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Credit: Alec Druggan

Advice is like an armpit: Everyone has one, and most of the time it stinks. As you begin your time at Penn, you'll certainly be bombarded with unsolicited advice from upperclassmen, professors, and other people who most likely have no clue what they’re talking about. So, here’s some from me, a slightly jaded Penn senior who gets to write a letter in the newspaper. 

My advice shouldn’t be taken as gospel, it’s certainly not earth-shattering, and may not even be applicable to you. But it’s what I wish I’d known as a freshman: Put yourself out there. 

Throughout high school I was introverted, and I still am to this day. I had a few close friends, but mostly buried myself in school work and my robotics team. So I was the pinnacle of cool. When I came to Penn, it was a culture shock. As my hallmates were getting ready to go out to the various parties during New Student Orientation, I stayed in my Quad single, homesick and scared of what lay ahead. I called my parents, worried that I wouldn’t make any friends in my new environment. They told me it would be alright, and that I should reach out to people who seemed nice in my hall.

Julia driving her team's robot at a FIRST Tech Challenge competition in 2015.

I took their advice and the next morning, despite being petrified, asked three people on my hall if they wanted to get breakfast at Greek Lady together. We talked over omelettes and got to know one another. It would be nice if I could say that they all became my best friends and we’ve been inseparable ever since, but that wasn’t the case. Still, that experience of putting myself out there and it not being a complete disaster did give me the confidence to continue trying new things. 

You might not meet your best friends instantly, but it gets better as you break through the surface level conversations about where people are from, where they live on campus, and what they’re planning on majoring in (even though not everyone actually knows at this point). 

It was through trying something outside my comfort zone that I found the most formative community of my life — The Daily Pennsylvanian. While the DP may not have the same impact on you, there’s probably something else at Penn that will. So try out for an a cappella group, even if you only sing in the shower. Or reach out to that professor who is slightly intimidating and ask if they want to go out to lunch. Or work out on the second floor of Pottruck even if you aren’t jacked.

It may be scary, and you may get rejected or fail, but you’ll be glad you put yourself out there in the end. Take risks, try new things, and make the Penn community better. Penn is an overwhelming, confusing place that I’m still trying to figure out, but it’s a lot more enjoyable because I asked my hallmates to Greek Lady.

JULIA SCHORR is a College senior from Westport, Conn. studying Fine Arts. Her email address is She is the president of the 135th Board of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc.