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.
I love Philadelphia, but Penn does not give its students a chance to experience the essence of Philly. Having grown up in South Philly my whole life I was so disappointed with the people at this school. I've worked hard my whole life and never had anything handed to me, so to come to a school riddled with privileged kids just waiting for their trust fund money has been a terrible experience.
One semester was all I needed. People kept telling me to stick it out, that I would find my niche, but I have a gut feeling that I wont. I have two Asian roommates that are completely socially inept, which is the norm for students at Penn.
Honestly, like everyone has been saying, if you are not:
1) a drinker
2) a party-er
4) Asian, or Jewish
DO NOT COME TO PENN!
It is not as diverse as the University makes it sound. Sure, they have students from Haiti and South Dakota, but they all come from the same mold. It's depressing, really.
If you just want the name of an Ivy League school on your diploma, you won't be dissatisfied with Penn, but if you care more about learning than grades, you will be unhappy.But, Philadelphia is a great city with a lot to offer, and West Philly is NOT THAT BAD.
My problem was with the students. I went to Penn as a naive, unassuming, kind of quiet, non-religious Jewish guy from the Midwest, smart, but not the smartest, determined, and hard-working, but who also liked to drink beer and meet girls. I was not a social misfit, nor was I at the other end of the spectrum. I did not sit in my dorm room, but went out and got involved. Unfortuntely, this wasn't enough to prepare me for the people I met at Penn. As a now-38-year-old, having gone to graduate school and lived and worked in a major city since 1997, I can honestly say that, up to this point in my life, I have never, ever met a more unfriendly, uncaring, selfish, self-absorbed, stuck-up, and/or phony group of people than I did in my 4 years at Penn. From the very first day in the Quad, I found myself thinking, "uh oh." Why didn't I transfer? I should have, but didn't. I guess I wanted the degree from an Ivy League school. Has it helped? I live in the Midwest, so not really. Oh well - - I like to think that the academics outweighed the people, and to some degree they did, but I can't help but think how fun college could have been --- should have been --- with a nicer, more genuine, grounded student body.
I realize that my opinions is, unfortunately, based on anecdotal evidence. But I simply cannot forget it, and it still asounds me to this day (i.e., the homely but stuck up Jewish girl at Smoke's who asked me for a cigarette and then laughed at the brand I offered her (Merits); the masses of women in general who, for whatever reason, had attitudes that were completely unjustified in terms of both physical and mental attributes; 19-year-old Wharton jagoffs with no real-world accomplishments acting as if they were the next version of Donald Trump; the terribly provincial -- and incredibly ignorant -- attitudes harbored by many students from the east coast; the overall snobbery that I just couldn't -- and still can't -- comprehend, given that only a miniscule portion of 18-to-22-year-olds can possibly have the kind of individual accomplishments warranting such levels of entitlement; and the constant, annoying, and blatantly insecure student concern that Penn is an Ivy League school and NOT PENN STATE). The list goes on, and on, and, unfortunately, on. I feel like I'm generalizing, and I hate doing that. But the more I think about these things, the more I realize that they are typical of way too many students at Penn, and my friends who went to other colleges are incredulous when I relate some of these things. I don't know if things have changed in 15 years. Maybe I had bad luck. Maybe if I was on a different floor in the quad, I would have met different people. Lots of things in life are determined by chance; I understand that. But having witnessed these things for 4 years, I kind of think it doesn't matter.
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