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Ninety-nine percent of all first-year undergraduate students coming to Penn live on campus, but when it comes to Penn’s graduate population, that figure is less than six percent.

In addition, most undergraduates who move off campus live in housing close to Penn, while graduate students tend to live in either Center City or quieter areas of University City.

When only one of Penn’s residence houses — Sansom Place — offers graduate student housing, it isn’t difficult to see that on-campus housing options for graduate students are limited.

However, the reasons behind the relative scarcity of graduate students residing close to campus reflect many aspects of the graduate experience, from not needing to be on campus on a daily basis to wanting to build a social life amidst the young professionals in Center City.

Before even arriving at Penn for orientation week each fall, undergraduates already have a lot in common, from their age to the duration of their stay at Penn.

In contrast, graduate students can be 21-year-olds who just finished college or 35-year-olds who have children. Their programs can last as little as one year or as long as 10.

Because of these differences among the graduate population, “finding a place to live is the biggest stress for incoming graduate students,” said Director of the Graduate Student Center Anita Mastroieni.

The center has been running housing webinars along with Penn Off-Campus Services since spring 2011.

Manager of Off-Campus and Customer Services Peter Gemmellaro said, “It would be impossible to target all students on one day when they’re all on campus.”

Gemmellaro said Off-Campus Services has also recently revamped their website to allow for accepted students to create profiles and familiarize themselves with the many resources available, before even deciding to enroll at Penn.

“The graduate scholastic experience is a lot more focused,” Mastroieni said. “So it makes sense that the housing experience be more streamlined.”

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