When I arrived for my first semester at Wharton, I intended to study Actuarial Science and Statistics. Wharton, however, does not have its students officially select their concentrations (Wharton’s name for majors) until the end of their sophomore year. Though at the time I had no reason to believe that my interests would change, I now find myself — three years later — poised to graduate with a degree in marketing and social impact and responsibility.
The path that led me to this point is one that I believe many should consider. Not only because it led me to figure out where my passions lie, but because there is much merit in using one’s time in college to determine if there are any personal interests that you have yet to discover.
I, TOO, STARTED TO TOY WITH THE IDEA OF FINANCE
All Wharton undergrads graduate with a BS in Economics and their selected concentrations. Each concentration is comprised of an introductory course as well as four upper level classes in the relevant department. Students graduate with one, two, or sometimes even three of the twenty-two concentrations Wharton offers. Unsurprisingly — as I am certain one could guess — the most popular concentration is finance. Therefore, it should also come as no surprise that after just one semester at Wharton, I too started to toy with the idea of concentrating in finance. I like to think that I did this not because countless others were doing it, but rather because many spoke of it in such a way that had me convinced — a thorough knowledge of finance could do wonders for my ability to thrive in the business world. Thriving in the world of business is exactly what I wanted to do.
By the end of my freshman year, however, I realized that although it would be quite beneficial to have this knowledge, it was not the path that I wanted to pursue. I wanted to work in business, but all it took was a semester-long introductory finance class to confirm what I perhaps may have already known at heart: finance, as edifying as it was, was not my passion. Even then, I knew that I wanted to be passionate about what I would pursue. So I spent the first semester of my sophomore year figuring out how I could incorporate what I knew and was passionate about into what Wharton had to offer. Ultimately, it was this mindset that led me to the concentrations I’m going to graduate with at the end of this semester.
ONE MARKETING CLASS AT WHARTON WAS ALL IT TOOK
By using the two semesters of my sophomore year to take a series of introductory classes across several departments, I was able to encounter content and opportunities that I had never considered before, but could see myself falling in love with. Marketing was something I had no interest in prior to coming to Wharton. However, after just one class in the department I realized that it was something I could thoroughly enjoy.
My initial selection of Actuarial Science and Statistics as majors was based on my understanding of what they would entail from a high school perspective. For who I was then, that combination of subjects made perfect sense. However, as cliché as it sounds, the phrase “you find yourself in college” proved so profoundly true to myself and others, that I think one ought to take a pause on their assumptions of themselves before entering the college environment. So much of my confidence regarding who I was as an academic was uprooted after just a few months at Penn. Not because I lacked the ability to do well, but because classes here give you a much more thorough understanding of how your interests align with the real world.
WHARTON HELPS UNLOCK YOUR UNTAPPED PASSIONS
Wharton’s classes so thoroughly combine theory and practical experience, that its students get the chance to see themselves in the environment in which they think they desire to work and then determine if that is the outlet that they want to pursue. From internships to workshops to its phenomenal alumni network, Wharton exposes its students to individuals who work within all facets of the financial realm and provide them with the opportunity to determine that which aligns perfectly with their interests.
Essentially what I am saying is this: If you know what it is you want to do long-term, such experiences at a school like Wharton will do naught but to confirm your resolve and provide you with an introductory view to what can certainly be your future. If you do not know what it is you want to do however, or think you know, but after a few months of college realize that you know less than you thought, Wharton has the capacity to expose you to a wide range of opportunities that doubtlessly will unlock some untapped passion and help you charter a path to the future you were meant to have.