Choosing Your Own Educational Adventure
- by Georgette Chapman Phillips
We take pride in Wharton’s tradition of excellence. We also know that excellence often arises from non-traditional thinking. At the Wharton Undergraduate Division, we encourage our students to think differently about their education and experience. Time and again we have seen students plow through the business fundamental courses in lockstep without giving full consideration as to whether this makes sense given their individual academic strengths and interests.
So our advising office recently created “Alternative Pathways,” a guide to help students choose appropriate pathways through the fundamental courses. The guide encourages students to think about their academic strengths or a particular industry sector in which they aspire to work. Sample pathways arrange the fundamentals across a student’s first three years at Wharton in such a way that the course sequences relate to quantitative thinkers, qualitative thinkers or a blend of the two. We want our students to analyze their strengths and interests and think strategically about their academic experience so they get the most they can out of their time at Wharton.
But our efforts don’t stop there. Though presented with the chance to chart their paths through business fundamental courses in a way that matches their strengths and goals, students can still fall into the “sophomore slump.” As they move closer to choosing concentrations and begin to think about recruitment, students can get overwhelmed and feel disconnected.
To help with this, we launched a pilot program last fall called “The Sophomore Experience.” The goal of this program is to help students navigate their sophomore year by encouraging them to participate in activities and events that will help them to prepare academically, explore career options, develop leadership skills and make connections. Students are emailed a weekly list of events, are incentivized to attend with giveaways and can track their progress through their own online Guide to Personal Success (GPS). More details can be found on our Wharton Sophomore Experience website.
Excellence often originates in creative thought. We are pushing our students to think flexibly and strategically about their courses of study as well as their time outside of the classroom. We don’t want them to lose sight of the reason they chose Wharton: academic preparation that will allow them to respond creatively and strategically to any situation they encounter in their professional lives.