New Penn Essay

Posted on by Dean Furda

The essay question in the Penn Writing Supplement on the Common Application will change for the upcoming admissions cycle. Applicants to the University will be asked to complete one question and, as before, bring thought, creativity, and specificity to their answer. There are a myriad of reasons to come to Penn and we are asking students to hone in on those that are most personally meaningful.

…Drumroll…

Penn Supplement Essay Prompt, 2013-2014: “The Admissions Committee would like to learn why you are a good fit for your undergraduate school choice (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, The Wharton School, or Penn Engineering). Please tell us about specific academic, service, and/or research opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania that resonate with your background, interests, and goals. 400-650 words

Be mindful of content already conveyed to the Admissions Committee in your application and the opportunity this question offers you to articulate specifically “Why Penn?”  For example, imagine standing at the nexus of Locust Walk and College Green and looking at the path ahead. What are the opportunities you would like to explore in this space? What do you hope to learn about and create in your undergraduate school of choice? Strive to make this piece both uniquely you and uniquely Penn. 

And while this text is not binding (you are encouraged to explore, expand, and change in college), it can serve as a blueprint for the mark you make on campus. As inspiration, consider Jake Cohen C’13 who pledged to start a bagpipe band in his freshman application. Jake created Penn Pipes in his senior year and now student pipers can be found at events across campus. The Admissions Office, including Jake’s Regional Director Jordan Pascucci, is proud.

Several months ago, Patrick Bredehoft provided tips on the school-specific supplement essay. Review this piece to jumpstart your writing process. Patrick, a former English teacher and Penn Admissions Regional Director, reminds students to “be an authentic narrator” and to “give yourself time.” Additionally, find tips for the required essays for Penn’s interdisciplinary programs, the Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked & Social Systems Engineering (NETS), the Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business, the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (M&T), the Nursing and Health Care Management Coordinated Dual-Degree program (NHCM), the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management (LSM), and the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER), on Page 217.

Ask questions, draft, and discuss.  Our office wishes you the best of luck.


*PAGE 217
refers to the always legendary and occasionally dreaded essay which was once a mainstay of the University of Pennsylvania application. The question read as follows: “You have just finished your three hundred page autobiography. Please submit page 217.”

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