Photos of a Recent Trip
June 5, 2015
An Essay Discussion
August 27, 2015

Penn Writing Supplement

We are excited to announce the 2015-2016 Penn Writing Supplement prompt. The question focuses on your mind, specifically how your intellect might develop at Penn and, along the way, enhance our campus community. It continues our tradition of asking “Why Penn?” to generations of Penn applicants.

2015-2016 Essay Prompt: 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. 

*For students applying to 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.

To write this piece with confidence, reflect on who you are as an intellectual and how you can enhance your academic journey at Penn. The summer is an excellent time for this exploration. Connect your internal assessment, the 5Is, to your research on the intellectual and academic life at Penn.

Begin by examining your intellect. What do you like to mull over, by yourself and with others? Probe what you think about, your current academic passions, and what you love. Consider the classes you look forward to during the school day and the homework assignments you enjoy. Reflect on assignments that give you tension and figure out if this indicates a desire to learn more, or a comparative disinterest in the subject. Allow your mind to wander and follow its path. Try to make sense of your academic interests while allowing them to be dynamic, multidimensional, or quirky.

As part of this initial exercise, consider how you think. What stimulates your mind? How often to do you interact with your professors? What is your ideal classroom environment and size? Does your mind hone in on one subject or are you rapidly making connections? By asking these questions, you better understand your strengths, the mechanisms that underlie your thought process, and the situations that will allow your intellect to grow.

Self-assessment gives you the tools to think about your intellectual fit at Penn. Prospective students apply into one of Penn’s four undergraduate schools and, in this prompt, we ask applicants to focus their essays on opportunities in the school to which they are applying. Assess the academic structure of your undergraduate school of choice (requirements, progression through major(s), advising system, learning philosophy) and its intellectual focus (nursing, business, the humanities, math, sciences, etc.). Review majors, minors, elective opportunities, classes, professors, research labs, libraries, and hands-on learning initiatives. Get to know these opportunities well before putting pen to paper. In the committee room, we hope to envision how you will use and contribute to Penn’s learning environment in and out of the classroom.

Write with a degree of specificity. Tell us the major or majors you wish to pursue. Let us know which classes and labs support your academic interest(s). If there are professors you hope to work with, tell us why. This is a space to focus on specific connections between your mind and Penn’s intellectual offerings.

It’s okay to be undecided. While you need to do research to determine which undergraduate school you wish to apply to, you do not need to specify a major. Get excited about academic possibilities (there are many at Penn) and map out potential courses you might take given your current intellectual interests.

Take risks. In high school, you are likely exposed to an important, but limited, array of academic subjects. In your free time, your hobbies, your discussions with friends and mentors, get to know disciplines that intrigue you but are less known. Examine academic peripheries through reading, research, and discussion. Connect newfound interests to opportunities at Penn.

In your writing, convey your enthusiasm for Penn’s community of thinkers. As we read your essays, we share your excitement for the resources, libraries, classes and, most importantly, people on campus.

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