From the Dean of First-Year Students

Dear Incoming Students,

Welcome to the College of Arts & Sciences and your exciting new life here at Penn.  The transition from high school to college is one of the biggest challenges in a young person’s life. Though you may be aware that college offers a very different learning and living environment than the one to which you are accustomed, many will not truly appreciate how significant this difference is until you have become immersed in your new life.

At Penn, you will spend far less time in class than you did in high school–on average, about 12 to 15 hours per week. The remainder of your time is unstructured, and the challenge is to find a way of organizing this unstructured time in a manner that ensures your ability to do well in your academic work while still taking part in the life of the campus. For many Penn first-year students, the learning process that this adaptation entails is like a course in its own right.

Advisors, professors, house deans and other members of the Penn community stand ready to help, but you must understand an important fact: These people will all assume that the students with whom they work are adults, capable of making their own decisions, understanding the consequences of their actions (or inaction), and seeking the information and help they need when they need it. Ultimately , you must take responsibility for the decisions you make. The section of this site that deals with Advising and Support provides listings of people and services that can help. In particular, I would like to introduce you to the College Office, your academic home base for the next four years. The advisors in the College Office are available to help you chart your undergraduate career, find answers to your questions and take best advantage of the resources and opportunities available at Penn.

We look forward to working with you on your academic planning and advising this summer and greeting you in person this fall.


Dr. Janet Tighe
Dean of First-Year Students and Director of Academic Advising