The deluge of Penn mail begins almost immediately after acceptance. Between housing notices and deposit receipts, Penn doesn’t let you forget that you’ll be on Locust Walk in two months … one month … one week. It’s exciting, but only heightens trepidation.
So when I attended the annual summer On to Penn Party given by the Penn Alumni Club of Central New Jersey and heard a few students talking about something called PennSTART, my interest was piqued. The gist of it, as I understood, was that it was a program designed to equip students with coping skills as they navigated college. Was this a mailing I had missed? As soon as I got home, I Googled PennSTART and began the program registration questionnaire.
The program seemed too good to be true, and, indeed, it was. I was moving right along in my registration when I arrived at question 15: Enrollment. “In which school/program are you enrolled?” The College of Arts and Sciences wasn’t listed, so I flipped back to the homepage. My problem? PennSTART is exclusively for students in Wharton or joint programs with Wharton.
According to Scott Romeika, Wharton’s director of Academic Affairs and Advising, Wharton started using PennSTART because the school recognizes that “transitioning to college can be very challenging, even for the best and brightest students.” The program was designed to “help students build their repertoire of problem-solving skills, and to better prepare for the complexities of college life both in and out of the classroom.” Sounds like something that many students could benefit from, regardless of whether their classes are in Huntsman Hall.
Although the letter introducing PennSTART to the Wharton Class of 2013 says that the “program was developed with Wharton undergraduates in mind,” making the difficult adjustment to college and encountering life problems during these four years are not exclusive to Wharton students. Even before setting foot on campus, I felt I was getting my first taste of the steep Wharton/rest-of-Penn divide.
If given this chance to ease the transition for all first-year students to college, the College, Nursing and Engineering Schools should implement this program.
After learning about PennSTART, College freshman Eva Bernfeld thought she might have been able to benefit from the program. “I don’t think there’s a difference between the students in the College, Engineering and Nursing and Wharton students,” Bernfeld said. “Everyone has to get adjusted to a new environment and will be exposed to a lot stress.” Coming from Amsterdam, Bernfeld knows a thing or two about the anxiety of adjusting to a new environment, even though she isn’t a Wharton student.
The program’s reviews, admittedly, are mixed, and it will probably have the same reception across the board — but those students who could benefit from it, like Bernfield, should be given access. M&T; Freshman Jeffrey Fan said he didn’t find the program to be helpful, but Jordan Parker, another M&T; freshman, was enthusiastic about participating. Parker wrote in an e-mail that he, “personally loved PennSTART, and it has had a measurable, positive impact on my transition to life at Penn’s campus.” Parker went on to discuss the value of the skill set the program equipped him with to begin his life at Penn. He cited the example of the “Detecting Icebergs” skill, which Parker already had to apply “to learn about myself and come to terms with my actions” during his first few weeks on campus.
Romeika concluded by expressing his hope that Wharton will continue to offer the program “next summer and beyond.”
Still, I’d like to see all four colleges take up the program this coming summer. It might just make CAPS a little less crowded and make Engineering freshmen juggling 5.5 classes a little more at ease.
Maya Brandon is a College freshman from West Windsor, N.J. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.