Updated: Nov 15, 2020
An interview with Ethan Kaplan (PHS '18), third year candidate for a B.S.E in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania.
How have you grown since college?
“Since graduating high school, I've grown in many ways that unfortunately don't include my height. Being in college isn't always straightforward. The constant stream of coursework and activities has led me to be a more organized person. I've learned that being organized is a huge advantage when you're always busy. I am still curious how life after college works. I always hear about it, but it sounds so scary to me. People have held my hand throughout my life, telling me where to go and what to do. I don't know what I'll do when I have an actual job and taxes to pay.”
What is your favorite memory from college so far?
“Spring break 2020 has got to be the best week of my life. We got to wind down in Puerto Rico, absolutely care-free. There is something special about spring break. It's a time where college students can wind down.”
What was an unexpected challenge of college?
“Studying engineering in college was definitely harder than I thought it would be. I wish I found a simple way to overcome this challenge, but usually, I just sit down and study. There are no ways around it. I try to study with friends, which is what I've found to be a great part of engineering at Penn. We've got this sense of "we're all in this together" and it makes me feel more secure that I've got my whole major class behind my back. In college, you'll have available time to do work, but it's up to you to dedicate that time to schoolwork when you need to.”
What advice would you give to incoming college students?
“If I could tell you anything, I would tell you to find friends that vibe with you. I know making friends is not always simple, especially when you move to a new setting. However, do not settle for friends that do not treat you well or do not care for you. I've found that having a solid group of friends has made college so much more enjoyable and comforting. Not only that, it's really beneficial to my mental health to have a group of people that will listen to me when I need them too. And also, do not overwork yourself. Find a good balance between work and life. Very recently, I've struggled lots with overwork and stress. At college, sometimes you'll feel like you're the only one going through struggles, but that isn't so. There are always people in your situation that you can talk to. In fact, I'm writing this blog post from Parsippany, taking my own "fall break" for a week away from school to wind down. Make an effort to care for yourself. Treat yourself.”
Check out the Alumni Directory to learn more about Ethan and feel free to reach out to him if you'd like to learn more about his college experience!