University of Pennsylvania Top Questions

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

Sonali

I would strongly suggest going to a different school. I chose Penn because of the pressure in my high school to go to a prestigious college for validation and because it was the only Ivy League school I got into. I did no research into the social life/academic advising at Penn, and I honestly was not a good fit for Penn. I would tell myself that, over the next four years, I was going to find myself as a person, and be able to validate myself because of the difficulties in my family I would go through, and so I should go to a school that was going to make my life easier and more exciting, where I could make lasting friends who thought like me.

Emily

It's okay to be lost and it's okay not to be the best in everything you do. High school offers a very structured education system: take these classes and you'll graduate, and room to ascend to the top of the class in regards to academics and extracurricular activities. I knew what I was doing. But now in college, in a place where it's supposedly time to figure the rest of your life out, there are so many high stake decisions to be made. Don't be afraid of them. No matter how impressive others might seem, they are still floundering as well. We're all lost and trying to figure ourselves out. At the same time, with thousands of other high achievers, there will always be someone who is more assertive than you, who has a more impressive resume, who just understands economics better. Don't be afraid of them either. College is a time to learn and explore and without someone like that around, how are you supposed to grow? To gain attributes you like about them? In college, everyone is finding themselves so don't be afraid because you are not alone.

Kerry

My high school years were a dark time for me. I had grown up in a dysfunctional family, and the dysfunction was at its peak. I was living in a state of deep depression and anxiety. A lot of this anxiety was focused on what my future life would be like, and if things would ever get any better for me. While I wanted to go to college, I was so insecure and unsure of my own abilities that I doubted it was something that I had any chance of succeeding in. This insecurity led me to putting off college for four years while I worked miscellaneous jobs around my small home town. My advice to my younger self would be not to give up, and to trust that college is something that I can not only handle, but excel at. I would say that while attending college, I would meet people more accepting than I had imagined people could be, and that they would change my outlook of the world entirely. I would tell myself that there was a way out of the environment I was living in, and that there was hope for the future.

Athena

Understand that change is inevitable. We learn and we grow. Positive intensions are the only way to live life to the fullest, but they must be tempered with self-reflection. Take time to listen to what your self is telling you. Work hard and strive to achieve your goals but contantly make sure to check up on yourself. You must give yourself time to develop your dreams fully and be open to change from the original path you laid out for yourself. So be open. Step outside your comfort zone and know that there are many paths before you, and it is your privilege to choose. Finally, be appreciative. Recognize your privilege and the blessings life has given you. It is easy to smile at the world, but it is harder to admit that our ability to smile came from others than yourself. We are not islands in this life, but part of a community. Be grateful that you ahve those around you who can, and will, support you wherever and whatever you become you.

Kirsten

Starting college is an exciting time, while also a little overwhelming, so I would suggest first of all taking a deep breath because there's no need to be anxious about all of the things you have to do. Also, asking questions is important, preferably from an upperclassman, but advisors are also helpful. Don't be afraid to ask! People at your college or university are there to help you and act as a resource because they remember what it was like to be in your shoes. Coordinating with your roommate/s is wise as well even though it seeems weird to talk to someone new that possibly lives a few states or countries away, but it will make your move-in a lot smoother. Also, it will allow you to have an introduction before meeting each other on move-in day. I'd even say try to meet up with your roommate/s for coffee or something if possible. Another little tip is don't buy new books unless your professor says that it's absolutely necessary. Trust me you want to say as much money as possible, so buying used books or renting books is a great option!

Terence

I would tell the high school version of myself to not worry so much about what other people thing. High school can be so focused on image and getting the attention of certain groups and people. But in college, there's a community for everyone. So I would tell the high school version of myself to not see college as a chance to relive high school in a different status, but instead as a chance to explore a new life and new direction. The other advice I would give to my high school is to not waste time. College will be over before I know it, and it's never too early to think about careers, post-college plans and how to achieve my goals. College is an opportunity for everyone to find out what is unique about him or herself, and the sooner one discovers that, the sooner one knows his or her own strengths and offerings. The final advice I would instill upon my high school self is that it's ok to take risks whether it's socially, academically or professionally. And failure only makes us stronger.

Zahra

College is undoubtedly an amazing experience, however it is very easy to get caught up in the excitment of it all and forget that the institution is a large part of your future. Besides the stimulating social aspect of college, it is easy to get caught up in the plethora of academic opportunities. Everyone tells you to try new things and explore your options, and with good reason--without trying new things how can you be sure of what you want to do in life? However, it is also important to remember that as fascinating as astromony is, or as much as you would love to take a course on the politics of third-world countries, there is an end goal to your education. Exploring different and varied fields is great but eventually you will have to pick something to focus the rest of your college years on. That is, while you should be enriching and expanding your intersts, you have to graduate at some point. Therefore, my greatest struggle in college, and advice to my high school self would be, balancing my personal intersts with my career goals.

Elizabeth

I would tell myself not to be nervous about college. When I went in first semester, I was pretty scared about being on my own and in a whole new place. I would make sure I knew that there are so many opportunties at college. No matter what happens, you will find your place and you will succeed. It is also important to be open to new experiences, and not stress too much about school work. School work is a very important part of going to college, but the experience of college is also necessary to grow. Though it may seem scary now, being afraid will just hold you back from the potential success you could have at college. Basically, I would want my high school self to know that it is okay to have fun at college. School is important for success, but so is personal happiness.

Andrea Giovanna

Volunteer at a hospital as soon as possible. Take AP statistics, chemistry, biology, and physics! Take calculus BC! Apply to more scholarships! Do something really great for your resume after graduation. Do more research about the colleges you get accepted to, so you can make an informed decision. Become a member of HOSA so you get more medical experience before going to college. Think about how hard it’s going to be to leave home, and don’t assume that you’ll feel the same way all throughout college. Explore your hometown, because you might not be able to later. Read as many books as you can, because you might not have time to read for pleasure in college. Research more about the weather at each school so you won’t struggle with it too much. If you decide to go North, BUY WARMER CLOTHING. Think about what it might be like to leave Texas, and decide whether or not it’s something you really want to do. Become as involved as you can in your high school community, because you know they really need your help, and you’ll be too busy to help during the next four years.

Anastasia

I would tell myself to not try to take too many classes and join too many organizations at once, but to start out slow in order to make the transition process into college less stressful. I would advise myself to focus on making friends and building a community I'm comfortable in during my first semester of college to avoid isolating myself and compounding the stress. I should also have taken the time to adjust to my surroundings and understand the complicated changes I'm going through, allowing my identity and sense of self to unfold instead of being anxious about the changes. Another important piece of advice would be to not try to committ myself too early to any one major or academic and career path, but instead allow myself to explore my options and discover where my interests lie. This way I could have avoided taking unnecessary classes that I didn't enjoy simply to get a requirement I thought I needed out of the way. On a related note, I would advise myself to explore early on the vast number of internships available from the university as they can be an invaluable resource in future career selection.

Carissa

There are a few regrets I have towards my first year in college. Things that I wish I could have done differently if I had the chance. If I could go back in time and speak to my younger self before I started attending college, I would tell myself how important it is to stay focus and work hard through the whole semester. Slacking off can become an easy habit in college, so I would advise myself to stay on top of completing any homework within a timely manner. If extra credit is available, take the time to do it because it can never hurt you. Apply for scholarships every chance you get. Doing so will prevent less stress when trying to figure out how you will pay for your education. Pick your teachers wisely because your teacher determines how well you understand the material. Choose to study for a test or quiz instead of going out with friends, it will be the better choice in the long run. Interact with classmates, it’s easier to be in class for an hour or two with acquaintances opposed to being all alone.

Raquel

There will be times when you do not do well on tests or feel like you do not belong to the university or college you attend. But know that if you remain motivated and use all the available resources you have to your advantage, there is no way you can't succeed! College is a time when you are exploring and figuring out who you are as a person and what you want out of life; if your plans for you future change, that is okay! Take this time to figure out what you really want, not what your parents or others around you want you to be. College is filled with distractions, it is important to balance fun and work. Have a good time, meet new people, and explore the city or town your campus is in, but always remember that your academics are important and should always come first. Enjoy every second of college, make connections, and take advantage of all the resources and opportunities you have available to you, because before you know it your freshman year will be over, then your sophomor year, then you are walking across the stage, earning your degree!

Mercedes

I never knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life and I still don't know exactly where I'm headed. The thing is, most people don't have everything planned out, and if they do, their plan is so likely to change. I would give anything to tell my high school senior self not to worry so much about the future, that everything will fall into place as long as you work hard and focus on what you love to do. Ultimately, passion is what keeps you going, it's the fuel that propels you to make a difference in your field and in the world. Yes, college is more difficult and yes, sometimes it can be overwhelming, but you will make a support system of friends that will stand by your side and you will find what you love even if you haven't found yourself yet. College is about the journey, it's about networking, about learning to love yourself and what exactly you love to do. I would say: Don't worry, the journey ahead is difficult, but rewarding--enjoy the ride!

Bryana

As a high-school student, I experienced a lot of frustration about my “mediocrity”. I wanted to excel at something, but could never find my “one thing” that separated me from the rest. And then my life was flipped upside down during my senior year. In September 2010, I was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In the blink of an eye, I went from my “normal” college application process and resenting my “normality”, to the ICU and longing for normality. I’m currently almost three years in remission, and having cancer made me understand things that I wish I understood beforehand. If I could tell my high-school self one thing, I would say to appreciate all of my blessings, despite how “average” they are. Normality is subjective. I didn’t understand that, until all I wanted was normality. In hindsight, I should have been thankful for my “average” life. Although I’m now in remission and I now understand how lucky it is to have even just a “normal” life, there are still thousands of people right now who crave normality and stability in their lives, and I was lucky to have all of my blessings, mediocrity included.

Marissa

In high school I wasn’t a bad kid. I wasn’t particularly motivated and I wasn’t particularly driven, but I wasn’t a bad kid. I liked to be friendly, social and outgoing. Rather than focusing on my future, I was focusing on my present. I guess most people would advise themselves, if given the chance, to try harder and to focus more on what matters like school work and grades. If given the opportunity, this is not the advice I would give. No, the advice I would give myself would be so much simpler than that. I would sit myself down and ask myself, “Are you proud of what you have accomplished?” I don’t think it is necessary to tell myself what I could do or should have done different. Instead, I would rather I give myself the opportunity to think it through a little more. Maybe I would append that to the advice as well, “Take a moment and consider Marissa, really consider. Are you ‘accomplished’?”

bethany

I would definitely tell myself that being organized and on top of everything is one of the most important things you can do. Not just in college, but in life. You really need to have a positive outlook & attitude to succeed. You need to have that "I'm going to graduate" mentality in your mind at all times. Also, always be on time to class and take your assignments seriously. Budget your time out so you have plenty of time to study and actually absorb information. Don't be afraid to ask questions and never make assumptions ever. Having a budget and planning ahead is really important and also making a schedule so that you can manage work, school, personal time, family, etc. Also, if you're going to take loans only take out the minimum - what you REALLY need. Taking out more loans than necessary is foolish and will only cost you more money and stress than you want.

Chandler

I would go back and tell myself to take your time and do things fully and to the best of my ablility. By this i mean to take classes more seriously and try my very hardest at every little and big thing that I will do in school. Every piece of paper that you do in school will affect your future indefinately. Its not worth skipping out on homework just to hang out with some friend for a little bit. the grades you get in high school are extremely important and will follow yhou onto college and can be seen by pretty much any college professor. So all in all STOP, slow down, take you time and do things the right way the first time because trust me if will pay off in the future.

Emily

Don't be afraid to work after high school instead of going straight into college. Find an entry-level position or internship in a field you're interested in, and work in that field for a while. This will help you learn if it's really the right profession for you! If you're not sure yet what field you might like to pursue, use this time to explore different areas. Be adventurous! Take that summer position leading horseback tours in Equador. Volunteer your time at an orphanage. Apply for the internship at the bank. Buy a study guide and attempt some Microsoft certifications. Join your community garden co-op and learn to grow your own food. Find out what you do and don't like spending your day doing, and what your time is worth to you. This experience will help you start to learn what direction you would like to go in a career, and you'll be earning money instead of spending it on tuition as an undeclared major college freshman. Plus, there's nothing like working a low-paying job for a year to motivate you to pursue a degree!

James

As a high school senior I knew I wanted to go to college, but I did not know what I wanted to pursue. I was indecisive and made a hasty decision to explore a degree/career in Biology and eventually attempt Medical School. In two weeks I had it all figured out; I would get my Biology degree from the College of Charleston and my medical school would be completed at the Medical University of South Carolina. I went through with this plan for two years at C of C just getting by with my grades, before I realized that I hated everything I was doing and was hemorrhaging money in the form of student loans, especially since I lost my $5,000 state scholarship after my second semester. I made the tough decision to leave C of C and pursue my already existant interest in the Automotive industry and am now in a two year Automotive Technology associates degree program. So if there was anything I could tell myself before I left high school, it would be to pursue what you enjoy and what you're good at and let it pay off for you in the long run.

Xavier

Know yourself, and once you do, have the courage to be true to yourself. In the frenzy of orientation, remember that you will likely only make a handful of important friendships, and that popularity is only as important as it is fulfilling to you. Staying home on a Friday night is only missing out if you would actually enjoy going to a frat party. If hard work and intelligence are big parts of your self-identity, then work hard from the beginning of freshman year. There is time to explore and still get your work done.Lastly, grow. Whatever you are, or think you are, don’t let that set boundaries to who you become. Join the crew team even if you’ve never rowed before; do anything that strikes you as worthwhile. All the while, remember you’re still young and susceptible to peer pressure. If you’re aware of it, you will be less likely to adhere to it. Ultimately life is like any other path, the way seems obvious and inevitable. It isn’t. It’s a perpetual crossroads between that well-trodden path, and the un-trodden wilderness on either side. Step off the path.

Kimberly

Live your life for yourself, not for your parents or teachers. Never stop thinking about the future. Learn to love ambition. The expectations set upon you can be overwhelming, especially when they seem unattainable. Focus on just a few key goals at a time, even when some people may be pressuring you to have more. Part of the frustration of youth is everyone trying to tell you what's best and all the things you need to do to prepare, but it's really impossible to follow every bit of advice. You don't have to. Say "thank you for caring about my future", smile graciously, but do not adopt their advice unless it contributes to your own goals. A lot of it won't. Never listen when someone tells you to get a degree in something practical, just to be "safe". That's a recipe for dissatisfaction and mediocrity. Follow the path that inspires you, and find people you respect to help you walk that path. Be willing to take risks. Even when they don't pan out, you learn from the experience. You develop courage. And with a courageous heart, you can passionately follow your dreams without regret.

Rosanna

Currently, I am starting a second career in Nursing, and it has been a while since I was a high school senior. The advice I would give myself, would be to know myself as much as I can, so that when I enter college, I am clear in my mind as to how to make the most of it, both socially and academically. To get to know myself, the best way is to expose myself to different activities and to look inside to where my feelings and intuition are guiding me. Look beyond social conventions and expectations in order to truly know what it is that I want to make out of my life. Many times we let ourselves be influenced by others, but the right answer is a personal one. If after doing so, I was still confused about what I wanted to do, then I should work on raising my self-esteem , so that whatever I pick from a narrow list of alternatives, is still helping me be the best I can be. This solid self-concept and awareness would also help me attract good friends and support groups that would help me go through college.

Jessica

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

Qianna

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.

Rachel

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.

Bianca

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.

Riley

Dear Self, Experiencing everything that I have the best advise that I could give you is don't be afraid, be bold and go for what your heart desires. Always work hard and trust yourself. Dont let anyone tell you that you are less than great. Take every opportinity given to you and experience everything possible, it helps you become a better person. Always be kind to everyone because it builds character and helps you succeed. If times get hard just remember what is the most important in life family and friends. In the end just remember Grandpa's advice "Keep on, Keep'in on".

Amanda

As the economic downturn continues and unemployment soars in the United States, I would advise my college-bound self to attend a more economical, state university rather than an Ivy League institution. I would advise myself to keep college costs low and save funds for graduate studies. In reference to college life, I would recommend myself to network effectively in my respective departments and through extracurricular activities, and to be courageous in asking questions ands "putting yourself out there". Additionally, I would tell myself that being proud of your individuality, avoiding peer pressure and challenging yourself through new circumstances will only make you a stronger person.

Vanessa

College has given me the opportunity to learn from the best and the brightest minds in both professors and peers, as well as the opportunity to explore new horizons, develop a global perspective, hone my leadership skills and, most of all, to be the best that I can be now and long into the future. College has also shaped my views on which career path I want to pursue and the options available for me to get there. It has solidified my passion for the sciences and pursuing a career in medical research, while allowing me to forge strong relationships with future leaders and build professional and social networks. Through leadership positions and local volunteering opportunities, I have become an even more responsible adult both on campus and in my community. I have been able to feed my endless intellectual curiosity and experience the various cultures. I have numerous opportunities with some of the best researchers in the world, which will help maximize my college experience. College is helping me achieve my career goals, be the best in my field, and have a positive impact on my generation.

Daniel

At Penn, I have learned that one's academic pursuit ultimately is an independent endeavor. The resources are all available, but they aren't useful unless one goes out to find them. As a student on the medical career track, I feel well-equipped to succeed in medical school. Penn's balanced culture of academic, social, and extracurricular activities has helped me lead a balanced lifestyle. That was one of the main reasons that I wanted to go to Penn, for its balance, and I feel that I have become a more balanced person because of Penn.

Tara

My college experience was a unique, though not ideal, one. The most valuable thing I learned was to persevere and to believe in myself. During my freshman year, I was diagnosed with a rare disorder that required a Bone Marrow Transplant, resulting in a two year medical leave. My medical complications created a seemingly insurmountable challenge. It was difficult for me because I had been looking forward to attending college for so long, and I hated that once I was there, it would be interrupted. I was also afraid that I wouldn't be able to go back. I did get through my medical issues and I returned to school in what would have been my senior year. It was hard to see all of my friends graduate, but I soon realized that I could still do it, despite lingering health concerns. I had made it this far, so I continued to push. I wanted to get everything I could out of my college experience. I studied, I socialized and I pursued my interests. I learned that no matter how difficult a challenge might be, I would only have to push harder and I would achieve my goals.

Andrew

I have gotten reassurance in my lifes path. I have finally got to indulge myself with people who have the same interests and not always the same beliefs. But its from those people i have learned new perspectives and outlooks on life. I'm pursuing a career in teaching at the grammer school level. it has been valuable attending college because i can see my dreams becoming a reality. Every semester that passes i feel that I am one step closer in completing my goal of becoming a teacher. My drive and determination of becoming a teacher pushes me harder and harder with each new semester. Knowledge is king.

sabrina

My college experience has been very interesting. I am currently enrolled at Lincoln University in PA. When I first arrived on campus, I didn't know what to expect. I wasnt sure if I was going to adapt to this big change, especially with me being so far away from home. It is now my 2nd semester of my freshman year and I've realized that I have already changed drastically. What I have gained from college is a sense of accomplishment that I have never felt before, confidence in myself and work, and admiration from my family and others. I've learned to adapt to diffrent environments and situations, and to make desicions based on my own beliefs and morals. I've gained an understanding of myself, and is being introduced to a new part of me everyday. Its has been valuable to attend this school because I've realized that I am blessed to have an opportunity, to advance exceedingly beyound boundaries that I've always been too afraid to overcome. I've learned that good things do happen to people like me, and to value my life and opportunity to shine!! :)

Romero

I have not only been able to refine my academic study strategies, but also I have learned so many essential life-skills such as doing laundry, buying groceries for myself on a weekly basis, as well as maintaining and cleaning my dormitory room on a regular basis. So far, I have met so many people from various ethnic backgrounds who have so many experiences and talents to offer. Not only are the students excellent in numerous fields, the professors also are so willing to help and share their knowledge with me about their field of study. It has been valuable for me to attend, as I have gained so many important skills that will help me later on in life, as I aspire to become a researching medical physician. I have been able to involve myself in organizations that provide public health service to countries around the world, including Peru and even my country of heritage, Sri Lanka. I have also been able to collaborate with wonderful musicians from across the globe, such as the Netherlands and Austria, and grow in my musical passion. My interest in academics has only skyrocketed, and I look forward to exploring more academic fields.

Julio

College is not only a central point of intellectual growth in the tradition sense, but a beacon of worldly knowledge. The college experience is comprised of its students and he or she's experiences in life. During college, students are able to easily interact with other students from many different background, cultures, and ethniticies. This promotes the diffusion of knowledge, or the acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation. One's college years also present one with the able to grow individually, seperate from one's guardians.

David

Take a look around you. What do you see? Your room, your current friends and classmates? Now think bigger, outside of your home, your school, your city, or even country. In college, I have been able to meet so many amazing people from all over the entire world. They each have their own unique experiences to share and have really helped broaden my perspective. The places we come from all have their own cultures and only through meeting others and sharing our cultures with them while learning about theirs can we truly learn and live.

Jason

One year into my college career, a swelling is growing inside. A sense that's immense, of something much greater, of words and ideas all echoing close and intense. I've learned new confidence, fed by practiced competence, and a wakening awareness of something--many things--more. For when I was a child, the kind who rarely smiled, such expansive futures were not to be--not for me. For I came from a place not so much full of grace, but of an empty, a doom and a dreary tomorrow or two. Onto the campus I stepped with much fear, my heart thumping hard and afraid! And the sun lit up bright, showed me all would be right, just a little effort be made. I found new ways to open, new ways to see, new ideas to think on--and a new, better me. So class by class, I've gained a new sense of ID-of loved and unknown ones, all part and parcel of me. Such values as these are rarely expressed, for it seems so unfair, to have their meanings compressed; but assured may you rest that what I've gained from college is the quintessentially best.

Michelle

Aside from graduating with the skills I need to start a promising and fulfilling career as a nurse, one of the most important things I got to do in college was to learn a lot about myself. The stress of juggling classes, work, and extra-curricular activites taught me how to handle a busy schedule. I learned how satisfying it can be to set goals and then work hard to achieve them. I also met wonderful, inspiring people who started out as my classmates but ended up as my close friends; these relationships continue to inspire me, long after we tossed our graduation caps into the air. All of the late nights and hard work were worth it because they helped me become the person I am today!

Brandi

The most valuable thing I've received from my college experience is the confident assurance that I can do anything, coupled with the knowledge and skills to figure out how to make my dreams happen. Success and drive are unparalleled at Penn, and you come to expect more of yourself and the people who surround you. The world is a smaller, interconnected place, and you act accordingly. You rid yourself of doubts that you can't fund your projects, that you can't accomplish something because you're not good enough. Through its immense resources and support, Penn enables you to launch your career and a life-long process of developing yourself as a world citizen. I never knew the extent to which my advisors would be patient and advocate on my behalf. I didn't realize that literally EVERYTHING was at my fingertips. I also didn't realize the extent to which it would matter that I'd made friends from around the block and from around the world. I've gained a sense of myself, a committment to fully utilizing all resources to make change in the world, and a passionate desire to open those opportunities to others!

Josh

a competitive teamwork culture that prepares me for the working world

Katherine

To look back on my senior year of high school brings forth a tangled mix of emotions. Unfortunately, my primary memories of that year are clouded by stress and anxiety, and to recall this now truly frustrates me. The regret that I have is not for what I accomplished, for I was accepted at my first choice of schools, but for my general outlook throughout that journey. In all honesty, I allowed myself to become entirely consumed by my pursuit of perfect grades, perfect applications, and acceptance into the "perfect school." There's no way to disguise the fact that I had made myself miserable. My parents knew it, I knew it, but I honestly couldn't shift my focus. I was working incredibly hard in school, maintaining two varsity sports, plus working a part-time job, and instead of taking pride in my accomplishments I was gritting my teeth and waiting for my admissions decisions to arrive. I let the numbers and the grades rule my life, and that was a mistake. If I could rewind and speak to my former self, I would take myself by the shoulders and simply say "BREATHE."

Christina

The advice I would give to my high school senior self would be to not start withdrawing. As a senior who was already accepted into colleges, I just wanted the school year to be over and to continue into college. What I didn't put into consideration was that college would be another four years of the same thing, learning. I would tell the past Christina to keep working hard and to expect to work harder in college. There will never be an easy way out of school, so the best thing to do is to study and to relax. Stressing out will only make matters worse, especially in a tough situation. The last thing I would tell myself would be to just be happy and to not hold back on what I want to do. I recently just learned that my future is not to be successful, money wise, but to be successful in happiness.

Christopher

Breathe. Learn to maximize your high school experience by finding the right balance of work and play. While college is very important, it is not important enough to sell your health just to reach too high for the stars. Dream big. Don't dwell aimlessly in the past. Look towards the future, and believe. However, don't dream too big because when reaching far out of reality's realm can be detrimental to mental health later. Sometimes it'll hurt when you can't seem to grasp what you want, but there's always something else to dream big on. Explore. Assess all the options that you can take, but always keep in mind that there is a countless number of paths you can follow later. Science or math--not your friends? There's others waiting. "See feelingly". Don't always see through your "eyes". Learn to become empathic and become more in tune with the rest of the world. Stay modest and accept what you have, and don't hesitate to reach out for something else. Learn to "see" things in another light. Don't just graduate to a higher level of academics but to a better person.

Charmer

Congratulations on getting accepted into college. I'm pretty sure you think now all you have to do is pass your final classes of high school, get that diploma, and move to your new home in September, right? Wrong! Speaking as someone who is in college and ignored a certain opportunity, I'm begging you to take on something that really doesn't sound attractive: summer programs at your university. Now I know that doesn't sound like an attractive thing to do, going to classes (that don't have an effect on your GPA, by the way) during the summer instead of relaxing. It sounded like a waste of time to me too until I realized the impact starting at new student orientation. Those who went through the summer program had a better connection to the campus. They already knew classmates and upperclassmen and knew how to get around campus. Because of this sense of community stemming from enduring classes, they also were more successful in classs during the initial semester because they knew how to get help immediately. Take a summer program and become a freshman that knows what to do before the fall semester starts.

Janet

As a high schooler I was extremely focused and driven, the end goal being college. Now, as a freshman settled into college I wish I could go back and tell myself that college is not the end of the road, rather the beginning of a new journey. As I tell my high school senior friends now, grades are not everything. Even after coming to an Ivy League school, I discovered that a 4.0 gpa isn't what got most of my peers into this school. More than anything it was their passion for learning and their creativity in thinking. I would tell my high school senior self that despite academic success, nothing can replace the memories of the times I had with my friends and family. When I reflect on high school, it is not the 100s I scored on tests, or the report cards that I think about, but rather my three best friends and the overall experience of knowing that we were not yet adults, with the promise of the rest of our lives ahead of us.

Kasey

Rush a sorority. This sounds trivial and superficial, but I took the road of "I don't need to pay for friends" and chose not to rush. Whether or not you will join a sorority is left entirely to your future self, but my advice would be to at least rush. In rushing freshman year I imagine I would have broken the personal box I built. It probably would have frozen and crumbled standing outside a sorority house in January in a painfully long line. But instead, I chose not to rush and so my box remained until much later than freshman year. I was afraid to rush, I was afraid to try. Rushing is your step one. Rushing will give you a heads up to the multitude of people, groups, and opportunities on campus. Step two will be taking advantage of all those opportunities you learned about in line rushing. You will now be comfortable springing into groups and activities. You'll get involved with a non-profit or a political group or whatever entices your future self. But, by not completing step one, my own step two was delayed. Rushing is Introduction 101 to trying everything on campus.

Elizabeth

If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself not to worry so much. The transition to college life is overwhelming, especially when you are thrown into an unknown environment and have to learn to be independent very quickly, but you aren't the only one who is experiencing college for the first time. Millions of students just like you, who have been panicking and agonizing over college applications and writing essays that best capture their thoughts and personality, will join you on this experience of a lifetime. College is a place where you can expand your horizons and become engaged in deep philosophical discussions that can last for hours on end inside or outside of the classroom. However, college is also where you can meet new people and develop friendships that can last a lifetime. Even though college is a new place and you may be worried that you won't be able to manage your time well or have enough time to get involved in every activity on campus, just remember that the new friends you meet in college will always be there to support you.

Paula

It's happened more often that I'd like to admit: on my way to class, on the main walk of campus, I feel a chilly wetness on my lower back. I turn around and see a trail of water on the brick pathway. I haven't wet my pants; rather, the water bottle in my bag has come open again. In an attempt to be more environmentally-friendly, I purchased a reusable water bottle at the beginning of the semester, and it simply refuses to stay closed. In a perpetual rush, I haphazardly shove the troublemaker into my backpack and dash of to my next lecture, never stopping to think about the last time I made the same mistake and had to leave my notes out to dry overnight. I don't regret buying the sustainable bottle, although it does make my water taste a little weird at times. But my first semster of college has taught me this: take a little time for yourself. Save yourself some stress and walk, don't run, to lecture. You will gain a lot from taking the extra minute to shut your water bottle properly. I guarantee it.

Youssouf

I would tell my younger self to stay motivated. As a senior, I had just gotten accepted into the Huntsman Program at Penn, one of the country's most competitive college programs; and as a result, I decided that I had accomplished all of my goals. I relaxed. I did little more than was required for school for the rest of the year and I completely slacked off during the summer. I had no more goals. My GPA suffered during my first semester of school because of this. During the middle of the semester, I realized the importance of taking advantage of your college experience, if not only for the knowledge, then for the grades that will count in getting your first job. Being more motivated for the current semester, I am doing substantially better. I have no doubt that if I were as aware of the importance of the future the previous semester, I would have preformed superiorly. If I could, I would tell myself to think about the future and do what would benefit me in the long run. I would also tell myself to buy heavier coat, but for another reason altogether.

Virginia

As a committed athlete in high school, the whole point of going to college seemed to be volleyball. I would tell myself that volleyball really does not matter in the long run and should not be part of my decision. That being said, volleyball did allow me to go to an ivy league school and have opportunities that I would not have otherwise had. I would tell myself that it is difficult to know exactly what you want to do, because college is going to expose you to a lot of new things and you may change as a person. Choose a college that will challenge you and help you in that growing process. Choose a college that is big enough to expose you to new and not yet mainstream ideas. Choose a college that is in a different enviroment than what you grew up in. And trust yourself to make the right decision,. Because no matter what, you will gain experience and learn something and be forever changed. Challenge yourself to embrace this change and change as much as possible.

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