Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thinking about Pre-Orientation? Here's two students' reasons why you should come!

The best decision we made after committing to Penn was signing up for the AWE Pre-Orientation program. We know that sounds a little over the top, but it’s a completely legit statement. Coming into Penn Engineering, we didn’t know anybody and didn’t know what to expect, but the AWE Pre-Orientation program quickly alleviated all of our fears of not making friends or knowing what to do.

Close to half of the girls in the incoming engineering class participate in AWE Pre-Orientation every year, and that number continues to grow. This makes the program an AWEsome (we’re so punny) way to get to know the girls in your classes. We walked into our Chem 101 lecture the first day of classes and basically knew all of the girls, which made us feel much more comfortable in a completely new and stressful situation. We ended up studying with girls from AWE in a lot of our classes, and hung out with them outside of class as well. Most importantly, we found each other. We met during a rather intense spaghetti structure competition on the first night and bonded on the walk to the quad when one of us (Bizzie) didn’t know how to get there from engineering. We’ve been besties ever since. In fact, we’re rooming together next year! We aren’t exaggerating when we say the friends you make during Pre-Orientation will be your friends for the next four years.

In addition to the friends we made, the knowledge we gained was irreplaceable once we started freshman year. For one thing, we got to move into our dorms early. Trust us when we say this: there is NOTHING more valuable than moving in early! It was super convenient since it’s pretty empty and there aren’t a lot of people to get in your way. Moreover, we learned how to get to our classes, and how to navigate the engineering quad, as well as DRL (the math and physics building) before anybody else even got on campus. There was a general engineering tour during New Student Orientation, and when all the boys tried to figure out what country they were in, we already knew the E-Quad like the back of our hand. 

The volunteers of the AWE pre-orientation were also extremely helpful in preparing us--both emotionally and mentally--for the year ahead. These girls gave up their time to help us, and they really were an incredible group of girls, who we still know, look up to, and are even friends with now. They did the program themselves, and have the female engineering thing down. They gave us great advice about everything, from office hours and the horrifying average engineering GPA, to understanding the Penn social life. They were completely honest with us, answered any questions we threw at them, and made it clear they just wanted to ease our stress. Further, the Pre-Orientation gave us a ton of insight to all the engineering majors, which was extremely helpful for one of us (Lindsay), who was undecided at the time. After attending the Pre-Orientation, we felt far more prepared walking into class, with a group of girl friends and knowing what to expect.

At Penn, we definitely have a “work hard, play hard” mentality, and so naturally the AWE Pre-Orientation included some super cool events that made the experience all the more fun. We watched a movie and had a scavenger hunt (which we almost won) and explored Philly! Michele (the Director of Advancing Women in Engineering, or, as she refers to herself, “the lady who sends all the emails”) took us on a trolley tour of Philadelphia, to Reading Terminal Market for some amazing cheese steaks and ice cream, and to a bowling alley (cookies and lemonade were included).

Now, this brings us to our last point about AWE: we love Michele. She is an academic advisor, and so she is incredibly approachable and helpful with questions about classes or AWE or anything else. She is incredibly passionate about bringing the women in engineering together and building a community amongst them, which she succeeds at beautifully. And more importantly, if Michele is there, there is a 99 percent chance of free food. She is the queen of the BEST FREE FOOD YOU WILL EVER EAT. There will be so much of it; your stomach will thank you.

In closing, we absolutely loved our AWE experience. Signing up for the AWE Pre-Orientation program was the best decision we made our freshmen year, and we hope that every girl in Engineering makes the same choice.

Bizzie & Lindsay just finished their freshmen year at Penn. Questions for them? Email awe@seas.upenn.edu

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