Thursday, February 11, 2010

Orange and Apples: Penn

Wish you had another snow day today? If you were at Penn you would. Consider the positive and negative aspects of Princeton and Penn led by Diana Bonaccorsi '08, who studied Anthropology at Princeton, but is a Pre-Medicine student at Penn. .

Continuing my education at Penn has made me more grateful than ever to have spent my undergraduate years at Princeton. I cannot compare my specialized graduate program courses to the undergraduate courses I took at Princeton, but I can say that I am not pleased with the advisers, professors and facilities in my program at Penn. I can also safely say that Princeton’s focus is primarily on its undergraduates, whereas Penn’s law, medical and business schools, as well as their many Ph.D. programs, detract from the undergraduate experience.

Though Penn and Princeton are only separated by a 45-minute car ride, with regard to campus and social life, the universities are poles apart. Princeton, N.J., is a beautiful town with a great main street and square filled with quaint shops, good restaurants and the amenities of any city. If the need strikes to get away to the Big Apple, Philly or Atlantic City, it’s only a train or bus ride away. The University has a great relationship with the town’s community. I feel safe while jogging around the lake and outlying residences, as well as teetering back to my dorm on my way home from the Street, where all of the eating clubs are located. Penn’s campus is urban and located on the skirts of a notoriously unsafe neighborhood in Philadelphia. I feel uncomfortable walking three blocks off campus at night.

The social life at Penn is centered on Greek life with the occasional bar scene. While Princeton’s eating clubs are similar to Greek life in the party sense, they add another element of belonging. Upperclassmen join these coed clubs to eat their meals, study, party, play sports in the backyards, dance to live music and hang with friends. I loved the social scene at Princeton, because between the eating clubs, sports teams of all levels, philanthropic clubs, theater and dance groups, everyone can find their niche in more than one activity, leading to a student body that is diverse but interconnected.

I had the privilege of attending my first Reunion this summer, as well as witness Penn’s alumni gathering during graduation week. There is no comparison. Princeton has such a unique and dedicated alumni community that there is nothing to equate it to. Every year, thousands of Princetonians return to their old stomping ground with their families to congratulate the graduating class and reunite with old and new friends. It is the time of year I look forward to the most. During my four years at Princeton, I have developed such a connection to the town and university that I plan on returning every year to partake in the Reunion festivities and form lasting bonds with my fellow classmates. I wouldn’t trade my experience at Princeton University for anything.

If you're a former Tiger who is now pursuing graduate studies elsewhere or a Princeton grad student who attended undergrad outside the Orange Bubble and would like to contribute a comparison send an email to


Andrew Stella said...

ouch! lol harshest one yet

andrea said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


andrea said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


MD'78 said...

As an alumnus of both institutions (Princeton '78, Penn Med '82) I would say that Princeton is the best choice for undergraduate education - but Penn is an outstanding place for graduate and professional school. Penn is unique in that the graduate and undergraduate schools are all on one campus (the medical school and the university hospital are adjacent to Penn's Quadrangle - the equivalent would be to have a Princeton Medical School next to Holder Hall). This allows graduate and professional students to partake in the social and intellectual life of the entire university. Although West Philadelphia can be rough, Philadelphia has outstanding cultural, social, and culinary offerings. The Orange Bubble is a great place to transition from adolescence to young adulthood - but Philadelphia is a wonderful place to be a young adult - it has much of the big city feel of New York, but with fewer hassles. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine is a wonderful place -it has a longstanding tradition of not abusing its' students, and of fostering a collegial atmosphere - so a good number of Princetonians are Penn Med alumni as well. When at a Penn Med Reunion I and another dual alumnus went up to Amy Gutmann and told her we had attended Princeton as undergraduates and Penn for medical school (I was one of her earliest students at Princeton), she said, "you did it in the right order." So putting The Rivalry aside (I always root for Princeton against Penn - but if Penn regrettably makes it to the NCAA tournament in basketball, I will root for them - they were in the Final Four my first year of medical school), give Penn a serious look for graduate and professional school.

Anonymous said...

So Diana graduated Princeton but is pre-med at Penn? Maybe if Princeton had better prepared her to get into medical school . . .