Choosing Penn

June 15, 2013
Jillian

College Green at the University of Pennsylvania

“Where did you go to school?”
“University of Pennsylvania.”
“Why did you decide to go there?”

This is a conversation I have all the time. Here’s the long version of my answer to the Why Penn? question.

In high school, I realized I had a passion for journalism, languages, and the humanities. I didn’t have a dream profession just yet, so I explored schools with communications, journalism, creative writing, English, and French programs. Academically rigorous and distinguished programs rose to the top of my list. I also checked to make sure these schools offered the extracurricular activities that were most important to me"Activities can be a crucial part of college applications" Daily Herald article (check out this 2001 Daily Herald article featuring me and my extracurriculars).

Location-wise, I wanted to push my boundaries. You don’t get many chances to try living in another part of the country for four years with no strings attached. I would get to meet different people, experience another region’s culture, and further develop my independence. Ultimately, I considered a handful of Midwest schools but focused primarily on the East Coast.

Once I had a list of schools that were a match for me academically and geographically, I continued on the search for the best fit! My parents and I drove East during spring break of my junior year to tour several universities. Penn was not one of them. Although I remember receiving a Penn brochure in the mail that year, it didn’t click with me for some reason. However, after seeing other campuses and realizing that I preferred larger, more urban schools, my mom suggested we drive through Philadelphia on our way home. A traffic jam and pouring rain kept us from setting foot on Penn’s campus that day, but I saw enough from the backseat window to pique my interest.

Later that spring, I skipped my junior prom to accompany my dad on a business trip to Philly. When he wasn’t working, we headed over to University City to look around and take a campus tour. We both loved it. Everything about the campus just felt right; and the more I saw, the more I liked it. We brought Mom back to Penn in September to make sure it was the one for me, and we were all hooked. I came back to Illinois and started work on my Early Decision application right away.

My two application essaysUniversity of Pennsylvania Quad prove just how excited I was about the possibility of attending Penn. The first is my response to the famous “write page 217 of your 300-page autobiography” prompt, and the second discusses why I was interested in Penn.

Even years later, I am still absolutely confident that Penn was the right choice for me.

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