University of Pennsylvania

15 UPenn Essay Samples That Worked

Updated for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

About UPenn

The University of Pennsylvania, also known as UPenn, is an Ivy League university that provides students from all over the world with a world-class education. With over 4,700 courses, 150 majors, and 500 clubs and organizations, there is truly something for everyone. The school offers over eight specialized programs. This includes the Bio-Dent Seven Year Bio-Dental Program, which allows students to earn an undergraduate degree in biology and a DMD degree from the school of dentistry in only seven years. Undergraduate students can also take classes at Wharton, which is among the most prestigious business schools in the world. Ultimately, the University of Pennsylvania is an outstanding choice for students to create their future, with exceptional academics, cultural events, landmark buildings, and a bustling campus life.

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Philadelphia, PA

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Real Essays from UPenn Admits

Prompt: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania.

Storytelling has always played a leading role in my life. My childhood was spent obsessing over the fantastical stories of others, losing myself in the escapism of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World and Rick Riordan’s Camp Half- Blood. Amidst the turmoil of adolescence, I found solace in writing stories of my own. This love of creative writing continued into high school, with hours spent typing late into the night, racing to get all of my ideas on the page before exhaustion hits. Pride fills me when I at last conclude a draft. Even as I stumble through numerous rewrites, I never stop returning to that feeling.

My love of storytelling has since expanded to other areas and disciplines. In theater, stage management, directing, and arts management have been exciting ways to tell stories collaboratively. Since founding my school’s literary magazine, literary editing has engaged me as a way to further my bibliophilia with more active engagement with the text and its author. From my IB Business Management course, marketing has appealed to me as a more pragmatic form of storytelling. 

As a student at the University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts & Sciences, I could pursue every avenue of storytelling that interests me. The English Department would be a perfect fit for me academically, as it emphasizes exploring a wide array of media. Fascinating seminars from “Writing Women” to “Television and New Media” would give me excellent grounding in the craft of storytelling. The Creative Writing Concentration would hone my abilities as a writer in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting. During summers, a RealArts@Penn internship in publishing would empower me to learn more about literary editing; the Penn Summer Abroad in London program would expose me to literature and theater in one of the world’s greatest urban centers.

Outside of my major, I would explore storytelling across the College of Arts & Sciences. Within the Theater Arts Department, courses in dramaturgy, theater management, and technical theater would provide theoretical understanding; hands-on experience stage managing productions would add practical training – and of course, the joy of live theater – to my learning. The Consumer Psychology minor would be the ideal program to further my interest in marketing. This minor would give me an excellent basis in marketing strategy, advertising, and creativity in business, enabling me to explore the fascinating intersection of business and storytelling.

By fully embracing the academic and extracurricular opportunities, I know I would thrive as a student and storyteller at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Essay by Abby

English major interested in creative writing, theater, & film

Prompt: Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)

Hi [Redacted],

Wow! Our friendship has blossomed since middle school but I haven’t written you a proper thank you. In many ways, I see myself in you; after all, you know I’m a bit eccentric (and quite nerdy) too. And while others mocked you for your academic and extracurricular ambition, I admired exactly that. You inspired me to reach for the stars, to look above and beyond the expected, to seize every moment. To wear my interests and quirks with honor, then enthusiastically share them with everyone. Maybe you caught onto that. After all, you acted as my mentor through highschool—I wouldn’t have thought to pursue the intense coursework I did without your reassurance (especially when you were able to talk me into skipping precalculus to take AP Physics with you junior year). Thank you for pestering me to join the math competition and robotics teams, and inspiring me to tutor math after you tutored me.

And of course, always joining me on bike rides, building cities in Minecraft with me, and forcing me out of my house to see every new Marvel release. I know you’ll continue to inspire others—and the world.

Stay swagalicious. :sunglasses:

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Essay by Víctor

i love cities <3

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