As a part of the application process, applicants must complete a personal essay. Additionally, Penn applicants must complete the Penn-specific Essay.
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.
Be sure to answer the question or questions that are being asked of you. We understand that you may be writing essays for different schools and you may be looking to reuse material, but read through your essay to make sure your essay is relevant to the essay prompt. Essay topics are chosen because the Admissions Committee wants to know these specific things about you. If you do not address the question directly, the Admissions Committee is left with having to make decisions regarding your application with incomplete information.
Students applying to Penn must submit their application for admission to one of our four undergraduate schools. In the Penn-specific Essay, be sure to specifically address both why you are applying to Penn and why you are applying to that specific undergraduate school. Students who are applying to one of our coordinated dual-degree programs will have additional essays they need to complete, but the Penn essay should address the single-degree or single-school choice.
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. (400-650 words) *Students applying to Digital Media Design and Computer & Cognitive Science should address both the specialized program and single-degree choice in their response. For students applying to the other coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer this question in regards to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.
Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business
Discuss a current international issue, which demonstrates how international affairs and business intersect and explain how the Huntsman curriculum might assist to resolve the issue. (500 words maximum)
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 kind of benefits could an individual trained in both disciplines bring to society? 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. Question 1: Explain how you will use this program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. It is helpful to identify potential engineering and business paths available at Penn. (400-650 words) Question 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 drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions). Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (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.
My mother gave up a long time ago on the row of bottles occupying a sacred place atop my dresser. “They’re not trash,” I explained, ad nauseum until the message got through. “They’re art.”
In the mouths of other teenagers, this would be a rather ingenious way to skirt carrying a week’s supply of used water bottles down to the recycling bin. But I have no false pretenses: to me, these bottles are art, and I am their curator. From the classic verdant green of the San Pellegrino bottle to the hip black and white photographs (taken by actual consumers) that adorn Jones sodas, I know and love them all. That said, my current favorite art piece is a bottle of Voss, an intimidatingly professional cylinder of artesian water resembling a hydraulic messengering system canister. Utilitarian art. I’ve always paid close attention to these objects, in the way a passionate fashion student might study up on Vogue and GQ. Not entirely coincidentally, I’m a fiend for such magazines too. Branding, which permeates the life of a teenager, is nowhere more obvious than within these volumes.
Having gone through the period where I merely glutted myself on ads, I’ve progressed to the level of critiquing them, judging my own reactions to their images and how they work to provoke certain feelings within me. My senior research project is a study on fonts (Serif versus Sans Serif typefaces and their effectiveness in evoking moods and communicating beyond text), applicable to the branding and slogans of ads. In addition to fonts, I have begun analyzing other qualities of ads, discerning the artistic choices that make a Chloe or a Marc Jacobs ad instantly recognizable (the former: romantic vibrancy; the latter: striking minimalism) and, more generally, what aesthetics mean to business.
Attending Camp Impact at LeBow College of Business expanded my understanding of marketing choices to include production, distribution, and pricing. By altering simple variables and numbers in the PharmaSim market simulation–adding more coupons, offering a wholesale discount–I saw how the net profits and stock prices were influenced by issues outside of aesthetic design. But instead of discovering that marketing was less aesthetic than I’d initially thought at Camp Impact, where my groupmates and I stayed up till 1am one night to collaborate on our presentation, I learned to love marketing more, for its other aspects: the teamwork it involved, the math in calculating proportions, the overlooked variables of pricing and distribution, the prospect of discovering new ways to find an audience for an overlooked product. While my interest in advertising and product packaging, the aesthetics of business, still stands, I know there is more for me to explore as a marketing major at Penn’s Wharton School of Business.
What I like about Penn is the practical, learn-by-doing approach promoted by founder Ben Franklin, having initially applied it in my self study of liquid containers and ads. I look forward to classes like MGMT100, which seem daunting at first — a team of 18 year olds organizing an entire community event sans adult directives?! — and what they will teach me about making executive decisions, delegating authority, and turning the abstract into the tangible. MGMT100 is just one class of many at Wharton that develops teamwork and leadership skills in knowledgeable students, skills necessary for future business leaders. Penn also offers me, through research opportunities like CURF and the Weiss Tech House, the chance to explore the full interdisciplinary implications of my interest in typefaces, Serif and Sans Serif, or the impact of ad design on buying decisions and branding. This environment at Penn, that emphasizes real world applications and interaction among peers, while promoting individual responsibility and initiative, fits my learning approach.
At Penn, I hope to explore beyond my initial aesthetic interest, beyond what marketing encompasses, to other realms of business and other areas of study. My family’s background from China has highlighted for me, fluent in Chinese, the increasing globalization in business, evident on Sino-TV and in stories of lead contamination in toys. The chance to study abroad places these tensions of globalization in a more tangible context. Learning alongside international business students, we can build our knowledge on top of each other, to create solutions for future arising problems. A Latin student for six years, I’ve also gained an interest in the languages of other nations, and at Penn, I can supplement my business education with the studies of these languages at the School of Arts and Sciences. In this way, I can further contribute to the diversity that Penn offers, in my ambitions to develop myself as a well-rounded, multilingual leader.
Marketing is a field that encompasses everything from economics and art to politics and psychology, and Penn, where a liberal arts education is juxtaposed with experience-based training in business, is the perfect place to study just how much of an impact a sleek container, a slight change in price, a different distribution channel can really make on the world economy. I have always been interested in aesthetics because of my desire to see beauty, whether in an attractive Polo ad that instantly connotes class, or on the novel labels on Jones Soda bottles that give the hipster consumer the illusion of participation, or simply in the combination of rigid and flexible lines in Helvetica font. At Wharton, I can nurture this interest in marketing and expand it to areas within and beyond business. Here, I can become part of a community that grows through teamwork. Here, I can become a business leader. And here, I can proudly display my amateur exhibition of fine water bottles, without worrying about their disposal.
Check out another example of how to answer Why Pennhere.
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