The University of Pennsylvania
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The University of Pennsylvania - Comments and Student Experiences|
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.
I will touch on some different points:
1. Campus safety: I found it fine. I often came home late (after 2am) and did not have any issues with anything. There are homeless people roaming around the campus but security does try to get rid of them and anyway I never found them threatening.
2. Social life: I rushed for a sorority and did not get into a single one. Apparently I am not cool. Then I joined the Philomathean Society, which was a good fit and where I made many friends. I always had something to do with other Philos and I was never bored on the weekend. If you want to have a social life, yes, you have to join a club or find an interest. Obviously you will not have a social life if you stay in your dorm room. While at Penn I participated in Philo, Russian activities, volunteered with tutoring in West Philadelphia, participated in Christian organizations, etc. It was very easy to get involved in something and because the student body is large, you will always meet different people. It is really not a problem. I never attended a frat party and I never got drunk at college. It is not required to do so.
3. Academics: I felt pretty challenged. I took a lot of different classes and studied a lot. If you want to take easier classes you can probably find them. Most of my classes were based on writing papers and encouraged creativity. My only negative feelings come from the creative writing faculty, because I think that they only appreciate people who write like them or kiss up to them, and use classes to show off how cool they are. I wanted to be a writer at one point and found the creative writing classes useless, but what can you expect, you can't "learn" to be a writer really. I found faculty in general very approachable and pleasant. I would recommend taking more than 1 class with a faculty member if you can (or with different faculty members). It helps them know you which will be useful for recommendations later. Seven years since graduating I keep in touch with some faculty, all of whom I took more than one class with.
4. Campus facilities: I actually love the campus. The buildings are beautiful and well-kept. There is a lot to do around the campus. I almost never left campus but there are Indian, Ethiopian, Chinese etc. restaurants just near the campus. When I had a dining plan I found the dining halls to be decent but I discontinued the dining plan after my first year. I think it's true that you are not guaranteed housing in your later years and I applied late as a senior and lived in International House. It was not a biggie and I think you can always find somewhere to live on/near campus.I have studied at state schools and taken classes at a variety of universities. In general my time at Penn was the best and I have very few complaints. College is what you make of it but I do believe you can accomplish anything you want at Penn. There are great resources available. It helps if you know what you want to do and try to actively get involved.
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