University of Pennsylvania Essay Examples (And Why They Worked)
The following University of Pennsylvania essay examples were written by several different authors who were admitted to UPenn. All names have been redacted for anonymity. Please note that CollegeAdvisor.com has shared these essays with admissions officers at University of Pennsylvania in order to deter potential plagiarism.
For more help with your UPenn supplemental essays, check out our 2020-2021 University of Pennsylvania Essay Guide ! For more guidance on personal essays and the college application process in general, sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.
How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words)
For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.
Make no mistake—in my family, Saturday night Scrabble is no slight affair. For the better part of my childhood, I struggled to get the upper hand against my parents’ eloquent lexicon. Eventually, I found the solution in a paper by Dutch economist Jacques Polack, the architect of the International Monetary Fund: in it, he outlined how to best leverage the scarcity of the tiles involved, applying economic principles to optimize the otherwise-mundane game. Aside from revamping my Scrabble skills, his research taught me that business economics govern everything from the global economy to a board game.
Gradually, economics also became a cornerstone of my day-to-day life. Now, when my 6:35 AM alarm rings, I consider the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility before slapping the snooze button — will my nine minutes of fragmented slumber garner more utility than the alternative (a cup of freshly brewed coffee)? In debate rounds, I’ve found that the root cause of political and social problems can be found by delving into interest rates, quantitative easing, or volatility indices. However, only after working with Congressman DeSaulnier did I realize the far-sweeping effects of economic legislation. One of my most memorable projects — preparing a brief scrutinizing the social, political, and economic effects of H.R. 4674 (the College Affordability Act) — showed that even minor decreases to college tuition tackled cyclical poverty through education, with the resulting butterfly effect benefitting millions. I was hooked. After convincing the Congressman to become a co-author, I aspired to one day use economic and political principles to author similarly innovative policy.
The Business Economics and Public Policy concentration at the Wharton School offers the perfect opportunity to intertwine those passions. I appreciate Wharton’s holistic approach to teaching the global economy: courses like Nations, Politics, and Markets cover the big picture of the international markets, while Housing Markets dissects the minutiae of a single industry, isolating areas that need improvement. I also look forward to courses like Professor Eisenhower’s Communication and the Presidency — effective communication is still the bridge that turns effective ideas into tangible social change. I hope to put those lessons to use by brainstorming legislation at the Wharton Public Policy Initiative, where I’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with a uniquely diverse student body, challenge my preconceptions, and catalyze novel ideas. Clubs like the Penn International Impact Consulting offer the opportunity to collaborate with NGOs an ocean away, simultaneously letting me have a tangible social impact and helping me develop an international network. These four years at Penn will leave me with more than just a degree. From mastering the economics of Scrabble to pioneering solutions to society’s most pressing problems, they’re the first step to having a global impact.
Why this University of Pennsylvania essay worked, according to an ex admissions officer
This essay is playfully clever. The author begins with a simple game of scrabble but quickly we are transported into economic theory, which they begin to apply to all their daily happenings. The author brings us into a parallel world where everything can be analysed, and potentially solved, in economic terms. They are specific and cite actual laws and cases. We realize that this student lives, eats, and breaths in this economically obsessive universe. This is when the author brings us back to our own campus.
They speak about their own achievements and how they will translate to the community at UPenn. They refers to specific classes, professors, and clubs that are offered at University of Pennsylvania. We can visualize this person on our campus, but they do not leave it there. They wrap up their 4 years at Penn, and by doing this we see a graduate. They then reference how, with these Penn experiences, they can impact the world. It all began with a scrabble game and we are returned to the scrabble table with a clear image of what this student can accomplish with an offer from University of Pennsylvania.
I was eight when my first business idea struck. Each day, classmates would approach me with a string of questions about homework: Is Russia in Europe or Asia? What’s the commutative property? How do you spell ‘satisfied’? One day, my third-grade self thought, Why not charge a quarter for each answer?
After hearing my proposition, my dad laughed so hard he could barely repeat it to my mom. “She’s born for business!” he exclaimed.
His words stuck with me. Years later, those words propelled me to take Wharton’s Coursera Marketing class, which left me fascinated by the psychology behind marketing: Why do all the girls at school wear Lululemon leggings when Nike’s are cheaper? Why is SmartWorld Coffee right next to Starbucks? Even calculus problems on price optimization made me wonder, How do businesses price their products? As I explored, I uncovered the answers to many of these questions, even making my own findings in product-pricing last year. “Born for business” or not, I realized that I had discovered something I truly loved.
Last July, at Leadership in the Business World (LBW), I not only nurtured my burgeoning passion for business, I also experienced a glimpse of what attending Wharton would be like.
Between case studies, site visits, and discussion-based lectures, LBW embodied the interactive learning culture I thrive in. Analyzing the merits of Google’s growing power with Professor McCaffrey challenged my preconceptions of monopolies, and discussions about customer centricity with Professor Fader left me with a new perspective on equity versus efficiency. Everything I learned was both thought-provoking and engaging; I was eager for more.
And I did get more — in the form of hands-on learning. In the first week, I made investments as a venture capitalist in the Startup Game simulation; by the last week, I was pitching a startup to a panel of investors. No matter what it was, I could practice what I had learned in context. I was excited to discover that this reflects Wharton as a whole. When my Teaching Assistant, Mona, described her Management 100 project, I felt a sense of déjà vu: the desire for practical application that motivated her to help local immigrants grow their businesses also guides my own endeavors. For example, after LBW, I applied my knowledge of customer segmentation while establishing a service organization to partner with Key Club. Recognizing that the key psychographic was stay-at-home/team-mom type parents, I quickly attracted 30 dedicated members. In essence, Penn students engage with their education in a way that’s directly relevant to the world — a practice that matches my own learning style perfectly.
Furthermore, at Wharton, I can unify my core interests in business and civic engagement. Behavioral Economics — a concentration rarely offered by undergraduate business programs — would deepen my understanding of the human decision-making process, helping me answer questions about everything from athletic wear to coffee. Meanwhile, a secondary concentration in Social Impact and Responsibility would help me approach business problems through a social impact lens. Together, both concentrations would teach me to apply my business acumen toward my love of service.
Beyond the classroom, I hope to join the Social Impact Consulting Group (SIC), where I plan to implement both my Wharton education and my past involvement with nonprofits to help local communities. Over the last few years, I’ve worked intimately with the local Big Brother/Big Sister chapter, and I would love to use that experience to help the Philadelphia chapter that Penn’s SIC Group counsels.
In short, I’ve fallen in love with Penn in its entirety. Between the strong theme of practical application and the 6AM runs along Spruce Street, the eclectic atmosphere of the Kelly Writers House and the Greek Lady French Toast, Penn is the perfect blend of vitality, collaboration, and interdisciplinary learning. It is this community that I hope to make my home for the next four years.
My first visit to Philadelphia was a unique one. With car keys for the second time, the world at my disposal, and a desire to try a cheesesteak for the first time, I took the two-hour drive to Philly. While I dispensed my entire paycheck throughout the duration of the trip, my only regret remains trying Pat’s and Geno’s and perhaps also losing my car privilege for three months. In all seriousness, knowing I’d only have time to visit 1-2 places, I decided to do a self-guided tour of Penn, a school I had already researched extensively. Nestled in a bastion of intellectualism, culture, and history in a city I dared to learn so much from stood this behemoth of a school, and it was after this tour that I decided to apply to UPenn’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
My experience with engineering began with taking apart my dad’s Dell Inspiron desktop. Fascinated by the complex arrangement of the parts and the intricate designs that lined the parts themselves, I was too young to understand what the term “engineering” even encompassed. Engineering to me was not just about building computers, which I’d eventually pursue, but optimization. I was obsessed with choosing graphics cards and CPU’s, always pursuing maximum efficiency in terms of size, speed, and price of the final product. Naturally, this kickstarted my journey into circuitry; I still remember by first series circuit. The logic behind the placement of the wires excited me. The troubleshooting required when I wasn’t met with success filled me with purpose. Later, the power to utilize my Arduino to power code into my projects rendered my options limitless.
Indeed, my rather bizarre voyage to campus affirmed my intuition that UPenn was the school for me, but it was the substance of my research that confirmed that the SEAS, in particular, was compatible with my academic goals and interests. To my delight, I discovered that as stringent as an electrical engineering degree at Penn would be, I could also apply to earn a minor in Energy and Sustainability. Beginning with the Engineering Probability course (ESE 301), I’d start off learning what I love, combinatorics and advanced topics such as the Bernoulli schema that I am already studying outside of school now. Even more exciting would be the culmination of my entire Penn education during my senior year, when I’d partake in the Senior Design competition. Through this project competition, I’d have the privilege of applying real-world knowledge obtained at Penn by presenting my work to expert judges in my field.
In addition to my passion for electricity and circuitry, I am deeply interested in biomimicry, a field that became the cornerstone of my studies outside of school because of a simple realization: all around me lies genius. Thus biomimicry, the practice of applying designs and process from nature to engineering, one that I’m determined to develop with an Energy and Sustainability minor by applying energy-storing processes of leaves to solar cells—a longstanding point of research outside of school—constantly motivates me. While this aspect of engineering is one that I haven’t tangibly sought out in high school through formal clubs or competitions because of my work commitments, my extensive personal studies through books and online resources have instilled in me a desire to explore it further in college. Fascinatingly enough, I’d find a home to do this at Penn, where the engineering blog even has a hashtag for coverage of biomimicry. A few weeks ago, I even bookmarked an article about a student researcher developing a method to render the production of biofuel more efficient by mimicking giant clams, only to later discover that the article was published by UPenn. Ultimately, attending Penn would mean an opportunity to not only learn from the best, but also access resources to better the world around me, following in the footsteps of so many other Penn innovators.
What I like about this essay is that the author begins with a casual air. We envision a typical high school senior who grabs the car keys and has a day-trip adventure. They are a tourist exploring the very specific cultural highlights of Philly and entering the University of Pennsylvania campus. Almost with this student’s first step into the gates, we realize this “typical high school senior” is completely immersed in the world of engineering. They take us from an endearing story of taking apart a family computer as a child to discussions of circuitry, logic, wires, and powercodes.
For most of us, this conversation would go over our heads. However, the story remains clear, and the student’s pure love of engineering is unmistakable. This student speaks the engineering language. The author then explains where this passion for engineering will lead them. They let us know what principles they hope to discover next. They mention their goals, their minor, what they will take as a senior (bringing us four years in), and they finish by creating a place for themselves amongst the collection of UPenn innovators that have come before.
There is an energy to this person’s essay that suggests pure progression. They will take advantage of every minute on campus. This essay embodies the transformation of a kid with a Philly Cheesesteak to a veritable scholar, and I would be excited to have this transformation evolve on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
3:31 PM: Notebook and camera clutched in each arm, I prowl the streets of Detroit.
3:54 PM: As I find myself hunting along a line of apartments encased by steel-frame construction, I figure it might make for a story. What is going on here?
3:55 PM: I ask an African-American woman who slumps against the charred-brick wall, surrounded by a sea of translucent trash bags. She tells me, and I am horrified.
Horrified to know she was kicked out. Horrified to learn that the developers had doubled the rent, cut the power, harassed her and threatened to burn down her apartment when she fought to stay. Horrified to hear that she hated her dark skin, hated the way she was born.
Horrified , that the Webster Dictionary taught me gentrification means positive change.
While the woman I had encountered was in dire straits, her undoing was the making of me. In talking with her, my eyes were opened to the atrocities that ordinary people live through, and I could no longer sit back and allow them to go unnoticed. As a journalist, I have the ability to give voice to the silenced, to take someone’s story and broadcast it over an intercom. That day, I wrote her story in hopes that even one more person might understand her story and learn of the ugly in a word disguised by the good.
Since then, I have strived to reach larger audiences. Through writing articles and meeting with legislators through The Borgen Project, I have continued to immerse myself in poverty matters and deepened my interest in the intersection of Sociology and Economics while growing as a writer. While researching, I find myself investigating urban sprawl or income disparity, and hundreds of questions flood my mind. At Penn, the possibility of pursuing my curiosities are embedded in both the school’s academics and geography.
With twofold interests in urban matters, I seek The College’s Urban Sociology concentration with an Economic Policy minor; this, I find conducive to exploring both the socio-political and economic nuances of poverty alleviation. Additionally, I am concerned about gentrification, and educating myself on the matter in one of the most gentrified cities in America provides the natural setting for first-hand observation and research. Fairmount, located only two miles outside of Penn, is a neighborhood undergoing excessive black gentrification in Philadelphia. One day, I hope to work alongside mentors such as Dr. Grazian–whose expertise spans both the economic and social dynamics of Philadelphia neighborhoods–and direct a case study detailing effects of Fairmount gentrification. In developing a multifaceted worldview, it is my ideal to pursue my intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania, in a place itself as culturally rich as Philadelphia.
The University of Pennsylvania, with its strong emphasis on pre-professional learning is ideal as a learning environment. That focus is what drives many students with an eye to the future. We hope to apply our learning, impact the real world in ways that inspire change.
I find the Cognitive Science program, specifically its concentration in Language and Mind most appealing. As someone who places great emphasis in words, the idea of analyzing the cognitive aspects behind linguistics, whether philosophically, psychologically, or computationally draws upon various fields that showcase various perspectives on the meanings of language. It’s fascinating that despite the various languages and cultures there can be a biological scientific breakdown explaining the complex processes underlying syntax and semantics.
I am fascinated with the study of semantics, especially as it relates to both personality and gender. Because the World Well-Being Project touches on the topic of extroversion versus introversion, I would hope to be involved. This topic has interested me since reading Quiet by Susan Cain, which I also wrote about for Teen Line’s blogs. The language of both gender and personality are particularly intriguing; research suggests that for males, possessive pronouns are strongly associated with relationships like girlfriend and husband while for females, the nouns existed primarily on their own. List of most used words also differ along personality traits. I wonder why researchers persist in correlating the language to the Big Five Traits (which carry their own significant connotations) rather than to other classificatory systems.
Two other UPenn labs offer me routes to follow my current interests: The Cultural Evolution of Language lab under Dr. Roberts and the Cognition and Development Lab under Dr. Weisberg.
In the last decade, texting lingo has changed the way many speak. I find myself wondering whether spoken language will lose its richness as common vocabulary shortens and simplifies. The idea of experimental semiotics that Dr. Roberts utilizes is fascinating in that we can watch how a newly-created language progresses, thrives, or decays.
The Cognition and Development Lab under Dr. Weisberg, on the other hand, focuses primarily on development, interviewing children and exploring what exactly is going on when they enact pretend stories. I still remember one instance of my five-year-old self playing pretend princess at an after school program; a fifth grader had snapped at me in annoyance to stop using the word “pretend” in our play activity. The next five minutes had me tripping over my own words, finally giving up in frustration when for some reason, I couldn’t avoid saying pretend in my games. The rest of the day was spent sitting in a huff in the corner, hugging a pillow. Thinking back, I can’t fathom why I enjoyed living in a fantasy. It seems out of character to the Katie today. Discovering how play helps with growth is one of the major questions surrounding the study of children; its effects on cognition could be impactful in parenting theories because fantasy play probably has a significant role in the development of the brain.
While not an academic interest, acapella singing remains intellectually stimulating to me. Joining groups like Pennyo or Pennsori will allow me to practice singing and speaking in Mandarin or Korean. These include musical genres that I have been exploring for several years, allowing me to learn about culturally embedded vehicles for aesthetic language. They will provide me with another way to explore language and culture.
The differences between the word clouds can be read into farther than simply, girls say “I love you” more and guys talk about video games – rather, there are small details that are indicative, whether of true gender differences or cultural norm commonalities. The language of personality, on the other hand brings up questions – why use the Big Five standard over others? The traits are often associated with a strongly positive or negative implication in society – which directly correlates to the words found in the clouds. It would be interesting to analyze social media aspects on neutral traits as well, as shown with the introversion/extroversion in order to find correlations between how language is use and how differently it is processed by personality categorizations like the more detail-oriented versus big idea thinkers.
At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)
Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, and Penn lives up to that ethos. The community there is uniquely supportive, diverse, and vibrant. Having competed as a member of the USA Debate Team, I look forward to bringing my experience to the Penn Debate Society, and hopefully, representing the school at the World University Debating Championships., Beyond competing at tournaments, I appreciate last year’s collaboration debate with The Economist and the Bard Prison Initiative; to broaden the team’s horizons, I’d love to arrange similar events with other think tanks, nonprofits, or community organizations.
After four years of pick-up basketball at Sycamore Valley Park, I look forward to joining the intramural team, where I’d connect with the Penn community on the court while getting some much-needed practice on my jump shot. To preserve my tradition of attending Friday prayers, I’ll join the Muslim Student Association. Both through social gatherings or community work at the Masjid al-Jamia, I’m excited to work with a community of Muslims from around the world. Finally, I hope to join the Penn Student Government–it’d be both a new experience and help me gain experience advocating for the interests of the student body.
Too often, I have found myself walled-in by hard lines and expectations. At school, I belong to multiple circles, but I find myself contributing only a portion of my personality to each. In my community, there is just no all-encompassing space.
Penn makes a family out of us multipotentialites. Penn students refuse to be defined by one thing, a unique culture through which I can thrive as a liberal-arts-focused student enthusiastic about STEM. As a creative writer, I’ve gravitated towards writing science-fiction, imagining futuristic worlds where people online-shop for faces, or where simulation technology has allowed us to learn history by experiencing it. By writing for t-art, I am afforded the possibility of acting as a liaison between the Humanities and STEM worlds through innovative creative expression. On other days, I see myself merging my skills as an urban sociologist and journalist to report about the surrounding city through The Daily Pennsylvanian . On Mondays and Thursdays, I might find myself playing Mahler with the Penn Symphony Orchestra. Above all, I envision myself strolling through Locust Walk each day, tracing the footsteps of Andrea Mitchell to Elizabeth Banks, chatting with friends about the first presidential debate to the origin of “irregardless.”
This essay is successful because the author clearly starts in a place that is limiting their potential. They are excited and curious to spread their proverbial wings. The author has carefully researched opportunities at UPenn and seamlessly interwoven their own accomplishments and talents, with cited academic and extracurricular UPenn opportunities.
This author creates a very clear image of what type of contributor they will be on our campus. Their interests are diverse and limitless, or so it seems. The author’s specificity in mentioning the days the Orchestra plays, the Locust Walk, and past UPenn scholars shows their love for the school. This essay describes a person who is ready to blossom, has intellectual and cultural curiosity, and will add to the community at University of Pennsylvania.
These University of Pennsylvania essay examples were compiled by the advising team at CollegeAdvisor.com . If you want to get help writing your University of Pennsylvania essay supplements from CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Experts , register with CollegeAdvisor.com today.
Personalized and effective college advising for high school students.
- Advisor Application
- Popular Colleges
- Student Login
- California Privacy Notice
- Terms and Conditions
- Your Privacy Choices
What are your chances of acceptance?
Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, next step: add more factors to complete chancing.
6 Strong UPenn Essay Examples
Get your essay reviewed by an expert.
Early decision and early action deadlines are about a week away. You can still get a professional review of your college essays in time for early deadlines on CollegeVine.
The University of Pennsylvania is a highly-selective Ivy League school in the heart of Philadelphia. UPenn is known for its rigorous academics and exceptional opportunities, so it’s no easy feat to get in. To help your application stand out, it’s important to have strong essays.
In this post, we will share six strong essays real students have submitted to UPenn to give you some inspiration for your essays. We will also be going over what each essay did well and where there is room for improvement. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Read our UPenn essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.
Essay Example #1
Prompt: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania? For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay. (300-450 words)
I always loved watching the worms when it rained. I used to put my little raincoat on, sit on the doorsteps, and watch them move toward the puddles. My younger brother, forever intent on destroying the world around him, would try to stomp on the worms, and I would run after him screaming. In my imagination, the brain looked like a pile of squiggly worms. However, my neuroscience curiosity has since grown beyond a worm’s habits.
For example, my mother thought that I was insane when I wanted to watch American Murder: The Family Next Door . To her immense relief, I was interested in the psychology of the criminal rather than the crime itself. Although neuroscience is my primary interest, I also hope to learn more about the intersection between law and medicine at the UPenn College of Arts and Sciences. I’ve been able to explore this topic through various projects at school such as presentations on juvenile crime and the death penalty.
At the University of Pennsylvania, I look forward to taking classes like Forensic Neuroscience (BIBB 050) as well as Neuroscience and Society (PSYC 247) both of which directly combine my two interests. Hopefully, the Take Your Professor to Dinner program resumes as I would make sure to talk to Dr. Daniel Langleben about his research on forensic functional brain imaging over a meal of Philly cheesesteaks.
I also hope to participate in the Race, Science, and Society Program where I can discover how race biases and neuroscience go hand-in-hand and contribute to the fight against racism. The Beyond Arrests: Re-Thinking Systematic-Oppression Group immediately caught my attention while looking at Penn’s opportunities to engage in relevant dialogue. My fascination with the criminal system began with reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment , and Penn will both fuel that curiosity as well as introduce new questions about the world of justice reform.
As an eight-year Latin scholar and a five-time reader of the Percy Jackson franchise, I would like to take classes in the Penn Classical Studies department where I can learn more about the impact of ancient cultures on society today. Classes such as Greek and Roman Medicine (CLST 271) would intersect my interests in medicine and classical civilizations.
Although I do harbor a deep love for Philly cheesesteaks and enjoyment of running in strange places like the Woodlands Cemetery, the range of programs to support my diverse interests and unmatched opportunities to put learning into action make me confident that the University of Pennsylvania is the best university for me to succeed.
What the Essay Did Well
The real strength in the essay lies in the sheer number of details this student is able to include in a short space, without sacrificing style and flow. The first two paragraphs really have nothing to do with Penn, but the inclusion of them makes this response feel like an essay, rather than a list of offerings at Penn. Striking the balance is important, and the anecdote at the beginning ultimately humanizes the writer.
From the three unique courses to the specific professor and his research to the race and criminal justice programs, this student has clearly done their homework on Penn! The key to this essay’s success isn’t just mentioning the offerings at Penn that excite the student, but the context that explains how each opportunity fits into the student’s academic interests.
Adding book titles like Crime and Punishment and Percy Jackson to support their passion for the criminal justice system and classics are extra details that help us learn more about how this student pursues their passions outside of the classroom. Finding little ways to humanize yourself throughout the essay can take it from good to great.
What Could Be Improved
One area of improvement for this essay is the structure. It follows a very traditional “ Why This College? ” framework—start with an anecdote, then discuss classes, and then extracurriculars and programs—that gets old quickly for admissions officers.
A great way to add some spice to the format would be to use a sample schedule for the day. This essay mentions three different classes, two different groups, and a Take Your Professor to Dinner opportunity. Together, that’s the recipe for a full day at UPenn!
There are a few ways to play around with an essay that follows a typical day-in-the-life. Maybe each paragraph starts with a time and explains what they do during that hour. Maybe they narrate walking through campus on their way from one class to the next and what they just learned. However they choose to go about it, adding in a playful spin to the traditional essay structure is one of the best ways to instantly set an essay apart from the crowd.
Essay Example #2
Prompt: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at The University of Pennsylvania? (300-450 words)
“Arnav, we want you to apply”, I received this email from Penn and DASHED to tell mum. My naïve self had forgotten I had checked the ‘Student-Search-Service’ box, and schools could send system-generated emails predicated on my SAT scores.
This pure, childlike delight was out of my sheer obsession with Penn. When my senior at school got in here last year, I pestered him all year long trying to know HOW. Tireless researching, approaching hundreds of alumni on Reddit, watching EVERY millisecond of YouTube advice, and painting a life-size Quaker on my bedroom walls only to miss the ED deadline by falling to pneumonia: Regardless of these setbacks, I sported an impending dream.
At Penn, I intend to revitalize this dream through the College of Arts and Sciences. Classes like “ Political Journalism at the Crossroads” and “ Queer Theory ” blend my love for English and politics which I will reflect through writing for Penn’s signature magazine- The Pennsylvania Gazette. At the Penn Institute of Urban Research and CAS, I aim to make the best use of Summer Humanities Internships (SHIP) and Global Research Internship Programs (GRIP) to finance my collaborative research in the Public Affairs domain. I’ll also sign on for the Penn Debate Society (PDS), and collaborate with TEDxPENN to hear budding speakers from different walks of life. As perhaps my country’s most accomplished debater, I vow to make this my personal goal to lead our team to total victory at the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) that Penn has dreamed of winning since 1981. To further my progress with the fight against child labor , I shall assist and seek assistance of a like-minded student-body via the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships.
For someone who’s obsessed with rhetoric, I totally understand the definition of an ‘agreement’. In our context, an agreement would be a two-way street where I avail facilities Penn offers while adding to its community, campus, and unwavering prestige. As I pack my bag with all essentials- my brain, my grit, and my quirky self- I complete one half of the agreement.
Dear Penn, I now wait for you to hand me that beautiful letter as we seal our deal.
If there’s one thing this essay has, it’s confidence. From the first line to the last, there’s an energy and electricity running through the essay that maintains that quick, self-assured pace. Sharing the anecdotes of their long withstanding obsession with Penn strikes a balance between playfully self-deprecating and demonstrating true interest in the school. College essays shouldn’t kiss up to schools, and while this one approaches that level, using the anecdote for humor rather than fact helps avoid a sense of groveling.
This student clearly dreams big and is unapologetic about it: the mark of a true Quaker. From getting involved in internships to joining Ted talks and the Penn Debate Society, they will be an active member of the campus community, which is something admissions officers are keeping an eye out for when scanning applications. With the use of an assertive tone (“ I aim ”, “ I vow ”, “ I shall ”, etc) this student conveys exactly who Penn can expect to step onto their campus next fall.
While this student’s personality shines through without a doubt, their academic interests and motivations are not as clear. The third paragraph lists a host of opportunities they are interested in, and it does connect Penn offerings back to the student, but it doesn’t reveal much about the student in the process.
They mention “ Classes like ‘ Political Journalism at the Crossroads’ and ‘ Queer Theory’ blend my love for English and politics, ” but we have no idea where that love came from or what they hope to accomplish in the future. This essay would have benefitted from mentioning two or three less opportunities and elaborating on the significance of the select programs they chose.
You’ve likely heard that less is more, and in the case of this essay that’s true. The pressure to look well-researched by including as many Penn offerings as possible overwhelmed this student. In reality, choosing a few meaningful, unique opportunities and tying them back to your intellectual passions will reveal your passion for Penn far more than eight or nine disconnected resources thrown together.
Essay Example #3
Prompt: How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying (650 words).
Sister Simone Roach, a theorist of nursing ethics, said, “caring is the human mode of being.” I have long been inspired by Sister Roach’s Five C’s of Caring: commitment, conscience, competence, compassion, and confidence. Penn both embraces and fosters these values through a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum and unmatched access to service and volunteer opportunities.
COMMITMENT. Reading through the activities that Penn Quakers devote their time to (in addition to academics!) felt like drinking from a firehose in the best possible way. As a prospective nursing student with interests outside of my major, I value this level of flexibility. I plan to leverage Penn’s liberal arts curriculum to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges LGBT people face, especially regarding healthcare access. Through courses like “Interactional Processes with LGBT Individuals” and volunteering at the Mazzoni Center for outreach, I hope to learn how to better support the Penn LGBT community as well as my family and friends, including my cousin, who came out as trans last year.
CONSCIENCE. As one of the first people in my family to attend a four-year university, I wanted a school that promoted a sense of moral responsibility among its students. At Penn, professors challenge their students to question and recreate their own set of morals by sparking thought- provoking, open-minded discussions. I can imagine myself advocating for universal healthcare in courses such as “Health Care Reform & Future of American Health System” and debating its merits with my peers. Studying in an environment where students confidently voice their opinions – conservative or liberal – will push me to question and strengthen my value system.
COMPETENCE. Two aspects that drew my attention to Penn’s BSN program were its high-quality research opportunities and hands-on nursing projects. Through its Office of Nursing Research, Penn connects students to faculty members who share similar research interests. As I volunteered at a nursing home in high school, I hope to work with Dr. Carthon to improve the quality of care for senior citizens. Seniors, especially minorities, face serious barriers to healthcare that I want to resolve. Additionally, Penn’s unique use of simulations to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world application impressed me. Using computerized manikins that mimic human responses, classes in Penn’s nursing program allow students to apply their emergency medical skills in a mass casualty simulation and monitor their actions afterward through a video system. Participating in this activity will help me identify my strengths and areas for improvement regarding crisis management and medical care in a controlled yet realistic setting. Research opportunities and simulations will develop my skills even before I interact with patients.
COMPASSION. I value giving back through community service, and I have a particular interest in Penn’s Community Champions and Nursing Students For Sexual & Reproductive Health (NSRH). As a four-year volunteer health educator, I hope to continue this work as a Community Champions member. I am excited to collaborate with medical students to teach fourth and fifth graders in the city about cardiology or lead a chair dance class for the elders at the LIFE Center. Furthermore, as a feminist who firmly believes in women’s abortion rights, I’d like to join NSRH in order to advocate for women’s health on campus. At Penn, I can work with like-minded people to make a meaningful difference.
CONFIDENCE. All of the Quakers that I have met possess one defining trait: confidence. Each student summarized their experiences at Penn as challenging but fulfilling. Although I expect my coursework to push me, from my conversations with current Quakers I know it will help me to be far more effective in my career.
The Five C’s of Caring are important heuristics for nursing, but they also provide insight into how I want to approach my time in college. I am eager to engage with these principles both as a nurse and as a Penn Quaker, and I can’t wait to start.
This essay has many positive aspects, but the most impressive one is the structure. Utilizing the Five C’s of Caring to discuss Penn’s offerings was a genius way of tying in this student’s passion for nursing while also making their essay exciting and easy to read. Beginning each paragraph with the respective adjective helped focus the paragraph and allowed the student to demonstrate how they exemplify each quality without explicitly stating it. The student wasn’t afraid to think outside the box and add creativity to their essay structure, which really paid off.
Another positive is how specific and specialized the Penn resources and opportunities the student mentions are. This essay did not fall into the trap of name-dropping professors or programs. In every paragraph, there was a connection to something the student wants to do at Penn to further themselves in the respective characteristic they were describing.
Not only did this student mention a resource at Penn—whether it was a professor, a class, or a club—in every paragraph, but they elaborated on what that resource was and how it would help them achieve their goal of becoming a nurse. The what and how is what sets this essay apart from other supplements that just name-drop resources for the sake of it. The amount of detail this essay went into about some of these resources makes it clear to the admissions officers reading the essay that this student has seriously looked into Penn and has a strong desire to come to campus and use these resources.
One thing this essay could do to make it stronger is improve the first paragraph. The student does a good job of setting up Sister Roach and the Five C’s, but they don’t mention anything about their desire to study or pursue nursing. The first paragraph mentions both Sister Roach and Penn, but left out the student. This could be fixed by simply adding something along the lines of “ I can’t wait to embody these values as a nursing student at Penn ” to the paragraph.
Essay Example #4
Prompt: How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected (300-450 words).
“This book again?” My mother sighed as she cracked open the punctuation picture book I’d picked out for the fifth time. At the age of four, I had little knowledge of punctuation, so the words “exclamation” and “comma” remained elusive; I grew obsessed with puzzling out its meaning. Growing up in the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library surrounded by the scent of old books, comforting silence, and librarian friends made it easy to forget about the world outside, yet my thirst for answers always pushed me out of literary comfort zones and into the unknown. Even as I moved on from Magic Tree House to Harry Potter , my inquisitive nature and determination to understand the literature around me only evolved. Foreign concepts and obstacles sparked my ambition as I tackled the intimidating Les Misérables sophomore year, Crime and Punishment junior year, and Jane Eyre senior year. I found a relatability in Joy Luck Club characters that I incorporated into my writing and an emotional outlet in the depths of the poetry aisle and writer communities at literary magazines like Polyphony Lit . I can find similar communities at Penn by curating pieces for Penn Review or spending days soaking in knowledge at the Van Pelt Library, poring over Macbeth or the Iliad . Although libraries may provide sanctuaries, they also open infinite worlds and viewpoints. I realized that stories (no matter what form they take) always manage to capture the intrinsic connection between humans that I seek in every interaction I have.
I’ve learned that life beyond the library teems with complex characters and lessons of its own–especially at Penn, where students are determined to grapple with difficult questions involving cultural differences or the declining value of art in an increasingly STEM-focused world. I am eager to challenge my boundaries as a reader, writer, and human being by applying the relational lessons of a Fiction and Connectivity seminar to real life, reading to younger generations during Children’s Story Hour at Penn Bookstore, and hosting Open Mic Nights with Kelly Writers House. I can see myself initiating change in society by researching the effects of Western society’s harmful misconceptions of Asian and African-American culture in literature with Professor Josephine Park. Penn will not only satisfy some of my curiosities–it will provoke even more daunting and thrilling questions for me to pursue.
This essay does a really nice job of showing the student’s interest in reading and literature. The language they used to describe their library as “ comforting “, and finding an “ emotional outlet ” in reading creates a clear picture for the reader that this student loves to read. Not only do we learn about this student’s passion, but we learn through them showing us. The essay shows us how the student felt in the library and takes us on a journey as they tackle more and more advanced books, as opposed to telling us they are passionate about reading.
The use of book titles was another positive aspect of this essay. Citing actual books and explaining how they affected the student helps display to the admissions officers reading the essay that literature has impacted this student in a multitude of ways. We see the student grow from being young and curious to tackling challenging concepts, embracing new cultures, and engaging in self-reflection all through reading.
The main part of this essay that could use improving was the second paragraph that discussed how Penn will allow this student to continue exploring their passion. Although the student did provide some explanation as to how these resources at Penn will help them grow their interest in reading and writing, the elaboration was pretty weak.
The student mentions they want to grow as “ reader, writer, and human being by applying the relational lessons of a Fiction and Connectivity seminar to real life, reading to younger generations during Children’s Story Hour at Penn Bookstore, and hosting Open Mic Nights with Kelly Writers House. ” These are all great, but nothing mentioned here is specific to Penn. This student could host an open mic night at any college they go to, so they either need to pick something more unique or provide detailed elaboration on how participating in this will help them in the long run.
If this student had focused more on the research they want to do with the professor, they could have had a stronger response to the second part of the prompt. Sometimes, going into detail about one resource that you have a strong connection to is far more powerful than cramming in a bunch of opportunities that relate to your desired field—which is what the essay is currently doing. For example, discussing how they want to research cultural representation in literature with this professor to understand and reverse harmful misconceptions in their own writing and have more cultural diversity in libraries for future generations to enjoy, would have provided a lot more detail about the student and their goals than saying they want to read to kids when they get to Penn.
Essay Example #5
Prompt: At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community (150-200 words).
I used to face two paths: one flocked with taxis, people, and the smell of pizza, and the other a wet street laced with cicada symphonies and the aroma of beef noodle soup. It always felt easier to walk the streets of Taiwan (where people speak meekly and tiptoe around confrontation) rather than New York (where people argue, think, and exist fearlessly). PBS created a documentary titled Tug of War: The Story of Taiwan (1998) , and I believed that I embodied the little potato island, since balancing between two cultures resulted in a “Tug of War” within me. Although I am proud to be Taiwanese, New York has cultivated an unbridled emotion and passion within me, molding me into a bold author, shameless poet, and strong-willed advocate for Asian-American youth. I am excited by the similar passion and confidence of Penn students, and the vibrant conversations I might have at a Campaign for Community event about racial justice or with Professor David Eng about Asian literature influences upon American society. I can support peers struggling with their own “Tug of Wars” by sharing my story through the Penn Taiwanese Society, and learn their stories as a writer for Robinson Press .
This essay does a great job of establishing this student’s background and the distinction between their two cultures. There is a great use of imagery, especially at the beginning, which displays this student’s strength as a writer and highlights the internal “Tug of War” they experience. It is evident how their past community has shaped their perspective and identity. Knowing how their background shaped these things makes it easy for admissions officers to see what type of student they would be adding to their campus.
While the prompt doesn’t ask the student to reflect on their community, explaining their background helped this student describe how they will shape their Penn community. A big part of what this student hopes to bring to Penn is helping other students who feel a similar “Tug of War”, so understanding how this student has coped with their internal struggle is important to understand what they will bring to Penn.
Unfortunately, by spending so much space discussing their “Tug of War”, this student didn’t have the strongest answer to the main question in the prompt: how will you explore the community at Penn? This essay should have been far more focused on opportunities and resources at Penn that will shape this student’s identity. The last few sentences mentioned resources the student wants to take advantage of, but there wasn’t a lot of elaboration on how engaging with these resources will influence their identity.
This doesn’t mean the student must completely forgo discussing the internal struggle they feel coming from two separate cultures, but they could have continued with the “Tug of War” idea to discuss how they will pursue opportunities at Penn that allow them to engage both aspects of their culture. Describing how participating in a certain club would allow them to embrace their emboldened New Yorker while working with a professor on their research about Asian literature might spark their interest in writing a novel about Taiwan, for example, would have been an effective way to continue the “Tug of War” metaphor and fully answer the prompt.
One other thing that could improve the essay is splitting it into two paragraphs. Reading one large block of text gets tiring for admissions officers who spend all day reading. Dividing the essay into paragraphs provides clear delineations for where new information is being presented, thus helping admissions officers stay focused on your essay.
Essay Example #6
Prompt: Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the Internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)
In 9th grade, I made my most astonishing work of art.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t for any class related to the arts. It was for my statistics class. I created it to answer a simple question: are people happier when they have more friends? To answer that question, my group and I surveyed 240 students. That month, the ink from my printer was running as dry as my body was soaked with sweat from running around the school collecting questionnaires. We compiled all results into a spreadsheet with hundreds of thousands of cells. It was the largest amount of data I had ever handled. I started analyzing it, cell by cell. The method of analysis? A node network graph. It was something new to me at the time and I didn’t know what to expect. The final result was an intensely vivid web of color composed of 240 nodes connected by thousands upon thousands of lines. It was magnificent to behold. It was intensely surreal as I witnessed the abstract concept of friendship manifested in something tangible and visual. This chaotic and hypnotizing mess of dots and lines was a snapshot of the relationships between an entire batch of students! From the graph, I could immediately discern that people aren’t automatically happier if they have more friends. It’s the quality of your friendships that matter. Ever since that project, I have been constantly seeking new ways to make the invisible structures around us visible.
Over the years, this interest has driven me to study the effects of the internet in greater depth. This is because the internet, for the past few decades, has been the biggest black box that our society has ever created. It has been credited for both promoting democracy and blamed for destroying it. It has been praised for spreading information, and decried for spreading misinformation. All of the confusion surrounding what the internet actually is stems mostly from the fact that it’s very hard to see the full extent of how it actually works and how it affects people. Media coverage of Google’s use of data or Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, services I use every day, have left me wondering how we can improve the internet and make it more transparent for the people who use it.
As a policy-minded thinker and problem solver, I have done a lot of research and contemplation on the current problems and benefits of these platforms and services. I read about how Youtube has served as a platform for populist strongmen. I read about how Facebook enabled the Arab Spring. So far, all that I have learned is that the problem is an incredibly complex and nuanced one, with a lot of different actors and moving parts. It involves multinational companies, governments, and billions of individual users. In order to maximize the potential of these networks and minimize their harms, we have to be tactical in our approach. From figuring out data privacy to figuring out whether these companies are platforms or basic services, almost all aspects of the role of these networks fascinate me. It is also a topic that I have debated competitively in the past. I have participated in motions ranging from “This house would ban Google from retaining search data” to “This house believes news media outlets should use AI for the production and presentation of its news content”. I am highly invested in the role of social networks in today’s society; rather than their complexity pushing me away, it is what draws me in.
The costs of not understanding social networks in this era is incredibly high. This is why I am willing to dedicate myself to studying it and uncovering the ways of how to deal with it.
This student crafts a narrative that exudes the elusive show-not-tell quality that separates good essays from great ones. In order to generate this, the applicant employs phrases packed with vivid imagery like “ the ink from my printer was running as dry as my body was soaked with sweat” and “ an intensely vivid web of color composed of 240 nodes connected by thousands upon thousands of lines. ” They also vary their sentence structure and include rhetorical questions to make the reader interact more with their essay content.
Their passion for technology is well-expressed through the current examples they sprinkle throughout the essay like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and Google retaining search data. The NETS program values innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, so demonstrating they are keeping up with current events in the field and have opinions on ongoing debates shows UPenn that this student has a unique perspective to offer.
The student mentions debating topics related to the Interest in a structured manner; this shows, rather than tells admissions officers that they have strong research skills and communication abilities. By showing how their varied interests combine to produce an interdisciplinary passion, it makes their application unique and memorable to admissions officers. Not only that, but speaking about past experiences in detail allows them to establish credibility and demonstrate to admissions officers that they would be a good fit for this program.
As a whole, the essay is strong. It shares the student’s background, is well-written, and thinks about nuanced issues relating to technology.
Something that could have helped this essay would be to break up the long paragraphs into smaller, more digestible chunks. Because of the long paragraphs, it can be a little difficult to read the essay. There are many points where a new paragraph would’ve been logical, and flowed better.
For example, the first paragraph discusses both the process of collecting data and building the model and the student’s reflection on the results. A break after “ The final result was an intensely vivid web of color composed of 240 nodes connected by thousands upon thousands of lines” would have been a natural switch from the physical aspects of the model to the introspection it spurred.
Another place for a new paragraph is when the student switches from discussing their research to their debate experience in the third paragraph. While they were trying to keep their extracurricular encounters with these topics together in one paragraph, it is far too dense as it’s written, and ideas gets lost in the sheer amount of information presented. Breaking it up would provide relief to the reader and help emphasize each point better by giving it its own space.
Where to Get Your UPenn Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your UPenn essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!
Related CollegeVine Blog Posts
How to Write the University of Pennsylvania Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2022/2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What are the upenn supplemental essay prompts.
- How to write each supplemental essay prompt for UPenn
- Prompts #1 and #2: "Why us" essay
- Prompt #3: Thank you note
Specialized/dual-degree program prompts
UPenn has a long history (as in, older than the US itself) as a strong academic institution. Founded by Ben Franklin, the university prides itself on helping to educate leaders in both academia and public service.
UPenn’s supplemental essays have for a long time primarily focused on some variation of “Why us?,” offering you a chance to show the school who you are through linking your skills/qualities/values/interests to the awesome things UPenn offers. In other words, how do you and the school fit together?
Additionally, UPenn has several possible prompts for students applying to dual-major or specialized programs.
If you want to get a clearer sense of all that UPenn is looking for, you can explore an extensive, by-the-numbers look at their offerings, from enrollment and tuition statistics to student life and financial aid information, on its Common Data Set . And for insights into how the university envisions itself and its role, and how it wants to grow and evolve, read its strategic plan . Reading through this will give you a strong idea of what UPenn values.
UPenn Supplemental Essay Prompt #1
How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)*
UPenn Supplemental Essay Prompt #2
For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay. Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania. (150-200 words)*
UPenn Supplemental Essay Prompt #3
Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)
How to Write Supplemental Essays #1 + #2 for UPenn
2. For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay. Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania. (150-200 words)
These are both fairly standard “Why us?” prompts, with the first prompt focusing on community and identity, and the second focusing on academics and intellect. But as the following guide explains, you’ll want to be sure to think of this not simply as “Why them?” but as “Why us?”—as in you + the school—and why you’d be a great fit together. One way we sometimes joke about this is to think about the essay as though you’re helping the school understand why your online dating profile and its online dating profile are perfect for each other, and how you’d probably make great partners.
Always be sure to answer the question the prompt asks—again, the first prompt is a “Why us?” regarding Penn’s community. What specific elements intrigue you? Show the admission officers how you have reflected on how you’ve come to be the human you are, how Penn can help you become the human being you want to continue growing to be, and how you hope to impact others in Penn’s community.
With the second prompt, link to specific elements of Penn that will allow you to continue exploring what you believe in and care about, what has shaped you academically and intellectually.
Penn’s website offers many videos charting different Penn students’ experiences. Exploring them may give you a clearer sense of what elements specific to Penn excite or intrigue you.
One important caveat—if you’re also completing one of the dual-degree or specialized program prompts for Penn, the school specifies that you “please answer these [“Why us?”] questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.”
For a complete guide to the “Why us?” essays, click here . Here’s a condensed version:
Step #1 : Do your research.
Spend 1 hr+ researching 10+ reasons why UPenn might be a great fit for you (ideally 3-5 of the reasons will be unique to UPenn AND connect back to you).
Step #2 : Use this chart to map out your research.
Step #3 : Decide on your approach.
Approach #1: The Basic, Solid “Why us?” Essay That Includes a Bunch of Reasons
Here’s an outline for a basic, solid “Why us?” essay:
Clear thesis that names the academic area(s) you want to pursue and maybe charts the path of the essay
Main reason #1 and 3-4 specific details
Main reason #2 and 3-4 specific details
Main reason #3 and 3-4 specific details
An ending that maybe discusses what you’ll give back
Approach #2: The “3-5 Unique Offerings” Strategy
Find 3-5 opportunities that are particular to the school (i.e., available at no other school or no other school you’re applying to), and connect each one back to you.
Approach #3: The “One Value” Strategy
How it works: Identify one core value that links you to the school and tell a story.
1. Find a way in which you and the school are deeply aligned.
2. Take your time crafting the essay.
3. Find a way to be vulnerable.
Could I create a hybrid approach by focusing on a central theme, but still listing a few reasons?
Let’s look at some examples of pairs of past student essays:
UPenn Supplemental Essay Example Pairs:
Herding sheep at Washington Crossing Historic Park was my first window into the effects of climate change. Extreme summers forced the sheep to lay lethargically in an 18th century barn as their pastures wilted. Driven to make a difference in climate change awareness at my school, I joined the environmental club, EnAct, and organized a state-wide climate change conference. I tended to the school’s hens after joining the Garden Apprenticeship Program, and I organized book drives, beach sweeps, and trail cleanups while leading the Service Learning committee. But, I yearn to impact the community beyond one-time initiatives. At Penn, I want to make long-term, institutional change that will resonate for future generations. As a member of the Penn Environmental Group, I will campaign for the elimination of #6 plastics on campus and help organize GreenFest. I will learn the art of sustainable design through projects like the student-led Climate Action Plan. My experiences leading the Service Learning Committee and EnAct give me the unique perspective of environmentalism through a community lens. Collaborating with a diverse group of peers with unique interests, I will work towards making a dent in what I feel is the largest obstacle facing our generation.
— — —
Tips + Analysis
1. Use clear, direct structural elements. The hook gets us curious both about the student (you’ve been herding sheep?), and about how this connects to UPenn (we have faith she’ll get to the link, provided it doesn’t take too long).
2. Show how you’ll engage in the future through how you’ve engaged before. The first paragraph shows some nice elements of previous community engagement—driven by some of the student’s core values—that then link to how the student plans to continue that engagement within the Penn community. This shows she’s spent time researching the school and contemplating how she and the school fit together. The connection to core values also increases the reader’s confidence that the student will actually follow through on this at Penn.
3. Show parts of who you are through showing your values. As mentioned above, the author shows elements of identity through the values that have driven past engagement and will drive future engagement.
Here’s the other essay this student wrote. Note that it was written for when the prompt was 450 words, but the approach and specificity of content is what you want to focus on here. With some cuts, this would work great for the new word count.
Whether proving the Pythagorean theorem or delving into a 13th century Spanish poem, I revel in patterns. I look beneath the numbers and words on the page to understand their history: millennia of mathematical genius that contributed to a formula, contact of two cultures that forever altered the structure of a language, or an economic graph that really represents a mocha fad in Philadelphia. The presence of patterns in language has always fascinated me. Every word we speak bears the burden of ancient wars, socioeconomic disparity, and lost traditions, and continues to affect the lives of citizens today. In the Venezuelan refugee crisis, independence protests in Cataluña, and indigenous inequality in Mexico, language poses a barrier to international productivity. Language has also posed a barrier in my own life, in my relationship with my grandmother. While at Wharton, I want to take advantage of the fact that Penn is one of the only institutions to offer classes in Gujarati. I hope to learn my family’s heritage language and gain a deeper understanding of global linguistic diversity. The summer before senior year, I had a window into linguistic studies at Penn while interning at the Cultural Evolution of Language Lab. I was exposed to psychology and cognitive linguistics by researching thematic relationships formed in the brain, and in a project about bilingual code-switching, I had the opportunity to design my own artificial language. I was able to create the language patterns that had intrigued me for years. After studying linguistic theory and the origins of Hispanic dialects around the world, I have come to realize that my interests lie in the applications of language. That’s where Wharton comes in. By using my knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese culture to analyze economic case studies in Latin America, I hope to merge my language skills with my fascination for economic policy. The interdisciplinary nature of the Wharton curriculum epitomizes that combination. By studying international negotiations and participating in simulations to derive economic theory, I hope to develop the problem solving and critical thinking skills necessary to understand the deep complexities of societies around the world. I plan to follow the Business Economics Track in the Business Economics & Public Policy concentration, and pursue a secondary concentration in Global Analysis. In classes like Nations, Politics and Markets and Consumers, Firms & Markets in Developing Countries , I will gain a political and cultural perspective of international economics. I also plan to continue my high school experiences studying Spanish by pursuing a minor in Latin American Studies from the College. I look forward to the course Diplomacy in the Americas in the Penn Model OAS Program, where I will get to combine my interests in Latin American culture, community service, and contemporary politics. At Wharton, a linguist-geek like myself will find a home where students work together to make a change in a complicated world.
1. Again: clear, direct structural elements. The hook, particularly the 13th-century Spanish poetry reference, gets us curious about who this student is and how her brain works. It also immediately sets up a focus of the essay—patterns and language. There’s a clear thesis in the fifth paragraph that directly links the elements of discovery in the previous paragraphs with UPenn and how it’ll allow her to continue to enhance her exploration. Each paragraph has a clear topic sentence, so even if the reader is reading quickly or skimming, they’ll have a clear sense of where she’s heading. And it closes with a quick conclusion.
2. Show you’ve done your research. The latter part of the body discusses specific classes and programs the school offers and how they connect to what the student wants to pursue. We get the feeling that she isn’t applying simply because the school is on a ranking list somewhere or that she just skimmed some basic information, but rather that she has taken the time to think about what UPenn offers and how that fits what she wants in an education.
3. Connect details about the school to your values. We often call this the “so what” element of the essay—don’t just tell UPenn admission officers how great their school is (they know). Get into why those details connect to some of your core values by reflecting on what they will allow you to pursue or explore, and why those things matter to you. Bonus points if you can link details that excite you about the school to things you’ve already done, as the student above does by the Cultural Evolution of Language Lab.
4. Show us your intellect through your exploration and curiosity. Lines like, “Every word we speak bears the burden of ancient wars, socioeconomic disparity, and lost traditions, and continues to affect the lives of citizens today,” show us that this student has spent time exploring this on a much deeper level than most people tend to.
Here’s another pair of examples for these prompts:
At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)
My friends who attend Wharton don’t talk primarily about the classes or clubs. They talk about the people, specifically how vastly different they are. A term one friend used was anti-me , a person with whom we share so little in common that even casual conversation becomes learning. That concept of an unknown anti-me excites me. If my dorm neighbor studies at SEAS, perhaps I’ll find myself at PennApps with them, learning to code for the first time. If a classmate writes for Penn Appétit, I’d love to learn about food and tour Philadelphia restaurants with them. I’m also excited to be someone else’s anti-self. Since Wharton clubs are open to all Penn students, I hope to convince my roommates to join Social Impact Consulting with me (after all, social responsibility transcends major). As a family business entrepreneur, I’ll bring a client-side perspective to Consult for America. I imagine perpetual mutual learning and PPI Student Group discussions that spill over into late night talks in the Quad. Maybe I’ll even spread my love for R&B music by dragging my friends to a Spring Fling concert. I hope I’ll be a fun anti-self to chat with.
Before you read the above academic “Why us?” essay, take a minute to think about who you think this student is based on the above Community “Why us?” example.
Like, actually pause and get a picture in your mind.
We want you to do so so that, once you read his academic piece in a minute, you can reflect on how the pieces work together to add dimension and depth to each other.
Above, the “anti-me” idea offers a good window into the student and shows he’s ready for college, as colleges generally see themselves as places that serve to challenge our preconceived notions and cherished ideas. This is something that many people find uncomfortable, as it’s generally more pleasant to feel as though the ways we conceive of ourselves and the world are correct. But learning to ask uncomfortable questions and to have calm but complex dialogue is key to intellectual and emotional maturity. This essay shows a student who seems ready to continue taking steps down that path.
Additionally, he does a nice job weaving in a few different aspects of the Penn community he hopes to engage with, to shape, and to be shaped by.
Now here’s another essay by the same student, his academic “Why us?” (again, for a version of the prompt with a longer word count):
How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words)
At heart, I’m both regulatory bureaucrat and capitalistic entrepreneur. Coming from a small business-owning family, I’ve grown up finding ways to one-up the competition, from boosting website search ranking with unconventional SEO to negotiating with book suppliers to cut costs. After all, our rent depends on our profits. However, I also hold enormous respect for regulation. I vividly remember seeing my second grade classmate Nelson sprawled on the asphalt in front of the Chinese school we both attended, accidentally run over by his teacher. I later discovered that afterschool was unlicensed: no safety training, no inspections, nothing. Years later, when my mother opened her own afterschool business, I filed the licensing documents and installed government-mandated guardrails. Nelson reminds me that, though burdensome, regulation is crucial. The afterschool industry taught me the inseparability of business and policy, but also sparked my curiosity concerning how political economics can leverage that relationship for maximal social benefit. In my Democratic Party internship, I examined how to incentivize below-market-rate housing construction without reducing overall supply. At FBLA Nationals, I delivered a presentation on management practices to reduce oil spills, increasing profits while meeting environmental standards. Penn strikes me as a school surprisingly similar to the afterschool industry: an environment where practical learning occurs through doing and where business and policy can be explored in tandem. Penn’s interdisciplinary nature allows me to dive deep into politics while applying business to civics through the Wharton BEPP concentration. As State Chair of CAYPA, I’ve struggled with effectively lobbying businesses, so I’m eager to research Corporate Reputational Dynamics under Professor Abito, investigating the impact of different social activism strategies on business self-regulation. I haven’t seen such research anywhere outside Wharton. Further, Penn’s one-university system would allow me to take non-Wharton classes like Free Speech & Censorship. I’m looking forward to discussions amid the 2020 election, especially debating whether social media hate speech deserves First Amendment protections. I’m drawn to Penn as a school which will challenge me to apply concepts to current events, as even foundational classes like ACCT102 are taught through case studies and simulations. I saw Penn’s emphasis on practical application during a dialogue with Professor van Bethem, who has already altered my stance on compliance credit trading by contextualizing in terms of environmental policy. I’m excited to merge my FBLA business management background with my CAYPA social advocacy experience through Wharton Impact Venture Associates, a practical, social-impact focused marriage of business and civics (though I believe activism regarding when not to invest is equally effective to compel social progress). Whether I become a leader in the afterschool industry or an elected official regulating it, I know Penn will enable this Capitalist Bureaucrat to catalyze purposeful impact.
1. And again (because they’re super helpful), use clear, direct structural elements. Notice how the first line performs a few functions here: It pulls us in—we’re curious what exactly the student means by this claim, plus it shows some of his personality—and there’s a slight wry humor to the juxtaposition. Again, this essay has clear topic sentences, a clear focus in each paragraph, and a clear conclusion, which bookends the essay succinctly and effectively.
2. Show you’ve done your research. The latter part of the body discusses specific classes and programs that the school offers and how they connect to what the student wants to pursue. We get the feeling that the student isn’t applying simply because the school is on a ranking list somewhere or that he just skimmed some basic information, but rather has taken the time to think about what UPenn offers and how that fits what the student wants in an education.
3. Show the development of your interest through moments that connect to core values. Each paragraph provides details that show both intellectual and emotional links to his chosen field, and that link to his core values (community involvement, integrity, etc.). And he does a nice job of increasing the degree of his interest and involvement (e.g., internship, FBLA Nationals), illustrating his dedication. Bonus points here for raising the stakes by mentioning his family’s rent in part depends on his work.
How to Write the UPenn Supplemental Essay for Prompt #3
We’re not positive, but we suspect that UPenn was inspired to create this prompt because of one of its more famous professors, Dr. Martin Seligman , who founded and has popularized the field of Positive Psychology.
Specifically, one tool Seligman created to help people increase their sense of well-being is the Gratitude Visit. Here’s how he describes it:
Close your eyes. Call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face next week. Got a face? Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise … you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner. Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words: be specific about what she did for you and how it affected your life. Let her know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet her, take your time reading your letter.
Because this is a brand-new prompt this year, we don’t have any examples for it yet, but we’d actually recommend approaching it using Seligman’s guidance and advice.
Your tone here can be more informal/conversational. Write this as though you’re actually going to give it to the person you’re grateful to. Then, ideally, give it to them.
Some gratitude steps:
Find a quiet space (we’d recommend something like a mountain top or the beach or just climbing a tree, if possible, but you get the idea).
Grab a pen or pencil and some paper.
Close your eyes.
Think about gratitude . Spend some time reflecting on what in your life you’re grateful for.
That last step might be more nebulous for some than others, so for a more concrete way to think about gratitude, just to get your mind in the right space, you can play with a version of a Stoic meditation often called “The Last Time”—it’s easier to feel gratitude for things (even stuff like chores) when we think about the fact that there’ll be a last time we get to experience them, and we probably don’t know it at the time. For example, for a parent, there’s a last time they’ll get to pick up their child and carry them to bed. (Unless your parents are insanely strong and continue doing so into your teens and 20s. In which case, amazing.)
Think about something you used to do with someone—it can be as simple as playing hide ’n seek with a friend or relative—that you’ve maybe done for the last time (though we’d recommend never giving up hide ’n seek). Visualize that experience with them. Let the gratitude for what they brought to your life wash over you. Then keep following that flavor.
Side note: If you want to explore more tools Seligman and others have built around the science of happiness, head here .
Here are all the special degree programs and their additional prompts:
Bio-Dent: Seven Year Bio-Dental Program
Prompt 1: Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any predental or premedical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry. (250 words)
Prompt 2: List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands. (250 words)
Prompt 3: What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people? (250 words)
Prompt 4: Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least. (250 words)
Prompt 5: Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended. (250 words)
Computer and Cognitive Science: Artificial Intelligence
Why are you interested in the Computer & Cognitive Science: Artificial Intelligence program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words)
DMD: Digital Media Design Program
Why are you interested in the Digital Media Design (DMD) program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words)
Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business
The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally-minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree program in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to make a contribution to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)
LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management
The LSM program aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the life sciences and their management with an eye to identifying, advancing and implementing innovations. What issues would you want to address using the understanding gained from such a program? Note that this essay should be distinct from your single degree essay. (400-650 words)
M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology
Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. (400-650 words)
Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words)
NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering
Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the Internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)
NHCM: Nursing and Health Care Management
Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn's coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)
VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research
How do you envision your participation in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) furthering your interests in energy science and technology? Please include any past experiences (ex. academic, research, or extracurricular) that have led to your interest in the program. Additionally, please indicate why you are interested in pursuing dual degrees in science and engineering and which VIPER majors are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)
These programs are highly competitive (even more so than admission to UPenn itself). Notice that almost all of them have a word count limit of 650—the same length as your personal statement. They’re expecting you to get into some solid depth and detail regarding how and why you want to pursue this path. Read the prompt carefully, and be sure to respond to all elements of it.
A sample essay for one of the programs (Huntsman) appears below. Though the focus of each prompt is different, the approach is largely the same for many of them—how you came to have the interests you do (see “Why Major”), then shift into how the program at UPenn specifically fits you and your interests (“Why us?” elements again, without repeating what you wrote for Prompts 1 and 2, and how you’ll be able to use your education to address specific issues or concerns in the field.
The sample below focuses mostly on what personal connections and insights have drawn the student to this area.
Prompt: The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally-minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to make a contribution to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)
During a family barbecue that crowds my house with a hundred hungry relatives, getting a prized lamb chop can be warfare. At one barbecue, my uncle ate every lamb chop straight off the grill. As part of the eldest generation--those who worked in Newark plastic factories to build a life for his children--he could take advantage of the vulnerable without repercussions. The younger generations went hungry and their protests did not survive his public condemnation. Though this is perhaps a simplification, I’ve come to see this annual family dilemma as a microcosm of oppression. Around the world, the voices of the weakest populations are suppressed by the elite. In the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación , corrupt judges are a barrier to checking the Mexican president’s power. Centralized government in London prevents educational development in Scotland. And right at home, wealthy organizations like the NRA finance campaigns so the interests of the public are undervalued in policy. The lack of representation halts political progress and economic development worldwide. The voices of the people go unheard. The Brazilian empire once thrived on democratic institutions, but two-hundred years of centralization and corporatism diminished the voices of the people, especially that of minorities. Meanwhile, industrialization and agribusiness led to inequality between the developed south and the rural north. Today, indigenous communities in the northeast rainforests lack the resources to be represented in policy. Illegal loggers ravage the Amazon, desperate for agricultural land, while indigenous communities suffer violent displacement. In response to recent inflation and fiscal crisis, the President reduced funding for the government environmental organization, IBAMA, which serves to impede exploitation of the Amazon. But this backfired. International companies like H&M have stopped buying Brazilian resources like leather, and European countries have become reluctant to carry out the planned Mercosur Treaty. The reduced funding for IBAMA also revealed a deeper issue: inequality and underdevelopment. Loggers and miners are forced to work illegally on protected land just to make a living. Indigenous communities are belittled by the elite, and lack the support of local police. Low literacy rates in these regions inhibit political participation. Loggers and indigenous communities alike need a voice. My interest in understanding policy and society through the perspective of citizens, rather than governments, draws me to the Huntsman Program. Values entrenched over thousands of years shape a nation’s political culture and economic behavior. After studying the history and governments of six countries in AP Comparative Government and Politics and researching the qualitative impacts of economic policy and foreign relations while at a wealth management firm, I have come to understand that economic and political success is shaped by the people. My passion for Spanish opened my eyes to the religious beliefs, historical inequality, and cultural values that define the changing identities of Latin America. By learning the language, I got to know the people behind the figures. At Huntsman, I’ll expand my knowledge of Latin America by studying Portuguese as my target language. My desire to understand how people's perspectives contribute to Latin American economics and politics leads me to a Wharton concentration in Behavioral Economics, and a second College major in Latin American Studies. At Huntsman, I hope to gain a global understanding of culture, history, and perspectives, and use that knowledge to effectively give people a voice. As a global political economist, the knowledge I gain at Huntsman will allow me to tailor educational and economic policy to the cultural values and political beliefs entrenched in Brazilian society. A few hours without lamb chops inspired me to listen to people’s voices. To learn about the culture, history, and voices that, ideally, would shape the policy that affects citizens’ lives. There is more to policy than men in suits sitting at a mahogany table. Whether at the micro level of a greedy uncle, or the macro level of the Brazilian government, the voices of the people define success. — — —
Special thanks to Andy for contributing to this post
Andrew has worked as an educator, consultant, and curriculum writer for the past 15 years, and attended Stanford and Oxford, earning degrees in Political Science and Drama. He feels most at home on mountain tops.
Top Values: Insight/Growth | Truth | Integrity
TRY OUT THE COLLEGE APPLICATION + SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS COURSE
Create amazing supplemental essays for the most selective schools, polish your activities list, and complete everything else with ease and joy. Learn more here.
Watch the lessons on your own or via the live option.
- College Application
UPenn Essays: The Best Examples for
Article Contents 7 min read
Writing UPenn essays needs careful consideration and you can start bylearning from our supplemental essay examples . You should also learn how to write a college essay to increase your chance of getting acceptaed. Your cahnces of admission to the University of Pennsylvania are certainly affected by your essays.
The University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays include fairly standard prompts, such as the “Why this college?” essay and “What do you bring to the community?” essay. But it’s up to you to make these common essay topics your own! Read on to learn how you can stand out in your UPenn essays!
Note : If you want us to help you with your applications, interviews and/or standardized tests, book a free strategy call . If you are a university, business, or student organization representative and want to partner with us, visit our partnerships page .
UPenn essays prompt 1
Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at The University of Pennsylvania? (300-450 words)
Your goal in writing this essay is to convey why you are perfect for UPenn and why UPenn is perfect for you and your academic and professional goals.
The idea here is to write an essay that will show the admissions committee how you are going to benefit from their academic environment and how it will help you grow as an academic and a professional.
I have always excelled academically. I loved school, I enjoyed my lessons, and my teachers were my idols. Apart from sucking in the knowledge my teachers bestowed on me, I always did independent afterschool research to deepen my understanding of new subjects.
From a young age, I knew I would join the “knowledge” business. The best way I knew to go about it would be to create my brand of self-help e-books.I started selling these books – and, to my surprise, they were soon being printed in hard copies.
I soon realized that as “knowledgeable” as I considered myself, I had no idea how to run a business. As my publishing business scaled quickly, I soon realized that I needed more than a degree to run my business efficiently if I wanted to continue to grow.
I started my research and soon found that UPenn was the undergraduate business school for me. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is where I want to learn, especially focusing on programs like Entrepreneurship & Innovation Concentration and Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program: Scaling Your Business.
I also intend to share my personal and professional experience with the UPenn community. I hope to join the Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement (PennSEM) , where I plan to implement both my Wharton education and my past involvement in the business field to help local communities build new social enterprises. In the past, I’ve worked closely with my local Big Sister chapter and would love to use that experience to help PennSEM reach new boundaries in the broader community – beyond campus walls. I can bring my experience in organizing and leading workshops and networking events and help the club reach a wider audience. Most importantly, I can learn about how to lead such organizations from the other members of the club.
At UPenn, I hope to learn how to effectively interact with my peers and fellow entrepreneurship enthusiasts as my journey in the business world has been solo for the most part. When I leave Wharton with my business degree, I know I will become an accomplished business leader who has truly mastered both the theory and practical aspects of entrepreneurship. (442 words)
I apply to UPenn with the blessings and the support of my community on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. My family runs a small hotel on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We have owned the hotel for three generations – and it continues to provide a livelihood for 20 families who have become part of our family.
When I graduated from the only high school on the island, it was these families that came together to pay for my college tuition, which I hope to use at UPenn. They gave me the responsibility of becoming an efficient business leader who can transform that small hotel into a world-class resort.
I intend to deliver on their expectations by studying in the Business, Energy, Environment, and Sustainability program, which will help me grow the business with consideration for the environment and my community as a whole.
Apart from being one of the top universities in the world, UPenn also has the best research and development facilities. This attracted me because I want to learn in an institution that has a long history as well as the latest innovations in the business field. We also decided that it would be best because we loved that it is a place where I could feel at home with over 130 nationalities on campus. This is the first time I will be traveling far from home. I hope to learn about various cultures and meet as many people as I can by participating in on-campus communities. I aim to join the Penn Environmental Group as I know how important nature is to both the hotel industry as well as humanity as a whole. Living on a small island in the middle of an ocean also gives me a unique perspective on global warming and rising sea levels. I hope to create awareness via workshops and conferences and perhaps even work towards a solution that prevents an irreversible calamity.
I have also set my eyes on the Penn Club Swim. I aim to participate in activities like being a lifeguard and teaching about safety in the water.
I hope to give back to the UPenn community by sharing the personal experiences of my rich culture. We have traditions that are built on the need to rely on one another and I hope to build this sense of closeness and connection with my classmates (439 words)
At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classroom, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)
This prompt is meant to test how well you will fit in the university’s community as a whole and what kind of knowledge and experience you can bring to the incoming class. The campus hosts thousands of students and they all bring their backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and traditions with them. The question is, how will you contribute to that melting pot, and what will you take from it?
Perhaps, the best advice here would be to delve deep within yourself and consider unique experiences and circumstances that shaped you into who you are today.
By day I am a businessman, and by night, a writer. Well, at least that is the dream I hope to realize at UPenn – that of being a successful, innovative businessman and a writer at the same time.
Although I started writing in high school, I have never really developed that passion because, like every child growing up in a middle-class family, writing wasn’t exactly as encouraged as becoming a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer. So, I had to put that “hobby” – as my parents called it – on the back burner as I went through school.
I look forward to attending UPenn because it gives me the chance to earn my business degree as well as pursue my writing via clubs like Curiouser, where I can explore the surreal fiction writing sphere, and Penn Innovators in Business , where I will learn to guide the next generation of business leaders with my writing.
I also get to make my parents happy by becoming a successful businessman with my business degree – two birds one stone, as the saying goes. (186 words)
UPenn essays – example 2.2
I love singing and The Inspiration A Cappella is the UPenn club for me.
Ever since I found out about this club, I have been following the group’s YouTube channel. I’ve enjoyed every single video and dream of being among them. Anyone that has watched the club perform – or even watched their videos – can see how much they work to achieve that harmony. And that is something that can’t be done without a bond being formed among the members.
I want to be a part of that camaraderie. The beauty of acapella is that everyone needs to do their part or it won’t work – I can see how they “sync” and hope that my voice can enrich this already established group in the future. I bring over four years of singing) experience – several high school awards testify to my “prowess” – but, more importantly, I bring my passion for singing. Being an African, music is an inherent part of our culture, and it would be my pleasure to share my experiences and knowledge of our endemic music traditions. I even have ideas of weaving these beats into a work that appeals to the younger generation – in the hopes that they will also want to discover more about the “foreign-yet-familiar” sounds they experience. (200 words)
Writing college application essays is an art that can be mastered with time and practice. Don’t rush the process, take time to understand the question, and formulate your answers with care. Keep improving your draft until you are happy with the final essay. And, don’t forget to use a spell-check or grammar tool.
If at all you find this to be a daunting task, you can go through some sample college essays . They might help spark a few ideas that you can build on to create your admission essays when the time comes.
Alternatively, you can also look for college essay review services to make sure you have the best essay you can submit.
Want more tips for writing?
Do not exceed the word count. You can certainly write less that the required word count, but not more.
The most important thing here is that you address the prompt. Your answer should be built around the prompt and include your unique input, the values you bring to the community, and what you expect to gain when you leave the campus.
You should also include the tangible (technology and facilities) and intangible (school spirit and ethics) assets of the college, as well as the traditions it upholds.
If you can put all these together, then you will have a well-balanced essay.
You have to remember that supplemental essays are just one part of your entire college application packet. Instead of thinking of the essays as a single entity that can boost (or thwart) your chances, you should think of creating a whole application package that will combine to increase your chances.
So, focus on writing good supplemental essays and combine them with a good application package.
UPenn requires two supplemental essays for new students. But, there are several more that are required by students who seek admission to programs like Digital Media Design, Nursing and Health Care Management (400-650 words), and Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program (250 words). There is also an essay prompt for transfer students about why they transferred from their previous colleges (4510 characters ). More details can be found on the UPenn admissions page .
UPenn also requires potential candidates to write personal essays.
UPenn has set its goal to admit some of the top students by setting its admission GPA to 3.9. That means you will need to have scored almost all A’s to get in. But, you can find out how to get into college with a low GPA if you don’t have that near-perfect score.
The general rule of thumb is to avoid controversy at all costs. While it is good that you have your thoughts and views, your UPenn college admission essay is not exactly the place to express them. Why rattle the cage that will be your home for the coming 4 years?
Yes. Topics to avoid are political and social hot topics that are provocative to anyone on any side of the aisle. In short, if it is in the news and debates and clashes are going on about it, it is a topic best avoided. Again, here too – while it is admirable that you have a stance, your college admission essay is not the platform to express it.
Essays are your chance to explain how you and the university will co-exist for the next few years. While your essay needs to reflect you, there is a limit to how personal you can get. There is a difference between personality – which you should write about – and personal – which you should be careful with.
Your essay should tread lightly on personal topics like romance, trauma, sexual content, and radically offensive topics.
In short, use common sense and ask: would I tell this to a stranger? If the answer is, “no” you should skip the topic.
Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!
Anything we didn't cover? Have a question? Ask below or share your comments!
College Essay Examples: The Best 32 Examples in
What Is the Easiest Ivy League School To Get Into in ?
Canadian Universities Ranking in
College Recommendation Letter Samples & Writing Guide
Get Started Now
Talk to one of our admissions experts
FREE Training Webinar:
How to make your college applications stand out, (and avoid the top 5 mistakes that get most rejected).
Time Sensitive. Limited Spots Available:
We guarantee acceptance to a top college or university or we don't get paid.
Swipe up to see a great offer!
The Admissions Strategist
How to write the upenn supplemental essays 2020-2021 (example included).
The University of Pennsylvania, also known as UPenn or Penn, is a private Ivy League school located in Philadelphia . Like other Ivy League schools , it’s prestigious and competitive. Last year, Penn admitted only 8.07% of its 42,205 applicants, so if you’re applying to the University of Pennsylvania, you’re up against some tough competition.
Should this discourage you? No! Instead, you should feel motivated to put together the best application possible in order to increase your chances.
Every component of your application matters and that includes the UPenn supplemental essays. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to complete the UPenn supplement in order to make your application shine .
Click above to watch a video on UPenn Supplemental Essays.
What Are the UPenn Supplemental Essays?
The UPenn supplement must be completed in addition to the Common Application , Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application. This supplement consists of at least two essays, plus additional essays if you are interested in one of UPenn’s special programs, such as the nursing program.
This guide will cover the essays for the combined program but will start by focusing on the two essays which are common to every application. It is important to note that if you are applying to a coordinated dual-degree or a specialized program, the two prompts common to every application should be answered in regard to your single-degree choice. Your interest in a coordinated dual-degree or specialized program should be addressed through the essay prompts dedicated to that specific program.
Penn’s general essay topics are as follows:
How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words) At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)
How to Prepare for the UPenn Supplemental Essays
Penn has four undergraduate schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, The Wharton School, and Penn Engineering. When you apply to Penn, you’ll apply to one of these programs in particular. The first essay asks you to explain how your specific program will help you explore your intellectual and academic interests. The second essay wants you to explore the non-academic side of UPenn, examining how it will impact you and how you will affect it.
So, here’s your first step for both: research .
In order to answer these questions effectively, you’ll need to know a lot of information about the program to which you’re applying and the communities at UPenn. (Since you’re interested in attending the program for four years, it’s definitely worth knowing about anyway.) Here are some concepts to keep in mind as you research:
- You shouldn’t just talk about the program in general. Each program offers a wide variety of majors, and you should know which one you want to attend.
- Be specific. Look into course offerings, professors, research or volunteer opportunities, and other details about that major. When this essay is finished, it should contain information that makes it impossible to use, word for word, for any other school.
- Your extracurricular interests at UPenn should logically flow from your application. Whether related to your major or something else on your activity list, it should make sense to the person reading your essay.
Most importantly, Penn wants to know that you didn’t choose the school simply because it’s an Ivy League and highly regarded . What makes Penn the right choice for you, your interests, and your ambitions?
How to Write the First UPenn Supplemental Essay
As you start writing your essay, you’ll need to cover several pieces of information:
- What are your intellectual and academic interests? Give a few anecdotes or examples of why you’re passionate about a topic and how you’ve already explored it. Make sure your tone is excited and authentic.
- How can the program/major of your choice at Penn help you develop this interest and prepare for your career? Specificity is key, so don’t be afraid to mention specific courses, professors, or opportunities that have you feeling especially excited about Penn.
With this essay, you should demonstrate to the admissions officers that you’re passionate about learning and about UPenn, and you’ve taken the time to research exactly how you can pursue your intellectual and academic interests at Penn. This will demonstrate that Penn is a good fit for you, but it’ll also help admissions officers see that you’re a good fit for Penn. The goal is to help the admissions committee visualize how you’ll fit into and contribute to the program of your choice.
Do your research and provide some details!
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Feel free to begin your essay with a brief story or anecdote . If you do so, make sure the anecdote invokes an interest of yours that you can further pursue at UPenn.
- Explain how you will use specific UPenn resources, programs, classes, advice from professors to chase this interest.
- You can also add problems you’d like to solve in the field of your interest or discuss your ambitions.
Here’s an example outline:
- Seeing something in your city that you want to change, such as a polluted water source.
- Introducing an action you took to start making that change happen, like volunteering with a nonprofit.
- Explain what you learned from the experience, perhaps finding a water-filtration system that is effective, but expensive.
- Describe how UPenn is related to the above story based on the research you’ve done. This could easily be a class or a professor’s research.
- Tell Penn what you hope to gain from interacting with what you selected above, ideally expounded upon an ultimate goal, such as establishing a company that creates a water-filtration system at 30% of the current cost.
UPenn Supplemental Essay 1 Example
As you read this essay, pay attention to the details. Specific classes and professors are mentioned, as well as a research opportunity the student is interested in. The writer also explains why they are interested in the majors they’ve selected, hitting the first part of the prompt.
A year ago, my grandmother was a fiery, goal-oriented woman. Since then, a neurodegenerative disease called Lewy body dementia (LBD) has caused her to deteriorate rapidly. Due to worsened symptoms, she has been forced to transition in and out of care facilities, resulting in a constant battle to adjust to new environments. Witnessing my grandmother’s downward spiral has opened my eyes to the inadequacies within our healthcare system, fueling me to seek solutions in both the scientific and policy realm. At the University of Pennsylvania, I can progress towards an LBD cure with a cognitive science major. Supplementing this, a health and society major will prepare me to create evidence-based policies to improve the lives of dementia patients. With my double major, I can absorb the science necessary to create effective legislation. Studying cognitive science will be a fascinating experience, providing me the opportunity to explore the human mind through philosophical, psychological, and mathematical lenses. These varied perspectives will be the foundation for my cognitive neuroscience concentration. While visiting the campus in April, I attended an Introduction to Brain and Behavior class taught by Professor McGurk, and I was captivated by her interactive lecture on mental illness. I had the opportunity to converse with students, sharing our perspectives on the discussion questions. Through my neuroscience concentration, I will explore this class in its entirety, acquiring an in-depth understanding of the human brain. Beyond the walls of the classroom, I will supplement my inquiries by eagerly seeking practical learning opportunities at the Center of Neurodegenerative Research. My ultimate dream is to research the pathogenesis of alpha-synuclein, a protein that comprises Lewy bodies, under the mentorship of Dr. Virginia Lee. It would be an invaluable experience to work with a pioneer in the field while gaining first-hand knowledge of emerging research. While neuroscience will develop my understanding of LBD, the health and societies major will teach me how to craft legislation that can solve the pressing issues facing dementia patients. The possibility of embarking on a health policy and law concentration within the major excites me, as it closely aligns with my future career goals. I would love to take classes like American Health Policy, allowing me to analyze the effectiveness of prior policies and to utilize this knowledge to develop future legislation. In my senior year at Penn, this major offers the opportunity to conduct an independent research project, applying the knowledge from both majors to solve a crucial healthcare issue. Neither in life nor in academics have I stayed confined within a box. At the University of Pennsylvania, there are no boundaries to my exploration, making it the perfect place for me to pursue my dual passions.
Connect us to your school's principal!
How to write the second upenn supplemental essay.
Now that you’ve finished the first essay, it’s time to move onto the second and think about the community present at UPenn. As such, this essay is all about proving that you’re a good fit culturally , not just academically. Like most schools, Penn wants students that will be engaged and active on campus, and this is your chance to show that.
To start off, take a look at your activities and compare them to what is available at UPenn. Here are some questions to help you along:
- Of the top five activities on your activities list, which ones haven’t you already mentioned in an essay that UPenn will see? Do any of them relate to an activity that sounds interesting at Penn?
- What activities at UPenn relate to your major? This can be anything from clubs to research but look for communities that you haven’t already mentioned in the first essay.
- Is there anything you’re passionate about, but Penn doesn’t have a connection to? Could you start a club or group to fill that niche?
- If you are considering living at one of the residences at UPenn, which one? Why? How do you plan on being involved in that community?
Once you’re finished brainstorming, it’s time to get started on the writing process. While there are plenty of outlines you could use, they all need to hit on the same three ideas:
- Exploring the communities present at UPenn
- How one of them may shape your perspective and identity
- How you may shape that community in turn
Here is one way to consider going about addressing all three topics:
- Talk about a program that you’re currently involved in and how it has changed you, perhaps with a learned skill or more personal lesson.
- Describe the programs at UPenn that are similar, where you hope to keep learning and growing.
- Explain how your participation in the program will benefit your peers or the community at UPenn at large.
UPenn Supplemental Essay 2 Example
Here is an essay written by a student who wanted to illustrate a commitment to supporting diversity and inclusivity.
As a member of the Jewish community, pursuing social justice is an integral aspect of my life. It has prompted me to join organizations like Access Sports America, where I teach adaptive water sports to children living with disabilities, primarily autism. My ultimate goal is to create safe spaces where differences only serve to strengthen my communities and where all are emboldened to achieve their potential. I aspire to promote inclusivity wherever I go, spreading the message that everyone is deserving of respect and, thus, our diversity should be celebrated. At the University of Pennsylvania, I will seek out organizations that share a similar enthusiasm for empowering those living with disabilities. Through Penn Cares for Kids, I can engage with the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy, developing friendships while simultaneously growing from my interactions with the inspiring students and staff. With my peers at Penn Speaks for Autism, I will amplify the autism awareness programs already on campus by improving cognizance of the difficulties people with disabilities face. In doing so, I hope to reduce societal stigmas within the Penn community, ensuring that every Penn student is encouraged and supported.
One of the best things to note about this essay is how passionate the writer is. Even better, they link their goals to activities they are currently participating in, demonstrating their engagement rather than saying it.
UPenn Specialized Program Application Essays
UPenn also offers specialized joint-major and interdisciplinary programs. As previously mentioned, each of these specialized programs requires that you write both of the Penn supplemental essays plus the essays associated with those programs. Let’s go through each of them one by one:
BIO-DENT, which is a 7-year combined undergraduate and dental program, has 5 additional essays:
Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any predental or premedical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry. (250 words) List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands. (250 words) What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people? (250 words) Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least. (250 words) Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended. (250 words)
The Digital Media Design (DMD) program has the following prompt:
Why are you interested in the DMD program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words)
For the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, you are asked what language you intend to specialize in, how many years you’ve studied it already, and the following essay question:
The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally-minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to make a contribution to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)
Next, the Life Sciences and Management (LSM) program has the following two prompts:
The LSM program aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the life sciences and their management with an eye to identifying, advancing and implementing innovations. What issues would you want to address using the understanding gained from such a program? Note that this essay should be distinct from your single degree essay. (400-650 words) “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts” (attributed to Winston Churchill). Tell us about the failure from which you’ve learned the most. (200-250 words)
The Management and Technology (M&T) program asks the following two questions:
Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. (400-650 words) Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words maximum)
For the Networked and Social System Engineering program there is only one prompt:
Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the Internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)
Nursing and Health Care Management asks the following:
Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn’s coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)
Last, but definitely not least, the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) only has one additional essay:
Describe your interests in energy science and technology drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions). Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)
As you look at these prompts, keep in mind that each essay should be able to stand on its own, and you shouldn’t repeat too much information between the essays.
All of these specialized programs are extremely selective. They don’t just want to know that you’re a great student or that you’re interested in their program; they want to know that your interests and experiences make you an excellent fit.
For example, the Huntsman Program only admits 45 students each year. This makes the chance of being selected very low, so if you aren’t admitted to the specialized program of your choice, it doesn’t mean you’re less qualified or inferior to other students. It just means that the committee felt other students were a better fit.
As with the other Penn supplemental essays, applying to the specialized programs will require thorough research and a deep understanding of the program to which you’re applying.
Below, we’ll take a brief look at each of Penn’s specialized programs and their essay topics.
UPenn Seven Year Bio-Dental Program Essays
This is a seven-year joint program for students who will major in biology and intend to enroll in the dental school during their senior year. Acceptance for freshman applicants is conditional, and official acceptance will be offered upon completion of a student’s junior year.
The program is highly structured. While there is room for creativity in their required essays, it’s most important to clearly convey the information that is being asked of you.
The first essay, as listed above, essentially asks for a resume of your pre-dental and pre-medical experience. If you have none, this statement will need to make a very compelling case for why the experiences you do have still make you a strong and prepared candidate for such a rigorous and competitive dental program.
Their second essay simply aims to evaluate whether you can complete complex activities with your hands. Did you take Woodshop? Robotics? Are you constantly taking apart and piecing together items? Are you the go-to person for assembling furniture in your home? Talk about the activities you’ve participated in that demonstrate your fine-motor skills and coordination while keeping in mind that you only have 250 words.
Working with other people is key in any healthcare-related field, which is why the third BIO-DENT essay specifically focuses on it. Since patients will be depending on you, their dentist, but also dental technicians, endodontists, oral surgeons and an array of other professionals, the School of Dentistry wants to be convinced that you can work with that team of people. This is a great place to mention a particularly challenging project that involved coordinating multiple personalities to achieve a goal.
For the fourth essay, be careful when talking about what interests you the least. The purpose of this question is to ensure that your interest in dentistry is deep enough to be aware of pros, cons, strengths, and weaknesses. Be honest and vulnerable, explaining why you like it, and why you don’t, being careful to avoid being too negative as you address what interests you the least.
The last question, about relatives who are dentists or are in dental school, is more to give them a feel for your exposure to the area without you having to list this in the first question. Mention family members if you have them, but if not, don’t panic. Not having relatives in the profession will not disqualify you from this program!
Overall, your goal is to create a comprehensive picture about how you are thinking about becoming a dentist. Balance realism with enthusiasm. If becoming a dentist is your dream, this is your chance to show the admissions committee why.
UPenn Digital Media and Design Program Essay
This program gives graduates a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE), but contains classes examining communication theory and computer graphics. The curriculum is designed for people interested in developing virtual reality environments and interactive technologies, bridging the animation and computer graphics industries.
Much like the rest of the program-specific essays, this one exists to let your enthusiasm for the program shine while also demonstrating how prepared you are to take on the challenge. However, this prompt is very open-ended, simply asking why you are interested in the program. Don’t let that fool you: the admissions committee is still looking for the students who best fit their program. With that in mind, ask yourself the following questions:
- What about UPenn’s DMD program is most attractive to you?
- What have you done to explore the design and/or digital media fields?
- How will attending this program set you up for your career goals?
Answering these questions will help you explain why you’re applying while also giving you the chance to highlight your experience.
Whatever you decide to talk about, the essay needs to be persuasive and clear. The goal is to convince the committee that you are ready to take on the challenge of the program and will be able to apply what you will learn to your future.
UPenn Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business Essay
According to the program’s website, the Huntsman Program integrates “business education, advanced language training, and a liberal arts education.” Students graduate with both a B.A. in International Studies from the School of Arts and Sciences and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School. Huntsman students specialize in the area of the world in which their target language is spoken, which is why the application asks about the target language.
For this essay, it’s best if you can talk about an international issue from the perspective of a particular country or region. Briefly demonstrate why this country, culture, or region, and the issue you’ve selected, are important and meaningful to you. After all, you’ll be studying this for the next four years.
Given that you’ll be spending an undergraduate degree on this, you should select a complex problem. You only have 650 words, so don’t worry about suggesting a solution; that’s not the point. Instead, focus on how the Huntsman Program can help give you the skills and knowledge to address this international issue and effectively study the problem. Do the research you need to mention coursework, projects, and grants that will help you hone your skills and boost your subject-matter knowledge.
LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management Essays
LSM allows students to explore both bioscience and business, culminating in a Bachelor of Arts in a life science major, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Economics. The prompt specifically asks about applying innovation to solving a particular problem, so take this under consideration when brainstorming topics. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What life science are you most interested in? What are the biggest challenges facing it?
- What area of management are you most experienced in? How do you think it applies to the life sciences?
- What challenges are you already interested in solving? How will an understanding of management and life sciences help you achieve this goal?
Much like the Huntsman essay, be specific and creative, but don’t worry about solving the problem in 650 words. It should be complex, worth spending a full 4 years studying and researching a solution. You should be trying to convince the admissions committee of your interest in the topic and your ability to logically think about the problem.
The second of the two LSM essays asks you to address a time you failed, and how you learned from it. If you’ve already written about this topic, either elsewhere in the Penn statement or as part of the Common Application, you’ll need to find another example to talk about. Don’t repeat yourself.
This is a short essay, only 250 words long, so you don’t have a lot of space to tell a story. As such, don’t bother with an introduction. If you can, jump straight into an anecdote demonstrating the mistake that you made or how you felt right after the failure. From there, spend most of your words explaining the lesson learned.
Remember, have fun with these essays and tell your story.
M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology Essays
The M&T program at Penn allows students to simultaneously pursue degrees from the College of Engineering and the Wharton School. As such, the first essay wants you to examine the intersection between business and engineering. If you don’t have an idea already in mind, you’ll want to spend time brainstorming. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What came first, your interest in business or engineering? What prompted you to explore the second field?
- Is there a particular problem you’re looking to solve with this combined degree? If so, what?
If either of the above questions caught your attention, you have an outline to start with, not just an essay topic. Both business and engineering are about analysis and precision, so make sure that the flow of your essay is clear and logical. If at all possible, have other people read this essay to help with the clarity.
For the second essay, about leadership and creativity, don’t spend too much time describing the problem. Focus on your actions. How did you solve the challenge? Generally, when you take the initiative to solve a problem, you’ll naturally demonstrate creativity and leadership traits.
For example, if your robot crashed into a wall during a robotics racing competition, you might have asked other teams to lend you tools to fix your robot. While you may not have won the race, you may have learned about leadership under pressure and creative problem solving, including asking others for help.
NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering Essay
The NETS program blends courses in engineering, mathematics and science with courses in sociology, game theory, economics, and policy. Its aim is to “connect the study of networks with the study of human behavior.” For this fairly open-ended essay, you’ll need to choose one specific network about which to write. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Whatever network you choose, you should find it fascinating.
- Additionally, you should be able to discuss how your selected network impacts society.
- You also need to explain your interest in this network and its intersection with economics, communication, or “the creation of beneficial content.”
This program is seeking creative engineers who are interested in how technology and society interact. Thus, this essay should showcase your fascination with technology, as well as your ability to think creatively and analytically about its potential influence on society.
At a full 650 words, you have plenty of time to explain how the variety of fields this program covers is perfect for your career aspirations. Use them to convince the admissions committee that you are invested in the intersection between information, technology, and society and thus an excellent fit for this program.
NHCM: Nursing and Health Care Management Essay
The NHCM program allows students to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. The essay topic is straightforward, asking you to explain why the dual-degree program is a fit for your goals. To get you started, here are a few questions:
- Why are you interested in nursing?
- How does a degree in healthcare management help you achieve your dreams?
- In particular, how will the UPenn program help you?
Similar to the other specialized essay topics, you may want to choose a particular problem in nursing, and how simultaneously learning about health care management can give you the skills and knowledge to solve it. Alternatively, you may want to approach this from a career standpoint, as there are many positions for nursing that would benefit from a background in management too.
With 650 words, take the time to be thoughtful and clear about your aspirations and how the program will help you get there. By the end of the essay, a reader should be able to understand your motivation and why Penn in specific is the right choice for you.
VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research Essay
According to the VIPER program’s website, “the ultimate goal is to raise innovators in high-caliber research careers who develop sustainable ways to harness, convert, and use energy.” As such, the program engages students in energy research almost immediately.
While the essay prompt is lengthy, it can be broken down into several parts:
- Explain why you are interested in energy science and technology
- Describe any previous research in this area
- Outline how the VIPER program will help you achieve your research goals
- Indicate the science and engineering majors you are most interest in
Not too bad, right? This prompt has a lot of points to address, so even though the program gives 650 words, there isn’t room to dally. However, if you’ve already participated in energy research, this topic should be easy for you. You’ll simply describe that research, including its results, followed by what you’d like to work on next, and how VIPER will help you achieve that.
If you haven’t done any energy research, don’t worry. You can still create a stellar application for this program. Focus on experiences you’ve had that relate to energy science and technology and the skills needed to be a good researcher, such as curiosity, persistence, logic, and communication. The end of the essay should be the same, discussing the majors you’re interested in and how VIPER will help you achieve your research goals.
UPenn Specialized Essay Example
This example essay is to give you an idea of what some of the longer essays should look like. Remember, never plagiarize.
“The pipe’s leaking!” There were 10 minutes until the competition began, and our water filtration system was falling apart. All we had was a trifold, filter, and some duct tape. Five months prior, while performing research for a science project, my friends and I discovered that the Flint Water Crisis still persisted in late 2016, despite the fading news coverage. Shocked, we decided to create a lead water filtration system. We spent hours poring over research theses and abstracts to find a technology that could cheaply and effectively remove lead particles from water. During a five-hour Skype call, we discovered, debated, and thoroughly vetted the concept of activated carbon, but there remained one problem: the material was too costly for our budget. Our minds went into overdrive, researching a way to replicate the lead-sucking nanotubes in activated carbon. As the leader, I delegated roles within my quasi-startup team and collaborated with school faculty to find, and secure permissions to, a kiln that could heat charcoal to 1000 degrees Celsius. Twenty-four hours later, we had transformed a mundane $12 bag of charcoal into eight pounds of lead-filtering black dust that would become the centerpiece of our water-filtering apparatus. After another 100 hours of construction, writing a research paper, and preparing a presentation board, our product was competition ready. At the last minute, our water filter began falling apart. Always prepared, we used a roll of duct tape to repair the damage before presenting to the panel of judges. In the end, we won first place at the Inventors Challengers Contest, and while the Flint Water Crisis had subsided by then, we learned firsthand about the difficulties of undertaking a startup-like project for a social cause. Thus, after attending an Engineering Entrepreneurship lecture at Penn last spring, I knew this university would equip me with the knowledge I needed to overcome the obstacles of creating a successful startup. I am excited to apply to the The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, with courses such as Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Implementation, through which I will gain the skills to create a business with a positive social impact. I will also avail myself of the resources available to Penn entrepreneurs such as VIP-C and X, incubators that can support my startup journey from inception into the early growth stages. Additionally, joining MUSE’s International Case Team will allow me to practice working in high-pressure scenarios while designing customized solutions for real-world problems. This will serve as a wonderful continuation to my case-competition experience at the International DECA Conference, where I networked with people from around the world and competed against the top 100 qualifiers in the Entrepreneurship Series. Joining MUSE will also help me integrate my interests in human psychology and business, which I explored through a college-level course in psychology and my Extended Essay discussing venture capital bubbles in the United States. In MUSE’s Innovation Committee, I will have the opportunity to flex my right-brain thinking by developing and executing experimental marketing tactics. To further explore the connections between business and psychology, I will take Organizational Behavior, taught by Professor Adam Grant. I found his Ted Talk about his book, Give and Take, especially informative. I also seek to perform research in Decision Making and Social Behavior under Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor Michael Platt, whose work in neuroeconomics has inspired me to consider a complementary concentration in behavioral economics. But truly, it was from the day I watched Dance Takeover 2018 to my first stroll down Locust walk, that I already envisioned myself walking amongst the professionally dressed Wharton undergrads and performing with the artistically inclined dancers of Penn Roses. Whether it is solving America’s water crisis, researching new economic theories, or competing in a dance circuit, I know UPenn will provide me with the tools and knowledge I need to make an impact on the world. As you can see in this essay, don’t be afraid to talk about other elements at Penn outside of the specific program, especially if they relate to your goal. However, don’t repeat yourself from the first set of essays!
Conclusion: Writing the UPenn Supplemental Essays
For UPenn’s supplement, all students need to respond to the first two essays. You’ll need to research the specific school and major you’re interested in, as well as the non-academic opportunities on campus.
In the first essay, you’ll explain both why you’re interested in this subject and how Penn can help you explore this interest further. For the second, you’ll need to focus on a community at UPenn and how it will shape you, and you it.
- If you’re not interested in any of Penn’s specialized programs, you’re done at this point. You don’t have to apply to any specialized programs as it won’t impact your chances of admission to Penn.
If you are interested in one of Penn’s specialized programs, you’ll need to write at least one additional essay explaining this interest and why this program would help you achieve your goals.
- For all of these essays, research and specificity are key. Penn is looking to see that you’re passionate in whatever area you would like to study, and they want to know why you’re interested in UPenn’s specific programs.
They’re also ensuring that you’re a great fit for their highly competitive, selective programs, so choose your words wisely. Be sure to seek feedback and polish your essays until they shine.
By following these tips, you can stand out from UPenn’s highly competitive crowd of applicants!
Learn how we can help you and your school with college and career guidance!
Fill Out Our Form!
College Application Boot Camp
Stay on track and ease your anxiety with our second-to-none college application assistance.
- Ethics & Honesty
- Free Consult
- Satisfaction and Money-Back Guarantee
- Join Our Team
Sign up for the The Admissions Strategist newsletter to get the latest information on college and career success
No products in the cart.
Successful University of Pennsylvania Essays
Upenn essays →, upenn mentors →, upenn supplemental essay.
How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which…...
Common App Essay: Wooden Pulpits and Iron Podiums
#7: Open-Ended Prompt Each time I dance I am becoming more of who I am. That is why I adore dance. It is one of…...
UPenn Supplemental Essay: How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? | Sabria
Upenn supplemental essay: how will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the university of pennsylvania | elizabeth, common app essay: discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth | lah’nasia.
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Thursday, May 17, 2018…....
UPenn Supplemental Essay: How will you explore the community at Penn? | Valerie
How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective…...
University of Pennsylvania Essay Prompts
University of Pennsylvania requires the Common Application, with its 250-650 word essay requirement, as well as their own short essay questions, included below.
UPenn Supplement Essay Prompts
How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific…...
Common Application Essay Prompts
The Common App Essay for 2020-2021 is limited to 250-650 word responses. You must choose one prompt for your essay. Some students have a background,…...
Please confirm you want to block this member.
You will no longer be able to:
- See blocked member's posts
- Mention this member in posts
- Message this member
- Add this member as a connection
Please note: This action will also remove this member from your connections and send a report to the site admin. Please allow a few minutes for this process to complete.
Your Trusted Advisors for Admissions Success
Admissions and test prep resources to help you get into your dream schools
How to Get Into UPenn: Essays and Strategies that Worked
How hard is it to get into the university of pennsylvania learn the upenn acceptance rate, admissions requirements, and read upenn essays that worked.
LEARN HOW TO GET INTO UPENN
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: upenn requirements for admission, part 3: applying to upenn early decision vs. regular decision, part 4: 2022–2023 upenn supplemental essays.
If your child is a highly competitive student with an appetite for a rigorous course load and a robust thirst for learning, chances are they’re looking into attending one of the prestigious Ivy League universities . If they also happen to be interested in interdisciplinary thinking and attending college in a historic, thriving city, they should consider applying to the nation’s first university, the University of Pennsylvania.
But before you start asking how to get into UPenn, take a moment to learn as much as possible about the spirit of the school that calls itself “the Ivy League without the ivory tower.”
Penn was established in 1740 by founding father Benjamin Franklin, who envisioned an institution of higher education that pushed the boundaries of knowledge and contributed to furthering society. At Penn, that lofty mission manifests in integrated studies in the liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional training at both the undergrad and graduate levels, along with several extremely unique interdisciplinary undergrad programs like the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business.
Penn’s four undergraduate schools include a college of arts and sciences, a business school, an engineering school, and a school of nursing. No matter which school or major students are enrolled in, Penn emphasizes that all undergraduate students receive a thorough foundation in the liberal arts. Many students take courses across all four undergraduate schools and choose from countless interdisciplinary minors and dual degrees.
Your child might spend their summer traveling with the Penn-in-Cannes abroad course to attend the Cannes International Film Festival and study international business, or hiking the Swiss and Italian Alps to gain direct field experience in their studies of geography. They might be invited by a top professor of physics to research supernovas in the Andes Mountains and aid in the discovery of a new planet by the start of the fall semester. Or they could spend their days training as an oncology nurse at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and their nights reading their poems to an audience of literary giants at the Kelly Writers’ House.
Penn prides itself on a tradition of firsts—the nation’s first university founded by its first statesman, in the nation’s first capital of Philadelphia—and it has a long tradition of producing the world’s foremost innovators and thinkers. Your child might follow in the footsteps of some of Penn’s greatest alumni—launch a private space exploration company like Elon Musk, become the chief NBC Nightly News correspondent like Andrea Mitchell, change the landscape of political thought like Noam Chomsky, or entertain the world through performance like John Legend.
As is the case for any Ivy League school, the competition to gain admission is fierce. Fortunately, our team has helped many UPenn applicants achieve admissions success and we routinely receive messages like these:
"Thank you so much for all of your support for [name removed]! UPENN CAS 2025!!!!! Thanks again!!!!!!" STUDENT ACCEPTED TO UPENN VIA EARLY DECISION
"Just wanted to send over a note that I just recently received an invitation to join the UPenn class of 2026! Thanks for everything—it's certainly paid off!" STUDENT ACCEPTED OFF OF UPENN WAITLIST
Read on to learn the UPenn acceptance rate, admissions requirements, and our recommendations to help your child maximize their chances of receiving a UPenn acceptance.
Penn sits firmly among the top 15 schools in the nation.
U.S. News & World Report: 7
Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education: 12
(Suggested reading: Ivy League Rankings: The Definit ive Guide)
Where is UPenn?
UPenn is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This walkable, unpretentious, historic Mid-Atlantic metropolis is nestled in the corridor between Washington D.C. and New York City.
Philadelphia was named a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2015, the first city in the United States given this distinction. It’s also the ninth-largest metropolitan economy in the U.S. and home to five Fortune 1000 companies, meaning your child might have a chance to intern or network with alumni and local Penn affiliates at the telecommunications giant Comcast or the food technology corporation FMC.
Penn’s urban campus is located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia. While Penn is right in the heart of the city, the campus itself is abundantly green—so much so that it was officially declared an arboretum in 2017.
University City is a safe, affordable section of Philly easily accessible to the rest of the city and the greater Northeast corridor region through public transit. Your child might roll out of bed in their dorm room at Penn and be at their internship at JP Morgan Chase & Co or Facebook an hour later.
UPenn student population
Undergraduate students: 10,106
Graduate and professional students: 12,924
UPenn acceptance rate
Here’s the UPenn admissions data pertaining to the class of 2026 :
Acceptance rate: ~5%
(Suggested reading: Ivy League Acceptance Rates )
UPenn tuition and scholarships
The 2022–2023 cost of attendance at UPenn (i.e., tuition, room, board, and fees) is $85,738.
UPenn meets 100 percent of demonstrated need without student loans, allowing students to graduate debt-free. In 2020-2021, 46 percent of undergrads received grant-based financial aid, and the average award was $56,095.
Who gets into UPenn?
In order to assess your child’s odds of gaining acceptance to UPenn, we’ve provided a profile of successful applicants:
96% of students are in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.
UPenn average GPA: 3.9
UPenn average ACT score: 35
25th percentile: 34
75th percentile: 36
UPenn average SAT score: 1535
25th percentile: 1510
75th percentile: 1560
International students: 16%
First-generation college students: 18%
In Fall 2021, the largest racial demographic of UPenn undergrads was white students (34%), followed by Asian-American/Pacific Islander (26%), Hispanic/Latine (10%), and African American/Black (8%).
Over 90% of our students get into one or more of their top 3 schools
Get our free 110-page guide for strategies to become the kind of applicant that selective colleges love to admit: How to Get Into America’s Elite Colleges: The Ultimate Guide
100% privacy. No spam. Ever.
Thank you! Your guide is on its way. In the meantime, please let us know how we can help you crack the the college admissions code . You can also learn more about our 1-on-1 college admissions support here .
UPenn academic requirements
Similar to its Ivy League and Ivy+ counterparts, Penn seeks intellectually curious, well-rounded students who will continue that Franklinian philosophy of applying knowledge in service to society—the Penn community, the city of Philadelphia, and the world.
There are no specific course requirements to get into UPenn but the university expects your child to have taken challenging classes in the core academic areas (English, social studies, math, science, and foreign language) based on the courses available to them at their specific high school. They also want to see how your child challenges themselves with extracurricular activities .
It's worth noting that Penn, unlike Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, but like Cornell, does ask students to apply to one of the four specific colleges within the university. Again, those undergraduate schools are: The College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, Penn Engineering, and the Wharton School of Business.
Revisiting coursework for a moment, admission suggestions for each of the four undergraduate colleges are slightly different. The College of Arts and Sciences expects your child to have had a balanced and advanced college prep curriculum, while both Penn Engineering and the Wharton School expect particularly strong preparation in mathematics, with coursework in calculus of possible. The School of Nursing likes to see strong science prep, particularly in chemistry.
Choosing one of the four colleges also means that, to apply to Penn, your child may need a little more information about their future academic plan than they might at another school. However, while identifying an intended major gives the admissions committee an idea of what your child might pursue at Penn, it has no impact on their studies once they enroll in one the undergraduate colleges.
Over half of students who indicate an intended major end up majoring in a different subject once they are studying at Penn. If your child is undecided, they can check that box, like over half of students admitted to the College of Arts and Science.
One difference to consider: If your child is admitted to one school and decides they’d rather study in another (for example—they are admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences but decide after their first year they’d rather study business at Wharton), their internal transfer is not normally considered until after their sophomore year.
UPenn application requirements
Here’s the lowdown on what your child will need. Penn accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application.
Common App essay
Two Penn-specific essays and possibly several more essays tailored to the undergraduate school to which your child intends to apply
Optional in 2022–2023: ACT or SAT test scores
Optional: IB, AP, or AICE test results
3 letters of recommendation , following one of the options below:
1 counselor recommendation and 2 teacher recommendations
1 counselor recommendation, 1 teacher recommendation, and 1 other recommendation (e.g. a letter from a supervisor, mentor, coach, arts or music teacher, spiritual leader, or cultural leader)
School report, transcript, and midyear senior report (plus a final report required in June for matriculating students)
Optional: Additional letters of recommendation, art or music samples, or an expanded resume or research abstract in addition to the activities section of the application
Your child can apply to Penn via a binding early decision agreement by November 1st. They’ll receive an answer of accepted, deferred to the regular decision pool, or denied by mid-December. Penn admits roughly half of their incoming class through early decision, but the UPenn early decision acceptance rate is still low, around 15 percent.
Your child can also apply regular decision to Penn, by January 5th.
How do you know if your child should apply to UPenn early decision?
If Penn is absolutely your child’s first choice (i.e. they will 100 percent attend UPenn if admitted and your family can pay, regardless of the financial aid package offered), and their application is ready by November 1st, then applying early is right for them.
If your child needs the fall semester of their senior year to improve their test scores, GPA, or activities profile, then they should wait for regular decision
Since Penn has different undergraduate schools, you might be asking yourself, are your child’s admissions odds affected by which school they apply to? The answer: Not particularly. Admissions rates to the College of Arts and Sciences, Wharton, and Penn Engineering are all typically under 10 percent. Only the School of Nursing is slightly higher—about 25 percent in recent years.
(Suggested reading: Early Action vs. Early Decision: Pros and Cons and What Your Child Should Do )
Part 4: 2022–2023 UPenn supplemental essays (examples included)
Penn will evaluate your child based on their Common App personal statement, but it is equally important that they have exceptional Penn-specific supplemental essays . Some individual undergraduate schools and specialty programs require additional written supplements, so make sure your child is aware of all Penn-specific essays required for their chosen program.
For all undergraduate admissions, Penn requires two supplements, both of which are shorter than the Common App essay: a 350–400-word essay that focuses on academic pursuits and a 150–200-word mini-essay that focuses on life outside of school.
Like other Ivy League essays , these supplements help the admissions team get a more holistic picture of your child’s drive, leadership, passions, intellect, and background. These essays allow the admissions committee to imagine how your child might contribute to Penn’s culture.
First, let’s meet a few students closely based on Penn applicants we’ve worked with previously:
Jean is a first-generation college student interested in the Science, Technology, and Society major at Penn as a foundation for law school. She has been captain of the debate team since her sophomore year, and she’s a self-declared history buff. Jean writes a history of technology column for her school newspaper and serves as its web developer—last year, she even created an app for the paper.
Aashish is applying to the Nursing and Health Care Management Dual Degree Program. He loves statistics, chemistry, and working with kids, and spent his summer volunteering at the children’s cancer ward at his local hospital. Since his freshman year in high school, Aashish has held a part-time job as a dishwasher at a restaurant owned by his uncle.
Alice grew up between Minneapolis and Mexico City. She volunteered at a women’s prison in Mexico City during her last two years of high school and made a documentary with her IB Film class that profiled some of the prisoners and their lives there. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants to major in but feels strongly about the intersection of art and public policy. She also writes poetry but doesn’t have any coursework or achievements that show her talent.
Learn how to write outstanding Ivy League essays
Get our free 110-page guide to help you with every single one: How to Get Into America’s Elite Colleges: The Ultimate Guide
Question 1: Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)
This short prompt offers students a chance to talk about their support system and what’s important to them on a personal level. Penn students come from many walks of life with many different academic goals in mind. Considering a student’s character is an important aspect of the admissions process.
The kind of letter you write will depend on your own experiences, but keep in mind that this question is specifically asking you to acknowledge other people who have contributed to your success. This can be a teacher, parent, coach, community leader, or any other person who has made a difference in your life.
Here’s how Jean answered this prompt:
Dear Mom & Dad,
Thank you so much for always placing the highest value on curiosity and exploration. It’s really been a huge influence on my positive nature and optimistic outlook. I’m often the only one in class smiling while working on a perplexing coding error, asking my genetics teachers for extra lab work, or laughing at the science puns my robotics teacher put on the back of our tests. That’s all thanks to the playful, intellectual atmosphere you both gave me.
When I first became interested in STEM, you balanced the cold facts with warm jokes. When I talked endlessly about the history of salt, you listened closely, even though you definitely didn’t care about the basic seasoning as much as me or Kurlansky. You gave me a confidence that helped me write about tech with authority and carried me through every debate over the past two years. I love who you have helped me become: a light-hearted, academically driven young woman, reflective of her supremely supportive family.
What makes this a great response?
Jean combines her appreciation for her parents with a closer look at her current academic experiences.
Jean recognizes the importance of balancing academics with passion, marking it as a defining familial trait.
Jean acknowledges how her support system is at least partially responsible for her success, allowing her to sound confident yet humble.
Question 2: How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)
The second supplement is the complete opposite of the first—Penn wants your child to communicate their aptitude outside of the classroom as people who engage with the society in which they currently live.
Remember that Penn is proud of providing an education that intersects the theoretical and the practical— the Ivy League without the ivory tower. They want students who will contribute to the betterment of society in the Penn community, the city of Philadelphia, and the wider world. Your child should consider the parts of their lives outside of the classroom that made them grow as individuals or become leaders, and how they might continue to do so at Penn.
Note that while it’s not explicitly stated in the question, this prompt is an opportunity for your child to talk about the community from which they come. It’s a great way to set them up to talk about the community they will soon belong to, as a Penn student, and to ensure that the essay comes from a deep well of personal experience and feeling rather than a shallow, reactive impulse.
Here’s how Aashish answered:
I grew up in a restaurant. Some of my very first memories consist of watching my uncle dart in and out of the swinging door to the industrial kitchen and watching the room fill up with plates of delicious Sarson ka saag and Makki ki roti. As I grew older, I worked there as a dishwasher after school to save money for college. Sometimes the work felt thankless, my hands always raw with soap. But then I would witness my uncle setting a steaming plate of food in front of a homeless man and treat him with respect like any paying customer, and I would feel a profound gratitude for washing dishes in my uncle’s business.
The restaurant is where I first learned how to take care of the community around me, it’s what fueled my passion for public health. At Penn, I also want to take care of the community around me through food by volunteering with the Good Food Bag Program through the Agaston Urban Nutrition Initiative, as well as hosting family dinners for my dorm to introduce my peers to the Punjabi food of my childhood.
What made Aashish’s essay successful?
He goes beyond his resumé. In his first essay, Aashish already mentioned his hospital experience and how he would continue and deepen his intellectual practices in nursing through his duel degree. This gave Aashish the opportunity to talk about a complex experience of work and family that wouldn’t necessarily translate on a resumé of activities.
He demonstrates personal growth. Aashish tells a story of how he came to value community involvement through his upbringing and details specific ways he would like to continue to contribute at Penn. While this essay focuses on extracurricular involvement, it also mentions his path of study in public health.
Here’s what Alice wrote:
I never thought that my affinity for Netflix would lead me to the great passion of my life. As a freshman in high school, I binged the first season of Orange is the New Black on a snow day in Minnesota. The show moved me, and I began to read everything I could get my hands on about incarceration in the US. When my family returned to Mexico City, I realized I didn’t know the landscape of incarceration there and I needed to find out. So I picked up a camera and taught myself how to shoot and edit film. I interviewed the women in Spanish and translated their stories into English so their stories would be accessible to a broad audience.
As a writer of poetry, I was immediately drawn to the opportunity of Freewrite Prison Writing Group through the Kelly Writers’ House, working with incarcerated women and trans people. I’d like to continue my documentary filmmaking work with those I meet in this program, to be able to both help them tell their stories and help the world to know them.
What Alice did right:
She starts from a surprising angle. An anecdote about binge-watching Netflix isn’t generally a strong way to start an essay, but Alice uses it as the spark that activated her intellectual rigor and commitment to social justice. By beginning with something as banal as watching television, that most people would simply consume and move on, Alice the extent of her passion and drive.
She sets specific goals for community involvement. Alice uses this chance to mention her interest in poetry, which doesn’t appear anywhere else in her application, to show her interest in contributing to a specific institution at the school. She takes it a step further by making plans to continue her current extracurricular project in this new environment.
Question 3: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania. (150-200 words)
Penn is asking your child to discuss their intellectual curiosity— not only their academic interests or accomplishments, but also (more importantly) their process of discovering what makes them tick and how that might inform their academic approach at the university.
Strong applicants will have done their research into Penn programs they are interested in and specific professors they would like to take classes with; they’ll mention possible career fields or avenues of research they would like to explore.
But top-notch candidates won’t treat this essay as a report on their own talents. Rather, they’ll tell a story that showcases their intellectual vitality and demonstrates that their love of learning is infectious—and will make them a superb fit for Penn.
Here’s how Jean answered this one:
Before visiting Penn last spring, I read Wharton professor Adam Grant’s book The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World . Reading Professor Grant’s book showed me the importance of risk takers being thoughtful, meticulous, and always slightly suspicious of the status-quo. Growing up the daughter of two Korean immigrants, I found that switching between American and Korean cultures naturally cultivated these traits in me from a young age—with Professor Grant’s help, I now applied those traits more intentionally in my own life. I listen carefully to the ideas of others, am open to collaboration, and end up finding surprising and innovative solutions to problems.
As founder Benjamin Franklin saw Penn as an institution that should combine practical and traditional education, I see the intersection of studies in political theory, practical experience in technology firms, and research in climate science as the foundation of my Penn education. I believe that the intersection of these disciplines— and at the core of that, a comprehensive liberal arts education— can truly open my mind to tackling the world’s problems with innovative solutions. I want to design an education for myself that helps me to consider problems like global warming holistically. Rather than a gain singular perspective from the hard sciences, business practices, or public policy, I can truly contribute to challenging the status-quo from the intersection of these subjects. An inside view of science and technology will also aid in my eventual plan to go into either environmental or intellectual property law.
In my high school experience, I’ve always tried to live a life of intellectual openness. Leading my fellow debaters to state and nation-wide competitions and collaboratively designing an app for my school newspaper have taught me the importance of considering different intellectual perspectives and skillsets to create the most innovative and surprising solutions possible.
Equally important to me are the perspectives of my parents, who both work as mail carriers for the US Postal Service. Their livelihoods rely on the sway of public policy and their ability to do manual, outdoor labor in a world with increasingly severe weather. I am always considering the material intersections of policy, technology, and climate science in their jobs, and know I would thrive in an atmosphere that allowed me to explore this intersection from a theoretical and research perspective.
Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences, with its emphasis on small class sizes and undergraduate research opportunities, would allow me to reach my full potential and contribute to the intellectual community in a place I feel engaged, inspired, and where I belong.
What makes Jean’s essay so successful?
An intellectual connection to Penn. Jean talks specifically about reading a book by a Penn professor that articulated her own intellectual process. She goes on to talk about her specific educational path and how she thinks her Penn education will uphold Professor Grant’s ideas of original thinking that challenge the status quo.
An emphasis on interdisciplinary thinking. Jean highlights her alignment with Benjamin Franklin’s philosophy of learning, which is central to Penn’s identity. She concisely communicates the specific intersection of studies she’s interested in, and why she thinks a holistic education in multiple fields is important. She then mentions how this will serve her current career goal of attending law school in particular law concentrations. Most importantly, Jean talks about how she already applies this mode of thinking in her current life, both through her extracurricular activities and reflections on her family life.
(Suggested reading: Successful College Essay Examples From Top-25 Universities )
The University of Pennsylvania is a top contender for any ambitious high school student with a penchant for intersecting scholarship with practical knowledge. Here, your child will have every opportunity to access a first-rate education for their intellectual life and career paths. Penn’s identity is very specific, so as you think about how to get into UPenn, your child should get to know the school. It’ll help them articulate how they fit perfectly into Penn’s unique intellectual culture.
About the Author
Dr. Shirag Shemmassian is the Founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting and one of the world's foremost experts on college admissions. For nearly 20 years, he and his team have helped thousands of students get into top programs like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT using his exclusive approach.
THERE'S NO REASON TO STRUGGLE THROUGH THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PROCESS ALONE, ESPECIALLY WITH SO MUCH ON THE LINE. SCHEDULE YOUR COMPLIMENTARY 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION TO ENSURE YOU LEAVE NOTHING TO CHANCE.
- Student Center
- back Research Colleges & Universities
READING ESSAYS THAT CAN GET YOU INTO PENN // Common App and Supplemental Essays
What are some of the best upenn application essay samples.
Applying for college is a very demanding task. Apart from all the grades, you will need to prove that you qualify to get in, you also need to present a strong extracurricular background and write compelling essays for your college application. You will agree that just like other top-tier colleges, UPenn is hard to get in. If you are applying to get into UPenn, your application has to be more evocative in a way that sets you apart from other students looking to get into UPenn.
Your UPenn application essay must help the admission board to identify your unique qualities and achievements that make you a potentially viable addition to UPenn’s class. Now, it can be really helpful to take a look at UPenn essays that worked just to give you an idea of what you should and should not put into your UPenn application essay. Here are two sample essays for the common app and UPenn supplemental essay, respectively.
Hey guys, welcome back to my YouTube channel. It's Christina again. And it's been a long time since I posted a video, but I'm back. So, as you can tell by the title Today, I'll be sharing with you my common app, as well as my supplemental essay that got me into the University of Pennsylvania. I haven't looked at or touched these essays ever since I clicked that Submit button. So, it'll be really interesting to see whether things have changed or whether things are still the same. But yeah, I'm excited to read them and share them with you. Before I do get started, I want to encourage you to click the subscribe button down below so that you can be updated when I post videos. And also, just one thing to keep in mind is that the essay is only one component of your application. This isn't the most crucial thing that goes into your application. So just don't get so bogged down by it. But yeah, let's just get started. So, I'll start with my common app essay.
And the prompt that I answered was the open prompt, which was sharing essays on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your designs. So, I got told that the common app essay was one where you could write about anything. So, I wrote about my personal growth. And when I was filling out the common app, I didn't think that any of the questions fit well with the point that I was trying to get across. So that's why I decided to pick my question.
A rapid camera flash of light blinds me, pi I will scare me down. As the girl who usually runs away from crowds. How did I manage to find myself about to speak in front of 1000 people? Smile, stand tall, be confident, I tell myself, I take a deep breath and step up to my microphone. From an early age, I embraced the solitude I found in nature. I fell in love with the escape from the urban chaos that the outdoors provided. And I spent hours each weekend heavily exploring the New Zealand parks and preserves by myself. I cherish this moment spent in lovely solitude, building immense appreciation overtime for these beautiful places I became passionate about preserving.
A few years ago, I was strolling down a quiet beach when I noticed a small crowd of people ahead. Instinctively I was about to turn around to avoid the commotion when I noticed the beached whale. As I approached, I saw the chain of strangers working together to pass buckets of seawater down the line to keep the stranded creature hydrated and cold. I rolled up my sleeves and was ready to join the rescuers. United by a common goal we passed down bucket after bucket for hours, keeping the whale alive until the high tide came in again. Later that day, I reflected on what would have happened had I stumbled upon the beach well without those strangers there to help.
Working together as a team to save a precious life made me realize that for years, nature had provided me with an escape from solitude. Yet, if I ever truly wanted to give back to the environment, I need to involve as many people as possible. To help save what I love the most, I had to be willing to step outside of my comfort zone. actively seek out the crowds instead of turning away to help spread my passion for preserving our environment. I started with small steps throughout high school first by joining my school's environmental club, where I participated in local fundraisers and educational activities, and later by taking on responsibilities to organize those events.
Eventually, I founded and ran a district-wide Fairtrade club to teach students about the importance of sustainability for future generations. I was purely inspired by the team that I saw come across together in the community, which encouraged me to take a bigger leap in organizing a nationwide event, New Zealand's first-ever fair-trade festival. With nearly 1000 attendees and press coverage from across the country, the festival raised awareness and resources for local fair-trade producers, while booting a community of environmentally conscious consumers. I'm still shy, hot, and passionate about preserving the environment. But most importantly, I realized that while change can start with one person, great change can never happen with just one person.
No matter how passionate you are about something, you must share and spread your vision with others to make a difference. Seeing the beached whale was a catalyst to my growth not only in public speaking but also in organizing and leading community events for a cause I love. Nowadays, I still enjoy the occasional solar nature walk. But I find so much more fulfillment in spreading my passion for the environment with other people. My experience and growth in school and community projects lead me to the present, where I stand voluntarily speaking in front of nearly 1000 people at the Fairtrade festival I organized. Smile, stand tall, be confident. I tell myself as I lean in and begin to speak, because only when we work together can we possibly take on saving the world, one whale at a time.
I was so inspirational. Wow. Okay, so I hope you enjoyed listening to that. Alright, so now I'm going to read to you my Penn supplemental essay. And I applied to the College of Arts and Sciences. So, the question was, how would you explore your intellectual and academic interest at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying. So basically, why Penn?
As I followed the tour guide down the brick cobblestones of locusts walk, umbrella and hen shivering and braving the brutal cold, I was shocked. Huddled on the --- with student club representatives from the Amnesty International Club, to the Isha yoga club, and even to the state club energetically advocating their respective organizations to passer Byers.
Seeing the students promoting their cause was embracing the thunderstorm, maybe realizing that students at the University of Pennsylvania are incredibly passionate both inside and outside of the classroom. At Penn, I hope to continue my academic passions by pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and economics through the College of Arts and Sciences. I'm particularly excited to attend econ 261 topics in development, where I will be able to learn about the inequality, population, and resource factors that limit progression in developing countries. Having organized a community fair trade festival, and led my school's environmental club, econ 261 will assist me in finding real-world applications for my passions in social justice. Aside from attending economics-related lectures, I plan to hone my interest by joining Penn's undergraduate economic society. Upon reading a recent research paper by undergraduates in the economic society about wildlife, wildfire risks, and the residential housing market, I was intrigued by how the rightest applied data analysis skills learned from the human sciences to an economic situation, reinforcing for me Penn's research-orientated interdisciplinary approach to economics. I was especially inspired by the quality of research produced by students who are merely a few years older than me and by the publication opportunities available at Penn.
That is not to say, however, that my undergraduate years will only consist of economics-related courses and clubs. pens, flexible academics, through the seven sectors of knowledge will allow me to take classes outside of economics to develop a wider range of pragmatic and theoretical skills that are universally interdependent. I plan to enhance my interest in chemistry by taking chem 012, environmental chemistry, and poetry by joining the Exelon project Club, which is dedicated to spoken word poetry. In 2022. I would graduate from pin confident that my education over the past four years had helped build a diverse range of knowledge and skills to be applied far beyond the boundaries of campus. But above all, it is the student community that drives me most to Penn. As I walked through the locus, shivering through the cold, I was warm however, whenever a representative from the student organization Active Minds approached and gave me a friendly hug, mentioning how the club was hoping to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues one positive interaction at a time. The heartwarming embrace confirmed to me the importance Penn places on mental well-being, the course that I'm particularly passionate about, given my involvement and student mindfulness in high school.
As other students beckoned us along the loafers' walk, I was captivated by the charismatic and driven personalities. The Penn student body is incredibly welcoming and full of excitement, reassuring me that I would be welcomed into the Penn community with open arms, just like I had been by the student from Active Minds. In addition to joining the academic-related societies, I hope to immerse myself in extracurricular opportunities by trying out Penn's competitive badminton team and build on my sustainability-related experiences from high school by joining the Penn environmental group. With Penn's unlimited opportunities for flexible academics and diversity of clubs and student backgrounds, I'm eager to expand my interest in economics and pursue my passion for social justice. I hope to one day be back on locust walk, but this time on the other side of the table advocating for a cause to a wide-eyed prospective student.
Yeah, I liked this essay. And I think that was one of the pointed pieces in my application that maybe made me stand out compared to other supplemental essays that admissions officers were reading. So definitely, if you think you have a differentiating factor about yourself, try and point that out. And I hope that this video was informative for you or maybe gave you a little bit of inspiration about how you might like to direct your essays. But if you do have any questions or comments, make sure to comment them down below. Alternatively, you can reach out to me. DM me on Instagram. I'm responsive, kind of not really, but I try my best. But yeah, I hope you found this video helpful. I'll be hoping to post more soon. But yeah, it was lovely seeing you again, and I look forward to seeing you in my next video.
Speak with an Accepted admissions expert for FREE!
Accepted Admissions Blog
Everything you need to know to get Accepted
September 30, 2022
Tips for Answering the University of Pennsylvania Supplemental Essay Prompts [2022 – 2023]
The University of Pennsylvania , or Penn, was established in 1790 and is one of the oldest universities in America. Located in Philadelphia, this prestigious Ivy League school offers an exceptional education in a diverse urban setting on a primarily residential campus. Known for its top-notch research and undergraduate programs that focus on practical applications and grounded in a strong liberal arts foundation, Penn provides many opportunities for students to investigate diverse areas of interest. Think about how you might embrace this approach and the overall academic climate at Penn.
It should come as no surprise that Penn is steeped in tradition, although the curriculum is flexible. The four undergraduate schools (College of Arts and Science, Penn Engineering, School of Nursing, and The Wharton School) pride themselves on providing an integrated and functional education. As the school’s website says, Penn students “combine theoretical and practical thinking while developing the tools they need to innovate and lead in a world that demands an increasingly broad perspective.” Consider how these values will impact your experience at Penn.
Penn accepts the Common Application or the Coalition Application and also requires a supplemental essay, which helps Penn gain a more holistic view of you as a potential student. Penn states: “Ideal candidates are inspired to emulate our founder Benjamin Franklin by applying their knowledge in ‘service to society.’” Your Common Application offers a window to the admissions committee about your grades and test scores, as well as the level of rigor in your high school curriculum.
Penn offers a binding early decision option with a November 1st deadline. If Penn is your first choice, consider this option because the rate of admission is higher during early decision. Early decision may also be the best approach if you have family alumni ties to the school. (Alumni affiliation receives the most consideration during the early decision program.) You are allowed to apply early decision to Penn and early action to other non-binding or non-restrictive early action programs. Always check with the specific schools for guidelines.
The Penn supplemental essay
The supplemental essay provides you with the opportunity to show how you are an ideal match for Penn, and how Penn will help you to accomplish your college goals. In the essay, look for ways to illustrate the ways in which you engage with and think about the world around you. The admissions committee wants to understand what matters to you and why. So spend some time thinking about your values and perspectives and how best to communicate them.
Before you sit down to begin writing your essay, try to also learn as much as possible about Penn’s approach to education. Exploring their website will help familiarize you with the school’s distinctive character, while also giving you a sense of the campus and academic atmosphere. If possible, plan a visit to the campus, speak with current students, read student blogs, and visualize yourself as a student at Penn. In short, identify what makes the school a good fit for you .
>> Get a free consultation: Click here to schedule a call to find out how our admissions experts can help YOU get accepted to the University of Pennsylvania! >>
University of Pennsylvania 2022 – 2023 supplemental application essay prompts
Penn supplemental essay #1.
Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)
In an age of texting and emojis, a thoughtfully written thank you note becomes especially meaningful. This is an opportunity to express gratitude, which many people fear is in increasingly short supply in our culture these days.
- Send a physical note. This is more personal than an email and demonstrates a level of effort that will stand out because it is unusual to go beyond an email or texting thank-you.
- Be specific and sincere. If you are thanking a teacher or coach, quote what they said or taught that ended up providing a lifelong lesson or moment of inspiration when you needed it.
- For a parent or grandparent, show that you appreciate the ongoing love and support (emotional and financial) that most kids simply expect as a birthright and therefore take for granted much of the time. Or, thank them for the hug or word of encouragement when you really needed it.
- “Small” can be “big.” An impromptu invitation by a friend or relative to go to a movie or out to dinner–just because–could have led to an unexpectedly fun or memorable evening that you are grateful for.
Penn supplemental essay #2
How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)
This prompt invites you to address how you might contribute to and benefit from the extracurricular atmosphere at Penn. It’s tough to do this in only 200 words, so try to reveal your unique identity and perspective in the context of your interests outside the classroom.
- One way to address this prompt is by discussing your cultural background: how will it add to the Penn community? How will you learn and grow from interacting with those from backgrounds and cultures different from your own? How will your background add to the Penn community?
- Remember that Penn’s founder, Benjamin Franklin, was a philosopher and inventor, focused on service to society. Reflect on Penn-specific opportunities to get involved and be of service in the local Philly community.
- Your response requires you to look at your identity and perspective and consider ways you mesh with the Penn community. What do you bring with you based on your life experience?
Penn supplemental essay #3
Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania? (150-200 words) For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.
This prompt invites you to discuss why Penn will be the right place for you, and how you plan to flourish there, personally and academically. Here are things to ask yourself when mapping out your essay answer:
- Consider why you are a good fit for the undergraduate school of your choice (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, The Wharton School, or Penn Engineering). Include examples of how your personal experiences make the programs at Penn a good fit for you.
- What specific academic, service, and/or research opportunities might enhance your journey?
- How do you hope to contribute to the collegiate environment at Penn? How do you envision yourself positively impacting the overall Penn campus community?
- Discuss why you are driven to attend Penn and how a Penn education will help you to affect change in the world .
Final thoughts on applying to Penn
This is an increasingly competitive application process. Penn received 56,332 undergraduate applications for the class of 2025. Only 3,304, or 6%, were offered admission – a record low. Here are a few more numbers to consider. Ninety-three percent of the students admitted were in the top 10% of their high school class with median SAT scores of 750 in evidence-based reading and writing; 780 in math.
The best way to differentiate yourself in this prestigious crowd is through your essays. Penn is interested in your personal stories, life experiences, hopes and aspirations. It seeks to attract and foster great thinkers and future leaders who will play constructive roles in society. Discuss what is meaningful to you, project the value you might add to the campus community, and convey how and why Penn is the ideal place for you to start transforming your dreams into your future. Take the time and invest the energy to reveal your best self!
If you’re applying to the University of Pennsylvania, you already know you’re up against tight competition. But don’t be overwhelmed: start early so you have adequate time to thoroughly research, prepare, and complete all aspects of your application. A well thought-out application will make your candidacy much more compelling.
Get the guidance of an experienced, caring admissions specialist who will help you stand out from the highly competitive applicant pool so that you can apply with confidence and get accepted! Click here to get started!
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for over twenty years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch .
- 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your College Application Essays , a free guide
- Tips for Answering Common Application Essay Prompts 2022 – 2023
- The Essay Whisperer: How to Write a College Application Essay
Accepted 1171 S. Robertson Blvd. #140 Los Angeles CA 90035 +1 (310) 815-9553 © 2022 Accepted
Get Free Profile Evaluation
How to write the upenn supplemental essays.
Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University
So you’ve set your sights on attending the University of Pennsylvania. You’re confident in your GPA and SAT scores, but how should you write the UPenn supplemental essay? Read on to find out!
The University of Pennsylvania is one of the most selective schools in the United States. According to U.S. News, its acceptance rate is 9%. As such, it’s essential that applicants supply the admissions office with a detailed picture of not only who they are as a student, but also as a person.
You must complete all three UPenn supplemental essays, and if you're applying to a specialized program, you may have to complete additional essays. Each essay is short, with a maximum word count ranging from 200 to 250 words.
However, it can be more challenging to fit your answer into that word count; you must be succinct. If you’re looking for a step-by-step manual on the UPenn application process, take a look at our college guides .
UPenn Supplemental Essay Prompts
The following are the standard supplemental essay questions that all undergraduate applicants are required to complete.
- “Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)
- How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)
- Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania (150-200 words).”
Each supplemental essay is quite short in length. As such, take time to reflect on what you want to say and how you want to say it. It may be helpful to consider the following before deciding on your topic:
Write essays that give a clear picture of who you are and how you think. Who you are as a student and a person should be illustrated with clear examples in every essay. Make sure the examples you choose are relevant.
Know the School
Just like you, UPenn also has its own identity. The admissions committee is looking for students who relate to this collective identity. Before submitting an application, it’s important to do as much research as possible. Here are a few things to consider:
Reflect on the city setting : UPenn is located in Philadelphia. What is it about this city, or an urban environment, that excites you?
Reflect on the school’s culture and mission : Why do you think you’ll succeed at this school over any other school? The school’s motto is “ well done is better than well-said .” Does this mission statement resonate with you? How can you fit that theme into your essay?
Reflect on the school’s history : UPenn was founded by Benjamin Franklin , and his personage has shaped the school’s identity tremendously. What do you know about Franklin? Is he a historical figure that has particular meaning for you?
Know Your Program
Finally, it’s important you have an understanding of the type of study you are pursuing. As you may have realized in high school, not all subjects are taught and evaluated the same way. Some involve labs, while others involve class discussion, group presentations, or independent study and reflection.
Take some time to consider how your personality factors into your choice of academic pursuit.
- What draws you to want to pursue this field of study?
- How do classes work in your program of choice? Do they involve labs, lectures or class discussion? How will you make the most of these learning experiences, and what draws you to each specifically?
- How will your personality and skill sets fuel your ability to thrive in the program of choice?
- Are there specific instructors at the school you’re hoping to learn from? Who are they, and why do you hope to be in their class?
UPenn advises applicants to be extremely specific when explaining why they’re applying to Penn and why they want to attend their specified undergraduate school. The more you can get into those details in your supplemental essay, the better.
UPenn Supplemental Essays Examples
Below are a few UPenn supplemental essays.
UPenn Supplemental Essay Example 1: The ‘Thank You’ Note
Things to consider in your approach . The school is seeking to figure out whether you have a sense of the importance of others in your life, and if you realize the ways that they’ve helped you along the way.
Though many high schoolers have learned the importance of individual hard work and discipline, studying at the university-level often requires teamwork and collaboration. Schools like UPenn want to know that you’re prepared to participate, and that you have a sense of community, which is further explored in the second essay.
But to start, they want to get a sense of whether you know how others have made a difference in your life. This is your chance to show that to them.
To my brother:
Every day when I come home from school, I am exhausted and kick off my shoes, thinking three steps ahead, about the homework I’ve got to do, or the friend who hasn’t called me in a while. Wrapped in a world of my own.
And yet, every time I head out the door, I find the laces of my shoes have been neatly untied, loosened and ready for me to step into the shoe. Having not taken the simple step of untying them when I get home, I have not set myself up for a quick or efficient trip out the door.
You and I are so different. I live in a world of abstract ideas and mental exploration, you are grounded in practical matters and prefer not to stray from what is right in front of you. I’m not ‘cool’ and have struggled to make connections with other kids, you fit in so easily, without much effort.
Although in the past I wished you would stick up for me more, I know how hard it can be to go against the grain. I know you’re looking out for me, in the way that you know how. You’re helping me find my own way by making the small inconveniences in my life disappear, so I can head out the door and face larger challenges. Although I’ve never witnessed you untying my laces, I know that it’s you. Nobody else is home, but your being there is enough.
Thank you for showing me how to care for someone, and how to give support in a small but impactful way.
What made this essay successful? Each sentence offers a window into the identity of its writer. They reveal a person who is a bit of a dreamer, who loves to explore abstract ideas, and who sometimes has trouble fitting in. It also offers a window into the writer's thought process.
Although they express their love of daydreaming, they are also detail-oriented; noticing small things like shoelaces that have been undone in their absence. The writer shows they're able to appreciate the personality differences between themselves and their brother. They have compassion for their brother despite differences.
UPenn Supplemental Essay Example 2: How Will You Explore Community at UPenn?
Things to consider in your approach . As stated before, students who have a sense of community are what Universities are seeking.
In the first example, the writer was able to demonstrate your appreciation for others who have shaped you in the past to who you are now. This second essay is an opportunity to show how you hope to contribute to the experience of those at UPenn- and also how you hope to be transformed by your university experience.
As a kid, I was always encouraged to sit and listen to the adults around me, as they were having conversations with one another. Not to spy, or to get information I could use for my own advantage, but to observe people. My Dad told me you can tell a lot about a person based on what words they choose to say, and also how they say them.
Because I was a bit of a chatterbox as a kid, at times I thought he was giving me this advice, so I would be quiet and keep to myself a little more. But as I got older, I realized he was trying to help me build a skill; the skill of listening to others, before offering up a response.
Time went by, and I continued to be a chatty goofball. Though my stoic father had tried his best, I still much prefer telling jokes over sitting silently. Luckily, I was able to find the perfect outlet for both of my powers: improv club. I could act out as much as I wanted, but the most hilarious skits we came up with were the result of listening before responding to my teammates.
As I’m hoping to pursue a degree in philosophy, I’m very excited to put these skills to practice in the classroom. I can’t wait to explore the dynamism that comes from discussing complex topics with my professors and other students.
What made this essay successful? The writer sets the stage by explaining how they started to learn more about relating to others. They also showed how they came to learn to work with their nature - wanting to be more active and leading in a conversation, while also working to ensure they are making space for others.
The writer also seems to anticipate the classroom environment they will be in, knowing that University Philosophy classes often involve discourse on the theories students are exploring. The more you’ve armed yourself with an understanding of UPenn’s programs and classrooms, the easier it will be to write about how you will be an excellent addition to the school.
UPenn Supplemental Essay Example 3: Explaining Your Undergraduate School Choice
Things to consider in your approach . What do you know about the field of study you’re pursuing? Are your aspirations distinctive, or a little hazy around the edges?
Quite often, many high-achieving students have a very rigid idea of what they want their future to look like. They declare their intention to become a neurosurgeon, or a Supreme Court Justice, but their understanding of these roles is limited.
If you have a specific career path in mind, the school wants to know that you have an understanding of the knowledge you’ll need in order to get there. Not to mention, if you will use the knowledge you obtain at their school to be a contributing member to society .
There is no ‘right’ answer when it comes to your reasoning for pursuing any course of learning. UPenn wants to see evidence that you want more from your education than just bringing home a huge paycheck, or achieving an illustrious degree. UPenn is interested in what matters to you.
University is a place where you nurture your mind, and that can sometimes mean changing it. How will you take advantage of the resources available to you? How will you contribute to the classroom environment? Seek to answer those questions when writing this supplemental essay.
“Some Pig.” The day I read these words was the day I became a vegetarian.
In around 192 pages, E.B. White changed my entire perspective. My parents suddenly had to grapple with the challenge of feeding a kid who would not eat meat. Luckily, they understood that this wasn't just a phase for me. I started to gain a curiosity about the inner lives of animals, leading me toward an interest in animal psychology.
How much do we really know about what animals are thinking or feeling? Will we ever live in a world where humans are able to communicate with animals? What kind of moral issues would we face should that possibility become a reality? These are questions I used to spend hours researching on the internet.
One day, I stumbled upon a course on UPenn’s website: Animal Cognition and Ethics. I couldn’t believe it. A whole class dedicated to discussions of what I most wanted to know! This was the beginning of my goal of being admitted into UPenn’s Bachelor of Philosophy and Science program.
Knowing that Philosophy required an understanding of how to evaluate ideas and shape arguments for and against them, I joined my school’s debate team. I was able to gain a sense of how to consider a wide variety of opinions, and a respect for those with opposing opinions.
This experience has prepared me to explore ideas with my fellow classmates at UPenn.
What made this essay successful? The writer begins by explaining the beginning of their passion for the topic they hope to study at Penn. They then get into the specific program they hope to be admitted to while mentioning a specific class offered at the school.
In doing this, they are demonstrating not only that they have done some research into the school, but that they are already capable of seeking out resources to take advantage of while studying there.
If you are applying to a particularly infamous program at Penn, it would be advantageous to demonstrate your knowledge of that program and what its classroom environments may be like.
UPenn is looking for students who are open to new experiences and are not necessarily satisfied with the status quo. In this essay example, the writer has sought to demonstrate their understanding of a college classroom dynamic by mentioning their experience with the debate team. In doing this, they’ve shown they can engage with ideas that are different from their own.
UPenn Program-Specific Essay Prompts
Depending on the program you’re applying to, you may also have to write essays tailored to your particular area of study. Many of the program-specific questions resemble the third supplemental essay question; asking the applicant to explain why they are interested in the specific academic path they are pursuing.
Tap into your passion and use these questions to explore the practicalities of the path you’re on. Take a look at these program-specific essay prompts.
DMD: Digital Media Design Program
“Why are you interested in the Digital Media Design (DMD) program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words)”
Huntsman : The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business
“The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally-minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree program in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to make a contribution to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)”
LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management
“The LSM program aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the life sciences and their management with an eye to identifying, advancing and implementing innovations. What issues would you want to address using the understanding gained from such a program? Note that this essay should be distinct from your single degree essay. (400-650 words)”
M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology
1. “Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. (400-650 words)”
2. “Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words)”
NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering
“Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)”
NHCM: Nursing and Healthcare Management
“Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn's coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)”
Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program
This program has five prompts:
- “Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any pre-dental or pre-medical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry.
- List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands.
- What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people?
- Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least.
- Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended.
*Please note that there is a 250 word limit for the Bio-Dental Program supplemental essays. ”
VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research
“How do you envision your participation in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) furthering your interests in energy science and technology? Please include any past experiences (ex. academic, research, or extracurricular) that have led to your interest in the program. Additionally, please indicate why you are interested in pursuing dual degrees in science and engineering and which VIPER majors are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)”
FAQs: UPenn Supplemental Essays
Looking for some fast answers? Here are our answers to a few common frequently asked questions about how to write the UPenn supplemental essays examples.
1. Does UPenn Require Supplemental Essays?
Yes. You must complete three supplemental essays, which are short in word count.
2. How Do I Write the UPenn Supplemental Essay?
Reflect about what makes you an ideal candidate, and seek to demonstrate how you think and how you will be a good student in your essays. Make sure you keep to the word count, and ensure your grammar and spelling are impeccable.
3. Is There a “Why UPenn” Essay?
Yes. The third and final supplemental essay prompts you to explain why you’ve chosen to apply to UPenn.
Writing UPenn’s Supplemental essays is an exciting opportunity to give the school more information about the person you are behind your grades. The essays are concise and are therefore not highly daunting to complete. However, their short length requires applicants to be succinct.
Taking time to reflect on the program you’ve chosen at UPenn, what’s the school’s identity and how that fits into your self-concept, will be advantageous for approaching each question and providing detailed examples.
Get A Free Consultation
You may also like.
University of Pennsylvania Essay Examples (And Why They Worked) · AUTHOR 1. Make no mistake—in my family, Saturday night Scrabble is no slight affair. · AUTHOR 2.
Essay Example #1 ... I always loved watching the worms when it rained. I used to put my little raincoat on, sit on the doorsteps, and watch them
My experiences leading the Service Learning Committee and EnAct give me the unique perspective of environmentalism through a community lens.
UPenn essays – example 1.1 ... I have always excelled academically. I loved school, I enjoyed my lessons, and my teachers were my idols. Apart
What are your intellectual and academic interests? Give a few anecdotes or examples of why you're passionate about a topic and how you've already explored it.
UPenn Supplemental Essay. How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the
Part 4: 2022–2023 UPenn supplemental essays (examples included). Penn will evaluate your child based on their Common App personal statement
Here are two sample essays for the common app and UPenn supplemental essay, respectively. Text / Transcription. common app essays examples
Before you sit down to begin writing your essay, try to also learn as much as possible about Penn's approach to education. Exploring their
I know you're looking out for me, in the way that you know how. You're helping me find my own way by making the small inconveniences in my life