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How to write the 2021-2022 University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) supplemental essays

by Story2 Staff, on Aug 9, 2021 10:24:28 AM

The University of Pennsylvania requires different supplemental essays depending on which school and program you’re applying to. All applicants must respond to two general supplement prompts, plus one to five program-specific prompts.


Jump to the UPenn General Prompt #1

Jump to the UPenn General Prompt #2

Jump to the UPenn DMD Digital Media Design Program Prompt

Jump to the UPenn Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business Prompt

Jump to the UPenn LSM The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management Program Prompt

Jump to the UPenn M&T The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology Prompt

Jump to the UPenn NETS The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering 

Jump to the UPenn NHCM Nursing and Healthcare Management Program Prompt

Jump to the UPenn Bio-Dental Program Prompt #1

Jump to the UPenn Bio-Dental Program Prompt #2

Jump to the UPenn Bio-Dental Program Prompt #3

Jump to the UPenn Bio-Dental Program Prompt #4

Jump to the UPenn Bio-Dental Program Prompt #5

Jump to the UPenn VIPER The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research Prompt

 

Read on for our guide to responding to the 2021-2022 UPenn supplemental essays! 

Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at The University of Pennsylvania? (300-450 words / 2295 characters**)

** NOTE: The character limit only applies to students applying as Transfer students through the Common App.

This prompt is a version of the “why this major?” question, and it offers a chance to dig into your academic interests and how they connect with the programs available at UPenn. In answering “why this major?” questions, you don’t need to have already studied it in-depth, but you need to understand what it entails well enough to make a case for how you are a good fit for the major generally, and for the specific way it is taught at Penn. . Readers want to know both that you’ve given your prospective major serious thought and research, and that you’re academically qualified, as well as curious and excited about the program UPenn has to offer. You can put aside any notions about how readers might want you to choose, because the best answer is the one that connects what you've already studied and what you want to study and do at Penn and after graduation.  Describe a moment that sparked your interest, or where you learned about this area of study, and connect it to the offerings at UPenn. Remember: the strongest “why this college?” essays are personal, unique, and specific! 

At Penn, learning and growth happens outside of the classroom, 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 / 1020 characters**)

** NOTE: the character limit only applies to students applying as Transfer students through the Common App.

This is a version of the Community question, and it’s designed to give UPenn admissions readers insight into what you’ll be like both as a UPenn student and what you’ll contribute to the community outside the classroom. You’re already a part of many different communities, including school, family, neighborhood, friends, work, religion, and many other group affiliations. In answering this prompt, think about the role you play in ONE community that has shaped you in ways that are lasting. How have you shaped that community, and how has it shaped you? Tell the story of how you’ve participated in the communities through specific moments that are unique to you and reveal the perspective you bring to your college community. Remember: many other students may have a background similar to yours, with the same set of experiences. However, the moments that make up those experiences -- and particularly the moments where you've grown, changed, or made a difference -- are always unique to you! 

DMD: Digital Media Design Program

Why are you interested in the Digital Media Design (DMD) program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words / 3575 characters**)

** NOTE: The character limit only applies to students applying as Transfer students through the Common App.

This is another, more in-depth version of the “why this major?” question, so make sure you don’t repeat your answers from the first general prompt! Research the specific courses, requirements, and opportunities in the DMD program, and give specific examples of how you are ready to dive in and make a difference in the DMD major after Penn. In addition to why you are attracted to this program, what makes you a good fit? 

Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business

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 program 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)

Be careful not to repeat yourself from the first Penn Supplemental Essay. ! Use this chance to dive into the specifics of why you want to pursue both business and international studies, how you are prepared and ready to dive into the program, and what you plan to do with this degree during and after college.

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

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)

This is your chance to look forward and help readers understand what you’ll do with a degree from the LSM program. What do you hope to learn during the program, and what do you hope to achieve after completing it? Begin with "what issues would you want to address...," and show how that plays out in the major and after college as well.  This is your chance to describe your ideal future in a way that is detailed and specific. 

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

There are two additional supplements for this program, one longer and one shorter:  

  • 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)

You can think of these two questions, together, creating a sense of what excites you as a student in this program and how you became interested in it (the shorter, second question) and, then, how you will use the program to connect business and engineering (the first, longer question). 

M &T Program #1 

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)

Note that this question is interested in your interests in both business and engineering and especially the intersection of the two. This is the forward looking part of the two questions: how will you use the program to develop those two interests and how you are prepared and will take advantage of that connection? Rather than repeating what you wrote in response to the first Penn supplement,, be more specific and show how this specific program is the right fit for you and how you will take advantage of its specific courses and opportunities. 

M&T Program #2: 

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

This question is about what you've already done that prepares you for the M&T program. They are looking for an example that demonstrates how you used leadership and creativity to solve a problem. It's only 250 words, so jump right into the thick of the problem and give very precise and specific examples of how you lead a creative solution. How did you discover the problem? What did you do that demonstrates leadership and creativity in finding a solution? Did you solve it on your own or with other people? Did it require research? Trial and error? Take the reader through the specific steps of your solution. 

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

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 / 3575 characters**)

When choosing a particular system or technology to focus on, brainstorm your own experiences "as a user, developer, or student of technology.” What specific moments reveal how you became interested in those systems and how they overlap with and impact other parts of life -- "economics, communication...beneficial content for society?" Remember to connect that story about your intellectual motivation with specific aspects of the NETS program.

NHCM: Nursing and Healthcare Management

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)

Remember, instead of just describing your goals, you want to connect them to specific aspects of the NHCM program at UPenn. Why is it the best fit for your longer-term purpose, and how are you a good fit for the program's stated vision? 


Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program

NOTE that there are 5 short-answer questions. You need to answer each of them in 250 words or less. 

  • 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 pre-dental or pre-medical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry.
  • List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands.
  • What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Please note that there is a 250 word limit for the Bio-Dental Program supplemental essays.

Bio-Dental Program #1: 

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 pre-dental or pre-medical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry.

Readers already have your activities in another part of the Common App, so you can use this section to focus on specific, straightforward experiences that are relevant to the study and practice of dentistry, if you have any. If you don’t have any, that’s okay! Just briefly describe how your interest in dentistry evolved and anything you've done to learn more about the profession. Show that you’re committed to this career path, even though you may not have any direct hands-on experience. 

Bio-Dental Program #2: 

List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands.

Readers want to know that you have fine motor skills and manual dexterity, as this will be tested rigorously in dental school. List any hobbies that involve working with your hands — like painting or drawing, woodworking, car repair, model building, knot-tying, knitting or embroidery, jewelry-making, or musical instruments like the piano, violin, or guitar. There are so many different ways to answer this question! Be specific. 

Bio-Dental Program #3: 

What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people?

This is a great chance to discuss the ways you’re involved in your community — whether that’s your school community, your neighborhood, a religious group, or anything else. How can you help readers understand that you’re a team player who works well with others?

Bio-Dental Program #4: 

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.

When answering this question, you want to be honest and specific. How did you become interested in this career path? How does it relate to your larger sense of purpose? Don't forget to answer the "what interests you least" part, though be careful to be specific about what "interests you the least" while remaining positive and motivated about the program as a whole.

Bio-Dental Program #5: 

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.

Don’t stress if you don’t know any dentists! But if you do, simply list their names and the required info.

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

How do you envision your participation in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) furthering your interests in energy science and technology? Please include any past experiences (ex. academic, research, or extracurricular) that have led to your interest in the program. Additionally, please indicate why you are interested in pursuing dual degrees in science and engineering and which VIPER majors are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)

This prompt is asking quite a few questions, so make sure to break it down and answer each one. 

 

  • First, describe your interests in energy science and technology while drawing on your previous experience related to energy and sustainability. 
  • Second, if you do have previous research experience, describe the project. If not, move onto the next part.
  • Third, describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests.
  • Fourth, identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals.
  • Finally, indicate which VIPER majors are most interesting to you.

 

You don’t need to answer these questions in order, but you do need to answer all of them and this order works! The best way to do this is by connecting the answers through a story that demonstrates a past experience with energy science and your future goals — this will help readers understand your interest and shows what you might do with a degree from the VIPER program. 

Ready to perfect your personal statement next? For tips on crafting a great personal statement and examples of what that looks like, check out our guide to personal statements!

Go back to main Supplemental Essays post.

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Topics:supplement essays

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