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To newcomers, Penn seems like a lively community with so much to offer. However, beyond the cheery pamphlets and welcoming smiles of tour guides, Penn harbors a complex web of decisions that all students struggle to navigate. With students juggling so many different activities, it’s almost impossible to have it all. In fact, it’s very possible to have none of it.
“It’s all about prioritization,” says Wharton and Engineering senior Jessica Michaels (W '18, E ‘18). Michaels is a student in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology dual-degree program between the Wharton School of Business and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She is pursuing two degrees in computer science and finance, and will begin employment at J.P. Morgan this summer.
Michaels offers the following advice on balancing school work and social life: “It’s easy to be overwhelmed by everything that is going on, but it’s important to take a step back and realize that with proper time management and discipline, you can make the most of your time here at Penn. Sure, you won’t always be able to hang out with your friends all week and get an A on your midterm, but it’s about doing what matters to you.”
“I’m pretty confident in saying that this is just completely false,” responded College freshman Harold Linder. "I can definitively say that neither my grades nor my social life are remotely close to an adequate level. The last time I went out was during NSO, and I’m only taking two classes because I failed three midterms. Honestly, I’m not even that upset. I was kind of just expecting one or the other, but I guess this is fine, too.”
Linder expresses uncertainty about the future. “I hope things get better, but I think I’m getting used to this now,” he explains. “It’s good to lower your expectations, I’m pretty sure. It just makes you find happiness in smaller things, right?”