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Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 04/ 4/2010

College Tour '10: University of Pennsylvania

By Valerie Strauss

University of Pennsylvania
From a parent

We found Penn to be very pre-professional. They talk a lot about the [renowned] business school, Wharton, on the general tour. They take you inside the building. It put us off.

The other thing about Penn is that the admissions officer and tour guide talked a lot about being in the Ivy League. Nobody at the other Ivy League schools we visited did that, unless they talked about sports, which is what the Ivy League actually is.

We did like the fact that it was right in the middle of Philadelphia, which has a lot to offer.

There is not guaranteed housing after freshmen year. Most people don’t have trouble finding a place to live, but they aren’t all living on the campus together.

This is one in a series of reports that parents and students are contributing about their campus tours this spring. If you have visited a school and would like to participate, email me a brief report at You can find out more about College Tour ’10 and how to write about your college visit here.

Go to to see more college posts in the series.

By Valerie Strauss  | April 4, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  College Tour '10, University of Pennsylvania  
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Next: College Tour '10: Brown University


Though Wharton does cast a large shadow (both literally and figuratively), I would not say that Penn as a whole is "very pre-professional." I attended as an undergrad (and also a graduate) and found that the wharton/business/pre-professional experience was there if you wanted it. I took a few Wharton classes, but I also took figure sculpting from the Design School, engineering classes, and a host of varying courses from the College of Arts and Sciences (my actual degree granting school). I took advantage of Penn's one university policy and feel that it enriched my academic experience immensely. Without it, I may not have made the jump from the sciences, which I still like, into architecture, which I now love. Wharton is prestigious and famous, so they are going to show you around, but don't let one college tour experience color your whole notion of the university. Penn can be as much about The Kelly Writers House as it is about Wharton.

Finally, though the Ivy League is at its core an athletic conference, there is no denying that that the academic connotation has surpassed the athletic designation. Penn, for different reasons, is probably the least well known member of this group, so yes, this can lead to an overcompensation and maybe an overuse of the phrase "ivy league." But I wouldn't fault the school for staking its claim as a great academic institution.

Posted by: joshuamev | April 5, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

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