As the time drew near to choose which graduate programs I was going to apply to, Penn wasn’t even on my original list. I visited schools like NYU, dabbled with Columbia, and a few other small programs in New Jersey. It wasn’t until a professor of mine, whom I truly admire, who one day in class just said flat out to me, “Why don’t you look at Penn?”

At first, I thought “no way would a great school like Penn want me”, but my professor insisted I submit my application because the worst thing they can do is say no. So, I did and after stressful GRE cramming and assuring all my documents were sent and in place, I received the exciting email that it was time for me to come in for an interview. It was my first of four total interviews I would go on for my graduate school applications. I remember feeling excited and nervous. My mom drove me into the city and stayed while I interviewed inside the GSE building. I remember walking along Locust Walk and looking over at her and saying, “Mom, this is where I want to go, if I don’t get in I’m going to be crushed.”

That feeling was a complete 180 from when I submitted my application. Suddenly, I felt myself throwing all my eggs in one basket, and I knew I had to crush the interview.

From the moment my interviewers posed their first question, to our closing handshake goodbyes, I felt welcome. The two faculty members completely engaged with myself and the two other women in the interview. I felt like I was finally getting the attention I deserved and someone was finally listening to my goals. It was so easy for me to relax and open up to these two faculty members. I got to completely be myself which was such an important factor to me when it came to choosing a program, since my undergraduate school was so large and I was really just a number there.

I walked out of that interview with the biggest smile on my face, my mom was pleasantly surprised with my positive feelings afterwards. About forty-eight hours later I received my acceptance, and celebrated accordingly.

That feeling I got in my Penn interview I didn’t receive in any of the other ones I participated in. I also admired the ability to get a dual certification in Penn’s counseling program. Penn also was right in the neighborhood of my target population. It also just so happened to be one of the top graduate schools of education in the country. However, all of these factors fell secondary to that feeling I got in my interview. The ultimate deciding factor for Penn was that connection I felt with the faculty, who have truly continued that connection since I’ve arrived on campus.