Current Wharton Student Majoring in Finance: ASK ME ANYTHING!

@fintech3753 is a current student at the Wharton School from CA.


Valedictorian of class of about 250
SAT: 1570 (800 Math, 770 Reading)
SAT II: 800 Math II, 800 Bio, 790 Chem
AP Exams: 4 5’s, 4 4’s

ECs: DECA, entrepreneurship club, band, research, math/science volunteer tutor

He was drawn to Wharton because he truly loved business and wanted to study it from the onset, and while he couldn’t apply ED because of financial aid, he was incredibly grateful to join the class. Concentrating in finance, he is hoping to pursue a career at the intersection of finance and technology but is still exploring his options. In addition to finance/technology, he is interested in politics and psychology.

@fintech3753 will be our Guest Student of the Week so make sure to ask all your questions about the application process, his advice, and his experiences at Penn/Wharton (and avoid questions that request any personal details).

My question for you, @fintech3753 is, how would I get a group of students together who enjoy what we do? (technology, finance, psychology, politics)

Congrats on being at Wharton! I have a few questions. How many students matriculate into Wharton undergrad in a given year (I’m guessing about 250 students per year?)? Is it a very stressful culture … is it cutthroat because of the curve or do students help each other out with study groups? Is Wharton undergrad evenly split between men & women? What high school classes would you say are not only helpful but really necessary to start strong at Wharton (BC or AB calc? Stats? Econ? Other?). Do you see any common threads in the kids who are accepted in terms of what they accomplished before arriving at Penn (for example, are they all mostly valedictorians like you, or did they all start businesses, etc).

What tips do you have for the wharton essays? Around what percentage do you think the ED rate is for wharton?

Thank you and congrats!

So I am not really sure if you are referring to within your school or more broadly, but my advice would be to find a small set of people at first (close friends, people you have worked with before) and to then cultivate the power of social media (LinkedIn, even Instagram) and try your best to get the word out. I am sure there are many people that would love to collaborate with you on those fields, so it is not always hard to come by. Additionally, there are always pre-existing groups that you can join to find a community, so don’t always feel that you need to start something to develop a network of like-minded individuals.


Number of students: 2500 undergraduates within the school, 513 matriculated I believe.

Naturally, I think at this level, any school would be stressful. You are surrounded by so many kids with unique skills and as many are used to being high achieving within their high school, you will be at times average or below average which takes some getting used to. With regards to it being cutthroat, I never felt as though it was cutthroat as much as it was people competing to be their best selves. I have a good group of friends so I have had a good time working with people (it is often requisite within classes). People are high achieving and want to do their best, so yeah the curve can get kinda tough at times, but it’s not impossible to do well. Your experience goes far beyond your GPA, so that shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

43% female, so not perfectly even split.

No classes are entirely necessary (if you have AP Econ credit, you get a waiver for Intro to Econ, so it helps you take more classes, but it’s not the end of the world if you take it here). All those classes are helpful, but again, everyone has such different backgrounds academically so take the most challenging courses you feel are reasonable for yourself within the context of your high school.

Not at all! Some are valedictorians and class presidents while others are entrepreneurs and advocates. The common thread I find is that they are 1. truly and really interested in business (ideally beyond the compensation) and 2. endavour to have an impact wherever they are, whether that be helping their soccer team win the state title or working on a non-profit. Contrary to common belief, I think b-schools want just as much diversity in thought as any college, so don’t feel you need to fit a mold.

To be honest, no idea. The ED admit rate for Penn in general is 19.7 percent, but when you account for recruited athletes + legacy, I think it would drop a decent amount. Secondly, just remember that ED for Wharton may be very self-selecting. My advice is that if your stats are in the ballpark of the averages and you are sure you want to go to Wharton, try your best.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on the essays or Penn admission, so just take this as my option. I think my two biggest pieces of advice for the essay are to 1. think deeply into what really was the launching point for your interest in the field and 2. make sure you highlight qualities that go beyond your capacity for business. For the first point, I think people just talk about (for Wharton at least) DECA, FBLA , or an economics class. Even if that essay is incredibly well written, if it is too basic in its ideas, I don’t know how receptive an AO would be to it. If this was really the launching point, its not going to hurt, just make your ideas more complex and dig deeply (but of course, don’t make stuff up). For the second point, remember that you are contributing to the Penn community, and they really want interesting people that are going to bring something unique to campus, so make sure that you show a whole person and not just a resume in essay form. Good luck!

@fintech3753 how would you say the tech scene is at Wharton (for Wharton only students not M&T or uncoordinated duals). Would you say there are a good amount of Wharton students going into the tech industry? I’m an incoming freshman at Wharton and I want to pursue business roles at tech firms or fintech and I’ve been having doubts about my decision to come to Wharton. Also what tips would you give to any incoming freshman?

Hi @fintech3753 - How were you able to find research and tutoring opportunities? I am seriously lacking in “high-quality” ECs so I am looking for some inspiration regarding where I can find these opportunities. Thanks!

@cyl267 Of course, M&T have access to unique resources at the intersection of business and technology that makes the program incredibly powerful, but Wharton itself has been making a big push into entrepreneruship/tech for single degree students. To be honest, the M&T program is more heavily weighted towards engineering IMO just by virtue of the rigor of the coursework. You can minor (or complete an un-cooridnated dual degree, wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to stay for a fifth year) in an engineering field and ultimately find your path into the role you aspire to hold. Any university of this caliber will have great resources related to tech and entrepreneurship, its up to you to seek them out.

General tip would be to not take everything too seriously. You may get a B or C (maybe for the first time) or get a rejection from a club. It’s ok! Just try to hold perspective on where you are (one of the best universities in the nation) and know things will work out in the end. Good luck!

@mczchl, no easy answer, it all depends. For me, research came from cold-emailing professors, though I know profesors at certain universities are much more receptive towards HS students. For tutoring, I just happened to start tutoring 2-3 students that I knew or someone mutally recommended before growing my student base from there (I never really went over 4-5 students at one time).

There is no such thing as a “low-quality” EC in my opinion. If you are working at a local fast food place to help your parents pay the bills or you are working on an artsy project that may not get you much “recognition” but you are passionate about it, keep doing it! Wharton (or really any college) doesn’t want 600 robots that all did the same thing in high school, so if you are passionate about something else or need to by virtue of your life circumstances, pursue it to the fullest.

@fintech3753: How would you describe the social/academic scence at Penn and more specifically within Wharton?

@fintech3753 I have a specific question. I am a legacy student who is looking to apply to either CAS Econ or Wharton. I am also looking to explore healthcare management. What are some main differences between a CAS economics major with a minor in healthcare management and a Wharton student with a concentration in HCM? Also, what is the workload like for the average Wharton student?

@fintech3753 Hi there! I’m a rising senior whose dream school is Penn. My standardized test scores are competitive for Penn and ECs are pretty solid things that relate to my major and I’m passionate about. However, my GPA is definitely a bit on the lower side due to me having to move schools with different grading systems in the middle of junior year. Do you think the other aspects of my application could compensate for my GPA, given that I work hard on my essays? Thank you so much :slight_smile:

Hello, I am an international student going up to 11th grade right now. In 9th grade I didn’t do well on my class and failed 2 classes and got a GPA of 2.43. After that I decided to study hard and got a 4.0 GPA at 10th grade. Also I got a SAT score of 1600 in January (this isn’t a lie). If I get a GPA of 4.0 again at 11th grade and do many ec’s and AP’s do you think it would be possible me for me to get into wharton? it would be my early decision choice. Or do you think that bad 9th grade wouldn’t let me in?

Do you have any fintech stock picks?

@asime1 Socially, I wouldn’t say it is drastically different between Wharton and Penn as a whole, and it is great. I know everyone says that Penn is the “social ivy,” but it really is an energetic campus with tons of things to do. If you aren’t a big party person, you can always enjoy what the city has to offer and people usually can find their niche.

Academically, it is competitive. I haven’t seen the horror stories of it being that cutthroat, but I think it is also about who you surround yourself with and how you look at the experience. Coming in, I had no aspirations for a “4.0” or graduating with any specific honors, so it really made the experience a lot smoother. We all want to be the best version of ourselves, get into solid clubs, and get great jobs post-grad, but it depends on what you define as “great” and what you want out of the experience. Penn CAS is a bit more chill socially (less pre-professional if that isn’t your thing), but the university as a whole is a wonderful place (although I am a bit biased).

@collegeseeker01 so the biggest difference is what you are studying. CAS Econ is heavily theoretical and academia focused, while Wharton is business, straying heavily away from theory. I know this is obvious, but this is a big difference people often neglect. I have seen countless debates on “HYP vs Wharton” or “Wonderful University X vs Wharton.” Ultimately, this decision should come down to what you want to study. If you want to have a more applied business education, apply to Wharton, if not, apply CAS.

A couple other things I’d note:
-CAS has a more liberal arts educations (sector and foundation requirements allow for more courses in different departments)
-Wharton has more resources for recruiting (you can do the same recruitment as a CAS student, but Wharton will help you a little more. ultimately, it all comes down to you either way).
-Easier to transition to another major in CAS. Let’s say sophmore year you wake up and realize “i want to study Biologic Basis of Behavior.” being that you can probably fit your econ courses into other requirements, its a bit easier to transition, while at Wharton, a lot of your business fundamentals may not fit
-curve at Wharton (shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but clases are curved)
-MBA (after CAS, you can always come back to Wharton, assuming you did well during your time at Penn. after Wharton, some people choose to go back to a M7 MBA program, but some choose not to)
-Admissions (I in no way believe that Wharton is better than Penn, I am first and foremeost a Penn student. But I think that the admission rate for Wharton is a bit lower, and if you don’t have the best stats/ECs/essays, the mere size difference of Wharton and CAS may give you a better shot at the college

Workload varies greatly with classes you select, but its def intense, but I find it to be doable. I really can’t put concrete numbers to it, but it’s not impossible.

@bananzapants I really don’t know, I’m really sorry. See, here’s the thing. Even if you did give me exact test scores and a GPA, and your exact ECs, it would depend on so many other factors. How are the other applicants in your region? How competitive is your high school (being #13 at the best high school in the country is very different than being #1 at an average high school like mine was). Life circumstances and a number of personal qualities also are things considered.

Here’s what I would say. If you would say your GPA is on the lower side of an admit, I would say not to sweat it and just drive forward (write the strongest essays you can, work on things you are passionate about in the months to come and ED. if you were showing an upward trend, admissions may want to see your mid year report so try your best as the academic year begins). If you are really and truly out of range, honestly, I would say to still apply of course, but also make sure you have a strong list of schools beyond Penn that you would be happy at (though this would hold true in either scenario). ED 2 is also an option in that scenario, so I would say to be ready for that as well. Good luck!

@7jisang, I don’t think there is an SAT administered in January…but in any case, I would refer you to the previous comment. I really am not an AO and have no experience beyond my own application process, so it would be unreasonable for me to give you a definitive answer. Assuming all of that info is 100% true, and that you get all A’s during this year, your GPA will be around a 3.5, which is still on the lower side. If I were to be reading your application (again, something I have no experience with), my worry would be “what if the same thing happens his/her freshman year here at Penn?” I would say to follow through to the best of your ability this year, get the highest grades possible and work hard in all of your ECs and have impact. While colleges do neglect a small dip in freshman year grades as some people take to that transition poorly, I don’t know how they would react to yours.

In case things don’t work out for Wharton, apply to Berkeley Haas and UCLA Business Economics. UC schools to my understanding do not consider freshman grades in your GPA (they do consider it overall though), something that may work to your advantage.