A Chance to Explore Everything College

The Welcome to the College event laid out a smorgasbord of majors and programs, so first-year students could get a taste of everything.

Friday, September 2, 2022

By Susan Ahlborn

Hundreds of first-year students filled the tent, their voices almost drowning out the drum combo that was playing. For the College Class of 2026, the Welcome to the College event on August 29 was a chance to meet classmates, grab some lunch, and—in a new addition this year—see all of the majors and programs available all at once, in an “Exploration Expo.” The College's 27 departments offer 63 majors, from Africana Studies to Chemistry to History to Visual Studies. Four long rows of tables held information about all of them, as well as other academic and cultural programs, with representatives eager to talk with the first-year students.

“I’m just looking around at the different programs and things that I'm interested in,” said Marcelo. “Probably class opportunities, because I'm undecided right now and I’m trying to figure out what I really want to do.”

Kimberly was hoping to see what clubs she could join to explore her planned English major further, while Elsa was looking to learn more about the many majors offered.

From left, Kimberly and Elsa, and Michael and Eric

Michael and Eric, planning on math and biochemistry respectively, were exploring and hoping to meet new people and reconnect with others.

From left, Drew and Regan

A prospective PPE major, Drew stopped by to find out more about the program and the courses they're offering this semester, while Regan was able to learn more about what classes meet different requirements.

Fatemah Shams, Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, with student.

Fatemeh Shams, Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, wanted to tell students about the rich array of courses offered by her department, in an area that new college students aren’t necessarily aware of. “It’s going really well," she said. "I ran out of posters.”

Meg Gladieux, C'23, left, of Communication Within the Curriculum, speaks with a first-year student

Meg Gladieux, C'23, was representing the Communication Within the Curriculum program with an eye toward the students' futures. “I think first-years get all these resources, and they probably aren't going to have public speaking presentations their first year," said the public speaking advisor, "but we're a really good resource to know about when they hit junior or senior year and do a bunch of research capstone classes and have to give frequent presentations.”

From left, Maria Andrews, Associate Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, with Angela Youn, C'23, Co-Chair of the Undergraduate Advisory Board for EES.

Maria Andrews of the Earth and Environmental Sciences program said of the students, “I think they are really being open to so many different majors and interests, and should follow their passions, but don't get overwhelmed that they have to decide today. They have to embrace the opportunity. They are here at Penn, and there are really so many different possibilities.” She’s hoping students will follow up with some of the connections they’ve made sometime in the future.

“I hope they see how multi-talented, interdisciplinary majors in the college can be. We've put it out there for them,” said Janice Curington, Assistant Dean of Multicultural Affairs, who helped put together the event. “Arts and sciences are very diverse. One can do anything with an arts and science degree, and we want them to see that. We're so proud of all of our departments out here. I love it.”

“Everyone had a blast!" said Eleni Katifori, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy. "The event was full of energy and enthusiasm. We look forward to get to know the class of 2026 better in the coming months and years.”