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Wharton HQ Developed as New Platform for Spring Welcome Weekend

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For newly admitted MBA students, spring is a time to get to know their future campus and fellow classmates at Welcome Weekends. During these events, students as well as their spouses or partners convene on campus to begin building relationships and getting a feel for a school’s culture.  The coronavirus pandemic, however, has upended these in-person traditions this season.  In light of these circumstances, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found a new online platform for their annual Spring Welcome Weekend: Wharton HQ.

Wharton HQ is an expansive online hub for new admits to learn about life in Philadelphia and at Wharton, by engaging with admissions team members and alumni as well as current and fellow students.  Wharton’s Marketing Technology team developed Wharton HQ through Workplace by Facebook, a team-based communications platform with familiar Facebook features such as likes, comments and more.

Upon joining Wharton HQ, new students are greeted by a welcome video from Blair Mannix, Director of Admissions. In the video, Blair walks members through all of the features of the platform and encourages them to jump in by introducing themselves with a personal post and photo.  More than 60 student ambassadors called the Student Life Fellows (SLFs) have also been answering questions, making connections, and even giving virtual apartment tours.

Students Life Fellows Maxine and Frank (left and right) gave live tours of their apartments and took questions from viewers. For the first time, a panel of recent alumni (center) welcomed the admits and answered their questions about life in Philadelphia. All videos are archived for members to replay at any time. Photo courtesy of Wharton.

Key features of the Wharton HQ include:

  • 13 official groups that allow students to connect around common areas of interest, including “Life in Philadelphia,” “Financial Aid,” and “Housing”
  • Apartment tours by Student Life Fellows to give admits a look at life in Philadelphia
  • Live events hosted by staff, students and for the first time, alumni
  • Library of resources and articles for new students
  • Private chats for admits and staff
  • Directory with all admitted students

Wharton HQ has surpassed a weekend meet-n-greet, both in time and content.  Instead of just meeting for a few days, its 1,500 members have been able to communicate for weeks already. The extent of information would also simply not fit into a weekend of programming.  To date, the average Wharton HQ member has made 178 connections.  Engagement has also been impressive, with the community racking up more than a quarter million posts, likes, comments and messages since launch.  Staff, students and alumni have hosted more than 100 virtual events, and approximately 21,000 instant messages have been sent on the platform.

Learn more about Wharton HQ here.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.