October 10, 2019

University of Pennsylvania Essay 2

University of Pennsylvania

Essay 2

At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classroom, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)

For students applying to the other coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.

Strong cases here tend to be grounded in prior experience. Walk through an example or two when you “learned and grew” outside of the classroom at your current school. If nothing else, this exercise will reveal how to structure your answer when looking ahead to your time at Penn. However, more often than not, it’ll also lead you to either (a) find killer insights from one of those experiences that you can use to “shape your community” at Penn, or (b) discover a hidden learning/growth moment that might not have been at the tip of your tongue, but will serve you well right around now.

What is growth? It’s always some kind of change FROM some state TO another, caused by some kind of external force/pressure. One interesting way to grapple with this is to imagine several doppelganger versions of you, all of whom grew up in vastly different environments. Imagine how they might have turned out differently. Think about it. Study it. And you’ll start to develop an awareness of what YOUR COMMUNITY/ENVIRONMENT was like such that you turned out the way you did.

In order for these growth tales to count for anything, we need to understand the starting point (the stuff that “was” BEFORE the community influences had their evil way), and then the ending point (a very different version compared to that starting point). And then, we need to see you walk us through the precise ways in which the community exerted the pressures that caused that delta.

This isn’t easy. And it’s not easy to do succinctly. But that’s the task at hand–we’ve got 200 words. It’s possible, just not easy.

Next, you need to suggest that you’re looking forward to a similar KIND of lesson/growth from a different community, specifically the one you’ll find at UPenn. Now, in order to do this properly, you’ll need to demonstrate an understanding of what makes the UPenn community distinct from another Ivy (for example), and also make the case that your immersion in this community will result both in your learning from, and contributing TO… it. Easy as pie! Just kidding!

Yeah, in 200 words, you need to do a lot of work. Here’s an outline to help that first draft:

  • First, give us a taste of when you’ve grown in the past at the hands of a community. Do this quickly, revealing how the change happened, and also why this turns out to have meaning for you. Why was it a good/positive thing? Do this inside 75 words.
  • Next, make an argument, using that previous example as your launching pad, about how you’re hoping to change and grow but in a different way, because something about the UPenn community presents a new and different opportunity for you. In order to do this, you’ll need to identify some aspect of the UPenn community that is new to you, and enticing. Figure another 75 words or so.

Finally, give us a taste of what it is that you might have to offer on campus. In other words, flip the script, and now imagine what it’s like to be a part of the community, influencing another individual. What is it that YOU have that might help someone else to grow? Walk us through how that might look. 50 words.

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