The University of Pennsylvania
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The University of Pennsylvania - Comments and Student Experiences |
The student body as a whole isn't quite what I had hoped. I won't generalize by putting an adjective to all ten thousand of us, but I will say that you may have a tough time finding grounded, humble, and mature classmates. And for an ivy-league institution, you may have a surprisingly tough time finding sharp students. By this I don't mean mindless hard workers who manage a 4.0; I mean quick-witted intellectuals, people who aren't afraid to think and discuss. Most intellectual discussions I've been a part of have been painful not only because other students are close-minded, but because they generally just don't care about why the gradient of a function points in the direction of greatest slope, or about why a particular economic model behaves the way it does, or about free-will and artificial intelligence.
I guess most of my discontent comes from Penn's pre-professional culture. If you want to keep your head down, do the work, get your diploma, and get paid, Penn is for you. But I am not that kind of student. I'm here primarily to discover the world and the universe and share that experience with my like-minded peers--peers who I have yet to find and fear that I never will.But enough about the students, I have better things to say about the rest of the university. For example my professors--never before have I been in an environment where any of my curiosities can be answered by merely asking. They love to help and are so accessible I find it hard to believe they have time to do anything else. One of my professors even holds office hours in his own home! And if that's not enough, the university has a program where you are allowed to take any of your professors out to lunch once per semester. The rest of the staff are wonderful as well; a few of the dining hall ladies even know me by name.
When you think of Frat, what's the first thought? If it's motivating 50-75 members to recruit and organize parties. That's a good start. If you also think of managing a $500,000 budget for the rent, meal plan, social budget, fundraising events, you are on top of it. I can't think of a leader that's graduating from the school that didn't practice those skills in a Frat. I think Penn now has 40 of them, of course with a nice complement of Sororities.
These school is setup to allow for failure and success. You have to pull yourself up and get back in the game. You grow up fast. There is a safety net with free tutors for the key intro classes. And an entire "society" dedicated to helping you improve your writing skills.
I'll add one interesting feature of UPenn: you can take any class you want (of course you need to meet the pre-reqs). That includes French majors taking Business classes, Engineers taking classes in the Law School, etc. You can also custom design your major, with approval, and the school says 50% of undergrads have 2 Majors. I had 4, from 2 schools (Wharton and Engineering).
There are no walls, only the ones you climb and stand on top of to enjoy the view and decide what's the best direction for you.
I have to talk about summer jobs. Nothing short of amazing. The current undergrads really have incredible access. I'm amazed that undergrads I know (I also interview for Penn and keep in touch) have had incredible jobs at JPMC, Google, Macy's, etc. etc. Freshman year! I'm so happy to see them all getting jobs, when their HS friends are surfing Monster.com.
Sports can be pretty serious. The school doesn't like to lose: especially the other Ivys. Learn more about that on your own. Penn is D1.
The dorms are good enough, but they are also have focus areas like: music, language, etc. (Houses) I think 30% of students live off campus or are in the Greek system. This also helps you move out from under the umbrella and get your ready for post Graduate living.
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