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PennCAS2014 Member

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  • Re: Prestigious LGBT Friendly School?

    All of the Ivies are LGBT friendly. Yale, Penn, Brown and Columbia are notoriously LGBT friendly. Penn's LGBT community is especially well supported by the Penn administration as well. Penn was a very early adopter of gender neutral housing options for first years as well as upperclass students (I'm not sure that all ivies have this for first years yet- you'll have to check) and it had the most expansive LGBT inclusive healthcare coverage in the ivy league (though all of the other ivies now have the same or very similar coverage plans I believe). Additionally, Penn's LGBT center is in the heart of campus in a two story, beautifully renovated 1870s Carriage House. Most other (if not all?) Ivies have centers that share space in campus buildings dedicated to other uses, but none are as robust as Penn's LGBT center. But beyond administrative support, you'll find that LGBT students thrive at every Ivy and they participate in an annual event called IvyQ where the students of the eight ivy LGBT communities get together to discuss life as an LGBT person at their respective institutions (and to meet for the social benefits too... :) )
  • Re: Yale vs Penn

    Hi there! I chose Penn over Yale to study history and english and I genuinely believe it was a great choice. You should check out my other posts in which I compare Penn to Yale for more details but for a little insight into my decision:

    1. I liked Penn's campus atmosphere better than Yale's. Penn felt vibrant, excited, energetic and full of life. The campus revolved around one central pathway (Locust Walk) that provided a level of social interaction I wasn't seeing at Yale. I also loved the centrality of student organizations to the Penn experience. In contrast, I felt like Yale's student experiences were built around the residential college system. It also lacked a proper student union because the residential college system served as the hub of student life which I felt to be too limiting for me.
    2. Housing was important to me. I liked Yale's residential colleges but i found them too limiting. I wanted a variety of housing options and a greater sense of independence. Penn has the College House system in which its dorms are organized similarly to Yale's in terms of their community-oriented focus but you are not limited to one specific dorm for the majority of your college education and it isn't peculiar or socially isolating to move off campus if you want. I loved that you could kind of 'choose your own adventure' within Penn housing and thus you could have the very traditional college experience of the Quad or the more urbane lifestyle of suite-style apartments in Rodin. And if none of that worked for you, the edge of campus is lined with tons of beautiful, converted victorian homes in which students and professors live.
    3. Philadelphia and University City (the neighborhood in which Penn is located) is MUCH nicer than New Haven. It has way more restaurants, art, culture, beautiful parks, etc. etc. etc. Living in America's 5th largest city but still having a beautiful, green, contiguous urban campus that spanned 300 acres and had literally thousands of trees was the ideal way to spend four years of undergraduate education. I loved that philly never overshadowed Penn but that it still had more than enough exciting opportunities for internships, cultural experiences, restaurants, etc. etc. etc.
    4. Penn's one university policy allows for unprecedented undergraduate access to all of the resources the University has to offer. As an undergrad in any of Penn's undergrad schools, students can take classes, do research, and more at the other undergrad, graduate and professional schools. I was able to take classes and do research in Penn Law, Wharton, the school of government, and more all while pursuing my undergraduate degree in the College. And opportunities for undergraduate research were abundant and easily accessible because of the strong connections Penn's schools build with one another.
    5. Social Life- I liked that Penn was known as the Social Ivy. It was the right balance of studious and playful. People were genuinely committed to building relationships outside of the classroom and they were super dedicated to their extracurricular activities as well.
    6. At the undergraduate level in the Humanities, there isn't a huge difference between the quality of the education one would receive at Yale or Penn. The professors are all outstanding, the work will be very similar, class sizes are small and students are friendly. I have heard that Penn engineering is stronger than Yale's engineering program but at the end of the day it's not like Yale's engineers are floundering. Though that might be something to keep in mind.
    7. Penn is more practically focused. I loved the fact that that even though i was immersing myself in the liberal arts, the institution as a whole had a mind towards the practical import of the work we were doing. Some call it 'pre-professional' but that's an imperfect characterization. It has less to do with wanting to be part of the 'professional' world and more to do with the school's founding principle that the 'ornamental' must be balanced with the 'practical' in order to create a well rounded education.

    When choosing between Yale and Penn, the school that's a better fit for your son will be the one at which he sees himself being happiest. They are genuinely more similar than they are different and they each provide incredible undergraduate experiences.

    Definitely take a look at my other posts in which I offer other perspectives on the differences between these two schools. I am also happy to answer any questions you might have about how I ended up choosing Penn over Yale and my general experience there as well! Good luck to your son- and congrats to him on two amazing options.
  • Re: U. of Penn Student Newspaper: It's Time to End Early Decision

    Definitely not time to end ED. Some things to consider

    1. Penn provides an ivy league education to more students from a lower socioeconomic background than all of the other Ivies except for Cornell. While the percentage of students who have access to this education is important, the absolute number is actually what matters most when considering societal impact. While Penn may not have huge percentages of students from the lowest socioeconomic rungs of the ladder, it is still providing an incredible education to more students from that income bracket than its peers, giving it a larger overall impact on society. It also does so with fewer resources per student available than Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth. Yet it often has larger percentages of students from the lowest income brackets than all of those schools except for Harvard as well-- meaning they are educating more disadvantaged as a percentage of their class and in absolute numbers. So perhaps its use of early decision is actually an engine for socioeconomic diversity and at the very least, there is no evidence that other schools of equal quality with SCEA (or early action) are doing much better with regard to socioeconomic diversity despite not having ED. In fact, among the Ivy + group, Columbia (Dean Furda's old stomping grounds) is considered the most socioeconomically diverse and it also has a robust ED program. Maybe in order to improve access to these universities, more schools should make the switch to ED?

    2. Penn gets enough ED applicants to fills its class nearly 3 times. It is in a position unique from all of its peers in that it gets so many more ED applicants (as an absolute number and as a percentage of the class they intend to enroll). Thus, Penn actually shows great restraint in only filling about half its class with ED when ED candidates are usually more qualified academically, more capable of paying full tuition, and they've indicated that Penn is their unrivaled first choice. Judging Penn by the standards of other universities that aren't in particularly equivalent positions isn't going to yield a particularly nuanced assessment of the value of ED for Penn.

    3. I love the dedication to Penn that its use of ED creates. I was an RD admit who chose Penn partially because there was a spirit on campus that screamed "I LOVE IT HERE AND I DON'T WANT TO BE ANYWHERE ELSE." I did not feel that spirit at Columbia. I did not feel that spirit at Princeton, or Brown and I definitely never felt it at Cornell. But Penn had that feeling on campus that every student genuinely wanted to be there. Part of that is because such a huge proportion of the students chose to bind themselves to the school because they were so sure that it was the right place for them. If Penn were going to lose some of that character without ED then it would be a loss that transferring to SCEA or EA wouldn't be worth. Because it doesn't change the quality of the education-- Penn would still be providing what I consider to be a superior undergraduate education. But it would change the vibe on campus without improving socioeconomic diversity or somehow improving the school overall-- no thanks.

    4. Penn is not Harvard.. or yale... and it definitely ain't Princeton- and Quakers LOVE THAT! Harvard is allowed to do what ever it wants in college admissions. It had ED, it had EA, it had SCEA, it had no early program. It does as it pleases and it largely defines what other universities can safely do without criticism. But Penn doesn't have to follow along. It is its own institution with its own unique needs. Penn shouldn't bend to the pressures of its peers just to play by their rules. Penn threw out the rules book, blazed its own trail and it led to wild success for the University. Why turn back now? So that it can enroll as few students from the lowest incomes brackets as Princeton and Yale? Penn has 4 undergrad schools and provides a great education to more students than both Princeton and Yale. If it believes its admissions programs would benefit more from a different model than the one Princeton and Yale use, then so be it! Nobody is talking about how Princeton should open up a nursing school because of the incomparable good it provides to a nation with a severe shortage of nurses. Princeton feels it best educates its students without one and benefits the most disadvantaged in our nation despite not graduating any nurses. Fine! But if the way Penn chooses to fill its class is different than its peers, perhaps its because Penn is a wildly different school. And thank goodness for that.
  • Re: Rice vs Penn vs UCLA/Berkeley

    @beanyballs congrats! You have some awesome options in front of you. With regard to Penn's atmosphere, my best advice is to try to attend Quaker Days and see for yourself. Talk to actual students and learn about their experiences. I can tell you that in my time at Penn I found it to be extremely collaborative and supportive. I majored in two humanities subjects and I recognize that the sciences have the capacity to be less collegial but I genuinely never met a student in the sciences who felt differently. Several of my friends completed their pre-med requirements together and they would have study groups and review sessions with each other. They never competed with one another and they were more than happy to explain confusing concepts to each other because they saw it as an opportunity to test their own knowledge for weak spots. They also knew that if they were having trouble, someone else would step in to assist them just as they did with others. There are students at any school who will be competitive and cutthroat (yes, even at places like Rice and Brown where students are known to be happy and friendly). But the vast, vast majority of Penn students simply aren't that way. I cannot tell you how many times I bumped into my pre-med friends studying in the College House library with one another, sharing notes and just keeping each other company as they worked towards their goals. And that was very much my experience in the humanities as well.

    I also had 2 friends in LSM and they both thought it was the most incredible opportunity given their interests. One dropped the program and the other graduated with her master's. My friend who dropped LSM, however, did so not because she didn't feel supported or she felt overwhelmed; she simply realized her passions coming into college didn't align with what she found that she loved after spending some time exploring Penn's wide array of course offerings. Penn made the transition out of LSM quite seamless, however, and its supportive faculty advisors helped her find her way through the curriculum outside of the program. That also reminds me of a friend who was originally an English major who decided her junior year she wanted to go to Med School. In consultation with her advisors, she was able to create a curriculum that allowed her to finish the English major and her pre-med requirements. She's now at med school and absolutely loving it. While LSM can seem daunting, the individualized attention that Penn offers to all of its students who seek out its support makes pursuing your goals more than manageable.

    The great thing about Penn too is that if you did change your mind and dropped LSM, you would still be at one of the most well resourced and prestigious universities with the ability to study anything you could potentially desire. And because of Penn's One University Policy, you can actually take classes and do research with professors and graduate students to get a taste of going into academia and research oriented professions. All of Penn's research institutions (like the Wistar Institute), graduate and professional schools (including the medical school) are right on Penn's campus and both the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are there as well, allowing students unparalleled access to research opportunities in the fields in which you're most interested. Penn has significantly more resources for students trying to participate in research, especially in the scientific and medical fields as well.

    In terms of career options, there actually is a difference between Penn and other schools, especially in the biotech industry. There are certain recruiters that only come to schools like Penn and because Penn has such a substantial dedication to biotech education and its career services office is so deeply entrenched in the biotech recruiting process, you will have a much deeper bench of resources when it comes time to apply for a job. It's not that you absolutely cannot get the same job from another university with the right amount of effort; it's that you may not even be aware the job is available because they aren't recruiting on your campus. Again, because of Penn's One University Policy, you will have the same career services resources as students from across the university so even if you drop out of LSM, you'll still be able to utilize their robust connections to access the profession of your choice.

    Finally, Penn is definitely pre-professional. That being said, the degree to which you engage with that side of Penn is totally in your hands. While I appreciated Penn's pre-professional culture because I always knew I would have incomparable resources when it came time to find a job, I was a student of the humanities and I immersed myself in that side of my education throughout my time at Penn. The pressures of "finding the right job" and such never really registered with me until it was time to apply for them. Being at Penn, however, I had the luxury of not having to manage my career prospects from day 1 because when I went to career services to discuss my options and interests, they already had comprehensive information on how to translate my literature degree into a job that interested me though that job was totally unrelated to what I had studied in terms of content.

    If you have any questions about Penn, feel free to reach out. I'm happy to share more of my experiences and those of my friends as well if you're interested. Good luck with your choice! At the end of the day, you've got only good choices in front of you and I am confident you'll be happy no matter where you go! :)
  • Re: UPenn vs. Vanderbilt vs. Brown vs. Georgetown

    @ZBlue17 you aren't butting in at all! But @Penn95 basically covered it. Getting involved with research at Penn is one of the easiest things you'll do there. Honestly, there is SO MUCH research being done in every area and professors are more than excited to include undergrads in their work. The hardest thing will be choosing between your research opportunities and ensuring you don't take on too many responsibilities in addition to your coursework. As Penn95 also said, some professors are more highly coveted than others. But, at the same time, every professor is doing groundbreaking research in their field of study and you wont be at a loss for opportunities in any way! Please let me know if you have any other questions- happy to answer them :)