Essays - Freshmen Applicants

As a part of the Common Application, applicants must complete a personal essay. Additionally, Penn applicants must complete the Penn Writing Supplement.  

 We carefully read each essay you submit, as they can help us get to know you much better than your transcripts and test scores. While essays are a good indication of how well you write, they are also windows into how you think, what you value, and how you see the world. Your numbers tell us what kind of student you are. Your essays tell us what sort of person you are—and provide a glimpse into the intangibles you might bring to our community. 

Penn Writing Supplement
Common Application Essay Prompts
Coordinated Dual Degree and Specialized Program Essay Questions

Penn Writing Supplement on the Common Application for Fall 2016 entry:

How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania?  Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying.

The essay should be between 400-650 words.
*For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree programs, please answer this question in regards to your single-degree school choice.  Interest in coordinated dual-degree programs will be addressed through those program-specific essays.

Common Application Essay Prompts for 2016

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Your Common Application essay must be between 250-650 words.

Coordinated Dual Degree and Specialized Program Essay Questions for 2015

Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business

1. In light of your personal interests in language, business, and international affairs, please discuss a current global issue and explain how the Huntsman Program would allow you to explore it in greater depth. (500-700 words)

2. Please indicate how many years and how extensively you have studied the language you selected for the Huntsman Program.

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

LSM seeks students who are enthusiastic about combining science with management. What excites you about this combination? What advantages and opportunities does the combination provide, and what does it address? Be as specific and original as possible in addressing these questions. (400-650 words)

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

Please complete both prompts.

1. How will the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology help you pursue your specific interests in both engineering and business? Please address in depth engineering fields, areas of business, and their potential integration that you plan on pursuing through this Penn program. (400-650 words)

2. Please describe a time in which you displayed leadership. (250 words maximum)

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)

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

Describe your interests in energy science and technology and your previous experiences (academic, research, and extracurricular activities) that have helped you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, consider describing your research project at a level appropriate for an educated non-expert, outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions. Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. (400-650 words)

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)

Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program

  • 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.