• Nora Sun

Tags: UPenn

Institution: University of Pennsylvania

Study: Major in chemical and biomolecular engineering

High School Experience

I personally loved high school! I loved participating in activities like marching band, lots of musical ensembles, model UN, softball, and more. Even though extracurricular activities took up a lot of my time, I had so much fun, I never felt at a loss for time. The people around me were also amazing: I learned from incredible teachers, was surrounded by astounding students, and met new, wonderful people every year. Although I know many people at my high school would not feel the same way, I am a positive person and found good in every part of my high school experience.

Course choices

I focused a lot of my elective courses on science as I knew I wanted to pursue a science-related career. This led me to take courses such as AP Chemistry and AP Biology. I also always took the hardest levels of the science courses offered at my school. Additionally, I wanted to be fluent in Spanish, so I took Spanish for all four years of high school as one of my electives.


AP Calc AB: 5

AP Biology: 5


AP Lang: 4

I took the following exams this year but I don’t know my score yet: AP Calc BC, AP US Gov, AP Macroeconomics, AP Lit, AP Physics C, AP chemistry, AP Spanish.


4.8 weighted, 4.0 unweighted

Standardized Testing

SAT: 1510

Took Math 2 and Chemistry subject tests.


  • Marching band: I participated in this for all four years. I was a section leader for two years and a soloist my senior year

  • Woodwind ensemble: I actually created this ensemble my senior year, so I was the president/founder.

  • Softball: I played softball for all four years.

  • Model UN: I was in this club for all four years and was treasurer my senior year.

  • Musical: I was in this for three years.

  • Academic Team: I participated in this club for three years

  • Band and orchestra: I was in these for all four years and was first chair clarinet for three years.

  • SWE: I joined this year.


Everyone who wrote a recommendation for me was a teacher who truly valued me as a student. I also learned well from all of them and held close relationships with them, so that I could always go to them for help or just a quick chat.


Most of my essays focused around a few different themes: my positivity, my growth out of shyness, my musical experiences, or my model UN experiences. I also liked to focus on specific science topics when applicable. One common topic which I am passionate about is stem cells in cancer research, so I often mentioned this interest.


I think my personality shined through in both my essays and my interviews, so colleges likely saw these as strong parts of my application. Additionally, my transcript is very good as I worked very hard in high school to keep up all A’s and a high GPA.


Don’t procrastinate, it’s not worth it. Scheduling your time makes you a much better student and often leads to less stress and more happiness in your life. I am a very structured person, so I always got my work done ahead of time. Even though I took hard classes, I could maintain good grades while also lowering my stress levels simply by spreading my workload out. Additionally, make sure you join clubs and activities! You’ll meet some of the best people through these activities, and you’ll learn so much about yourself and your interests.




I chose Penn for a number of reasons, but one of the most prominent for me was its multitude of research opportunities. It is so easy to get involved as professors are always willing to accept students in their lab work. Additionally, it is the perfect location for me, provides a great academic environment, and has so many fun clubs and activities.


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