Wharton Success Skills Program canceled, student opinions on the program vary


Katherine Mailly

All first and second-year students at Northeastern were enrolled in a Success Skills Program, created in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. In a Sept. 26 email, these students were told that the course had been indefinitely postponed following implementation difficulties.

Katherine Mailly, news correspondent

The Wharton/NU Success Skills program has been postponed following difficulties in carrying out the program, according to a Sept. 26 email. First and second-year students enrolled in the course had mixed reviews about the value of the program and how its postponement has affected them.

Students were reminded of the program in a July 21 email from Megan Madel, the associate vice chancellor of design and operations for education innovation. Included in the email was a survey that allowed students to determine what meeting times would work for them and a link for students to withdraw from the program. 

An announcement on Canvas was sent out Sept. 13, advertising the program as an opportunity for first- and second-year students to build professional skills that would aid them in their co-ops. The missive outlined the program as an eight-week-long project that required students to watch videos, complete small assignments and meet with a small group of students weekly to gain points that could later be exchanged for gift cards worth up to $100.

Students were also notified that the collaboration with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was personalized to each student, which meant that not every student would have the same experience with the program. The work would also slow to a monthly basis beginning in November.

Another Canvas announcement sent out Sept. 26 announced that the program was paused indefinitely due to implementation challenges. The course was then removed from enrolled students’ Canvas accounts. A spokesperson for Northeastern did not provide additional comment, instead pointing to the Sept. 26 announcement. 

“Thank you so much for your patience, engagement, and understanding,” the announcement read. “We recognize that this type of content is valuable, we apologize for the inconvenience and hope to provide this programming to you all in the future.”

Jaden Mack, a second-year electrical engineering major, said he was confused about the requirements and purpose of the program prior to its cancellation. Mack said he felt there was insufficient notice before the start of the program, and that its presence in Canvas alongside official classes likely confused students about whether the program was mandatory.

Two threads on the Northeastern subreddit featured questions from students who had been enrolled in the program but were unsure about what it entailed, with comments from other students who were similarly unaware.

“Canvas suddenly had a new pop-up with five notifications out of nowhere with one email from a month and a half ago that got [put into spam],” Mack said.

The first time Andrew Schonberger, a first-year business administration major, heard about the program was in a Sept. 12 email from Madel apologizing for technological glitches in the program. According to the email, students would be sent messages in Canvas and MentorHub to learn about the program. The message also congratulated students for being enrolled in the program.

Even prior to the cancellation, some students who were enrolled had chosen not to participate in the program. Evan Velez, a second-year electrical engineering major, said the program didn’t seem worth the effort given what Velez viewed as a small return.

“It just felt like a waste of time when it doesn’t add much to your resume and it’s creditless,” Velez said. “Especially when I’m doing a lot of other work right now. I would rather not work on something else that would not benefit me much in any way.”

However, some other students, like Schonberger, believed the program was beneficial, particularly for the certificate that students would be awarded at the end and the impressive reputation of Wharton associated with it. The indefinite cancellation on the program was disheartening, he said.

“I was disappointed. I didn’t expect it to be paused just because it sounded like it was something that was like a sound program,” Schonberger said. “I’ve taken online Northeastern classes before, and my impression [was] that it would run smoothly and we’d be able to complete the certificate.”

Referencing the implementation difficulties mentioned in the Sept. 26 Canvas announcement, Schonberger said he believed it was likely low attendance that resulted in the program’s pause. Mack said he logged into the first meeting only to find he was the only person to attend.

In order for the program to be more successful in the future, Mack and Schonberger both said that there should be more information sent to enrolled students about the program.

“They can’t force anyone to join it, but maybe only have the course available [for] people to elect to take it,” Schonberger said. “There’s a difference between electing to take something versus just being thrown into it. Especially if students are just thrown into the program without really knowing or reading what they’re getting involved in they might not be willing to participate.”