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PennCAS2014 Member

326 Points 434 Visits 384 Posts
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  • Re: Penn vs Georgetown Social Experience

    The NYTimes data are not particularly useful. They're based off an estimate which is in turn based off of a survey of 3200 high school seniors during one year in the mid 2000s. Even assuming those data were in any way helpful, at that point in time, Penn had only been ranked in the top 10 for about 8 years and it had a lot of ground to make up regarding its reputation and the reputation of America's urban cores as violent, dangerous places in the eyes of potential matriculants. For those same reasons, Columbia struggled to win cross admits from places like Dartmouth and Brown too. Times have changed over the last two decades however...

    In any event, I'm not saying that just because parchment relies on 1,000,000 data points across multiple years that its revealed preferences are any more sound than the NYTimes' revealed preferences based on 3200 data points from one year. I am, however, saying that the NYtimes data are not valuable.

    I'm also curious which "exit options, resources, and the like" set HYPSM off from schools like Penn and Columbia that would have any impact on the average student at any of those 7 schools.. I'm aware of some recruiters in the business world that only seriously recruit at HYPS and Penn (sometimes Columbia as well)-- setting those schools off from a school like Georgetown. But I'm not sure HYPSM have a lock on any exit options that P&C couldn't get as well... always interested in new info that might show otherwise though

    @NeedInfo1244 As for the social life at these two schools, I think students are generally pretty happy at both. As has been mentioned, Penn has greek life and approximately 25-30% of Penn students are part of greek life there. However, a much larger percentage of the student body does attend their parties and socials so it will be available to you regardless of your affiliation. That being said, Penn is also a 15 minute walk from the heart of one of America's best & cheapest cities. The food culture in Philly is AMAZING and Penn students often go out to dinner downtown without breaking the bank (something that is more challenging to do in pricier Washington DC). Philly also has BYO restaurants which are very popular among Penn undergrads because they turn a blind eye to underage drinking... for better or worse ;). Penn is also closer to more of Philly's most exciting attractions but Georgetown is connected by various bussing systems to parts of downtown DC so you'll still have access to the best DC has to offer.

    I would say the average Penn freshman who doesn't join greek life would go to a couple of frat parties during their first semester and eventually make friends with people they like in those fraternities and then they'll continue attending those frats' parties for the next three years if they enjoy that environment. Penn juniors and seniors usually go to bars around campus if they like nightlife or they continue more lowkey activities like movies with friends (there is a theater close to campus), dinner, etc. etc. For most students at Penn, social life revolves around the extracurriculars you join and the college house you're part of. So if you join the debate team, you'll probably hang out with them and the friends you make in your college house, in class, etc. Penn is a *very* social place and so even studying is often part of your social life. Penn students often book Group Study Rooms (GSRs) in Huntsman Hall and Van Pelt Library so that they can hang out in more private spaces where they can talk while they study as opposed to super silent libraries. Though Penn has those too (Fisher Fine Arts Library). Penn's social life is largely what you make of it though. If you want to be a hermit, you can be. I just don't know why anyone wouldn't want to hang out with all of the amazing people you'll meet!
  • Re: SCEA Princeton or ED Tufts or Johns Hopkins???? Need help!

    @4togo4 it sounds like your son is a really incredible student. I hope you were kidding when you said you weren't proud of your parenting right now! You've raised two kids who are either attending or have a credible chance of attending some of the nation's finest colleges. Whether its Princeton, JHU or Tufts, he's going to be happy once he matriculates and starts having the educational experience of a lifetime! You've clearly put him on the path to success and empowered him to independently make choices that he feels will best serve his future. Sounds to me like you're parent of the year! :)
  • Re: UPenn or Rice ED?

    Hi there- I just wanted to address a few of your concerns about Penn-

    1. Yes, Penn is pretty pre-professional overall. The "pre-professional" vibe didn't really spill into my english or history classes though. They were extremely intellectual and full of students who deeply immersed themselves in academia. I have friends who have gone onto PhD programs in their disciplines and they've all been served well by the serious nature of the academics they found at Penn. Around OCI time, you'll notice that people start wearing suits and stressing about interviews but if you're pre-med then that won't really be your concern. As a double major in the humanities, I appreciated the way the pre-professional atmosphere encouraged me to find resources that were useful for finding a job but it never really detracted from my classroom/intellectual experience. Also, self-identifying as pre-med kind of puts you in the pre-professional camp too :p

    2. Penn's College of Arts and Sciences actually does appear to have as many small classes as Rice. in fact, 75% of classes in The College have fewer than 25 students and 95% of classes in The College are taught by full faculty members. Penn also has a 6:1 student to faculty ratio and you'll have a pre-major advisor, a peer advisor, and a College Office Advisor the day you start Penn. To those three formal advisors, you'll add a major advisor (or two, if you double major) as you decide what path you want to take and you'll add informal advisors along the way. Penn works very hard to ensure that you have the hands-on, intimate educational experience of a small LAC within the context of a top tier research university. At Penn, I never felt like just a number and the biggest classes I took were never actually very large. The vast majority of my classes were small (10-15ish students) with a full faculty member who had done incredible research in the field and was excited to be sharing her knowledge with us in the classroom. Additionally, the College House system at Penn creates a close-knit community among its students as all freshmen are placed in one of Penn's College Houses with their peers, RAs, and Faculty House Deans who live in the College Houses with students and act as informal advisors.

    3. If you think you won't experience any culture shock going from Boston to philly... you haven't spent enough time in Philly yet. Philadelphia is a very, very different east coast city and it's very dissimilar in a lot of ways from the other major northeastern urban centers. It is far more laid back and significantly less expensive. I too thought philly would be like cities I had experienced before. I too was wrong ;)

    4. Penn is definitely diverse and the city of Philadelphia is very diverse. While its true that Rice does seem to have higher percentages of asian and hispanic students, that won't necessarily speak to the vast array of experiences you'll find within these universities. Additionally, because of Penn's larger overall size, while the percentage of students from those two demographics is lower, it is very possible that the absolute number of culturally diverse students is greater at Penn. Penn also has a much, much larger international presence on campus and don't forget that about 42% of Rice's entering class comes from Texas. At Penn, only 15% of students come from Pennsylvania. True, Texas is more populous than PA but even if you add the populations of PA and New York at Penn (two states that have roughly the same population as Texas when added together), they still compose only 27% of the entering class. There are a lot of different ways to measure diversity and when you couple your Penn experience with your experience in philly (which is very diverse along many different, intersecting identities) you won't be at a loss for meeting new people from all different walks of life.

    5. Double majoring isn't uncommon at Penn at all. I was a double major and it was as simple as just declaring two majors. In fact, my major advisors would often meet with me together so the three of us could plan an integrated academic program for me that would complement the experiences I was having in each department. Penn also has a vast array of dual degree programs between its four undergraduate schools and university minors that allow you to combine courses in two school (the college and wharton, for example) to have a truly interdisciplinary experience without having to fulfill the unique requirements to earn two individual degrees. The school of engineering and the College have also opened up opportunities to double major between the two schools as well, lowering the administrative barriers to double majoring even more.

    6. yeah the sports scene isn't great. But i seriously did enjoy being part of the Ivy League. There is a lot of history and tradition in Ivy League sports and it can be fun to participate in these ancient rivalries. Will it ever be the most exciting part of your campus experience? probably not. But students really do get excited for the Penn-Princeton games and they do televise Ivy games once in a while as well.

    7. You also mentioned that Rice is right next to the Texas Medical center but keep in mind that Penn's and Philly's hospitals are all right on campus or not too far away. In addition, thanks to Penn's one university policy, you can do research with professors in the med school, at the hospital of the university of pennsylvania, at CHOP, or at any of penn's research institutes (like the Wistar Institute) while never leaving campus. You'll have plenty of access to the best researchers and opportunities to work very closely with them.

    Don't be fooled by Penn's overall size. The actual experience in the College is one that is characterized by rigorous, intellectual academic opportunities in small classes with lots of faculty contact and support. I am still close with my mentors from undergrad and my closest friends still come from my freshman year College House. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about Penn. Happy to answer them. Good luck! :)
  • Re: Penn endowment rises to $12.2 billion

    This is great! I hope this puts Penn in a position in the near future to bring it's average cost of attendance down to Princeton levels. Gutmann's Penn Compact 2020 has gone a very long way in making a Penn education truly affordable for those with the most financial need but it would be great if we could make it even more affordable for those of better, though still modest means.
  • 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.