As one of the Haas Class of 2014 Cohort Leaders (Go Sproul!), I’m often asked, what IS the Cohort Program? Like…what is it supposed to do? Let’s take some time while our brains are still relatively well-rested and explore this issue a bit further.
Haas Meets Hogwarts
The idea of the Cohort Program (not unlike the Houses of Hogwarts) is to create a greater sense of Haas within each class: what is it like to be a member of a community of 350 Undergraduates who come from a vast array of backgrounds and who have vastly diverse skills and personalities. So often, students become enmeshed in the struggle that is the Haas application process, that once they’ve trudged their way up those famed steps, the school becomes just that – a school. Then, we’re thrown into the heat of recruiting and scrambling to study for midterms and pulling our hair out trying to understand how a perfect score can equate to an A minus?! and fulfilling established commitments. In the craziness we forget the most important thing – we’re in Haas. It’s here that we’re going to make our mark as undergraduates; it’s here that we’ll be making lifelong friends. (And honestly, I wouldn’t mind having my own personal Ron Weasley.)
Haas should be a community. That’s what the Cohort Program is set out to accomplish.
Last semester was something of a pilot, where the Undergraduate Office asked, what can we make out of this Cohort Program if we pool our resources to align the Haas culture more with a sense of community and mutual development? In other words, how can we draw out students out of their established niches to interact with other Haas undergrads? How do we welcome transfers?
What has this pilot achieved thus far? A case competition with great contributions by undergrads, new ideas for improving the Haas campus, bonding over pizza and cupcakes, service to the community…not bad for a single semester. But Spring is going to be a whole other ball park.
I say this with confidence because behind the Cohort Program, there is a group of individuals who understand the importance of giving back to Haas and making the most of the social aspect of the school. And they’ve been hard at work.
Cohort Leader Retreat, Spring 2013
The Cohort Leaders set out for a retreat at a private lakehouse (!) offered by one very kind and welcoming member of the group. Enter a site of intense, and I mean INTENSE, creative and logistical discussion of the upcoming semester. There wasn’t anyone else around but the occasional deer. We sat for hours, circled around a table, deliberating over events both professional and social, setting the timeline for Spring 2013.
People from my Cohort have said they wanted more career events.
We really should consider that people aren’t necessarily A,B,C’s. What about Marketing? Entrepreneurship?
What we really need to do is get everyone out, talking to each other.
HOW much can we get those group basketball tickets for? IN OUR OWN PRIVATE SECTION?!
Can we get new admits more excited about Haas, maybe by having them meet current students?
The conversation would go rocketing forward at an exciting idea, linger over obstacles, and sometimes roll back onto itself at the toughest challenges and hardest questions. Mobilizing a class of undergraduates is no easy task – we’ve learned that through trial and error. Yet here was a group devoting their entire weekend, and the rest of their undergraduate careers, to that very purpose. And while the Cohort Program is still in its swaddling clothes, and some missteps are bound to occur, the commitment and spirit is there.
Oh, there were also walks along the dock at the lake, some good fun with a rope swing, and a lot of (failed) jumping pictures. Food. Bonding. More bonding. Bonding to the extreme. It’s amazing how well you can get to know a group of people in a span of two days – and even more amazing how open and complex and wonderfully different a group of Business students can be.
Now imagine this kind of connection springing up throughout the hallways of Haas.
Without revealing too much, this next semester the Undergraduate Cohort Program will be covering some new, perhaps unpredictable, territory. There are a handful of great events lined up that address both students’ professional and social interests, and a couple of events that are, simply put, awesome.
If you’ve made it this far through the article, know that a group of students is meeting weekly, sending emails nightly, and texting each other every other minute to help build the Haas community. Most importantly, know that despite all this, our plans are nothing without your interest and attendance and feedback.
Keep your eyes and ears open for Cohort events – it’s going to be an awesome Spring semester.
Special thanks to the amazing duo that made this wonder of a retreat possible.
This post is for you.
Need a reminder of which Cohort you’re in? Rack through your emails for “Haas Orientation Details” from Fall semester, which should include your cohort information.
Visit http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/Undergrad/cohorts.html for more on your Class of 2014 Cohort Leaders