College Essays

University of Pennsylvania Supplemental

Prompt: Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words)


Hi Anika!

You don’t know this, but you were actually the first student I taught at [company].

Initially, your relentless curiosity and your determination to find out the “why” of

everything was intimidating, but I’ve come to learn a lot from you.

We spent the first few lessons exclusively exploring letter sounds. Soon, however, I

witnessed you piece together the sounds in your head, watched your mental gears turn,

and relished the elation on your face when you succeeded.

I’d forgotten the rush of solving the puzzle that new words present, finally unlocking the

treasure as the words joined into sentences, the sentences into stories. Rather than fixating on grades, I focused on the feelings you helped me remember. My own frustrating classes like precalculus became riddles to solve, allowing me to rediscover my intrinsic love of learning. So thank you for letting me guide you along your reading journey—you reminded me how thrilling learning is. 

Every Wednesday, I’m excited to give you a high-five and tackle a new story. Although you’re a great reader now, you may not be able to read this note just yet. But, don’t worry: we can work through it together!

See you soon!

Anvita Gurumurthy


Tips for Writing:

Writing your college essays doesn’t need to be super stressful, as long as you start

on time. I wish I had known how hard it would be to balance writing these essays with

schoolwork, so try to stay organized, as well. I would suggest having at least a first draft

of your Common App/personal statement ready by the time school starts, and

throughout September, make sure you create drafts for all of your early schools. Try to

make sure you don’t have more than 1-2 essays left to do in October so that you don’t

run out of time to write a meaningful essay. I’d also suggest organizing yourself well; I

wish I had known that it’s better to know all the prompts you have to write before you

begin writing instead of doing them one-by-one.

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