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PennCAS2014 Member

320 Points 412 Visits 363 Posts
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  • Re: Northwestern or UPenn

    Northwestern is obviously an incredible place and if it is where you want to go, I encourage you to apply ED. However, I caution you to avoid buying into the CC belief that these schools are SO ALIKE that you should just go to the one that is most likely to accept you. Just because students at Duke, Dartmouth, and Princeton are all super intelligent, have amazing professors, and are in quiet neighborhoods doesn't mean that they're all going to make the same students equally happy. Yes, Penn and Northwestern are pre-professional. And so are Dartmouth and Harvard and Stanford. Yes, Penn and Northwestern both have multiple undergraduate schools. And so do Columbia, and Georgetown and Duke, and Vanderbilt. But I can tell you right now I wouldn't have been equally happy at all of them and they would not all have led me to where I am today, even if the other schools might have led me to other wonderful places as well.

    Having participated in a multi-month program through Northwestern, I can promise you that liking one of these schools does not mean you'll like the other. And it's not just suburbs vs city; the atmospheres within the schools are different as well. Yes, partially because of the bigger sports atmosphere at Northwestern (people actually go to NU football games, tailgate, and care if they win or lose- not everyone, but way more than at Penn. It's just not really a *thing* at Penn outside of homecoming and Penn-Princeton), partially because of the suburban nature of Northwestern, partially because of Northwestern's greater emphasis on Greek Life, but also because of the way students are dispersed at Northwestern. Northwestern pulls out certain programs like Communications, Music and Social Policy oriented work from their arts & sciences school, disciplinarily differentiating them from the liberal arts students and approach to education. And Arts & Sciences students make up only about 47% of Northwestern undergrads. Whereas, at Penn, the College of Arts and Sciences in 2016 made up 71% of the undergraduate enrollment.
    People who have never attended Penn don't actually realize that the School of Arts and Sciences and the liberal arts in general actually compose Penn's core. The College is housed in the geographic center of the campus, it enrolls far and away the most students, and students from all four undergrad programs inevitably take classes in the liberal arts & sciences offered through the College as each school's requirements overlap with departments and professors housed in the College.

    Additionally, the number of grad students and professional school students at Penn are nearly equal to the number of undergrads. Northwestern's Evanston campus, however, is majority undergrad. Some people will love not connecting with students from the law school and the med school, which aren't on the Evanston campus. For me, that would have severely detracted from my undergraduate experience as graduate and professional school students and professors ended up being mentors to me as I traveled through my undergraduate career and post grad options with an eye towards returning to get a professional/graduate degree later on.

    Northwestern undergrads don't seem to be eligible to take classes at Northwestern Law School and they can only take four Kellogg Business School courses. With Northwestern's medical and law campuses both in Chicago, away from the undergrad campus, it's also unlikely that many undergrads will be able to participate in serious research at either institution. In contrast, Penn's One University Policy and centralized campus for all its undergrad/grad/professional schools allows students to take classes, do research, meet professors, sit in on lectures, attend speaking events and more across the entire university, as well as at Penn's many other institutes on campus. I was fortunate enough to take classes in the Law School and Wharton as well as do research through the graduate school of government all without leaving Penn's campus. Students at Penn also aren't limited in the number of classes they can take in the other programs (you are limited in how many can count towards your degree but you are free to enroll in as many wharton, nursing, law, fels institute of government, etc. etc. etc. courses you want).

    Housing options are also different. Penn only has College Houses with Faculty Deans in each College house. Almost every freshman at Penn is in the Quad houses, Hill House, and Kings Court English House, making for a pretty uniform experience. In contrast, Northwestern has a majority of normal dorms that are mixed with some residential communities and then some residential colleges like those at Penn. Northwestern dorms can also be as small as 40 students and some have hundreds of students in them, making for a more diversified array of on campus housing options.

    There are also certain recruiters that will only recruit at Penn, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton, which one should be mindful of if they want to pursue such a career. Yes, these employers are drawn to Penn over other fantastic schools because Penn has the Wharton School on campus-- there's no question about it. But Penn's One University Policy ensures that students from all four of Penn's undergrad programs have access to EXACTLY the same career services and on campus recruiting activities. Consequently, students in engineering have the same exact chance as a student in Wharton or the College to get a job with a firm that isn't even stopping by Northwestern. As a student in the College who took one of these jobs after graduation, I was a major beneficiary of this unique advantage.

    Penn's location on the east coast also makes it easy to get to New York or DC for any number of educational, social, professional, etc. activities. And its membership in the Ivy League places its students in an incomparable network of similarly excellent students and alums. The Ivy League Alumni Clubs all host ivy-only networking events for alums and Penn, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton and Yale all have actual alumni club houses within a few blocks of each other in midtown Manhattan (Columbia, Brown, and Dartmouth all colocate in the other ivy clubs as they do not have clubhouses of their own). For example, I have personally attended Penn-Princeton alumni events held on the same day as Penn and Princeton play each other in basketball. I have also gone to the Columbia-Penn football game in Manhattan with members of the Penn and Columbia Alum clubs. I have gone to a young alum wine tasting event for ivy alums. Additionally, I have not attended these but I saw them advertised in the membership emails/instagrams/websites: alums from Penn, Columbia, Harvard, Yale and MIT got together for a panel on "The Current State of #Digital #Media" and the Penn Club and the Brown Alumni Club cohosted an event for alums on shifting trends in childhood education. Access to this network has been invaluable for me as I've relied on it for professional advice and I was even assisted by a Princeton alum I met while networking as I made some tweaks to my career path not too long ago.

    Northwestern is an incredible school and one I really, reaaaally like. That being said, it is not going to provide you with the same experiences that Penn would because I'm sure Northwestern also offers a million things that Penn doesn't that I didn't list here. You need to decide for yourself how much each experience matters. And don't be fooled by the broad brush of CC painters who like to say "they're all pre-professional!" There are genuine differences even between great schools- consider them carefully.
  • Re: Big Schools with Intimate Settings?

    @jellyjam123 If you have the grades/stats for ivy league admissions, UPenn fits your criteria well. It has about 10,000 undergrads, a student to faculty ratio of 6:1, 95% of the classes in the College of Arts and Sciences (which has about 6500-7000 of the undergrads) are taught by full faculty members, about 70% of classes have fewer than 20 students and only 10% of classes over 50 students. Very often, my English classes were just 7-12 students and a professor sitting in comfy armchairs and couches in the professor's office or at a table in Fisher Bennett Hall, discussing Milton, Virginia Woolf, Chaucer, etc.

    A few other things to note:

    Penn also does an exceptional job of making a medium sized university feel very small. The College House system turns the residential system into a community with many activities for residents and faculty members who act as Faculty Deans in each College House to act as a resources, sources of guidance, and friends.

    When you matriculate at Penn, you are given:
    1. A Peer Advisor (an upperclassmen dedicated to helping you navigate College life from a student's perspective)
    2. A Pre-Major Advisor (a faculty member from one of the departments you indicated you were interested in, who will help you navigate course selection, requirements, and everything academic)
    3. A College Office Advisor (to help you navigate everything to do with the more administrative side of the university)
    4. Then, during your sophomore or junior year you will pick a major advisor who will be added to these other resources and act as a guide through your specific fields of interest.
    So in all, you will be assigned 4 advisors to help you navigate the complexities of university life and even after you take on a major advisor, you still keep the other three advisors as well.

    In addition to formal advising, Penn has a number of programs for students who want faculty interaction and smaller communities. As one of the great research universities, Penn really encourages students to get involved in faculty research and to start their own. Thus you can ask any of your professors if you can help them out on projects they're working on or you can ask them to be your research mentor on a project of your own. Alternatively, you can use Penn's Center For Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) to be assigned to research that interests you.

    Penn also has many smaller communities on campus that exist through extracurricular activities and various "hubs" on campus like the Kelly Writers House (for those interested in creative writing and literature), The Civic House (for community service), the Cultural Houses (for students with ethnic identities that are represented in the school and their supportive friends), the Perry World House, and more! (none of these "houses" are places where you live; they're just called houses because they have physical 'houses' on campus).

    As an undergrad at Penn, I always felt as though I was in a small university even though it is unquestionably medium sized. I was able to form strong bonds with friends and faculty mentors and I always felt extremely supported. I am still in touch with faculty members who wrote me letters of recommendation and continue to be supportive of my professional/educational ambitions even though I have graduated. There are also many more opportunities and communities I didn't mention but that I'm happy to discuss if you come across them or have more specific ideas for types of communities you would like to hear about!

    If you have any questions about Penn, feel free to ask. And good luck!
  • Re: Where do non-religious conservative scholars go to college?

    Honestly if you're a libertarian you'll be fine at pretty much every top university. Students at the Ivies, Stanford, Georgetown, Chicago-- are happy to have spirited, civil, passionate debates about all of the issues near and dear to the hearts of libertarians. Conservative scholars are everywhere from Penn and Harvard to Chicago and Princeton. Chicago is actually pretty famous for the conservative professors they've employed (think Antonin Scalia) and their more conservative than average student body.

    And think about some of the elite universities that conservative/republican leaders have graduated from: Ted Cruz is Princeton and Harvard, John Huntsman Jr. (former governor of the most genuinely conservative state, Utah) is Penn, Samuel Alito is Princeton and Yale, Clarence Thomas is Yale, Gorsuch is Columbia and Harvard, Frank Luntz is Penn, Scalia was Georgetown and Harvard, William F. Buckley was a Yale man, Ann Coulter is Cornell and Michigan Law (which is a top law school that genuinely rivals the elite privates), The Bush family is a Yale family, Mitt Romney went to Harvard for grad school, Bobby Jindal even went to Brown!, Rob Portman went to Dartmouth and Michigan Law, Justin Amash also went to Michigan Law, the President went to Penn, and the list goes on and on.

    My point is not that these institutions are amazing at producing conservatives/republicans but rather that conservatives/republicans can thrive at all of these institutions, get amazing educations, and then use those outstanding educations to create the changes they want to see in the world.

    Don't be afraid of top colleges because of your political leanings. These universities need and welcome diverse opinions in order for their students and professors to truly thrive. And don't be fooled into thinking that state schools in conservative states are going to be super conservative-- institutions of higher education outside of the religious universities you mentioned are going to be left leaning. But if you think it's important to have the future leaders of tomorrow exposed to conservative ideologies during their educations, then you shouldn't let the majority of liberals scare you off!
  • 2018 THE World University Rankings: Penn ranked 10th

    I fully admit rankings aren't perfect- but recognition of Penn's excellence should never go unmentioned ;)


    Top 15:
    1. University of Oxford
    2. University of Cambridge
    TIE 3. California Institute of Technology
    TIE 3. Stanford University
    5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    6. Harvard University
    7. Princeton University
    8. Imperial College London
    9. University of Chicago
    TIE 10. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
    TIE 10. University of Pennsylvania
    12. Yale University
    13. Johns Hopkins University
    14. Columbia University
    15. UCLA
  • Re: How good is UPenn?

    Hey @Southern32 - Penn is exceptional both in general and compared to other elite schools. You should check out my other posts about Penn, about pre-med experiences at penn, and about the atmosphere at Penn for more details.To summarize quickly, Penn is not a particularly cutthroat place-- students are happy to share notes, explain difficult concepts, form study groups, hang out after class etc. etc. etc. That being said, it's full of hardworking, super intelligent and accomplished students so you will find that getting perfect grades is a challenge since everyone is doing their best and everyone's best is pretty amazing. At the end of the day Penn students go to great med schools in disproportionately high numbers and the school has a multitude of resources that will connect you to that goal. Additionally, because of Penn's One University Policy you can do research at Penn Med, find an internship at the Wistar Institute, take classes in healthcare management, take a class with a med school prof being offered in the College or Engineering school, etc. etc. etc.

    Be sure to check out my other posts on the subject by looking through my profile. Also feel free to reach out with any questions you might have about Penn :)