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The Requirements: 1 essay of 300-450 words; 2 essays of 150-200 words
Gratitude is quickly becoming a practice we are encouraged to connect to and reflect on regularly, hence the popularity of gratitude journals and exercises. (Brainstorming method alert!) It’s not a surprise, therefore, that the admissions department at UPenn wants to learn about what you value and how you express gratitude. Think about times when you have felt acknowledged, heard, and seen; moments when you have felt that swelling in your chest, as your heart grows three sizes. Who would you like to thank and why? What impact did they have on your life? How did their actions affect the way you think or approach new ventures? Remember that this essay or “note” needs to reveal information about how you process, appreciate, and/or draw inspiration from the action of others. Ultimately, admissions wants to know more about how you relate to others in the world and how you repurpose good intentions. Bonus points if you share your “thank you” note with the associated party after hitting submit!
Admissions 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 professors’ 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.
You’ve probably seen this before: the “why” essay. Clocking in between 150 and 200 words, UPenn’s take on this classic prompt is on the shorter side, and there’s only one thing 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 also, alternatively, paint an aspirational picture of what you’d be like on campus. Any way you slice it, you should be focusing on “academic and intellectual interests” related to the undergraduate school to which you’re applying. Show admissions that UPenn is the ideal fit for you and your academic goals.