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brief visit to Penn

I nearly got bumped from the DTW-LGA flight (and into first class at that, according to my nwa.com itinerary), but the annoying guy who first angrily declared that he was on the volunteer list before me (nope) decided that he couldn’t go then at all—despite the fact that he was in the departure lounge and sure looked like he could have gone. But I’m not bitter. What’s a free ticket, anyway?

I got to LGA on time, where I began a several-hour long $12 journey on the rather dirty and unprofessional “New York Airport Service” bus to Penn Station (which is really a bus to Grand Central and a mini-van to Penn Stn.). We ended up waiting (first in the cold, then in the dingy van) outside Grand Central for around 40 minutes. The van had no less than four signs encouraging tips and a driver eager to share his music with us. I should have taken public transport and just dealt with keeping control of my bags.

From Penn station, I took NJ Transit to Trenton and waiting several hours for the SEPTA R7 to Philadelphia. That took a while. Arrived at my Holiday Inn in the Old City (really a very good location), slept, and stuff.

This morning I woke up at 7 after actually getting enough sleep the night before (rare lately). Eventually, it was time to hop Philadelphia’s embarrassing subway (but at least there is one) to 34th and Market, near the law school. Entering the law school was a bit of a shock… I had to sign in and show ID at a security desk, waiting for a call to Admissions to confirm that I should be let in. City schools. Wandering around, I finally found Admissions—quite a different experience from the excited herding of an Admitted Students’ Event. The people in the office were very nice, though, while I waited for my 1L “host.” The adcomm dean popped out and greeted me for a few minutes in her office, and was as nice and helpful in person as before in e-mail and after on the phone.

While I waited, some more admits and prospectives came to the office. I didn’t see them again—I guess they were hosted by students with different schedules. One prospective wearing a full corporate monkey suit made me happy that I didn’t need to impress anybody. Life went on.

My host took me to his Criminal Law course, with a professor viewed by most of the people we talked to as “a good teacher but not great” (fabricated quote). It was definitely on a level below the Conlaw at UMich, but I was still able to follow and I think I’d definitely be able to learn the material. Damning with faint praise, but faint praise at Penn Law isn’t too shabby.

Next was lunch in undergrad land courtesy of Admissions. The law campus, aside from the grand entrance, is pretty plain, with a functional/office space look in many parts. It might be easier to read from those gigantic Powerpoint screens than from Michigan’s tiny chalkboards, though. The undergrad campus, though, is lovely. Admissions uncannily was able to provide another lunch beneficiary, a 2L from Morgantown who’s worked in China. After that, I asked a few questions and talked things over for a few minutes before the admissions office helped me with a tricky travel question and I headed back to the Old City.

Both the 1L and 2L were friendly and helpful—as one’d hope for self-selected recruiting assistants, but it’s still worth noting. Much was made of Penn’s small class size—something which doesn’t excite me that much. I think 100 either way isn’t that big a deal (says the 0L). Also promoted were the faculty, the “collegiality,” and other things Michigan is also known for. I didn’t make a secret that I was primarily comparing Penn to Michigan. Philadelphia seems to be rising, sure, but if I’m going to go through the extra trouble of going to a city school, my current thinking says it might as well be in New York. Penn’s decision to not give me money is also troubling, though there’s a chance they’d match some of the slightly better offers I already have. In the Penn vs. Michigan battle, everything Penn cited as an advantage (except Wharton and Philadelphia, yes) is a feature in Ann Arbor—except that up there it comes with a little less corporate focus and a little better law school architecture and more amusing university-licensed souvenirs. Philadelphia does, however, have cheesesteaks, which bring the schools back to even. Not being near New Jersey (I kid…) tips the tie toward Michigan for now.

I walked around the historical areas, saw the Liberty Bell, etc. after the visit. I remained in a non-picture-taking mood.

Tomorrow, I’ll be watching WVU play in the NIT semi-finals at Madison Square Garden. After that, Columbia and NYU promise to make my decision easier (or more likely even harder) on Wednesday-Friday.

One Comment

  1. Mae

    “Amusing university-licensed souvenirs” as in what?

    Posted on 27-Mar-07 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

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