Philadelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania


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Jessica
What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

Study what you're passioante about. The money will come.

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

Study what you're passioante about. The money will come.

What do you consider the worst thing about your school? Why?

It's an amazing school, but extremely professionally oriented. Not a lot of room for exploration.

Nkenge
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Overall, I find my school to be a great environment for college students. The University of Pennsylvania academically is one ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Overall, I find my school to be a great environment for college students. The University of Pennsylvania academically is one of the best schools in the world, but unlike its Ivy League counterparts it has and is known for its strong social culture. This makes for the work hard, play hard attitude that so many of its students have. Many top tier schools have strong perceptions as being overly stressful and too work oriented. At Penn, we pride ourselves on having a strong work-life or school-fun balance. Also, the location is great as well. Penn is located in Philadelphia, but the school has its own campus, which many colleges in cities do not. So, if you are looking for the city life, you can walk just a few blocks off campus and be in the heart of Philly. But, if you prefer a traditional campus and college community, Penn offers that as well.

Brenda
What are the academics like at your school?

For the big lectures, it's really hard for the professors to know your name - unless you're always at their office hours. The...

What are the academics like at your school?

For the big lectures, it's really hard for the professors to know your name - unless you're always at their office hours. The professors definitely know you by name and more in the smaller classes though. Before coming to Penn, I thought I prefer big lectures, but I definitely prefer smaller classes now. It's also a lot easier to meet others in a small class. With smaller classes though, of the classes I've taken so far, participation is a huge factor in final grades. Sometimes it can make up to 20% of your final grade. Professors not only expect you to come to every class, but contribute to class discussion. Speaking for the College, everyone is really nice and willing to help one another. No one's really out to get one another.

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

People tend to think that Penn has a lot of rich, snobby white folks. Though there are a number on campus, the majority of students are very nice. Penn is also considered the "social ivy" and that is definitely true. Everyone works hard, but they definitely know how to go out and have fun at the same time.

Qianna
Describe how your school looks to someone who's never seen it.

Penn is a virtual hotbed of over-achievers, so you better bring your A-game.

Describe how your school looks to someone who's never seen it.

Penn is a virtual hotbed of over-achievers, so you better bring your A-game.

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

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.

What kind of person should attend this school?

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.

Luis
What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

I think most stereotypes, if any, that you'll find at a school like UPenn exists primarily within the Greek community. There ...

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

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.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

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.

Bailey
What is your overall opinion of this school?

Penn is a great school with great people. Classes are really interesting and the professors are high-quality. It also has so ...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

Stephanie
Describe the students at your school.

Students here are highly diverse hailing from international and local places and being of all walks of life. No one would se...

Describe the students at your school.

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.

What are the academics like at your school?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

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.

Kate
What is your overall opinion of this school?

The University of Pennsylvania is a fantastic place to spend four years. It has a great location--Philadelphia, a thriving ci...

What is your overall opinion of this school?

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.

Describe the dorms.

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.

Why did you decide to go to this school?

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.

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

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.

Describe the students at your school.

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.

What are the academics like at your school?

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.

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

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.

Rachel
Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

There are loads of opportunities for students coming in in different groups. Also, it is nice that there is some emphasis on ...

Here's your chance: Say anything about your college!

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!

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

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.

What's unique about your campus?

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.

Details

  • Enrollment
  • 11,525
  • Tuition & Fees
  • $45,890
  • Acceptance rate
  • 13%

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