Admitted Essay for the University of Pennsylvania: Essay Review

Admitted Essay Reviews
September 10, 2020
Most Students Have A Handful Of Academic And Intellectual Interests That They Could Spend Hours Talking About…

However, when it comes time to talk about these passions in a college application essay, many suddenly find themselves staring at a blank page. So, in this admitted essay, let’s take a closer look at how one student explored how their passions would flourish by studying at the University of Pennsylvania - and how they ultimately earned admission.

An Admitted Essay For The University Of Pennsylvania

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.

“I am interested in and wish to explore many different topics at the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Sciences, including astrophysics, mathematics, computer science, and music.

Although I am undecided on my major, I know that I want to explore the fields of astrophysics and possibly theoretical physics, backed by courses in abstract mathematics. I want to eventually do research on dark matter and dark energy with some of the professors who are researching those topics, such as Professor Gary Bernstein, and I’d like to take as many theoretical and applied physics courses as possible. Although I may not major in that area because of my interests in mathematics and computer science, I will take as many courses in the physics realm as possible from my major.

I have taken all that my high school has to offer in computer science, and I wish not only to improve my coding skills in lower-level languages such as C, but also to participate in research on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Regardless of what my primary focus turns out to be, I know I want to minor in music and focus on musical performance for both the guitar and the tenor saxophone. I have been playing the saxophone since I was about ten years old, and I am self-taught at guitar. Although I spend less time on the guitar, I enjoy playing it as much as I do the saxophone, particularly fingerstyle guitar. The use of the entire guitar, not just the strings, to produce the percussion for a song, as well as the base line and melody, is awe-inspiring, and I would love to take private guitar lessons to sharpen my skills. I love playing jazz music on my saxophone as well, and while at the University of Pennsylvania, I will want to audition for the Music 10 program to take private lessons for two semesters in solo jazz performance. The Music 10 program is exactly what I feel I need to improve my instrumental solo capabilities to a more advanced level. I also hope to join the Penn Wind Ensemble and to play in a saxophone quartet, and the wide range of opportunities for a music major or minor in the College will offer everything I am looking for and more.

The College of Arts and Sciences is the right fit for me because I know that I can take all of these courses that I wish to take from both the College and the School of Engineering & Applied Science. The College, however, is a better fit because of my interest in musical performance, as well as my desire to pursue foreign language studies, either continuing in Spanish or starting in Mandarin Chinese. I definitely would love to study abroad through the Penn Abroad program in either my sophomore or junior year, and putting extra emphasis on foreign language will make my time abroad more fulfilling.

My interests do cover a wide range of departments at the University of Pennsylvania, but the ease with which one can explore different study areas from the College makes me eager to dive into everything about which I wish to learn. I know I will encounter passionate, excited, engaged professors and students in every field with whom I will want to work, and I will indulge all of my curiosities with those people.”

Our Expert Review

For many students, the prospect of talking in-depth about their passions and interests can be intimidating. After all, making a strong case for how your interests are related to the opportunities offered by a college feels like a tall order at first glance. Fortunately, this student took a slow and detailed approach to make their case for why UPenn’s Arts and Sciences program fits their talents and goals.

At its core, this prompt is designed to give UPenn an idea of what a student will bring to campus and how they plan to make use of its vast resources. In this essay, the student easily flows from one concept to another; no passion exists in isolation, and they outline a solid plan for how they would take advantage of what UPenn has to offer.

The student also takes care to show that, while they may still be undecided on a major, they have a plan for multiple future major and minor paths that fit their interests. By detailing their interests from physics to music, they demonstrate an ability to set goals and create the necessary plans to reach them.

Of course, the section where the student talks about their interest in music is particularly well done, and shows even more about what type of person they are. The reader learns that the student has self-taught themselves guitar in a particular style, and is interested in taking private lessons offered at UPenn.

Overall, the essay does a fantastic job of capturing why this student is the exact type of learner that would fit into UPenn’s culture. Like many top liberal arts schools, UPenn is proud of its interdisciplinary style of academics. Throughout this admitted essay, the student goes to great lengths to show how all their interests are interconnected, and how they fit with UPenn’s vision for their students.

How To Apply This Advice To Your Own College Essays


One of the reasons this college application essay works so well is because the student was detailed. Each interest or concept was backed up with 2-3 points to drive home the idea that these are things the student is truly passionate about. Importantly, this amount of detail allows the student to show that their interests and plans are all connected.

Another interesting note is that the student also shows off research skills when they argue why the School of Arts and Sciences is a better fit for their interests than the School of Engineering; showing that they have a genuine interest in UPenn.

  • How can you provide extra detail in your essay that connects all your interests together?
  • Does your essay fully explain how your passions relate to what the college offers?


Throughout this essay, the student goes into detail about UPenn, proving they’ve done more than a cursory look through their website. The student offers specific examples of how the programs and resources offered at UPenn will benefit their interests and allow them the opportunity to grow.

By connecting these specifics to their interest, the student goes beyond surface-level knowledge of the college to show that they’re truly passionate about attending.

  • Does your essay show that you’ve done research into the college’s opportunities?
  • How can you frame your research in a way that highlights your interests?
  • Do you list specific majors, programs, classes, or resources related to your interests?


One of the ways that this admitted essay ties itself together is through a constant display of passion. The student is not afraid to “nerd out” and talk about their interest in a particular style of music or the work of a professor. This genuine enthusiasm gives the essay a sincerity and flow that would be lacking if the student had tried to reign themselves in too much.

Colleges are always on the hunt for eager and passionate students, so don’t be afraid to let your essay reflect that!

  • Are you holding yourself back from showing how interested you are in a certain subject?
  • Is your excitement at the idea of attending this specific college shown in your essay?

Let Your Inner Excitement Show

For the majority of liberal arts colleges, there’s nothing more exciting than a student eager to study the things they’re passionate about. By letting your inner excitement show in your application essay, you can use this type of prompt to your advantage.

Yet even with a roadmap and passion to guide you, college essays can still be intimidating. If you need help making your application essay fit the vision in your head, get in touch with one of our WeAdmit counsellors. Our experts can guide you through the essay process step by step, and then help you with any other part of the application process you may be stuck on too!



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