How to Explain Business School to Your Parents


Over the past two years, we’ve developed a rich vocabulary to describe our two years of learning here at The Wharton School of Business. Yes, this vocabulary is predominantly made up of acronyms—MGEC, NPV, SSF, GIP, DCF, DFMO—but this new lexicon will serve us well outside of Philadelphia. (I’ve heard that BCG consultants have whole conversations in acronyms and that the folks at KKR have stopped speaking in full sentences entirely.) Sadly, however, my parents have not found my new jargon quite as charming (or intelligible) as my interviewer at FB did. So I’ve had to use a totally different terminology to convey my business school experience, but all centered on one idea: Wharton is like a family.

To explain pre-term, the month long crash course on how to do homework again punctuated with Cluster Olympics and other mandatory fun, I’ve liked to use the phrase “family reunion.” Like the good ol’ barbecues we had when we were little, we found ourselves meeting dozens of people and repeating the same conversations over and over. The chats were less about how much we’d grown and what grade we were in, but there was about the same level of awkwardness. That said, like all good family reunions, by the end we were excited to meet so many great people and call ourselves part of the such a wonderful group.

When it came to coursework, I found describing it as “like doing family chores” quite effective. Similar to washing the dishes or taking out the garbage, we often pushed off doing our marketing case to the last minute, complained about it the whole time, and swore to never do it again. But when the case was done, the exam taken, and the paper written, we all were grateful for what we had learned. Sure, it might not have been fun the whole time, but we developed important skills and broadened our horizons. Plus, we all that studying built character (pro tip: parents love character building).

Finally, the tough one: justifying our elaborate trips. Family vacations were the perfect way to sum up the experience. Sometimes we went to exotic locations like Cuba or Thailand. Sometimes we stuck close to home, traveling to the Poconos or Miami. But like family trips when we were in high school, there were missed flights, arguments about whether to have tacos for the third time in two days, and awkward sunburns. But in the end, we became incredibly close to the people around us. We deepened our existing relationships while learning about new cultures, new cuisines and new societies. Those family vacations, more than anything, brought us together as Wharton students.

Between pre-term, academics, and travel, the family parallel has worked really well in explaining the phenomenal two years we’ve spent together at Wharton. But the reason why I think it does is because we are a family. Over the past twenty-two months, we’ve studied, traveled, and partied together. We’ve been together through thick and thin and the relationships we’ve built will last us a lifetime. So this weekend, take the time to introduce your real family to your Wharton family. And feel free to throw some acronyms in there for good measure.

Congratulations Wharton MBA Class of 2017!