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What I Learned From Struggling My First Year at Penn and Literally Every Year After That


Photo by University of the Fraser Valley / CC BY 2.0

The first year of college can be challenging. You have no idea what to expect and you end up learning important lessons the hard way. And the learning doesn’t stop there. If there’s one thing that’s harder than struggling after your first year, it’s struggling many more times your second, third, fourth, and if you failed CIS160, your fifth years at Penn.

One senior, Leila Thornall (C ’18) has been doing just that. Though her first year was pretty bad —bad grades, bad friends, and an even worse, a no-AC living unit— the hard times just never stopped. From failing classes to tripping on Locust bricks, Thornall says, "I'm impressed by how I have been able to stay consistently miserable throughout my four years at college."

As a white, upper middle class male, junior Theo Umbril (C ’19) also knows exactly what struggling at Penn entails. “Sometimes when my frat is throwing a darty, I have to skip it to study,” he recounted. “I guess that’s just the full price you pay for going to an Ivy.” However, Umbril found that even after studying intensely and skipping his fraternity’s festivities, sometimes he still finds himself having received the lowest score on his CHEM 241 exams. The struggle is never ending for these students.