A Student Review of the University of Pennsylvania

Sean earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in GMAT tutoring, algebra tutoring, and a number of other subjects. Below, he shares his experience at the University of Pennsylvania:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options. 

Sean: The University of Pennsylvania is located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, a vibrant part of downtown Philly also home to Drexel University and the University of the Sciences. While the area surrounding campus is urban, the campus itself is beautiful, safe, and quiet and offers a respite from city life. The public transportation options include a subway and an extensive bus system. It can be useful to have a bike to get around; having a car is a luxury and not necessary.

How vailable are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Sean: My professors, teaching assistants, and academic advisers were all accessible and willing to meet with students to discuss class matters. The professors and TAs held regular office hours. Students could meet with academic advisors by setting appointments or just dropping in.

How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Sean: UPenn offers a variety of dorm options to meet different students’ needs. The quad is the largest dorm complex, housing thousands of undergraduates and embodying the typical college living experience. The high rises, where I spent my first two years, are three 24-story apartment buildings with private bedrooms and in-suite kitchens and baths.

Dining halls are located either within the dorm or a short walk away and offer great food at reasonable prices. There are plenty of opportunities for students to socialize, whether it be just hanging out in one of the dorm's recreation rooms or group outings organized by resident advisors.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? 

Sean: UPenn offers a wide variety of top undergraduate programs, including business, engineering, communications, nursing, and liberal arts. I double majored in economics and psychology, due to an intrinsic curiosity in the two subjects. I also took advantage of the opportunity to take classes in a wide array of disciplines, from chemistry to gender studies. The university offered support for any student expressing an interest.

How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Sean: I found it relatively easy to meet people and make friends as a freshman. The first week of school was marked by several events organized by either the school or the dorm for students to gather and socialize with one another. Many of the students I met that first week I remained friends with throughout my time at UPenn. Greek life also offered plenty of opportunities to meet friends. There are over 50 fraternities and sororities at UPenn, and more than 25 percent of students decide to join one of these organizations.

How helpful are the Career Center and other student support services? 

Sean: There are a multitude of support services for student development available to all those who wish to take advantage of them. This includes career support services. As an Ivy League institution attracting the best and the brightest, many reputable companies come to campus for recruiting.

How are the various study areas, such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Sean: There are many readily-available study areas, ranging from quiet cafes to the vast expanses of the various campus libraries. Personally, I spent a lot of time in the private study rooms in the Wharton School’s Huntsman building. These rooms, which students can book online, are equipped with a computer and smartboard.

Describe the surrounding town.

Sean: UPenn is located in downtown Philadelphia. The city offers a multitude of entertainment options, including museums (the Mutter Museum of medical oddities is a must-visit), historical sites, the vibrant South Street corridor, professional sports, and everything else you would expect in a major city. It’s quite common for students to venture into the surrounding neighborhoods to explore everything Philadelphia has to offer.

How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Sean: There are around 10,000 undergraduate students at UPenn. Classes range in size from large lectures with over a hundred students to small classes with five or 10 students. I never had any issues with the class sizes.

Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Sean: My most memorable experience was the over two years I spent with my mentor Dr. Steven Sayers. I took a small psychology seminar with Dr. Sayers and was lucky enough to be offered a research assistant position with him studying psychology and medical treatment adherence at the nearby Philadelphia veterans hospital. There, Dr. Sayers went out of his way to teach me the intricacies of research design, data gathering, statistical analysis, and manuscript preparation. He was also generous enough to give me credit on his published research papers and bring me to a conference in Salt Lake City to present our findings.


Check out Sean’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.