Penn has launched the College Majors' Advisory Board, a student group of representatives from each major that will work to organize mentorship programs and bonding events for undergraduates in the School of Arts and Sciences.
Many individual departments within the College currently provide mentorship programs and social bonding events for students interested in completing specific majors, but these mentorship and social policies are not consistent throughout all departments, College Dean’s Advisory Board Co-Chair and College sophomore Sanaea Bhagwagar said.
"We also just feel like community is lacking in the major," Bhagwagar said. "We think that we could really improve the majors and have people get to know each other while they are taking the intro classes or later."
Due to Bhagwagar's concerns over the lack of cohesion among students majoring in the College, the College of Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s Advisory Board launched the initiative in early April — the new representatives will begin meeting monthly starting next semester.
While the College Dean's Advisory Board is responsible for a wide variety of student initiatives in the College — ranging from raising awareness of mental health to connecting freshmen interested in doing research with juniors in a lab — the new College Majors' Advisory Board will be more specialized and will focus on individual majors within the College."
Resources will include mentorship programs, advising sessions led by students before advance registration, and bonding events after the declaration of majors, Bhagwagar said.
All student representatives will be rising seniors and will be selected by administrators in different departments, Bhagwagar added.
This semester, the board has met with student representatives twice, though Bhagwagar said the board is still searching for representatives from certain departments, including the Anthropology, Cognitive Science, Communication, Fine Arts, International Relations, Mathematics, and Visual Studies departments.
For some students in the College, the initiative will serve as a welcome advising resource, while others expressed skepticism that individual major advisory boards would be helpful for larger College requirements.
College junior Morty Zadik said many people come to Penn undecided on their major, and the College Majors' Advisory Board can help freshmen and sophomores decide on their future academic paths.
“If you could have mentorship, that would probably help them maybe figure out more what they actually want to study," Zadik said. "Even if you already knew what you want to study, it can help you with your career advancements or planning out your classes for the future."
College junior Lydia Maliackel said the board should focus on informing College students on ways to fulfill core requirements while also planing out their future classes.
“The College has a lot of really intricate and complicated requirements in terms of sectors and foundational approaches,” Maliackel said. “I feel like the specific majors themselves, if I go to the BBB advising office, they specifically don’t know as much about the College requirements as if I went to a College advisor.”
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