Penn likes to talk about what percentage of its classes are taught by teachers, but some Wharton students are seeking out classes taught by their own undergraduate peers.
This semester, the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board (WAB) is offering seminars in three areas: introduction to coding, financial modeling and design and Photoshop. The seminars last for five to eight weeks, and consist of hour-and-a-half-long classes every weekend. The class does not require homework, as it is meant to be a low-stress commitment, and does not give credit.
While the seminars are not officially reserved solely for Wharton undergraduates, signup information was sent out only to the Wharton undergraduate listservs.
“Our mission is improving academic undergraduate life for Wharton students, as part of the [WAB], but we didn’t specifically limit it,” Wharton senior Alex Sands said. “This semester, probably most of the people are in the classes are Wharton students — but that’s not to say that in the future it will always be like that.”
Sands, a member of the WAB, spearheaded the creation of the seminars last semester, as well as the expansion of the programs this year. He also teaches a seminar on learning to code.
“[There were] a lot of times [when] ... students would want to learn something that’s maybe more applied than something you’d usually learn in your classes right now,” Sands said. “I figured, why not leverage Penn’s really amazing students that are able to teach these things ... and have students teach the other students?”
Last year, the board only offered one seminar, on coding. This year, following positive feedback from participants, the board decided to expand the number of classes. The financial modeling class is taught by Wharton junior Aimun Malik, while the design class is taught by College senior Cody Min. The two classes were offered due to both high interest from students and the availability of other students to teach them.
“We wanted to try this model at the undergrad level, and we knew that we had a great [WAB member] like Alex, who is a strong coder, [so] we knew that we could use his talents to teach this,” Wharton senior and WAB member Justin Hash said. “And after that, once that class was a great success, we knew that there were other students who had great knowledge about Photoshop and design, and we could connect them with students who had interest in those skills.”
Interest in the courses has been high, with 548 students signing up this semester. Because of the limited amount of space, enrollment is capped at 78 for the coding and modeling classes, which are taught as lectures, and 28 for the class on design.
“All the students that sign up are interested in learning for the sake of learning,” WAB member and Wharton freshman Nicholas Amore said. “It’s like stress relief, almost, because [students] can ... learn a new skill that’s going to be helpful to them, but they don’t have the pressure of that entire semester-long course and they don’t have to worry about midterms or anything like that.”
The board expects to use feedback from this semester’s classes to determine what steps to take in the future. If the semester’s courses go well, the WAB is hoping to expand, possibly partnering with groups in other schools.