Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Penn Preview Days

I've visited countless colleges with and without ILC -- MIT, Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan, UC Berkeley, Vassar, Columbia, etc. -- but by far, the most beautiful campus is that of the University of Pennsylvania. Since I saw it during my tours last year its beauty and ambiance have definitely resonated with me and might have even played a large role in my decision to apply to the university (amongst other things, of course). When I revisited the campus yesterday, I felt the same way as I did when I first saw it -- stricken with awe and amazement.

One of the dorms in Penn
The day started bright and early. My mother and I left our hotel at 7:45 AM (but technically it was 4:45 AM for us!) and arrived at the campus for registration at around 8:15. After getting a bite to eat, we went through registration, where I received really cool Penn lanyards, free T-shirts, and huge folders filled with information about the institution. After a quick registration, we went to the opening ceremony by Dean of Admissions Eric Furda -- who is indubitably one of the coolest person in the world. Considering his high-ranking profession, his level of education, and his caliber, he is extraordinarily down-to-earth, humble, and passionate about what he does. He and all the new admits then enjoyed music by Penn's all-male band, which was again really cool. The band sounded extremely professional even though its members were only a few years older than me.

The parents and students then split up. Students were assigned into groups randomly, and we were basically given a tour of the entire university but with a kick. We played silly games that were nice ice breakers (we had to bond when we threw toast at a cut-out Quaker!). Overall, it was a fun way to explore the campus with new admits who are as scared, anxious, and excited as I am.

Walking through campus
Parents and students were reunited, and again split into groups based on the school we applied to. My mom and I got an exclusive tour of the School of Engineering and Applied Science before lunch, where we were sorted again by major. I sat with my fellow Computer Engineers -- all four of them! -- where I learned more program-specific details. I learned that Penn has a total of 30 CompE majors because it is so new; it is also highly funded and has some great professors. The CompE major in UPenn is essentially just Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as it combines elements of electrical engineering and computer science to create one coherent major. In Penn, people can choose to concentrate in a specific field (like Computer Science or Electrical Engineering) or choose to be as broad as they want. Penn also has various career fairs that do great jobs of getting people into the workforce if they so choose to; many big-name companies, as well as smaller-name start-ups are starting to recruit from Penn. Lunch ended and we proceeded to another small lecture by a current engineering dean, who reassured the parents that Penn students are in good hands because they are always guided by advisors who have the students' best interest at heart.

One cool looking building!
After the engineering tour, we looked at a few dorms. The dorms we saw were all different in character and charisma, but all had the same purpose: to make students feel at home. I saw the High Rises (Harrison), which is much less of the social scene, but does a great job of pampering the residents. The Quad is the social scene of the entire campus, as it houses most of the freshmen. The rooms were pretty small and claustrophobic, especially the singles. However, as I saw, even the smallest rooms appear bigger if the room is kept clean.

I then had a small overview of all of the clubs offered by Penn -- and there were a lot of them. These groups varied from Penn Democrats/Republicans to Engineering sororities/fraternities. There were lots of options for various types of people. Finally, we had the closing ceremony, which was again addressed by Dean Eric Furda.
Overall, I am extraordinarily grateful to the ILC for graciously flying my mother and I to see Penn. I absolutely loved it and basked in its endless beauty. I still have a decision to make between my top two choices: Penn and UC Berkeley. Both have different characteristics and personas, which all fit my personality. My decision will be a tough one, but I'm sure I will be happy no matter where I go. I again humbly thank the ILC for everything, because without this program and without the resources, networking, and help that it provided me, I could not have gotten into an Ivy League school or Berkeley for EECS (which is indubitably Cal's best major -- ranked #2 in the nation only behind MIT!...and tied with Stanford, but no Bear will want to admit that).
Next to one of the coolest deans ever!

1 comment:

Don Gosney said...

It’s always great to know that a school has a “cool” Dean of Admissions but what exactly was there about this one that enamored both you and Roger to the point where you wrote about it? Inquiring minds want to know, Tanya.