University of Pennsylvania

15 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.

The intersection between environmental science and debate are the two subjects I’ve realized I aspire to study, and Penn can effectively allow me to study their interdisciplinary connections.

As a student of Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences, I’ll seek to explore these subjects further with the people who piqued my curiosity in the first place. For example, Professor Kok-Chor Tan wrote a paper on the relationship between justice and wildlife protection, which prompted my interest in the intersections of philosophy and our ecosystem. I’d take his Philosophy of Law course (PHIL-1450) to learn about distributive justice in law, so I can strengthen my capabilities to campaign for eco-policies in the Philadelphia area, like the “Keep Philly Green & Water Clean” initiative.

Additionally, I’d also want to pursue research with professors like Cary Coglianese, who wrote a paper on policymakers’ failing responses to climate change, which I cited in a debate on the need for radical change in environmental legislation. The opportunity to learn both within the classroom and collaborate with Penn’s exceptional faculty makes me eager to become a Quaker.

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Essay by Michael

Music producer and Philosophy connoisseur @ Penn

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)

Dear [Name Redacted], When I loudly greeted you on the first day of high school, I hadn’t noticed that you were busy. Yet, you didn’t seem to mind. You raised your head from that huge pile of paperwork just to tell me I’d make a great singer. You encouraged me to try out for [Choir] when the only singing I’d done so far was in the shower. I remember how you reassured me as I trembled during try-outs, and how you shared my joy when I found out I got in. Thanks to you, I found voice and community in music. Thank you for bearing with my voice cracks and inexperience, and helping me get over them. Thank you for dedicating your weekends and after-school hours to preparing us for our performances. Even during a global pandemic, you’ve organized online concerts and made sure our community persisted. You have been the best teacher, maestro, and mentor I could’ve asked for. Wherever I end up, I know that I will be pursuing vocal music, and benefiting from the confidence and multicultural perspective you’ve helped me gain. Thank you for your guidance and support. Sincerely,

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Essay by KK

International CS + Linguistics Major @ Stanford | 400K in Scholarships | Book Session For Unlimited Essay Help, Common App Editing, Vital Tips For Getting Into Stanford & Yale!

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)

Growing up in a racially homogenous society has both its challenges and benefits. Despite being born in the US, I am Japanese at heart, yet face a lack of acceptance in my community. Discrimination is a daily reality. On crowded trains, I find an empty seat next to me, bearing the name gaijin-seat (foreigner seat). Locals referred to me as gaijin rather than the polite form — gaikokujin. Simultaneously, I’ve encountered a unique form of admiration since childhood, with people fixating on my physical attributes: eyelashes, cheekbones, head shape. 

My first-hand experience of both subtle discrimination and excessive admiration has profoundly shaped my perspective on social issues. It serves as a driving force behind my research project on the gender wage gap in South Korea, aiming to comprehend implicit bias and its pervasive societal impact. These experiences have granted me profound insights into the complexities surrounding discrimination and bias, motivating me to contribute to mitigating their effects and fostering inclusivity. I look forward to contributing to Penn’s community, drawing upon my unique experience, and actively participating in organizations such as SIC, The Social Impact Consulting Group, to further the goal of creating an inclusive society, regardless of background or appearance.

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Essay by Anastasia P.

Pre-Law Track Freshman @ Harvard University

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