Fisher Fine Arts Library


Since our founding in 1740, Penn's mission has been to educate with "an inclination and ability to serve all mankind."

More than 270 years later, our students continue to use the new discoveries, theories, and knowledge produced every day on our campus to solve problems in the world. As an office, we serve this mission by seeking students who care deeply about the world they will inherit and who aspire to use their education to effect positive change.

It is with great purpose that we approach the charge of helping students find the right college -- a sentiment we know you share. Working closely with you, our goal is to identify those students most likely to thrive in and contribute to the Penn community. 

We aim to be a helpful presence in your communities throughout the year and look forward to a strong partnership and shared engagement.

What’s Changing for Penn’s 2023-2024 Application

Penn’s application for the 2023-2024 cycle is now live! To help you guide your students, we have outlined the major changes to our application and application process below. As always, we recommend directing students to the What Penn Looks For section of our website for more detailed information.

Penn’s test-optional policy will be continued for the 2023-2024 application cycle. Applicants who do not submit SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Test scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process. Penn will accept the digital SAT if a student opts to submit testing. The exam is scored (or superscored) the same as the paper and pencil SAT. While we encourage students to submit their entire testing history for SAT exams, we also permit score choice and will accept a combination of scores from both formats of the exam. If students submit multiple sets of test scores, we will combine the highest Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing with the highest Math score in either format to calculate a superscore. 

Our non-academic prompts will remain largely the same for this application cycle. Our application will continue to feature our Gratitude and Community prompts.

New this year, students will be asked to respond to a prompt specific to the Undergraduate School or Coordinated Dual-Degree Program to which they choose to apply.

Previously, students were asked to consider the specific undergraduate school they selected and describe how they intended to explore their academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania. Starting this year, each school or program will have its own unique question. Students will be asked to respond to the prompt that corresponds to the school to which they are applying. For example, a student applying to Wharton would respond to the Wharton-specific prompt, while a student applying to the School of Nursing would respond to the Nursing-specific prompt. All prompts can be viewed on our Essays page.

Also new this year, we have added an OPTIONAL question following the selection of school/program choice in the application. Students will be shown a list of resources and hubs on Penn’s campus and be asked to select which, if any, they might want to explore at Penn. A list of these hubs can be found on our website. It is meant as an opportunity for students to learn about the various resource and community centers at Penn, and for students to share a little more about how they might see themselves engaging with Penn’s community. No writing is required for this section, and it will not impact admissions decisions. 

Beginning this application cycle, Penn will not offer evaluative interviews that impact students’ admissions decision. The application materials we require are sufficient for us to make our admissions decision.

Instead, we will be offering Alumni Conversations, which are simply opportunities for students to learn more about Penn from someone who can speak from experience. Penn alumni make efforts to arrange informational conversations with applicants to provide the opportunity to get to know the Penn alumni community and for applicants to share information about themselves. These optional conversations are not evaluative and are subject to alumni volunteer availability. Due to the limited capacity of alumni volunteers, we cannot guarantee all students will be contacted. Penn Admissions will automatically opt students in for an alumni conversation unless they indicate that they do not wish to participate. Again, opting out of participating will not impact the admissions decision.

A brief summary of the conversation is provided to admissions, providing an opportunity to add information to your file, but the conversation is not rated and applicants who choose not to interview are not penalized in any way in our review process.

At Penn, applicants submit one academic letter of recommendation from a current or recent teacher, and one from someone who knows them personally and whose perspective would add information not captured elsewhere in the application. This second person may be another teacher, a supervisor at work, mentor, coach, arts or music instructor, spiritual leader, or cultural leader.  

This is in addition to the counselor letter students will submit as part of the Common App or Coalition App. 

The required letters from an applicant’s counselor, teacher and an additional recommender are sufficient to give us a sense of who they are as a student and person. 

We prefer letters from those who have worked with the applicant recently (junior and senior year). We recommend that students choose recommenders who know them well and like them.

As a matter of equity, Penn allows for only one additional supplemental letter of recommendation beyond those required. We ask that students only submit an additional letter from someone who knows them personally and whose perspective would add information not captured elsewhere in the application. (Letters from family members and close family friends usually do not provide information that is helpful to the evaluation process.) 

At Penn, we encourage students to begin with what interests them and see where it takes them. For this reason, we do not ask students to indicate their intended major during the application process for the College of Arts and Sciences, The Wharton School, or the School of Nursing. 

Students in Penn Engineering select a major area of study at the end of their first year and are asked to indicate their major on their application because it is helpful for the admissions committee to understand their potential focus within engineering. 
Students in the College of Arts and Sciences will not select a major until the end of their sophomore year, allowing additional time for exploration across disciplines.  
Penn Nursing students have the opportunity to take coursework that allows for exposure to different areas of expertise, but all students graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing so no majors are present.  
Wharton students also do not have majors, but can choose from a variety of concentrations that are typically four course units as they pursue the Bachelor of Science in Economics degree. 

2023-2024 Counselor Newsletter
2023-2024 Counselor Newsletter
Penn Admissions Brochure
Useful Information for International Students