Penn Students Taking Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
westphillybandr
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby westphillybandr » Tue May 21, 2013 6:41 pm

rt830 wrote:Hi guys, anyone wanna help out a gal out with these questions? Gracias!

1. The small class size is actually a minor downside for me since I went to a tiny undergrad... so does it ever get claustrophobic? And does the smaller class size generate more competition you think?

2. I missed out on ASW... so, at the risk of sweeping generalizations, is there a typical Penn student or certain personality types that the school attracts? I know T14 shares a lot of the same applicants but at the same time there's gotta be some self-selection, no?

3. Along these lines, is the student body diverse? I am mainly wondering if the class is diverse enough that you can always find a group of friends that you really like.

4. Do all of the classrooms have windows? I saw a lot of classes with windows but wasn't sure about the big lecture halls.

5. What is the grading curve like? Are the vast majority of people clustered around median (I assume that would be easier for most people to get biglaw)... or many people far away from median on each end?


2. I wouldn't say there is a typical Penn student however most people are friendly and the vast majority are at least cordial.
4. Two of the big lecture halls in Gittis are in the basement. In all likelihood you will have at least one class in either one during your first year.

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PennBull
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby PennBull » Tue May 21, 2013 6:51 pm

My answers in red.

rt830 wrote:Hi guys, anyone wanna help out a gal out with these questions? Gracias!

1. The small class size is actually a minor downside for me since I went to a tiny undergrad... so does it ever get claustrophobic? And does the smaller class size generate more competition you think?

No and no. First of all, at any law school, you're going to be around the same people every day for your first year. Even if the entire class size is large, you're still taking classes within your one section all the time. Secondly, Penn is a massive university. Get out of the law school. We have a very active and fun graduate student body, coordinated by GAPSA (google Penn GAPSA to get a taste of what we do). Undergrad events are also fair game to you, even if it's not well advertised. Concerts, comedy shows, speakers, etc/ that the university attracts and promotes to the undergraduate student body are fully available to you as well. Thirdly, you're in a very big city of Philadelphia with several other schools around and people to meet. It's not like you're in a town like, oh, I don't know, Ann Arbor or Charlottesville (wink wink). I think it's pretty much impossible to get claustrophobic.

As for competition, well, Penn has a reputation as being one of the more relaxed and collegial schools. I think we live up to that reputation. Other schools can be pretty chill too, but I haven't been there. I know every incoming law student has fears of cutthroatness and whatever, but you're not going to find that here. There's always the occasional asshole I guess, but it's always avoidable.


2. I missed out on ASW... so, at the risk of sweeping generalizations, is there a typical Penn student or certain personality types that the school attracts? I know T14 shares a lot of the same applicants but at the same time there's gotta be some self-selection, no?

One thing that did surprise me was the amount of people in my class from California, Texas, Florida, and the midwest. I thought it would be all Northeasterners, but it's got a really good geographical diversity. That impressed me. Penn has a deserved and earned reputation for placing students in high numbers to law firms, so the percentage of private-practice-minded folks is probably a bit higher. But, our public interest community is very substantial and active on campus. It's definitely a big part of our community. I have no idea how its exposure compares to other schools, but it certainly adds to the diversity of interests here.

3. Along these lines, is the student body diverse? I am mainly wondering if the class is diverse enough that you can always find a group of friends that you really like.

See above. And yes. Law schools everywhere try to maintain a nice blend of students from different backgrounds and destinations.

4. Do all of the classrooms have windows? I saw a lot of classes with windows but wasn't sure about the big lecture halls.

Ha, I hope this won't sway your decision. Penn has 5 large lecture halls (4 in Gittis, 1 in Golkin), and three mid-size lecture halls (in Silverman). The Silverman rooms and 2 Gittis rooms have windows. The others do not.

That said, our study spaces and the school itself is really sunny and spacious. If you check out Google Maps satellite view you can see it's 4 buildings arranged in a rectangle, with a big courtyard in the middle. No building is meant for a particular thing--there are offices, classrooms, and study spaces dispersed throughout each building. I really like Penn's setup.


5. What is the grading curve like? Are the vast majority of people clustered around median (I assume that would be easier for most people to get biglaw)... or many people far away from median on each end?

What the curve is at each school does not matter at all, especially if you're choosing between Penn and its peers. When you interview for positions, employers will most likely know how your grades stack up against your peers, at both your school and other schools. A B at one school could be as good as a B+ at another school.

One positive is that Penn doesn't calculate GPAs, and professors have a bit of wiggle room to give more of a particular grade to more students as long as it fits within some sort of parameter.


I hope that helps. Penn is awesome, Philly is awesome, and I hope you join us!

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Nelson
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Nelson » Tue May 21, 2013 10:32 pm

rt830 wrote:1. The small class size is actually a minor downside for me since I went to a tiny undergrad... so does it ever get claustrophobic? And does the smaller class size generate more competition you think?

The class size isn't that small. You won't know everyone in your class unless you're really aggressively outgoing. Most law schools are divided into sections of roughly the same size so I don't think class size makes a big difference.

As for the competitiveness thing, I don't think most top schools are outwardly competitive. I think most people at Penn are averse to being seen as competitive, go out of their way to be personable, and certainly don't outwardly talk about grades.
rt830 wrote:2. I missed out on ASW... so, at the risk of sweeping generalizations, is there a typical Penn student or certain personality types that the school attracts? I know T14 shares a lot of the same applicants but at the same time there's gotta be some self-selection, no?

T14 schools have very similar applicant pools and student bodies. I think law school "personality" is largely a myth.
rt830 wrote:3. Along these lines, is the student body diverse? I am mainly wondering if the class is diverse enough that you can always find a group of friends that you really like.

The student body is pretty diverse (at least as much as my undergrad). There's a lot of demographic diversity and a decent amount of age diversity 23-30ish. I think the 2015 class is more politically diverse than I expected, more than a small minority of conservatives. Still, law students are a definite type, so expect to go to school with other law students.
rt830 wrote:4. Do all of the classrooms have windows? I saw a lot of classes with windows but wasn't sure about the big lecture halls.

Some of the lecture rooms are underground, but it's not that big of a deal. I had about half of my 1L classes in basement lecture halls.
rt830 wrote:5. What is the grading curve like? Are the vast majority of people clustered around median (I assume that would be easier for most people to get biglaw)... or many people far away from median on each end?

The curve is pretty standard for a graded T14. The law school's policy of not disclosing GPAs or the curve tends to keep people from knowing exactly where they stand. I think Penn does a pretty good job of helping people near the median (above or below) secure a job.

Edited a bunch of times because I can't type good.
Last edited by Nelson on Tue May 21, 2013 10:36 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Nelson
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Nelson » Tue May 21, 2013 10:33 pm

PennBull wrote:I hope that helps. Penn is awesome, Philly is awesome, and I hope you join us!

I agree with this.

westphillybandr
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby westphillybandr » Tue May 21, 2013 11:26 pm

Nelson wrote:
PennBull wrote:I hope that helps. Penn is awesome, Philly is awesome, and I hope you join us!

I agree with this.


Penn is awesome. Philly is OK. JOIN US! Muahahahahahahahahaha....

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JamesDean1955
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby JamesDean1955 » Wed May 22, 2013 5:46 am

westphillybandr wrote:
Nelson wrote:
PennBull wrote:I hope that helps. Penn is awesome, Philly is awesome, and I hope you join us!

I agree with this.


Penn is awesome. Philly is OK. JOIN US! Muahahahahahahahahaha....


Just OK? Are you a fellow NYer? :lol:

SportsFan
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby SportsFan » Fri May 24, 2013 2:44 pm

With 3 of 4 grades in, last semester was a disaster. :(

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JamesDean1955
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby JamesDean1955 » Fri May 24, 2013 2:46 pm

SportsFan wrote:With 3 of 4 grades in, last semester was a disaster. :(


Sorry to hear that :(

HeavenWood
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby HeavenWood » Fri May 24, 2013 2:47 pm

SportsFan wrote:With 3 of 4 grades in, last semester was a disaster. :(

Big Downward trend? If it helps, my big upward trend proved essentially meaningless. I was ultimately judged based on my cumulative average. How big of a drop are we talking? You can PM me if you'd like.

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Nelson
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Nelson » Fri May 24, 2013 3:16 pm

SportsFan wrote:With 3 of 4 grades in, last semester was a disaster. :(

That sucks man. Keep your head up.

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PennBull
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby PennBull » Fri May 24, 2013 3:45 pm

SportsFan wrote:With 3 of 4 grades in, last semester was a disaster. :(


That fourth grade can make all the difference. Have a beer and then assess the whole thing after.

Either way, keep on that hustle and flow and you'll be just fine. Penn is Penn.

SportsFan
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby SportsFan » Fri May 24, 2013 3:52 pm

PennBull wrote:
SportsFan wrote:With 3 of 4 grades in, last semester was a disaster. :(


That fourth grade can make all the difference. Have a beer and then assess the whole thing after.

Either way, keep on that hustle and flow and you'll be just fine. Penn is Penn.

Yeah, its basically gonna make the difference between bottom 3rd and medianish. Sigh.

westphillybandr
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby westphillybandr » Fri May 24, 2013 4:59 pm

SportsFan wrote:
PennBull wrote:
SportsFan wrote:With 3 of 4 grades in, last semester was a disaster. :(


That fourth grade can make all the difference. Have a beer and then assess the whole thing after.

Either way, keep on that hustle and flow and you'll be just fine. Penn is Penn.

Yeah, its basically gonna make the difference between bottom 3rd and medianish. Sigh.

Are you waiting on an elective?

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Sheffield
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Sheffield » Sat May 25, 2013 10:37 am

FYI: From the Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn law graduates see exceptionally high employment rates. Over the past four years, Penn Law graduates have seen full-time employment rates between 86.1 percent and 95.2 percent. According to the American Bar Association, only 58.6 percent of lawyers who graduated from law school in 2012 found full-time employment within nine months. The remaining graduates were underemployed, employed part-time or seeking employment.

In contrast, employment numbers released in February for the class of 2012 showed a full-time employment rate of 95.2 percent — the highest Penn Law graduates have seen in four years. The members of Penn Law’s class of 2013, which had its commencement ceremony on May 13, are expected to report high employment numbers despite the national trend toward underemployment for recent law school graduates. Only 0.7 percent of 2012 Penn Law graduates were employed part-time, as compared to the 6.2 percent national average for law graduates.

senorhosh
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby senorhosh » Sun May 26, 2013 4:47 am

Anyone know if Penn offers need based grants off the WL? I know some schools don't have a separate merit/need based system... was wondering if Penn is one of them

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JamesDean1955
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby JamesDean1955 » Sun May 26, 2013 9:07 am

senorhosh wrote:Anyone know if Penn offers need based grants off the WL? I know some schools don't have a separate merit/need based system... was wondering if Penn is one of them


I'm not a Penn student (yet), but they do have a separate need/merit system. I believe that the financial aid office handles the need grants, and the scholarship committee (part of the admissions office I think?) handles the merit awards.

I know because I specifically requested to be evaluated for both and I went through two different processes.

As for need awards off the waitlist, my guess is yes they do (this seems to always be the case at schools with separate need/merit award systems), but I can't confirm this. Some of the need grants come from alumni donors, and these funds may dry up later in the cycle.

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dsn32
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby dsn32 » Sun May 26, 2013 9:52 am

JamesDean1955 wrote:
senorhosh wrote:Anyone know if Penn offers need based grants off the WL? I know some schools don't have a separate merit/need based system... was wondering if Penn is one of them


I'm not a Penn student (yet), but they do have a separate need/merit system. I believe that the financial aid office handles the need grants, and the scholarship committee (part of the admissions office I think?) handles the merit awards.

I know because I specifically requested to be evaluated for both and I went through two different processes.

As for need awards off the waitlist, my guess is yes they do (this seems to always be the case at schools with separate need/merit award systems), but I can't confirm this. Some of the need grants come from alumni donors, and these funds may dry up later in the cycle.


I had a completely different experience where I was told there is basically "no difference between need and merit, they are both coming from the same source". So who knows haha.

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JamesDean1955
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby JamesDean1955 » Sun May 26, 2013 10:29 am

^ Yeah that is strange. I spoke to Randi Garnick (Penn admissions) who forwarded my stuff to the scholarship committee, and Melinda Stellaccio in the financial aid office. I had to talk to and go through different people and seemed like separate evaluation processes. When I negotiated and was denied more aid on one end, I was able to appeal to the other for more.

Some people do claim there is no such thing as strict need aid, but idk why they would go through all this trouble instead of just streamlining it into one process if this was the case.

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PennBull
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby PennBull » Sun May 26, 2013 12:27 pm

JamesDean1955 wrote:^ Yeah that is strange. I spoke to Randi Garnick (Penn admissions) who forwarded my stuff to the scholarship committee, and Melinda Stellaccio in the financial aid office. I had to talk to and go through different people and seemed like separate evaluation processes. When I negotiated and was denied more aid on one end, I was able to appeal to the other for more.

Some people do claim there is no such thing as strict need aid, but idk why they would go through all this trouble instead of just streamlining it into one process if this was the case.


I went through two different processes. I have some need aid and some merit aid.

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dsn32
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby dsn32 » Sun May 26, 2013 1:36 pm

Hmmm.... interesting. I was told they max out at a certain amount for need (which they upped my award to reflect) and that it is very rare to get both need and merit aid. Any chance you negotiated one or the other PennBull?

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PennBull
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby PennBull » Sun May 26, 2013 1:36 pm

dsn32 wrote:Hmmm.... interesting. I was told they max out at a certain amount for need (which they upped my award to reflect) and that it is very rare to get both need and merit aid. Any chance you negotiated one or the other PennBull?


Nope.

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dsn32
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby dsn32 » Sun May 26, 2013 1:43 pm

PennBull wrote:
dsn32 wrote:Hmmm.... interesting. I was told they max out at a certain amount for need (which they upped my award to reflect) and that it is very rare to get both need and merit aid. Any chance you negotiated one or the other PennBull?


Nope.


Good to know, I appreciate the info!

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JamesDean1955
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby JamesDean1955 » Sun May 26, 2013 2:15 pm

dsn32 wrote:Hmmm.... interesting. I was told they max out at a certain amount for need (which they upped my award to reflect) and that it is very rare to get both need and merit aid. Any chance you negotiated one or the other PennBull?


This is all probably true based on what I've seen this cycle, although I'm always skeptical of when a law school tells you there is only x amount of aid, because chances are they've told someone else something different. However, it is possible to negotiate either type. I had a little bit of success with the need aid negotiating, and I've PM'd other TLSers this cycle and found they had more success than I did. I know of others who had the same starting amount of need aid as I did, better numbers, and were given more need aid through negotiations. Take from that what you will.

Some of us were told there was only x amount of aid available, some were told to write a summary of why we deserved more aid/their financial aid estimates were wrong, and others just had their awards increased almost automatically simply by virtue of asking. In any case, definitely worth a shot.

SportsFan
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby SportsFan » Thu May 30, 2013 7:06 pm

Fall 2012 OCI data is on the CPP website now, FWIW. Probably been there a few weeks but I just randomly thought to go looking for it.

Edit: And compared to the Fall 2011 data, its better because they broke it down by office location.

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dsn32
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby dsn32 » Thu May 30, 2013 7:18 pm

SportsFan wrote:Fall 2012 OCI data is on the CPP website now, FWIW. Probably been there a few weeks but I just randomly thought to go looking for it.

Edit: And compared to the Fall 2011 data, its better because they broke it down by office location.


Could you post a link? 0L who hasn't quite figured out the site yet!




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