University of Pennsylvania

14 UPenn Essay Samples That Worked

Updated for the 2024-2025 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)

To my beloved Lita (short for grandmother in Spanish), you inspire me daily. I exist because of you, but better yet, I can write this letter today because of you. To come to this country from Colombia with a child in hand, not knowing any English, and starting a successful business is a task I know only someone as strong as you could accomplish. The difficulties I encounter and persevere through pale compared to the sacrifices you made for your family. Your tenacity to achieve a better life for you and your family is with me in every major decision. Your love reminds me of the warmth we should all show each other. Your food, of what joy is to me. I love our late-night tea sessions, conversations about the politicians we despise, and your stories about your life in Colombia. I’ve learned to fight when it gets hard, support those who support me, and never worry about the odds, all from your life and journey to this country. But, most importantly, I’ve learned to make peace with my identity and celebrate it alongside you, Colombian food, and Spanish music.

Your eternal admirer, Anthony

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Essay by Anthony Busatta

Yale '27 | SWFL native who hates the heat but loves everything else about it.

Prompt: How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)


Boyle Heights, East LA: Navidad festivities with my extended family enliven my abuelita’s house. Piñatas and singing Las Posadas mixed with American Football and Christmas carols. My family is bicultural: Mexican-American.


My mom’s ancestry is predominantly Iberian, while my dad’s is largely indigenous and African. I began reading about Afro-Latine history to understand my past and, when I visited Mexico, my cousins encouraged me to study and participate in Mesoamerican culture to combat centuries of erasure of our heritage. Our festivities follow the firmament as we celebrate our ancestors' legacy.


When histories intermix, they germinate into a new, beautiful and dynamic whole, despite rigid societal categorizations. Being mixed defines me: globally minded and curious to discover what makes us, us.

When I visited the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, I was amazed by the extent of the collection. At Penn, I’d take full advantage of these cultural opportunities, including the Cultural Resource Centers, to continue learning about and advocating with others while also sharing aspects about my heritage. I’m particularly interested in studying the intersection of my identity and the built environment, such as in the course Latinx Environmental Justice. My heritage empowers my future.

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Essay by Víctor

i love cities <3

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