How to Write the University of Pennsylvania Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

Padya Paramita

How to Write the University of Pennsylvania Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

As you sit down to write your University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023, you need to think about how your love for UPenn stands out among the thousands of students applying to this selective school. Are you enthralled by the chance to tie in your major with your volunteering experience as part of Penn’s unique community engagement programs, or did you fall in love with the historical buildings and cobblestone streets of Philadelphia on your campus tour? Either way, if you believe that Penn could be your home for the next four years, it’s time to put your reasons and vision down on paper.

UPenn has put a lot of thought into the questions, so make sure you give thoughtful answers! Your quest to answer begins with thinking about which college within UPenn you’re applying to. You might want to become a “Philosophy, Politics and Economics” major at the College of Arts at Sciences or concentrate on “Insurance and Risk Management” at the Wharton School. Whatever the path you want to take, let admissions officers know why Penn is essential for your goals. To guide you through the questions for this year, I’ve gone over each of the required prompts, ways you can answer them, and additional tips so that you know the best ways to nail your University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023

Penn-specific Essays for All Applicants

Regardless of which school or which dual-degree program within Penn you’re applying to, all students have to answer the two required questions. Your answers to the second and third questions should be as specific to Penn as possible. Considering that 93% of applicants got rejected this year, your goal in writing the University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023 should be to stand out in demonstrating an unprecedented commitment to the home of the Quakers. 

Essay 1

Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)  

In order to become a valuable community member of any college, you essentially need to get along with your peers. Penn has introduced this prompt to this year’s essays to see the way you value others’ presence in your life, how you express gratitude, and what you value. Carefully consider who you’d like to thank and for what. An obvious answer could be a parent or guardian, as they have worked hard to raise you (and possibly your siblings as well). However, you could go for an unexpected route, such as the person who supports your theatre troupe, or a staff member at your school who comes in before everyone else and leaves after everyone has gone home. Or you could consider a friend who might have given you regular rides to and from an activity. Regardless of who you choose, make sure you spend some of your words expressing your gratitude rather than just saying what you did. Your tone should also be directed toward the person and not the admissions officer. 

Essay 2

How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)  

This second required question for all candidates is much shorter. While you can definitely mention which student organizations you hope to participate in Penn, don’t get tricked by your other answer to the University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023 and solely focus on activities you’re currently involved in. Keep your choices limited to 1-2 of your most meaningful extracurricular experiences, as the primary topic of your short essay must bring forth how the Penn community can help shape your perspective and identity and vice versa. 

Penn looks for highly motivated community leaders with an unquestionable love for their different involvements. This essay is the university’s way of gauging what makes you a unique person and which parts of campus you’ll contribute to the most.

Dual-Degree Specific Questions

If you’re applying to one of UPenn’s dual-degree programs, you’ll have to write additional essays. The following four questions ask about why you’ve applied to particular programs. To answer the University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023 for each of these highly competitive programs, you have to convey how you’ve pursued the intersection of the respective fields, as well as why you’re choosing Penn’s very specific programs over schools that are already specialized. 

In the case of all of these essays, you have a word limit as long as your personal statement, so utilize that space!

Essay 3

Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania. (150-200 words)

The word limit is extremely tight so you get 50-70 words each to talk about the discovery of your academic interests, followed by how you will explore them at UPenn. When you apply to UPenn, you will have to pick one of the four colleges as the primary site of undergraduate study: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, the School of Engineering and Applied Science (or Penn Engineering), and the Wharton School. When you write this essay, you will have to showcase a strong familiarity with the school of your choice and the features that are available to admitted students. 

The word limit is quite a comfortable amount to go into details about discovering your love for your prospective field, whether it’s engineering, business, or biology. Was there one instance that catalyzed your passion and goals? How have you explored the subject of your interest since? How has your curiosity about the topic grown? The majority of your essay should be dedicated to tying your interest in what the specific Penn school has to offer. Admissions officers must have no doubt that you have done thorough research on both the college and what Penn looks for as a whole. 

For example, Penn Engineering values students who are able to apply their distinguished background in physics and math into innovation, design, and scientific discoveries. You can talk about some ways that you’re excited to elevate your passion for engineering and entrepreneurship through Penn’s Clarks Scholars Program for leadership in engineering. Or you might dedicate your essay to your plans to advocate for minority representation in engineering through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Undergraduate Research Program.

An easy mistake to make in this essay would be to write about Penn in a broad and general sense when the prompt clearly asks you to write in regards to the specific college you’re applying to. Think about that school, what makes it unique, and how it can help you reach your aspirations. If you could recycle this response for another school’s supplemental essays, it’s time to start a new draft.

Computer and Cognitive Science: Artificial Intelligence

Why are you interested in the Computer & Cognitive Science: Artificial Intelligence program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words)

To apply to the Computer & Cognitive Science program, you must show admissions officers that you understand the uniqueness of the degree that will allow you to combine computer science and engineering with courses in linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, or psychology, and receive a BSE or BAS degree from Penn Engineering and a BA from the College of Arts and Sciences. Not only should you highlight the ways in which you’ve been involved in an interdisciplinary approach to technology-related academics and extracurriculars, but you should detail how your goals and career will benefit from the Computer and Cognitive Science dual-degree. 

Additional Tips to answer the University of Pennsylvania Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

Here are some final tips to get you on the right track for your University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023.

  • Don’t write about a college different from your main choice - When you’re answering the first required question for the University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023, your primary focus must be the single college within Penn that you’re applying to. If you’re vying for the College of Arts and Sciences and your answer is all about business, admissions officers will get the sense that you’re applying to a college you might feel is “easier” to get into with plans of later transferring to Wharton. This will not work in your favor at all. If you want to study business, apply to Wharton and write about Wharton.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of your extracurriculars - Admissions officers want to know what makes you tick outside the classroom. Don’t just shrug off this essay and repeat information you’ve already included in your activities list. They want to know about your perspective and identity. Your activities could have shifted your views in a way that you might not have even realized before sitting down to write the essay. And you won’t be able to analyze their impact properly if you don’t look at them from a more nuanced angle.
  • If you’re pursuing a dual-degree, don’t write about it in the first question - Your first response should only talk about the main school within Penn you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying to the Life Sciences and Management program, which falls under both Wharton and the College of Arts and Science, you must pick either Wharton or the College of Arts and Sciences as your main school of choice. You’ll get a chance to elaborate on your interest in the specific program later. Your first essay should concentrate on the growth of your academic interests and goals, with one college within Penn as your singular pick. 


The University of Pennsylvania supplemental essays 2022-2023 are designed to determine whether you would fit into one of the colleges within UPenn by understanding your academic passions, goals, and values. Reading carefully through the Penn website and understanding the unique features of each college will help you write responses that will convince admissions officers they’re making the right call, helping you edge one step closer to calling yourself a Quaker. You got this!

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