For 100 freshmen each year, about 25 percent of whom are athletes, their summers end early as they come to campus and take part in the PennCAP Pre-Freshman Program.
Freshmen from small towns and urban public schools to first-generation college students, in addition to a diverse array of athletes, take part in this program.
The pre-freshman program offers students from different backgrounds the chance to get an academic jump-start on their time at Penn.
“It provides the students an opportunity to come to Penn, get an understanding of the academic rigor and the faculty expectations and get a lay of the land before they begin their academic career in the fall,” said Pamela Edwards, director of PennCAP and PFP.
This is particularly helpful for athletes, who can acclimate to Penn before the year starts, learning how to manage the challenges of academics and their specific sports.
“Having an opportunity to work on time management and get a heads up on what the academic rigors are like here at Penn and how they’re going to balance that with the demands of their sport is really important, and the pre-freshman program gives them an opportunity to at least get a glimpse into that,” she said.
Junior men’s basketball player Dau Jok, who took part in PFP his freshman year, added that it helped him set up a balance between his on-the-court and off-the-court life.
Outside of getting adjusted to the academic rigors early on — they take classes Monday through Friday from approximately 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 in the afternoon — and working out, he made some of his closest friends during his time in the program, from classes and meals at the dining hall to bowling and theme park trips.
“Some of my closest friends are PFP students,” Jok said. “It gives you that balance. When you are at the basketball arena or the football field, you are with those guys. It gives another outlet. It gives you another family.
“While everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off, you already have friends, you are already settled in.”
For current freshmen, these same principles hold true.
“PFP was just fun,” freshman quarterback Andrew Lisa said. “I met a lot of people — athletes and non-athletes. It really helped me get a jump start on the work load and helped me figure out what type of work I was going to have, and it really got me adjusted to Penn both academically and non-academically.”
Freshman offensive lineman Daniil Lysenko agreed that the program helped with the adjustment period.
“It gave you a headstart both academically — it lets you get a feel of how the teachers are and how the courses are going to be — and you just get up here and feel the atmosphere,” the Texas native said.
Though academically challenging, the benefits of the program outweighed the loss of a month of summer.
“I wasn’t at the beach with my friends a lot like I would be every other summer, but it was more advantageous than disadvantageous,” Lisa said.
Additionally, the two freshmen were able to get on the field early, begin lifting and meet the coaches and fellow teammates.
There is no other experience quite like this at Penn.
“It becomes one of your best resources at Penn,” Jok said. “If you’re struggling, you can make a phone call or just walk over to the PFP office and say you need help with something.
“They’re always there to help you. They become an extension of your experience at Penn and become a pretty vital part, in my opinion. Rarely will you get the chance to be put in the environment you are in [than] in PFP.”