If there’s one thing I wish I had known about before coming to Penn, it’s the resources and opportunities that Penn and Philly have to offer. While Google searches and Wikipedia pages do have their benefits, Penn students know their campus and surrounding area best. I would have wanted to hear it all from a fellow Penn student, so I will be that student for you.
Everyone knows about Penn’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Student Health Services (SHS), but the following list that I’ve gathered from fellow students encompasses some of the best, lesser-known resources at Penn. Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list, so feel free to list any other resources you’ve found helpful in the comments below.
Penn Benjamins: This is an in-person peer counseling organization run by undergraduate students that offers confidential services and referrals. The peer counselors are specifically trained by CAPS on a weekly basis, so they work closely with psychologists. There are no appointments or sign-ups required, and they even offer free snacks and coffee. If you prefer to vent to somebody your age (rather than a psychologist or an adult) who is outside of your friend group, this is the perfect opportunity for you.
Reach-A-Peer Helpline: This is another support group run specifically by Penn students. Unlike Penn Benjamins, this group can be reached at 215-573-2727 by text 24 hours a day and by call from 9 pm-1 am. This is ideal for anyone who has an emergency crisis and doesn’t mind sharing over the phone, as opposed to in person.
CAPS support groups: In my previous article, I highlighted how the group programs at CAPS can oftentimes be more supportive than one-on-one services. It’s great to find a group of people whose shared experiences allow you to relate and connect to them without pressure or judgement.
Weingarten Learning Resources Center: Weingarten provides free, confidential academic programs and support services for both undergraduate and graduate students, including professional instruction in areas such as study strategies and time management. Weingarten also partners with Penn’s Student Disability Services, which offers professional opportunities and programs for students with disabilities.
Career Services: The Career Services advisors help students with their resumes, job searches, internships, and more. They work with all students (undergraduate, graduate, master’s, doctoral, and postdoc), and have walk-in hours and scheduled advising appointments. Additionally, they provide programs, workshops, and panels for students planning on attending graduate or professional schools after Penn. Their programs are separated by pre-health (includes pre-med, pre-dental, and pre-vet), pre-law, and pre-graduate school.
Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: Called Penn Museum for short, some classes are held here, and many assignments and lectures include a visit to the museum. Admission is free for all Penn students, and it is open to the public as well. Their exhibits and collections are incredibly diverse and extensive; whether you are a history lover or not, this museum is a must-see because you are bound to see something that you’ll like.
Social and Cultural:
LGBT Center: Whether you are a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, in the process of coming out, or uncertain about your gender sexuality or identity, this is a great center and resource. The center offers peer mentorships and hosts several social events throughout the year. Additionally, it includes a lounge with couches and a TV, a kitchen, a library and study space area, and a CyberCenter. Bring your own paper and you can print for free!
Women’s Center: This center aims to promote gender equity as well as empower and support all women, female-identifying people, and feminists. This amazing community sponsors campus-wide events, such as conferences and workshops, as well as student groups that serve as confidential counselors and advocates for women’s rights. Their location right on Locust Walk offers an eco-kitchen, a film and book library, a TV lounge, multiple conference and study rooms, and even a nursing room (which includes a private area for breastfeeding and breast pumping).
La Casa Latina: This is Penn’s Latinx cultural center, which aims to provide a welcoming environment and promote awareness of Latinx culture and issues affecting Latinx/Hispanic people. The center has a unique Familias Mentorship Program to foster tight-knit relationships and a community through mentorship, consisting of an incoming student, a current undergraduate student, a graduate student, and an alumnus.
Makuu: This cultural center celebrates Black culture and the African Diaspora, and it offers cultural, academic, and social support to students and student groups. The center provides mentorship advising, networking opportunities, community building, and leadership development.
Pan-Asian American Community House: PAACH is a community center on campus that celebrates all South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander cultures. Its mission is to educate about Asian-American related issues, provide a supportive community, and advocate for all students. The center collaborates closely with Asian-American student groups as well.
Greenfield Intercultural Center: This is a cultural center whose focus is on minority students and students of color, and whose mission is to advocate for and foster intercultural knowledge, discussion, and interaction. The center has a First-Generation, Low-Income (FGLI) Program that supports FGLI students’ academic, social, and personal growth at Penn. On their website, you can find more information on their Emergency Funds and Opportunity Grants, which serve to provide extra financial assistance to FGLI students in times of need.
Whether you are an incoming freshman or a current student, hopefully this list has shown you at least one new resource that you were not aware of before. Of course, there are many more resources and opportunities here at Penn, and you are bound to find at least one that will make this place feel like home.
BRIDGET YU is a College sophomore from Los Angeles, CA studying Biological Basis of Behavior. She plans to attend medical school and specialize in psychiatry. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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