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Monday, February 14, 2005

Wharton Safari 

A blow by blow account of Winter Welcome would be very long, so instead I'm going to opt for a summary of events and my impressions.

It was a very full three days. We had formal presentations on academics, leadership, international programmes, career management, financial aid etc.; panel discussions with students and alumni; oportunities to sit in on classes and a mock class to participate in; a Follies performance; and lots of opportunities to eat, drink and talk to students, staff and fellow admits. In her welcome address, Rose Martinelli spoke about the event being an opportunity to see the school in its natural setting (hence my safari reference), and I really appreciated the opportunity to see the school going about its day-to-day business, as well as to take part in the activities put on specially for us. I was a bit of a whimp when it came to the late night socials (OK I was a lot of a whimp, especially as they didn't start theat late, but I'll claim jet-lag in my defense), but it was still all pretty tiring.

The biggest highlight for me was the people. It was great to meet lots of other admits (there were c160 of us there in total, although not everyone was there all the time) and exciting to think of them as people with whom I could be studying. But as someone I was talking to observed, it's sad that not everyone will choose to matriculate. Current students were all really helpful, eager to answer questions ( and completely understanding when we were all questioned out) and very open and giving of their time. (On the Wednesday evening Wharton Women in Business hosted home cooked dinners at a couple of people's apartments, which the hosts had obviously invested time in preparing despite having taken an exam earlier that evening.) Faculty and members of the administration were very welcoming and approachable, and the fact that a number of them were willing to 'make fools of themselves' as part of Follies, I think says a lot about the school.

The most remarkable single event was the mock class. The one I was in was on leadership. It started with a mini-case based on a pharmaceutical company which was followed by a talk by and question and answer session with a guest speaker, who was one of the survivors of the 1972 Uruguyan air crash. It's nigh on impossible to convey the experience in words, but' wow!' seemed to be the most common reaction afterwards.

I was particularly impressed by the fact that it wasn't a 'hard sell' at all. Everyone was very clear that lots of us would be choosing between schools and the general attitude seemed to be 'how can we help you make the decision that's right for you?' rather than 'how can we convince you to come here?'. No flaunting of rankings, no comparissons with other places, just 'this is us', which was an approach I really liked. I felt extremely welcomed and wanted, but not at all under pressure, and that was great.

Huge congratulations and thanks to everyone involved (including futurembagirl, who it was really good to meet). I left not being able to imagine not being at Wharton in August, but lets see how I feel after DAK.

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