Dear Future Baby Quakers,
First and foremost, congratulations on your acceptance to Penn! College may or may not be the best four years of your life, but either way, the next few years will be an interesting ride and you will learn more about yourself than ever before.
There are many things I wish I had known upon getting accepted early decision to Penn. Here are a few of the most prominent:
Getting accepted ED does not mean Penn will be your dream school forever. In fact, I applied ED to Penn because I was positive that it was my “dream school,” but not too long after, I applied to transfer out of Penn my freshman year (I eventually chose between Penn and Brown, but decided to stay at Penn for personal reasons). This may sound like I don’t know what I want, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. I took some “soul-searching” time to find out what I wanted from my college experience. For example, I recognized that Brown University (my top transfer choice at the time) had a student atmosphere that is more focused on exploration and on the learning process itself rather than being too career-oriented or “pre-professional.” However, I ultimately, I wanted what was best for me in terms of my academic and social environment. It’s not that I don’t think I can thrive at Penn (I am tremendously grateful for my experience here so far), but that perhaps I can thrive better elsewhere. In short, your “dream school” will likely change throughout your undergraduate years, as you too will change, as will your goals and aspirations.
It’s OK to change your major; your career path does not need to be set in stone. While I personally had a fairly solid idea of what I wanted to pursue for my career, I can assure you that it is more than OK to be unsure, or even to have no clue what you want to do with the rest of your life. Such a big decision takes years. On a similar note, it’s OK to be undecided, and I highly recommend taking classes in different fields to see what you’re interested in. Many students come into Penn undecided or unsure of what they might want to pursue, more than you might think. I personally have many friends who changed from pre-med to pre-law, or who came in undecided and ended up majoring in PPE, or transferring to Wharton. Remember, there’s no reward for picking your major first, so take as much time as you need and explore all your options.
Getting accepted ED by no means indicates that you will have a smoother college career, so do not assume that you have your college experience figured out already. Your college career is far from set, and while this seems obvious now, before I matriculated into Penn I did not have that mindset. I genuinely believed that because I had applied ED, I had done my research and knew what I wanted for my undergraduate career: the clubs I wanted to join, the kinds of roommates and friends I wanted to have, the classes I wanted to take, etc. But like I mentioned earlier, who you are as a person will change, as will your needs and aspirations. Therefore, more likely or not, you will still experience bumps along the road during your undergraduate experience; getting accepted ED does not mean you will have a smoother-sailing undergraduate process than a regular decision applicant. Either way, just remember that there is no way you can predict the next four years of your life, so expect the unexpected.
Make the most out of your senior year once you get accepted ED to Penn, or any college for that matter. It’s quite common for high school seniors to start slacking off once they get accepted into college. Four years of hard work finally paid off, right? In fact, there’s a name for it: senioritis. While you may already know where you’re headed for the next four years, chances are your fellow peers are still figuring that out. College is remarkably different than high school, and you will likely miss at least some parts of it, so enjoy it while you can.
All the best,
BRIDGET YU is a College sophomore from Los Angeles, CA studying Psychology. She plans to attend medical school and specialize in psychiatry. Her email address is email@example.com.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.