When you hear people say Wharton is career-focused, I don't think it really hits what that means. It is VERY career-focused... every class I take works with cases (finance modelling cases, brand management grou pprojects, etc.) and there is not a lot of room to "explore"... I would have loved to take a photography or architecture class but there is really no space to explore. Your freshmen classes are basically chosen for you; by the time you reach soph yr your gpa is crashing so any "extra" space is used to take grade booster classes.
I wished I was told the importance of high school before college. Great colleges are very competitive nowadays, only taking the brightest. When I graduated from grade school, I just aimlessly entered into any random high school. Little did I know that the school wasn't incredible. I go to college now, and I feel very behind compared to anyone else. My family are immigrants from Hong Kong, and I was born here. Our family was not in tune with the rest of the United States yet as they have been always working.
I wish that I had been more aware of the numerous resources that my school had to offer and how accessible they were to all students. I would have also liked to learn more about the various events that took place on campus and how it was possible for students to have the time and energy to engage in so many different activities, while still focusing on academics. It would have also been nice to learn more about how to transition to college life in general and more about living in a dorm.
This school is very academically competitive. The days of high school GPA inflation are over, but that does not mean it is impossible to earn A's and shoot for that 4.0 again in college. Everyone around you is very intelligent, so it will be more difficult to distinguish yourself from other students on the academic level than it was in high school, but again it is not impossible. Work will be tougher, but that's why you come to a school like the U of P, isn't it?
It is important to do well on your AP exams in order to receive credit because Penn only honors top scores. Also, if majoring in a science, it is good to commit early because the course load is very stringent for science majors. I wish someone had told me to try challenging courses from freshman year. In hindsight, I think it's far more valuable to challenge oneself from the getgo rather than easing into the more challenging courses after freshman year.
The thing that I wish I knew before I started here was how important it was to get your time management worked out right out of the gate. As soon as classes begin, and you have your syllabi with the dates of your tests, what papers you will need to write, etc… Add all of these to your calendar and keep on top of them. Start studying for that test two weeks ahead of time, start that paper maybe even a bit earlier. The key is time management.
I wish I had known what it really meant to be an adult making my own decisions. When I started college, I expected classes and activities to be decided for me like in high school. Having to make these decisions on my own was not something for which I was prepared. I feel that if I had truly understood this aspect of being in college, I would have discovered my true interests much sooner in my life.
Before attending the University of Pennsylvania, I wish someone had educated me on the importance of networking and "putting yourself out there" as a college student. Additionally, it would have been helpful if I were aware of potential scholarships available to undergraduates as the cost-of-attendance has led to much debt.
I think everyone gets nervous before their freshman year of college but I wish I had known just how amazing these years of my life would be. I suppose you can't really prepare for them but it would have been nice to hear that I had made the right choice in chosing Penn and was about to have the experience of a lifetime.
I wish I knew how big of an adujustment to campus life I would have to make. I also wish that I was more outgoing during my first semester becuase I believe that since it is a large school that is full of opportunity, it's important to stand out and really get involved in everything.