I don't know what the most popular clubs are, but Greek Life is pretty big here - about 25% of the campus is Greek. If you're looking at the people who actually go out and have a social life, the percentage is probably larger. I am in a sorority (Chi Omega) and it has really helped me expand my social circle and world here at Penn. I've met people that I never would have otherwise and I love all the events we have with frats, the downtown parties we throw, and the bonding I get to do with my sisters. I'd say the majority of freshmen leave their doors open - I know we did. And even after that, when I lived in an on-campus apartment sophomore year, our door was always open. Athletic events are marginally popular - "big" games (such as Princeton, the Big 5, etc) are always packed, but only football and basketball actually draw fans. The people who go get really into it, though. Penn usually gets some great guest speakers, so those almost always sell out. We've had Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Whoopi Goldberh, Peyton Manning, etc. The dating scene at Penn is so bipolar. Either you're casually hooking up with someone (or lots of someones) or you're in a serious relationship - there's no middle ground. This annoys me because I'm not looking for anything super serious but guys won't do the "dating" thing. I met my closest friends on my hall freshman year, which I think is pretty standard. I've met more through my sorority though, and added people through those people. On a Tuesday at 2 am, I'm definitely at Blarney (one of our campus bars) playing Quizzo (a bar game that goes on every Tuesday). The game would just be ending and people would be starting to head home. The bar always gets packed and it's so much fun -if you win, you get a $75 bar tab! Spring FLing is the biggest event of the year - basically a weeklong drunk fest. THe school puts on a carnival in the Quad (a freshman dorm area) with moonbounces, dunk tanks, etc and everyone just drinks themselves silly for a week. There's also a concert - my freshman year was O.A.R. and last year was Ben Folds and Third Eye Blind. Other traditions are Hey Day (where juniors march through campus and seniors throw stuff at them to "initiate" them into senior year - this happens on the last day of classes) and Senior Week (the week in between when finals end and graduation where each day seniors have a differnt event to do). I would say people party a lot. There tends to be something going on almost every night of the week. Tuesday is Quizzo at Blarney, Wednesday is Sink or Swim at Smokes, Thursday is either Smokes/Blarney or a downtown club event, Friday is more chill just hanging out at a frat or with your friends, and Saturday is big frat party night. Greek Life is important for those who are in it, but it's not the end of your social life if you're not. I'd say it's more important for a guy to be in a frat than for a girl to be in a sorority. Last weekend I went downtown for a date party my sorority had, and again the next night for a party thrown by a frat on campus; I also hosted a Beer Olympics at my house. On a Saturday night you can go see a movie, hang out with friends, go out to dinner at the amazing restaurants in Philly...
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
There is so much to do at Penn! You'll find yourself having to skip one event for another and wish there were more hours in a day! If Greek life is your scene, there is a frat for every type of person. There is a great cafe featuring local and popular music as well as occasional political speakers, and if you venture into the Center City you can find anything. In my dorm, everyone props their doors open when they want company or goes out into the study lounge to have big group study sessions. The dorm staff sponsors cookie nights and tv dinner parties to get the dormmates together. Buildings on campus with regular events include the Women's Center, the Writer's House, the LGBT center, the student union, and each college house individually. Also, many sports and clubs have social gatherings to foster a sense of community.
Students in dorms leave their doors open for the most part (or at least they did when I was a freshman). The freshmen dorms (particularly the Quad) are great. There is an instant community and they put on tons of activities. There are hundreds of organizations at Penn. In terms of Greek organizations, there is a presence but it is not overbearing. I am in a sorority but most of my closest friends aren't. There is lots to do outside of the Greek system. The social and dating scene here is not my favorite. Penn is renowned for its population of rather unattractive guys. Most college students don't seem to want to 'tie themselves down' though so the lack of a good dating scene may not be a problem. 2am Tuesday I am definitely last-minute writing that essay that's due Wednesday.
There are many opportunities to get involved here in ANYTHING. You can do it all, from professional dance troupes to cultural organizations and anything in between. In fact, you can easily start your own movement or club. Also valuable is the freedom to speak up. Our student newspaper is widely read and is not proctored by any university professor or relation. Protests abound, and you can feel safe that there is someone here with your beliefs. Social life here is pretty good. Eventually you will get sick of the drinking and frat parties. But then you have Philly to explore, which alone is a valuable resource. You also have stores, clubs, bars, movie theaters, right off campus that are easy to get to. However, public transportation isn't always the greatest.
There are so many groups on campus. It's overwhelming how many options a person has. I've been involved a lot with the Latino community on campus. La Casa Latina is a cultural center for the Latino kids on campus. It's great because it creates a sense of community and introduces us to one another. Through La Casa, I joined the Mentorship Pathways Program which paired me with a senior English major. We went to several programs about resumes, maximizing study times, bowling, and a play. It was great. I also joined the Penn Latin and Ballroom Dance team. I had so much fun on the team. I learned Cha-cha, Rumba, Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Samba, and others. It was a lot of fun. I plan on joining Onda Latina in the future. It's a dance team that performs as a show.