1. How important do you consider rankings while evaluating schools? How have your perceptions changed about this now?
Rankings are important to know how a school is perceived but it isn't the end all of everything. It's more important to see the overall location of a college. Ultimately, you're going to live in a place for 4 years, so its much more important to consider pure academics.
2. Did the geographic location (NE, Mid West, West , South) and setting (urban, rural, suburban, college town) of your college impact your overall assessment of your college experience? Did you think about this when applying? How did your perception change with time?
Although I was inclined towards a rural-surburban setting because I wanted to get away from the city (I lived in Bombay all my life), but it was a minor factor when I applied. I'm so glad im going to a city college. The great thing about Penn is that it has a great campus where you can sit and read on these green fields, surrounded by old buildings, and then 10 minutes down the road, you've got nightclubs, restaurants, shops, you name it! I think location is incredibly important. The city ensures you're connected to anyone or anything, and when you're down and out and want to get away, or simply want to have a good time, the city can serve your needs. Midwest is more American (true "all American experience"), East coast is fantastic because of the transport system- Boston, NY, Philly D.C. have tons of buses traveling to and fro.
3. Did you consider size (student population) as an important criteria while choosing schools? What do you think is a size that is ideal for you? Why?
I was inclined towards a lib arts school for individual attention. At Penn, its 2500 kids, and I'm so glad I opted for that versus 300 kids a class. I've really met a wide variety of people that only a mid sized school can get me.
4. What was the average class size of your intro classes? Were you satisfied with this? In what way did this change your perception of your academic experience? What would you do differently?
In mid sized schools, the intro classes will all be 100 peeps +. The smaller classes will be 20-50 people, so the stuff about lack of individual attention in mid sized schools isn't true. I personally prefer classes without exams and with essays/projects as the final assessment. I've found that in most of my classes in Penn, and am happy with that. If you want to go the extra yard (ie, take a class, love it, and intend on pursuing research in that area) professors are more than happy to fix you up with a mentor in their department)
5. What is your current major interest? Did this change over time? Explain if it did? Do you think that the courses you took to fulfil general education requirements were good? What would you change about the choices you made?
I came in knowing I was majoring in Econ. Added a Math minor since its convenient and I love math. May pursue Psychology and Political science as minors as well. There are a wide variety of classes one can take to fulfill general requirements, and the ones I took were fantastic. Wouldn't change anything.
6. Was the ratio of international students/total population an important criteria in your selection of schools? Did you feel trapped in any sort of bubble or clique? Did your perceptions about diversity change while you were in college?
Not a lot. I did want diversity, and did not want an all white school. Very luckily, I dont feel I'm trapped in any clique. you should have the courage to break out of the indian bubble and make new friends. Dont abandon the Indians or avoid Indians..but do make an effort to meet people from other backgrounds. You'll be surprized how much you may have in common with people who seem quite different. Join a sorority, frat, or try something completely different. These are the only years you can experiment with no pressure. You'll be surprised to discover people and aspects of yourself, you never knew existed.
7. Can you comment an the overall personality of the student body? What aspects of this did you like/dislike?
Penn specifically? Generally, as a city school, people are generally open. With lots of Indians and Chinese. Very friendly, very social. not a very liberal arty place, very pre professional, business minded thanks to the presence of Wharton. I like the pragmatic, hands on nature of UPenn, and the absence of ultra theoretical models. I tend to dislike the superior position of Wharton on campus, but it's very easy to avoid that.