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The University of Pennsylvania

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This place is awesome.Not so bright
This place is awesome. Best university. Wharton is best business school on the planet. The top departments in every subject. Top ivy by far. Totally prepares you for the real world, unlike most other ivys. Philly is fantastic also.
1st Year Female -- Class 2019
Education Quality: A+, Faculty Accessibility: A
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I'm Chinese, but I've been in the USSuper BrilliantPhysics
I'm Chinese, but I've been in the US through all of grade school. I have some (mixed) thoughts to share about this place.

I've found that there are a lot of really dumb people here who got in not because of their true value as human beings or their worth as students, but as a result of where they grew up, their wealth, their ethnicity, and other bits of information which should have been compensated for more or for less by the admissions committee. It's my belief that college for most students is about improving yourself, whether it's academically or socially. However, what happens when the university admits a lot of students who are too self-absorbed yet too wealthy to fail is the disaster that is the student body.

There are some extremely bright students in all four undergraduate schools, yet many of them are content to waste their talents and their parents' money drinking alcohol and partying on weekdays. This causes me great personal offense since I come from a middle-class family in which such frivolity is wasteful, and I know many deserving people who would have made better use of the opportunities available here. A night doesn't pass without some student getting "MERTed", rescued by the volunteer student organization of EMTs from whatever idiocies they've committed. For reference, being MERTed costs around $1000 just for the ambulance ride. That cost is probably not covered since it's the student's own fault for making such poor choices.

Even so, many students don't bat an eye at such a bill, as they come from upper-class families or are rich internationals. There is a sizable portion of the student population which is truly unaware of how advantaged they are compared to the average American. 50% of students apply for financial aid, while 44% or so get it. That means Penn feels that 56% of the student population is perfectly capable of footing a cost of attendance that is 1.3 times the median US household income every year. The 6% of students (i.e. 600 undergraduates) who apply for financial aid and don't receive it are either being bled dry by the university or are utterly unaware of how much their families make.

As for the competition here, it's a joke compared to what there was in public high school. However, that's because my high school was 88% white, where most students' parents are white collar professionals. That being said, people can be very nasty when it comes to grades and curves. There is some amount of cheating, i.e. copying of homework, but overall nothing too serious. If a student deserves to fail a class, she will fail 99.9% of the time. DO NOT CHEAT. I know people in my engineering classes who have gotten instant fails because of cheating. Apparently, you also get a permanent mark on your transcript, making you utterly unhirable and ensuring you will never go to graduate school. If you cheat more after the first time, you might be expelled.

If you come here looking for intelligent yet kind friends, you will find them if you look hard enough. However, you'll also meet tens of arrogant, cutthroat students for every friend you find. My solution thus far has been to ignore the 9,900 other students who I don't know to be the kind of people I would like to be around.

The Quad is very loud. The most obnoxious thing that can happen to you at 3 AM on a weeknight is being woken up by gaggles of drunken freshmen girls returning from their night out. They scream, laugh, hit doors, and clatter up the stairs in their 6 inch high heels until you get out of your room and yell at them or an RA writes them all up. Invest in some high quality in-ear or noise-cancelling headphones.

I have to say that for the most part, the classes here are excellent. While there certainly are professors who are too concerned with their research to care about their students, you just have to be careful which professors you choose. PennCourseReview is a restricted-access site for Penn students to view reviews of courses and of professors before choosing classes. These reviews are based on student evaluations for all classes at the end of each semester.

If you are science-oriented, get involved in a lab early. Start emailing professors December of freshman year and try to get paid for research that summer. If you are pre-med, don't take the lowest level classes. I honestly don't understand how you learn physics without calculus, especially E&M.

The workload is not bad at all if you're efficient and you spread it out over the week. I actually prefer to finish problem sets in a single sitting. Problem sets for math and science classes are usually under 3 hours long (per week). For engineering subjects, prepare to spend a whole lot of time on projects. One of my assignments took 6 hours of typesetting in LaTeX to complete. Be smart about your homework. Most classes have relatively forgiving curves. The exceptions are intro Wharton classes and pre-med filled classes (chem classes especially).

The facilities are not the best. Everything looks beautiful from the outside (the Quad in the fall), but maintenance in the College Houses can be lacking.For me, academics have been the most important part of college life. Penn has great professors and academic opportunities. If you're going to college for the academics, Penn should be a serious choice. If you're going to college to party, choose Penn. I don't care as long as you don't personally wake me up at 3 AM. If you don't know what to do with your life, go to college anyway. You'll find something to build a career upon. (Yes, you can use a preposition to end your sentence with.)

1st Year Male -- Class 2018
Education Quality: A+, Collaboration/Competitive: B-
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This is the greatest university ever.Quite BrightEconomics
This is the greatest university ever. With its outstanding global reputation, this place will take you anywhere you want to go. The professors and courses are outstanding. Students are great. It is no wonder Penn is always ranked in the top two or three universities. There are just the right amount of undergrads, an equal amount of grad students, and a beautiful campus in an exciting city. Some students don't get along here because they had an easy time getting A's in high schools with hyper-grade inflation. This is a work hard, play hard university that is the best in the country, and every facet of the school is world class.
2nd Year Female -- Class 2017
Education Quality: A+, Perceived Campus Safety: A-
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The University of Pennsylvania
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