Penn is a virtual hotbed of over-achievers, so you better bring your A-game.
Penn is a virtual hotbed of over-achievers, so you better bring your A-game.
If I could go back in time to my senior year in high school, I would have one message to convey: time management is the key to success. While in college, it felt as if there was never enough time to get anything done. Never enough time for homework. Never enough time to properly train for the track and field season. Never enough time to get to my part-time job. Looking back, I realize that the real problem was that there was far too much time, and a good deal of it was squandered over-sleeping, watching my favorite television shows or spending far too many hours in online collegiate chat rooms. I would go back and tell myself to make sure I got to class on time, but also make sure I get in a good night's rest, allocate at least 4 hours a day to either studying, homework or both, and that it's okay to have a good time but you have to pace yourself. I'd tell myself that my college years are going to be some of the best years of my life, so make sure to make every second count.
The University of Pennsylvania has a well-earned reputation for being very academically competitive. Thus it is best suited for very driven students with a good work ethic. There is a good amount of diversity among the student body, however I'd like to see attendees who are more willing to think outside the box and bring fresher ideas into the classrooms.
I think most stereotypes, if any, that you'll find at a school like UPenn exists primarily within the Greek community. There ...
I think most stereotypes, if any, that you'll find at a school like UPenn exists primarily within the Greek community. There are certain fraternities and sororities that have developed reputations and seem to recruit students who fit that mold. For example, Delta Upsilon is often cited as the fraternity with the highest collective GPA on campus, recruiting ITAs (Information Technology Advisors) and Asian nerds. While this may not always be true, there seems to be a "type" of person that typically joins this fraternity. Futhermore, aside from stereotypes, UPenn is organized according to social circles. These circles are developed by people who all share a common interest. Whether its the Penn Democrats or the Latino Coalition, there is a support group for all types of people and a good chance that you'll meet someone just like you. Each circle elects its own leaders and these individuals act as representatives of these communities to higher university officials. This does not mean you are automatically placed within a specific group of people, however. It is very easy to navigate across social environments. There is room for everyone and anyone.
The most popular organization would have to be the Undergraduate Assembly. A group that I am involved with is the Society for Pre-Law Students of Color. We are hosting a conference next week (see tinyurl.com/RPAC2012 for more details). Students do not leave dorms open, typically. There are horror stories of thefts and no one wants to risk something being stolen. In smaller dorms, however, the culture may be a little different depending on the level of trust among hall mates. There is really good security everywhere as well. Athletic events are pretty popular, and there are a select few games that are promoted heavily, with free tickets given out on Locust Walk. Guest speakers come all the time, and shows presenting comedians and other artists are regularly planned as well. The dating scene is what you make of it. There are plenty of fish in the sea. I met my closest friends during my first year and continue to make friends now. when you live with a person you really get to know them. If I am awake at 2 AM on a Tuesday I am probably doing work that I procrastinated on. As with any college, people party all the time, but the majority of parties happen on the weekends. Fraternities and sororities are not that important. Only about 30% of the students here go greek, so don't feel any pressure to do so. Last weekend, I spent time with my girlfriend and went to North Philly to eat at an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant. You can do so much on a Saturday night that doesn't involve drinking: you can go to the Rave theater on 40th and Walnut, go out to dinner or bowling in Center City, or plan a trip to Penn's Landing to catch some fireworks. There is a lot of exploring to do. I live off campus so I have become a member of the greater Philadelphia community.
Penn is a great school with great people. Classes are really interesting and the professors are high-quality. It also has so ...
Penn is a great school with great people. Classes are really interesting and the professors are high-quality. It also has so many options for getting involved in activities outside of class. There are so many clubs and organizations that every person is bound to find something they are interested in. It also has a great social atmosphere and I always have something fun to do on the weekends.
Students here are highly diverse hailing from international and local places and being of all walks of life. No one would se...
Students here are highly diverse hailing from international and local places and being of all walks of life. No one would seem out of place. Mostly, people wear jeans and t-shirts, the usual attire, but the Wharton students might be clad in suits or business attire. The types of students are more or less divided according to the 4 schools within UPenn - College, Engineering, Nursing, and Wharton. They correlate more or less with Gryfindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin for those who are Potter saavy.
The professors are rather available and all highly proficient. Their styles vary depending on their personalities and the subject material. A wide range of experiences are available, ranging from lecture, to seminars, to office hour interactions. Class participation is common with many students asking clarifying questions and even better, professors apportioning time for students to do so. As said before, the academic standards are rather high and it's no uncommon for students do spend 3-4 hours per day on coursework.
People think that students who attend the University of Pennsylvania are more academically oriented, more competitive, and more presumptuous than the typical college student. Also, there is the notion of our being the party Ivy. Although it is true that students care about studying, there're many other causes and activities to which everyone dedicates their time. As for socializing, there's a healthy does of that.
The University of Pennsylvania is a fantastic place to spend four years. It has a great location--Philadelphia, a thriving ci...
The University of Pennsylvania is a fantastic place to spend four years. It has a great location--Philadelphia, a thriving city with great resources--and attracts an amazing student body from all over the world. Most of the students have at least one passion that drives their achievements, and most cherish an almost insane amount of involvement on campus. Penn is a place where you can meet lifelong friends and colleagues from a variety of fields, and a place where you work hard AND play hard. The undergraduate part of the college is about 10,000 strong, which can seem a bit intimidating but is very manageable. It is not so small that you know everyone within a few months, nor big enough that you never see anyone you know by accident. The campus itself is a mixture of styles, but is overall very beautiful and united despite its urban location. The layout is fairly compact while retaining some New England and historical charm. Most Penn students are extremely proud to be a part of their school, but a big complaint is a constant need to differentiate between the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State University in State College, PA. Many people (especially older ones who do not have teenaged children) are apt to mix the two up which can be slightly demeaning if you are proud of your academics achievements (though maybe not your athletic ones). You won't find as much UPenn gear in the country as Penn State, but school spirit can still be strong. If you are looking for a Big-10 athletic spirit hub, this isn't a good choice, but events like the Homecoming or Princeton games will bring out some war paint and Penn pride on campus. Philadelphia is a city more than a "college town," but it is home to quite a few universities (like Temple, University of the Sciences, St. Joe's, Drexel, etc) and does cater to them somewhat. Penn is located in West Philadelphia's University City neighborhood, which has the standard group of late night eateries and a good selection of other stores. The heart of Philadelphia is a 10-minute train ride away using public transport, allowing Penn students the full cultural, gastronomic, and historical benefits of living in the city. Philadelphia will not shut down during school holidays so there is always plenty to do, especially if you are inclined to eating out.
Dorms at Penn tend to vary--the Quad's three buildings are extremely popular for freshman, who find the Gothic architecture and social atmosphere to be perfect. Many freshman and upperclassman alike find themselves at home in some of the smaller dorms like Hill House and King's Court where a sense of community is usually strong. The high-rise dorms have more amenities and often are popular with sophomores, but usually do not have the same social atmosphere as the low-rise dorms. Penn also makes use of residential programs within houses that bring students of similar interests together, and are generally a positive experience for participants.
I wanted to study politics, but I also wanted a place that I could choose a lot of disciplines. I wanted to be able to study a lot of things, even if they weren't related, and I wanted a vibrant campus that had an identity within an urban setting.
A few popular groups are Mask and Wig, the Excelano Project, International Affairs Association, and the Penn Democrats. Mask and Wig is a all-male performing arts group that is highly talented and selective. The members must be proficient in singing, comedy, dancing, and writing sketches, and they mount a completely original production every year and tour the country performing it over Spring Break. The Excelano Project is a spoken word/poetry group that is open to participants and proves perennially popular. The International Affairs Association is the equivalent of Model UN, and is the biggest group on campus. The Penn Democrats is another large organization that is dedicated to politics from a democratic perspective. The members volunteer, hold events, and bring speakers to campus, and currently are a key part of the youth reelection campaign for the President. Depending on the dorm, people will leave doors open and be very neighborly. The Quad dormitory and Hill dormitory are best for that atmosphere, as the three high-rise dorms offer more amenities but a diminished social aspect. Many upperclassman live off-campus, and situations there vary widely. Most people make lasting friendships from their dorms and New Student Orientation, but many are also formed during traditions like Homecoming. Athletic events are not hugely popular, but big events like games against Princeton will attract more of a crowd. For most students, the highlight of the Penn social scene is the April Spring Fling festival that takes place right before final exams. A full weekend event with a concert and carnival, Spring Fling is the biggest party on the East Coast and offers entertainment from fried Oreos to bouncy castles. The party (and hook-up) scene is strong at Penn, but not everyone chooses to partake. Frats host parties very often during the year, enough so it is rare that NO parties (near campus or downtown in clubs) are slated for a particular day. The Greeks are the biggest throwers of parties, but not the only ones. You are always able to find something to do, whether it is going to a friend's performance, a muscial in central Philly, a frat party, or a movie with friends.
Penn is a pretty diverse place, with attendees from places like Kenya and Switzerland as well as across the country. Racially it is also diverse, but Caucasian students are the majority--and many of them are Jewish. The campus is overall friendly to different nationalities, ethnicity, and sexual orientations; most have specific groups on campus for members to gather if they wish. The most underrepresented groups are Native American Indians, African Americans, and Hispanics, but their presence on campus is still visible. Many Penn students do come from affluent backgrounds, and some students may find that extracurricular activities strain their budget. There is some self-segregation, facilitated by campus groups with a special focus (Black Whartonites, Chinese a Capella, Indian dance, etc) but also interaction between different people. Classes, dorms, and other groups serve to bring different people together, so the interaction is as extensive as students want. Penn students are generally well-put-together, but are hardly formal for classes. There is always a fair share of PJs/sweatpants, especially during crunch times, but there is not an overwhelming style that dominates.
Academics truly are a hallmark of the UPenn community, and they are almost universally strong across disciplines. Classes can be seminar-style (quite small and discussion-based), lecture (big class with little to no discussion) or a hybrid (i.e. a small lecture that incorporates some discussion. You will, as in most places, have some big introductory classes, but many also require a smaller recitation that can help facilitate some student interaction. Seminar classes facilitate more engagement, and it can seem easy to be lost in a big lecture, so you will need to be proactive. For bigger classes you will likely need to make an effort to get to know professors--going to their office hours for example--but many are very welcoming. Smaller class sizes will usually ensure the professor knows your name and face, but it can never hurt to ask them questions and see them, especially when you need recommendations for jobs or programs. Some are more friendly and accommodating than others, but the good ones are worth holding on to. There is not generally a cutthroat atmosphere in academics, but many students (especially business students) feel a lot of pressure and can be competitive with one another. However, many students gather for study groups before exams which can be extremely helpful and more enjoyable than studying alone. The vast majority of Penn students take academics very seriously--while they like their fun, during exam time the party scene basically freezes. Intellectual conversations outside of class are very common, but it depends person to person of course. You might see some students watching Jersey Shore after studying neuroscience, or without--despite the Ivy image, Penn isn't always that highbrow.
Stereotypes at Penn are similar to most about Ivy League schools--rich, spoiled, preppy white kids. Certainly there are some people like that, but the vast majority are not like that at all. Penn is a diverse school both ethnically and economically, though there is naturally room for improvement. Most of all the students are highly intelligent and motivated, though the Wharton (business) school students are perhaps more competitive than most others. Overall the university is big enough to attract many different types of people and most students should not have trouble finding a niche to occupy comfortably.
There are loads of opportunities for students coming in in different groups. Also, it is nice that there is some emphasis on ...
There are loads of opportunities for students coming in in different groups. Also, it is nice that there is some emphasis on the Greek scene, but you definitely dont need to be a part to benefit from what they do. Our school is very competitive but in some way that actually brings you closer to people. I can guarantee that my best friends here are easily going to be lifelong friends. There is even a statistic that something like 45% of alumni found their spouse at Penn, not a bad statistic!
The college you pick is not necessarily for the next 4 years which can be a daunting idea. Instead, look at it as where you would be happy for the year; you can always transfer. Though, that being said, college is absolutely what you make of it. You aren't going to remember what you got on that Chemistry exam, but you can guarantee you will remember staying up until 5AM hanging out and laughing with your friends. Sometimes as a high schooler, you think that you know everything already, but step back and relax! College opens you up, forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you a more confident individual. So you just have to go out and talk to that random person sitting next to you in lecture, or chat with someone in the dining hall, you never know where you will find your best friends. So I know you are scared to head off, and worried that you didnt pick the right school, but you will fall in love with your school and with the people. Don't worry that it wasn't your first choice, it was definitely your best.
The best thing about Penn is definitely its location. There are bars to go to around campus, and there are loads of restaurants, clubs and bars just a short ride away. Not to mention that there are lots of great things to do in the city from museums to exhibits and art galleries. There is also huge parks throughout the city that split up the monotonous grey buildings. Penn's campus is gorgeous and really makes sure that there is greenery even though we are in the middle of the city. Accessible and pretty.
They work and play hard
They work and play hard
Upenn is getting more Asian and Jewish students, so it is often called Pennjewasian. Students here are probably rich and tale...
Upenn is getting more Asian and Jewish students, so it is often called Pennjewasian. Students here are probably rich and talented.
One popular student group is SPEC, which brings celebrities to Penn. Every year, they have famous speakers come in (recently...
One popular student group is SPEC, which brings celebrities to Penn. Every year, they have famous speakers come in (recently, James Franco, Bill Cosby, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). They also organize Spring Fling, which is one massive party for a whole weekend in April. There's a carnival in the Quad with music and food, and then there's a concert one night with people like Flo Rida, Akon, and Kid Cudi. People from all over come to Penn during that weekend. But Penn has a large umbrella of student groups on campus, and you'll most likely be able to find one that suits your interests. And if not, it's really easy to start one of your own. I started a group called the UPenn China Care Club, which raises money for orphans in China with medical disabilities, and also provides a mentorship program for children in Philadelphia who have been adopted from China. It was easy to register the club, and easy to recruit students! The social life at Penn is known to be relatively better than at other Ivies, because it has lots of nearby bars and clubs, making it easy to find something to do on weekend nights. And getting downtown is not hard either. Philadelphia has a ton of great restaurants, and going to BYOs is definitely a popular activity among Penn students. I don't think there's really a drinking stereotype, because you can find students at both ends of the spectrum. There are some who never drink, and some who are at a bar more days of the week than they aren't. It all depends on your preferences. Unfortunately, athletic events aren't too popular because the sports teams aren't that great, but football games are fun to go to nonetheless. It's also pretty easy to get involved with the club/intramural sports teams.
The academics at Penn are intense. I think the most competitive students are studying pre-med, because all of the introductory science courses are designed to be extremely difficult to weed out students who "can't handle" medical school. Penn tends to advertise that it has an "open curriculum", and compared to other schools, that may be true. However, I generally found that to be misleading. There are thirteen general requirements, and many times it is difficult to find a course that both fulfills a requirement and suits your academic interests. Penn is known for being very pre-professional. This is evident in the rigorous On Campus Recruitment process, and it's generally high success rate. Also, a great thing about Penn is that all of the graduate schools are on campus, so it's easy to interact with graduate students, and there's a very professional atmosphere. In my experience, the Chinese department has been exceptional. The classes are small (usually around 12-18 students) and the teachers are very attentive. They will always respond to your emailed questions as soon as possible. The workload is pretty heavy, which is understandable, but it's worth it because you learn a lot. And they're always willing to interact with you outside of class. My teacher even took my class to get Chinese food one night.
I think one common stereotype about Penn is that it doesn't have much of a campus. Compared to other rural and suburban schools, that's probably true. However, being a city school, Penn has a pretty impressive campus. Locust Walk is beautiful in all seasons and it's essentially only accessible by foot so you don't have the disruption of city traffic. And all of this is in the awesome city of Philadelphia, so you have advantages from both the campus and the city.
Congratulations on being admitted to college! This summer vacation will seem very long, so to ease back into the mental state...
Congratulations on being admitted to college! This summer vacation will seem very long, so to ease back into the mental state of learning, I would recommend skimming through your college textbooks over break. When selecting classes, plan ahead by looking at prerequisites for courses you would like to take during later semesters. Be outgoing and explore the surrounding metropolitan area during orientation week. You will likely feel homesick at times, but remember that your family is only a phone call away. Once school starts, focus on doing your best instead of stressing about the curve, and form study groups with classmates. Also, don’t forget to visit professors during office hours to discuss the course material, ask questions, and build relationships. In addition, seek opportunities outside of the classroom like research positions and internships, and get involved with extracurriculars to pursue the things you are passionate about and make friends. Time management will be very important so be aware of assignment deadlines and exams well in advance, and work productively in between classes. Finally, do not forget about the world beyond the campus. Watch the news regularly to stay up to date on politics, the economy, and breaking global developments.
Penn is a great school for students who have a true desire to learn and are passionate about their academic interests. Even though there are four distinct undergraduate schools, the interdisciplinary focus encourages you to take courses in many different fields and broaden your horizons. It is not the best school for students who are solely focused on maintaining a high GPA and test scores to be admitted to an Ivy League school. It is also important to be intellectually curious in order to appreciate the broad range of opportunities such as research and liberal arts seminars that Penn offers.
The University of Pennsylvania does a great job at identifying what is best for its students so it is very difficult to think of something that is frustrating. One suggestion I would make is for Penn to adopt a course “shopping period” like the ones offered by several of its peer institutions. It would allow students to try out different classes for the first two weeks of each semester before enrolling in them.
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