A couple weeks ago, I joined Out4Biz, Wharton’s LGBT student group, in a retreat at Rehoboth Beach. We left midday Friday, a lot of us dragging our significant others along for the weekend. Will and I were together for a little over four years in New York City, but ever since I moved to Philadelphia, we suddenly became a “long distance couple.” And do those words bum me out. Let’s just say that my kind boyfriend is getting to know the Amtrak and Boltbus schedules really well.
It was great for him to meet some of the people whom I will be spending the next two years with. Our group of nearly 40 people hung out—making meals together, heading to the beach and learning about everyone’s professional backgrounds. After lazing around the beach, intently not reading the book I brought, I decided it was time to head back to the house to get some reading done for the MGMT 610 final we had the following Monday. Cracking open my iPad, I realized how much work I had left to do, but I comforted myself with the thought that this weekend was different. I’d normally have ample time to study every day.
OK, it’s embarrassing, but I’m pretty wrong. As in, I couldn’t be more wrong. A weekend trip to Rehoboth is rare, sure, but a busy weekend filled with plans is not. Studying isn’t always a natural fit in between coffee chats with ex-Clinton Health Access Initiative analysts, working meetings with the head of the Philadelphia Health IT Circle, and check-ins with the co-president of the newly formed Wharton Cocktail Club about their logo and email blasts. (Yes, these are all real examples). But studying has to fit in all the same.
This must be the shock of being back in an academic environment. It’s not easy, but it’s not hard either. The classes I’m taking this year aren’t just important; they’re interesting. So after going for a swim yesterday, I sat on campus reading a marketing case, and midway through my bike ride along the Schuylkill today, I brought out my stats book.
But truly, business school isn’t a pure academic experience. It’s a blend: academic and real world. You should be finding a lot of your instruction outside of the classroom, with teachers, students and the community. It’s self-directed, so if you decide to just coast through school, you can. But you’ll be missing the best parts.
Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the Wharton MBA Program’s Student Diarist blog on Sept. 16, 2012.