A Quick Check-in with Wharton Parents

Last Monday was tough for a lot of first years. Between a quiz and a project for Stats 613, a case for Corporate Finance, a problem set for MGEC, and a quiz for Accounting, “overwhelmed” was a polite euphemism for what a lot of us were feeling. Now imagine what a juggling act life would be to have all those assignments in addition to being a good partner and a good parent.

So, this week, we checked in with a two of our classmates who are parents to see what the start to Wharton has been like so far and how they have been balancing everything. Without further ado, presenting to you the experiences of a Wharton Dad – Brandon Lenhart WG’18 and a Wharton Mom – Sara Michelson WG’18.


Wharton Dad: Brandon Lenhart WG’18

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How have you been feeling about school in general? How are you balancing priorities between school and family and what choices have you had to make for that balance to work?

I think I feel like anyone else – the concepts are getting harder, there are more cases to work through. There is also a social or networking obligation nightly.  Just like anyone else, I cannot do it all so I prioritize.  

The difference for me is that I have a family to prioritize as well.  And they are very high on the priority list. Typically, this means social events fall off my list.  As much as I would love to enjoy cocktails with classmates, I think it is more important to give my kids a bath and put them to bed.  It can certainly feel overwhelming at times but I have an amazing wife who is understanding.  If I need to get work done, she holds the fort down at home.  

Sure, I love to bring my wife along to the social events like Red and Blue Ball, but one thing to keep in mind is that babysitters are not cheap.  Every “date night’ we are tapping into our savings account to Venmo the babysitter.  But it is well worth it when we can make it out.

Have there been any Wharton resources that have helped? Or could there be?

My family has felt very welcome at Wharton.  My wife has joined a few clubs and has made a ton of friends with other students and partners.  My kids are enjoying it as well.  Last week, my one and three-year old partied harder than I did at Pub!  One thing I think Wharton can help with is putting incoming students with families in touch with the Partners Club so those with children can have a reference point for questions like what are the best pre-schools, does anyone have a recommended pediatrician, and what are the family friendly neighborhoods.  I was very fortunate to know a few Wharton Vets with families that helped answer those questions.  Nevertheless, I spent a significant portion of the busy pre-term researching pre-schools.  All-in-all, Wharton and Philadelphia have been perfect for our young family.

What have been one or two unexpected surprises?

There have been some surprises.  My one-year old son has deleted at least two completed assignments on my Macbook, neither of which were saved.  Lesson learned: Always save your work.  The biggest surprise is how amazing Philadelphia is for a young family.  We have season tickets to the Philadelphia Zoo.  There are plenty of family friendly restaurants.  The Spruce Street Harbor Park is fantastic for grabbing a beer while the kids play games.  Finally, we have found the perfect community in Naval Square. 


Wharton Mom: Sara Michelsen WG’18

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How have you been feeling about school in general? How are you balancing priorities between school and family and what choices have you had to make for that balance to work?

I am thrilled, excited, grateful, and overwhelmed to be in school!  It is a very weighted choice to decide to do this with a family, and I have doubted myself at times, but I love being back in school and I know this is a good choice for me and my family.

I knew going in that I would have to be very deliberate about how I use my time here at Wharton.  Getting to know my classmates and starting to develop meaningful relationships is definitely a highlight of Wharton so far, but I do not go to many parties and events that take place evenings and weekends.  My first priority is making sure I am keeping up with classes, next that I am exploring career paths and taking steps to prepare for recruiting, and last is to fit in other social events.  I made a commitment to myself that I would be home for dinner and putting my girls to bed as many nights as I can, and weekends are mostly for family time (when I’m not working with my learning team or doing other homework).  I know social life is a highlight of being here for many students, but it’s just not what I came here for so I don’t feel like I’m missing out.  I tremendously enjoy interacting with other students in class, at workshops and club events, and having lunch with people when I’m not attending a workshop- I do feel I am getting to know people and hope to get to know more people- but when the day is over I am excited to see my family and spend quality time with them.

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Have there been any Wharton resources that have helped? Or could there be?

Meeting other parents at Wharton, especially other Moms, has been a great emotional support to know other people are making similar choices.  The fact that I know my family is welcome at Wharton and that this was made clear from the beginning (when I visited for a Welcome Day in May) is also supportive, and during pre-term people in my cluster, and SLFs and LFs did a great job welcoming us all at events.  I do think there could be more formal resources available for mothers, particularly child care subsidies or grants that would make coming to Wharton feasible for more mothers.  This is not so much a personal concern as I am from this area and have family support here, but I know this is a big issue for other moms here.  Mothers@Wharton is a great community and members are actively working on this issue of childcare.

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What have been one or two unexpected surprises?

The people – how incredibly warm, open, and supportive I have found people here.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to have the social life of other students, and also that I’m at such a different stage in life (and from a very different background to many) that I really didn’t know if I would connect with many people – but I have and continue to connect with new people daily.  This also encourages me to bring my kids to more events, I have such a feeling of connection and belonging already here at Wharton that I really want my family to be part of it too.

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