Are you thinking about applying early? Peter LaBerge C’17 goes back in time and reflects on his decision to apply early decision to Penn. A year ago, in October, Peter found out what mattered most to him in a potential college community—today, we learn about this personal discovery. Peter’s words inspire both renewed focus and levity for students completing their application as well as those still considering the process. Notice how concepts underlying the 4Cs play an integral role in Peter’s narrative. Thank you, Peter, for sharing your insight:
“Hi. My name is Peter LaBerge, I’m a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, and I love Penn! If you’re reading this as a high school senior totally overwhelmed with the prospects of deciding where to apply and how to spend your next four years, I bring refreshing news: You will figure it out.
Take me, for example. This time last year, I was scrambling (that’s an understatement) to complete my various early admission applications. I had visited Penn, along with a dozen other schools in the northeast, but nothing caught my junior year eye. By fall of my senior year, I had settled into a comfortable ranking of reach, likely, and safety schools. I was—like you probably are now—inundated with far too much information about far too many schools.
But all of that changed one afternoon in early October, when my college counselor forwarded me an email from the Associate Director for Recruitment at Penn’s Kelly Writers House. (For those of you who have never heard of the Kelly Writers House, don’t feel shamefully oblivious—I was very involved in teenage creative writing circles and had never heard of it either!) The email piqued my interest and, after talking with my parents and college counselors, I found myself driving to Philadelphia three days later to learn more.
What I found was an enthusiastic community for creative writers, but also an entire series of vibrant micro-communities in all sorts of different disciplines. Up until that point, I’d been doing it all wrong. Here I was, looking at every possible school through the lens of a jittery high school student, when instead I should’ve taken the time to slip beneath the surface and immerse myself in communities that simply felt ‘right.’
The rest, as they say, is history. Just days from the November 1st deadline, I began to chip away at my Penn application. I remained in contact with the Kelly Writers House, and—two months later—solidified my place in Penn’s Class of 2017.
In retrospect, my best advice is to stay as open-minded as you possibly can. Don’t feel bound to your early front-runners until you’ve invested every part of yourself into the campus, student body, and faculty. At the end of the day, applying to any school is a HUGE leap of faith. But somewhere in that leap, feeling weightless and hopelessly out-of-control and vulnerable, the future below you will begin to take shape. All you have to do is land.*
*If you’re still looking for good places to land, I highly recommend plotting a route to the Insomnia Cookies in Houston Hall. If Penn’s wide variety of academic, social, and professional opportunities doesn’t convince you, the kind folks there will.
N.B.: So it turns out I can’t actually make legal guarantees on behalf of Insomnia Cookies. Whatever, just come to Penn.”