pictures from greenfest, penn garden planting, mitzva day at wellness community cancer care center Credit: Mordechai Treiger

In the past two weeks, high schoolers descended on Locust Walk, Penn paraphenalia in hand and parents at their sides, hoping that a campus visit will help them make the most important decision of their lives.

These are the accepted students for the class of 2014, and they were here for Penn Preview Days, which Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said include “a number of changes” this year.

Students and their families are now invited to dine in the dining halls, and Penn Admissions added a new activity called “Meet the Class of 2014,” which brings visiting students together for a question and answer session with a current Penn undergraduate. Furda likened the session to the peer advisor group meetings during New Student Orientation.

Unlike other peer institutions such as Columbia University, Penn Preview Days do not include an overnight stay.

“When I first arrived, I was surprised that there wasn’t an overnight component but I took a step back to assess it,” Furda said.

He concluded that by not having an overnight portion “we are not hurting ourselves,” since Penn’s yield is not showing a disadvantage. He also said finding students to host visitors is challenging and creates a large responsibility for the University.

Darien High School senior Aki Tas, who has already committed to matriculating at Penn, said he’d prefer if the University had an overnight preview day, but his visit nonetheless “made [him] feel confident about choosing Penn.”

By having an overnight stay, Tas said students could get a better feel for the social aspect of the University, as well as the academic advantages. “I found out about the academics and extracurricular activities, but not the night life and social scene,” he said.

Ardrey Kell High School senior Max Nagle felt the same, wishing that he could spend the night. “My mother and I stayed at the Inn at Penn, which is convenient, but it would help to also see the nightlife,” he said.

Dan Johnson from the Inn at Penn said while business is fairly consistent year round, “whenever Penn has something planned involving parents, business usually picks up a little.”

Nagle, who was accepted into the School of Engineering and Applied Science, said his favorite part of his visit was when he spoke to an Engineering professor and a senior working on his thesis.

“By 12:30 I was convinced I would be choosing Penn,” he said.

Nagle also enjoyed having the freedom to explore the campus, because he doesn’t believe you can get a “good vibe” from a school if too much is scheduled into one day.

High school senior Amanda Alexander will be able to stay overnight since she is participating in Penn’s Multicultural Scholars preview day. “I’m really excited about this portion of the day,” she said, and she was looking forward to watching the various performing arts groups she will be able to join.

Lexington High School senior Danielle Holman enjoyed interacting with fellow accepted students and said she has “really liked the visit so far.” Holman was glad she came because it will impact where she decides to matriculate on May 1.

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