need to have a plan.  If you are as talented as Sun Tze (at Wharton you will meet quite a few people who are on par with him intellectually) you may do all the planning in your head, alternatively, you may find or devise a planning tool that is effective and suits your personality and work preferences.

Why Most Applicants to Wharton Fail

Wharton is a super elite business school, make no mistake about that.  Note and shameless plug: The Wharton/Lauder program is even more exclusive. Every year thousands of applicants submit their applications in hopes of joining the ranks of Wharton MBAs with a unique life-long access to cutting edge business thought and education, an exceptional and powerful alumni network, very handsomely paid jobs (for the rest of their lives), and a good chance at extreme wealth and power anywhere they go. A Wharton MBA changes one’s life for the better. It has changed my life for the better, and I know my life and career will remain on a steep upward trajectory for very many years.

There is a lot to gain, stakes are high, and people from all over the world spare no effort or expense to get into Wharton.  They take the GMAT over and over until they enter the much coveted 700 points club, they hire very expensive consultants to hold their hand and “improve their profiles”, sacrifice vacation time to visit campus, schmooze with current students, try to befriend the professors, and write hundreds and hundreds of emails to the adcom with questions about the wonderful school life at Wharton.  They also spend days and days in front of the computer on the wonderfully informative GMAT Club forum (I am a regular contributor) and a competing resource on BusinessWeek.com (not a fan at all) in hopes of getting that tiny bit of information, if only a hint, a slight glimpse into the future and what awaits.

However most applicants fail to gain acceptance, and the failure tastes very bitter. There is a number of reasons why this happens, and one of them is bad luck, but everything else being equal, it is the quality of application itself and a lack of the overall application strategy that prevent the email-spewing “profile improvers” from getting in the door.

Below is my attempt at painting a picture of an applicant who will never get in:

Five main traits of an applicant who will never get admitted to Wharton

1. Cluelessness

My experience with dozens of applicants shows that the absolute majority of these people are clueless kittens.  Often people approach me after they have submitted an application to Wharton, and after a few minutes of conversation it becomes clear they have absolutely no clue about the application process or the components of the application itself. Most importantly, they lack any substantial understanding of themselves, and so their applications most certainly revealed that.  Without this understanding they cannot really tell the world who they are and why they are unique in any detail.

Despite the fact that absolutely every book on the topic of MBA admissions out there stresses the importance of self-reflection before you sit down and start writing, few people do it in a systematic way. Most applicants assume they have all the information about themselves stored in their heads anyway, and all that examination of self is for someone else to do.

A very thorough examination of one’s weaknesses, strengths, dreams, aspirations, sins and merits is an absolute must if you want in at Wharton.

2. Low scale

Many candidates are afraid to think big or pursue mega goals. Mega scale scares the living soul out of them, and so they settle on tiny tactical goals, which they pronounce “realistic” and therefore “believable” and “comfortable” when they explain why they need the education. Quite often applicants conceal their true goals and claim other “more interesting” goals in their blind quest for the non-existing magic recipe to get in (many people mistakenly think that candidates with certain goals have a better chance than others). This is exactly the opposite of “change the world” type of aspirations—true and sincere aspirations—one would meet among the Wharton MBAs.

Dream big, aim high if you want in.

3. Fear

The miniscule scale breeds a lot of fear.  I must admit fear is what paralyses most applicants at some point, and I—too—fell prey to that feeling when I was an applicant myself, but I overcame that emotion because I clearly understood its crippling effects. However most applicants just do not get rid of the chills. Looking at the above paragraph, I must say that it is a chicken and egg problem as fear is probably what makes them aspire for the “realistic” and the “comfortable” in the first place.

They are afraid that there is no cure for their lowish GPA in undergrad, that their community contributions were tiny (so they urgently start teaching math to unsuspecting inner-city kids or helping the equally unsuspecting homeless guys hold their bowls at the soup kitchen). They repeatedly ask themselves questions about “the true cost of MBA” and map put “opportunity costs”, i.e. they are afraid to make changes in their “comfortable” and predictable lives, take drastic and powerful turns to change themselves and the world along the way, and continue with the penny counting. These people are scared that their unpaid speeding and parking tickets from five years ago will be a major obstacle, and they also think that deviating from a one-page format of the CV will be a major roadblock on the way in.

A Wharton MBA applicant just like any good businessman or a warrior has to be fearless to succeed.

And by the way, one must actually truly care about community contributions, it comes naturally, and cannot be faked.

4. Lack of strategy

Most applicants that I have had the pleasure of communicating with did not even bother constructing the big picture. At best they just looked at the application process as a recovering alcoholic looks at his life, i.e. “one day at a time”.  In most cases, they discover what exactly the application form contains the moment they decide to populate it with information. Needless to say most of these guys and gals end up on the curb. You can spot these characters early on: they usually post questions on GMAT Club that sound similar to “Do you know what we should write in Section A?” or “My GPA was 3.456, is it OK to round it up to 3.5?” This type of comments just reveals that the candidate has not followed an organized, disciplined approach to the application.

What one really needs is a very detailed strategy, an aggressive and multidimensional plan, and a clear understanding what kind of tools the school gives you to deliver the message you want the school to hear. Of course, this rides on the premise that you do not have Cluelessness (see #1 above) or Fear (see #3).

The better the strategy the higher the chances at acceptance at Wharton.

5. Poor execution

Most people mistakenly think that the application is limited to writing, photocopying undergrad transcripts and performing other types paper shuffling.  Some go as far as writing a blog about how the stapling and the trips to the FedEx office, and some even manage to damage their submitted applications beyond repair by blogging about how the paper shuffling was done in their particular case (yeah, I am looking at you, Chris). This is just one example of poor execution.

I am convinced that visiting the school has a huge impact on the quality of the application. Now, there is visiting and there’s visiting.  Remember, most candidates who visit the school have no plan and are Clueless (see #4 and #1 respectively above) and so they just show up in Huntsman Hall, bounce around from wall to wall, sometimes they sit on classes and generally have the facade of what “should be done”. Of course, they take a tour of campus in a group of equally unprepared applicants, and leave thinking that the “Campus visit” check box is now filled and they have gained advantage over everyone else. Wrong.

Poor execution permeates every step an unsuccessful applicant makes: from misspellings on essays (one female applicant in 2011 wrote about her experience in conSLuting” for example) to using smiley faces as punctuation :)   These people spend hours thinking about the color and brand of the suit to wear for the interview instead of actually preparing for the high-stakes conversation itself, and so on.

Good strategy has to be executed to perfection if you are seeking admissions at Wharton. The color and brand of your suit add absolutely nothing to your success.

So if anything above, my dear reader, describes you in some way, your chances of getting in at Wharton are zero. No need to fret about the seeming unfairness of the admissions process if you have been denied this year. It should help if you can regroup and start from the beginning, i.e. get rid of the Cluelessness, Low Scale, Fear, Lack of Strategy and Poor Execution, and the world might smile at you with its happy Wharton MBA smile.

Paul Hynek: Think of the two years on campus as orientation for the life-long program.

Paul Hynek, who is the current President of the Lauder Institute Alumni Association, has kindly found time to talk with the me about his experience at the Wharton/Lauder program.  One of the recurring themes that is not difficult to identify in conversations about the Wharton/Lauder program with the alumni is that it invariably has a profound positive influence on both professional and personal development.  Paul’s career success and contributions to communities everywhere he goes speak for themselves.

What’s the magic recipe behind the positive force of the program?  How does one harness the great potential and take advantage of the many opportunities that come with it?  Here’s what Paul thinks about it:

DENIS: Paul, you graduated from Wharton/Lauder a while ago, and back then it was a different program in many ways. Did the program meet your expectations? Did it enable you to achieve all the goals that you had set when you were applying?

PAUL: I have always been a huge fan of the Wharton/Lauder program.

DENISYou mentioned in the speech you gave during the [Lauder] graduation ceremony in 2010 that you saw yourself as a Penn student more than anything…

PAUL:   Yes, that’s right. Benjamin Franklin has always been my hero and Penn has such a variety of outstanding schools:  Business, Engineering, Law, Medical, Dental, etc. It is a fascinating place!

DENIS: What was the particular appeal of the Lauder Institute and why did it shape your choice of a graduate school?

PAUL: I had been a French major in college, and my view of the world changed radically when I left my comfortable suburban Chicago and went off to live in France for a year.  It really taught me to think much more from a global point of view, and I loved learning the language, I loved being in a different culture, being challenged.  And I wanted more of that, I thought it would just be a tremendous way to enhance what I would learn in a more traditional MBA program.

DENIS: In retrospect, what aspect of that education has proved to be most useful and valuable?

PAUL: The combination of what I got from both Wharton and Lauder. Wharton taught me to arbitrage basically anything I come across:  how to find opportunities for financial [gain], information, product or service delivery, how to recognize opportunities to do something more efficiently or provide something in a better way—it’s just to sort of have my antennae out all the time to spot opportunities that may not be obvious had I not gone to Wharton.

And from Lauder:   it did fulfill the promise to give me a much more global point of view of the world and the ability to not just see data points behinds the events going on around the world, but because I have some of the underlying cultural context, I could see the trends that are driving them.  And that could be more important—it is one thing to know where something is, but to have an idea of where it might be going is much more valuable.

DENIS: When you were going through the program, do you remember what were your favorite subjects at Lauder?

PAUL: My favorite subjects? I ate it all up!  I actually saw myself as more of a Lauder student than Wharton.  I really prioritized [Lauder] and I was a very diligent student in all my Lauder classes, I did not skip out of them for interviews and things like that…

DENIS: What was the influence of the Wharton MBA experience on your professional life?

PAUL: I can speak to the extent of that influence:  it is complete and fundamental in terms of how it transformed my career, every single thing I have done since graduation. Most of the things I have been involved with are directly because of Wharton or Lauder, and the ones that aren’t have all been significantly enhanced because of it:  either a better position, a higher salary, and always just better and more fulfilling responsibility.

DENISCan you give an example?

PAUL: Sure, I really see myself as a high-tech software type guy, and I got into that because I was Vice President of the Princeton Review of Japan living in Tokyo, and a very good friend of mine, Richard Sprague, Lauder ’91, was working for Apple Japan, and he introduced to this whole new world of software technology.

DENIS: I know you eventually became a tech entrepreneur. Was your MBA degree of any value there? Was it at all applicable?

PAUL: I’ve had people ask me: “Well, why would you go to business school if you are just going to be an entrepreneur?” And I see it exactly the opposite way—especially for me, I really would not want to be an entrepreneur without the benefit of having gone to Wharton/Lauder.   Apart from the classes specifically devoted to entrepreneurship, which are great, virtually every single class, every person I met, and every event I went to is helpful to me.

DENIS: In what way?

PAUL: Learning some new technique, or another pattern that somebody’s gone through that I can apply in my entrepreneurial career.  Then there are just the basic things; but the most important thing I got out of the program in relation to entrepreneurship is confidence.   I think we are all a pretty confident lot who get into Wharton/Lauder, and you can’t help but leave with a whole lot more confidence.  Next to passion, I think confidence is the most important thing you can have in entrepreneurship. So any program that jacks up your confidence is worth far more than you pay both in terms of the tuition and the opportunity cost for the time that you spend there. Another one is the ability to break down highly complex dynamic situations where you have incomplete information that tend to stall a lot of people into kind of a paralysis.  The program gives you the ability to prioritize and coordinate, to break down these situations into bite-sized actions that you can work on immediately regardless on how the other parts may not lend themselves to action right away, and so that you can keep moving towards your goals.  It is a really nice skill to be able to break these things down into things that you can work on right now.

And then another thing that I got out of it is the rich vein of patterns that you can learn in class, from your classmates and case studies. You can map that knowledge back to your specific problem.  For example, I was getting some funny business from my first Chinese factory.  The problem I had that they sent me $80,000 worth of electronic items that did not work.  Since it was my first factory, I had no experience, and had no experience to draw on, and it was such a foreign situation to me:  the culture, or the subculture of Chinese factory owners that I have not learned yet about. So I have loosened up the definition in my mind of Chinese factory owners screwing me over, and redefined it as overdependence on a single supplier, which is classical MBA speak. By looking at it that way, at that higher abstract layer, I was able to pattern match it to examples that I had heard on campus. Then I shipped it back down to my specific level, and mapped some of these best practices and tips to my particular situation, and I was able to resolve the matter.  First, I fixed the faulty product myself by gearing up an ad-hoc production line in my fulfillment center in the States.  I negotiated a better deal with the factory owner, and lined up a backup factory as well.

It did not hurt that because of Lauder I was completely prepared, and I had my ticket to go to China and tell him that he’d have to tell me in my face that he was not going to make good, and so he knew that, and he did not want me to come there.  As a footnote, he has since become a trusted friend of mine. The first time I went to visit him, I learned a bit of Mandarin, but not only did he not understand my Mandarin, he did not even realize I was trying to speak the language. But being the good Lauder boy that I am, undaunted I went back on my own, and the next time I went back, I was able to make out a conversation in their Ningbo dialect what prices another factory owner was giving my factory rep, and from that I was able to determine what commission percentage my factory rep was charging me.  Because of Lauder I was able to understand the factory owner, and befriend him, and then learn without committing them myself probably the top 100 mistakes that people make in dealing with Chinese factory owners.

DENIS: You are now actively involved with the Lauder Institute Alumni Association. Can you tell us a little about the goals of your involvement?

PAUL: I am the President of the LIAA.  It serves to keep bringing ongoing benefits and enable communication between alums.

We were building on the great foundation that was made before our time (hats off to Norm Savoie and company) and we have just recently started a monthly newsletter, called “The Lauder Times,” and there is a section that is called Lauder Love, where we want to spread discounts on products, job postings, all the kind of things like that. As the first one I offered my software for free, and about fifty people downloaded it so far.

Our goal is to have a whole lot of events; so we are going to have our Global Forum in 2013 and other events… but the challenge with our alumni is because they are spread all around the world, a lot of them just cannot go to various events. We want to come up with things that will be of benefit to people that cannot attend something; and we have several other initiatives we are working on that will be coming up in the subsequent editions of the newsletter.

I am also an admissions interviewer for Lauder, and I enjoy that very much.  It is fun! Wharton interviews shifted to the more behavioral style, whereas Lauder is more classical, and I like it:  I like meeting people.  I go to lots of admissions events as well—for both Wharton and Lauder—and I will be the sort of a Lauder guy at the Wharton admission events, and I’d tell people about why I chose Wharton and Lauder.  I enjoy that quite a lot.

Basically, not a day goes by where I don’t have some form of interaction from somebody from Lauder.

DENIS: What advice would you give the new graduates from the program?

PAUL: The main thing I would say is:  stay involved. It is not a two-year program.  Think of the two years on campus as orientation for the life-long program; I encourage people to adopt that point of reference.

A friend of mine—and I agree with him—said that in the years right after graduation he saw the benefits that he got out of the program split roughly equally between these three things:   one third for classroom learning, one third for Wharton and Lauder relationships that he made at school, and then one third for Wharton and Lauder relationships he made after school.  As time goes by the importance shifts from classroom learning to emphasize more the relationships you made at school and then in particular—the relationships you made after school.  It’s really not enough to just keep in touch with the buddies you have from school, but you have to keep growing your circle and staying active, and meeting more people.   That’s exactly what we want to help people do at LIAA.

DENIS: What would be your advice to those who have just started the program and joined our large family?  What should they be concentrating on and what would help them have a better experience at school?

PAUL: There are two lessons I learned when I got there that nobody had told me about before, and I wish I had know going in:

One was that it is a game, and you have to realize that you will be given more work than you can possibly do.  And if you are a type-A person, an overachiever, it is a difficult realization to understand that you cannot do all the work, and that you have to develop strategies to maximize your coverage.

Do they still have study groups or is there a different term for that?

DENIS: They call them “learning teams” these days.

PAUL: So you need to have a good learning team, efficient time management and the ability to get the tells (you know that poker term: the tells) from the professors to know what’s really going to be on the tests. But that’s just part of the game.

Two: you also have to let the unimportant stuff go, and eventually if you understand that it is a game, that they are giving you too much stuff, and that you have to prioritize, you’ll get on top of it. You will see that you will have time to prepare and be able to do well on the tests, but also to learn things that aren’t test-related just because they interest you.

You are in an Ivy League school, and there a lot of things that you can get involved with.  Perhaps, in a class you take a tangent from a chapter to something else just because it is interesting to you, but you have to get to the point where you feel comfortable playing the game of having what you have to get done—done, and not worrying about the stuff that you can’t get done.  The benefit of this, the nice thing that I learned is that because of the nature of business school, and Wharton/Lauder in particular, you may well find that blowing off reading a chapter from a class that you have to read by the next day to go have a beer with a classmate could actually be more beneficial to you in the long term than reading that chapter.

Striking up that relationship with somebody you do not know that well could pay off much better than just reading some chapter that you’re going to forget in a year.

You know, I was eating breakfast and dinner in the Law School cafeteria, and I met tons of law students: compared to us, they were a somewhat miserable bunch.  You could tell that we were happy about our situation, and one time they asked us what kind of social things we had coming up, and we listed about ten of them. They said, “No, no. Not for the rest of the semester, just this weekend.” And we said, “No, that’s just tonight!”   We had so many things going on that they weren’t used to!  When I got to the point where I could manage my time effectively, and understood the importance of those events, I was a very happy guy indeed!

DENIS: Thank you, Paul!

Update from Director of Lauder Institute: Innovations Abound

Disclaimer: I have been waiting to release this post for a few months now, thinking that it would be most useful for those aspiring business school applicants from all over the world who are now defining the schools they want to target. Wharton/Lauder MBA/MA program strives to attract the best applicants, and I think providing this information now will give my beloved school an edge in this process.

My goal in interviewing Prof. Mauro Guillen, Director of the Lauder Institute, was to get an update on how the program was changing, and how some of the earlier initiatives had been developing. It is amazing that Prof. Mauro Guillen was able to find time in his busy schedule on April 12, 2011 to talk with me on the phone and explain in detail what was new at the Lauder Institute. Thank you, Mauro!

Interview:

Me: Mauro, there has been quite a bit of change in the Wharton approach to its curriculum, and I wonder how Lauder has been involved?

Prof. Mauro Guillen: Lauder is embracing change and constantly evolving into a more flexible, stronger, up-to-date program. We have recently published a 3-year report on our website, where I summarized some of the progress that has been made between 2007 and 2010 (The report is available in English, and Spanish.)

We are expanding our academic program. This year, we added the Hindi track, and admitted 5 students. There was a lot of interest in the new program so I am very optimistic about its prospects.

Next, we are thinking about an Africa track. Right now, the discussions we have had leads to a new type of a program as this might be not a traditional language-focused track. That would make us the first top business school in the world to focus on Africa.

Lauder is adding more cross-cultural stuff on a selection basis. For example, the Culture Quest. We plan on doing this once or twice a year in different parts of the world. The idea is to have a race across a multicultural region — and this year it will be in Latin America. The goal is for the Cuture Quest to be an educational activity: there is a plan to throw in a mix of lectures on campus, all sorts of visits on the ground, and ultimately getting from point A to point B that way. I see this as a very important step: in a sense, we are taking a step away from country focuses, and helping participants dissect a whole region getting a condensed view of the communities, and problems they are facing.

We are organizing big conferences with academics. One was just last week: big open event for all Wharton in Huntsman Hall. It was funded by the Institute, and these events are not a small thing. The budget was $180K – expensive, but we think it is important to lead the academic activities this way, and it is a beginning of a series of key academic events. We will take the conference to other cities, i.e. Dubai, Shanghai, etc. For example, we want to get more involved in policy making debate, and it is important to make it an international discussion.

All of these will take Lauder to the next level.

Me: Language instruction has always been in the center of the Institute’s attention. What is the school doing in that domain?

Prof. Mauro Guillen: We continue to strengthen our language programs as our core focus on international communication has not changed. We are hiring new people for some tracks; all of them are OPI certified. We have introduced a more seamless curriculum.
We have changed the benchmark away from strictly OPI-based graduation

Over the last three years, student language performance has improved dramatically, and a substantially higher proportion of students achieve 3 and above on OPI on exit. At the same time, we are more flexible with the students who have made the progress, but have not quite reached the level of 3 on OPI. I want to say that we are not changing the graduation requirements when it comes to language standards, but at the same time we are more flexible and look at such students on a case-by-case basis.

Overall, our language program is constantly evolving.

Me: My year (2010) was the pioneer of the Global Knowledge Lab. What has the feedback been so far?

Prof. Mauro Guillen: Two years now have done the GKL. We kept the model of the Lab, and expanded the number of projects. At the same time, we increased support of the projects. The results have been mostly positive. Students have done an outstanding work so far: some of the student research will be published… there soon will be a book with some of our students’ work.

Me: Lauder Summer Immersion is when the excitement really starts. Any developments there?

Prof. Mauro Guillen:This year, there are few changes. Because of the earthquake and the tsunami, Japan track is getting moved to the Honshu area. Spanish track is going to Colombia this year. Indian track is new, and they are doing everything for the first time. Chinese track’s schedule is not drastically different from last year.

Me: during the crisis summer of 2009, the Lauder Institute went out of its way to help students with summer internship placements, and as far as I know, the Institute continues to focus on helping students find jobs that suit their career goals. What progress has been done in this area?

Prof. Mauro Guillen: We continue to focus on career development. This year we have made a lot of progress with internships, so this remains unchanged. However, we are now going to offer career coaching to our students. One senior fellow with help students with advice on their careers; he is someone who has a lot of experience in Private Equity, Venture Captial and Investment Banking. He lives in DC, teaches a class at Stanford. We are very excited to have the ability to offer this assistance to our students. The project became possible through a donation by a Lauder alum, who is a business associate of the career coach we are so fortunate to have.

Me: Thank you, Mauro! All this activity proves that our school remains very much alive and vibrant as ever. Good luck with all these wonderful initiatives you are working on!

Letter to the Class of 2013! Welcome to the Lauder Family!

Posted by Wes Whitaker (Russian Track, Class of 2012)

This Monday marks another important milestone for the Lauder Institute.  In less than 48 hours, the fresh faces of the new Lauder Class of 2013 will arrive on campus for the very first time.  I remember all too well the excitement and anticipation they must be feeling as they leave their jobs, pack up their belongings, and prepare to re-route their entire lives to Philadelphia for two whole years.  While I am certainly excited for the incoming students, it is with bittersweet emotion that I reflect back on my first year in Lauder; it has flown by!  Get ready Class of 2013; it is going to be a challenging, fun, rewarding, wild ride!  I don’t remember a single dull moment in the last 12 months.

In honor of the Class of 2013, I asked Lauder’s Director of Admissions, Marcy Bevan, to give us a rundown of what to expect from the incoming class (By the way, she has helped shape the Lauder Institute since its founding in 1983 and claims to be on a first-name basis with every single student in Lauder’s history!).  She brilliantly decided to reply to me in the form of a letter to the incoming Class, which I have copied below.  Welcome to Lauder Class of 2013; we can’t wait to meet you!

Dear Incoming Class of 2013,

Welcome to Lauder! 70 strong, you are the second largest Class in the 27 years of the Lauder Institute’s existence. Five of you are JD/MA students. There are 33 women (47%) and 37 men (53%). This represents a new high for the percentage of women! The average age of the class is 27 while the range of ages is from 23-32. From Bahrain to the Ukraine, there are 12 countries represented by primary citizenship. 31% of the Class is considered international….including eight from Brazil!  An additional 15 of you are dual citizens. All of you speak two languages and many of you speak more!  The actual breakdown of enrollment by language is as follows: Arabic- 6; Chinese -18; French- 9; German – 4; Hindi- 5; Japanese- 3; Portuguese: 9; Russian- 3; and Spanish- 13.

Two of the members of the class are younger brothers of Lauder graduates. You are former consultants, bankers, as well as entrepreneurs. Three of you are former Fulbright scholars. One of you is the great-great-grandson of the last King of Egypt. Another of you is a published novelist.

You are all travelers! Among you are Varsity athletes, scuba divers and many runners! In your midst are two college varsity women’s hockey players, a bronze medalist at the French University Rowing Championships, a sky diver, and hikers. Those of you who are musicians include a classical pianist and multiple guitar players, and a singer of the National anthem at Red Sox-Yankees game. You have been involved in competitive ballroom dancing, swing dancing, Carnival dancing, belly dancing and just dancing.

One of you served as an Interpreter (in Japan) for Prince Albert of Lichtenstein. Also in the class are: a Marine Helicopter pilot; a commercial actor; a screenwriter; a Bollywood actor; a former weather anchor in Japan; an Artistic Director at Cirque du Soleil, and a former dog walker.  One of you tracked koalas in Australia. Another of you did anthropological research in Ghana.

You are a very socially conscious group: many of you have worked for non-profit organizations. You volunteered: with orphans in India and Vietnam; with micro finance in Gambia; helping educate impoverished families in Peru; and with immigrant rights.

You are an interesting and diverse class and we look forward to the beginning of this great adventure!

Dr. Marcy Bevan, Director of Admissions & External Affairs, Lauder Institute