Student Perspectives: University of Pennsylvania

Are you interested in learning about America's top colleges from the perspective of current college students? We'll be visiting current college students to get the inside scoop about what makes these universities great and what's completely different than expected. Follow along to learn more!

Gretchen and Murilo took a road trip to University of Pennsylvania to take a campus tour and chat briefly with a random student. Read below to learn all about UPenn from the perspective of a current Junior.

What's special about UPenn?

I really like the location. I'm biased because I am from Philly so I know the city really well, and one of the things that made me want to stay in this area is that I love how diverse Philadelphia is. There's a lot of corners and niches that are so special and amazing and make Philadelphia really unique. One of the places I like to go is the Magic Gardens. It's in South Philly, which is very, very Italian, so there is excellent Italian food. There's South Street, LOVE Park, Britain House Square, and many other great areas off campus. 

Do you leave campus a lot?

It is what you make of it. A lot of students come here and are scared of the city, but if you're willing to explore, it's so great. But honestly, if you stick to the campus, that's also not the worst thing. That's another thing I really like about Penn. There are many colleges that have either a rural or urban experience, and at UPenn you get the best of both worlds because you can stick to campus and be happy, or you can go out and experience the city. 

Is there a large international presence on campus?

There's a community here for International students and a lot of different cultures. The presence isn't huge, but it's larger than other schools in Philadelphia. On the other hand, Wharton is one of the top business schools, and draws a large international population who want to major in international affairs or finances or engineering. 

What is the dynamic like between the various colleges? 

In general, it feels like we all attend the same school, but there's healthy competitions between the colleges-- some tension, but in good fun overall. Although, sometimes being part of the other colleges we feel that Wharton students are more preferred by the school (or themselves) and there's a bit of favoritism from the administration. Those students get free printing. Other students don't get free printing! Also, the nursing school is very separate from the other colleges. But I think that's because they're just so busy and have so much work all the time. 

What are the classes like?

The classes are hard. I have friends, also from Philly, who are attending other universities both here in the area and elsewhere, and we're taking the same classes, but my course load is much more difficult. It's an intense atmosphere. 

Favorite study spot?

I really like Van Pelt Library, however, favorite study spots depend on where classes are located and what school students are in. For example, engineering students study in Towne, an engineering building on campus. Van Pelt is the main library with a button in the front. I liked studying there because there's a lot of chatter, and I can't study in complete silence. I'll fall asleep! And in Van Pelt, if you get sick of your study spot, there's always a new spot to study with a change of scenery. I also like the Undergraduate Study Center (USC), and that's open 24/7, so I've frequented there quite a few times.

What is student housing like?

Most students live on campus or close to campus. I think it would be really hard to commute. I've lived in the quad, which is freshman housing in the center of campus, and I loved it there! Last year, I lived in the high rises. It's a wide open space with beautiful grounds and high rise buildings-- apartment style living. One of the high rises is only for upperclassmen. Again, I loved this housing! But it was expensive. I am currently living off-campus, but I'm in apartments just across the street, so I can get to my classes really quickly and easily. 

Is it typical to live on campus for the first two years and off campus the last two?

Most students don't live on campus past their Sophomore year. And a lot of students move off campus after their freshman year. However, there are a good amount of Juniors and Seniors living on-campus, so there's something for everyone. 

Fun fact about UPenn?

Locust Walk is the main walkway that goes through campus diagonally. Seniors all walk down the Locust Walk on the day of graduation. And at the end of Junior year (before finals), we have Hey Day, where students where these funny styrofoam caps with a bite taken out of them, carry a cane, and walk down Locust Walk. Everyone also gets a free shirt! 


See more student perspectives here.