The Ivy Coach Daily

August 2, 2022

University of Pennsylvania 2022-2023 Essay Prompts

UPenn has switched up its essays for the Class of 2027 (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

The University of Pennsylvania has released its 2022-2023 essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2027. For decades, the University of Pennsylvania asked applicants to answer the following essay prompt: “Write page 217 of your 300 page autobiography.” Back in 2010, the Ivy League institution replaced that essay prompt with a long Why College essay. And a few years back, UPenn switched it up again — though not in a significant way. Instead, they asked applicants to respond to two essay prompts, both of which were essentially Why College questions (with one being more academic-focused and the other being more activity-focused). Well, UPenn isn’t resting on its laurels. The school has switched up their essay prompts yet again. After so many years of the same essay prompt, UPenn really has been mixing it up a bit. But, hey, that can sometimes happen with a new dean of admissions: Whitney Soule was appointed to the post in early 2021. So what are this year’s UPenn essay prompts? Wonder no more!

UPenn’s Class of 2027 Essay Prompts

Applicants are now asked to answer not one, not two, but three essay prompts. They read as follows: “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); 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); 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).”

How to Approach UPenn’s Class of 2027 Essay Prompts

The first prompt is brand new on the UPenn supplement. We encourage applicants to think outside the box. And, yes, that ideally means not writing a note to one of your parents and especially not your grandparents. Oh how too many students, particularly Indian American students, write about their grandparents in college essays. We always wonder why they love their grandparents so much more than their own parents. We kid, we kid. In any case, grandparents have long been forbidden in the essays of Ivy Coach’s students. So don’t write a thank you note to grandma or grandpa here.

For the second essay prompt, it’s very similar to the essay prompt that has existed on the UPenn supplement over the last couple of years. UPenn wants to learn how you’re going to contribute your singular hook — rather than well-roundedness to their community. This could focus on activities and traditions of the school, but try to avoid generic things like throwing toast on Franklin Field as applicants should always endeavor to be original. In fact, applicants should endeavor to teach admissions officers things they don’t know about their own school, not regurgitate stuff they learned on tours and information sessions. It’s indeed why we never encourage our students to take notes on tours and info sessions!

For the third essay prompt, it’s more academic focused. It too is very similar to one of the essay prompts from the last couple of years, though applicants aren’t given as many words as in prior years since the admissions office likely wanted to make room for a third essay without significantly increasing the total maximum word count (the total maximum word count actually decreased from 650 words to 600 words this year between the essays). In this third essay, it’s all about citing academic specifics at UPenn, which absolutely should not include name dropping professors who may or may not be there next year and citing courses since admissions officers know you can just cut and paste one course from one school and replace it with another at another school. In our book, these do not count as genuine specifics. Oh but you want to know what does count as genuine specifics? While we offer lots of advice on the pages of this college admissions blog, which is available for all to read, we are a business at the end of the day and such secrets are, naturally, reserved for our clients. But we do encourage students to complete an exercise after writing this essay (along with the second essay): read each sentence aloud and ask yourself if you can replace UPenn with Harvard or Yale or Dartmouth or any other school for that matter. If you can, promptly delete the sentence.

Strategize with Jayson Weingarten, A Former UPenn Admissions Officer

Have a question about the University of Pennsylvania essays? Wish to optimize your case for admission to UPenn with former University of Pennsylvania admissions officer Jayson Weingarten? If so, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form and we’ll be in touch in short order. It’s not too late even for you seniors, though we insist you must have a strategy before we even discuss the all-important essays. After all, writing essays without a focused strategy is like swimming in all your clothes. It makes no sense!

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