My senior year of high school I applied to 19 schools. By April, I was a mess. I thought the hardest part was behind me— writing applications. But then came the most daunting task of all: choosing which school I would actually be attending.
I spent weeks creating pros and cons lists of every university. Eventually, I realized the “Penn pros” were simply incomparable to those of other colleges. While anybody can find community, fun, and great faculty at just about any school, Penn was the only university that offered a traditional campus and a bustling city, a place rich with history but focused on innovation, and, a personal big draw, the Quad.
Perhaps most importantly was this unique balance of city and campus. My friends and I can spend our morning sitting outside in the Quad courtyard while munching on breakfast sandwiches from Lynn’s, the famous food truck located right outside the dorm entrance (a staple in the freshman diet here.) A picturesque college morning spent on the lawn surrounded only by freshmen, historic dorm buildings, and, of course, a bit of work. In the afternoon, I may attend a club meeting, take a walk by the Schuylkill river or even stroll into Rittenhouse square in search of another cute coffee shop. At night I can have a many course meal at the new Hill dining hall, take a quick visit to one of the many restaurants only a block or two away, or eat dinner at a famous restaurant in Center City.
When I have an urge to explore, I can search through the many rooms within the Quad, the six floors of Van Pelt Library, or check out Franklin Field. The next day I might wander into Chinatown, roam around Rittenhouse Square, or visit historic landmarks in Old City. It’s a pretty exciting place to be, whether on campus or even just a few steps off. Penn students don’t have to pick between urban energy or a traditional campus. We get both.
While the city adds a particularly lively element to the classic college experience, Penn’s traditions are what make me most excited. Whether it’s throwing toast at Homecoming, screaming at midnight with your 600+ classmates the night before your first Econ midterm, or attending the freshman toga party there’s something special about each of these silly rituals. Everybody on campus goes through these moments together knowing every Penn student before them has done the same. We all come together to have fun and laugh at ourselves every chance we can.
By May, I stopped making pros and cons lists between schools and simply asked myself;
“When I’m having a bad day, at which school am I going to look up and think, ‘Wow look at where I am. I’m so lucky to be a part of this place.’”
And that place, for me, is Penn.