The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke to upperclassmen to glean words of advice for Penn’s Class of 2027.
1. Explore your interests
College sophomore Asher Zemmel said that incoming first years should explore topics that genuinely interest them and worry about fulfilling graduation requirements later.
“Don’t lose sight of what made you apply to Penn in the first place,” Zemmel said, adding that classes often end up fulfilling one requirement or another.
College junior Maya Harpaz advised first years to explore events they see posted around campus and try a wide range of activities to determine what they are passionate about. Harpaz said she learned about new things she wasn't involved with in high school, enabling her to meet people she wouldn't have met otherwise.
College junior Elan Roth said that, looking back, he wished he took the time to go to the first meetings for all of the clubs he signed up for: “It’s 45 minutes of your life, and maybe you’ll find people who are similarly minded to you.”
College junior and Speaker of the Undergraduate Assembly Ria Ellendula suggested that first years “put themselves out there” and explore what piques their interest. She added that students interested in University operations, meeting student leaders and groups, and collaborating with administrators should consider involvement in student government.
"Don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of clubs and extracurriculars at Penn," College junior Mishael Majeed said. "Just find some topics that you are interested in, and try out different clubs until you find a few that really appeal to you."
2. Meet new people
“If you’re sitting there wondering whether or not you should approach someone and introduce yourself, just do it,” Roth said, adding that everyone is feeling just as awkward and open to new friendships.
Roth, who took a gap year after high school, suggested that incoming first years who took a gap year to remember that “once you get to Penn, everyone is on the same playing field.” He added that while first years should feel free to share their experiences from your gap year, they should “not let it become their personality trait.”
"If meeting people in large group events is overwhelming, use the dining halls as a social opportunity. Particularly in your first month, students welcome meeting others since everyone is searching for friends," College sophomore Tristen Brisky said.
3. Don’t lose sight of who you are
Zemmel said that first years should strive to maintain their sense of individuality and not get lost in the Penn bubble.
“That bubble has room for everyone,” Zemmel said. “It’s just a question of finding your place.”
Harpaz said that she connected with her Jewish identity after joining Penn Hillel’s First Year Leadership Board “just as a way to meet people,” where she “fell down a rabbit hole,” increasing her involvement with Hillel and joining Penn Israel Public Affairs Committee.
4. Remember to take care of yourself
“Learn to prioritize your own physical health to make sure you are still sleeping and not doing a million things,” Harpaz said.
College junior Ella Blank said that she recommends recognizing when you need a break.
“I had to unlearn my FOMO [fear of missing out] that I used to get in high school by just remembering that it’s important to listen to your body and your mind when you need to rest,” Blank said. “It’s okay to miss a party because you want to stay in and watch a movie or get some extra sleep.”
“Part of going to a top university doesn’t just mean strong academics, but it also means top resources available to you in terms of counseling and support,” Zemmel said.
Ellendula said that seeking mental health resources is not as normalized as it should be for a high-pressure school, advising students to take advantage of Penn Student Health and Counseling.
"Don't try to take on too much at once. It is okay to drop a class or two if the workload is overbearing," College junior Hena Ansari said. "It is okay to struggle, but make sure you are asking for help as professors and advisors are always happy to be of assistance."
College junior Naseebullah Andar emphasized the importance of exploring Philadelphia as well.
"Managing time wisely, exploring Philadelphia, and prioritizing mental health are equally crucial. Never hesitate to seek advice from upperclassmen," Andar said.
5. The college transition takes time
Expect to be overwhelmed on the first day, or even the first week of classes, but "give yourself time to adjust," Harpaz said. It is also important to stay organized to balance both academic and social commitments.
College junior and former Class Board 2025 president Will Krasnow said that Penn is an intense place and first years should try to counterbalance the fast-paced culture.
“Find time to chill, whatever that may be,” Krasnow said. “That probably doesn’t mean joining some consulting club and calling that a way to chill, but doing something that’s genuinely personally replenishing – whether that be going for a run or hanging out with friends without talking about banking.”