New ways to navigate through Wharton core
Alternative Pathways is a program that allows students to be more flexible with required courses
February 27, 2013, 12:17 am·
Students now have a guide through Wharton’s intensive academic core.
Alternative Pathways recently received national attention for its take on the Wharton core curriculum. Created last February by the Wharton Undergraduate Division, it offers students different ways to approach the Wharton business fundamentals based on their strengths and weaknesses.
The Wharton core consists of nine business fundamentals, including classes in finance, accounting, marketing and management. In the past, many students would go through the Wharton core in a specific order during their freshmen and sophomore years, leaving little room for flexibility.
With Alternative Pathways, students are encouraged to take classes when it makes sense for them and not according to the schedule that everyone else is following, Director of Academic Affairs and Advising Scott Romeika said.
“There’s a range of when you can take suggested courses,” Romeika said. Alternative Pathways “tells us how to better approach the core classes and not sacrifice [a student’s] interests.”
There are three different suggested pathways offered to students who are more quantitative, qualitative or a mix of both. A student whose interest lies in marketing, for example, is encouraged to take upper-level marketing courses during his or her sophomore year and take a more quantitative course, such as accounting, during his or her junior year.
Alternative Pathways also seeks to get rid of some of the myths about the Wharton core, Romeika said.
“There’s always been a myth that someone needs to finish the core by sophomore year, but you can spread it out,” he added.
For Romeika, the core is the “bread and butter” of the Wharton undergraduate experience. “With the core, we’re really trying for what every business leader will need to know regardless of the kind of business that they’re in,” he said.
Wharton sophomore Sam Rappaport agrees that the core offers key skills. “For the most part, I think it’s a pretty good system,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to take the core courses and get those basic tools to do most jobs.”
Although he’s supportive of the core, he does understand that some students would rather focus on their specific interests.
“Because it’s the core, they make it seem like something you have to do right away,” Rappaport said. However, he added that this is not necessarily true. He knows that he’s not interested in marketing, so he’s “pushing it off.”
Wharton sophomore Abhishek Mishra, however, wanted to take all the core courses early on to “get a feel for what concentrations I may be interested in.”
If Mishra could change the core, he said he would include just one accounting class. Otherwise, he does not find the core too restrictive.
“I’m taking [the core classes] early on because I’ll have the flexibility to do what I want later on,” Mishra said.
Wharton students have had their own way of approaching the core before Alternative Pathways, but for those struggling to find out what works best for them, Romeika suggests starting with the new program.
“The pathways are great, but it’s just a tool,” Romeika said. “If you use it as a focal point or a conversation starter then rest assured that students will get the most out of their experience.”