With the Spring 2019 course schedule now available to view on Capstone, and registration opening up for upperclassmen next week, some students may have noticed that PED 050: Principles of Fitness and Wellness, is no longer being offered. With a handful of seniors still scrambling to complete their last minute general education requirements, the disappearance of PED 050 may be unsettling for those who have not yet taken it. Nonetheless, the reason that Fitness and Wellness is no longer showing up on Capstone is due to the fact that it has been replaced by a brand new requirement known as Personal and Professional Development, or PPD.

According to the 2018-2019 course catalog:

“The Personal and Professional Development requirement provides students with an opportunity to develop their identity as students and members of the Muhlenberg campus community, supporting their success in college and beyond.  Experiences that satisfy the Personal and Professional Development requirement focus on aspects of personal and career development, and aim to cultivate one’s understanding of community responsibility, supports, and resources on campus…”

The PPD requirement currently has two course options: PPD 050: Foundations of Student Success and PPD 060: Developing Your Professional Identity and Network. Both courses run at 50 minutes per class, meet twice a week, are offered at zero credits and graded as pass/fail, all of which were characteristics for the previous Fitness and Wellness course.

Foundations of Student Success debuted on campus for the first time this semester. There were 12 different sections all taught by a variety of faculty and staff across many different departments. According to the course description available on Capstone, “This course is designed to develop an understanding of one’s holistic well-being. It will focus on personal development, career development, and understanding one’s community responsibilities as well as supports and resources on campus.”

“I myself have really enjoyed getting to know the students in my class and assisting them with their transition here” says Kathleen Mangold, associate director of residential education and one of the instructors for the course this semester.

Next semester there will also be 12 available sections with 20 seats in each. While the goal of the course, and the requirement in general, is for first-year students to enroll within their first semester at Muhlenberg, as of now upperclassmen may still register for it if they have not yet taken Principles of Fitness and Wellness.

“Right now the Foundations of Student Success course is kind of in a transition point,”

“Right now the Foundations of Student Success course is kind of in a transition point,” explains Ryan Smolko, associate director of the Career Center. “So Fitness and Wellness does not exist, but there are still upperclassmen that are in it. Eventually it will be strictly underclassmen, everybody their first semester is going to take one or the other.”

The other class that Smolko is referencing, and the one that he is primarily affiliated with, is Developing Your Professional Identity and Network, which has actually been offered on campus since Fall 2016.

A change for this semester, however, is that for the first time the course is being taught inside the Career Center lab, a change that Smolko is particularly excited about due to how dynamic the space is.

“When I started here, one of the mandates that the Career Center was given was to think about if that course (Principles of Fitness and Wellness) was career-based, what would that look like, which is where the Professional Identity and Networking Course came from” says Smolko.

Smolko designed the Professional Identity and Networking course alongside Jenna Azar, co-director of the Intergroup Dialogue program here at Muhlenberg.

The course has a large focus on career exploration, where students work on developing their resumes, cover letters, complete interviews with each other and are also assigned to complete informational interviews with alumni. “We really work on those networking skills” says Smolko.

“Students that have done academically well in high school, that feel prepared for college, need less of the study skills…tend to be the ones that apply to my course,” says Smolko, noting how there is an application process involved in registering for the Developing Your Professional Identity and Network course option, which is not the case of Foundations of Student Success.

The application period for the networking class took place over the summer, so as of now all of the spots are filled for next semester.

“I want to make sure that students are doing it for the right reasons,” adds Smolko, referencing the necessity for an application process. With that being said, there are plans to hopefully remove the need for an application for next year in order to encourage more students to enroll, according to Smolko.

While Smolko also notes that first-year students may be tempted to put off thinking about their post-graduation plans, the PPD networking course encourages them to start planning early.

“The sooner that you can kind of normalize that process of exploring, trying different things, the more and the better opportunities that comes your way,”

“The sooner that you can kind of normalize that process of exploring, trying different things, the more and the better opportunities that comes your way,” says Smolko. “Learn what you want to do and learn what you don’t want to do.”

Cover photo courtesy of Muhlenberg College Public Relations

Sydney Coplin is a senior majoring in Media and Communication. She is currently spending her final semester of college interning and studying in Washington, D.C. She has previously been on staff as News Editor and Managing Editor.

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