June 25, 2024


Education is everything you need

Sam Zou | Improving and expanding ‘Exchange at Penn’



Exchange at Penn is a application facilitated by Penn Overseas, permitting intercontinental pupils to appear to Penn for a semester and learn in Penn courses.
Credit score: Vanessa Huang

Intercontinental learners make up a vivid and numerous team in the Penn group. From these who go to the traditional four-year undergraduate diploma plan to trade pupils who expend one particular or two semesters overseas at Penn, intercontinental college students usually locate a way to prosper at an establishment identified for its tutorial rigor and status.

As an international student myself, I constantly marvel at the variety of nations represented by students in a merely 50-particular person course when I very first commenced my experiments at Penn. Getting a course on communism usually means that you get to hear from pupils from the Czech Republic, Russia, China, and so on, whose particular and family ordeals expose what it genuinely signifies to dwell in publish-communist regimes.

A 2013 analyze found that university learners who interacted with intercontinental pupils have a tendency to have “significantly larger concentrations of advancement,” and that these interactions led domestic higher education students to “not only seriously [question] their political beliefs, but also [challenge] their beliefs about other religions, other races or ethnicities, and men and women with other sexual orientations.” 

The intercontinental student physique provides diversity in quite a few means. Nevertheless, it takes time for worldwide students to alter to an unfamiliar country with a distinctive design and style of education and learning. This is specially accurate for trade college students, who only tend to remain in the United States for a shorter interval because of to program stipulations.

Thomas Bonte, a former exchange college student who studied at Wharton for a calendar year in 2018, implies that the Exchange at Penn application could offer a lot more pre-exchange assets and handy contacts before exchange pupils get there on campus. “I imagine it would be additional helpful to get a lot more direction ahead of starting up university,” claimed Bonte.

Certainly, when it will come to the insider secrets at the rear of housing assortment or suggestions on what food plans to decide on, trade students normally count on official info from Penn’s web sites to make their selections. 

In several approaches, exchange college students lack the social savvy to maneuver as a result of their preliminary confusion ahead of they get there in the United States. Searching as a result of Reddit communities, inquiring questions on GroupMe chats, or simply just sending an e-mail to Penn school about training course registration — these school guidelines are not as common and accessible to students exterior of the United States who are inexperienced in the American instruction technique. 

Similarly, Eleanor Zhang, a latest exchange scholar finding out math and economics, commented on the require for “Penn to host Q&A sessions” in advance of trade college students get there at Penn. Ordinarily, college-similar firms these kinds of as course or housing collection commence months in advance of the to start with day of class, and “allowing previous trade pupils to share their activities and feelings prior to [they] arrive” could verify invaluable to exchange college students who typically know very little about the university method in the United States, permit alone how Penn operates.

In get to turn into a single of the around 200 trade pupils at Penn every 12 months, applicants have to to start with go by way of a nomination course of action, according to Penn Abroad’s site. The nomination method differs from one particular establishment to one more. For Bonte, his application was largely thought of dependent on his initial-12 months grades at his dwelling establishment. In contrast, Zhang also had to post supplemental essays to her dwelling establishment as very well as her transcript to be nominated.

However, what stays similar for both equally is that finding an exchange option at Penn is incredibly aggressive and very selective. Bonte experiences that roughly 100 to 120 college students from his household institution pick out Penn as their first-decision trade program, but only five pupils will be nominated and finally accepted. Zhang also documented that “the opposition [to be an exchange student at Penn] is quite, quite intense.” All-around 12 pupils are exchanged from her residence institution to Penn just about every 12 months.  

With acceptance charges as minimal (if not even reduce) as Penn’s initial-year university student acceptance rate, only incredibly several trade students can get there in Philadelphia.   

13 % of Penn’s admitted Course of 2025 college students are intercontinental learners — the next most significant in percentage and the biggest in quantity between all Ivy League educational institutions. Penn admitted 429 international college students in the Course of 2025, when compared to Columbia’s 306 and Harvard’s 362. There are institutional priorities and demographics a college has to equilibrium, but Penn can nonetheless raise worldwide scholar presence innovatively by way of systems this sort of as Trade at Penn. In the 2018-2019 college year, whilst a full of 521 Penn college students were being exchanged to other institutions through Penn’s semester abroad method, Penn recognized 212 incoming exchange learners overseas, a quantity that is less than half of the variety of Penn pupils who examined abroad. This sort of imbalance in numbers would be easy to understand if Penn were being not a well-known place for exchange learners abroad.  But offered what I discovered from interviews and on the net facts, the demand from customers is much higher than the supply. For case in point, the Queen Mary University of London’s official web page described implementing to Penn’s exchange program to be “very aggressive.” In point, Penn is a person of only 3 trade institutions out of the 17 U.S. establishments classified in the most aggressive group on the site.   

For numerous exchange college students, Penn is their top alternative. A top rated option must present top-notch guidance and assets even for  students who only spend one particular semester in Philadelphia. Presented the numerous included advantages international pupils supply to a university and the quite a few exchange learners who are eager to spend a semester at Penn, improving upon and increasing the entry to a Penn knowledge benefits all students. 

SAM ZOU is a College junior learning political science from Shenzhen, China. His electronic mail is [email protected]


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