B.A., Urban Studies and Affairs
I got into UPenn, Cornell, Berkeley, and USC doing what I love and without sacrificing my mental health or social life! Check out my profile, and see how you can too!
Features Included


Hometown Bogota, Colombia
Class of2027
First Gen College StudentYes

Results, Essays, and Advice

Waitlisted or Withdrew
  • University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
  • University of California - Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  • University of California - San Diego (La Jolla, CA)
  • University of California - Irvine (Irvine, CA)
  • University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
  • New York University (New York, NY)
Tap/click a school logo above to view essays and advice specific to that school.

University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

Applied for a B.A. in Urban Studies and Affairs

Accepted and Enrolled Legacy: No

School Specific Essays

If you had told me four years ago that I would be collecting signatures for Enrique Peñalosa, out in the streets, talking to people, making eye contact, and not cluttering my words, I would have thought (not told you) that you were talking about another Federico. I have lived all my life in Bogotá, Colombia, a city where fitting in feels less like a passtime, and more like an aggressive competition for survival. Ñero, Gomelo, Pato, Arribista, Mamerto, Petrista,...
Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
Sometimes I like to sit in silence and nod my head. I genuinely love hearing other people talk. When someone talks, they are not only speaking as the instantaneous version of themselves, they are also talking as the collective album of “selves” that they’ve built during their lifetime. Every word said, and every word kept silent, is an opportunity to experience the world from the reality of others. Having a lifelong habit of learning from the words and actions...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
467 Words
Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania? For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.
Having lived my whole life in Bogotá, Colombia, where violence, corruption, and planning absurdities have turned the urban fabric into an improvised quilt, I have witnessed the harm that neglect of the urban realm can have on the dignity and empathy of its citizens. Therefore, my dream is to support those neglected by “progress” through the study, design, and adaptation of urban environments. I am confident that if admitted into the University of Pennsylvania I will find the resources and...
Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
209 Words
At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community.
/150-200 words
For me to say I enjoy studying cities is an understatement. I am absolutely obsessed. At the University of Pennsylvania, I hope to share this passion for urbanism beyond the curriculum of the Urban Studies BA through the creation of a club where members can share their experiences, questions, projects, and ideals in relation to the urban realm. While the “Urban China Collective” already serves a similar purpose under the context of China’s urbanization, my club would be greater...
Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
334 Words
4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced. (336/350)
In my hometown of Bogotá, it is common to hear “Chino”, the Spanish word for a Chinese person, in everyday conversations. Therefore, to the ears of foreigners, it would seem like Bogotá is a place rich with cultural interchange between the predominant Colombian culture and a large Chinese population. The truth, however, is quite the opposite. More often than not, the word “Chino” is not used to refer to a person of Chinese origin, but is rather a highly colloquial...
Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
360 Words
6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. (350/350)
For me to say that I enjoy studying cities is a great understatement. I am absolutely obsessed. Ask my friends, and they’ll tell you how my Instagram Stories show me dissecting satellite images of my hometown, Bogotá, going into speeches about how private country clubs serve as institutional forms of segregation, how access to transportation is access to generational stability, and how malls are inhibiting the creation of a culture that values public services. Ask my parents, and they...
Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
673 Words
What is your “thing”? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours?*
For me to say I enjoy studying cities is an understatement. I am absolutely obsessed. Ask my friends, and they’ll tell you how my Instagram Stories show me going into speeches about how access to transportation represents generational stability, or how malls are preventing society from valuing public services. Ask my teachers, and they’ll discuss the park I designed aimed at strengthening social inclusion or the bike lane I’m creating based on local data and meetings I'm...
Supplemental Essay: Intellectual interest
256 Words
USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning. (248/250)
My homeland, Colombia, is half a planet away from China, and with a Chinese population that could fit in a tennis stadium, China, its people and culture, are only experienced by most in my country, through the media. For this reason, I am extremely grateful to have access to the privilege of taking Mandarin classes with teachers from China. Driven by a longstanding fascination with China's modernity and cultural wealth, learning Mandarin and connecting with Chinese people has been a...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
254 Words
Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections.
For as long as I can remember, I have felt fascinated by the impacts that cities have on the lives of their citizens and the natural space they occupy. The truth is, my ambition is to serve nature and those neglected by “progress” through the mindful study, design, and adaptation of current and future urban environments. Because of this passion, at USC I hope to major in Urban Studies and Planning. Having the privilege to dive further into the world...
Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
612 Words
Chicago author Nelson Algren said, “A writer does well if in his whole life he can tell the story of one street.” Chicagoans, but not just Chicagoans, have always found something instructive, and pleasing, and profound in the stories of their block, of Main Street, of Highway 61, of a farm lane, of the Celestial Highway. Tell us the story of a street, path, road—real or imagined or metaphorical.
During the first weekend of Semana Santa, Bogotá collapses. As roughly 2 million people attempt to escape, a grand majority through Bogota’s “Autopista Sur”, or Southern Highway, this space becomes a symbol of the social fabric of the city. Autopista Sur’s particular traffic congestion is one of the rare events where Bogotanos from all walks of life are forced to experience the same space while facing the contrasts that keep us divided contrary to the myth of equality promoted...
Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
415 Words
We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand - Why NYU?
For me to say I enjoy studying cities is an understatement. I am absolutely obsessed. Ask my friends, and they’ll tell you how my Instagram Stories show me going into speeches about how access to transportation represents generational stability, or how malls are preventing society from valuing public services. Ask my teachers, and they’ll discuss the park I designed aimed at strengthening social inclusion or the bike lane I’m creating based on local data and meetings I'm...

School Specific Advice

How to increase chances at my school
61 Words
UPenn, Cornell, and USC really want students that really want them back. This means these colleges want you...
How to balance class with social or extracurricular involvements
43 Words
UPenn is known as the social Ivy. This means the social scene is...
Why I ultimately chose my school
101 Words
I ultimately chose UPenn over Cornell, Berkeley, USC, and others for the following reasons: -Location: Philadelphia is an interesting city between NYC and Washington. There is plenty to do...
5 adjectives that describe a typical student at my school (Feel free to elaborate!)
51 Words
Hard-working - Good grades, high test scores, impressive activities, dedication. Socially proficient - easygoing,...
How I would rate the alumni network at my school
39 Words
The alumni network is amazing. CEOs, Presidents, Activists, etc... The alumni...
Why I declined other schools
49 Words
I declined Cornell, Berkeley, USC, UC Irvine and US San Diego in favor of UPenn....
Additional material sent in after waitlisted or deferred
72 Words
After getting deferred from UChicago I sent a letter where I detailed my intention to apply again in a general round. UChicago...
How I chose schools to apply to
24 Words
I chose to apply to the...

More Essays

These essays haven't been tagged by school. Click school logos above to see tagged essays.

General Admissions Advice

Did you take a gap year? Tell us about your experience.
101 Words
NO ONE REGRETS TAKING A GAP YEAR. But you might regret NOT taking one. Taking time before starting college is a great way to focus on yourself and take care...
How to deal with the stress of applying to college
59 Words
You will get into the colleges that fit you. It is okay not to get into your dream...
My advice about getting recommenders
38 Words
Build good relationships with your teachers since 9th grade. Make sure...
How I narrowed down my essay topics
58 Words
Imagine you are in an elevator and only have a few seconds to share what best represents...
My insights about AP (Advanced Placement) courses and exams
38 Words
Take APs that genuinely interest you. If you take APs that...
Recommended summer activities during high school and college
52 Words
Take an online course. Websites like edX have free or cheap online courses run by prestigious...
What I’d change about my application process
64 Words
I did not think about where I wanted to apply until Senior Year. Big mistake... I know it is...

High School Performance

Weighted GPA
(equivalent to 3.96 unweighted)
Top 5%
College Classes In High School
Academic Performance in High School Steady

Test Scores

Highest SAT
SAT Score Details
Other SAT Scores
SAT Prep
PSAT Scores

AP / IB Classes and Scores

Details8 classes and scores



ActivitiesNational Honor Society, Model Congress / Model UN, Community Cleanup / Service, Foreign Language, Cultural
Elaborate on Extracurriculars or Work

Experience & Awards

Volunteer Experiences
Awards Received

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