How to Write the UPenn Supplemental Essays 2020-2021 (Example Included!)

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The University of Pennsylvania, also known as UPenn or Penn, is a private Ivy League school located in Philadelphia. Like other Ivy League schools, it’s prestigious and competitive. Last year, Penn admitted only 8.07% of its 42,205 applicants, so if you’re applying to the University of Pennsylvania, you’re up against some tough competition.

Should this discourage you? No! Instead, you should feel motivated to put together the best application possible in order to increase your chances. 

Every component of your application matters and that includes the UPenn supplemental essays. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to complete the UPenn supplement in order to make your application shine.

UPenn Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them!

Click above to watch a video on UPenn Supplemental Essays.

What Are the UPenn Supplemental Essays?

The UPenn supplement must be completed in addition to the Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application. This supplement consists of at least two essays, plus additional essays if you are interested in one of UPenn’s special programs, such as the nursing program. 

This guide will cover the essays for the combined program but will start by focusing on the two essays which are common to every application. It is important to note that if you are applying to a coordinated dual-degree or a specialized program, the two prompts common to every application should be answered in regard to your single-degree choice. Your interest in a coordinated dual-degree or specialized program should be addressed through the essay prompts dedicated to that specific program.

Penn’s general essay topics are as follows:

How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words)

At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, 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)

How to Prepare for the UPenn Supplemental Essays

Penn has four undergraduate schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, The Wharton School, and Penn Engineering. When you apply to Penn, you’ll apply to one of these programs in particular. The first essay asks you to explain how your specific program will help you explore your intellectual and academic interests. The second essay wants you to explore the non-academic side of UPenn, examining how it will impact you and how you will affect it.

So, here’s your first step for both: research.

In order to answer these questions effectively, you’ll need to know a lot of information about the program to which you’re applying and the communities at UPenn. (Since you’re interested in attending the program for four years, it’s definitely worth knowing about anyway.) Here are some concepts to keep in mind as you research:

  • You shouldn’t just talk about the program in general. Each program offers a wide variety of majors, and you should know which one you want to attend. 
  • Be specific. Look into course offerings, professors, research or volunteer opportunities, and other details about that major. When this essay is finished, it should contain information that makes it impossible to use, word for word, for any other school.
  • Your extracurricular interests at UPenn should logically flow from your application. Whether related to your major or something else on your activity list, it should make sense to the person reading your essay. 

Most importantly, Penn wants to know that you didn’t choose the school simply because it’s an Ivy League and highly regarded. What makes Penn the right choice for you, your interests, and your ambitions?

How to Write the First UPenn Supplemental Essay

As you start writing your essay, you’ll need to cover several pieces of information:

  • What are your intellectual and academic interests? Give a few anecdotes or examples of why you’re passionate about a topic and how you’ve already explored it. Make sure your tone is excited and authentic.
  • How can the program/major of your choice at Penn help you develop this interest and prepare for your career? Specificity is key, so don’t be afraid to mention specific courses, professors, or opportunities that have you feeling especially excited about Penn.

With this essay, you should demonstrate to the admissions officers that you’re passionate about learning and about UPenn, and you’ve taken the time to research exactly how you can pursue your intellectual and academic interests at Penn. This will demonstrate that Penn is a good fit for you, but it’ll also help admissions officers see that you’re a good fit for Penn. The goal is to help the admissions committee visualize how you’ll fit into and contribute to the program of your choice.

Do your research and provide some details!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Feel free to begin your essay with a brief story or anecdote. If you do so, make sure the anecdote invokes an interest of yours that you can further pursue at UPenn.
  • Explain how you will use specific UPenn resources, programs, classes, advice from professors to chase this interest.
  • You can also add problems you’d like to solve in the field of your interest or discuss your ambitions.

Here’s an example outline:

  1. Seeing something in your city that you want to change, such as a polluted water source.
  2. Introducing an action you took to start making that change happen, like volunteering with a nonprofit.
  3. Explain what you learned from the experience, perhaps finding a water-filtration system that is effective, but expensive.
  4. Describe how UPenn is related to the above story based on the research you’ve done.  This could easily be a class or a professor’s research.
  5. Tell Penn what you hope to gain from interacting with what you selected above, ideally expounded upon an ultimate goal, such as establishing a company that creates a water-filtration system at 30% of the current cost.

UPenn Supplemental Essay 1 Example

As you read this essay, pay attention to the details. Specific classes and professors are mentioned, as well as a research opportunity the student is interested in. The writer also explains why they are interested in the majors they’ve selected, hitting the first part of the prompt.

A year ago, my grandmother was a fiery, goal-oriented woman. Since then, a neurodegenerative disease called Lewy body dementia (LBD) has caused her to deteriorate rapidly. Due to worsened symptoms, she has been forced to transition in and out of care facilities, resulting in a constant battle to adjust to new environments. Witnessing my grandmother’s downward spiral has opened my eyes to the inadequacies within our healthcare system, fueling me to seek solutions in both the scientific and policy realm.  

At the University of Pennsylvania, I can progress towards an LBD cure with a cognitive science major. Supplementing this, a health and society major will prepare me to create evidence-based policies to improve the lives of dementia patients. With my double major, I can absorb the science necessary to create effective legislation.

Studying cognitive science will be a fascinating experience, providing me the opportunity to explore the human mind through philosophical, psychological, and mathematical lenses. These varied perspectives will be the foundation for my cognitive neuroscience concentration. While visiting the campus in April, I attended an Introduction to Brain and Behavior class taught by Professor McGurk, and I was captivated by her interactive lecture on mental illness. I had the opportunity to converse with students, sharing our perspectives on the discussion questions. Through my neuroscience concentration, I will explore this class in its entirety, acquiring an in-depth understanding of the human brain. Beyond the walls of the classroom, I will supplement my inquiries by eagerly seeking practical learning opportunities at the Center of Neurodegenerative Research. My ultimate dream is to research the pathogenesis of alpha-synuclein, a protein that comprises Lewy bodies, under the mentorship of Dr. Virginia Lee. It would be an invaluable experience to work with a pioneer in the field while gaining first-hand knowledge of emerging research.

While neuroscience will develop my understanding of LBD, the health and societies major will teach me how to craft legislation that can solve the pressing issues facing dementia patients. The possibility of embarking on a health policy and law concentration within the major excites me, as it closely aligns with my future career goals. I would love to take classes like American Health Policy, allowing me to analyze the effectiveness of prior policies and to utilize this knowledge to develop future legislation. In my senior year at Penn, this major offers the opportunity to conduct an independent research project, applying the knowledge from both majors to solve a crucial healthcare issue. 

Neither in life nor in academics have I stayed confined within a box. At the University of Pennsylvania, there are no boundaries to my exploration, making it the perfect place for me to pursue my dual passions. 

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How to Write the Second UPenn Supplemental Essay

Now that you’ve finished the first essay, it’s time to move onto the second and think about the community present at UPenn. As such, this essay is all about proving that you’re a good fit culturally, not just academically. Like most schools, Penn wants students that will be engaged and active on campus, and this is your chance to show that.

To start off, take a look at your activities and compare them to what is available at UPenn. Here are some questions to help you along:

  • Of the top five activities on your activities list, which ones haven’t you already mentioned in an essay that UPenn will see? Do any of them relate to an activity that sounds interesting at Penn?
  • What activities at UPenn relate to your major? This can be anything from clubs to research but look for communities that you haven’t already mentioned in the first essay.
  • Is there anything you’re passionate about, but Penn doesn’t have a connection to? Could you start a club or group to fill that niche?
  • If you are considering living at one of the residences at UPenn, which one? Why? How do you plan on being involved in that community?

Once you’re finished brainstorming, it’s time to get started on the writing process. While there are plenty of outlines you could use, they all need to hit on the same three ideas:

  • Exploring the communities present at UPenn
  • How one of them may shape your perspective and identity
  • How you may shape that community in turn

Here is one way to consider going about addressing all three topics:

  1. Talk about a program that you’re currently involved in and how it has changed you, perhaps with a learned skill or more personal lesson.
  2. Describe the programs at UPenn that are similar, where you hope to keep learning and growing.
  3. Explain how your participation in the program will benefit your peers or the community at UPenn at large.

UPenn Supplemental Essay 2 Example

Here is an essay written by a student who wanted to illustrate a commitment to supporting diversity and inclusivity.

As a member of the Jewish community, pursuing social justice is an integral aspect of my life. It has prompted me to join organizations like Access Sports America, where I teach adaptive water sports to children living with disabilities, primarily autism. My ultimate goal is to create safe spaces where differences only serve to strengthen my communities and where all are emboldened to achieve their potential. I aspire to promote inclusivity wherever I go, spreading the message that everyone is deserving of respect and, thus, our diversity should be celebrated. 

At the University of Pennsylvania, I will seek out organizations that share a similar enthusiasm for empowering those living with disabilities. Through Penn Cares for Kids, I can engage with the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy, developing friendships while simultaneously growing from my interactions with the inspiring students and staff. With my peers at Penn Speaks for Autism, I will amplify the autism awareness programs already on campus by improving cognizance of the difficulties people with disabilities face. In doing so, I hope to reduce societal stigmas within the Penn community, ensuring that every Penn student is encouraged and supported.

One of the best things to note about this essay is how passionate the writer is. Even better, they link their goals to activities they are currently participating in, demonstrating their engagement rather than saying it.

UPenn Specialized Program Application Essays

UPenn also offers specialized joint-major and interdisciplinary programs. As previously mentioned, each of these specialized programs requires that you write both of the Penn supplemental essays plus the essays associated with those programs. Let’s go through each of them one by one:

BIO-DENT, which is a 7-year combined undergraduate and dental program, has 5 additional essays: 

Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any predental or premedical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry. (250 words)

List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands. (250 words)

What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people? (250 words)

Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least. (250 words)

Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended. (250 words)

The Digital Media Design (DMD) program has the following prompt:

Why are you interested in the DMD program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words)

For the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, you are asked what language you intend to specialize in, how many years you’ve studied it already, and the following essay question:

The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally-minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to make a contribution to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)

Next, the Life Sciences and Management (LSM) program has the following two prompts:

The LSM program aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the life sciences and their management with an eye to identifying, advancing and implementing innovations. What issues would you want to address using the understanding gained from such a program? Note that this essay should be distinct from your single degree essay. (400-650 words)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts” (attributed to Winston Churchill). Tell us about the failure from which you’ve learned the most. (200-250 words)

The Management and Technology (M&T) program asks the following two questions:

Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. (400-650 words)

Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words maximum)

For the Networked and Social System Engineering program there is only one prompt:

Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the Internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)

Nursing and Health Care Management asks the following:

Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn’s coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)

Last, but definitely not least, the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) only has one additional essay:

Describe your interests in energy science and technology drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions). Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)

As you look at these prompts, keep in mind that each essay should be able to stand on its own, and you shouldn’t repeat too much information between the essays.

All of these specialized programs are extremely selective. They don’t just want to know that you’re a great student or that you’re interested in their program; they want to know that your interests and experiences make you an excellent fit.

For example, the Huntsman Program only admits 45 students each year. This makes the chance of being selected very low, so if you aren’t admitted to the specialized program of your choice, it doesn’t mean you’re less qualified or inferior to other students. It just means that the committee felt other students were a better fit.

As with the other Penn supplemental essays, applying to the specialized programs will require thorough research and a deep understanding of the program to which you’re applying.

Below, we’ll take a brief look at each of Penn’s specialized programs and their essay topics.

UPenn Seven Year Bio-Dental Program Essays

This is a seven-year joint program for students who will major in biology and intend to enroll in the dental school during their senior year. Acceptance for freshman applicants is conditional, and official acceptance will be offered upon completion of a student’s junior year.

The program is highly structured. While there is room for creativity in their required essays, it’s most important to clearly convey the information that is being asked of you.

The first essay, as listed above, essentially asks for a resume of your pre-dental and pre-medical experience. If you have none, this statement will need to make a very compelling case for why the experiences you do have still make you a strong and prepared candidate for such a rigorous and competitive dental program.

Their second essay simply aims to evaluate whether you can complete complex activities with your hands. Did you take Woodshop? Robotics? Are you constantly taking apart and piecing together items? Are you the go-to person for assembling furniture in your home? Talk about the activities you’ve participated in that demonstrate your fine-motor skills and coordination while keeping in mind that you only have 250 words.

Working with other people is key in any healthcare-related field, which is why the third BIO-DENT essay specifically focuses on it. Since patients will be depending on you, their dentist, but also dental technicians, endodontists, oral surgeons and an array of other professionals, the School of Dentistry wants to be convinced that you can work with that team of people. This is a great place to mention a particularly challenging project that involved coordinating multiple personalities to achieve a goal.

For the fourth essay, be careful when talking about what interests you the least. The purpose of this question is to ensure that your interest in dentistry is deep enough to be aware of pros, cons, strengths, and weaknesses. Be honest and vulnerable, explaining why you like it, and why you don’t, being careful to avoid being too negative as you address what interests you the least.

The last question, about relatives who are dentists or are in dental school, is more to give them a feel for your exposure to the area without you having to list this in the first question. Mention family members if you have them, but if not, don’t panic. Not having relatives in the profession will not disqualify you from this program!

Overall, your goal is to create a comprehensive picture about how you are thinking about becoming a dentist. Balance realism with enthusiasm. If becoming a dentist is your dream, this is your chance to show the admissions committee why. 

UPenn Digital Media and Design Program Essay

This program gives graduates a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE), but contains classes examining communication theory and computer graphics. The curriculum is designed for people interested in developing virtual reality environments and interactive technologies, bridging the animation and computer graphics industries.

Much like the rest of the program-specific essays, this one exists to let your enthusiasm for the program shine while also demonstrating how prepared you are to take on the challenge. However, this prompt is very open-ended, simply asking why you are interested in the program. Don’t let that fool you: the admissions committee is still looking for the students who best fit their program. With that in mind, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What about UPenn’s DMD program is most attractive to you? 
  • What have you done to explore the design and/or digital media fields?
  • How will attending this program set you up for your career goals?

Answering these questions will help you explain why you’re applying while also giving you the chance to highlight your experience. 

Whatever you decide to talk about, the essay needs to be persuasive and clear. The goal is to convince the committee that you are ready to take on the challenge of the program and will be able to apply what you will learn to your future.

UPenn Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business Essay

According to the program’s website, the Huntsman Program integrates “business education, advanced language training, and a liberal arts education.” Students graduate with both a B.A. in International Studies from the School of Arts and Sciences and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School. Huntsman students specialize in the area of the world in which their target language is spoken, which is why the application asks about the target language.

For this essay, it’s best if you can talk about an international issue from the perspective of a particular country or region. Briefly demonstrate why this country, culture, or region, and the issue you’ve selected, are important and meaningful to you. After all, you’ll be studying this for the next four years.

Given that you’ll be spending an undergraduate degree on this, you should select a complex problem. You only have 650 words, so don’t worry about suggesting a solution; that’s not the point. Instead, focus on how the Huntsman Program can help give you the skills and knowledge to address this international issue and effectively study the problem. Do the research you need to mention coursework, projects, and grants that will help you hone your skills and boost your subject-matter knowledge.

LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management Essays

LSM allows students to explore both bioscience and business, culminating in a Bachelor of Arts in a life science major, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Economics. The prompt specifically asks about applying innovation to solving a particular problem, so take this under consideration when brainstorming topics. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What life science are you most interested in? What are the biggest challenges facing it?
  • What area of management are you most experienced in? How do you think it applies to the life sciences?
  • What challenges are you already interested in solving? How will an understanding of management and life sciences help you achieve this goal?

Much like the Huntsman essay, be specific and creative, but don’t worry about solving the problem in 650 words. It should be complex, worth spending a full 4 years studying and researching a solution. You should be trying to convince the admissions committee of your interest in the topic and your ability to logically think about the problem.

The second of the two LSM essays asks you to address a time you failed, and how you learned from it. If you’ve already written about this topic, either elsewhere in the Penn statement or as part of the Common Application, you’ll need to find another example to talk about. Don’t repeat yourself.

This is a short essay, only 250 words long, so you don’t have a lot of space to tell a story. As such, don’t bother with an introduction. If you can, jump straight into an anecdote demonstrating the mistake that you made or how you felt right after the failure. From there, spend most of your words explaining the lesson learned.  

Remember, have fun with these essays and tell your story.

M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology Essays

The M&T program at Penn allows students to simultaneously pursue degrees from the College of Engineering and the Wharton School. As such, the first essay wants you to examine the intersection between business and engineering. If you don’t have an idea already in mind, you’ll want to spend time brainstorming. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What came first, your interest in business or engineering? What prompted you to explore the second field?
  • Is there a particular problem you’re looking to solve with this combined degree? If so, what?

If either of the above questions caught your attention, you have an outline to start with, not just an essay topic. Both business and engineering are about analysis and precision, so make sure that the flow of your essay is clear and logical. If at all possible, have other people read this essay to help with the clarity.

For the second essay, about leadership and creativity, don’t spend too much time describing the problem. Focus on your actions. How did you solve the challenge? Generally, when you take the initiative to solve a problem, you’ll naturally demonstrate creativity and leadership traits.

For example, if your robot crashed into a wall during a robotics racing competition, you might have asked other teams to lend you tools to fix your robot. While you may not have won the race, you may have learned about leadership under pressure and creative problem solving, including asking others for help.

NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering Essay

The NETS program blends courses in engineering, mathematics and science with courses in sociology, game theory, economics, and policy. Its aim is to “connect the study of networks with the study of human behavior.” For this fairly open-ended essay, you’ll need to choose one specific network about which to write. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Whatever network you choose, you should find it fascinating.
  • Additionally, you should be able to discuss how your selected network impacts society.
  • You also need to explain your interest in this network and its intersection with economics, communication, or “the creation of beneficial content.”

This program is seeking creative engineers who are interested in how technology and society interact. Thus, this essay should showcase your fascination with technology, as well as your ability to think creatively and analytically about its potential influence on society. 

At a full 650 words, you have plenty of time to explain how the variety of fields this program covers is perfect for your career aspirations. Use them to convince the admissions committee that you are invested in the intersection between information, technology, and society and thus an excellent fit for this program.

NHCM: Nursing and Health Care Management Essay

The NHCM program allows students to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. The essay topic is straightforward, asking you to explain why the dual-degree program is a fit for your goals. To get you started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you interested in nursing?
  • How does a degree in healthcare management help you achieve your dreams?
  • In particular, how will the UPenn program help you?

Similar to the other specialized essay topics, you may want to choose a particular problem in nursing, and how simultaneously learning about health care management can give you the skills and knowledge to solve it. Alternatively, you may want to approach this from a career standpoint, as there are many positions for nursing that would benefit from a background in management too. 

With 650 words, take the time to be thoughtful and clear about your aspirations and how the program will help you get there. By the end of the essay, a reader should be able to understand your motivation and why Penn in specific is the right choice for you. 

VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research Essay

According to the VIPER program’s website, “the ultimate goal is to raise innovators in high-caliber research careers who develop sustainable ways to harness, convert, and use energy.” As such, the program engages students in energy research almost immediately.

While the essay prompt is lengthy, it can be broken down into several parts:

  • Explain why you are interested in energy science and technology
  • Describe any previous research in this area
  • Outline how the VIPER program will help you achieve your research goals
  • Indicate the science and engineering majors you are most interest in

Not too bad, right? This prompt has a lot of points to address, so even though the program gives 650 words, there isn’t room to dally. However, if you’ve already participated in energy research, this topic should be easy for you. You’ll simply describe that research, including its results, followed by what you’d like to work on next, and how VIPER will help you achieve that.

If you haven’t done any energy research, don’t worry. You can still create a stellar application for this program. Focus on experiences you’ve had that relate to energy science and technology and the skills needed to be a good researcher, such as curiosity, persistence, logic, and communication. The end of the essay should be the same, discussing the majors you’re interested in and how VIPER will help you achieve your research goals.  

UPenn Specialized Essay Example

This example essay is to give you an idea of what some of the longer essays should look like. Remember, never plagiarize.

“The pipe’s leaking!” There were 10 minutes until the competition began, and our water filtration system was falling apart. All we had was a trifold, filter, and some duct tape.

Five months prior, while performing research for a science project, my friends and I discovered that the Flint Water Crisis still persisted in late 2016, despite the fading news coverage. Shocked, we decided to create a lead water filtration system. We spent hours poring over research theses and abstracts to find a technology that could cheaply and effectively remove lead particles from water. During a five-hour Skype call, we discovered, debated, and thoroughly vetted the concept of activated carbon, but there remained one problem: the material was too costly for our budget.

Our minds went into overdrive, researching a way to replicate the lead-sucking nanotubes in activated carbon. As the leader, I delegated roles within my quasi-startup team and collaborated with school faculty to find, and secure permissions to, a kiln that could heat charcoal to 1000 degrees Celsius. Twenty-four hours later, we had transformed a mundane $12 bag of charcoal into eight pounds of lead-filtering black dust that would become the centerpiece of our water-filtering apparatus. After another 100 hours of construction, writing a research paper, and preparing a presentation board, our product was competition ready.

At the last minute, our water filter began falling apart. Always prepared, we used a roll of duct tape to repair the damage before presenting to the panel of judges. In the end, we won first place at the Inventors Challengers Contest, and while the Flint Water Crisis had subsided by then, we learned firsthand about the difficulties of undertaking a startup-like project for a social cause.

Thus, after attending an Engineering Entrepreneurship lecture at Penn last spring, I knew this university would equip me with the knowledge I needed to overcome the obstacles of creating a successful startup. I am excited to apply to the The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, with courses such as Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Implementation, through which I will gain the skills to create a business with a positive social impact. I will also avail myself of the resources available to Penn entrepreneurs such as VIP-C and X, incubators that can support my startup journey from inception into the early growth stages.

Additionally, joining MUSE’s International Case Team will allow me to practice working in high-pressure scenarios while designing customized solutions for real-world problems. This will serve as a wonderful continuation to my case-competition experience at the International DECA Conference, where I networked with people from around the world and competed against the top 100 qualifiers in the Entrepreneurship Series. Joining MUSE will also help me integrate my interests in human psychology and business, which I explored through a college-level course in psychology and my Extended Essay discussing venture capital bubbles in the United States. In MUSE’s Innovation Committee, I will have the opportunity to flex my right-brain thinking by developing and executing experimental marketing tactics.

To further explore the connections between business and psychology, I will take Organizational Behavior, taught by Professor Adam Grant. I found his Ted Talk about his book, Give and Take, especially informative. I also seek to perform research in Decision Making and Social Behavior under Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor Michael Platt, whose work in neuroeconomics has inspired me to consider a complementary concentration in behavioral economics.

But truly, it was from the day I watched Dance Takeover 2018 to my first stroll down Locust walk, that I already envisioned myself walking amongst the professionally dressed Wharton undergrads and performing with the artistically inclined dancers of Penn Roses. Whether it is solving America’s water crisis, researching new economic theories, or competing in a dance circuit, I know UPenn will provide me with the tools and knowledge I need to make an impact on the world.

As you can see in this essay, don’t be afraid to talk about other elements at Penn outside of the specific program, especially if they relate to your goal. However, don’t repeat yourself from the first set of essays!

Conclusion: Writing the UPenn Supplemental Essays

For UPenn’s supplement, all students need to respond to the first two essays. You’ll need to research the specific school and major you’re interested in, as well as the non-academic opportunities on campus. 

In the first essay, you’ll explain both why you’re interested in this subject and how Penn can help you explore this interest further. For the second, you’ll need to focus on a community at UPenn and how it will shape you, and you it.

  • If you’re not interested in any of Penn’s specialized programs, you’re done at this point. You don’t have to apply to any specialized programs as it won’t impact your chances of admission to Penn.

If you are interested in one of Penn’s specialized programs, you’ll need to write at least one additional essay explaining this interest and why this program would help you achieve your goals.

  • For all of these essays, research and specificity are key. Penn is looking to see that you’re passionate in whatever area you would like to study, and they want to know why you’re interested in UPenn’s specific programs.

They’re also ensuring that you’re a great fit for their highly competitive, selective programs, so choose your words wisely. Be sure to seek feedback and polish your essays until they shine.

By following these tips, you can stand out from UPenn’s highly competitive crowd of applicants!

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