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From visiting medical artifact museums to using economics to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, this semester’s preceptorial choices provide a wide and eclectic selection for students.

This semester, Penn is offering 62 preceptorials — short non-credit courses led by professors — up from 57 last fall. Preceptorial registration on Penn InTouch, which began earlier this semester, ends Jan. 30.

Of the 62 preceptorials being offered this semester, 12 are favorites that have been repeated over the years, according to College junior and Chair of the Preceptorials Committee Dina Shteyngardt.

The 12 returning preceptorials include choices like “Mad Potter’s Wheel,” “CPR Certification” and “Getting Started in Undergraduate Research.”

Among the more unique options for first-time preceptorials, according to College freshman and Committee Secretary Clarissa O’Conor, are “Muscles and Mucus at the Mütter Museum,” in which students will visit a museum famed for bizarre medical artifacts like Albert Einstein’s brain and the thorax of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. Additionally, “How to Find a Boyfriend/Girlfriend According to Economics” will link economic theory to relationship advice.

Other selections include sessions among the likes of “The Geometry of Heaven and Hell” and “Coming to Terms with Slutwalk.”

“Most of these are things you couldn’t do in a class,” College junior Naqsh Haque, another committee member, said. “The quirkier the better … The best ones usually involve taking two very different things and relating them.”

Registration for this semester’s preceptorials has been “significantly high” according to O’Conor, and has continued to rise over the years.

Only about 20 percent of people who register for preceptorials ultimately receive a spot in their first-choice class, according to O’Conor.

“There is usually a very high amount on the waiting list,” she said.

Shteyngardt added that for last semester, nearly every preceptorial had a waiting list.

“Our preceptorials are always lottery-based admission, and depending on class size, almost always have waitlists,” she wrote in an email.

O’Conor said that along with routinely creating new preceptorials, the committee has recently implemented task forces — specialized committees that are focusing on creating new offerings tied to particular topics, such as community service.

The committee is also focused on increasing its “brand awareness” according to Shteyngardt. So far, it has created a new logo to use on preceptorial publications, and is continuing to expand outreach efforts.

“We want to have more members join us so that we can have more preceptorials offered and hopefully decrease the number of people on waitlists,” she wrote.

Students have offered mixed reactions to preceptorials in general.

“They’re good experiences, but there’s a limit to what you can do in three hours because it’s such a short period of time,” College senior Barry Slaff said. “You don’t get as much out of it as you could in a class.”

Nursing freshman Jane Kovacs, who attended preceptorials during New Student Orientation, said her preceptorial experience was enjoyable because there was “nothing else to do” during NSO.

However, she added that she would think twice about registering for a preceptorial during the regular academic year, since it is not offered for credit and may take away from regular course time.

Haque said all Penn students should consider enrolling despite potential reservations they may have.

“Preceptorials allow for a free and grade-less opportunity to learn in Penn’s environment in a way that you are never going to able to learn again,” she said.


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