Zoom Classes. No Chance Meetings. Is Virtual Business School Worth the Cost?

“I feel very fortunate,” he said. “The pandemic has forced me to think about my priorities as well. I’ve been able to step back and pause and ask, ‘What do you really want to do?’”

Ms. Reichert had the opposite experience. She interned at Chewy, the pet food website, this past summer, but she did so from Berkeley — 3,000 miles from Chewy’s headquarters in Dania Beach, Fla. While she commended the company for its efforts to make the most out of a bad situation, she decided to return to consulting.

Networking is a big part of the M.B.A. experience. It’s the component that could pay the most dividends far after graduation. But in a virtual or socially distanced world, it has been stunted.

“The social component has been disappointing,” said Emma Finkelstein, a second-year student at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “If I’m a floating head on Zoom, I’m going to have a different relationship with my professors and classmates than if we were in social situations.”

Mr. Garg, who describes himself as introverted, said he had pushed himself to get out.

“It’s a lot about being proactive,” he said. “I’ve been grabbing coffee with people. It takes a lot of effort. There are some days you don’t want to do it. But then you realize you’ve been home for three days and haven’t seen anyone.”

And it’s not only less outgoing students who have been feeling excluded from the social aspect of business school. International students who haven’t been able to return to the United States and students from underrepresented minority groups have also been affected.

“Certainly, I would say the consequences of the pandemic for the types of informal networking that occurs on our campus could be more impactful for students who felt, for whatever reason, less included among their M.B.A. peers,” said Dr. Rockoff of Columbia. “These lost opportunities for networking and connections will have a significant impact on them.”