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RealTalk Penn beta is an anonymous Q&A forum for Penn students by The Signal + Friends. Our contributors are Penn undergraduates who do their best to answer your questions. We're not officially affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.
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How is Quaker Day? What does the day consist of and what do you do during it? Are there activities? Also, would you say it is fun and worth going to?


Great breakdown of the pros and cons of going to Quaker Days (although they no longer have a separate event for ED students): https://www.reddit.com/r/UPenn/comments/ai0xoi/is_quaker_days_worth_attending/

I found it to be a good glimpse into what my future would potentially look like at Penn. It allows you to get a day in the life of a student without all of that burdensome school work. Definitely a good time, I felt like I kind of had some sort of clarity coming into the first day of school because I found people during Quaker Days that I liked! That's not to say you'll become best friends with them or anything, but I think getting to know that first batch of people was a good intro to the college life :).

Zesty Zebra, 2/22/2020 6:55 PM

I have heard that events held by dorms and houses are pretty similar among the freshman dorms. I was wondering if there were certain dorms that tended to have more trips outside of campus? Such as skiing, amusement parks, etc.


Can't say I've heard of any differences, although I will always bleed Hill 2red until the day I die :)

I believe every RA has around $500/semester to host events for their floor, and i would assume dorm-wide-funding to be the same per student across all dorms.

Zesty Zebra, 2/22/2020 6:52 PM

I’ve read a lot about the crazy competitiveness at Penn regarding becoming a member of the executive board of different pre professional organizations/clubs, but how exactly does the process for becoming an officer work, specifically for premed societies? Is it similar to high school for officer of clubs, or is it way different?

On another note, do most Penn premed undergrads who go to med school end up becoming members of the boards of different societies (i.e. is this a common feature of most med school apps from Penn UGs and is thus expected of applicants by med schools)?


I can't speak to pre-med-specific examples, but engineering orgs have a similar reputation of being kind of cut-throat for admission. Once your in the organization, a lot of the decisions around who becomes an officer are really up to how committed  you are to the org / your interest in the role.

Just looking at the stats, seems like 170 people end up going to med school each year from penn, and basic math seems to say it's impossible for all of these ppl to be on the board of pre-med societies or pre-med clubs. You're much better off on focusing on what you enjoy rather than title-chasing. I'm not a board member in the three main orgs that i'm a part of, but i find the work I do to be extremely rewarding even if I don't have "supreme leader" next to my name (although now that i think about it that would be lowkey nice).

TL;DR you'll find what you love to do here; there are so many opportunities if you just look beyond the titles! Hope this helps, and good luck with your first year!

Zesty Zebra, 2/22/2020 6:50 PM

Any advice with course registration? (ex. should I make my preferred math class my first choice?)


Honesty, it's such a crapshoot, and there is usually so much time to gain entrance into classes that you didn't get during advanced reg, that i wouldn't recommend sweating your preferences too hard. Math classes are p popular, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to put your ideal math class high up on the list, but like I said before it really is up to chance. Just pray to the algorithm gods.

Zesty Zebra, 2/22/2020 6:48 PM

What happens if my requested roommate (one who has accepted my request) successfully joins a residential program such as Research, Innovation, Entrepreneurship? Will we both immediately be placed in Ware or will we be separated especially if my top housing choice is different? (Currently, my top choice is Hill)

Not sure if anyone can answer this lol, but just curious to see


I'm actually not quite sure on this, although I vaguely remember people saying that a roommate's res program preference changed where they end up living. I dunno tbh, this is more of a question for Penn Res! Sorry!

Zesty Zebra, 2/22/2020 6:46 PM

What advice would you give in making new friends? As an introverted person, I find it difficult to open up to new people and am always unsure of how to start a conversation without being awkward. I feel like asking questions on hobbies and ice breakers can sometimes be uncomfortable and lead to forced conversations. Any advice on how to start conversations or get closer to people without too much awkwardness?


haha i can relate to this... small talk is tiring ("the weather is so nice today" "what are you studying?" "cool! i'm studying X Y Z"). as a fellow introvert, i hate to tell you this, but awkward conversations are inevitable. you're not going to immediately click with everyone, and it's unrealistic to have that expectation because people come from different backgrounds. some people may not be comfortable yet opening up to others, too. perhaps they were trained to keep their feelings to themselves, perhaps they have a hard time trusting people, perhaps they're awkward too and are learning how to make friends—the list is endless, and their previous experiences may have shaped them and their personality in a profound way. ice breakers and small talk are necessary, but personally i find random details about a person fascinating. isn't it cool to know where they're from? or what they find fun? or why they do what they do? those details actually reveal a lot more than you think about someone, and who knows, you may find a commonality.

re: how to start conversations. sometimes you just need to stop overthinking and go for it. trust yourself. i tend to get in my head a lot, and i realized that was one of my biggest barriers (among several other reasons). but if you want more practical advice: grab a meal with them if you're more into one-on-one, attend events and set a concrete goal (e.g. "i'm going to talk to two/three/five people there"), prepare questions beforehand, be persistent in following up, and don't be afraid to be authentic. it's scary to put yourself out there, but the good ones will stay with you. and for some of my closest friends today, we didn't start out with sparks. our first conversations were awkward. and i guess you should ask yourself along the way what kind of person you want to be and who you want to be friends with. you're a sum of those closest to you, for better or for worse. and sometimes you can't control the way(s) your friendships form. it all takes time.

and if some people don't want to talk to you, screw them! (yes, rude people exist.) there's so many fish in the sea. and we're all learning how to make and keep friendships, myself included, so you're not alone in this.

best of luck :) always here to listen and offer more tips. i can go on more about friendships, but don't want the post to get too long. let me know how your experience goes please!

Hopeful Horse, 2/22/2020 1:05pm

Do people at Penn associate with people outside of their major / field a lot? I don't want to get locked in to a group of people who are just like me, I want to get some new perspectives.


yes, they do! but it depends on how intentional you are. i think by human nature we tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to us, and there's nothing wrong with that! if you want to meet different people, then it's up to you to go out of your comfort zone by joining new groups, initiating meals/conversations, and attending events. college is what you make of it.

Hopeful Horse, 2/22/2020 12:35pm

Why are the cultural centers at Penn on in one building?


that's a good question. it's probably has to do with which parts of the administration have power over which buildings on campus, and it's possible that that was the space available for these organizations at the time of their inception. although TBH I really don't know; this is all speculation.

This is definitely a hot-button issue on campus though: https://www.thedp.com/article/2019/02/diversity-fraternity-arch-ivy-league-makuu-latina-gender-upenn-philadelphia

Zesty Zebra, 2/22/2020 6:45

Any advice about having a roommate vs having a single? I've never shared a room before and like the idea of having more privacy with a single, but I'm worried about making friends and being lonely if I don't have a roommate.


I went random on a double freshman year without previously sharing a room with anyone before, and it was a great experience. Even though I was initially averse to the idea, my freshman year was made better by spending a lot of time with someone who pushed me to do things outside of my comfort zone that I wouldn't have normally chosen for myself. My roommate is still one of my good friends, and we both share that first year together as a common bond. There are some people who have negative experiences with their roommates, but I find these to be minimal, and there's something about having to work with another person that I feel made me a more flexible and whole person. Later down the line in college you can always switch to a single person room, but I think it's a good experience to share a space with someone for a year before writing it off.

If you do decide to have a single, don't fear being lonely! A roommate is only one person in a 10k+ undergrad population, there's still plenty of people in your hall, your classes, your extracurriculars, etc. that you will end up spending tons of time with. Best of luck with your decision!

Zesty Zebra, 1/29/20, 12:05 AM

I got a single freshman year, and it was by far the best housing decision I've ever made! I loved having my own personal space to unwind at the end of the day, without having to think about another person being in the room. I never felt lonely or restricted by my single, since I had friends who would let me hang out in their dorms all the time. The best part about the single was having the choice to be alone when I wanted to be.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preferences. Some people like being surrounded by others 24/7, while others prefer having their own space. Think about what your needs are, then go from there!

Dynamic Dino, 2/1/20, 7:05 PM

How does sorority rush work?


This definitely varies a bit depending on the sorority, but I've been on both sides of the process now and will try to provide some insight.

From the PNM (potential new member) end, rush is five days at the beginning of the spring semester. When you sign up for rush (usually in the fall), you'll be placed oh a "Rho Gamma" group, which is lead by two upperclassmen who are in sororities who have volunteered to lead a group through the rush process. They're there to help you through the process and answer any questions you might have as well as give you advice. The group will  contain around 30 girls that you'll travel with to all the houses on the first day. You will probably have to arrive 1-2 days before classes begin, because the first day takes place all day before classes start. Penn currently has 8 on campus sororities, so you'll visit all 8 houses the first day for about 30-45 min each. You'll get an app that contains your schedule each day; later in the process, your schedule will be unique to you, but on the first day, it'll be the same as your group. Your Rho Gammas will lead you around to each of the houses and then you'll get lined up alphabetically and then lead into the houses.

There's a theme each day, but here's the basic layout of each of the house visits: you'll go into the house in a line; the girls in each chapter will also be lined up and they'll introduce themselves and take you to a spot in the house to chat. On the first day, you'll spend 5-15 minutes with each girl; as the days go on, you'll spend more time in each house (up to an hour) and conversations can be as long as 45 min - 1 hour. After a while, another girl will come up and "bump" the first girl. In some sororities, girls may be specifically assigned to talk to you, but in others, it may be random; this can also depend on the day. The first day is open house, and following rounds are sisterhood, philanthropy, and preference night. Each night, chapters might show a video or give talks about what these themes mean to them.

At the end of each day, you'll get a certain number of houses to select to keep on the app. This doesn't guarantee that you'll go back, but it allows you to express your preferences. Sororities will all have their own way of "scoring" each girl after each day of talking to them. These numbers will all be put into a computer system, which then results in each girl receiving her schedule for the next day. Each girl could be asked back to different houses and a different number of houses.

On the last night, preference night, you'll go to one or two houses. If you only had one house on your schedule, you're guaranteed a bid from them. If you went to two, then you'll rank your top choice and you'll also have to specify whether you'll accept a bid if you don't get your top choice. The next day, bid day, you'll open an envelope with the sorority you received your bid from.

It is definitely a long and exhausting process, but I will say that in my experience, everyone I talked to in each sorority was extremely nice and welcoming - they all want you to like them! I also had a lot of friends who rushed and then during the week decided that the sorority life wasn't for them, which is also totally fine and normal to drop out. It can be difficult not to take it personally if you get dropped from a sorority you liked, but from the other end of the process, I can say that there were so many girls that my sorority liked that still didn't end up being asked back just because of the numbers. And also remember, these girls can't really know you through a brief conversation - there's so much more to you than that, so if you don't end up getting asked back, it's not at all a reflection of you - don't let it get you down! Hopefully, if you decide to rush, you will end up where you are supposed to be; worst case, it's a great opportunity to meet and talk to girls you wouldn't have otherwise.

Kindred Koala, 30 January 2020, 6:40 AM