I have returned from my 4 day college tour of Penn, and I had a blast! From sitting in an in-depth history lecture to taking a look at Princeton and eating a cheesecake at Naked Chocolate (delicious), I was able to pack a lot of wonderful and valuable experiences into my brief stay. I just returned home, but I miss the East Coast already! (Perhaps not so much the weather, although I think I got used to it in the end. Cali seemed a bit too warm when I got back... how strange!)
My trip was not only an enjoyable excursion but also an extremely important one. By having the chance to be at Penn with classes in session and student life flourishing, I felt what it would be like as an actual student at the university. This firsthand interaction, in turn, definitely allowed me to realize how much I love Penn's rich culture and want to be a part of it. This realization, although quite simple, was attained through a long process of personal experience and consideration.
As a high schooler from the West Coast, I grew up in an environment where most students want and expect to go into the University of California system for college. With this kind of mindset, I never even considered applying to the University of Pennsylvania until the Ivy League Connection gave me the opportunity to go to Penn's summer Biomedical Research program. After spending an amazing summer at Penn (refer to my "Looking Back to Move Forward" post from last August), I gradually shed my narrow minded college preferences and began to consider Penn as one of my top choices for my undergraduate education.
Then, it was not until this recent visit that I began to consider Penn my first choice for furthering my studies. By touring the school, sitting in classes, and speaking with people on campus, I felt immersed in Penn's bustling college life, and immensely enjoyed it. I got a glimpse of the academic rigor presented by the university, and feel that such a stimulating environment can help draw out my potential and prepare myself for life in the outside world. In addition, life on the East Coast is so utterly different from life back here in California, and I realize that attending Penn can diversify my various perspectives and point of views.
Going through this process myself allows me to help my peers consider college on the East Coast as well. By telling friends and classmates about my fantastic experiences at Penn, I feel like I am making a difference by helping students realize the wide expanse of opportunities actually available to them. In turn, I hope students in this new college-going culture will work for their goals and challenge themselves to grow into even better academically achieving individuals. (By the way, please stay tuned for a special college-going culture blog... it is in progress. I will post the link to it on this blog once it is presentable.)
Having the opportunity to be at Penn, both over the summer and President's week, has effectively opened my mind to greater horizons, provided me with priceless lessons, and allowed me to meet great people and make some wonderful friends. I would like to extend my immense gratitude to those who made it possible-- Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg, for all your hard work in the Ivy League Connection program, and extending it to students throughout the district to let them explore options in their academic endeavors and succeed. Don, for never failing to respond with wise, well thought out comments to all my posts, and always giving me encouragement and insight. June, for endlessly helping me get to know Penn's people and culture, finding my way around town and around life, and almost everything else. My parents, for always patiently giving me advice, and guiding me toward better decisions. Last but not least, I would like to give a big thank you to all of ILC's sponsors! Without the support of our sponsors, this amazing program would be inconceivable, and this incredible journey I have gone through would have never been.