First-year Wharton MBAs convened in the Annenberg Center August 11 at 9 a.m., ready to compete in a Cluster dance-off. A week before, most of them had been strangers – young professionals from around the world newly relocated to Philadelphia. Now they were dance teams, suited up in bright T-shirts, tutus, face paint, and even lion, tiger, bee, and dragon onesies, busting moves to hits from Drake, Cardi B., and Carly Rae Jepsen.
The packed house, a churning sea of orange, red, yellow, and green, went wild — especially Cluster 3 who took first place.
The Cluster dance-off is just one event kicking off Pre-Term, which normally include Cluster Olympics, which were rained out this year. Cluster bonds continue to deepen throughout the two-year Wharton MBA journey and beyond.
The History of Clusters
Clusters were launched in 2012 as part of the MBA curriculum redesign, uniting three cohorts into four clusters of about 210 students. The Clusters are diverse by design to cultivate a broader sense of belonging and facilitate more friendships and acquaintances.
It’s worked – the Clusters have strong bonds, traditions, and mascots (hence the lions, tigers, bees, and dragons). But it’s not just social organization– Clusters are made up of the Cohorts and learning teams that help define the first-year academic experience. They’re guided by a cross-functional Advising Support Network, informally known as the students’ “board of directors,” a team of dedicated staff members from Academic Advising, MBA Career Management, the McNulty Leadership Program, and MBA Student Life.
Something for Everyone
“Community building is essential to any experience,” said Eddie Banks-Crosson, Director of MBA Student Life. “As a child, my dad would always remind me, ‘We are not built to do it alone. Sometimes our backs are stronger when we lean up against the wall.’ Through the Cluster system students form relationships where they can lean on one another to get through their two years with a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and community.”
The goal of the entire cluster system is to help make a class of 850-plus feel more manageable, friendly, and close-knit. It’s also a way to change preconceived notions about what the Wharton experience will be.
The Cluster experience begins during Pre-Term, continues with Cluster suppers and events, and culminates in the Cluster Cup, which spans the entire year and incorporates academic achievement and social responsibility. Each Cluster wins points for every student on the Director’s List (top 10 percent of the class) and every victory at Quizzo or football.
“Our Cluster is our Wharton family,” said Student Life Associate Director Larry Rappoport, who’s proud to lead the Cluster 3 Bees. “With each class, I look forward to seeing the new touches they will add to our Cluster community and culture in their two years here.”
Posted: August 15, 2018