NOV 10, 2019 • 10 min read
Penn has several undergraduate schools including, Arts & Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Nursing, and Wharton (business). There are also several interdisciplinary programs, such as the Huntsman Program for International Business, that span across several schools.
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Excited about applying to Penn yet? Let’s get started by taking a closer look at UPenn’s supplemental essays.
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Your goal in writing this essay is to convey:
Do your research on Penn. In your first few sentences, you should make crystal clear:
UPenn admissions officers are realistic, they know that if you’re applying to UPenn, you’re probably also applying to Harvard or Dartmouth or maybe both. Make sure you’re clear, though, that you have dedicated the time and thought to UPenn’s application specifically.
For example, avoid any lingo that is clearly copied from another school, like your intended “concentration” (Harvard) or your excitement about life in the “residential colleges” (Yale). Instead, use language specific to Penn.
Courses: for whichever school and subject that interests you, go on that school/department’s website. What specific courses do you want to take? Bonus points if there are any that Penn uniquely offers.
Professors: on the department website that interests you, look at the profiles of a few professors that interest you. Do they teach any classes or lead any research opportunities that are relevant to your interest? If so, list them in your essay.
Fit your interests: how does your background fit into life at Penn? Make sure you link your specific interests and activities to specific organizations at Penn. Let’s say you were very involved in theater in high school - you can write about your interest in TAC-e at Penn (the Theater Arts Council).
If you stick to this formula, your Penn supplement will be clear, relevant, and compelling.
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Essay 2 gives you a bit more room to be creative. That doesn't mean we need to lose focus on being specific. Instead, we want to use this as an opportunity to bridge our personal lives with curricular and extra-curricular opportunities at Penn. That is, make sure it seems well considered and as a bonus, you might want to reference a community-oriented group at UPenn that interests you, and that is similar to community volunteering/work you have done before. Whatever you do, be honest, as admissions committees can sense if you are exaggerating, and be sincere. Humility and creativity are essential here.
Each of these questions and examples illustrates the connections you should make between your volunteer experience and the world at large. In other words, even if you just help your friend get to school on time by picking them up, talk about why it takes a village to get something done. And show how your involvement in the community is fundamental to your academic interests at UPenn, through examples that creatively outline possibilities for your career.
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