More than two centuries after establishing itself as the first university in the United States, the University of Pennsylvania is easily one of the most recognized and prestigious universities in the country. Since William Penn and Benjamin Franklin founded UPenn, this school has lived up to the expectations of its Ivy League label. With an endowment listed at over $7-billion in the year 2013, twelve Nobel-Prize-winning alumni, and a location in one of the country’s oldest and most storied cities, UPenn has developed an institution that could be a dream school for any aspiring undergraduate.
UPenn’s undergraduate academics are comprised of four schools: School of Arts and Sciences (formally known as “The College”), School of Nursing, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Wharton School of Business. The School of Arts and Sciences’ faculty at UPenn consists of Nobel Laureates, Grammy-Award winners, and head of state advisors. In addition, the School of Arts and Sciences has ensured that these accomplished individuals are the ones doing the teaching, with only 5% of undergraduate classes taught by graduate students. This means that if you plan on attending class with a specific professor, due to the average class size (approximately 97% of all classes have less than 60 students and approximately 69% of all classes have less than 20 students), you’re almost guaranteed a relationship with them, something that is typically not an option with other, larger universities. In 2011, USnews ranked UPenn’s School of Nursing as the top undergraduate nursing school in the country (tying with the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins), and is still ranked in the top five today. Of the approximately 2,500 undergraduate students who enroll in the Wharton School, 95% of those students are offered employment within six months after graduation, and average a salary of $67,000. Finally, the School of Engineering is consistently recognized for its programs in Chemical, Biomolecular, and especially Bioengineering, which is ranked by many scientific institutions as a top-10 program every year.
Though there are numerous traditions at UPenn, there are two that seem to stick out the most. On a selected day in every April, the UPenn juniors dawn red shirts, straw hats, and canes in what is known as “Hey day.” As the tradition goes, Hey Day marks the transition of UPenn’s junior class into the senior class. The juniors start off their day with a picnic on High Rise Field and follow it up with the annual Locust Walk to College Hall, where they are met by the University President who declares their seniority with a series of brutally vigorous questions, such as: “Who is the best class of UPenn?” To which the juniors shout, scream and holler their year of graduation. Then, there’s the “Spring Fling.” Every April, approximately 10,000 students at UPenn flock to the quad the week before exams for this 35-year tradition, allowing students to take a load off before the grueling marathon that is Finals Week. With free live music, food vendors, and giant inflatables, who wouldn’t want to go to this school just for the Spring Fling?!
In addition to these fun traditions, UPenn’s overall quality of student life has always had a high rating. Like many universities, UPenn has adopted the College System for housing, meaning that instead of dorms or apartments, students are offered on campus living quarters that are uniquely their own. These eleven UPenn colleges consist of: W. E B. Du Bois, Fisher Hassenfeld, Gregory, Harnwell, Harrison, Hill, Kings Court English, Riepe, Rodin, Stouffer, and Ware. Of course, no one is forced to stay in these colleges if they wish, as there are several close-to-campus apartment options available to students. In addition UPenn has an active Greek life on campus, with 45 fraterities and sororities that approximately 25% of the UPenn student body participates in.
In 2013, UPenn announced its lowest acceptance rate in school history at 12.24%, and their total undergraduate enrollment listed at 9,682. The number of students granted admission into the university generally scored between a 2130 and a 2310 on their composite SAT scores, and a 30 to 34 on their ACT scores. UPenn is also one of the most expensive universities, with a tuition bill of $43,738 per student, and the remaining cost of Books, Room and Board, etc. totaling up to $59,600 PER YEAR! However, before you start to panic about never even coming close to being able to pay for such a high rate, you should know that 63% of students at UPenn receive financial aid, and 48% of those receive grants averaging $34,658 per year.
UPenn’s ratemyprofessor.com overall rating: 3.85 out of 5.00.
UPenn’s rate of students who return after their first year is 98%.
In 1994, UPenn became the first Ivy League university to elect a female president in Judith Rodin. Amy Gutmann was elected as her successor in 2004.