Thursday, July 10, 2014

Philadelphia "Phun"

I woke up today feeling very excited and I couldn't wait for the activities planned for the day. I think I was mostly excited for our train ride from Washington, D.C. into Philadelphia. I've been on a train a handful of times and for some reason, I found this two hour train ride very exciting. Unfortunately I didn't get to fully enjoy it because about five minutes into the ride, I fell asleep and it wasn't until our chaperon Alie woke us up saying that our stop was coming up next. I’m kind of bummed that I missed out on fully enjoying the train ride but then again, we had an early morning and a full day ahead so it was beneficial for me to get in as much sleep as I could.

Liberty Bell
When we got to Philadelphia, we had a little time to kill before we had our tour so we decided to make a quick stop and see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We saw the Liberty Bell first and I was shocked to see that it had a lot of influence in America as it was used by different movements. Throughout history, the Liberty Bell has been used by many groups as a symbol for hope. After a walk through at the Liberty Bell showroom, we walked across the park and went to Independence Hall. If we had more time, we would have been able to go inside but we had our tour at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) to get to so we did a little recap of Independence Hall and all the historical events that took place there.

After our time in downtown Philadelphia, we took a cab to UPenn for our tour and info session afterwards. UPenn seemed to be a popular place to go for tours because it was crowded with a lot of people and we had to be split up into five or four smaller groups. Once the smaller groups were formed, we started to make our way around the campus. The buildings on campus were all mostly made of red bricks and there are a lot of trees around so there was definitely plenty of shade. On our tour, one of the buildings we passed was designed and built by one of UPenn’s former students. He was an architect major and he got an F on his final project which happened to be that very building. He went on to be very famous and successful in life so he came back to UPenn, wanting to give back but he refused to build anything other than that assignment he got an F on. To me, I felt that this meant that even if there were some less than pleasant memories from Upenn, its students do appreciate the time that they had there and they do want to give back to their school.

Chatting With My Buddy Benjamin Franklin
When the tour we had some time to kill before our info session was supposed to start so we explored some of the buildings and statues. We walked to the engineering side of the university to see the buildings better because we weren't able to on the tour. All of the engineering students have to design a project and actually build it before they graduate. Some of the students’ ideas have been lucky enough to get recognized and bought by some companies. The campus featured a lot of Ben Franklin statues in his honor because he was the one who founded UPenn. My favorite one was of him sitting on a bench and reading a paper and I couldn't help it and I had to take a picture.

Cohort Group Picture
Once we were done exploring, we went to our info session on the campus. The presentation was made by
Jayson and he works for the admissions office at UPenn. I found the advice that he gave about writing your personal statement the most useful from the info session. He said that if you were to drop your personal statement anywhere in your school without your name on it, a person could read it and from that they would know it was you. Personally, I feel like the real purpose of your personal statement which is to articulate who you really are has been lost and I feel like some people who are applying only focus on what they feel like the school wants to hear. This was definitely refreshing to hear from somebody like Jayson who actually knows what schools are looking for.

After the info session, we went to Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse for our alumni dinner. We were joined by an admissions counselor, Frank, a regional director of admissions, Alexandra, and three students, Carol Kingston, and Johnathon. At this point, I feel like I’m a pro at meeting new people so this time I had no problem introducing myself and asking our guests questions. I sat next to Frank who is an admissions counselor and it was really insightful because he shared things with me that I didn't know was done and he also helped me clear up any confusion I might have had about their applications. He confirmed what Jayson said in the info session about being genuine in your personal essay and letting who you truly are come out instead of a false image that you present. I learned a lot about what he does and from what I heard, it is a lot of work. He says that when you go through a student’s application, that you need to sort of restart yourself and really focus on devoting the next 8-15 minutes of your time to the paper in front of you. He works many hours a day when it comes time to go through the applications but he says there are moments when it’s all worth it. Frank shared a story of when his admissions group decided to call one of the students and tell them that they had been accepted into UPenn. The student instantly began to cry and it was evident that that phone call was one of the best things that have ever happened to him. This, Frank says, is one of the things that make his job worth it in the end.
UPenn Alumni Lunch
Although UPenn has a wonderful campus and many wonderful and great programs, I didn't really click with the school. When we visited WashU, I liked the community and the relationship that the students and staff had together, Georgetown was right there with what I am interested in doing and the people we met and talked to only made me like Georgetown even more but with UPenn, I didn't find anything that pulled me strongly towards the school. I will say that the people there gave some great advice on applying and making sure that we pick the right school that is the right fit for us. Even though I didn't click with UPenn as much as I did with the other school, I won’t forget all the advice that was given to me throughout my visit.

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