The University of Pennsylvania, more popularly known as UPenn or Penn, is one of the eight Ivy League schools and is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the most prestigious institutions in the country which means if you’re wondering how to get into UPenn, you are not alone.
This article outlines all the necessary information you need to know about the UPenn requirements for application and the UPenn acceptance rate. These important factors will affect your chances of being accepted to a UPenn program during the competitive admissions process. You’ll also find tips on how to gain an advantage in your college application.
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All About UPenn Admissions
As an esteemed Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania has one of the most selective admissions processes in the country. Ranking 8th among national universities, the university has a competitive application process. Admissions officers look at prospective students’ credentials, reports, and letters of recommendation.
UPenn accepts the Common Application and Coalition Application. Student applicants can also apply through the QuestBridge National College Match Finalists. The QuestBridge Application is useful for exemplary students who need financial aid.
Below are some key factors about UPenn’s admissions to keep in mind. They will determine the difficulty you might experience on your application journey as an incoming freshman.
UPenn Acceptance Rate
UPenn’s acceptance rate was 9 percent for the 2020-2021 academic year. It is one of the most selective schools in the country. In the Fall of 2020, there were a total of 42,204 applications, and only 3,789 were accepted as undergraduate students.
If you have chosen to apply to UPenn, you must have a high secondary school GPA. Ninety-six percent of students admitted in the Fall of 2020 have excellent grades and are among the top 10 percent of their class. However, because UPenn also accepts international students, the admissions committee also considers alternative programs and how challenging they are.
UPenn Total Enrollment
For the Fall of 2021, the University of Pennsylvania had a total enrollment of 28,038, including part-time and graduate students. Undergraduate enrollment totals 10,106, of which 3,789 are incoming freshmen. Meanwhile, there are 12,924 full-time professionals/graduate students enrolled for the Fall of 2021.
When it comes to international students, UPenn had 7,830 applicants for Fall of 2020. Of that figure, 474 students, or 6.1 percent received favorable admissions decisions. International students comprise 11 percent of freshmen students at Penn. UPenn had a total of 5,183 international students enrolled in Fall 2020.
- Application fee or fee waiver. Each UPenn applicant is required to pay a $75 application fee. However, applications submitted through QuestBridge are free of charge. A fee waiver is also issued to applicants who qualify for it. These include active-duty personnel and veterans of the U.S Armed Forces.
- Application form and Penn-specific essay. The application form will depend on whether you are applying through the Common or Coalition application platforms. Penn-specific essays should discuss why you are applying to UPenn and why you chose this specific undergraduate school.
- Official transcript and school report. UPenn’s admissions officers consider whether you have taken courses in the core academic areas like English, social studies, math, science, or foreign language. Students who challenge themselves and have taken college prep programs will have higher chances of admission.
- Letters of recommendation. UPenn requires three recommendation letters which you can submit in two combinations. The first option is recommendation letters from two teachers and a school counselor. The second one is recommendation letters from a school counselor, a teacher, and someone who knows you well, like a mentor.
- Mid-year report. Deadlines are different for early decision and regular decision applicants. If you are a regular decision applicant, an official from your high school should submit your mid-year grades as soon as they come in.
- Final report. Applicants must submit the final report for graduating students in June.
- Standardized Test Scores. SAT/ACTs are not required for the 2022-23 admissions cycle. If you have already taken the tests, you may still submit the standardized test results. Students are encouraged to submit their entire testing history.
- Interviews. More than 90 percent of student applicants are offered interviews. These are conducted by UPenn alumni volunteers and can be held in a virtual format.
- Fine arts supplement. If you are applying for an art or music program, you are required to submit a portfolio. Admissions officers will not review your portfolio unless it’s for visual art, digital media, music, or architecture.
- Financial aid materials. UPenn has a lot of financial aid packages and grants available for its students. Admissions committees for each academic program will evaluate the required items submitted and decide whether you are qualified to receive financial aid.
Is It Hard to Get Into Penn?
The University of Pennsylvania becomes increasingly difficult to get into every year. The incoming class of 2025 had an admissions rate of 5.9 percent. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on how to get into UPenn, but if you maintain a high GPA and take the admissions requirements seriously, you will have a higher chance of getting into this Ivy League.
How to Prepare for a Penn Interview
As mentioned above, 90 percent of UPenn applicants will be offered an interview by alumni volunteer interviewers. If you are called for one, be sure to respond promptly and dress appropriately even if it is a virtual interview. There are various ways to prepare and nail your college interviews. Below are sample interview questions to help you practice.
Penn Interview Questions
- What makes you stand out from other UPenn applicants?
- What are your interests outside of the classroom?
- Out of all the schools and colleges in the United States, why did you choose UPenn?
- What values and principles do you live by?
- What excites you most about studying at the University of Pennsylvania?
10 Tips for Getting Into UPenn
As an Ivy League school, the Penn admissions team has a high standard when it comes to accepting students. If Penn is your dream school, below are 10 tips that can help you prepare and get into UPenn.
1. Complete all application requirements
The first thing you can do to make sure you get into UPenn is to complete all the admissions requirements. Prepare all the necessary documents and supplemental requirements in advance to make sure that you will not forget anything.
2. Take note of deadlines
Different application processes have different deadlines. If you are applying via QuestBridge, Common, or Coalition, keep in mind the deadlines for the personal essays, interviews, and submission dates for documents.
3. Get high grades
The University of Pennsylvania values hard work above all else. As a student, hard work is displayed by grades in high school. Your school transcript is one of the most important documents you will submit at UPenn. Maintaining a high GPA and having excellent standardized test results can give you a higher chance of admission.
4. Do your research
Choosing your undergraduate degree and major is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. High school students can choose from the four UPenn schools: Penn Engineering, Wharton Business School, College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Nursing.
5. Write amazing essays
One of the requirements for Penn admissions is the application essay. You are required to submit a personal essay and two supplemental essays detailing why you chose your specific program and school. Your personal essay should delve into your personal qualities in depth. Your supplemental essay should address questions about your program and major.
6. Have great letters of recommendation
Aside from the essays, UPenn looks into your school environment to get to know you better. You must submit letters of recommendation that highlight your strengths, skills, and any academic programs you have taken.
7. Take advanced classes and UPenn-sponsored programs
There are many bootcamps and specialized programs you can attend to prepare for your career. UPenn is one of the top universities that offers a coding bootcamp if you want to break into tech. Attending a specialized or college prep program based on your academic pursuits increases your admissions chances of being a successful applicant.
8. Network with alumni
Networking may help you get your foot in the door, especially if you need a mentor for a letter of recommendation. The University of Pennsylvania has one of the best and broadest alumni networks. Students and graduates often reach out to them for professional opportunities. It would not hurt to ask alumni for tips on how to get into and succeed at UPenn.
9. Take advantage of early decision
Applying as early as possible ensures that you are included in the first batch of students who will receive an admissions decision. However, if you need time to improve your GPA, standardized test scores, or get into more extra-curricular activities, it is best to consider regular decisions instead of early decisions.
10. Do not go overboard
While UPenn has a competitive application process, it’s best to stick to the list of requirements. Do not go overboard with your submissions. While it’s tempting to embellish your application and submit more than the necessary supplements, it is best to keep your application concise. Your academic track record, essays, and recommendations should speak for themselves.
What Does It Take to Get Into Penn?
UPenn looks for students with a thirst for knowledge and a passion to serve society. Your high grades, engaging essays, and great recommendations should highlight how you thrived in high school. UPenn looks for students who are not afraid to be challenged, grow, and share their talents to make the world a better place.
How to Get Into Penn FAQ
The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740. He envisioned it as a school that will train young people in business, science, government, and public service. UPenn considers itself America’s first university.
UPenn is famous for its business courses at Wharton Business School. Wharton’s business and finance programs are considered the best in the world. UPenn also has notable programs under the School of Education, Penn Engineering, Law School, and School of Medicine.
Most alumni refer to the University of Pennsylvania as Penn, but those who don’t know or don’t go to the university typically call it UPenn.
One famous alumnus is tech businessman Elon Musk who was offered a full scholarship to the Wharton Business School in the 1990s. Civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred earned her Bachelor of Arts in English at UPenn in the 1960s. Actress Elizabeth Banks who graduated magna cum laude, and soulful singer John Legend are also UPenn graduates.
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