Myths About Going to College in a City…

Skyline of Center City Philadelphia from campus

Myths About Going to College in a City…

This is the time of year when many juniors begin to embark on college visits, and students at all points of the process may be thinking about what makes a school a good fit for them. A school’s location and surrounding area (urban, suburban, rural or somewhere in between) is an important factor to consider. Much of Penn’s character comes from the diverse and vibrant city of Philadelphia that we call home. Below, we address five commonly held myths about attending a college or university in a city, and then offer some perspective based on our urban campus. 

You may think that…going to school in a city means that there will be no campus feel. 

Actually, our campus is a self-contained residential living and learning space that is integrated yet distinct from our home city of Philadelphia. Stepping onto campus means being surrounded by trees, brick-lined walkways, and open green spaces. You’ll feel like you’re really at college on our campus, surrounded by other people who are living, learning, and studying at Penn.  

You may think that…going to school in a city means that you need a car/bus/taxi/train to get around. 

Actually, Penn’s campus is totally accessible by your own two feet. Our setting is on a tight-knit, green campus with nearly all major academic buildings located within a six-block by two-block radius. Locust Walk, the main pedestrian artery, runs straight up the middle of campus providing direct access to academic buildings, dining facilities, dorms and more. If you do have transportation needs, Penn buses make continuous loops downtown and throughout Penn’s surrounding neighborhoods. Philadelphia is a friendly and walkable city as well. If you want to venture off campus, the city and greater area is served by an extensive network of regional rail, subway, bus, trolley and train lines. For most services, discounted passes are available for full-time Penn students. 

You may think that…going to school in a city is unsafe. 

Actually, our urban campus is highly regarded for student safety. Penn has been ranked first for safety in the Higher Education Sector by Security Magazine for seven straight years. With a private police force and a 24-hour-a-day riding or walking escort program for students, Penn is one of the nation’s safest campuses. 

You may think that…going to school in a city means that there are no opportunities to get outside. 

Actually, Penn’s campus in West Philadelphia has so much green space that it was officially declared an arboretum in 2017. Penn also owns the Morris Arboretum outside of the city, if you’re looking for more green space. Locust Walk, the central artery on campus, is tree-lined and shady and feels worlds removed from the busy city one block away. The Bio Pond is another natural oasis tucked into our urban campus, as is Penn Park and the nearby Schuylkill River Trail. Dust off your running or walking shoes; there are lots of opportunities to soak up that fresh air just steps from campus. 

You may think that…only students who grow up in cities choose to go to college in a city. 

Actually, students from 49 states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, are represented in the class of 2022. These students come from big cities, small towns, and everywhere in between. No matter where you may be coming from, Penn can be a home for you. 

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