Lab Manager, Social and Behavioral Science Initiative, University of Pennsylvania
Incoming doctoral student, University of California, Los Angeles
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Communication, University of California, Davis ’19
Kelsey Neuenswander was very driven in college. She completed a dual bachelor’s degree in three years and graduated summa cum laude. “It was great to finish up early,” she says, “but sometimes I wish I took a little more time to enjoy it.” Had she completed her degrees in four years instead of three, Kelsey would have enjoyed taking more exploratory courses. She says Penn’s Post-Baccalaureate Studies program has been “the perfect opportunity” to expand her horizons. Students accepted into this program have access to courses in more than 50 areas of study across several schools at Penn and can choose the classes that best suit their goals and schedule.
From the moment they enroll, post-baccalaureate students receive personalized advising and support from Jaime Kelly, Director of Certificate and Non-Degree Programs, and other members of the program team. Since Kelsey was interested in applying to PhD programs, Jaime recommended an academic research writing class that is offered primarily for Master of Liberal Arts students. “I was worried I wouldn’t fit in with the MLA students, but they were all extremely supportive and gave me helpful feedback on my writing that I probably wouldn’t have gotten in an applied writing class in my discipline,” Kelsey notes. Jaime also connected Kelsey to faculty and post-doctorate students who coached Kelsey through the process of applying to PhD programs. Kelsey’s efforts paid off: this fall, she will start doctoral studies in communication at the University of California, Los Angeles. She plans to build on her undergraduate research on the interplay between communication science, social psychology, and the science of visual cognition.
Reflecting on her time in the post-baccalaureate program, Kelsey says she was struck by the range of disciplines, experiences, and identities represented. She had assumed that most people in the program would be preparing for graduate school like her. “It’s true that many are, but I’ve also met a lot of people who are taking classes purely for the love of learning, to enrich their lives,” Kelsey says. She notes that post-baccalaureate students are spread out over the University landscape but interact with each other regularly through events and online forums. “It’s been great to connect with all these people with very different experiences, to learn from them and grow from them,” she says.