Insiders' tips


We asked campus elders — staff, faculty, students — to offer their words of wisdom for the new guys on campus. Here’s what they answered:

  • Norm Mitchell, manager, Facilities Management
    “Don’t go overboard on the partying. [After your party,] I have to replace and repair furniture, doors, broken glass, unclog toilets from massive amounts of paper towels.”
  • Roger Gordon (C’98), programmer systems analyst, Wharton
    “Sit in the first row in class. You won’t get disturbed by idiots reading the paper and gossiping. And the professors will treat you better because they recognize you. Also, socialize with people who share your moral values—or slightly higher.”
  • Kieran Snyder, linguistics Ph.D. candidate
    “Buy all books from Amazon.com. You’ll save a lot of money. And abandon any thought of ever getting a good bagel in this city.”
  • Alexandra McFadden, College, Class of ’03
    (Former Penn Young Scholar.) “Go to counselors and don’t pretend you’re big and bad and know everything. Harass tutors and teachers for help. They have office hours, so go to them. If you can revise papers, then do it. Give a copy to Writer’s House or to your professor ahead of time to ask if you’re heading in the right direction.”
  • Andres Fajardo, administrative assistant, Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group
    “For s
    occer enthusiasts, there are pickup soccer games behind the stadium next to Bower Field. All kinds of international people, some associated with Penn and some not, play.”
  • Jennifer Baldwin, reference intern, Library
    “Come to the librarian for help when you’re trying to evaluate Internet sites. A lot of students waste time by doing Yahoo! searches instead of using scholarly databases.”
  • Dan Bogen, professor of bioengineering
    “Show up for the introductory meetings for your majors where all requirements are explained. Some students try to delay as long as possible knowing the demands of their majors so they don’t know what classes to take.”
  • John Bell, linguistics Ph.D. candidate
    “The food trucks by Gimbel Gym.”
  • Garrett Dworman (Gr’99), lecturer, Wharton
    “Make sure to take a nice walk around ‘the Pond’ behind the zoology building. It’s a nice tension breaker.”
  • Giovanni Gavetti, Wharton Ph.D. candidate
    “Foreign students should go to the Office of International Programs and ask everything. You can find out the way the university system works, information about housing, the city, campus.”

— Sono Motoyama

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Originally published on September 2, 1999