The University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania - Comments and Student Experiences|
Now, for the students....I have never met the most ignorant, close-minded, snooty, arrogant group of people in my entire life. People here, especially if you are transfer, are not going to give you the time of day. I have met some friends who are cool, smart and open-minded to discussion. Some, on the other hand, are rude and full of themselves. I mean, I get this is the ivy league, but come on. What ever happen to being nice? It might be because I am a transfer and people already have made their friends and so there it is. It could really be that case since all of my friends are transfers. Moreover, people here are obsessed with their grades and their own little bubble. If you aren't part of that bubble, you DO NOT EXIST to them. Please note, that there is a bunch of people at this school and you will find a group of people that are nice and smart and cool to be around with. Most of them are down to earth people willing to work together for the sake of learning and meeting new people. Others are just here to move on with their legacy, make as much money as possible, and they do not care who gets in the way! You will hear about how people sabotage other people here for grades! It's crazy. Little to no down-to-earth people here at all. Also, if you aren't rich, forget about it. Again there is thousands of people here to meet, but I'm not going to go all around campus looking for cool people. The school keeps you busy. TLDR: Bunch of rich, snooty shallow brats and little to no down-to-earth, chill people. I'm here for two years so I don't give a f... but you know.I just care about the degree mostly.
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.)