A Guide to the UPenn Supplement

Personal Statement Tips

A Guide to the UPenn Supplement

UPenn is filled with driven, passionate, and entrepreneurial students. Therefore, I think the best way to communicate how you'd fit in at UPenn is to emphasize how a UPenn education could get you to your end goals. UPenn loves a practically oriented student, so be practical and clear about what UPenn will allow you to achieve.

The supplemental essay question for the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is as follows:

"The Admissions Committee would like to learn why you are a good fit for your undergraduate school choice (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, The Wharton School, or Penn Engineering). Please tell us about specific academic, service, and / or research opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania that resonate with your background, interests, and goals. (400-650 words)

Undergraduate School Choice:

UPenn has four undergraduate schools with additional specialized and cross-disciplinary programs. In order to demonstrate your interest in UPenn, make sure you're applying for the right school for what you want to study.


  1. The College of Arts and Sciences
  2. The School of Engineering
  3. The School of Nursing
  4. The Wharton School


  1. AI | Computer and Cognitive Science, Artificial Intelligence (the College and Engineering)
  2. BIO-DENT | Seven year bio-dental program (the College and the School of Dental Medicine)
  3. DMD | Digital Media Design (Engineering)
  4. Huntsman | Huntsman program in international studies and business (Wharton and the College)
  5. LSM | Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management (Wharton and the College)
  6. M & T | Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (Engineering and Wharton)
  7. NETS | Networked and Social Systems Engineer (Engineering)
  8. NHCM | Nursing and Health Care Management (Wharton and Nursing)
  9. VIPER | Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (the College and Engineering)

If you want to study economics would you apply to the Wharton School of Business or to the College of Arts and Sciences? This depends entirely on whether you want a pre-professional approach (Wharton) to business and economics or want a more theoretical and academic approach (the College). Make sure you're selecting the school that's right for getting you to your end goal. If your dream is to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an application to Wharton is much more in line with your goals , and that will shine through to the Admissions Committee.

How Can Penn Further My Goals?

A good supplement answer will clearly outline what your passions are and how Penn's opportunities will help you achieve them.

1. Look through the majors and programs at UPenn.

The list of undergraduate programs at UPenn Majors and can be found here. Each major has its own site with information and a list of the classes it offers. Look through some of the classes in the majors that look interesting. Can you see yourself rushing to sign up? If so, these are classes you'll want to reference in your essay.

2. Identify professors you'd like to work with.

After looking through the majors and classes you'll likely see some opportunities that interest you. Google the names of the professors teaching the classes you find compelling and the heads of the programs or majors you like. Is the professor published in areas of your interest? Read his or her writing and tell the admissions committee what you think! The more academic familiarity and passion you can display in your essay the better. Looking through classes, programs, and professors will help you envision yourself at Penn and more clearly portray that vision to the Admissions Committee.

3. Identify research opportunities.

While finding a professor you'd like to work with and referencing he or she is a good way to showcase your interest, not all professors are willing to take on research assistants. In order to link students with research opportunities, UPenn created the The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF). It is a great resource on campus that the school is really proud of. The Admissions Committee is sure to love it if you reference an opportunity that you find on CURF's site. The site can be found here.

4. Identify UPenn alums you admire

If you know the type of career you'd be interested in having, look at some UPenn alums that are working in those fields. What did they do with their UPenn degrees and what opportunities were they able take advantage of while at UPenn? Wikipedia has a great list of UPenn alums organized by discipline you can find here.

5. What if I don't have a specific passion?

UPenn is a great place to find yourself. If you are undecided about your future talk about some of the ways in which UPenn can help you foster your goals and learn about yourself. For example, the multidisciplinary requirements at UPenn ensure you'll get a taste of a variety of academic fields. Take a look at the advice for Freshmen written by UPenn deans about how to find their academic niche. Also, do not forget about how important it is to give back! Information about opportunities for community involvement at Penn are here.