Waitlisted at your dream college? Learn how to write a strong letter of continued interest.

How to Write the University of Pennsylvania Supplemental Essays

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)

UPenn’s first essay is a unique one centered around thanking someone who’s important to you. While your first instinct might be to write a thank you letter to a parent for their sacrifices and how they raised you, consider what this essay will reveal about you as a person. If someone in your life has specifically shaped your passions, academic interests, or worldview, consider writing a thank you focused on how they’ve shaped this area of your life and why exactly it was meaningful to you.

For example, if you have an economics teacher who made you want to pursue a career in the field or a fellow robotics club member who has pushed you to be a better teammate and engineer – focus specifically on that aspect. Remember, your essay should give the admissions officer insight into who YOU are, not info about the person you’re writing to.

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 is an opportunity to exhibit other dimensions of who you are as a person outside of the academic realm. Penn is interested in hearing about the communities you have been involved in and about your role in those groups in order to gain an understanding of what only you can bring to campus. How will your initiative and leadership translate into direct involvement in Penn’s communities? If you are accepted, what are some organizations and communities you can see yourself contributing to? What kind of relationships do you want to build? Make sure to explore different aspects of student life, community organizations, and campus support services. A great starting point is the student journeys Penn publishes on its website, where students share their individual experiences as a student and as a community member.

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)

First of all, be as specific as possible. UPenn is home to four undergraduate schools: The College of Arts and Sciences, The School of Penn Engineering and Applied Science, The School of Nursing, and The Wharton School. In helping the committee to gauge whether you’d be a good academic fit for one of the schools, demonstrate your honed passions and interests in a particular subject area. Show the goals you’ve set for yourself as well as the concrete steps you’ve taken to pursue those goals. Then, think about what you wish to gain from the Penn education (a specific skill perhaps?) to strengthen your academic passion.

Secondly, do your research! Penn is renowned for its long history in multidisciplinary teaching and the forward-looking visions of Benjamin Franklin: are there any principles that particularly resonate with you? Look into the unique programs, classes, faculty members, and academic opportunities offered at UPenn, especially in regard to your undergraduate school. Don’t stop at throwing in a few program names, but take a deeper dive and thoroughly consider how you will be able to contribute to the academic environment and utilize the resources effectively.