How to Write the Pennsylvania Supplemental Essays

UPenn has two supplements in addition to the main Common Application essay. Here is a guide to answering each of them!

1. 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. (300-450 words)

This question requires a combination of research and self-reflection. What are you passionate about? What drives your academic and intellectual pursuits? What careers do you see yourself pursuing after college? Use this essay to illustrate how you will utilize Penn’s endless offerings to develop your interests and goals. Research Penn’s website taking detailed notes on the majors, classes, professors, research opportunities and academic and extra-curricular programs you will be able to pursue on campus. 

Penn wants to understand what drives their students’ intellectual curiosity. Therefore, one way to approach your essay is to tell a story based on a concrete timeline. How did you first learn about the subject you’re most interested in? How did you develop that interest in high school? Where are you now with your interest? Now look into the future. If you’re accepted to Penn, how do you hope to further cultivate that interest in college? Focus on the undergraduate school to which you’re applying to show admissions why that school is the ideal fit for you.

2. 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)

You’re likely to run across several community essays when filling out your college applications. Before responding to any community prompt, ask yourself these questions: What do you do in high school when you aren’t studying for tests? How do you spend your after-school time and weekends? Where have you been a leader? How do you see yourself fitting into Penn’s community? Use this essay to show Penn who you are outside of the classroom. Penn desires students who are willing to contribute to the world around them and they want to know what you’ll get involved in once on campus, whether it be mobilizing a student-led Latinx group, volunteering at local Philadelphia schools, writing grants for undergraduate lab research or joining one of the campus’s plethora of arts and music groups. How will these opportunities further shape your interests? Make sure you do your research to show you have invested time getting to know Penn’s community and where you will fit in. 

N.B. 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.