Dorothy and LKarlee on Locust Walk
The last of our five college visits was to the University of Pennsylvania, or simply Penn, the only Ivy League school we’re likely to consider. Two of Dorothy’s cousins went to Penn, I have a couple friends who went there, and my grandfather earned his Ph.D. in applied mathematics there, about 100 years ago. I was a little (but only a little) surprised to find that there are more graduate students at Penn than undergraduates (11,092 vs. 10,324).
Like Swarthmore, I think of Penn as an engineering and science school, but only about 1,700 of their undergraduates are in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, with 6,344 in The College at Penn (School of Arts and Sciences).
There is no question that it’s a beautiful campus. It is very different to Swarthmore in being an urban school rather than in a quiet, tree filled, suburban setting. For all of that, though, there is a surprising amount of open green space. While Drexel fills city blocks with buildings, Penn seems to have eliminated (or never had) every other street, filling the space with a quad, either green or paved. This produces a much more pronounced campus feel. The fact that Penn was in session, while Drexel was on spring break contributed to this difference, of course. Penn was teaming with people, Drexel was not, making the comparison somewhat unfair.
Dorothy liked Penn the best of the five schools we visited. I know the Director of College Placement at Dorothy’s school will be excited to hear of Dorothy’s interest. Of course, getting in and paying for Penn is not a given. It’s a tough school to get into and a tough school to succeed at. It’s also not a cheep school, although it’s hard to know how much any school will cost, since few people actually seem to pay the sticker price any more. Still, at about $60,000, that sticker price is pretty scary.
I have mixed feelings about so many schools and about the Ivy League in particular. Intellectual diversity and intellectual curiosity are not encouraged in most departments at most schools. There was a time when “question everything” was a popular idea. Now, questioning the liberal orthodoxy can cost you your education and even your career. And I’m supposed to send my daughter there to learn. And to pay dearly for the privilege. Scary.