When working on your college essays, chances are that you’ll come across a “Why This College” essay. These school-specific essays are a way for colleges to get a better understanding of how you’ll take advantage of the academic resources the school offers, as well as what extracurriculars you plan to get involved in. Note: We have bolded the school-specific reasons in his essay so you can spot them more easily, but you shouldn’t do this in your final draft.
Prompt: 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. (Word limit: 650)
I want to be a catalyst when I grow up, someone who sparks growth while also trying to sustain the environment through improved efficiency. At UPenn, I look forward to pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering and exploring interdisciplinary programs, as I believe that sustainability can be a viable solution to preserve earth’s resources.
At the GRASP laboratory, I hope to work at the Haptics Lab under Professor Katherine Kuchenbecker to devise an integrated haptic-responsive camera trap. I believe that the use of teleoperation (in camera traps) in wildlife censuses and studies can be a potential gamechanger in a geologically diverse country like India. I also feel that haptics interfaces can catalyze the process of discovering and studying unexplored biodiversity hotspots like the Western Ghats and the high-rising Himalayas. Besides this, I would also really get a chance to perfect my butterfly stroke through stroke rehabilitation at the Haptics Lab!
In addition, hands-on project courses like Machine Design and Manufacturing and Product Design will help me in developing, testing and prototyping product permutations, and through ISAC Program 2018, I would love to advocate for a course called Environmentally Sustainable Product Design, as I feel that a product’s longevity in a market is directly related to its environmental sustainability.
I believe that little sparks of innovation can turn into developed businesses if given the right acceleration and, having already negotiated a deal with the software company Everlution Software Ltd. for my eco-friendly innovation ‘Water Wave’, I look forward to using the opportunities at IGEL to turn my innovations into sustainable technological ventures. After accompanying my father to joint-venture meetings across Europe, I have picked upon certain technical aspects of negotiations such as the influence of ‘EBITDA’, the use of inter-cultural body language to change mindsets and the long-drawn-out process of Due Diligence. Courses like Engineering Negotiations will advance my skills in the subtle art of negotiation and develop my thinking in high-pressure situations.
I look forward to contributing in unconventional ways: through Penn’s policy of Climate Action 2.0, I’d love to help increase the efficiency of alternative energy machinery through responsive auto-sensors and I would also contribute to the establishing of wildlife corridors at UPenn by conducting case studies at the Morris Arboretum with the help of the Penn Green Fund. I also look forward to engaging in bird photography and ornithology by being an active member of the Penn Birding Club and potentially conducting fall bird censuses to illuminate for students the birdlife that nestles in the university. I hope to photograph and document each and every one of the 104 species (Morris Arboretum Checklist) of birds at UPenn. Furthermore, courses like Documentary Strategies and Photographic Thinking will help me better integrate critical thought into my photos and construct out-of-the-box documentaries to put into perspective environmental sustainability at UPenn. Also, contributing photo essays to the Penn Sustainability Review will allow me to depict the need for a change, beyond words.
UPenn will also help me pursue a multitude of activities at its various clubs such as Penn Cricket Club, PennNaatak, where I hope to spark my flair for Marathi Drama, and men’s club basketball (I was all state for three years!).
As I move with a redefined pace towards the goal of global sustainability, I am reminded of the UPenn ideology of addressing the most challenging questions and problems of our time by integrating and combining different disciplines and perspectives. Through my stay at UPenn, I hope to do just that.
Here’s the outline for the “Why UPenn” essay (which you can adapt for your own essay):
- Intro/Thesis (say what you want to study and why)
- Really specific academic offering at the school that is in your intended major/concentration (this should connect to you in a really specific way)
- A second really specific academic offering that is also in your intended major/concentration (and that also connects back to you)
- Something academic that’s not in your intended major/concentration (this keeps the focus on academics, but also brings in some variety)
- Best/most important extracurricular offering (that connects to you in a really specific way)
- Miscellaneous extracurriculars paragraph (2-3 things to demonstrate social/non-academic fit)
- Closing (this can be short and, in shorter “Why this College” essays, is unnecessary)