Wharton senior Cole Blum is constantly giving people advice — about what classes to take, what teachers to avoid and how to navigate on-campus recruiting. He has been a mentor and a Big Brother. When his brothers in Sigma Alpha Mu need help with their schedule, Blum is ready to offer his support.
Last semester when Wharton Advising sent out applications for the new Wharton Peer Advising Program, Blum automatically knew it was something he wanted to do.
Launched as a pilot program a little over a week ago, the Peer Advising Program allows Wharton students to schedule an appointment with a peer advising fellow, a Wharton senior, who can answer questions about academic options, concentrations, study abroad, internships and extracurricular activities.
“Students have always gone to other students for advice,” Director of Academic Affairs and Advising for Wharton Scott Romeika said. “While it’s great to see professional advisors and faculty, there are certain things that only a student can articulate.”
This is the first time that Wharton is offering a student-led advising program.
With help from the administration and the Dean’s Advisory Board, the staff of Wharton Undergraduate Advising has been working on the idea for almost two years.
“The biggest challenge [in developing the program] is how much responsibility a peer advisor should take on,” Romeika said.
Blum and fellow peer advisor, Wharton senior Nikita Anand, agree that their role as peer advisors is to share their experiences, decisions and mistakes with students to help guide them with their own experiences.
“I think the goal of the program is to basically hack into an advising knowledge base that is currently unavailable to Wharton undergrads,” Anand said. “Having a group of seniors with a diversified background and knowledge of what Wharton has to offer is an excellent first-hand advisory program.”
During her first years at Wharton, Anand had a lot of help from fellow Management 100 teaching assistants, who offered her advice about classes and professors. Anand now gets to share her own experiences with younger students, including a student from France who was interested in going to school in the United States and perhaps applying to Wharton.
“We talked for an hour and half,” Anand said. “I got to learn about the French education system and it was great telling her about Wharton.”
Similarly, Blum was able to reach out to a Wharton and College dual-degree student and help him figure out his course schedule.
Wharton students can now make appointments with one of the 13 peer advising fellows on Wharton’s Academic Advising site. The program has seen a few walk-ins, but neither Blum nor Anand has had anyone schedule an appointment yet.
“I hope people use it,” Anand said. She’s been “selling” the program to her students in Management 100. “It’s going to take some time to get the marketing out, but I want people to sign up for the peer advisors.”
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