• Nora Sun

Tags: UPenn

Institution: University of Pennsylvania

Study: Major in anthropology, minor in hispanic studies

High School Experience

My high school was well funded and had many sports and clubs. I actively participated in about 5 clubs and played three different sports during my years in school. I took three AP classes each junior and senior year, and had a good experience. Managing sports and school wasn’t too hard, but once I got a job during senior year, my sleep lessened and I had less time to study, etc. I loved how my school had a nice campus and a good amount of school spirit. I didn’t like how much they emphasized rules and harsh punishments for breaking them, with the intention of creating a ‘perfect’ reputation.

Course choices

I had an interest in science and medicine early on. Because of this I took more advanced science and math classes and took easier classes in history and electives.


I took 6 total AP classes and a dual enrollment class through the local community college. I got a 5 on the AP Biology, AP Language/Composition, and AP Calculus AB exams. I took AP Environmental Science, AP Calculus BC, and AP Spanish Language senior year, but haven’t gotten the scores from the exams yet.


4.0 unweighted, 4.2 weighted

Standardized Testing

ACT composite: 33

SAT: 1430

SAT BiologyE: 760

SAT Literature: 750

SAT Math Level 2: 720


I did cross country, track, and soccer, participated in a volunteering club, national science honor society, and was Vice President of both Spanish National Honor Society and medical club. I also started my own club and ran it for two years, called pen pals club. Outside of school, I shadowed a general surgeon during his in-office visits for four years, about once every other month.


I tried to establish strong bonds with my teachers junior and senior year because I knew I would need them to write me nice letters of recommendation. I also needed to make good friends with my counselor, as she wrote me the most recommendations.


I didn’t have a general theme. I tailored my essays to what I knew each college wanted to hear. The reason I knew what they wanted to hear is that I listened to podcasts or watched YouTube videos featuring admissions counselors from each school, talking about what they looked for in a student. I took the qualities they looked for and weaved them into an anecdotal essay that revealed a greater truth in the second half. I tried to end each essay with a forward-thinking conclusion, somehow making myself seem sure and hopeful and confident of a future at that university. Also, I tried to emphasize how my individual self will be able to change and interact with the landscape of the university.


My admissions counselor from my university actually wrote me and told me the reason why she liked my application. She said she was impressed by my ability to balance school with all of my extracurriculars. But I also think my writing style is very captivating and drew her in. I spent many months revising my essays for the application, trying to make it as memorable as possible, with flowing sentence variation and good vocabulary.


My advice would be to stick through the hard nights where it feels so stressful that you could collapse. I never saw the light at the end of the tunnel until the end of senior year. I used to feel so stressed sometimes, but in learning to handle that stress I grew as a person. But also- don’t stress out too much and try to balance too many extracurriculars. I did 5 clubs and 3 sports and I feel like I could have had the same amount of success without a few of those activities, which would have spared me a few hours a week for me time.




I chose the university of Pennsylvania because of its unparalleled resources for students, as well as history of career paths for its graduates. I have also wanted to move to the city for a long time, and love the location of the school. I also believe that the people who attend that school have a lot in common with me in terms of ambition and personality.


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