Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Gosh Where Have You Been All My Life?

As I open my laptop to blog about my day, only one thing came to my mind over and over again. A sense of comfort, and of home. The agenda of today revolved around the wonderful school known as the University of Pennsylvania, or more commonly known as UPENN. The combination of the lovely informational session, the campus tour, and the dinner with the alumni/staff really made me feel like UPENN was definitely a school to seriously consider applying to, and hopefully attending as well.

Now each of the 3 factors stated above each had a unique role in swaying me to the UPENN side of the force. First off, the informational session. The previous day we visited Princeton and also listened to an informational session, however I did notice some very key differences in the two sessions. The most notable one was just the person who delivered it. Princeton's was much more serious, and a little bland to be honest. It didn't feel like the speaker had the spark nor the energy that the UPENN speaker had. The UPENN speaker was engaging, humorous, and I have to admit aesthetically appealing. Even though her beauty obviously beats out a male's, such as Princeton's speaker, the energy and excitement for her school really beat out Princeton's speaker. One might as why would the speaker really make that much of a difference, but I look at it at the bigger picture. This person is a representation of the staff of the school, and would you want to go to a school with an average energy staff, or an energetic staff who not only loves their school but shows it as well? I think the answer is quite obvious. It wasn't just the personalities of the speakers that got me but the information as well. The Princeton speaker told me good information, but it really didn't get me to love the school. It stressed certain things such as a liberal arts education and multiple majors/minors, but nothing seemed to pop. The UPENN speaker really emphasized that point, and more. What I really got from UPENN was learning, for the sake of learning.

Secondly, the tour. Here is where it equals out a bit more in terms of the energy in the people on campus. Both the Princeton tour guide and the UPENN tour guide were both good tour guides. Both were well versed in the customs and traditions of their respective schools, both knew about the majority of the majors there and the way things were run. Student life, recreational activities, academics were covered pretty well by both of them. However as equal as the people were, the campuses are completely different. The first difference was the general location. Princeton is located in a quiet little town, that basically revolves around the college, this reminded me greatly of UC Davis back home. UPENN was completely opposite. UPENN is an urban campus, and instead of it being a one way street in terms of the city-college relationship its evenly balanced. UPENN and the wonderful city of Philadelphia complement each other to almost a perfect degree, the students can wander the city to explore its endless wonders, and the city has its own local Ivy School in which to gain a wide breadth of resources. The location accounts for the rest of the differences in the campuses. Princeton was indeed beautiful, but its beauty seems very limited now. What I mean by that is that the campus feels completely bordered out. One can obviously tell where Princeton starts and ends, and that all of its architecture and wonders are all concentrated in that little area. UPENN feels much more open to the community that it is in. It's borders are a blend of the college itself and Philadelphia. It's hard to explain what it is exactly about UPENN's campus that attracts me so much, but it's just that feeling, deep inside that gives off a sense of home.

The final event of today was the dinner, and (I know I said this about the Princeton dinner) was one of the best dinners that I've had with the ILC. It stunned me at first at the sheer number of representatives we had from UPENN, ranging all the way from current students, to alumni, to members of the board of admissions. I had the pleasure to sit near all three kind of people. David Toomer, a man who worked in the admissions office for undergrads, was sitting on my right. Shawn Chen, a rising junior at UPENN majoring in both business and engineering, was diagonally in front of me to my right. Finally Sam Gilbert, a recently graduated mechanical engineer now in grad school for vets, was diagonally in front of me to my left. All of their input was very informational and really helped me get a sense for what life would be like if I were to attend UPENN. Both Shawn and Sam told me how great of a community UPENN was, how many events there were year-round, basically how much they love going there. Both Sam and Shawn explained to me their majors, and it all seemed very interesting. I liked how they both had something to do with engineering, which, as of today, I am especially interested in. I got an idea for how things work in their engineering department, and the different options you could do. David Toomer talked with me about his experience with UPENN. He also said he really enjoyed working there, however I didn't talk with him too much about the admissions process. I remember asking him if there was any advice he could give to a prospecting UPENN student, what would it be. His reply "well you have to make sure you challenge yourself, and keep up your grades. Besides that you just have to give us a sense of who you are through your the rest of your application." These words, although very true, are easier said than done. I plan on emailing all of them in the future to help me with the application process.

UPENN blew my mind today. I felt like I was opened up to an entirely new world. The buildings, the atmosphere, and the general way of life. I have to say that UPENN is an amazing school and for once I feel the feeling "my gosh, this is definitely going on my college application list no matter what!" I extend a warm blanket of thanks on everyone today who helped both myself and the rest of my ILC cohorts. This includes the lady at the information session, Alex my tour guide, David, Shawn, Sam, and all of the other wonderful dinner guests who dined with me tonight.

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