Last Updated on August 8, 2022
The UPENN Bio Dental Program is an accelerated program. It starts in the summer giving you time to adjust to the workload and schedule before starting school in the fall. Students are accepted through a strict admissions process. This program is designed to address conditions, disorders, and diseases of the jaw, oral cavity, and associated structures. General health is largely dependent on oral health, so as a dentist you are affecting the health of the body as a whole. Most programs will be designed to prepare students to be able to evaluate, diagnose, prevent and treat most dental conditions. Studying dentistry can be very rewarding for both students and graduates. Because people will always need dental work, finding a job is usually pretty easy, and most dentists have enviable schedules. Some dental procedures also help to improve the appearance of patients, which increases their confidence.
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UPenn Bio Dental Program Acceptance Rate
The University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight Ivy League colleges, is a private institution in spite of its name. Located in Philadelphia, PA, an historic, vibrant, cultural, and diverse city, Penn is the fifth oldest post-secondary institution in the United States. Approximately 10,600 undergraduates attend Penn.
Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1749, the University of Pennsylvania, first named as the Academy and College of Philadelphia, was established on the concept that while an undergraduate education should certainly focus on theoretical aspects, it should also have practical implications. To this day, Penn continues the spirit of its founding fathers, and its graduates are among the most career-oriented of all the Ivy League colleges.
Penn consists of twelve schools and undergraduate programs are offered in four of these schools: The College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), the School of Nursing (the only Ivy League institution to offer a nursing school), and the Wharton School (the only Ivy League institution to offer a business school). As a graduate school, Penn has a medical, law, business, dental, nursing, and veterinary school. With Nobel laureates as professors, it’s no surprise that Penn is an academic powerhouse with world-class research opportunities.
In addition, Penn offers six specialized dual-degree and interdisciplinary programs: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (M & T) (a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and either a BSE in Engineering or a BAS in Engineering from Penn Engineering), the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business (a B.A. in International Studies from the School of Arts and Sciences and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School), Nursing and Health Care Management (a B.S. from Penn Nursing Science and a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School), The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management (LSM) (a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. from the College of Arts & Sciences in a life science discipline), the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) (a bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science), and the Accelerated 7 year Bio-Dental Program (a bachelor’s degree plus a dental degree from Penn Dental Medicine).
Throwing toast onto Franklin Field, not stepping foot on the compass for fear of failing your freshman midterm exams, Hey Day, Penn Relays, Spring Fling, and a host of other activities help make the University of Pennsylvania rich in its traditions.
From Penn’s Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses which combine theory and practice through activities that make a difference in public schools, churches, synagogues, and outreach centers in the West Philadelphia communities to Penntoring to Kite and Key, giving back to the surrounding Philadelphia community is a big deal at Penn.
For the Class of 2023, the University of Pennsylvania Admissions department received 44,960 applications – the most applications in Penn’s history – and accepted 3,345 candidates. This left the overall University of Pennsylvania admissions rate at 7.4%.
How To Get Into UPenn
Whether it’s been your dream school for as long as you remember, or you’re considering it when working on your college list and looking through the Ivies, you might be drawn to the University of Pennsylvania. If you’re wondering how to get into UPENN, you’re not alone – UPENN received a record breaking 44,960 applications for the Class of 2023. While the application numbers went up, the acceptance rate was 7.44%, UPENN’s lowest ever.
As you can see in the graphic, the acceptance rate at UPenn has gradually gone down over the last seven years. Almost 93% of applicants got rejected last year. That is huge! So you might be wondering how to get into UPENN when competing against such a tough applicant pool. To help you get a clearer understanding of how to get into UPENN, I’ve outlined more on each of the different UPENN undergraduate schools and programs, what UPENN looks for in students, deadlines and requirements, supplemental essay questions, and overall tips on how you can make sure you stand out as a top notch applicant.
The Different UPenn Schools
UPenn is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Campus life is packed with traditions as the diverse student body learns together and from each other. There is no typical day, and your time at UPenn could be spent studying with friends in the Quadrangle, enjoying one of the many student art performances, cheering on the Quakers, or exploring the City of Brotherly Love.
Before we examine how to get into UPenn and the application process itself, it’s important to know which of the four undergraduate schools within the University of Pennsylvania you want to apply to. When you apply to UPENN through the Common App or Coalition App, you have to choose one of the four schools, instead of applying to UPENN as a whole. Your choice should depend on your academic interests and strengths, as well as your future career goals.
For each of the schools, you are also asked whether you are interested in one of the dual degree programs offered for students with specific interests. If you apply to a program that falls under the umbrella of two different schools within UPENN (for example, Wharton and the College of Arts and Sciences), you must be admitted to both schools in order to ultimately be accepted. This makes the specialized options ultra competitive!
When you apply, you must indicate your first and second choice programs, so it’s important to know the options available to you. The schools within UPenn, along with what they look for in applicants and the dual-degree options available, are:
- College of Arts and Sciences – Like many other top national universities, UPENN offers a liberal arts curriculum in its College of Arts and Sciences. If you’re debating between multiple majors, enjoy courses in both humanities and sciences, and are looking for a collaborative classroom experience, this college is the one for you. Dual-degree, accelerated and specialized program options available are The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, The Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, The Vagelos Scholars Program in Molecular Life Sciences, The Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, and the Seven Year Bio-Dental Program. Admissions officers are looking for students interested in the multiple disciplines, capable of juggling the rigorous academics, and those who are able to transfer their classroom knowledge into real world applications.
- School of Nursing – This is pretty straightforward – if you want to go into nursing, apply to the School of Nursing! At the School of Nursing, students have access to top ranked hospitals and clinical agencies to help them fulfill UPENN’s three-year clinical requirement. Nursing and Health Care Management is available as a dual degree program. Students wishing to apply must have a commitment to patient care, a curiosity to explore issues and trends in healthcare, and a strong background in the sciences, especially in chemistry. Before applying, understand that this is a career-oriented program, and also one of the most competitive nursing schools in the nation!
- Penn Engineering – If you’re a STEM-minded student with a passion for engineering and hopes of working in technology-based fields in the future, Penn Engineering could be the school for you. Penn Engineering provides students with hands-on experience in technology management through exposure to state-of-the-art research labs and centers. Students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Engineering if they see themselves being professional engineers or computer scientists, or pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science which offers them more flexibility in combining engineering science and technology with other disciplines.
Dual-degree, accelerated, and special program options are The Fisher Program in Management and Technology, The Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, Computer & Cognitive Science: Artificial Intelligence, Digital Media Design Program, and The Singh Program in Networked & Social Systems Engineering. Penn Engineering is looking for applicants who are able to innovate, design, practically apply scientific discoveries, have a strong background in physics and math (especially calculus), and submit a competitive application convincing the admissions officers of their motivation and passion behind wanting to study engineering.
- The Wharton School – If you wish to attend an undergraduate business school and get your dream job right out of college, why not apply to the number one ranked undergraduate business program in the country? Wharton offers students the opportunity to apply classroom concepts into practice by starting their own businesses, combining the business course load with classes from the other UPENN schools, and gaining hands on experience through its entrepreneurship and leadership courses. Specialized programs that include a degree at Wharton are The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, The Fisher Program in Management and Technology, and The Nursing and Healthcare Management program. Admissions officers are looking for students who wish to use business as a tool for positive change in the world’s economic and social wellbeing, demonstrate leadership in their community, and have a strong background in math, particularly calculus.
No matter which school you apply to, if you are admitted, you will be able to take courses at the other schools at UPENN as well.
Liz Culliton, a Former Associate Director of Admissions at UPENN talks more about the different schools, as well as what it takes to get into UPENN, in this interview:
Numbers, Extracurriculars and Personal Statement
When wondering how to get into UPenn, you should brace yourself for the kind of grades, standardized test scores and extracurriculars you need. After all, this is the information admissions officers see in your application to make their decision! The average GPA for UPenn is 3.9 on a scale of 4.0. As you can see, you need to be working very hard all throughout high school to have the grades for UPenn.
If you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT yet, start planning now, because the average standardized scores for UPENN are quite high as well. The median ACT range is 33-35. The median SAT range is 1440-1550. You should aim to score at least 750 in each section of the SAT to stay with the pack.
UPENN recommends that you take the SAT subject tests. Unless you absolutely cannot for some unavoidable circumstances, then you should submit scores from two subject tests. Excelling in them will help you get an edge over the competition, and show the admissions officers your strength in a subject – especially if you apply to the School of Nursing, Penn Engineering, or Wharton. Although there aren’t strict guidelines for which subject tests the schools require, you could take Biology and Chemistry for the School of Nursing, Math II and Physics for Penn Engineering, and Math II for Wharton.
If your numbers line up with what UPenn averages, great! But your application is certainly not a shoo in just yet. Don’t forget that UPENN turned down 41,000 applicants in 2019, and a lot of them were probably academically brilliant. Many of your peers who apply to UPENN are going to be at the top of their class, with the best grades and scores. Your extracurricular activities and experiences can help set you apart.
Start participating in clubs, volunteer work, and internships as early as the 9th grade. Getting an early start helps you climb up the ranks to a leadership position, as well as show admissions officers that you’re committed to what you’re passionate about. Trying out different things at first is okay, but make sure you stick to activities that follow a theme to establish your application persona, highlighting your achievements and goals. Your application persona, for example, could be an aspiring biologist who is passionate about climate change advocacy and enjoys making documentaries on the issue. You could be a promising musician who has performed all over the world and wishes to compose music for film. Or, your application persona could be a future astronaut who has started an organization for kids interested in learning about space and becoming astronauts themselves.
Involvement as a leader and earning tangible achievements in a consistent line of interest that you highlight across your application helps boost your profile. Being the president of a preexisting club that many people participate in, such as debate or Model UN, isn’t enough for an institute such as UPenn. If you’re applying to a specific school it definitely helps to show hands-on experience in the field. If you want to apply to the School of Nursing, volunteering at clinics and working with patients would look good on you application. Being an entrepreneur would be strategic for Wharton. You can form your own club, lead your local community in voluntary drives, and even start own nonprofit. When working on your application, make sure you take full advantage of the small amount of space you have when filling out the Common App Activities and Honors sections!
Your personal statement is a huge part of your application, and should follow your application persona. This is a chance for you to tell the admissions officers your story – emphasizing what makes you unique and what you are passionate about. All other students can have excellent grades and scores, even be involved in similar activities, but the personal statement is the place where you show what makes you different and a must-have applicant. Think of topics to avoid, brainstorm multiple topics before finding the perfect one, and don’t forget to throw in humor to highlight more of your personality. After you’re done, be sure to edit as much as possible and have someone else proofread it and offer feedback.
Your application is an accumulation of the different components, and excelling across the board will help you get into a highly selective school such as UPenn.
If you’ve been thinking about how to get into UPenn, you probably have specific reasons for wanting to apply to UPenn in the first place. That’s great – because now it’s time to take a look at the supplemental essay for UPenn. It is especially important to keep in mind the UPenn school you’re applying to when writing this essay, as you must indicate it right from the start. This is your chance to show admissions officers that you’re not just applying to UPenn because it’s in the Ivy League, but because you are intrigued by the unique aspects of the school of your choice and believe that you would be a good fit. The prompt for 2017-18 and 2018-19 asked:
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 (400-650 words).
The key to writing this supplemental essay lies in convincingly conveying the research you’ve done regarding UPENN. Showcase ways that the features you appreciate about the institution – and particularly the college you are applying to – tie in to your interests and goals. Take the time to explore the course offerings and faculty listings at the school of your choice to identify ways your intellectual curiosity can peak if accepted. Go through UPENN social media posts and YouTube videos to learn about aspects of campus life that appeal to you. Browse their website for student organizations to see how you can continue your current activities in college. Going over these can help you find the professors, courses, and activities that speak to you. If you enjoy economics and math, write about how excited you are to major in Mathematical Economics, a perfect blend of your interests. If you’re a fan of musical comedy and have been involved in performance throughout high school, write about how you hope to explore this passion further through the Mask and Wig club at UPENN. Every college brings unique opportunities for students, and UPENN has many distinguishing features that may resonate for you. Taking the time to research and brainstorm can help you find the right ones for you at UPENN, and put them on paper.
Convince admissions officers that you’re not just applying to UPenn for the sake of wanting to go to an Ivy League school. Your research and interest in the school must shine through in your essay. Don’t just re-state their brochures – I’m sure admissions officers who work there already know that it’s great. Reflect on how it stands out to you, and would be great for you and your aspirations.
Requirements and Deadlines
When thinking about how to get into UPenn you must also think about the necessary scores, documents, and other information the school asks for. Deadlines may not feel important to note right now, but they are essential to keep in mind when preparing for the college application process.
The Early Decision deadline for UPenn is November 1, while the Regular Decision deadline is January 5.
Knowing these dates can help you start working on filling out the Common App and writing your essays, take and retake standardized tests, and talk to your counselor and recommenders to allow them enough time to write letters. The material you need to submit for your UPenn undergraduate application, regardless of which school you’re applying to, is outlined below, along with deadlines and additional notes:
|Requirements for UPenn Application||Deadlines and Notes|
|Common App personal statement||The word limit is 650 words|
|UPenn-specific essay||This will appear on the Common App when you add UPenn as a school; word requirement is between 400 and 650 words|
|Official high school transcript||Must be submitted directly from your school|
|School report||Submitted by your counselor to summarize your academic performance, including your official transcript|
|Counselor recommendation||This letter is very important to help you stand out from your peers|
|Two letters of evaluation from teachers||These letters are also crucial, as admissions officers want to know what you are like in the classroom|
|Early Decision agreement (if applicable)||Early Decision (ED) to UPenn is binding, so if you apply ED, you must commit if accepted|
|Mid-year report||If you are deferred from ED, this is due February 15. For Regular Decision (RD), this should be submitted whenever mid-year grades are available|
|SAT or ACT||The last tests students can take for ED are the October ACT and November SAT and the last tests students can take for RD are the December ACT and December SAT|
|SAT subject tests||The last test students can take for ED is the November session and the last test students can take for RD is the December session|
|Interviews (offered based on availability)||Interviews for ED take place from Mid-October to December, interviews for RD take place December to early March|
|Arts supplement (optional)||If you are an excellent artist, designer or a musician, consider submitting a portfolio of your work; guidelines here: https://admissions.upenn.edu/admissions-and-financial-aid/what-penn-looks-for/supplementary-materials|
|Additional recommendation (optional)||If you wish to submit a third letter of recommendation, UPenn prefers that this comes from someone who is not a teacher, such as a coach or an internship supervisor|
|Financial aid documents||U.S. citizens and permanent residents applying for aid must fill out the FAFSA, CSS Profile, Penn Financial Aid Supplement, parents’ and student’s latest federal income tax returns|
Use the table as a checklist to make sure you submit all of the necessary documents and scores. Once you’ve submitted your application, Early Decision applicants are notified in mid-December, while Regular Decision applicants are notified by April 1.
Alongside strong academic and extracurricular performances, here are some other strategies to gain an edge over the tough competition:
- Apply Early Decision if You’re Sure about UPenn – Statistically speaking, applying ED can increase your chances of admission. 7,704 students applied Early Decision for the Class of 2023, which is significantly fewer number of students than the Regular Decision number. 18% of the applicants were accepted. Although this rate is inflated by recruited athletes and legacies, applying ED can still provide an advantage. So, if you know that UPenn is the school for you, and you are ready to go if accepted (remember, it’s binding!), go ahead and apply Early Decision to UPenn. You will be competing against a much smaller pool, and if your application checks all the right boxes, you may get accepted.
- Apply to the Program that is Right For You – Don’t apply to Penn Engineering, Wharton, or the School of Nursing if you aren’t ready to commit yourself to those fields. The College of Arts and Sciences offers different disciplines and allows the chance to explore. Don’t apply to the College of Arts and Sciences thinking it might be easier to get admitted, with the intention of transferring to Wharton though. Transferring programs is hard!
But, if you think you might be interested in business, but aren’t too sure, your essay about Wharton will not sound very convincing. This could expose a dent in your application, that could very much be avoided if you apply to the Colleges of Arts and Sciences. You can always take business classes at Wharton on the side. At the same time, don’t sound entirely unconvinced about your future when applying for the liberal arts school. Have goals, but be open to exploring.
- Talk to Current UPenn Students and Professors – If you have any friends who are currently students at UPenn, talk to them about how you can enhance your application. If you visit campus, see if you can talk with a professor – ideally in a field of your interest – to learn more about the department and courses. This conversation can motivate you to write a stronger supplemental essay, and convince you further that applying to UPenn is the right call for you. Who knows, the professor might even go on to become your advisor in the future!
- Talk to Your College Counselor – It’s important to start building a relationship with your high school college counselor early in your high school career. Not only does your counselor help you figure out whether schools are right for you, but the counselor writes a recommendation letter that is taken into consideration by schools. Plus, if UPenn has any questions about your application, they would turn to your counselor. Getting to know your counselor matters, especially if there are multiple students from your school applying to UPenn. The counselor’s voice is crucial. If they are familiar with your strengths and goals, they can write a strong letter, and advocate to the school on your behalf.
There is no one specific formula regarding how to get into UPenn. Realistically, the odds are already stacked against you because of the sheer number of excellent candidates applying to the school. But, if you have stellar grades, standardized test scores, extracurriculars, and essays, then you can make a case for yourself. Your status as a top student will help your recommenders’ job easy. Continue doing well in school, and establish yourself as a leader in your community. Make sure your personal statement tells a unique story, and your supplemental essay captures your interest in UPenn as specifically and true to you as possible. It’s difficult, but not impossible. Good luck!
Located just across the river from downtown Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the world’s premier institutions of higher learning. UPenn is known not only for its academic prowess but also for its thriving student life scene. This encompasses not only the myriad of on campus extracurricular pursuits but also the bustling metropolis just minutes away from campus.
As an Ivy League institution, UPenn is one of the most elite institutions in the world. Its acceptance rate for the class of 2022 was a mere 8.39%. The middle 50 percent of ACT scores ranged from 32-35, and the middle 50 percent of SAT Math and Reading scores ranged from 690-770 and 680-750 respectively.
In terms of structure, UPenn has four undergraduate divisions: the School of Arts & Sciences, Wharton School of Business, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of Nursing.
They also offer a myriad of interdisciplinary specialized programs that range from cognitive science to network analysis. Many of these programs combine the business of practices of UPenn’s legendary Wharton School with other disciplines, such as the Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business.
This guide will provide invaluable advice for each of the essay prompts. Whether you’re majoring in chemistry or applying for the 7-year pre-dental program, we’ll provide you with plenty of tips for how to present your best self to the UPenn admissions office.
The UPenn Essays: Normal Admissions vs. Specialized Programs?
Penn has one 400-650 word essay that all of its applicants must write, but those who want to apply to specialized programs, such as the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business or the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, will have to write one or two additional essays.
The first question you may have about your application is: what is the relation between your general application essay and your specialized program application essay?
The first thing to know is that these specialized programs are very selective. They are not just looking for the “smartest” students, but rather the students whose particular experiences and goals best fit with what that specialized program has to offer. If you are not selected for a specialized program, it does not mean that you are intellectually inferior — it just means that other students were a better “fit.” For example, the Huntsman program is incredibly selective, admitting only 45 students per year out of an incoming class of almost 2,500.
What this means is that applying for, and not being admitted to, a specialized program will not hurt your application to Penn. In your first essay (which everyone who applies to Penn must write), you will talk about how you will pursue your intellectual interests at Penn through one of its four large undergraduate schools: the Wharton School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of Nursing.
Then, if you are applying to a specialized program, you will make a specialized case for why you should go to that school. When you write, you’ll want to make sure that you are not repeating information between these two essays and that each essay can stand on its own. This can be a little bit of a challenge, but if you have what it takes to get into Penn it probably means that you have a wealth of different ways to talk about your interests.
Required UPenn Essay Prompt:
All Applicants: 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. (400-650 words)
* Students applying to Digital Media Design and Computer & Cognitive Science should address both the specialized program and single-degree choice in their response. For students applying to the other coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer this question in regards to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.
This essay is asking a very straightforward question: what do you want to study and why do you want to study that at Penn in particular. With this question, the admissions officers are trying to do three things. First, they are trying to weed out those candidates that are just applying to Penn because it is a “fancy school.” Second, they want to learn something about your intellectual passions and interests. Third, they want to see if you have done your research and started to figure out how you will use Penn to pursue those intellectual passions and interests.
When they ask you to talk about your major within one of the four schools — Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Nursing, and Wharton — you should realize that you are not necessarily talking about these schools in general. Each of these schools contains a multitude of different majors, areas of focus, research opportunities, and Penn wants to know that you have taken the time to research their offerings.
For example, if you are applying to the College of Arts and Sciences, you should not be talking about “Arts and Sciences” as a whole (everything from biology to French literature!). Focus on the major and classes within the school of Arts and Sciences that you want to pursue.
Maybe you want to study at Penn because of its remarkably high number of professors (10!) working on differential geometry — a subject of particular interest to you. You might begin your essay by talking about how you have been interested in differential geometry ever since you asked your high school math teacher, “Okay, we’ve gone over how to find the surface area of a cube, but how would you even begin to find the surface area of something like a plastic bag floating in the air?” You can then go on to talk about the work you’ve done studying new topics in geometry over the summer, the thrill of thinking about how billiard balls bounce around differently shaped boards, and the overlap between your interests and the unique research profile of Penn’s mathematics faculty.
An important thing to remember here is that you need to talk about both your passion for a particular subject area and what Penn has to offer you — both aspects are equally important!
If you are interested in one of Penn’s specialized programs, you still need to write an essay about how you intend to pursue your intellectual interests at Penn, regardless of whether you are admitted to a specialized program or not. The trick here is to write an essay that communicates the full force of enthusiasm and excitement for a plan of study at Penn that does not hinge exclusively on admission to a specialized program, such as Huntsman (discussed in more detail below).
Maybe you have been fascinated with international relations and diplomacy ever since you started learning French and playing Massive Online Multi-player strategy games that required weaving complex treaties with people from many different parties. You can write a great essay about how you hope to use Penn’s resources to pursue a major in international relations, and how you especially look forward to studying abroad — maybe to meet some of the people who you have been collaborating with from all over the world.
Then, if you are interested in the intersection of business and international relations, you might use your Huntsman essay to talk about your abiding interest in logistics (perhaps related to your work in gaming) has drawn you to the problem of how conflicts in international law might affect the efficiency of global shipping supply chains.
The College of Engineering’s special programs in Digital Media Design and Computer & Cognitive Science are something of a special case.
For these two programs, your statement of why you fit into them belongs in this general admissions essay, not in a separate prompt. As such, you need to treat this essay like an application for a specialized program that also addresses the major you will pursuing outside these specialized programs. This means you will need to cram a lot into this essay. The trick in these cases is to use your essay to show how the distinctive intellectual interest that you are pursuing in the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of Engineering will be augmented by the addition of these specialized programs.
For example, if you are applying to Computer & Cognitive Science, you might also be applying to the College of Arts & Sciences to study Linguistics. You can start the essay by talking about how language has always fascinated you: you always wanted to dig deeper than the rules listed in your grammar books. Why — you ask — do we say “the big red house” and not “the red big house?” Maybe part of what drove you to start learning Spanish and Russian was to see if rules of syntax in English also applied to other languages.
Then, you’ll pivot in a new paragraph to talk about how your interest in syntax also makes you interested in Penn’s program in Computer & Cognitive science. Your interest in word-order might go beyond human-made languages and extend to the languages machine intelligences are starting to create. In order to show the admissions committee that your passion for computing is no less than your passion for learning new languages, you might talk about the work you did programming a chatbot or creating a little video game to help you study your Latin declensions. If you are applying to any of these interdisciplinary programs, you want to show the admissions committee that you have already started to think across disciplinary boundaries.
What if you are not particularly interested in any of Penn’s specialized programs? That’s perfectly fine! Not applying to those programs will not hurt your application or make you seem like an “unambitious” student. After all, most of the specialized programs are focused on the intersection between the business school and other areas of study. Returning to our math example above, maybe you are just fascinated with geometry and not particularly concerned with its applications on Wall Street? That’s perfectly fine! But for those with a sincere interest, Penn’s specialized programs offer unique interdisciplinary possibilities. The rest of this article will tackle those prompts.
Finally, though this essay asks you to discuss the “specific undergraduate school” you are applying to, that does not mean you cannot mention (in a short paragraph, maybe at the end of the essay) some of the social and cultural reasons that attracted you to the city of Philadelphia and its surrounding social and cultural possibilities. Maybe you are a history buff fascinated with Benjamin Franklin or maybe there is an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of art that you have been dying to see. You won’t spend all your time in class at Penn, and it can’t hurt to offer a glimpse of your extracurricular interests in this essay. As Penn says, “Your essays tell us what sort of person you are — and provide a glimpse into the intangibles you might bring to our community.”
Specialized Program Prompts
The first thing to do if you are considering applying to any of Penn’s specialized programs is research. Go to their websites and read those “mission statements” and “about us” sections! More than that: go deeper and see what kinds of classes are offered and what the faculty who teach these classes research. If you can, talk to an alumnus of one of these programs. Or stroll through YouTube and see if there is a video posted from events and conferences sponsored by these different programs.
The more details you have about these programs, the better you will be able to talk about how your specific interests line up with what these programs have to offer. If you want to apply to the program in Life Sciences and Management, it will not be enough to say that you are interested in “life sciences” because you really enjoyed your AP Biology class, and that you are interested in “management” because you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur who finds “practical solutions to real world problems.” You’ll need to get specific and show that you’ve really done your homework and that your interest in these interdisciplinary fusions is more than just a passing phase.
The Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business
The Huntsman Essay Prompt
Discuss a current international issue, which demonstrates how international affairs and business intersect and explain how the Huntsman curriculum might assist to resolve the issue. (max 500 words)
The Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business is a unique, four-year interdisciplinary undergraduate course of study that integrates business education, advanced language training and a liberal arts education. Huntsman students earn two degrees — a B.A. in International Studies from the School of Arts and Sciences and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School. Huntsman students specialize in the area of the world in which their target language is spoken and graduate with a nuanced understanding of the political, economic and cultural complexities in a changing world.
One key aspect of the Huntsman curriculum is choosing a country/culture, and then engaging in focused study for the next four years. Though this question may seem to be asking about all international issues, and though it may be tempting to try to synthesize global commerce in 500 words, what this essay really wants you to do is talk about a specific international issue from the perspective of a particular cultural or regional focus.
The key is to analyze that issue from both the perspective of politics and from the perspective of business. Even if you are focusing on a very specific issue, this is a lot of ground to cover in just 500 words. Another way to give your essay focus is to talk about an issue that you have some kind of connection to or interest in because of your own history or experience. Maybe you come from or have relatives in the region that you are discussing? Maybe you have traveled to or worked in that region? Maybe you live in a neighborhood that has a lot of immigrants from a particular region?
It is, of course, possible to write a thoughtful essay about a topic and region that you only know through a collection of diverse and carefully studied sources. But it can help your readers better understand your own personal interests if you can offer some kind of narrative as to why you are writing your essay on one particular issue when there is a whole world of problems to consider.
For example, maybe you have family ties in Venezuela and are worried about the political and economic turmoil that country is currently experiencing. A compelling essay might discuss the challenges that come from threatening sanctions in order to get the Venezuelan government to open up its borders to foreign aid. Might sanctioning oil only cause further economic hardship for the citizens of Venezuela? Are sanctions an effective means of responding to repressive regimes? When and how can governments intervene in trade policy for humanitarian ends?
The meaning of your analysis lies not only in the larger trends you are observing but also in the hospitals without medicine and the collapse of currency. An especially compelling version of this essay does not just engage in a cold analysis of international governmental and business relations, but also discusses how those problems impact the lives of real people.
For another less politically charged but no less complex example, you could have a deep interest in how Chinese business has traditionally been conducted without enforced contracts.
Maybe you do not have any family ties in China, but you read about this strange aspect of Chinese trade in the Wall Street Journal and wondered whether that editorial writer was just dealing in cultural stereotyping (“they are irrational!”) or whether there was something about the structure and practice of Chinese contract law that made it different from (if not necessarily better than) United States contract law. Perhaps your work in the Huntsman program will prepare you to help multinational corporations understand the nuances of informal contract law in China, perhaps even understanding how those informal structures might grant them greater flexibility.
Of course, if you do write about a region that you do not have any personal connection to, you will also want to demonstrate more than a passing interest in that region. As you write this essay, you should also find space to mention how you have been studying the Chinese language for the last three years and expect to continue studying it at Penn.
One last word on how the Huntsman curriculum might help you “resolve” the issue: if you are talking about a complex problem, you are not going to propose a “solution” in the space of a 500-word essay. Instead, you want to talk about how that curriculum will help you acquire the skills necessary to collaborate and further study the problem. In the Venezuelan example, you might point to the limitations of sanctions given that country’s history of seeing the United States as an “imperialist interloper.”
In the Chinese example, you are exploring the nuances of communication and how promises are formed and sustained, not suddenly convincing China to take up a whole new legal framework. A mature essay avoids simple and grandiose solutions and shows that you are intellectually curious and open to the sustained inquiry and collaboration needed to tackle tough problems.
NHCM: Nursing and Healthcare Management
Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn’s coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)
In the NHCM program, you’ll study simultaneously in both schools and graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Your work will include science and clinical courses, along with general education courses in the Arts and Sciences. We designed the curriculum to boost expertise in patient care and deepen your knowledge of how to manage the way that care is delivered.
Nursing is a caring profession. Nurses handle patients when they come in the door, dressing wounds and calming anxieties long before the doctor appears. Nursing programs are justly proud of the way that they train their students in both the art of medicine and the art of empathy. The interesting challenge of this essay lies in speaking to the intersection between this deeply personal field that focuses on one-on-one interactions and the often depersonalized technocratic work of “management,” which looks to maximize systematic efficiencies. How to write an essay that situates your interests at the intersection of these apparently opposite fields
For most nursing programs, the traditional essay dives into two aspects: (1) your training in science that prepares you to understand the technical aspects of working with individual bodies, and (2) your capacity for empathy and the humanistic training that allows you to treat each body as a full person. You will certainly need to address both of these topics in this essay. To do so, you might talk about a particular harrowing experience you had while shadowing a nurse at your local ER. When a patient came in after falling down the stairs, you saw how the nurse’s knowledge of applied physiology helped them maneuver the patient’s body without aggravating his head injury. But in order to learn that the patient’s head was injured, the nurses also needed to communicate with a panicked sister-in-law who was also the nurse’s best source of information. The good nurse must be both scientist and humanist in order to care for the individual.
But in order to apply for the NHCM, you will need to add one more aspect to your essay: the management aspect. This includes the problems of budgeting, classification, scheduling, billing, and medical device supply chains that create an environment where healthcare professionals can do their best work. The trick is to show how these managerial concerns are actually intimately tied to the individualized caring that nurses do.
For example, you might write about how you know that long shifts for nurses have been shown to result in high levels of burnout and more patient dissatisfaction. In order to make sure that the nurses are always at the top of their game (as they were when you shadowed the nurses who dealt with the head trauma), maybe you have an interest in developing new scheduling software that breaks up shifts into smaller segments and tracks the fatigue that nurses accumulate over the long term. After all, maybe it was something more than personal brilliance that allowed the nurse you were following to do their job particularly well; maybe they were also at the beginning of their shift, still fresh from a day’s rest and physically capable of navigating a complex situation.
LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management
LSM seeks students who are enthusiastic about combining science with management. What excites you about this combination? What kind of benefits could an individual trained in both disciplines bring to society? Be as specific and original as possible in addressing these questions. (400-650 words)
LSM is an undergraduate dual-degree program administered jointly between Penn’s College of Arts & Sciences and the Wharton School. Each year, the program enrolls approximately 25 exceptional students and offers them the opportunity to pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum combining bioscience and business, leading to the completion of two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in a life science major, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Economics. To ensure that every student learns how to apply their knowledge, the program provides the means for him or her to find two required, paid internships, one centered in scientific research, the other in business or public policy. Completion of the LSM program is an ideal starting point for students intent on careers in the life sciences sector by preparing them for the advanced training we anticipate they will then go on to pursue through MD, PhD, MBA, JD, and/or other graduate programs. LSM is suited to students with interests in healthcare; biomedical, agricultural, and environmental research and development; public policy; and the financial and strategic management of life science organizations.
This question is similar to the Huntsman question, as it requires you to synthesize your interests and explain why LSM is the program for you. This program attempts to bridge the constant gap between scientific innovation and marketable solutions. An effective way to answer this is to point to a problem within a lab setting and explain how management overhauls can address it.
For example, you could focus on the problem of managing the profitability of important drugs in low-margin markets. An example would be a cure to dengue fever that targets extremely low-income individuals in developing natures. As such, research efforts are dampened by a perceived lack of profitability amid large R&D expenses. An LSM education could provide the insight into the management side of life sciences to effectively raise the margins of a new drug that would motivate investment and seed funding to ultimately bring about a cure for millions of individuals.
But if you go this route, you should also be wary of talking in a vague way about how “management” magically improves efficiencies. You will want to try to be specific about the organizational changes that you think might be helpful. In the dengue fever example, maybe you are interested in studying how leaders in marginalized countries might be incorporated into the drug’s distribution channels — perhaps both decreasing the need to build expensive new distribution infrastructure and hopefully securing the trust of community users.
As you compose this essay, you should be aware that it asks you to be both as specific and as original as possible. You may be really excited about how gene therapies might allow HIV patients to forgo the onerous task of taking antivirals every day. On the business side, this new treatment could potentially reduce costs and lessen the number of trips patients have to take to the doctor — an especially relevant consideration for people in rural areas and people with limited mobility. But instead of just saying what we’ve said in the previous two sentences, there might be a more inventive way of approaching your prompt.
What if you started your essay by presenting the script for a fictional advertisement for your new therapy? After you’ve talked up its benefits of gene therapy in your fictional TV spot, you might add a paragraph reflecting the particular challenges of getting patients to accept new treatments. The challenges facing gene therapy are not just technical challenges to be solved in the lab; there are also public relations challenges in a world where people are skittish about genetic engineering that need to be solved by an effective business communications strategy. Maybe the reason you are applying for the LSM is that you are interested in all the challenges that come with bringing a new treatment to the market from advancing through clinical trials to selling the treatment to doctors and patients.
The benefit of this particular “creative” option for the essay is that it is not simply “off-the-wall,” attention grabbing for the sake of nothing more than surprise value. If you are writing about communication strategies and your essay presents itself as part of that communication strategy, then the form and content of your writing synergize. If you use a creative gimmick in your essay, it needs to amplify, rather than obscure, your central claim.
M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology
Identify a disruptive technology, one that many consider could drive truly massive economic and societal transformations in the coming years. Argue why the technology may not be as successful as observers think and suggest ways to address the concerns. (400-650 words)
The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, affectionately called the M&T Program, is the oldest coordinated dual degree program at the University of Pennsylvania. The Program combines academics from two phenomenal Penn assets, Penn Engineering and the Wharton School, into one unique educational experience. Students enrolled in the M&T Program pursue degrees from both schools concurrently, creating a truly interdisciplinary learning experience. This combination enables our students not only to understand engineering and business concepts, but also to understand the integration of the two and how this intersection distinctively shapes our world.
This prompt is unique in the sense that it provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate your analytical reasoning and argumentation beyond discussing personal characteristics or facts about the school. Your best bet here will be taking a solutions-driven approach.
Luckily, the structure of this essay is relatively clear-cut. The true difficulty comes in devising a response that is creative but also intelligibly grounded in reality.
You should begin your essay by identifying one such disruptive technology and what the popular opinion is regarding its predicted significance. When selecting your form of technology, it’s important to be specific. For instance, don’t just write about machine learning, but instead write about something more detailed like machine learning software that encrypts secret government information. Also, it might be helpful to choose a technology that isn’t too ‘mainstream’ but that also does have seemingly serious implications for society. This will demonstrate your familiarity with the field.
Once you’ve constructed a short introduction that establishes both your chosen technology and the common perception about its imminent success, your next step is to knock that argument down.
Carefully research all possible implications of your chosen technology, and try to evaluate possible alternative nuances to each one. Brainstorm other extenuating factors that seem relatively unspoken of and could diminish the success of this technology. In essence, UPenn wants to see your ability to make a strong argumentative case against some technology. This will demonstrate both your familiarity with the effects of technology and your ability to think critically about its implications in society.
Finally, you should focus on addressing the concerns arisen in the previous section. These solutions could come in many forms: possible tweaks to the initial technology, alternative uses of other, related technologies, etc. UPenn wants to see not only your foresight for potential technological issues, but also your creative problem solving capabilities that address these issues in turn.
Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words maximum)
Here, admissions officers want to see that your problem-solving style demonstrates leadership/creativity. This is important because Jerome Fisher heavily emphasizes leadership and collaboration with others. Make sure your response reflects both leadership and creativity. Furthermore, you should emphasize genuine leadership through actions—not just a title you’ve held. For instance, if you were the treasurer of Key Club, talk about the initiatives you helped direct rather than solely the position itself. For example, maybe you helped start a can drive competition at your high school and then transported the cans to a local food kitchen.
Furthermore, leadership in this sense doesn’t necessarily have to relate to a title. People demonstrate leadership all the time in their daily lives. For instance, maybe you were doing group work in your economics class, and you helped guide your team through a challenging problem.
Just make sure you’re showing rather than telling.
In terms of structure, you should first write a short introduction wherein you present the main problem. This problem can be literally anything. The important part is how you solve it.
The bulk of your response should address your problem-solving method. Make sure the resolution of your problem involves both creative problem solving and effective group communication on your part. The purpose of this prompt is for UPenn to find people that have both ingenuity and strong leadership skills.
For instance, maybe your robot breaks down at a robotics competition. You then respond by assembling it in a slightly flawed manner and collaborating with your team to reconstruct several lines of code. Only through your calm coordination is the team able to rebound and then place first in the competition. Likewise, only through your creative adaptability is the team able to suitably fix the robot’s code.
Whatever scenario you present, make sure to address both your creativity and leadership in equal part.
VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research
Describe your interests in energy science and technology drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions). Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)
The VIPER program engages students in energy research early on, enabling them to perform graduate level work as undergraduates. Upon successful completion of the program, students receive two degrees: a BSE and a BA. The ultimate goal is to raise innovators in high-caliber research careers who develop sustainable ways to harness, convert, and use energy. The VIPER program has faculty and staff dedicated to advising the VIPER students and meet one-on-one with each cohort member. Cohorts bond, study, work, and get involved in research starting their first year at Penn.
If you have conducted research in some sort of energy-related field, then this is a very straightforward essay. You should outline the goals of your project, your hypotheses, your approach, your results, and your conclusions. This seems like a very straightforward outline, but this essay is not just asking for a description of a research project. It is also asking you to discuss what makes you passionate about energy research and the larger social and political contexts that make your research important.
The middle three terms — “hypotheses, approach, and results” — are the more straightforward terms where you say what you did in your research. Maybe you participated in a summer program where you studied how spent nuclear fuel rods behave when stored in different geological formations. You can describe the initial theory you tested, how you went about testing it, and what you found. As you do so, don’t feel the need to cram in the maximum amount of jargon in order to communicate your technical mastery. Wherever possible, use layman’s terms or define the specialized language you are offering. One of the things that these science programs are looking for when they read your essays is not just your capacity to do research, but also your capacity to communicate the importance of your research to a wider audience of non-specialists. After all, even though your VIPER application will be read by people with backgrounds in energy science, they might not know anything about the particular subfield you were working in.
The first and last terms — your “goals” and your “conclusions” — should be thought about in slightly more expansive terms. Don’t just talk what about you studied; talk about why you studied it. What is the larger social, economic, and political purpose behind the research that you were doing? For the example about researching spent nuclear fuel rods you might begin by saying that this is an especially important issue because we know that these rods need to be stored for 300 years in order to ensure safety. You might conclude your essay by taking offering a more philosophical approach, talking about how the future of sustainable energy research is not just a matter of coming up with new technologies, but also a matter of looking back and continuing to reckon with the challenges posed by the energy technologies developed in the 20th century. Alternatively, since this still a personal essay and not just a research statement, you might want to talk about why this research is particularly important to you. Maybe you live in Nevada’s Nye county, near Yucca Mountain, the first United States’ first nuclear waste storage repository?
What if the research you have done is not directly related to energy? If so, that is perfectly fine: the skills you learned in one area of scientific inquiry can easily be transferred to another field. You should still follow the advice above about being a good communicator: avoid excessive jargon, don’t get lost in the weeds. More than a truncated research paper, the admissions committee is looking to see what you learned about the process of research from your experience. When talking about your methods you might talk about how you collaborated with your teammates to solve a particularly difficult problem. Maybe the chemical compound you were using as a catalyst was not congealing properly, and you were stuck until you figured out that the temperature reading for your refrigerator was off by one degree.
More than any specific technical know-how, the applications committee is looking for teamwork and problem solving skills. You’ll be studying a lot of textbooks when you get into college, cramming your brain with more technical know-how than you can even imagine. An eager and collaborative spirit is something that you need to bring to the table.
If the research experience you are talking about is not related to energy, you will also want to spend some time talking about why you want to get into the field of energy research in particular. Maybe you hope to take the teamwork skills you’ve learned doing fieldwork on sea urchin populations in Monterey Bay to the study of how salt-water algae might be farmed and used as biofuels? You can also talk about other work that you have done which might not be directly related to scientific research, but is concerned with the political aspects of building a sustainable energy future. Maybe you worked on a campaign to convince local business to become carbon neutral?
Whatever you end up writing, you need to convince the admissions committee that you are not just interested in “science” but rather that you are dedicated to building a sustainable energy future.
If you have not done any directed research in the sciences, your essay will be focused on your interest in sustainable energy. You can still demonstrate that you have the skills to be a good researcher even if you have not already worked in a lab. Where have you demonstrated your problem solving skills and your capacity to work with a team? Maybe you worked for a political campaign and collaborated with a team to sort and analyze donor data? Which of your extracurricular activities demonstrates your scrupulous attention to detail and your boundless curiosity in learning how things work? Maybe you built a radio or spend your free time woodworking?
Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program
Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any pre-dental or pre-medical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry. (250 words)
Bio-Dental submatriculation is a seven-year joint program of the College and Penn’s School of Dental Medicine for students who will major in Biology and who wish to enroll in the Dental School during their senior year in the College. Application to the program must be made at the time of application to Penn. Applicants will be notified of their conditional acceptance into the program when they are notified of their admission to Penn. Full acceptance into the program is made after the student’s junior year and is based on academic performance during those three years and meeting the admissions standards of the Dental School.
The Bio-Dental submatriculation program is highly structured and may not allow students to pursue dual undergraduate degrees.
As with most of the essays for the highly structured Bio-Dental program, this essay is looking for information first, and narrative second. This does not mean that there is no room for creativity, but the most important thing is to clearly and effectively communicate what you have done and what you have learned.
The first prompt lays out two different ways of answering its question depending on your level of experience.
1) The first option is more straightforward of the two: if you have medical or dental experience, you need to “list” that experience. And by “list,” they mean offer some type of resume that is specifically targeted to your interest in medicine and dentistry (no need to discuss your volunteer experience as an elementary school chorus director).
You might format your response to this essay as follows:
- Volunteer at Harbor UCLA Medical Center
(September 2015-present: 2 hours per week during the school year, 8 hours per week over the summer, total of 300 hours volunteered so far.)
I learned a lot about caring for diverse patients by spending my time as an ambassador, helping patients navigate the labyrinth that is Harbor-UCLA medical center and serving as a Tagalog-English translator. I also had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Merriam Weese in the Head Trauma Center for 100 hours where I got a first hand look at how good medical care requires balance of detailed knowledge and the capacity to comfort and calm both patients and worried relatives.
- Volunteer Summer Intern for Smiles Without Borders in the Philippians
(July 3rd-August 13th, 2017: 30 hours per week, 150 hours total)
Working with underserved populations in Manila, I was in charge of leading dental care workshops for children, teaching them how to brush and floss properly after they had received their check ups and cleanings from hygienists and dentists. In total, I ran these workshops for 918 children during the summer.
The more specific you can be with numbers and dates, the better. But whatever you do, do not feel the need to inflate your accomplishments or the number of hours spent. This is very tempting, but in the end the Bio-Dental program is less interested in the exact number of hours you’ve volunteered than in the demonstration of a consistent and long-standing interest in medicine. Admissions officers know that for financial or family reasons not everyone can afford to volunteer for 15 hours a week.
2) The second option is much more difficult. If you have not had any specific medical or dental experience, then you will need to take a slightly different approach to this essay. You will need to write a very compelling 250-word statement about how your background has prepared you to enter a highly specialized and incredibly competitive seven-year dental program right out of high school. But before writing your essay, if you have absolutely no background in medicine or research, you should first question if you actually want to commit to a 7-year program in the first place (especially one as difficult to get into as Penn’s). If you are set on the decision, however, this essay is of crucial importance to legitimize your application amongst an applicant pool of relatively outstanding students with actual medicine backgrounds.
Maybe you have not done any structured research, but you have had a lot of experience going to the dentist because you suffered from a rare gum ailment, and you have done a lot of independent research on your own case and hope to build on that work to help others? Maybe you are deeply interested in medicine, but instead of being able to do resume-building volunteer work you have had to spend a lot of time at home caring for your father who was suffering from Parkinson’s?
List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands. (250 words)
This essay is attempting to gauge your physical capabilities as a doctor. Talking about your experiences in Woodshop, Robotics, etc., can be a good way of demonstrating your ability to work with your hands. If you were relatively hands-off in high school with respect to your activities, pulling an example from outside of school can help you answer this essay. Perhaps you are the one in your family that eagerly assembles Ikea furniture, or are an avid fan of Lego.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to appear capable of brain surgery at this point in your life; you simply need to illustrate to Penn that you are comfortable connecting your brain and your digits.
What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people? (250 words)
This question is a lot more open-ended. You can speak about anything from a leadership position to a community service role to even your experiences at home with siblings. If you still feel the need to highlight your interest in medicine, you can try to answer this from a medical perspective. Perhaps you had a relatively hectic administrative position in a hospital ER — your ability to calmly and collectively perform tasks with others in this stressful environment can highlight your teamwork abilities as well as emphasize, once again, your passion for medicine.
Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least. (250 words)
This essay is more specific than a simple “Why Medicine?” essay. You need to explain why dentistry as a field appeals to you among all other medical fields. You can focus on a modern problem in the field and explain how you hope to pursue it at Penn. Alternatively, you can have a more human answer and explain why patient care in the industry is important to you, and how you hope to take your education and make some impact in that area.
Be careful, however, that this essay does not too strongly overlap with your essay about pre-dental experience. If you had no experience to begin with, you likely wrote about how you developed an interest in the field. Make sure you don’t use the same topic for this essay.
There is also a little bit of a trick here: the “what interests you least” part of the prompt may seem a little bit unusual. In an essay where you are supposed to be communicating your passion about dentistry, wouldn’t it come off as strange to spend precious words talking about what you don’t want to do? The thing to recognize is that this part of the question plays an important role weeding out the applicants who have no business committing to a 7-year dental program as an 17 or 18 year old. People with experience in their intended careers will understand what they do and do not like and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Being able to speak to your lack of interest in a particular problem is part of how this prompt wants you to demonstrate your depth of experience and what you have learned from that experience.
As you talk about “what interests you least” be careful not to be too negative; even if a certain aspect of modern dentistry does not interest you, you should still make it clear that you respect those who focus their energies on that topic. (Indeed, the people reading your admissions essay might very well be specialists in the topic that “does not interest” you).
You might say something like:
While working as a clerk in Dr. Lee’s dental office, I really admired her detailed knowledge of the latest advanced surgery routines, and we would often talk about the research she was doing on enamel erosion. But one thing that Dr. Lee and I also discussed was the difficulty of communicating complicated physiological concepts to patients who did not have her specialized medical training. What those conversations led me to think about was that I was ultimately less interested in the detailed lab research that Dr. Lee focused on, and more committed to developing new methods of clearly communicating the work in the lab to patients.
What I like about this response is that it shows a deep involvement with the problems of modern dentistry, and that it pays proper respect to the detailed research that other dentists do, while also showing that you have started to learn about your own strengths. Another version of this essay might talk about how your involvement with one research project on the effectiveness of different kinds of mouthwash led you away from research on consumer products and into a deeper interest into gum tissue. You might say that are now looking into a future career that is less focused on testing consumer products and more focused on in-depth anatomy research.
Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended. (250 words)
This is also straightforward. If you have relatives, mention them. If you do not, don’t stress too much. You won’t be disqualified for a lack of legacy.
NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering
Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the Internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)
Networks permeate and influence virtually every aspect of our lives-everything from how millions of Parisians travel on the Metro to how individuals make friends. Networks lift entire economies and elect presidents. They start revolutions. Move commerce. Make scientific discoveries. Cure diseases. Secure peace. Save lives.
To understand and predict behavior, and to design new capabilities and services, we must understand people, systems, and incentives, and how the structure and properties of networks affects interactions.
To that end, we’ve created an entirely unprecedented, multidisciplinary program that connects the study of networks with the study of human behavior.
Networked & Social Systems mixes courses in engineering, mathematics and science with courses in sociology, game theory, economics and policy. More than just gaining the fundamental knowledge that navigates the various strategies and decisions that make up human interaction, you will build the digital solutions that anticipate the way people — and systems — will act.
This essay is very open ended, and it is trying to gauge your capacity to think creatively about how different disciplines relate to each other, and how the concept of the “network” might hold them all together.
But what is a network? A network is an abstract formal pattern. A set of nodes and edges (or lines and dots) that synthesizes the ways people, places, and things are connected. The strength of the network as an analytic tool lies precisely in its abstraction, the fact that it can be used to model and study many different phenomena, from the “transportation network” of New York’s subway system, to the “business network” of Donald Trump’s real estate empire. The questions that you might bring to any network are manifold. What is the quickest way to get from one point to another? Which actors are located in central or “influential” positions? What would happen if one node were knocked out? In statistics and mathematics, big data network analysis is a rapidly expanding research field. In ecology, scientists are using networks to analyze the ways that organisms are related to each other, and modern sociology is consumed with the analysis of “social networks” — not just online, but also in businesses and families and cities. The list of applications for network analysis goes on and on and on.
To focus your response and avoid getting lost in the tangle, you will want to write about one specific network that fascinates you. Let’s take the example of the New York City subway system. True, this is not the “high tech” network like the “Internet,” but because a network is a kind of formal analysis, the questions raised in the study of one network can be applied to many other different networks. Moreover, NETS’ website mentions that they are interested in both “digital and real world networks.” Even a creaky old subway system is fair game.
So, if you were writing about the New York City subway you might start off by saying that you first became interested in the study of networks as a child zooming along the “6,” out of Manhattan and into the Bronx. You can springboard from an account of your personal experience as a young rider to your more mature analysis as a student of urban design. Maybe Hurricane Sandy made you ask questions about how the networks that hold cities together might be made more resilient in the face of rapidly changing climate? After zooming out to think about network systems as a whole, you might end your essay by zooming back in on the unique aesthetic experiences that a modern networked world offers as a unique arts and performance space that lets new people and new artists move fluidly across the whole city.
Another thing to keep in mind as you write this essay is that NETS is not just interested in the technical details that make a network work: they are also interested in the questions of power.
You could call the Internet a jungle of machines-computers, cell phones, and millions of servers in data center warehouses-communing through copper, optical, and satellite links. The universal communications layer of these machines offers services and capabilities that are extensible in ways we never imagined just a few years ago, from online education and sharing jokes with millions in a matter of minutes to transforming entire media industries. But the Internet is not the sum of its machines. Who owns them? Who uses them? And who invents, negotiates and delivers the services in between?
While the prompt above talks about the “creation of beneficial content for society” you might also write about the very real challenges that come with a modern networked society. The internet can be used to spread harmless content, like memes with otters snuggling goats, but it can also be used to spread more disturbing ideas. While it may seem like the Internet offers anyone and everyone a chance to speak, what does it mean if the infrastructure and management of those networks is under the control of a small number of incredibly wealthy companies? This program is not just looking for talented engineers, it is also looking for interdisciplinary thinkers who are curious about how technologies shape societies and how societies shape technologies.