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UPenn Essay: what got me in?


mominanaveed 2 / 2  
Jan 29, 2019   #1
Hello, so I've recently been admitted into UPenn and have alot of people asking me why I got in.

Now, my academic stats + extracurriculars were pretty average, so I'm pretty sure my acceptance genuinely has ALOT to do with the essay I wrote.

So can someone please list down what the strengths and weaknesses of my UPenn essay are?

Here's the 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. (400-650 words)


My response: One long, demeaning stare was all it took for the most confident man I knew to be reduced to nothing. My grandfather was fluent in several of our native Pakistani languages, yet not knowing the English language in post-colonial Pakistan could leave anyone and everyone grappling, within themselves, for a speck of esteem.

Developing an understanding of communicational conundrums with regard to post-catastrophe socio-economic conditions has piqued my interest since the tender age of nine. Although the scope of my intentions to pursue this interest was initially personal, my involvement with the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research has given rise to a want for exploring this societal dilemma across multinational horizons.

It is at the College of Arts and Sciences that I aim to quench my thirst for knowledge of ethnic complexities through the Communications programme. In particular, I am deeply intrigued by the multifaceted approach of the programme wherein it intersects with psychology, history, sociology, and political science. To this end, UPenn's academic philosophy greatly resonates with my desire to dip my toes into all areas of study that push past the confines of my mind's capacity. For instance, while studying Media and South Asia (COMM 214) with Professor Murali Balaji, I will be able to grasp his vast knowledge of South Asian cultural norms which I can then use to engage in intellectual debate during Professor Romano's Philosophical Problems of Journalism (COMM 377) lecture.

I am, however, aware that academic exploration at The College of Arts and Sciences isn't limited to the classroom and of this, I hope to take the utmost advantage by contributing to research at The Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication, aided by the guidance of seasoned mentors like Marwan M. Kraidy whose extensive research on global media systems, in particular, will inevitably prove to be a crucial tool in refining my journalistic capabilities. Furthermore, I am grossly drawn to the "learning by doing" approach of the Insititute for Public Service, through which I hope to develop a more holistic understanding of how media, in all of its forms, affects the life of the common man.

My fervor for Communication finds its roots in my longing to improve the current state of Pakistani media. Whilst interning for The Tempest, a DC-based online multimedia company, I had the opportunity to take under my wing the stories exploring Pakistanis from all walks of life; it was eye-opening how much the sufferings of people, from highschoolers to sex workers in Heera Mandi had in common, all due to the governmental and cultural restraints on the media's ability to portray their day-to-day struggles.

Itching to discover more, I decided to conduct my own research by surveying people from opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum in my hometown of Lahore. This experience gave way to a newfound understanding within me of how badly society, at large, had to suffer at the hands of a media having no actual liberty, but just a "free" facade, an insight that continues to encourage me to seek answers beyond every ordinary curriculum in the world.

In this pursuit of mine, I believe a Penn experience will prove to be a life-long confidante, arming me with all that I need to probe into the crossroads of media accessibility, post-catastrophe communication norms, and the relationship these factors share with social class and income.

Please let me know. thanks in advance! :)) also, the more the feedback, the merrier.

Holt - / 7,530 2001  
Jan 30, 2019   #2
The first half of your essay relating to your personal story is the weakest part of the essay. The rest of the work that you did is what the reviewer considered regarding your application. You showed a strong interest in your course major and you also proved a familiarity with the university academic requirements in relation to course offerings and other learning opportunities. It is that part that helped the reviewer consider your application better.

Aside from these strengths, you also have to understand that universities have a foreign student allotment that they need to fulfill. Specific countries have a student count that represent the "diverse" community of the university. Being a Pakistani, you most likely also fell under the foreign student allotment consideration. If not enough Pakistani students, or students from your region of the world, with stronger academic backgrounds applied for admission to the university, then you would definitely be admitted as an incoming foreign college student freshman. I believe that the combination of the two are the main reasons why you successfully applied for admission to UPenn.
OP mominanaveed 2 / 2  
Jan 30, 2019   #3
Hey @holt, thanks alot! Could you please also elaborate on why the first part of my essay is weak? That'd be of great help in understanding my weakness, thanks! :))
ZoldyckUSA 3 / 5 2  
Jan 30, 2019   #4
Hello Momina!

Firstly Congrats on your admission!

So what elite institutions like the Ivies look for are students with strong personalities, who could have an impact on society as a whole. And I think you've perfectly shown that in your essays. Firstly, you showed how you were interested in journalism and wrote several essays about the situation in Pakistan; but then you went further and did a few things that needed that extra mile. As I google your name, its not hard to link it with all the other articles youve written, which I think adds authenticity to your claims.


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