1. Plan and practice presenting the various strengths of your MBA candidacy. This session is required for admission but not every participant will impress the admissions committee, so take it seriously.
2. Be confident! After all, if you had not already displayed the basic qualifications for admission to Wharton you would not have been invited to take this next important step. The admissions committee will consider your entire profile and potential, as well as the TBD, when making their final decision.
3. Study the “prompt” that’s included in your invitation from Wharton. Understanding the group’s proposed conversation topic will elevate your comfort and confidence when making your first comments. However, once you and your fellow participants share your perspectives on the assigned prompt, the discussion will take on a life of its own. So, remain nimble and thoughtful as you listen, respond and advance the conversation.
4. Choose wisely when engaging an admissions consulting firm with the expertise to help you prepare and practice. The best option is to work directly with an experienced Wharton graduate who moderated actual TBD sessions (The MBA Exchange proudly features two such experts!) And, be sure you get an individual assessment of your performance and a confidential video of your practice session so you can continue refining your approach until the big day arrives.
5. Don’t commit in advance to being either a “leader” or a “contributor.” Successful TBD participants demonstrate strength and authenticity in both leadership and teamwork. Any comment in the room could be your ideal opportunity to either elevate, clarify, summarize, support or challenge.
6. Feel free to break the tension with a little humor, if and when appropriate. The best choice is a bit of harmless self-deprecation rather than taking a chance of offending or slighting anyone else in the room. At the very least, a sincere smile goes a long way.
7. Avoid obsessing! Simply model the type of positive behavior that you will demonstrate if and when you are admitted. The official Wharton observers are looking for participants with traits that will add value for fellow students and enhance the campus culture.