First off – congratulations on getting into Wharton! And an even larger congratulations on taking the plunge on on a really scary and exciting journey as a parent! I know that when I was going through the application process, one of the biggest questions in my mind was around how on earth I would make the most of my business school experience (both professionally and socially) while being a mom to two children under two. We came out to Philly from California, and decided that the only way it made sense for us to uproot our lives were if I got into the best business school in the country. Since I did, we decided to power through. After coming to Welcome Weekend, I knew that this was the place for me regardless of ranking because of the people and environment.
One of the biggest challenges isn’t even specific to being a parent. Anyone with a partner can likely attest that it is difficult getting your partner to understand the demands that the MBA lifestyle puts on you. This is not just going back to school. You are paying the steep tuition not just to learn accounting and finance, but to get to know 800 of the most amazing people you might ever be in the same building with at the same time. There are a lot of demands: class, learning team projects, club activities, social activities, recruiting… Everything will compete. So be prepared.
Business school is all about giving you stretch experiences to grow yourself in all aspects of your life: as a leader, a partner, and for some of us – as a parent. When I think back on my first year, another challenge I faced was good ol’ FOMO. Before Wharton we only had one daughter and she went to daycare during the day. We lived near family and so most of our free time was spent with relatives or other friends of ours who have children. I used to be around people who lived a similar life to me, and that simply isn’t the case here.
Some practical considerations:
The main way we have dealt with my hectic schedule is by getting a nanny to watch our two children. I used care.com to interview potential caretakers well before coming out here, and lucked out with a really amazing person. My husband was also home a lot when we first got here because he was studying for the PA Bar. He also had a few months of waiting before he received his results (he passed!) and I think having him around those first few months was very very fortunate.
For housing, we decided to live in University City to get more space. We actually regret doing this, and when our lease is up, want to move to Center City. We lived in a very urban environment before Wharton, and University City is slightly less walking friendly than what we expected. We do love the amount of space we have (2000 square feet – and if you want to talk about taking our lease, let me know!) and the parks nearby always have lots of other young parents with the children.
Despite the challenges that you will face as a new MBA student, and as a student/parent, there is no better place to take on the challenge than here at Wharton. My classmates all know I have kids, and cut me slack when needed. For example, my learning team members were more than accommodating to have earlier meetings or to look the other way if I was late to something because of a sick child. Despite most of my classmates not being close to having children of their own anytime soon, they ask about my little ones, and ‘like’ when I post photos on Facebook. The people here at Wharton are so receptive and open, they embrace my family just like it is an extension of their own. All of the little actions add up, and really help make things easier.
My final piece of advice is to just ask tons of questions. People are super willing to help, and if they don’t know the answer themselves – they will help you find it. Wharton is a really giving place, and trust me that you will need a lot of support to make it through the tough times.
If you have any questions for me, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Welcome to Wharton! by WGA President Zach Kahn
- He Said / She Said: Experiencing Wharton as an Introvert
- Black and Brown @ Wharton
- Why Being a Partner is a Better Deal
- The Value of a Leadership Venture
- A windy road to B-school: the non-traditional transition
- We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We Throw a Damn Good Party