The Class That Turns Freshmen into Whartonites

It’s a Wharton rite of passage.

Since 1993, every incoming freshman in Wharton has been required to take the course called Management 100 during the fall semester. Stressing group dynamics, leadership and the fundamentals of project management, the class provides students with a semester-long glimpse into the very real challenges, and the ultimate rewards, of teamwork.

This year, 528 freshmen were divided into teams of 10 and like thousands of Whartonites before them, the undergraduates spent the semester planning and implementing a community service project for a Philadelphia non-profit. Teams in the past have worked with organizations such as the American Red Cross and the United Way, creating projects that range from fire safety programs for elementary school students to the development of marketing plans and the staging of special events. 

“The students’ project ties into the organization’s mission and allows the organization to do something they would not otherwise do if they did not have the labor of 10 eager, ambitious undergrads,” says Anne M. Greenhalgh, who directs Wharton's Undergraduate Leadership Program.

The class helps students who are used to being high-achieving individuals learn how to become effective members of high-achieving teams, sharing leadership in a real-world setting, Greenhalgh says.

“Management 100 gives them the foundation they’ll need for the rest of their Wharton education, and also for their career,” she says.

For students, Management 100 is a crash course in shared leadership and group dynamics that often leads to lasting friendships.  They say it teaches them how to interact with clients and how to interact with one another.

One team this year developed a live-action show about fire safety for the American Red Cross that was presented to elementary school students across Philadelphia. A show the organization praised as informative and fun.

“They never cease to amaze me with the really imaginative ways that they are able to come up with to put together their presentations,” says Michael Kiley-Zufelt, an education specialist with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross.

 

Text by Tanya Barrientos

Video by Kurtis Sensenig