During his last semester at the University, 1990 College graduate Todd Hickey drove to Swarthmore College every Thursday to get the credits he needed to complete his Classics major. Hickey and his roommate David Louder, who also graduated in May, made the half-hour drive to Swarthmore to take a two-credit advanced Greek tragedy seminar that Hickey's major advisor had recommended. They were among the four or five University students who each year take advantage of a little-known four-college consortium between the University and Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges. The agreement allows students to take classes at any of the four schools, either living there for a semester and taking a full load of courses or traveling there one or two times a week for a single class. The program makes it easier for students at all four of the schools to get credit for the courses they take at the others. It gives University students a chance to fill gaps in their majors, experiment with courses not offered here, or simply get a taste of the small-school, suburban atmosphere that the urban University cannot offer. Few students seem to know about the program, and for those who do, traveling half an hour to take a course in the suburbs is too time-consuming to be worth the effort. But those who have used the program praised it, and said they had no regrets. · The most common reason for students here to take a class at one of the three suburban schools is that one of the colleges offers a class not available at the University, said Guna Mundheim, an assistant dean for College advising. For instance, she said, art history students here might want to take courses in Bryn Mawr's department, which is especially strong, and English majors might want to investigate Swarthmore's varied offerings. Hickey, who took the Greek tragedy course, said that he did not notice many differences between his class at Swarthmore and his classes here. But he acknowledged that Greek and Latin classes "are not too big anywhere." He said that he enjoyed the experience and recommended that students take a class at one of the consortium schools if they are unable to find it offered at the University. But if it is offered here, he said, students should "stay for the convenience factor." Louder, who is now taking graduate courses at George Washington University in Washington, D.C, also said that he enjoyed the course. He added that he admired the intensity of Swarthmore's classical studies honors program. Rather than having exams at the end of each classical studies course, majors took a cumulative exam at the end of the four years there, he said. Flora Cornfield, another assistant dean for advising, said that it is easy for students to arrange to take courses at Bryn Mawr, Haverford or Swarthmore. "There's no credit hassle," Cornfield said. "It's treated in the same way as study abroad." She said that students must make sure there is room in the class they want to take, and that they must fill out a few forms. "There's always a little bit of bureaucracy in these things . . . but it's not a major deal," Cornfield said. Using a course from another school to meet a general requirement or a major requirement is a little tricky, since it is up to the University department to approve it. "Some departments are not wild about the idea, but they're few and far between," Cornfield said. Students who take a class at the other colleges, all located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, must provide their own transportation. Haverford and Bryn Mawr are about 25 minutes away by car, Swarthmore is about 35 minutes away. All three are accessible by commuter train, and Cornfield said that in the past students have done their homework during the ride. Those who stay at the suburban schools for a semester must arrange housing and meals themselves, although they pay tuition to the University. · Not all students who participate in the exchange are not searching for a course not offered here. Some want to experience smaller classes in a more rural environment. Jordan Rosenfeld, a 1990 graduate, said that he enrolled in an art history course in Bryn Mawr last year in order to recreate the small-campus experience that he had before he transferred to the University from Vassar College during his sophomore year. But the 25-minute car ride to Bryn Mawr proved too long for Rosenfeld, who dropped the course after attending a few classes because it took too much time from his schedule. And others go to observe the difference in student attitudes at the smaller schools. "It's what education should be, especially in a school so concerned about diversity," said College freshman Jennifer Parish, who took a Bryn Mawr course on the French Revolution before she came to the University. Parish said taking the Bryn Mawr class, for which she received credit here, helped her decide against attending a single-sex college. A co-ed school allows people to have "more perspective" on issues, she said. And she added that she found Bryn Mawr students to be "a bit more snobby about where they went to school than Penn students are." Cornfield said that she is unsure of the history of the consortium, and suggested that the four schools were included because of original Quaker ties. Any student who is interested in taking courses at other schools should make an appointment with a College advisor.Comments powered by Disqus
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