For me, M&T was a pipe dream, an application I wrote on a whim. I never even entertained the thought of getting in – much less actually attending the program. The selectivity aside, I wasn’t completely sure of my interest in business. I state it now and I state it proudly – I’m an engineer by heart. Entering college knowing that I would be concentrating fully on both business and engineering was intimidating. The workload and the horror stories I heard about the program were intimidating! So when Ivy Day rolled around and I opened every school’s decisions page in tab after tab, I opened Penn last.
When I read the decision, at first I didn’t even realize that I had been accepted – this was how ridiculous the idea of being in M&T was to me. Only after I reread the page did I fully comprehend it. Though I felt an overwhelming surge of pride and joy, the predominant feeling was one of conflict. How could I confidently choose M&T without being committed to studying business? How would I deal with the workload? What was the balance between engineering and business? And the overarching question: was it a good idea for someone more engineering-oriented to attend? I had so many questions, concerns, fears. Yet almost immediately, administrators and students in the program rushed to answer them and dispel my preconceptions – my first taste of the community that is the program’s greatest asset. Through their advice I came to understand the sheer breadth of opportunity M&T presented. Even if a large number of M&T’s went on to work in the business world, it was definitely not the only option. No matter where I’ll end up in the future, someone in the M&T alumni network will be there. And as their outreach efforts testified, I would never be able to appreciate the community of current M&T’s enough, both in and out of school. Lastly, how could I pass up an education in both one of the world’s best engineering programs and the world’s best business program simultaneously? That my arrival coincided with a Penn initiative into the area of research I was most interested in, nanotechnology (the tech of the future!), was just icing. When May 1st came up, I accepted M&T with full belief in my choice and with confidence that I could chart my path after graduating, be it Wall Street, Silicon Valley, or the world of academia.
Now that I’m into my second semester, I would be lying if I said I had no regrets. Leaving the California weather isn’t easy. Definitely yes, the workload is difficult. But overall, it was – is – the right choice.