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Penn State Smeal Director of Admissions Answers 5 Burning MBA Questions

Penn State admissions

In our latest installment of the MetroMBA “5 Questions” series, we speak with Michael Waldhier, the Director of Admissions at Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business. Waldhier talks about the close-knit, collaborative community at Smeal, his alumni experience, and the many activities, clubs, and opportunities available for students. He also shares about the 150-year-old Penn State Berkey Creamery—excuse us while we go grab some ice cream!


Michael Waldhier, Director of Admissions at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business

1. What is the Smeal College of Business’ greatest asset and what do you wish MBA students knew more about?

“Rather than discussing our #1 ranking in supply chain management or the fact that Penn State has the largest active alumni network in the country, I honestly think our greatest asset is our class—specifically the individual, tightly-knit, collaborative atmosphere that exists in our MBA program. We only accept 60 students per year in the resident MBA program, which allows for an unparalleled amount of interaction within the cohort, and ensures that faculty and staff build strong, personal relationships with everyone in the class.”

2. What makes the Smeal College of Business a special place for you?

“In addition to being Director of Admissions, I am also an alum of the Smeal MBA program, and remain extremely close to most of my classmates and many of the professors who still teach in the program today. After graduation, I was fortunate to land a principal role in strategy consulting and had the wonderful opportunity to travel extensively over the course of my career. When it was time to transition to something new, returning to Penn State, to ‘Happy Valley,’ and to Smeal was an easy decision for my family to make. This program had an enormous positive impact on my life and set me on the path to success, and I can’t think of any better way to pay it forward to future generations of Smeal MBAs than to be where I am today.”

3. How would you describe the culture of the Smeal College of Business? Is it more collaborative or competitive?

“As mentioned, given the small size of our MBA community and the amount of teamwork that is required throughout the experience, our program is extremely collaborative, so much so that students often help each other to broaden networks, land internships and jobs, and even study for exams. We put a lot of emphasis upon collaboration and teamwork, and students will recognize each other for positive contributions to the program that are aligned with the Penn State Values of integrity, responsibility, excellence, respect, discovery, and, of course, community.”

4. How does Smeal help MBA students pursue their special interests?

“While the MBA program itself may be very small in size, Penn State University is one of the largest in the nation, and there are activities and special interest clubs and groups for virtually everyone. Within the MBA program, we have numerous clubs and associations for students to join such as the MBA Association, Consulting Club, Net Impact, Finance Association, Military and Veterans MBA Association, and more. In addition, students have access to courses across the university if they want to explore a topic outside of the core Finance, Marketing, Supply Chain, and Consulting concentrations. To that end, we have packaged optional programs of study in nearly 20 topic areas, with more being added each year. This allows students the flexibility to customize their MBA experience and pursue just the right mix of coursework to satisfy any career or personal interest.”

5. What is your favorite part of the Penn State campus?

Image result for Penn State Arboretum

“There are a plethora of wonderful hiking and biking trails in the mountains surrounding Penn State, but the Arboretum is a special place where one can walk through gardens inspired by cultures across the world and study or relax amidst fountains and koi ponds,” Waldhier says.

A lot of people will talk about the Penn State Berkey Creamery, which has been making ice cream for over 150 years, or Beaver Stadium, one of the largest college football stadiums in the United States, but one of my favorite places on campus is the Penn State Arboretum. There are a plethora of wonderful hiking and biking trails in the mountains surrounding Penn State, but the Arboretum is a special place where one can walk through gardens inspired by cultures across the world and study or relax amidst fountains and koi ponds. It also helps that it is right next door to the Smeal College of Business, so students frequently go there after class for team meetings or to relax and unwind after a stressful day.”

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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