This spring, newly admitted students may begin thinking about College of Arts and Sciences majors before they even set foot on campus.
Since last semester, the Dean’s Advisory Board has been working to launch a program called College Connection that would allow admitted students to communicate with current undergraduates about academic and major options in the College.
Though the program’s details are still being worked out, College Connection would recruit a group of current undergraduates in the College to reach out to admitted students who have not yet decided to matriculate to Penn.
The ultimate goal of the program is to educate students on offerings at the University, as well as increase matriculation rates, according to College Dean Dennis DeTurck.
College junior and DAB co-chair Kyle Henson, who is also a columnist for The Daily Pennsylvanian, described College Connection as a “tool in making that month of decisions more personalized.”
He added that other recruitment events — such as Penn Preview Days — don’t provide much opportunity for high-school students to interact and talk with undergraduates about life at Penn.
“What’s great about this coming from the College office specifically is they’re tapped into the students there, more so than we are, and so they can help facilitate making these connections,” Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said.
DeTurck added that current students may serve to bridge the gap between more “contrived” college mailings and the newly admitted students.
“They read stuff on the web or on the literature that we send out to prospective students. That will say the truth, but someone on the outside isn’t quite sure whether it’s for real,” he said. “I think seeing a real person and hearing their real voice is much more powerful.”
Once it is implemented, the initiative may entice more students to give the College more consideration, according to IvySelect College Consulting Director Michael Goran, a 1976 College graduate.
“I think it’s a terrific idea,” he said. “It tells students that they’re wanted by the University and that kind of outreach is sometimes enough to tip the scale because it’s flattering.”
Another one of the initiative’s goals is to raise students’ awareness about the different academic options available in the College.
College senior and DAB co-chair Shivani Parikh said there are many majors that may not be well known to prospective students.
“There are so many combinations of majors in the College — Philosophy, Politics and Economics, for instance — that students don’t know about,” she said. “Some prospective students tend to be locked into one specific major and then they realize later on that they want to change it and the problem is that they don’t have time to change it.”
College junior Brent Ginsberg, chair of the College Connection committee, explained that DAB is currently working to see how the initiative may co-exist with other student-run programs on campus, such as the Admissions Dean’s Advisory Board. The group is also collaborating with the Admissions Office on how it will receive contact information for newly admitted students.
Maria Morales-Kent — Director of College Counseling at The Thacher School in Ojai, Calif. — said this initiative from Penn could resolve the one-sided bias seen on many online college review sites, like College Confidential.
“There’s so much room for good information out there and I think a lot of times, there are a lot of websites that are all positive or all negative,” she said. “I hope the University will figure out a way to make it so it’s balanced and informative.”
College freshman Joe Miciak said he would have benefitted from speaking with a current student about majors, classes and campus life before making his choice to attend Penn.
“When I was looking at colleges, I was never really sure where to look, so if I had someone to talk to about it, I would have been able to narrow my decision down easier,” he said. “The brochures are pretty good but they’re not really specified for each student.”
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.