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Penn's incoming transfer students are required to live on campus. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Although Penn's incoming transfer students are grateful for the opportunity to start on campus in the fall, many worry that remote instruction will prevent them from integrating socially with their peers and professors.

Like first years, Penn’s 196 incoming transfer students are required to live on campus in the College Houses. While they will be present on campus in the fall, incoming transfers are concerned that online instruction and the Student Campus Compact, which limits in-person gatherings and extracurricular activities to fewer than 25 people, will make the transition to the University much more difficult than normal.

Rising College sophomore Oliver Kaplan, who transferred from Bates College, said he made the decision to transfer to Penn because he felt that his previous college lacked a sense of community. He was met with disappointment, however, after finding out that the University's fall semester would be conducted mostly online, and now wishes the option to take the fall semester alone off was available to him. Incoming transfer students cannot take a leave of absence during the fall semester unless they postpone their start date to fall 2021.

Kaplan said he plans to switch his classes this semester to enroll in more courses that have a class size of under 25 students, and postpone larger lecture-style classes for the future. Some classes with fewer than 25 students may be held in person, space permitted, in larger spaces. 

He said that he wishes the University would inform students which of the smaller-sized classes will be definitively conducted in person to aid decisions in fall course selection. 

Rising College sophomore Aarushi Parikh, who transferred from Rutgers University, said although she understands that Penn chose a hybrid model of in-person and remote campus life for health and safety reasons, she is disappointed that her first year at Penn will be very different from others' that came before her. 

Parikh said she will miss sitting in a large lecture hall, and making friends with her classmates.

“I don't feel like I'll miss out on a lot of experiences, but there are some experiences you can't really replace,” she said.

Parikh added, however, that she was grateful to be able to start the year on campus, rather than having a fully remote semester. Two of her classes have under 25 students, and she is optimistic that they may be in person. 

Like Parikh, rising Engineering sophomore Mara Rao said she was relieved when she found out Penn would not have a fully remote semester. Rao's biggest concern for the fall semester is whether or not she will be able to get involved in on-campus research, and if labs on campus will accept new students.

Rao, who transferred from Vanderbilt University, is also disappointed that New Student Orientation will occur virtually, although she said she understands why the University made this choice. 

Since rising College sophomore Samir Reddy submitted his enrollment deposit to Penn in May, he has been worried about how the University would conduct the fall semester. Even though he will live on campus, Reddy said he anticipates a more difficult time connecting with other students due to online learning and social limitations of the Student Campus Compact. 

Reddy, who transferred from the University of Texas at Austin, remains hopeful that his writing seminar, which enrolls fewer than 25 students, will be in person.

“I’m definitely planning on making the most out of my situation, whether it’s online or not,” Reddy said.

Rising College sophomore Rebecca Nadler said she is grateful that she will be able to come to campus in the fall, and hopes to make friends through some of her smaller classes that may be conducted in person. 

Nadler, who transferred from Boston College after her first year, said she remains happy with the decision after finding out how Penn plans to conduct the fall semester.

“Despite everything that's going on and all the unknowns, I'm still really excited to start my journey at Penn, and I hope that even with all of these changes, the Penn experience still feels sort of the same,” Nadler said.

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