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There are two types of people — those that play Candy Land and those that play Chutes and Ladders.

Personally, I’ve always preferred strolling through the Peppermint Forests of Candy Land to wading through the heavy-handed moralism that Chutes and Ladders imposes. Hell, I’d even take on the Molasses Swamp before being berated about raiding the cookie jar or reading comic books.

But lately, with my days at Penn numbered (22 to be exact), I’ve become acutely aware that my time here is more like Chutes and Ladders than I’d like to admit. True, you could construct a Penn/Candyland allegory where Penn President Amy Gutmann is Queen Frostine, Locust Walk is Gumdrop Pass and Former Admissions Dean Lee Stetson is the mysterious Lord Licorice holed up in his licorice castle. But, while delightful, this allegory isn’t particularly helpful.

For those of you in need of a refresher, Chutes and Ladders is a classic Milton Bradley game in which players navigate a board consisting of squares linked by a network of chutes (slides) and ladders. Each square teaches a moral lesson. The squares on the bottom of the ladders show a child doing a good or sensible deed (baking a birthday cake, planting flowers, saving animals) and at the top of the ladder we see the same child reaping the benefits of that good deed. At the top of the chutes, there are pictures of children engaging in mild mischief (chasing cats, breaking dishes, playing in the rain) and the images on the bottom show the child suffering the consequences. Much like a Penn education, it can be enjoyed by anyone with a basic understanding of cause and effect.

For example, I helped the random naked girl passed out in my bathroom and have stories to tell for the rest my life — LADDER

I applied for an undergraduate research grant to study grain elevators in Minnesota and received it —


I traveled to Minnesota in January and nearly died in a snowbank (overachieving is apparently a no no as well) — CHUTE

I spent so many nights in the architecture studio that I no longer recognize my bed, and have probably shaved four years off my life expectancy — CHUTE

I spent those hellish nights in the studio with people who get it — MAJOR (pun intended) LADDER

I worked at the Penn Writing Center all four years for bosses that became more like therapists — HEARTFELT LADDER

I Feb-Clubbed like a pro, crossed a dozen things off my graduation bucket list and reconnected with friends — LADDER

I didn’t wear sunscreen on spring break (one of the few bad decisions from my trip that I can put in print) —


I flung too hard in the rain and now have the plague (seriously, I’ve been in bed for nearly a week) — CHUTE

I signed the senior Hey Day pledge and was rewarded with beer (well played, Penn) — LADDER

I drank too much of said beer and passed out by 8 p.m. — CHUTE

And finally, I was enslaved at this newspaper, first as a design editor and then as a columnist — It’s been more like a jungle gym. There have been plenty of both chutes and ladders … and tons of screaming (“Iowa or bust” anyone?). I’ve met some of my best friends and heard some of the juiciest gossip.

If my board-game ramblings seem completely random, forgive me, but I’m a nostalgic second-semester senior. And at this point, nothing is more comforting than envisioning the world in terms of childhood pastimes. Maybe if I were in Wharton, this would be a Monopoly column. But alas, I am a liberal arts kid through and through — LADDER.

Ashley Takacs is a College senior from Buffalo, NY. She is a former DP design editor. Her e-mail address is Ash Wednesday appeared on Wednesdays. Ashley plans to pursue a career in architecture.

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