University of Pennsylvania Graduate Emily Solomon Discusses Making the Most of Your Undergraduate Experience

Emily Solomon graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Consumer Psychology. After graduating in May 2021, she started working as a copywriter at a digital marketing firm.  

Here is what Emily had to say when we asked her about making the most of your undergraduate experience:

Why did you decide to attend the University of Pennsylvania?

It’s actually kind of a funny story. Originally, I was planning on going to the University of Virginia. I had applied there early action and was so set on going there. Randomly, my mom ended up saying to me that I had been accepted to Penn, so I should go to the Accepted Students Days event. When I went I had expected to not like it because I grew up in a rural area and Penn is in a major U.S. city. However, I ended up loving it, and I’m so glad I went to Penn. 

What is the best way to find your community when you are new to campus?

I remember the day that I went to the Student Activities Fair the fall of my freshman year, and it was overwhelming. I didn’t end up joining many clubs except a Christian ministry on my campus because my faith is really important to me. I figured everything out and set my study schedules. Gradually, each semester, I would do more research to find different clubs that I wanted to join. Sophomore year, I ended up finding a swing dancing club on campus, which was fun because I had never done that before. It ended up being like a family and became my community. Therefore, I would tell my freshman self, “Even if you don’t right off the bat see clubs that are for you, you will eventually find one that becomes your community.”

How did you balance classes, extracurriculars, and having a social life?

It’s a combination of three areas: having a social life, keeping your grades up, and staying healthy. For me, I found that staying healthy, getting good sleep every night, and exercising in good proportions were key. In college, it’s really easy to get swayed when you’re hearing other people studying for hours and staying up late into thinking you should do the same. In reality, you perform better in your classes when you have good health. It’s so important to find a balance and keep everything in moderation. 

What are three of your best study tips?

Something that I didn’t do early on that I started doing sophomore and junior year was taking class as my best opportunity to study and learn the material. All you see in lecture hall is people with their laptops up using Facebook and Instagram or online shopping, and it’s easy to think that’s what you should do. However, I realized that class time is a really valuable time to prepare for exams that will happen later on. I forced myself to sit in the front row and take handwritten notes—this also allowed the professor to know me. This leads to my second piece of advice, which is get to know your professors. Be engaged and go to office hours. This will deepen your understanding of class material and make you more comfortable with asking questions. My third piece of advice is to break up the time you spend studying. I used to think that I needed to block out eight hours of my Saturday to write an essay, but found that the human brain doesn’t function well that way. Instead, I would do two hours of studying in the morning, go to lunch with my friends, and then do two more hours of work. By doing that, you find that you didn’t spend half as much time as you were going to originally spend doing work and you got to do add some fun to your day!

Did you take one class that was particularly impactful?

My favorite class I took at Penn was a Presidential Communications class that was taught by President Eisenhower’s grandson. He had so much knowledge and genuinely cared about the subject matter. I loved that class because it was very hands-on. For example, each student got to visit a presidential library to conduct research for a 30- page paper on presidential communication. I researched Reagan’s speech after The Challenger Explosion, which was fascinating. 

How did you go about building professional relationships with professors?

Be more interested in the person across from you than yourself. For every professor you want to build a relationship with, ask them about themselves and their background, and how they got from point A to point B. You’ll end up finding more often than not that they provide great life advice, even if they’re not in the same field you are interested in. It never hurts building relationships, so it’s never wasted time. Professors have office hours for a reason—take advantage! Even if you’re doing well in a class, go to office hours anyway because you never know what will come of it. 

How did you take advantage of your alumni community, while you were still an undergraduate?

I dove into the alumni community probably way sooner than I should have. I was a freshman and picked up a flyer at the Student Activities Fair for Penn Traditions, our class ambassador community that works with alumni. I ended up staying involved for the rest of my time at Penn. Freshman and sophomore year, I volunteered for our school’s Alumni Weekend, which was very cool because it helps you appreciate the amazing opportunity you have to get an education. Junior and senior year, I volunteered for my school’s annual undergraduate giving fund. I helped with marketing and communications. I loved being involved in the alumni community and thanking those who give back for future students. I recommend every undergraduate gets involved in their school’s alumni community because you never know what connections can come because of it. 

What advice would you give to your freshman self?

My first piece of advice would be to figure out how you can study abroad as soon as you can. I have older siblings and they always told me how they wished they had studied abroad and everyone who had studied abroad said that it was the best experience ever. I did and it was amazing! I was in Australia from January to March 2020. My second piece of advice is more life advice in general. We spend so much time in college thinking about life outside of college—thinking and planning for the future. I think I found myself thinking about senior year and beyond, but COVID taught me to really enjoy the present moment. That’s something that I’m still working on to this day. 

Emily Solomon graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Consumer Psychology. While at Penn, she served as a Co-Chair for Seniors for The Penn Fund and the Penn Traditions Class Ambassador Committee. She also worked as a Marketing and Communications Assistant for The Penn Fund, raising money for undergraduate financial aid. After graduating in May 2021, she started working as a copywriter at a digital marketing firm. Outside of work, she enjoys taking photos, swing dancing, playing the piano, and exploring new places with her husband.

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