Higher educational institutions formalize socialization for their incoming undergraduate student populations with traditional forms of physical classroom-based learning community (LC) skill-building environments; however, recent studies have shown that virtual LC environments can offer improved results over physical LC environments. This study examines whether incoming undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students gain the same benefits to their academic performance regardless of whether they receive LC training in physical or virtual reality (VR) treatment. We found that either treatment of collaboration training improve the participants' academic performance in comparison to the control treatment. In addition, we found that the VR participants gave more academic help in social settings to their peers throughout the semester than their control group counterparts. Upon interviewing the two treatment group participants, we found that virtualization of collaboration may impact perceptions on leadership roles, group functions, and thinking about the future. This research shows that virtualizing LCs has the potential to expand and supplement existing learning structures, and create new ones where they were not previously available, and aims to offer a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of introducing VR technologies in higher education.