Saturday, May 5, 2012

Photo Recap of the Year

As promised, here are photos highlighting some of my activities and travels during my year at Penn :)...


Fall Semester


Penn GSE!

Fall at Penn

 Philadelphia City Hall by Night

Liberty Bell

Elfreth's Alley, Olde City

Chinatown, Center City

Philly Food Truck Festival, Chinatown

Tour of Wall Street Journal, Midtown NYC

Sara Bareilles Concert, Electric Factory

Fliers Game vs Maple Leafs

Penn Homecoming Game vs Princeton

Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade

Spring Semester

 Philly's First Snow of the Winter, College Hall @ Penn

Chinese New Year at Penn, Houston Hall

Capitol Hill, DC

 US Botanical Gardens, DC

Mercury Lounge, Lower East Side NYC

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn NYC

Penn's Spring Fling in the Quad

View of Center City from South Street

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The End is Approaching...

I cannot believe I only have about 2 weeks left of classes! This year really flew by. At this point, I can say I have grown a lot throughout my two semesters at Penn GSE. I feel much more competent and confident as a counselor. The practicum experience I have had this year working at a high school in Philadelphia has given me a realistic look at how the school system functions, the responsibilities counselors typically have on a dat-to-day basis, and how public educational institutions handle students' emotional and behavioral issues as well as personal crises. Most importantly, I had multiple opportunities to practice and refine my individual and group counseling skills.

In addition to the practicum, we were also required to work with a volunteer client throughout the academic year. That experience, in particular, helped me improve my counseling skills and practice utilizing theoretical approaches taught in our counseling interventions and counseling practicum courses. The experiential component of the CMHS program supplemented my courses well and, in my opinion, was the major source of my personal growth.

***For those of you who have decided to join us in the fall, congrats again and welcome :)! You will probably be receiving emails within the next two months about housing, practicum preferences, information on courses, security clearances, etc. If you plan to live on campus, apply online asap so you can get assigned to a room sooner than later! Layouts and rates are on the housing website. I think I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but just to reiterate you will be asked about what type of population (children or adults for example) you want to work with and in what type of setting (mental health agency or school). My advice is to be as specific as you can so that they can place you at an appropriate site. Also, you will be enrolled in your fall semester courses automatically because there is a set curriculum in the first semester, so no need to worry about that! I believe that is all you need to know at this time. Of course if you have additional questions, please feel free to shoot me an email at or comment on this post.

I am starting to make summer plans (yay!) and will update you soon on those after I do a little research on the events going on in Philly :)...
I will also do a photo post soon since I haven't done one in a while!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Why I chose Penn GSE!

Many of you are starting to make your graduate program decisions so I thought I'd tell you why I decided to enroll at Penn GSE around this time last year.

As I evaluated each program I was admitted to, I was looking for certain factors I found to be important: academics, quality of faculty, location, and social atmosphere. I wanted to attend an institution that had a solid program with a good selection of courses that I wanted to take, professors that were approachable and knowledgeable, a fun and convenient location, and a small cohort but large overall graduate population. The Counseling program at Penn GSE offered certain courses that initally drew my interest, including Sociocultural Foundations in Counseling, Career Counseling, and Adolescent Development (a PDF of course offerings is on the Penn GSE website).  The counseling staff was very approachable and supportive when I had questions to ask about the program. I think I spent almost one hour talking to a Penn GSE professor on her cell phone! She provided a personal touch that other program faculty didn't. Also, Philadelphia seemed like a great city that had a simple and convenient public transportation system, and it is affordable. The city also offered lots of things to see and do. Lastly, CMHS cohorts on average had 30-35 people which I believed to be a great size for community-building and developing relationships with faculty and staff. Surprisingly, Penn's graduate student population is slightly larger than it's undergraduate population (11,000 vs 10,000). That is quite rare among universities! There is a large graduate presence on campus and, therefore, a wide range of resources for the graduate population. Overall, I decided that Penn GSE seemed to be a great fit. Now, a year later, I can say that I am still happy with my decision to come here! Penn delivered.

As you begin to make your decision, I would highly suggest writing down what factors of graduate life are important to you. Don't hesitate to call program faculty to ask any program-related questions you have. Also, if you still have time to visit campuses, I would strongly urge you to do so because liking where you live makes the experience much more enjoyable! If you have any questions or concerns during your decision-making process, feel free to leave me a comment or send me a message!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Last Webchat for Accepted Students

**Reminder: The last webchat of the academic year for accepted students is this Thursday (04/12) evening from 8-9pm (EST). This is an ideal time to ask current GSE students any program, student life, Philadelphia, and Penn-related questions you may have. Please RSVP online if you haven't already!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Master's Preview Day: "New to Philly" Recap

This past Friday, March 30, Penn GSE held their open house for accepted students called Master's Preview Day. The day was full of speakers and festivities. For those of you who were unable to attend, the schedule looked something like this:

9:00am - Registration and Breakfast Begin
9:15am - Optional Session for Those New to Philly
10:30am - Welcome and Overview of the Day
10:45am - Getting to Know Each Other
11:00am - Current Student Panel
12:00pm - Lunch with Faculty & Current Students
1:15pm - Academic Division Break Out Sessions
2:30pm - Concurrent Sessions (Choice of Mock Class, Campus Tour, Alumni & Career Services Panel, and "You've already decided to enroll at Penn GSE, now what?")
4:45pm - Reception with Current Students & Alumni

Unfortunately, I was not able to stay for the entire event because I had to go into my practicum site, but I did participate in the "New to Philly" Presentation and Panel earlier in the day. I'd like to give those of you who weren't there a recap of the presentation as well as questions that were answered.

For those of you who will be new to the Philadelphia area, it is beneficial for you to know that the city is broken up into neighborhoods. There are Penn GSE students living in virtually all of them. Each neighborhood offers a unique environment as well as various types of housing options.
**Note: The housing prices are estimated to be around $700-1400 per person/month depending on the neighborhood/building. I would suggest doing some internet research on your own to get specifics.

  • University City
    • Penn campus is located here
    • West of Center City
    • Housing: townhomes (1-8 bedrooms), apartment buildings (studios, 1-4 bedrooms)
  • West Philadelphia
    • West of University City
    • Walking distance from campus
    •  Housing: townhomes (1-8 bedrooms), apartment buildings (studios, 1-4 bedrooms)
  • Art Museum/Fairmount Park
    • North of Center City
    • 10-15 minute bus ride from campus
    • Housing: apartment buildings
  • Olde City
    • East of Center City
    • 15/20 minute subway/bus ride from campus
    • Housing: row homes, town homes, apartments
  • Bella Vista/Queen Village/South Philadelphia
    • South of Center/Olde City
    •  20 minute bus ride from campus
    • Housing: row homes, town homes, apartments
  • Center City (Rittenhouse/Fitler Square)
    • Just east of University City
    • 10 minute subway/trolley/bus ride from campus
    • Walkable (20 minutes)
    • Housing: row homes, town homes, apartments
  • Graduate Hospital
    • South of Center City
    • 10-15 minute bus ride from campus
    • Walkable (20 minutes)
    • Housing: row homes, town homes, apartments
  • Northern Liberties
    • North of Olde City
    • 15-20 minute subway ride from campus
    • Housing: town homes, apartments
  • Fishtown
    •  North of Northern Liberties
    • 20 minute subway ride from campus
    • Housing: town homes, apartments

The food/bar scene in Philadelphia is pretty much awesome everywhere. I personally head out to University City, Center City, and Olde City when I am in search of a great dining/nightlife experience. I have heard good things about restaurants and bars in South Philly as well. Yelp has been my best friend since I've lived here.

Public tranportation is pretty easy to use in Philly. Penn GSE students frequently use the SEPTA subways, trolleys, and buses to get to and from campus and to various neighborhoods. The fare is a token (<$2) or 2 single dollar bills. You can purchase annual and semester passes online and on the Penn campus as well. Check out the SEPTA website for more info:

Also, Philly is definitely walkable and bikeable!

Hope that might be helpful to those of you thinking about to relocating here. Feel free to comment if you have any additional/more specific questions!