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Wharton Holds First Virtual Campus Tour For Students Stuck at Home

wharton first student-led virtual tour online education

We’re currently living in a world far separated from the norm. The Covid-19 pandemic has made social distancing a necessary requirement, changing the way we work, study, and live.

This means there’s been a shift to a more virtual lifestyle – utilizing phones, laptops and tablets to stay connected with the greater world.

The Wharton School realizes this, and with a new academic year set to start in the summer, the school knew it had to provide an alternative for prospective students.

That’s why the virtual tour led by first-year MBA student Caitlin Lohrenz made the experience personal, even at a distance.

Caitlin did admit that moving everything online wasn’t ideal. She said: “For the faculty it means drastically changing lesson plans. For students it means postponing many events that took months of coordination and preparation. However, even during a time of complete uncertainty, fear, and disappointment, everyone adapted quickly and willingly.”

TopMBA joined the virtual tour to get a closer look at the business school, and thanks to Caitlin’s anecdotes, we learned a lot more.

What involves a virtual tour

Wharton virtual student tour

The admissions team at Wharton admits that even before the coronavirus pandemic, the idea to hold virtual campus tours had already been put into motion.

However, with the current state of the world, it became a reality sooner than expected – and we got to experience it firsthand.

Caitlin Lohrenz Wharton MBA studentEven through a screen, Caitlin was engaging and enthusiastic about Wharton and happy to share her personal opinions about her time at the business school so far.

She covered everything from clubs – wine club is particularly great – to the layout of the MBA curriculum.

Caitlin said: “One of the most anticipated events of Wharton spring is Fight Night where members of the Wharton Boxing Club and Penn Law School Boxing Club fight each other. Everyone dresses up in black tie and it’s for charity. It’s a really fun event.”

As someone moving from NYC, she was nervous that Philly would seem quiet and slow, but that’s not the case – with the great food, parks, and restaurants she could “talk about living in Philly all day.”

Focusing more on the academic side of the MBA, Caitlin said: “The program does a great job of being both flexible and rigorous, with the combination of a flexible curriculum and core curriculum.”

Caitlin even touches on when internship recruiting starts in the first year. She said: “More structured recruiting for investment banking and consulting will happen in October.

“You have the first quarter to get acclimated to Wharton, focus on studies, get involved in clubs. Companies actually aren’t allowed to talk to you before Q2, which is great.”

Caitlin also holds a high opinion of Wharton’s international presence and opportunities. For example, with the Wharton semester in San Francisco, those interested in pursuing careers in start-ups or tech can utilize internship opportunities with start-ups in the Bay Area.

Similarly, Wharton’s partnership with INSEAD for students wanting to live abroad or do an exchange can save two credits and spend a semester in INSEAD after the spring of your second year.

However, Caitlin’s eureka moment at Wharton was during the three-week pre-term in August, before class starts, and before the second years arrive. She said: “I was immediately surrounded by opportunities and had no idea what I wanted to be involved in yet.

“I was able to use those three weeks to think about what I wanted from the next two years and set goals for myself.”

Comparing Virtual Tours of Top Business Schools

Some added insight

Caitlin said her time on the Wharton MBA program has exceeded her expectations many times over. She said: “I knew that Wharton would have an incredible faculty, offer many global opportunities, and provide extensive career management resources, but I really underestimated the incredible community I was becoming a part of.”

But does she think virtual tours are beneficial? She said: “It’s easy to see the value in virtual tours now when nobody is able to travel to Philly, but even in more “normal” times this will be a great way to engage with students who cannot make it to campus.

“This is, of course, not a substitute for seeing the campus or meeting people in person, but it can still be a great resource. I have really enjoyed being involved in the process. The admissions office has really done a great job in moving all of the spring events online quickly and keeping prospective students as engaged as possible.”

Blair Mannix, Director of MBA Admissions at Wharton said one of Wharton’s goals is to democratize admissions information for all prospective applicants – including touring the campus.

She said: “We understand that the ability to travel to Philadelphia and see our campus in person may not be possible for all applicants, so this virtual tour has been in the works well before the coronavirus pandemic was even on our radar. Our new virtual tour allows us to provide meaningful engagement regardless of where you are in the world.”

Mannix said the need to cancel in-person recruitment was a big disappointment, as meeting applicants in person is one of the perks of the jobs – but it’s not all doom and gloom.

She said: “This digital shift has provided a lot of exciting challenges for us to build virtual alternatives for both prospective applicants and recent admits to the Class of 2022.

“We spent two weeks building a virtual alternative to Welcome Weekend, called Wharton HQ, which is now up and running. Wharton HQ will run for three weeks and provides live content every single day featuring current students, faculty, staff and even alumni. It was a true joy to build and we get to see the connections between incoming students happen in real time."

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Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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