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What isn't good about UPenn?

boopdebop123boopdebop123 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
This is similar to the " What's not so great about Harvard?" thread, so I figured I'd start one for UPenn.
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Replies to: What isn't good about UPenn?

  • WISdad23WISdad23 Registered User Posts: 806 Member
    The neighborhood.
  • fragbotfragbot Registered User Posts: 234 Junior Member
    Kings Court/English House and Hill House aren't the Quad. One provides you the quintessential freshman experience and the others are places to sleep.

    The neighborhood? It's not that bad compared to where Temple is and you won't spend much time outside of 34th-42nd and Pine to Chestnut anyway.
  • Sportsman88Sportsman88 Registered User Posts: 1,573 Senior Member
    1. The cost. I loved U Penn when we visited (as a parent), but the net cost was just too high. HPYS offer much more generous aid to help parents in that crunch zone.

    2. Emphasis on ED which combined with less aid that other Ivies is a double whammy.
  • BoiDelBoiDel Registered User Posts: 79 Junior Member
    My child was admitted to UPenn, we live in the pristine no man's land called Mountain West with almost zero crime (we can actually leave our doors unlocked at night). We were terrified of sending child to Penn after I read everything about safety and security or lack there of, and how kids need "a walking buddy" or security to walk from library to dorm at night!!!!!!

    The 30th street station to the campus was considered extremely unsafe, that meant he couldnt take the train to visit family too late into the night.

    I doubt there have been any stabbings or murders, but the general feel was too scary for us hill billies.

    Its a completely different urban environment.. Apparently there are 8 cross streets in the campus map grid that are "OK" but going West of 36th? was told to be completely unsafe.

    It doesnt guarantee 4 year housing

    Some out of campus housing was humungusly expensive.


    Also the social stratification.
    We were told getting into clubs would be near impossible since there was a multi tiered screening process.
    Social work being so exclusive sounds completely bizarre to me.

    Also the weekend outings had a "tab" we were told. Some kids formed groups where you must be willing to spend a minimum of $500 or $1,000 on Saturday outings.

    Plus the email responses from the campus on questions about Housing and other issues went unanswered. Maybe they were too busy, maybe they wanted to wait to respond, nevertheless...

    Apparently there are a lot of homeless people and drug addicts? roaming freely all over the campus, and can be found sleeping all over the lawns.

    Not sure how much of it was true

    We were terrified.

    Child was absolutely THRILLED to have been accepted. To be studying in such an old illustrious institution was indeed an honor. To be able to live and sleep in housing over 250 years old is like a dream come true for the child.

    Historic and intellectual no doubt

    Kid wanted to study Comp Sc and so ultimately picked CMU SCS as that was a better fit.



  • HyperTurboHyperTurbo Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    edited July 13
    Three main things IMO:
    > Dining Hall Food Sucks; You are forced to have meal plan freshman year which you will see is very costly vs. the quality of food (Some other on campus non-dining hall places - where you use "dining dollars"- like houston market or frontera have great food though, i'm just talking about the ones where you use a "meal swipe")
    > Pressure due to competitive/very preprofessional atmosphere
    > School Spirit for sports is not great

    Bonus: I hear the CAPS (psychological counseling service) isn't the greatest. Haven't been there myself but everybody makes jabs about it.
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,239 Senior Member
    edited July 13
    @BoiDel I agree with @Penn95 and also, to add, if you EVER feel unsafe, UPenn offers police walking escorts, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - they'll go with you pretty much anywhere in West Philly.

    https://www.publicsafety.upenn.edu/about/security-services/walking-escort/

    This being said, if you don't like an urban environment (and some don't), then don't apply to Penn. It's that simple - it'll never feel like being at Dartmouth or Williams or even a more suburban-ish/scrubbed clean school like Wash U.

    You'll never be able to make Penn feel suburban or rural. You could, on the other hand, make a school like Tufts or Duke (two schools with a more suburban feel) feel more urban (given their proximity to bustling urban areas).

    @HyperTurbo - I think the food is a non-issue. Yes, Penn dining hall food isn't what you'd find at Cornell or Wash U (two schools with excellent food), but you also can leave housing after the first year if you want, and there are tons of options for food in West Philly - cheap, good food trucks, grocery stores, niche restaurants, etc. etc.

    Re CAPS - yes, I've heard that too, but they are expanding. The issue is they were understaffed for so long, and this is frankly because Penn, at its huge size, doesn't have the wealth of its more well-resourced, smaller peers. Given recent mental health crises on campus, though, they are expanding CAPS, Student Health Services, etc. CAPS used to be in an AWFUL location on 36th and walnut - they moved recently, although a bit farther from the center of campus.

    Re pressure - in my experience students DO NOT compete AGAINST one another, but an overall feeling of pressure DOES exist. I met many students who had this general feeling that others were "succeeding," and they needed to keep up. It was pressure in a vague sense, but it was palpable. It's why one Wharton prof said Penn's hyper-competitive culture is the worst he's ever seen. (I can provide a link if you want, but I've mentioned the article before, so no need for me to keep linking.)

    Re school spirit - it's about as good as you'll get for a non-big time sports top school. It's nothing compared to Stanford, Duke, or even Northwestern, but it's the best of the rest.

  • HyperTurboHyperTurbo Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    @Cue7 's elaborations are correct.

    I guess for the school spirit thing I personally do not go to many events so maybe I was slightly biased towards my own experiences. I get PennAthletics emails all the time so that does attribute to the school trying to get us to go to the games.
  • WhartonPenn2017WhartonPenn2017 Registered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    @Cue7 Our school spirit is 100% not "the best of the rest." The Penn-Princeton rivalry is not close to the Harvard-Yale rivalry in terms of school spirit and student (and alumni) interest. The Penn @ Columbia basketball game this past season was sold out (or close to it) and the crowd was loud, but it wouldn't have been close to that atmosphere if the game were at the Palestra.

    That said, while we don't have good school spirit, Penn has Franklin Field (used to be Philadelphia Eagles home field) and The Palestra (the Cathedral of College Basketball - has hosted more NCAA tournament basketball games than any other venue), which means we get to host The Ivy League Basketball Tournament (this may change going forward), The Penn Relays, and other big games (e.g. various Big 5 games including some that don't feature Penn, Michigan State vs Penn State men's basketball, LeBron James back when he was in high school against the top team from Philly). Also, unlike other Ivy League schools, we have the Big 5, which is a city basketball rivalry between Penn, Villanova, Temple, St. Joe's and LaSalle. However, the rivalry has lost its luster in recent years. From my freshman year to senior year, you could see the difference among student interest at all the schools - Penn students don't care except for the Villanova game, Villanova's student section didn't show up for the Penn game at the Palestra this past season (Penn hasn't had a lead against Villanova in 8 years, so they maybe didn't think it was worth the trip to see Villanova win easily), and Penn students no longer travel for away Big 5 games (my freshman and sophomore year, students traveled for the Villanova and Temple games, respectively).
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,239 Senior Member
    @WhartonPenn2017 - so you think school spirit is better at Harvard or Princeton?

    In my experience, I don't agree with that, but I attended Penn in the early 2000s - back when the basketball team was really good and even putting up a good showing against Nova, St. Joe's, etc.

    This being said, from what I've seen, outside of Stanford, Duke, and Northwestern, I think Penn has the same (or more) school spirit than any other top 20 school. The football team has seen a bit of a resurgence of late, and it looks like basketball could be coming up too. (Women's basketball is stronger now too.)

    So Harvard or Princeton may have one or two games (like the Harvard-Yale game) where you see pronounced school spirit. Besides that, though, I don't think there's that much. UPenn seems more consistent on that front.
  • WhartonPenn2017WhartonPenn2017 Registered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    edited July 14
    @Cue7 We can agree to disagree on this one.
    School spirit has declined quite a bit since the early 2000's, which may be why we have different views.

    Harvard and Yale, I'd agree that you can say it's just one big game. I was just making the point that it's a much more spirited rivalry than Penn-Princeton. I was very impressed by Columbia's crowd when Penn men's basketball played there this past season and don't think we would've been able to replicate the intensity of that crowd and game had it been at the Palestra.

    "UPenn seems more consistent on that front" Definitely not! That's one of the big problems. I've been to multiple basketball games where there were fewer than 20 students in the student section (we'd joke there were more players on the team than in the student section). The past two years, the Red and Blue was inconsistent. There were many games when no one from the club board showed up (but of course they showed up to all the big games and took all the credit for leading and organizing the student section at those games).

    Edit: addressing women's bball point...I 100% agree that the new women's bball coach is great and turned that program into a dominant force. Unfortunately, very few students care and the only students who support them at their games are other athletes and the players' close friends. That said, that's probably the case for every school that isn't named UConn.
  • connectionsconnections Registered User Posts: 1,327 Senior Member
    @BoiDel , I live in the Philly area.

    I'm sorry and don't know how you got this information about safety, but it's false. I say this not to make you feel bad, but to let others know that the area around Penn is quite safe. You write "the 30th street station to campus was considered extremely unsafe"-- First you wouldn't take the 30th, you'd take the 34th. But second, considered by whom? I mean, I wouldn't go at 1 am (just take an uber). But I've used SEPTA for over a decade. And homeless people roaming around campus? This is just untrue.

    It's possible people feeding misinformation are going by what Penn was like 10-15 years ago, when it was indeed less safe. Now, however, the campus and the city area through about 42nd or so is quite safe--certainly not "extremely unsafe." Yes, as you go further west, you will get into high crime areas. But there is no need to go there--students would not go there unless they wanted to. And it's also smart to use your head and not get yourself into unsafe situations (eg walking around the city at 3 am alone, or engaging in dicey deals).

    As far as Philly as a city--it's gotten a lot better and continues to do so. Yes there are areas that are high crime; don't go there. There's no reason for a student to do so. Center City has so much to offer and if you use your head, it's quite safe.

    That said, Penn is embedded in the city, so if you don't like an urban environment, I would think that would be setting yourself up for misery. I mean, there's lots of nature around - parks you can go to, hiking etc - but it's not the same as a small LAC in a small town college. However, as far as the extreme lack of safety, that's untrue.

  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,239 Senior Member
    @Much2learn - I would qualify your statement a little bit. Yes, UPenn students put pressure on themselves, BUT there seem to be broader pressures created by the community at large - and this unduly burdens many students. These students come in accustomed to putting pressure on themselves, BUT they now find themselves in an environment with MANY more of the same "types" of students (read: broad overachieving students who tend to be active in lots of different areas).

    Further, they enter an environment, where, for many reasons, certain coveted jobs/positions/opportunities tend to be quite well known, and receive a disproportionate amount of interest from the student body. Be it an internship at Goldman Sachs or a competitive student group, students feel a push toward certain areas.

    It felt like the invisible hand sometime was coaxing some students.

    Note, this isn't for ALL students - but there's a palpable feeling of a current, or a stream, or a direction where things flow for certain large segments of the Penn population. In my opinion, this seems more pronounced at Penn than at other places, and this isn't altogether healthy.

    Again, just my opinion, but I've gotten to know many parts of Penn for some time.
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