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#209 How Wharton Reviews MBA Applicants & More with Thomas Caleel, Former Head of MBA Admissions for Wharton

“What I would look for is intellectual curiosity. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but I want you to be relentlessly curious… How have you created opportunities for yourself relative to your advantage and background, and how have you overachieved in areas of your life?”

Thomas Caleel, former Head of MBA Admissions for Wharton, takes us behind the scenes of how an Admissions Director builds a class and what he or she looks for from applicants. What are the key qualities and characteristics that admissions committees look for? How did Thomas’ team review 8,000 applicants per year? And how can you craft a thoughtful, authentic and compelling application that stands out?

About Thomas

Thomas Caleel is host of the Admittedly Podcast and Chairman and Founder of Global Education Opportunities, LLC, an international education consulting and admissions advisory firm. Thomas served as the Head of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid for The Wharton Business School from 2005 – 2008, where he observed how exceptional candidates were able to successfully differentiate themselves.

Thomas graduted from the University of Pennsylvania twice, first with a Bachelors in International Relations and then with an MBA from Wharton in 2003.


  • Introducing Thomas Caleel (0:00)
  • What “holistic MBA admissions” means to Thomas (7:00)
  • Behind the scenes of how Wharton reviews 8,000 applicants to build a class (16:25)
  • How applicants can stand out (20:55)
  • How Thomas helps his clients find their authentic voice (25:20)
  • Thoughtful MBA goals (30:30)
  • How Thomas’ team evaluated GMAT/GRE scores (34:45)
  • Advice for international students (40:10)
  • Thomas’ thoughts on MBA ROI (46:20)
  • How Thomas views the MBA, 20 years after graduating (54:00)
  • Should entrepreneurs get an MBA? (57:00)

Show Notes


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