University of Pennsylvania to launch Second Year Experience

Building on its commitment to creating a culture of academic vibrancy, diversity, and wellness for all students, the University of Pennsylvania is announcing the creation of the Second Year Experience Program. It includes special programming, and a two-year housing requirement that will begin for Class of 2024 freshmen entering Penn in fall 2020.


Designed specifically to address the unique needs of second-year students, programming will focus on areas such as academics and research, in-house academic advising and co-curricular opportunities, social standing and community, personal finances and budgeting, and pre-professional exploration, as well as sophomore-specific celebrations.

The College House system, bringing together undergraduates, faculty, staff, and graduate students to form dynamic shared communities, has become enormously successful, and life in a College House has become a touchstone for generations of student experiences at Penn,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. 

“Over the last 10 years, Penn has invested more than $500 million dollars in renovations to its College House system, and we are committed to continuing to improve and update the housing stock on an ongoing basis,” said Gutmann. “This commitment combined with our investment in building New College House on Hill Field and New College House West will allow us to launch the Second Year Experience in the fall of 2021. I am delighted to say that this program means that sophomores will now benefit from this approach to student life and well-being after their first year.”

The new two-year housing requirement will coincide with the opening of the New College House West (NCHW), in fall 2021. NCHW will have capacity for an additional 450 upperclass students on campus in its College House program, enabling the University to house all of its first- and second-year students, as well as approximately 20-25 percent of its juniors and seniors.

The concept for Second Year Experience Program grew from several student wellness task force recommendations. Most recently, the Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community outlined the challenges faced by students when they moved off-campus, and the barriers the University faced in supporting students once they were no longer living in the College Houses. In response to these recommendations, the Provost’s Office spent the 2017-18 academic year consulting with student leaders, campus partners, College Houses faculty and staff, Penn advisors, and others in developing the second year program.

“Penn is dedicated to the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff, and has committed significant time and expert resources in evaluating the best ways to promote the academic success and personal wellness of its student body,” Gutmann said. “Expanding the College House system through the Second Year Experience is the single most important way we can add to our students’ success at Penn and beyond.”

The initiative will begin with pilot programs in the fall of 2018 in the College Houses, a Sophomore Day, and specific non-credit programs for undergraduates in their second year. It will culminate with the two-year housing requirement for freshmen entering Penn in fall 2020 and the opening of NCHW a year later, when the class of 2024 enters its sophomore year.