UPenn’s Acceptance Rate: What Does It Take to Get In?
Only 8.4% of students get into UPenn. How can you stand out in the college admissions process?
The University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the nation. A member of the Ivy League, UPenn was founded by none other than Benjamin Franklin, who wanted to create a culture that “well-done is better than well-said.”
Located in Philadelphia, UPenn provides numerous opportunities for its students to put into practice what they are learning and become leaders in their fields. Here’s what you need to know to get in.
Applying to UPenn: A Quick Overview
When you apply to UPenn, you will apply to one of the following—the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science (Penn Engineering), the School of Nursing, or the Wharton School. It’s not easier or harder to get into one school over the other; just choose the one that matches your academic and professional interests.
There are some important dates and deadlines to keep in mind: Early Decision applicants should submit all the requisite materials by November 1. For Regular Decision, the deadline is January 5. If you’re unsure about whether or not you should apply early, check out our post that explains the difference between early action, early decision, and regular decision.
Be sure to submit all of the following components by the date required:
- Completed Common App or Coalition Application. For both, you will write a personal essay and an essay specific to UPenn.
- Responses to UPenn specialized program essay prompts
- An official high school transcript
- A school report, which gives information about your high school
- A counselor recommendation
- Two academic teacher evaluations, ideally from junior or senior year
- Mid-year and final grade reports
- Official SAT or ACT scores
- $75 application fee
For students with significant financial need, they may substitute the QuestBridge Application instead of the Common or Coalition Application.
UPenn’s Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?
Last year, UPenn received a total of 44,491 applications. Of those, only 3,740 students were admitted, meaning they have an 8.4% acceptance rate. Out of the admitted students, 2,518 enrolled this year. That means that UPenn has a yield of 67%, meaning that most students who are accepted into UPenn choose to attend.
8.4% may sound daunting or nearly impossible to get in, but it is important to remember that your chances of acceptance depend on the strength of your application profile. There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of being admitted, including talking to people who have been through the UPenn admissions process, whether an alumni in your community, or a third-party college admissions consulting team like CollegeVine.
So How Does One Get Into UPenn?
UPenn looks for students who embody Benjamin Franklin’s ideal of people who want to be in service to society. As one of the “elites”, UPenn factors every part of your application, from your essays to your test scores into their admissions decision, so you’ll want to showcase how your passion and talents serve or impact your community.
In terms of academics, UPenn requires that students consistently take classes in core subject areas (English, Social Studies, Math, Science, and foreign language). You should aim to take at least one course in each of those subjects every year you are in high school, or as close to every year possible, and excel in each. In the class of 2022, 96% of applicants were in the top 10% of their high school.
When taking the SAT or ACT, aim for a score in the range of the middle 50% of applicants to increase your chances of being admitted:
- SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 690-760
- SAT Math: 730-790 for Math
- ACT: 33-35
How to Make Your Application Stand Out
UPenn is similar to Brown and Columbia in that it heavily values academics, but with more of an explicit focus on intellectual diversity and service to society. UPenn wants to admit scholarly students with a clear passion to impact community backed by quantifiable action and leadership. When you apply to one of UPenn’s four schools, you need to demonstrate how you would fit the type of student that school is looking for in each component of the application.
Showcase your intellectual diversity. It’s not enough to just get good grades in your classes. If you want to receive an acceptance letter from UPenn, you need to make sure you are taking (and excelling in) the most rigorous high school curriculum. Additionally, your course load should reflect diversity. So, if STEM courses dominate your transcript, you should make sure you are balancing it out with humanities classes (or vice versa).
Tell your story. UPenn approaches applications holistically and with great care. All students are required to tell the university how they will explore their intellectual and academic interests and there are additional essays specific to the program you choose. Use these opportunities to tell UPenn what you’re like as a student, friend, family member, innovator, and future world-changer – all the intangible qualities that make you unique. Read CollegeVine’s post on How to Write the University of Pennsylvania Application Essays 2018-2019 for more advice on demonstrating your unique voice and character.
Connect your experiences to service and community. UPenn doesn’t want you to list a specific, predetermined list of activities. They want to know how you spend your time and how that time embodies their ideal, “Well done is better than well said.” Show adcoms what you are like outside the classroom – give them a glimpse into what excites you and some of the ways you are contributing to your community.
What If You Get Rejected?
Being so selective, many accomplished applicants get rejected from UPenn each year. While it may be disappointing, it does not mean that you didn’t work hard in high school or that you can’t find success at another school.
UPenn does not accept admissions appeals, so don’t spend time thinking you are going to change their minds. They do have the option for you to transfer after starting college at a different school. For the 2017-2018 school year, UPenn had a transfer acceptance rate of 8.14 percent and took in 221 out of the 2,715 students who applied. It is the second most popular Ivy for transfer students after Cornell.
Transferring into UPenn, while feasible, is tough and there is no guarantee that you’ll be accepted. Often the easiest choice is to commit to another school and make the most out of your experience there. Getting into a particular school won’t guarantee that you’ll meet your academic and professional goals; it’s how you use the resources available to you and take advantage of opportunities that will set you up for success after college.
For advice on adjusting to a different college path, check out our post Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.
Getting into UPenn requires that you begin planning as early in high school as possible. If you’d like more personalized advice on your admissions profile, CollegeVine offers Elite Universities Application Assistance, where you’ll be paired with a successful mentor at a top school who helps you along every step of the application process.
For more resources on UPenn and other Ivies, check out these CollegeVine posts:
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