Having worked at Wharton for almost 20 years, you might think that I would be unaffected by the shift in energy that occurs every fall when our students come back to campus. But I still feel the enthusiasm of new and returning students as they move in and prepare for classes. I can’t help but smile when I see the young man walking up Locust Walk with a new computer chair for his dorm room or the young woman slowly walking through the Penn Bookstore picking out various school supplies for her first semester.
The campus’ change in energy mirrors a shift in the work being done by the Undergraduate Division. During the school year, we focus on serving our students–helping them choose classes and concentrations, providing fun activities and fostering a supportive community. Though we still see students during the summer, our focus shifts to analyzing our activities from the previous year, looking for ways to improve our advising experience and identifying new activities to help students grow and expand their knowledge. Just as our students never rest on their laurels, we strive to evolve and improve.
Some of this year’s “summer projects” included:
• A competitive review of our business fundamentals, or “core,” courses that are required of all Wharton students.
• An annual “audit” of Management 100, the mandatory freshman course that teaches leadership, communications and teamwork.
• Preparing and launching an improved cohort peer mentorship program, which will match upperclassmen with freshmen in the same cohort.
We love having the time to reflect while preparing for the fall, but nothing beats the seasonal campus invasion of 18-year-old freshmen, their parents and our returning students. We take a deep breath and plunge into another year of course registrations, student club conferences, on-campus job recruitment, research and growth.