On September 2, the Penn campus will begin to fill with the nearly 2,500 members of the Class of 2013. The incoming freshmen will have traveled any number of miles to get here. Some will do no more than cross the Schuylkill; others will come all the way from Swaziland and the Philippines. The maps on these pages translate the geographic diversity of the new class—as well as the 135,000 undergraduate alumni whose ranks they will join in four years—into visual form.
In the maps on this page, each American state is sized according not to the square mileage enclosed by its borders, but to the number of freshmen (green) and alumni (ocher) who reside there. States are colored according to the size of their general population; the darker the shade, the more populous the state. Apologies to Alaska, which would be much smaller than it’s accustomed to being, and Hawaii, which for once would be bigger than its noncontiguous companion.
It is a common assumption among alumni that the University’s student body has become less regionally based in recent years. Yet these maps are strikingly similar. Just over half of the University’s undergraduate alumni live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York. The same states account for a little more than 40 percent of the new freshman class. In fact, the top eight states for alumni are the same for the Class of 2013. Penn appears to draw new undergrads from places where its alumni network is strongest.
The contiguous United States, scaled in proportion to the number of incoming freshmen from each one.
The lower 48 scaled in proportion to the number of undergraduate alumni in each state.
In global terms, however, the pictures are a little different. For starters, almost 12 percent of the Class of 2013 live outside the United States, compared to a little more than 4 percent of alumni. And the center of gravity appears to be shifting from Europe toward Asia and the Pacific, and to some extent Central America.
South Korea and Singapore are home to a hefty fraction of alumni, but an even heftier share of the new freshmen. (But for computational limitations arising from its tiny real geographic area, Singapore would be even bigger on both maps.) Meanwhile, the reverse is true for the aging population of Japan.
There are proportionally more Indians among the Class of 2013 than among alumni; only Canada has contributed more students to the new class.
China is a special case. If the source code for these maps enabled Hong Kong and Taiwan to be treated as independent entities, a stark difference would emerge. There are nearly five times as many alumni living in Hong Kong as in the rest of the People’s Republic, which in turn contains about as many Quakers as Taiwan. Among the new freshmen, however, mainland China eclipses Hong Kong by a small margin and Taiwan by a large one. No word yet, however, on whether the brand-new Penn Club of Idaho will soon be joined by the Penn Club of Guangdong.
The rest of the world, in terms of incoming freshmen (top) and alumni (bottom).