Friday, July 6, 2012

Philly and More D.C.

Today was our last day in Washington D.C.! Well, technically it was our last half-day because until 3:30 PM, we were at the fifth largest city in the U.S., Philadelphia. I have never been on a long trip on a train, and it was a great experience. The train stations are amazing, although judging from D.C.’s and Philadelphia’s stations along with Mr. Mannix’s input about them all looking similar, they all seem like they’re made by the same architect.

                                                                           The train station in Philly!
One thing that I believe UPenn wished to emphasize in the presentation (and a little bit of the tour) was its wide range of academics. At Duke, there are many courses available, over 3,000. At UPenn, there are over 4,200. From coordinated dual degrees, such as a class that mixes psychology and biology, to taking classes in any of their four schools. It’s also great that the College of Arts and Sciences at UPenn doesn’t have any course requirements, so I can truly explore if I apply at that school, which I probably would if I applied here. Nonetheless, any of the four schools here are very liberal and encourage students to explore. To be honest, however, all the three schools that my cohort and I have visited so far—Duke, Georgetown, and Upenn—have very similar academics and are pretty liberal in their academic choices. They all encourage students to try courses that they wouldn’t think would interest them at first. They have a large number of courses available, and their classes could be pretty small or pretty big. Still, I believe Duke is the most liberal because you’re really only applying for one school, unless you want to be an engineer. I know that any of these schools would give me a great academic education and will help me to graduate and get me far in life. So when it comes down to picking a right school for me, I don’t just want a good academic education, but a good environment for me to live in for four years. And to be honest, Duke has sold me out; I don’t see any flaws in Duke, except for the fact it’s so far from home and that North Carolina wouldn’t be my first state choice.
Ben Franklin--Penn's founder!
So, would I see myself at UPenn Fall of 2013? I’m not really sure. Yes, I love the city, but Philadelphia doesn’t seem like my kind of city from the first impression it’s made on me. It reminds me a little bit of Oakland. Don’t get me wrong, UPenn’s security is one of the best, and according to our tour guide, he never felt unsafe. I think perhaps if we stayed longer in Philadelphia, I might’ve connected more with the city. The campus itself, however, is beautiful, and some parts are enclosed which makes it sometimes feel as if you’re in your own little town when the city is right next door.  
"And by the end of this pathway, you'll probably have about 20 flyers by the different student organizations here."-our tour guide
 UPenn had no problem making it seem their school was EXTREMELY difficult to get in. It's probably because everyone knows it is, but the administration don't have to make it seem harder than it already is. When I saw the AP scores you had to have to pass out of one of certain subjects, most of them had to be a 5. All the requirements--essays, interview, letters of recommendations (admissions officer said was crucial), TEST SCORES, and extra curriculars--just seem so overwhelming. Of course, I still might apply here, but I guess I'll have to do some more research of my own of this school.
One great part of my day today was seeing Cameron Fulton, who is currently in the Social Justice Program at UPenn. We were really excited to see someone we knew from our school more than 3,000 miles away from our home. It's sad we didn't get to eat together, but that's okay--I'll see this guy back home at Band Camp.

After the train back home, we finally visited the Lincoln Memorial and the MLK Memorial. They were just extraordinary, and our time at D.C. this evening was a time of great picture taking and more fun times with my cohort. It was definititely much more humid in D.C. than Philadelphia, which is always great right?
Outside Lincoln Memorial

We wound up eating dinner at a Japanese restaurant, and it was very tasty. It was a great way to end the day.
A slide?

It is actually very interesting how the ILC has arranged the schools we’re visiting. Duke is a suburban school. Georgetown is an urban school but more away from the main part of the city of Washington D.C. UPenn is practically an all-out urban school. It’s in the heart of the city, with police, ambulance, and fire truck sirens sounding off every five minutes; this is because there are three hospitals very close by. The ILC really wanted us to get a taste of the different types of school environments we would have when applying to the East Coast, and I just realized that when I was on the tour at Penn. Like I said before, the academics are all very similar, but the environments are way different. I wish we could’ve visited another totally urban college like UPenn, such as Columbia, but that’s okay. With that said, I’m super excited for Vanderbilt!
The side of MLK.

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