Posted by David Moore
College can be incredibly intimidating for an incoming freshman, especially if home is particularly far away. It’s a scary transition, whether it’s because of the absence of the guiding hand of Mom and Dad, or because it is an entirely different world filled with 10,000 new faces. It is understandable to be apprehensive about heading off to a school like Wharton.
I enrolled at Penn with the same mentality. Coming from South Carolina, I knew absolutely nobody upon my arrival in Philadelphia, and because I was the first from my high school to go to Wharton, there was no one to help me along the way. But coming to this new place, being forced to make brand new friends, was the best decision of my life. What is important to realize is that everyone here is in the same position – a new place, new people, and a need for new friends. Even more, Penn does a great job of introducing like-minded people to each other, and with 10,000 students, I am confident in saying that there is a group here on campus for everyone.
For those starting from scratch like I did, take advantage of every opportunity to meet new people. Be that overly personable guy/girl that introduces him/herself to everyone – I promise it’s not weird until, like, the 6th week of school. Join a club, sit in a new seat every day in class, leave the door to your room open, and don’t fear rejection. When you make the effort, it’s actually pretty hard to go through the first semester without meeting new people.
Speaking from my own experience, a great way to meet like-minded people upon arriving on campus is through Penn’s Pre-Orientation programs. There are programs for the arts, community service, green living, even leadership building. I personally participated in PennQuest, a program where a group of 120 incoming freshmen are divided into groups of 10 and go on a three-day hike in the Pocono Mountains – basically summer camp for 18 year-olds. Over those three days, everyone on the team bonds, and now the members of my PennQuest group are some of my closest friends on campus. Even further, I was introduced to two upperclassmen, my leaders, and they have been role models and were a great source of advice over my first semester (plus a way to get invited to parties).
If not showering in the woods for three days isn’t quite up your alley, Penn has over 300 clubs that are here for the sole purpose of grouping people together based on common interests. On-campus groups range from 12 a cappella groups to the Penn Irish Student Association to Model UN; there is something for literally everyone. Some clubs are created specifically for community service, others are club sports for those unable to commit to the varsity level. In addition to these 300 clubs, there are 40 Wharton-specific clubs, ranging from preprofessional groups to Social Impact Consulting, where students act as free consultants for companies improving the community around Philadelphia. Another great club is Wharton Women, which brings female business leaders to campus to speak, providing networking opportunities for the women at Wharton.
One other opportunity offered to Wharton freshmen is our required Management 100 class. Over the first semester, you basically spend all of your time with your 8 or 9 teammates, kind of forcing you to really get to know each other. I can comfortably say that some of my closest friends are from my management team, which is an added bonus to the core Wharton curriculum. After going through such an experience with your teammates, it’s hard not to become friends with them.
The bottom line: Whether you’re interested in sports, finance, or traditional Indian sitar music, you will find a place here at Penn. With so many different opportunities, each and every student can succeed and have a good college experience.