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University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate College Application Essays

These University of Pennsylvania college application essays were written by students accepted at University of Pennsylvania. All of our sample college essays include the question prompt and the year written. Please use these sample admission essays responsibly.

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College Application Essays accepted by University of Pennsylvania

#0000FF's Joe Walsh

University of Pennsylvania

When life throws me a curve, I try to find an equation for the best-fit line. Actually, life never really throws me a perfect curve, only a series of data that resembles one. Most people are content by connecting these random dots, forming a.

Purpose of Education Anh Pham

University of Pennsylvania

Nothing better epitomizes today’s motto of learning than Aristotle’s analysis of education, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” It seems that the fruits of education have bloomed even greater and sweeter than ever before.

Through the Earth and to the Sun – Chapter 12: The Battle for Subversion Shannon Maene

University of Pennsylvania

Kurt Vonnegut’s quintessential anthropological romp, Cat’s Cradle. However, I trusted that then, unlike in the aforementioned novel, my “joining the natives” would not cause the world around me to come crashing down, or in that story’s particular.

Nitro Jason Joo

University of Pennsylvania

I was sixteen years old, and scared of rollercoasters; this fear had followed me through adolescence and into young adulthood. “C’mon, let’s go Joo. It’ll be fun!” urged my hyperactive friend. Reluctantly I went to Six Flags with a few buddies.

Flushed Grapefruit Anonymous

University of Pennsylvania

about how silly things can be so profound.

Today, there’s another substitute in English class. He’s a tall, balding, middle-aged man, who is yet to be another one of my victims. Once the tardy bell rings, he begins calling roll.

My Dream Di Zhou

University of Pennsylvania

Twelve years from now, I hope to be a surgeon in a well-reputed hospital. Whether it’s stitching up a wound or performing spinal cord operation, I will receive great satisfaction in knowing that every minute and hour of my job is dedicated to.

An Unforgettable Summer Amit Momaya

University of Pennsylvania

What came first, science or technology?” asked a tall and husky figure, who was dressed in an unbuttoned and rather threadbare lab coat. My initial response was science because I reasoned that technology was the application of science. An.

Professor Park Rachael Ji Yoon Kim

University of Pennsylvania

Besides a general fancy for the written word, Professor Josephine Park of the English Department and I share interest in specialties like 20th century American literature. As a fellow Asian-American writer, Doctor Park’s emphasis on Asian-American.

Feeling I Belong Rachael Ji Yoon Kim

University of Pennsylvania

As a young aficionado of poetry and prose, I would love more than anything to develop my skills through a disciplined and distinguished writing program, and Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences definitely offers just that. Believing that one must be.

Most Influential Teacher Anonymous

University of Pennsylvania

She was the toughest; she was the best. She was also the most influential teacher I have ever had. Ms. William, my sixth grade teacher, was never one to settle for second-best. As a demanding teacher, she hadn’t always been popular. In fact, my.

Why I Love Debating Anonymous

University of Pennsylvania

We are sitting in an empty classroom, two hours after school has ended. Our hands are scribbling furiously across the page, trying to catch up with our torrent of ideas. It is the week before the debate final, and we are doing a dress rehearsal.

Obedience to Authority Blace Barker Houle

University of Pennsylvania

I never thought that I could be made to do someone serious harm until I read Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram. The book describes the Milgram experiment, in which ordinary people were made to believe that they were doing something.

Another Door Opens Anonymous

University of Pennsylvania

It was our last scrimmage game before the start of the 2009 Valparaiso girls’ varsity basketball season. The clock counted down not only the time left in the game but also how many seconds I had left playing on my basketball team before I told the.

Robotics Brainstorming Mark Ulrich

University of Pennsylvania

Waving our banner wildly, we counted down the seconds, not at the homecoming game, but rather the 2009 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff. With only six weeks to build, wire, and program a 120-pound machine, my team jumped headfirst into.

Pipo Sara Claro Piwko

University of Pennsylvania

I’ve lived with my grandparents all my life. My grandfather, whom I call “Pipo,” is like a father to me, and he is absolutely, no-doubt-about-it my favorite person in the world. He is intrigued by everything academic and has a photographic memory.

A Fork Rose Tran

University of Pennsylvania

I have encountered a fork. Should I again submit to my father’s demands as I am sent to the kitchen to serve or should I refuse and risk tainting my role as the ideal Vietnamese daughter? I succumb, and fetch a repulsive-smelling platter of duck.

Maybe I Could Be. Rose Tran

University of Pennsylvania

Maybe, I could be the next Lorene Cary, whose novel, The Price of a Child was selected to unite the city under the 2003 “One Book, One Philadelphia” project. Maybe, I could be one of the few students who stay up until three in the morning trying.

Setting Sail Anonymous

University of Pennsylvania

I am a traveler, continually guided and inspired by the Homeric hero Odysseus while leading a life marked by departures and subsequent beginnings. The first journey began on November 9th, 2000, when my family and I left China in pursuit of.

The Power of Exposure Anonymous

University of Pennsylvania

It’s 107 degrees and the sun’s hot rays are beating down on a family trekking through the busy streets of Dhaka. People, rickshaws, and goats alike are all rushing off to reach their respective destinations. As the parents of the family encourage.

The Storyteller Anne Mathews

University of Pennsylvania

I learned to write essays like prefabricated housing and sensible shoes—standardized, impeccable, identical. No flight of fancy dared disturb the military precision of my supporting arguments as they marched in brigades of four to five sentences.

The Little Things Molly Brothers

University of Pennsylvania

As I’m sitting criss-cross on my bed, my cats curl up beside me, purring quietly. There’s music playing in the background softly, the melodious kind that floats through the air. It’s so calming that eventually I don’t realize there’s music playing.

Moving Molly Brothers

University of Pennsylvania

From the first day, one thing became painfully obvious–if I didn’t get moving, I would get run over. It started off easy; I made sure to travel in the right direction. The tempo was slow. It was a cinch to fix a mistake without being noticed or.

A Penn Education Molly Brothers

University of Pennsylvania

“The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes. Anyone can pass a history test by memorizing the facts. Anyone can follow an essay format and make an A.

Why Penn? Anonymous

University of Pennsylvania

Standing alone on the stage I faced the spotlight shining on my glistening bald head. The make up artist had done a brilliant job of adding a grim and menacing guise to my face. No, I wasn’t losing any hair at this tender age but I had shaved my.

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Recent Questions about University of Pennsylvania

The Question and Answer section for University of Pennsylvania is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Highlighted Links

An Essay Discussion

Dean Furda and the Penn Admissions staff offer inspiration, reassurance, and direction for students starting their college essays.

A Writer’s Block Could Be Your Building Block

A Penn student offers essay writing tips with this entry in our Penn Admissions Blog

As a part of the application process, applicants must complete a personal essay. Additionally, Penn applicants must complete the Penn-specific Essay.

We carefully read each essay you submit, as they can help us get to know you much better than your transcripts and test scores. While essays are a good indication of how well you write, they are also windows into how you think, what you value, and how you see the world. Your numbers tell us what kind of student you are. Your essays tell us what sort of person you are—and provide a glimpse into the intangibles you might bring to our community.

Be sure to answer the question or questions that are being asked of you. We understand that you may be writing essays for different schools and you may be looking to reuse material, but read through your essay to make sure your essay is relevant to the essay prompt. Essay topics are chosen because the Admissions Committee wants to know these specific things about you. If you do not address the question directly, the Admissions Committee is left with having to make decisions regarding your application with incomplete information.

Students applying to Penn must submit their application for admission to one of our four undergraduate schools. In the Penn-specific Essay, be sure to specifically address both why you are applying to Penn and why you are applying to that specific undergraduate school. Students who are applying to one of our coordinated dual-degree programs will have additional essays they need to complete, but the Penn essay should address the single-degree or single-school choice.

Upenn application essay

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Penn Summer High School Application Information

You are here

Applications for summer 2018 programs are now open!

Application deadlines

Admissions criteria

A successful applicant should have:

  • Minimum 3.3 high school GPA
  • Writing that shows both technical skill and intellectual depth
  • Strong recommendations
  • A variety of extracurricular interests

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis through the application deadline or until programs have reached full capacity. Admissions decisions will be posted to your online application account. You will receive an email notice when your admissions decision is available.

Application instructions

Applications may only be submitted through our online application system. Please note: this system is utilized for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs in addition to summer high school programs. The language in our application system may reference other programs.

Application checklist

  1. Completed online application
  2. Application essay, listed below
  3. High school transcripts
  4. One letter of recommendation
  5. Non-native English speakers: Test scores verifying English proficiency—TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, PSAT or ACT accepted (waived if applicant attends English-medium school)
  6. Non-refundable application fee of $75, payable online with credit card (waivers available by request)
  1. Completed online application
  2. Application essays, listed below
  3. High school transcripts
  4. One letter of recommendation
  5. Non-native English speakers: Test scores verifying English proficiency – TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, PSAT or ACT accepted. See below for information about waiving this requirement.
  6. Non-refundable application fee of $75, payable online with credit card (waivers available by request)
  1. Completed online application
  2. Application essays, listed below
  3. High school transcripts
  4. Two letters of recommendation
  5. Non-native English speakers: Test scores verifying English proficiency—TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, PSAT or ACT accepted (waived if applicant attends English-medium school for 2+ years)
  6. Non-refundable application fee of $75, payable online with credit card (waivers available by request)

Application essays

Number essays clearly and upload in one document. Individual essays should not exceed 400 words.

  • Describe your academic and personal goals and how these may be further achieved by studying at Penn during the summer.
  • Describe your academic and personal goals and how these may be further achieved by studying at Penn during the summer. Feel free to discuss the particular program to which you are applying as well as other aspects of studying at Penn during the summer.
  • Select a few of your non-academic or extracurricular experiences and explain how these activities supplement your academic and personal growth.
  • Non-native English speakers only: Describe your English educational background and experience.
  • Describe your recent educational history (past 3-4 years) and background and address whether your transcripts accurately reflect your academic ability. Feel free to describe non-academic or extra-curricular experiences that strengthen your application, such as volunteer work, employment, sports teams, high school clubs and travel.
  • Briefly, describe your academic and personal goals and how these may be furthered by study in the Young Scholars Program at Penn. Feel free to discuss a specific academic topic you enjoy studying and explain.


Penn Summer High School Programs

University of Pennsylvania

3440 Market Street


Upload a copy of high school transcripts into the online application. The transcript must include one full academic year of grades. If your transcript does not include one year of grades, you may upload a mid-term or interim report card, or middle/junior high school transcripts in addition. If you choose to mail or e-mail a copy of your transcripts, please upload a document into the application system stating your materials have been sent by mail/email.

Letters of recommendation

One letter of recommendation is required for Penn Summer Academy and Penn Pre-College Program applications. Two letters are required for the Young Scholars Program. These may be submitted electronically through the application system (preferred) or mailed/e-mailed to our office. For electronic submissions, enter the name and email address of the recommendation providers into the system and our division will contact them with submission instructions.

Standardized test scores

Standardized test scores are not required for application. If you believe submitting test scores will benefit your application, feel free to upload a copy of your PSAT, SAT or ACT test scores report directly through the application system or email to lps-admissions@sas.upenn.edu as attachments.

English proficiency test scores

Non-native English speakers must submit a test score to verify English language proficiency unless they attend an English-medium school, in which case this requirement is waived. For the Pre-College and Young Scholars programs, a student must attend an English-medium school for 2+ years by the time of enrollment for the requirement to be waived.

If scores are required, a TOEFL, IELTS, PSAT, SAT or ACT score is accepted. Copies of score reports may be uploaded to the application system or e-mailed to lps-admissions@sas.upenn.edu as attachments. The minimum TOEFL scores required for admissions consideration are 100 (iBT), 250 (CBT) or 600 (PBT). The IELTS score required for admissions consideration is a 7.

Application fee waiver

Any applicant from the School District of Philadelphia or one of the following organizations is eligible for an application fee waiver. To secure your fee-waiver code, please e-mail us (to the attention of Maura Tucker) before submitting your application. Include your full name, the program to which you are applying and the name of your sponsoring organization.

Eligible organizations include:

  • Achievement First
  • DC Office of State Superintendent of Education
  • Ivy League Connection
  • Minds Matter
  • Right Angle Foundation
  • Schuler Scholars Foundation
  • Philadelphia Futures
  • School District of Philadelphia

Why UPenn College Essay Example 1 – Penn Supplement

College essays are hard to write, especially when they’re for competitive Ivy League colleges like the University of Pennsylvania.

College essays are 100 times easier to write when you have examples of what is both good and bad.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of how to approach the question, “Why Penn?” in your application. We’ll walk you through exactly what makes this admissions essay effective and what could have been better.

Let’s start with why this essay works.

Why this admissions essay works:

1. The student opens with a succinct and clear direction of where the essay is heading. He gets straight to the point and dives right into the meat of the essay.

2. The second paragraph demonstrates to an admissions counselor that this student has done his research on the school—in turn showing the counselor that this student is a serious applicant. Demonstrated interest is crucial in today’s competitive admissions scene to stand out from the rest of the pack.

3. The student breaks down his key message into three subsections: academics, extracurriculars, and student life. By doing so, the student stays true to the first paragraph in providing a clear direction throughout the entire essay.

3. Paragraphs 4-5 are particularly effective because they epitomize demonstrated interest; in this case the student draws on his own experiences visiting the school campus.

4. In paragraph 5, the student starts explaining to the admissions counselor how he can fit into the Penn community; as important as it is to convey to the counselor that you’ve done your research, arguably the most important part of “Why X?” supplements is helping the reader understand where you fit into the school community. The student answers this question by talking about his previous world experiences.

5. The student concludes with a short and sweet ending and draws on a cultural food item of Philadelphia, where Penn is located. What this essay demonstrates well is the fact that while introductions and conclusions are important, the main content of the essay is the most important component of all. Students often get bogged down trying to think of attention grabbers and clever ways to open and close their essays; as a result they end up not developing the meat of their essay well enough to demonstrate to the reader that they have done their research and can fit a specific niche within the school’s community.

How this Why Penn essay could have been better:

The student did a great job demonstrating to the reader that he had done his research; however, the essay itself could have been more creative in its approach. The introduction and conclusion are succinct and effective; however, a more unique introduction would have drawn the reader in faster. The student made up for this with the quality of the content of the essay.

Since first setting foot on campus two years ago, I have found that Penn has always stood out in my search for the perfect university. Every aspect, from the flexible academics to its urban environment, to the diversity of the student body seems to readily match the setting in which I hope to immerse myself over the next four years.

Academically, I hope to continue pursuing my interests in economics and business, international studies, and French. Unlike many other schools, Penn openly encourages such breadth of study, believing the skill sets developed through different subjects to be universally interdependent and pragmatic in the real world. Through Penn’s one-university system, I would work towards my B.S. in Economics through Wharton while simultaneously taking courses in international studies in the College, and even have the opportunity to hone my accent in France for a semester. In 2012, I would graduate from Penn knowing my education over the past four years helped build my foundation as a better critical thinker who can apply core business and teamwork skills in any field.

All the while, I would be actively building on my high school extracurricular experience at Penn. I plan to continue my studies in economics outside of the classroom through Penn’s Undergraduate Economics Society both to continue improving my leadership skills and to join the club’s campaign to stimulate interest in economics on campus, an objective of mine at my high school since my junior year. I would also like to take part in editing and writing in the club’s unique International Undergraduate Journal of Economics. To stay active, I hope to join the Men’s Club Tennis at Penn, and I look forward to building on my experience with elementary-age children through the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project.

But perhaps above all, it is the student community at Penn that has attracted me the most. My first time strolling down Locust Walk with my family seeing all the club representatives left and right trying to convince students to join their causes was just amazing. There was an air of perpetual excitement and community, a feeling that Penn’s student body is extremely tightly knit. In October, I was even lucky enough to shadow two Huntsman Program freshmen on my third visit to campus. Staying overnight with a student from Morocco concentrating in French, but who was studying Spanish, as well as a student from Oregon targeting German, I found that I felt very comfortable living and learning in the diverse environment at Penn.

Sitting in on several classes, I also discovered Wharton’s unique MGMT 100 course to be perhaps the ideal class to tie together my experience in teamwork, interest in community service, and enthusiasm to immerse myself in a real-world business environment. Armed with an open mind and experiences from my travels to a multitude of countries across Asia, North America, and Europe, as well as my volunteer work at events such as the International Children’s Festival and the East African Center’s Evening for Africa, I believe I will bring a very unique and worldly perspective to campus, an outlook I hope to share and broaden working with some of the brightest students from around the globe at Penn.

With so many new doors to open, I know a college experience at Penn will prove challenging, yet undoubtedly rewarding. I look forward to a fulfilling four years of hard work, fun, and cheese steaks.

Photo by Haque, Abul, Photographer (NARA record: 8467822) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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