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University of Pennsylvania


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Lindsay
What is your overall opinion of this school?

we don't really call it "UPenn". Most people just say "Penn" the best thing about Penn is the location of the campus. When...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

we don't really call it "UPenn". Most people just say "Penn" the best thing about Penn is the location of the campus. When you walk down Locust Walk, you feel like you're part of a true college environment. The location is wonderful - you have access to a large city, yet the convenience of one unified campus; you have the opportunity to take classes in historic buildings, yet you can also take hands-on classes in the West Philadelphia community. I would change the weather. I hate slush. Also known as "wintry mix" (that awful wet snow that makes the streets brown and gross) I would also add more green space. Fortunately, though, we have close access to the Skuykill River park and Penn is adding a big park in the years to come. My school is just the right size. Large enough that I'm still meeting new people every day, but small enough that I run into people I know every time I enter a class or step outside. I spend most of my time in the Van Pelt library or in my apartment (Harrison high rise). Not a college town, but a college neighborhood within a big city. People's reaction to "I go to Penn"?: people everywhere - "Oh, Penn State?" people everywhere -"Where's that?" people from the south - "Why'd you go to school all the way in Pennsylvania?" (I'm from Georgia) people from philly- "Woahh...UPenn! (said in a way indicating that I'm probably stuck-up and elitist) I'm kind of scared of the administration. I want to know what they do with our ridiculous endowment. And I think they waste too much money on catering and tents for parties. The biggest controversy was last Halloween when Amy Gutmann hosted a halloween costume party and a kid came dressed as a terrorist and Amy Gutmann posed in a picture with him. But that got blown out of proportion. There is a decent amount of school pride. Or at least a strong desire to brand our school's name so that people know we aren't a public school, but rather an Ivy League institution. But we're pretty apathetic about athletics. I will always remember New Student Orientation (NSO) and Spring Fling. Most common complaints are about the dining hall food. But I think that most of the moaning is from whiny brats who think a normal meal is take-out from Stephen Starr restaurants.

Describe the students at your school.

I'm involved with both the feminist and Christian communities at Penn. They are both very vibrant communities with growing influence on campus. The African-American population does not have a very big presence, but it is growing. Unfortunately, I think that students from lower socioeconomic classes might feel out of place or at least intimidated by some of the absurdly/disgustingly wealthy students on campus. Students wear anything and everything to class. The Wharton kids wear suits. The sorority girls wear leggings. The athletes wear Penn athletic sweats. Everyone else wears jeans or sweatpants. Different types of students do interact, but then everyone regresses back to their cliques. Four tables: 1) Jewish community - subdivided into Orthodox, Conservative and Reform 2) Sororities and Fraternities - drunk. doing rush rituals. 3) "Secret" societies - Oz and Tabard. Trying not to get people to steal their lunch boxes 4) Students - the academics. kids here to learn and have fun. most penn kids are from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania Penn kids are generally rich. Penn Dems is huge. Penn kids are generally left. Wharton kids are generally right. But there isn't a very big activist community. students talk about salaries a lot. too much, in fact.q

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Partially. There is a significant Jewish population on campus (which you can witness by the seemingly isolated campus during services on Friday nights). There is also a significant Asian population (just look in Huntsman Hall)

What are the academics like at your school?

You have to make an effort to get professors to know your name. My favorite class was through the graduate school of government - Fels. It was called "Women Leaders and Emerging Democracies" and was taught by former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies (her son is dating Chelsea Clinton). The class was very hands-on and we heard a lot of wonderful guest speakers. Students study a reasonable amount. In class participation is an important part of classes Some Penn students have intellectual conversations out of class. Others just gossip. And others just talk about summer internships and investment banks (cough cough, Wharton) Students are very competitive. Especially pre-meds and Wharton kids. Most unique class - Community Based Environmental Health. We learned about health risks and the developed a plan to fix an environmental health problem in West Philly. My major is Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). It's an interdisciplinary major based off of the Oxford major by the same name. And Harvard has the same program but they call it Social Studies. It was Bill Clinton's major. I LOVE PPE. It teaches you liberal arts combined with practical real-life skills You have to make an effort to see professors outside class. The academic requirements are good, except there are too many science requirements (especially for non-science majors). Wharton is geared toward getting a job. The other schools are geared towards learning.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Most popular - Sororities, Fraternities, Penn Dems, Wharton Women, Mask and Wig The F-Word is a feminist literary magazine that publishes an issue each semester. We are a venue to spread the feminist voices of Penn men and women. Campus Crusade for Christ is a nondenominational Christian community. We hold Bible studies and large group meetings every week. Students in the Quad and Hill leave their doors open. Not in the high rises. Basketball games are pretty popular. Guest speakers are popular depending on who it is. Penn kids don't date. They hook-up. I met my closest friends through my religious community and from my freshman hall. 2am on Tuesday - I'm cramming to do my homework for Wednesday. Traditions: Spring Fling, Skimmer, Hey Day, New Student Orientation, Amy Gutmann's Halloween Party people party thursday-saturday on Saturday night you can go downtown for dinner, see a play or the Philadelphia Orchestra, go to a student performance, hang out with friends, study, etc I go downtown all the time. Go to art exhibits, shop at Trader Joe's, shop on Walnut Street, wander around Rittenhouse Square, run along the Skuykill River, etc

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

some people call us the "Jewniversity of Pennsylvasia"; we're known as the "party Ivy";

Cameron
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing is its campus: It is the perfect blend between living in a city, without having it be too overwhelming such as...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

The best thing is its campus: It is the perfect blend between living in a city, without having it be too overwhelming such as NY, and without being stuck in a small town. There is also an actual campus, but it is not a closed campus (like Columbia) or a completely open one (like NYU), which creates a sense of belonging and community at times. All of your classes are within 2 to 10 blocks, and there are a lot of shops around. Not to mention that all the buildings are historical and beautiful. However, it is easy to get stuck in a rut and never go "off campus" and into the city, staying within the confines of some 10 blocks or so. The good part is that the city is only 20 blocks away, east and west, and there is public transportation within the city as well as to the suburbs. Philadelphia is not the most welcoming city, but once you get out and explore you will find neat hidden places that are not commonly frequented by college kids. The second best part goes hand in hand with the campus: you have the option of living "off campus" without actually being off campus. You can live within one or two blocks of the usual dorms and buildings, pay the same or even less than a dorm, and have your own apartment with your own furniture, and make it feel like a home. Obviously university city prices are inflated, but in general apartments in the city are expensive. The worst part about Penn is the administration. It depends a lot in which school you're in (SAS, SEAS, Wharton, etc) but in my experience I have had the worst and the best advisors. The admin staff in general does not care about you, and makes every effort to make you feel as uncomfortable and pissed off as you can. Not to mention that there is not one semester where I file a petition for something, and only one has been accepted. The facilities in general are very good. I use to think the dorms were awful, but then I saw other universities' dorms. We have an awesome gym a few blocks away from anywhere, a huge library, another library, lots of study areas, and *most* of the classrooms (ie Wharton) are well fitted with technology, although the interiors are sometimes very unwelcoming. I feel the UA, or undergraduate assembly, definitely works and listens to the students, implementing a lot of their suggestions within a year or two. There are a lot of groups on campus, although the joke is that there are more accapella groups than any of the others combined.

Describe the students at your school.

In general the student body is very open. There is diversity among students: a lot of Hindu, Asian, and other Internationals. It is also LGBT friendly. I am Mexican, and Penn probably boasts the most number of Mexicans (40, compared to 2 or 3 in other places) and Latinos among the other top universities (especially those in the North, not those not in Texas or California). There is definitely a vibrant Latino community here. However, the stereotypes hold up. Most of the students are from New Jersey or Philly or the Northeast, some are a bit snobbish and rich. Come January, everyone, regardless of major (Business, Finance, History, Psychology, English) is obsessed with OCR, on campus recruiting, and landing an internship at Goldman Sachs or Lehmann Brothers.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Yes and no. There are a lot of snobby rich kids who you know just got in because they donated an entire building or something. And there's the typical stuck up Gucci-wearing Blackberry-addicted Whartonite. But there's also the typical fine arts student with ripped clothes and paint blotches all over, or the typical blonde with the uggs and miniskirt in any psychology or communications class, as well as the low-hygiene bad dresser nerd in engineering. But there's also many people who don't fit them. The stereotypes are true insomuch as the people you notice match them. But there are a lot of very diverse people at Penn. The problem is that it's hard to find them. First, most different people don't go to the usual parties, they all attend very different social gatherings. They also probably take different classes from the usual mainstream classes. And it's very easy to get sucked into the same small social circle, meeting new people with one degree of separation at most.

What are the academics like at your school?

Academics is highly volatile. It depends on the department, the course, the professor, the students in the class, and you. The good part is that there is the option of doing a dual degree, which involves two bachelors (not just two majors), and I know in some universities this is not possible or very hard to do (like Stanford). There are many schools and a wide variety of majors, as well as the option of doing an individualized major, and changing majors is quite easy. In the College, or SAS, there are a lot of general requirements, which is good if you are only getting one major because you can explore and expand; but they get very annoying when you are trying to complete the requirements for a minor, and another major in another school. The administration is terrible too. The psychology major is a joke, but I guess that's true everywhere. In general, being in SAS is not that strenuous in terms of work, even if you take 150% workload (6 credits). The College has been for me a terrible experience, and moreso because I can contrast it directly with Engineering. The administrators in the College don't motivate you, quite the opposite: they get pissed if you try to do more than you should. The first time I took 6 credits (the limit is 5) my advisor was very angry and condescening. In Engineering, it is more common to take more credits. In Engineering, for any type of request, you just fill out a petition and turn it in. In the college, it is a whole process to fill out any sort of petition; you have to go talk to an advisor first, who will supposedly 'advise' you, when you just actually waste 1 hour. Engineering, or SEAS, has more specific requirements because it is obviously a more specialized major. This is good since you end up actually learning something useful. You also have to take a lot of social sciences and humanities, giving you freedom to explore other areas, and not just science. The environment in Engineering is a LOT more welcoming than in the College. SEAS organizes semesterly events, the advisors in general are better, you get to know people better, and there is a sense of community. Students are very competitive. Grading is usually on a curve, meaning the average is a B/B+, so you only have to do better than everyone else to get an A, which can be easy or hard (depends on the course). I've taken very hard courses and done well, very easy courses and done poorly. I feel that in general professors don't care about you. They don't know your name, and don't care to know. There are some rare ones that know who you are, nod their head when they pass you in the hall, but beyond that do not really venture further.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

The most popular organizations are the frats. It is annoying when one is not a part of one, or doesn't care to be in one. However, it is easy to just ignore it. There are a lot of private house parties on weekends, which are the better ones if you don't like the frats. You can also go off campus to a nice restaurant, to a cheap restaurant, to a club, to a jazz bar, to the movies, etc. There's lots to do. Dating is apparently gender reversed: the guys are the shy ones. I wouldn't know, personally. There are a lot of other dance troupes, accapella, theatre groups, spoken word poetry, and miscellaneous events to attend year round, some of which are very worth it and some are not. I have only lately started to go, and I regret not going before. There are also lots of free events, talks, and conferences, all of which involve free food. In fact, a girl once showed how you can survive on free event food for a week. In all honesty, I have had a hard time making friends, and I don't know if it's because of the culture clash or the actual people at Penn. I believe I have made a total of 10 friends over 4 years, and kept about 5. And most of them are from my same hometown. The cool part though is that I would have never met them back home.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Snobby rich kids from Jersey going to Wharton to sell their souls now and buy their yachts later, or the Jap from New Jersey getting her psych or PPE major and a ring.

Nellie
What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love love love Penn! I love seeing friends on Locust Walk. I love the English Department classes and Professors. I like ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

I love love love Penn! I love seeing friends on Locust Walk. I love the English Department classes and Professors. I like that everyone here has different passions that they follow. Even though Penn is technically large, it definitely doesn't feel it - I run into people I know all the time! The things I would change would be the housing options - I don't like that people move off-campus as sophomores. I love that we have the city so close to campus - I have an internship downtown, and walk downtown when I need a change of pace. The only thing I would complain about the student body is that everyone works very very hard, which creates a lot of pressure. You can guarantee that come finals time you'll see everyone you know in the library. People are also intense in their extracurricular responsibilities. Basically, everyone has a type A personality.

Describe the students at your school.

Penn has a lot of well-off students with expensive clothes and who can spend a lot of money on food and drinks. Many girls go to class dressed well and looking good, even in designer sweatsuits. Of course there are other students who go to class wearing sweatpants.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

To some degree, yes many students are business-oriented and rich. But it completely depends on who you choose to associate with. The work hard study hard stereotype is also true.

What are the academics like at your school?

Only in my smaller seminar classes do my professors know my name and my interests. These have actually been some of my favorite classes (English classes), because I can discuss my academic interests on a more personal basis with my professors, which all in all makes me more excited to learn. My worst classes have been math and science classes where we have problem-set type homeworks every week for recitation. Students study a lot! People are very competitive academically, but that doesn't mean they don't have intellectual passions outside of class that don't count for a grade. Once you get to upper level seminar classes in your major people get very excited to learn for the sake of learning. The english major, for example, definitely has a lot of passionate majors. I think it's partly the professors that foster this enthusiasm. I used to be a psych major, but switched because the psych professors were only there for their research. I felt like the English dept professors really cared about their students, and wanted to help them in any way they can. I have had many conversation with English profs about things outside their class, over coffee or walking through campus. As in english major I'm definitely learning for its own sake rather than for a job, but I know a lot of Wharten students and even econ and polisci students who are gearing up for a job.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Athletic events are not very popular. Guest speakers are very popular - from political (Clinton) to feminist (Angela Davis). I met my closest friends freshman year - I lived in Hill House, a dorm where everyone bonds very easily because of its small rooms, and because everyone leaves their doors open. The dating scene is awful! Most people just have random hook-ups, and if you do end up dating someone, it' probably the case that they've dated someone you know. The penn traditions are one of the best things about Penn, from Spring Fling, to FebClub, to Hey Day. THe Greek scene is a little too strong on campus for my liking. Now that I'm a senior I go out a lot more on weeknights, but as an underclassman I would go to the library. I also cook with friends often as a sober activity. We try to go downtown to restaurants and bars twice a month.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

WIth Wharton most of the stereotypes are about how business-oriented the students are. Also that there are a lot of rich, jewish students. Also that Penn has a "work hard study hard" dynamic, and that we're the "party ivy."

Jody
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Best thing about Penn - the people. A very interesting and diverse crowd. There's a niche here for everybody. One thing I'...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Best thing about Penn - the people. A very interesting and diverse crowd. There's a niche here for everybody. One thing I'd change - David Rittenhouse Labs. It's a miserable building. School size - I like it. It's big enough that there are lots of different types of people but not so big as to be monstrous. How do people react when I tell them I go to Penn? - Yes, many people do think I go to Penn State... Where do I spend most of my time on campus? - At home or in academic buildings. College town - it'd be more correct to say that Penn is a Philadelphia university than to say that Philadelphia is a college town. Opinion of the administration - some things they do well (capital campaigning, security) and some things they don't (speeches, managing conferences). What was the biggest recent controversy on campus? - There was a humor magazine that printed an issue perceived in some quarters as racist. School pride - Not a particularly large amount. There's some. Unusual about Penn - We're pretty vocational for an Ivy League school. Corporate recruiting in Wharton is a very intense experience. The school's most famous strengths overall are in somewhat vocational areas: journalism/communications, business, medicine (including veterinary medicine) and nursing, &c. Also remarkable is the number of donated items named after classes, e.g. the Class of 1920 Commons dining hall. The impression I get is that our alumni haven't historically been rich as individuals necessarily, but that as a community they gave back a lot to the school. One experience I'll always remember - Freshman retreat at Newman. We went on a service trip to an AIDS home in Philly, where I saw one poor invalid whose room was festooned with photographs from his former life. He'd been a highly-trained chef and the photographs showed him in bright white standing in gleaming kitchens at the head of teams of cooks. He'd been on a trip to Africa when a botched blood transfusion infected him. If something like that could happen to him - and he'd been the kind of guy who did his homework, who generally got on in life - it could happen to...anyone. Including me. Most frequent student complaints - Locust Walk is flat. Ergo it does not drain. Also, the high rise dorms are arranged so as to create a vicious wind tunnel.

Describe the students at your school.

Penn's quite diverse racially. Different religions are also well-represented. There are an awful lot of rich kids though (it's an expensive school). I went to a debate last year between the Penn Libertarians and the Penn Socialists. It wasn't very productive but it was definitely stimulating. This year there are no more Socialists though.

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Not necessarily. Note that Penn is unique as an Ivy League school offering undergrad degrees in engineering, nursing, and business; these things attract a good number of people to Penn as a first choice.

What are the academics like at your school?

Least favorite class - MTH 114, multivariate calc. The professor was a visiting professor from Philadelphia Community College who was fired the next semester for doing such a terrible job. Favorite class - Hard to say. I've had lots that were good. FNCE 101, Monetary Economics and the Global Economy, might be the most impressive one. Extraordinarily well taught by Nicholas Souleles, stimulating, and practical. How often do students study? - One semester I took 6 courses. This meant I had many days when I woke up, started working, took breaks for food/shower/etc., and kept working until I fell asleep. Not all semesters are that intense and not all students take 6 classes. I'm taking 4.5 now and it's much easier, but I still study 6 days a week. Are students competitive? - Yes, overall. Some people are tools and take competition to an extreme and are always trying to ask smart-sounding questions in class. Most students do not enjoy this toolishness. What's the most unique class I've taken? - MGMT 209, Political Environment of the Multinational Firm, is a valuable class at the intersection of business and politics. About my major/department - http://www.upenn.edu/huntsman/curriculum/index.html Our program's website is a mess, but here's the info. Huntsman is a joint-degree program run by the College and Wharton. You get something of a liberal arts education but you also get the job-market power of Wharton, which is a nice combination. Do I spend time with professors outside class? - Yes. Note that Penn has more than one institutional framework that facilitates students joining faculty for free lunches. How do I feel about Penn's academic requirements? - They're generally not bad. Is the education at Penn geared toward getting a job, or toward learning for its own sake? - It depends on the student, but Penn does have a stronger vocational tilt than the other Ivies.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Students in KCE College House do leave their doors open. Hill is also quite social. The high-rises are less so. Off-campus, there's a metropolitan area of 4 million people to explore. Greek life is here but I generally avoid it.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

...we didn't get into H.Y.P., where the letters H. Y. P. represent certain schools (here to be nameless) in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

Alex
Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Half true. The majority of the people I've met, regardless of the school, are just smart kids who like to have a good time. B...

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Half true. The majority of the people I've met, regardless of the school, are just smart kids who like to have a good time. But come finals or job hunting time, and the Wharton students stick out like a popped collar.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Most Penn students are a diverse group of people who are down to earth, helpful, and have a great balance between work and fun. The rest are in Wharton or Engineering.

Margo
Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Students are extremely motivated and excel in both school and extracurriculars. While some students are in Wharton, students ...

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Students are extremely motivated and excel in both school and extracurriculars. While some students are in Wharton, students pursue other strong programs such as the Annenberg school of Communications, Art History, Engineering, Pre-Med and Nursing.

What is the stereotype of students at your school?

Extremely motivated and career-driven All of the students are Wharton students interested in Finance

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