I've visited so many colleges during the duration of my high school years, but no trip has felt as surreal as the one to Pennsylvania last week. It was a bittersweet feeling, as I am excited to start the new chapter of my life, but also oddly nostalgic and weird because I knew I was about to make one of the most important decisions of my life. When I toured colleges last year, I thought that college was too far away for me to feel like this, even though I am admittedly one of those people who began researching colleges in 8th grade.
Penn was great and I learned a lot about it during my time there. In just one day, my mom and I were introduced to almost the entirety of Penn, including its departments, classes, majors, etc. I really enjoyed how Penn was such a big school, but still felt so small. I met people in Wharton take classes in CAS, students in SEAS (School of Engineering and Applied Science) take classes in Wharton, etc. The combinations were endless, which is good because I don't want to be attached to a particular major/school. Other things about Penn that were great included its social life -- it is not called the Social Ivy for nothing! I feel like most people in Penn really understand to balance school and social lives, which the university almost teaches the students to do. I think this skill is essential, not only in college but also throughout life. The surrounding environment in Penn is vibrant and bustling, as there are always students in nearby restaurants or shops. There is a lot to do around Penn, and though Philadelphia has a bad reputation for being unsafe, Penn is actually one of the safest campuses. The security is camouflaged nicely but always there to make students feel secure and safe.
Admittedly, there were aspects about Penn that were less appealing, too. For example, Penn's CompE program is very new (only 3 years old), which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it has no track record or statistics for students that got industry jobs immediately after graduation or students who went to great graduate schools. Penn is ranked incredibly high for other types of engineering, including Bioengineering, but not for my specific field of study. It isn't too easy to transfer departments, so on the off-chance that I don't like SEAS, I don't have that much liberty to transfer to Wharton or CAS.
Overall, I learned a lot from my final college tour before selecting my future school. It was again a nostalgic experience, as I realized how quickly my high school years are coming to an end. It's a weird thing to think about, but my excitement for college definitely outweighs the somewhat sad feelings.
For now, I am pretty set on matriculating to UC Berkeley for Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Yes, Cal has a reputation for having huge classes and low funding. However, this is not true for EECS majors -- most of my classes are the same size as what classes are in Penn. I'll have the same attention from the professors, the same focus, funding, opportunities, research, and more. I'm extraordinarily excited to be a Cal Bear, especially because Cal just beat Stanford on rankings and took the #2 rank in the world for what I want to study (only behind MIT)! I can't wait for the next four years of my life and what is in my future, and though my future career seems blurry now, I'm sure this time next year will be more clear.
I again thank the ILC for everything it is done for me, including sending me to Penn to tour last weekend. It was eye-opening and exciting and a nice way to conclude touring colleges -- at least for another four years, when I start touring again for possible MBA schools!