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University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

University of Pennsylvania 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations 

The Requirements: 1 essay of 300-450 words; 1 essay of 150-200 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community, Why

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)

*Students applying to Digital Media Design and Computer & Cognitive Science should address both the specialized program and single-degree choice in their response. For students applying to the other coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer this question in regards to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.

You’ve probably seen this before: the why essay. Clocking in between 300 and 450 words, UPenn’s take on this classic prompt is on the longer side. There’s only one thing to do, the same thing we always tell you to do: research, research, research. Set aside some quality time to get up close and personal with UPenn’s website (or campus if you’re able to visit) and take some detailed notes on everything that appeals to you. Go deep. Read some descriptions of the classes you will take in your major and Google the professors you will be learning from. Think about telling a story that illustrates your path to UPenn: how do its’ offerings align with your own interests and goals? You could, alternatively, paint an aspirational picture of what you’d be like on campus. Any way you slice it, you should be focusing on “intellectual and academic interests” related to the undergraduate school to which you’re applying. Show admissions that UPenn the ideal fit for you and your academic goals. 

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) 

UPenn’s first prompt asks about your intellectual and academic pursuits, but admissions also wants to know about who you are and what you’d like to do when you’re not cramming for exams and soaking up your professor’s sage wisdom. Start by thinking about the here and now. Where can you be found when your homework is done? How do you spend your weekends? Think of something that gets you interacting with others or diving deep into your area of expertise. Admissions wants to know what your area of influence will look like at UPenn: an on-campus job, a unique hobby, or maybe an organization to which you contribute innovative ideas and exquisite cake decorating skills. (Bake sale, anyone?) Finally, remember to address how UPenn will shape your identity and vice versa. Will the Black Wharton Undergraduate Association help you to explore your entrepreneurial interests? Will your plethora of non-profit internship and volunteering experience make you a fantastic addition to and a natural leader in the Social Impact Consulting Group? Whatever you write about, make sure your response to this prompt shows that you have put some serious thought into what your life will look like at UPenn. 

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