Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr and Haverford students take advantage of a consortium with Penn. For at least a quarter of a century, Penn students have been able to take courses at Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges. But only about 10 Penn students each year take courses at any of those schools, according to Flora Cornfield, an assistant dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. The consortium between Penn and the three suburban colleges allows University students to enroll in courses there -- and students from those schools to take courses here. According to Luise Moskowitz, who handles external affairs for the College of General Studies -- which administers the consortium -- more than 100 students from consortium schools took courses at Penn during the 1995-96 school year. Cornfield noted that Penn draws more students than the other consortium schools because of its many resources. "It's a way for students at smaller schools to explore a larger curriculum," she said. "If you're coming from Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore or Haverford, there are many departments that don't have what we might have." The origins of the consortium are unknown, Cornfield said, though she noted that the Quaker background of the four schools naturally linked them together. "We have no idea when it started," Cornfield said. "We were looking for the materials back in the late '70s." Kent Peterman, the College's assistant dean for academic affairs, explained that the consortium's administrative process is informal. To register for a course at Penn, students at the consortium schools simply need to have their deans sign a form allowing them to enroll. "There's no money exchanged," Peterman said. "The value of the relationship is more important than any money. It's a good opportunity for students in all of the schools." Several students from the suburban colleges said they have taken courses at Penn because those classes often aren't offered at their school. Bryn Mawr senior Kirin Kalia, a Political Science major, has just completed Annenberg School for Communication Dean Kathleen Hall Jamieson's class on political communication. She said she has wanted to take a course in the Annenberg School since her sophomore year and is especially interested in the relationship between media and politics. Kalia praised the opportunity the consortium provides to students from the smaller schools. "I have friends who have taken language courses at Penn like Korean and Bengali -- there would never be enough demand to justify creating new language departments when students can get them at Penn," Kalia said. Although Kalia said she enjoyed the class as well as the change of pace and scenery, she noted that there are also some disadvantages to taking courses at Penn. She said the class -- with almost 200 students -- was the biggest one she has ever taken, and she often felt distant from the professor. "I'm not used to having TAs and I'm not used to being watched while I take an exam," Kalia said. "[At Bryn Mawr,] we have an honor code that allows for self-scheduled finals and closed-book take-home exams. Professors leave the classroom when they do give exams during regular class periods." Several students also noted that the consortium is not a two-way street, since such a disproportionate number of students come to Penn. "I don't ever hear of Penn students taking courses at Bryn Mawr or Haverford," said Penn graduate student Alexa Viets. "It is a loss and weakness of the program that the interaction is limited or one-sided -- from the small schools to the large -- in this way." Viets spent three years at Bryn Mawr and will be taking all her classes at Penn for the next two years. She is pursuing her Master's degree in City Planning as part of a five-year program between Penn and Bryn Mawr. She said while there is less personal interaction with Penn faculty and administrators, the consortium has been very beneficial. Penn administrators said their students often don't need to go to the consortium schools because the University offers so many varied courses. And some Penn students have expressed frustration with the system. College junior Maureen Wentworth is currently taking a 400-level Urban Studies class at Penn that involves significant group work. Her group includes a consortium student from Haverford, which makes coordinating the project they are working on difficult, she said. "It becomes sort of a challenge because it's not easy to just run down to Van Pelt and meet," said Wentworth, who added that when she had a car, she had to drive to Haverford to work on the project. But the students who have taken advantage of the consortium expressed satisfaction with it. "I utilize it to its fullest extent," Bryn Mawr sophomore Karen Jaw said. "I have been coming to Penn for social reasons since freshman year and I have taking classes since sophomore year. In fact, I am planning on taking two next semester."Comments powered by Disqus
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