Wharton’s Female Enrollment Is Up Because Alums Have Helped Clear Up Business School Myths

Ankur Kumar, deputy director of Admissions for The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of  Business, attributes a large part of female enrollment being up for the past three years, and popping up to a record 45% for the class of 2013, because of female alumnae involvement in the recruitment process.

Female enrollment is up at a number of business schools, but Wharton leads the pack. A report published by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that more than 100,000 women took the Graduate Management Admission Test, the standardized examination used for business school admissions. This number represents a 3.3% annual growth rate over the past decade and contributes to the lowest-ever male-to-female ratio of GMAT exams taken.

Female alumnae “are the featured stars of the show when we do our presentations around the globe. We use them to tell their own stories and to talk with applicants one-on-one and share their experiences in the program. It’s a great way for applicants to learn about the program firsthand. They don’t want to hear me. They want to hear directly from those who sound more like them,” said Kumar, who is a graduate of the program herself.  She said the women are helping to dispel two big myths surrounding MBA programs: the cutthroat, competitive nature of business schools and what the opportunities are with this degree. “You can leverage an MBA degree in industries like retail or in organizations in the social sector which historically didn’t have the degree as part of the value proposition.” For example, Rent the Runway founders Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman attended Harvard Business School. Fashion and real estate entrepreneur Ivanka Trump is also an alum of Wharton.

Kumar’s main advice for aspiring business school student is, “the best way for an applicant to get our attention is to use the application. They should just tell their story and be genuine, direct, and clear. That’s the best way to go about it.”


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