The University of Pennsylvania ties its history closely to its identity. Originally founded in 1740 as a charity school, it later became an academy in 1751, largely through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin, who also became the president of the first board of trustees.
The University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest universities in America and in 1765, with the establishment of the School of Medicine, UPenn became the first medical school in colonial America.
Even in the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin’s vision for UPenn was multidisciplinary education that focused on combining traditional teaching and theory with practical experience and community involvement. UPenn prides itself on being “the Ivy League without the ivory tower.”
Currently, UPenn has four undergraduate schools:
· The School of Arts and Sciences (The College)
· School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS)
· School of Nursing
· The Wharton School (For business education)
These schools also offer graduate and professional programs, and the university similarly has graduate schools of law, medicine, veterinary medicine, dental medicine, education, communication, fine arts, and social work.
Two noteworthy institutes of the University include:
· The Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences (est. 1953)
· The Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies (est. 1983) which is part of the Wharton School
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (est. 1887) is also a noted teaching and research organization.
In the University of Pennsylvania’s own words, they are looking for students who “are inspired to emulate [the school’s] founder Benjamin Franklin by applying their knowledge in service to society, to our community, the city of Philadelphia, and the wider world.”
UPenn students “possess a curiosity about the world in which they live – locally, regionally, and globally, and they also share a passion for learning and want to make a difference in the world.”
Most students do this through one of the university’s most popular majors:
· Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services
· Social Sciences
· Biological and Biomedical Sciences
· Health Professions and Related Programs
Furthermore, students who value and actively seek out practical experience and research opportunities will be an excellent fit for UPenn.
Not only do 75% of students partake in direct research experience by the time they graduate, but UPenn also offers a non-traditional practical experience through its study abroad programs such as Penn-in-Cannes, partnership with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and the famous Kelly Writers’ House.
The majority of UPenn’s undergraduate class is White (41%) and Asian-American/Pacific Islander (21%). Students who identify as African American, American Indian, or Latino may have a demographic advantage, especially Hispanics and Latinos whom the university has been trying to recruit more of since 1992.
Both first-generation students and legacies may also have a statistical advantage. Each makes up about 15% of the incoming class.
Most UPenn students scored between a 1460 and 1550 on the SAT or between a 33 and a 35 on the ACT. It is not surprising as nearly all the applicants to Ivy League schools will have near-perfect GPAs.
Using SAT and ACT scores allows the school to more easily compare the academic prowess of students. In the era of COVID-19 where practically every university is going testing-optional, SAT and ACT scores still have an impact on admissions.
The academic requirements to get into UPenn are comparable to the requirements to get into other Ivy League schools. For UPenn specifically, the admission requirements for each of the four undergraduate colleges are slightly different.
· The College of Arts and Sciences wants to see a balanced and advanced college-prep curriculum.
· Both UPenn Engineering and the Wharton School expect particularly strong preparation in mathematics, with calculus coursework if possible. For Wharton specifically, students should submit an AP Math score (calculus or statistics). An AP Economics score would be impressive as well.
· The School of Nursing likes to see strong science prep, particularly in chemistry. Furthermore, students looking to get into the School of Nursing should take and submit scores for the Biology and Chemistry AP tests.
· For Penn Engineering, students should submit scores for the AP Calculus and AP Physics tests.
However, what truly sets an application apart is the two or more UPenn-specific supplemental essays that a student must submit.
The key to a successful essay is showcasing a student’s long-term goals and interests related to UPenn specifically. Students should name programs, professors, and/or work done by those professors. Prospective UPenn students should relate these things to their personal academic pursuits and social involvement.
Successful essays also highlight the interesting ways the student has combined their disparate areas of interest. Remember that Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts on the “intersection of practical and traditional learning” are fundamental to UPenn’s identity.
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