The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

College Hall on Aug. 16, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke to upperclassmen who have words of advice for students who will be joining Penn's student body this fall.

Branch out and try new things

College and Wharton senior and Undergraduate Assembly President Carson Sheumaker said that students should not be afraid of branching out to meet new people. 

“Do not be afraid to meet other students on campus. Most first years come to campus not knowing anyone, and everyone is excited to meet new people,” Sheumaker said. “Upperclassmen would love to meet you as well.”

“Say ‘yes’ now, so you can say ‘no’ later,” College sophomore and Class Board 2025 President Will Krasnow said. “Try a lot of new clubs, activities, and experiences so that you can explore your interests. From there, you can cut the things you don’t like.”

College sophomore Vincent Lepani added that first years should not be afraid to try new things. 

“It might be scary at first, but it’s the best way to learn what you’re really interested in,” Lepani said. 

College sophomore Michelle Wen echoed Lepani’s sentiments. She said that clubs can be a great way to meet friends on campus. 

“Push yourself to branch out and try out new things, and don’t just limit yourself to what you were used to in high school or what you have done in the past,” Wen said. “Clubs are going to be how you meet some of your best friends, and it’s worth it.” 

Take advantage of Penn’s resources and plan ahead

Krasnow encouraged students to use Penn Course Plan, a mock scheduling tool for Penn students. 

“Seriously, use this resource. If you haven’t heard of it, search it on Google.”

“Try everything and keep an open mind because Penn has so much to offer,” College and Wharton sophomore Sivaanii Arunachalam said.

“Participate in most New Student Orientation activities,” Sheumaker said. They provide a lot of great opportunities to meet your classmates and learn about Penn.

“Learn how to plan stuff for yourself and do it early, such as courses, housing, and study abroad,” Wharton and Engineering junior and Class Board 2024 President Toyosi Abu said. “A lot of forces are not super helpful, so it’s best to get out ahead of planning.”

Don’t get trapped in the Penn bubble

Wharton junior Megan Li advised students to take time to explore the West Philadelphia community beyond University City. 

“It’s very easy to get stuck in the Penn bubble, especially as a freshman,” Li said. “Go out into Philadelphia to places like farmers markets, Chinatown, the Italian Market, South Street, the museums, and more. You have four years to explore such an amazing city.”

College senior Chloe Daniel also advised new students to make an effort to explore Philadelphia. 

“Make an effort to explore Philly and use SEPTA to get around for cheap,” Daniel said. “There are so many things to explore like restaurants, shops, and cafes. It puts everything in perspective.” 

Reach out for help 

Abu said that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. 

“There’s so much I’ve learned from asking friends or upperclassmen, going to tutoring sessions, and getting in contact with the right people,” Abu said. 

Sheumaker added that keeping in contact with students via group messaging apps like GroupMe might also help students with the academic transition to Penn. 

“[GroupMe chats] help a lot later down the line if you need help on homework or have other questions,” Sheumaker said. 

Know that you belong

College junior Jack Starobin, a former DP staffer, said to be careful to be “socially slow” in transitioning to the campus community. 

“Let people reveal themselves to you, and put yourself in different spaces to find the ones that feel like home,” Starobin said. “Be patient with yourself when home isn’t where you thought it would be.”

Wen advised that students should be mindful not to put too much pressure on themselves to have fun immediately, and to not compare themselves to other students around them. 

“‘Penn Face’ is real, so give yourself time to adjust and don’t compare your transition to Penn to other people around you,” Wen said.

Krasnow also warned students not to compare themselves to others. 

 “An admissions officer chose you to be here. Don’t question their decision, ask yourself how you can contribute to the Penn community,” Krasnow said.