College Hall and Cohen Hall

High School Preparation

When you apply to Penn, you’ll be asked to choose one of our undergraduate schools or specialized programs that will be your home base for the time you’re a student here.

One University, Four Schools

Every student gains a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences and is able to take classes in all four schools. Therefore, we encourage you to consistently take classes in core academic areas (English, social studies, math, science, and foreign language) throughout your four years of high school. We expect that every student who applies to Penn will challenge themselves in high school based on the opportunities offered at their school.

Every high school is different, though, so we will review your school’s profile to best understand the types of courses available to you, your school’s grading scale, and the ways you can challenge yourself with extracurricular or post-secondary activities.

COVID-19 Update: Your academic engagement and work during this time matters to us. We will assess your academic opportunity and achievements with sensitivity to any changes (such as pass/fail grades, abbreviated semesters, remote instruction, etc.) brought about by COVID-19.


We would like to see:

  • a curiosity in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences
  • an ability to apply classroom knowledge to the real world
  • a strong preparation in a balanced and advanced college preparatory curriculum

We would like to see:

  • an ability to innovate, design, and practically apply scientific discoveries
  • expressed reasons for pursuing an engineering education
  • a strong preparation in physics and mathematics, particularly calculus

We would like to see:

  • a commitment to patient care
  • a desire to explore issues in health care
  • a strong preparation in the sciences, particularly in chemistry

We would like to see:

  • an interest in business to fuel positive change to advance the world's economic and social well-being
  • demonstrated leadership
  • a strong preparation in mathematics, particularly calculus