University of Virginia (UVA) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
University of Virginia (UVA) 2023-2024 First-Year Application Essay Question Explanations
The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words, 1 optional essay of 100 words, 1 essay of 250 words for applicants to the School of Nursing only
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why , Community
In around 250 words, please answer the following question:
What about your individual background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at uva feel free to write about any past experience or part of your background that has shaped your perspective and will be a source of strength, including but not limited to those related to your community, upbringing, educational environment, race, gender, or other aspects of your background that are important to you..
Odds are that this isn’t the first “diversity” essay prompt you’ve come across this year—even if the prompt doesn’t explicitly use that word. If it is, however, please read on. UVA wants to accept students from a range of backgrounds who will contribute to an inclusive community. The prompt uses the phrase “source of strength” twice; this tells us that they want to hear about not only what makes you you , but also how these characteristics will support you and those around you. What you focus on here can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or specific to you and only you. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Maybe you began practicing meditation and discovered Buddhism during your sophomore year and you hope to spread some wisdom and mindfulness on campus next fall. Perhaps you were raised on a farm and have a very special relationship to all living things (plants, animals, people, etc.) around you. How will you incorporate this element of your identity into your college experience? Show admissions that you’re eager to make your mark in their community.
Students applying to the School of Nursing are required to answer this question in around 250 words.
School of nursing – describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing..
This prompt asks applicants to detail a specific experience to prove their interest in their chosen field of study, nursing. It is a bit closer to a traditional why essay in that students should make sure not just to discuss the experience that led them to pursue nursing, but also to connect that experience to their larger goals for the future. Perhaps you were diagnosed with diabetes as a child and the nursing care you received inspired you to go into the field yourself. Maybe your grandfather was a nurse and you were awed by his skills when your grandmother fell off a ladder. If there are elements of the UVA program that support your particular interest or connect to the experience you choose to highlight, definitely build those bridges to show admissions you are familiar with the programs UVA has to offer, and have already considered how your experiences will help you achieve future academic success.
Optional: If you have a personal or historic connection with UVA, and if you’d like to share how your experience of this connection has prepared you to contribute to the University, please share your thoughts here. Such relationships might include, but are not limited to, being a child of someone who graduated from or works for UVA, a descendant of ancestors who labored at UVA, or a participant in UVA programs. (100 words)
Now that UVA is no longer explicitly considering legacy in their admissions process, admissions has added this question to identify not only those whose parents went to UVA, but also those whose ancestors labored at UVA. This reflects the university’s ongoing reckoning with its own founding, which included the use of enslaved labor. Here, anyone with personal or historic ties to the university, including students who attended summer programs there, can describe their unique connection. If you don’t have a connection, that’s okay! Most people won’t. If you do, however, read on.
This question doesn’t just ask you to state your tie, it asks you to explore how that connection has primed you to contribute to the community. Maybe your mom was an RA and has shared all the steam tunnel routes with you, so you can initiate your roommates into this UVA tradition. Perhaps one of your ancestors built the iconic Rotunda, and you look forward to educating your classmates about their legacy. Maybe you attended a summer program and fell in love with the Jeffersonian architecture, inspiring your passion for historic preservation. Remember, your job here is to explore how your personal connection to UVA will make you a contributor to campus life.
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Monday, June 13, 2022
2022-2023 #uva first year application writing prompts.
If you follow me on TikTok, you may have seen my post a few weeks ago about how we decide on our writing prompts . During the application review season, I keep notes on what my colleagues are sharing about the prompts, both the positive comments and the negative. Then, at the end of the season, we have conversations about what should be tweaked and what should be changed. In recent years, we haven't done much in the way of wholesale change and instead made small tweaks to our prompts. That streak ends now. We're making some bigger changes to our part of the Common App, including in the format and writing prompts.
The first prompt is still tied to the UVA school or college the student selects. We want students to answer the prompt in around 100 words. As always, the boxes on the Common App allow students to go a bit over, so we don't expect students to write exactly 100 words.
College of Arts & Sciences: If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?
School of Engineering: How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?
School of Architecture: Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
School of Nursing: Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.
Kinesiology Program: Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.
Students will then write responses to two prompts out of eleven options in about 50 words each. Again, the Common App boxes allow students to go a little over the stated limit. Some of these are old favorites and some are new.
1. What’s your favorite word and why? 2. We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. What is one of your quirks? 3. About what topic could you speak for an hour? 4. Take us to your happy place. 5. You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that? 6. What is the last gift you gave someone that wasn’t bought with money? 7. What website is the internet missing? 8. After a challenging experience, how do you recharge? 9. Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself. 10. UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message? 11. Tell us about a time when, faced with an opinion or perspective that differed from your own, you responded as an empathetic speaker or generous listener.
I'll share some writing tips in future posts. I'll also share my thoughts during my weekly, Wednesday afternoon live Q&As on my Instagram account and on Tiktok .
University of Virginia (UVA) Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompts & Advice
August 16, 2023
The University of Virginia is one of the handful of flagship public institutions in the United States that attract massive numbers of high-achieving applicants from around the country/globe each and every year. In the most recent admissions cycle, over 56,000 students applied (up 10% from the previous year) and only 16% were accepted. While becoming a Cavalier is challenging for a Virginia resident, out-of-staters and international applicants face an even tougher admissions gauntlet. You’ll likely need a straight A average (or very close) to get serious consideration at the 2023 version of UVA and an SAT in the 96th percentile (or better) doesn’t hurt either. And that brings us to today’s main topic- the UVA supplemental essays.
(Want to learn more about How to Get Into the University of Virginia? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into the University of Virginia: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)
With only one supplemental essay for the majority of applicants (you’ll only need to write more than one if applying to the School of Nursing or the Dance program), UVA’s supplemental section affords applicants the chance to illustrate what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below are the University of Virginia’s supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with our advice for composing winning essays.
2023-2024 UVA Supplemental Essay (All Applicants)
What about your individual background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA? Feel free to write about any past experience or part of your background that has shaped your perspective and will be a source of strength, including but not limited to those related to your community, upbringing, educational environment, race, gender, or other aspects of your background that are important to you. (300 words)
This prompt asks you to not only share a particular life experience, element of your background, or perspective but also describe why that experience, element, or perspective will help you serve as a source of strength to either yourself or those around you. Essentially, it’s asking you to take your essay’s reflection one step further—you’ll need to communicate why the experience or element you’ve chosen is important to you as well as why/how you believe it will allow you to thrive at UVA or positively impact the UVA community.
UVA Supplemental Essays (Continued)
First, choose a key aspect of your experiences, background, or identity that reveals something deep and meaningful. (Although you could choose more than one, we’d advise against it, given that you only have 300 words in which to respond.) As you brainstorm, consider the following avenues:
- Your role in your family.
- A challenge you’ve faced.
- A formative experience or realization.
- Important aspects of your upbringing.
- Cultural, religious, community influence.
- Racial background.
- Sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Second, you’ll need to explain how you’ll use what you’ve learned to persist through future personal challenges or strengthen others at UVA. Will your life experiences allow you to uplift those around you? Will your unique perspective enable you to connect more deeply with others? Lastly, will your background make it possible for you to advocate more effectively for specific populations? Alternatively, has your experience or background provided you with a perspective that will benefit and support you as you move on to college? If you connect with at least one of these questions, you’re headed in the right direction for this essay.
UVA Program-Specific Essays
School of nursing.
Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing. (300 words)
“A nurse is not what you do, it is who you are.”
This quote from an anonymous source captures the idea that becoming a nurse is more of a calling than a profession you just stumble into. Nurses are willing to work long shifts in the service of others, be on the frontlines of a pandemic, and deal with life’s toughest challenges (e.g., suffering and death) on a regular basis. Many applicants share stories of caring for sick relatives or going through a tough medical episode themselves as inspiration for wanting to study nursing. This essay is a chance to show the admissions committee that you are a passionate and mature nursing candidate and that nursing is genuinely “who you are.”
Submit a short essay discussing your interest in dance as a practice and/or a form of scholarship. What roles have dance and movement played in your life thus far? What insights and connections have you made in your day-to-day and academic life through the practice and study of movement? What do you hope to explore further by participating in dance program courses upon entry to UVA? (275 words)
Essentially, UVA wants to understand how your participation in dance has impacted your life. How has it benefited, strengthened, and/or challenged you as a person? Moreover, they’d like to understand the connections you’ve made between dance and other academic subjects, if any—what interdisciplinary connections have you observed? How has your academic life been made richer by dance? Finally, in addition to how dance has already impacted you, UVA is looking for a brief discussion of what the future holds in regard to dance, and how you plan to pursue that future at UVA.
How important are the UVA supplemental essays?
The essays (both the Common App essay and the supplemental response(s)) are “important” to the UVA admissions committee. This places them in the same tier of importance as extracurricular activities and talent/ability. Standardized test scores are rated a notch below as “considered.” Read more about the importance of the UVA supplemental essays in the fabulous Notes from Peabody blog .
At UVA, the rigor of your coursework, class rank, GPA, recommendations, character/personal qualities, and state residency status are the most important factors in the admissions process. However, application components like the supplemental essay can serve as a critical tie-breaker between similarly-credentialed applicants.
Want Personalized Essay Assistance with the UVA Supplemental Essays?
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UVA 2022-2023 Admissions Essay Prompts
The University of Virginia has released its 2022-2023 application essays. Applicants to the UVA Class of 2027 will be asked to complete three essays in total on the UVA supplement to The Common Application. The first essay should be about 100 words in total. The second and third essays should be about 50 words each. So, yes, UVA, one of our nation’s top public universities, has a relatively short supplement. And what questions does the Thomas Jefferson-founded school pose to applicants? Wonder no more!
University of Virginia Class of 2027 College-Specific Essay Prompt
For the first prompt, the 100-worder, applicants must select the corresponding essay for the school within UVA to which they are applying. For the College of Arts & Sciences, the prompt reads, “If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?” For the School of Engineering, it reads, ” How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?” For the School of Architecture, it goes, “Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.” For the School of Nursing, the prompt reads, “Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.” And for the Kinesiology Program, applicants are asked, “Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.”
University of Virginia Class of 2027 Essay Prompts for All Applicants
For the second and third prompts, applicants are directed to answer two of the following ten essay options: “(1) What’s your favorite word and why? (2) We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. What is one of your quirks? (3) About what topic could you speak for an hour? (4) Take us to your happy place. (5) You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that? (6) What is the last gift you gave something that wasn’t bought with money? (7) What website is the internet missing? (8) After a challenging experience, how do you recharge? (9) Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself. (10) UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?”
Have a question about the 2022-2023 UVA essay prompts? Let us know your question by posting it below. And while you’re here, see how the UVA essays have changed over the years.
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Categories: College Admissions
Tags: Applicants to UVA 2027 , University of Virginia 2022-2023 Essays , UVA 2022-2023 Admissions Essay Prompts , UVA Class of 2027 , UVA Class of 2027 Essays
Hardest public school to get into as an out-of-state freshman (Ivy League level), but the easiest to get into as an in-state transfer (community college level). Absolutely ridiculous.
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Undergraduate Admissions Uncensored
New University of Virginia Supplemental Essay Question for 2023-2024 Admissions Cycle
Posted on July 19, 2023 by Craig Meister 4 Comments
All first-year UVA applicants must complete an essay in up to 300 words responding to this new prompt:
What about your background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA?
Those students applying to UVA’s School of Nursing also are being asked to respond to this prompt in no more than 250 words:
Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.
The new required question for all applicants is clearly leading in nature and developed by committee in order to elicit responses that highlight prospective students’ diversity; yet, the way in which the question is being asked seems somewhat complex while also opening applicants – and the university itself – to a number of challenges.
Most notably, applicants need to balance describing a particular background, perspective, or experience AND how it will strengthen them or will strengthen others during their time at UVA. That’s a lot to ask for in 300 words and still expect to get much depth.
Many perspectives and experiences require quite a bit more than one sentence to describe, which will leave limited space to elaborate upon how such a perspective or experience will strengthen the student or others if and when the student arrives on campus. This may lead many applicants to opt to focus on their background instead of a perspective or experience, but those who do will need to focus less on the background and more on how it has served to date or will serve in the future as a source of strength for them or others.
One wonders why UVA doesn’t just ask a far more user-friendly question like, “What lesson from your past will help you thrive in or give back to the UVA community?” A potential reason that students are not getting a clearer or more direct question this cycle may be because a particular faction on the committee that developed UVA’s new short essay question felt that UVA had to explicitly mention “background” and “source of strength” in one question in order to align the university with President Biden’s suggestion to colleges to assess applicants for admission based on previous adversity faced now that The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that affirmative action is illegal in the college admissions process , and those with the final say at UVA wanted to underscore that they see one’s race as ripe for discussing adversity faced and thus strengths developed.
Yet, because The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that college applicants can’t be admitted on the basis of racial background , UVA admissions officers will need to be very careful to build their internal assessment rubric for student responses to this prompt around students’ ability to communicate clearly and effectively about the INFLUENCE of the background, perspective, or experience on them or potentially others rather than on the choice of background, perspective, or experience itself. Black students, for example, can’t legally be rewarded or punished by UVA for selecting their race as the background that will give them or others strength; therefore, it should also be the case that pro-traditional family students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for selecting a natalist perspective to write about, environmentalist students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for sharing their perspective on protecting Earth’s limited resources, right wing students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for sharing a nationalist perspective they developed from which they draw strength, and left wing students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for sharing a socialist perspective that they’ve developed from which they draw strength. Instead, the essays should be assessed entirely on whether the student articulately and compellingly conveys HOW their background, perspective, or experience will give them or others strength during their time at UVA.
Interestingly, giving students the chance to focus on a source of strength for themselves OR a source of strength for others also adds a degree of essay content variability that may make the essays produced in response to this question quite hard to compare to each other. Maybe that’s the point? While I certainly wish students good luck as they draft their responses, I also wish UVA admissions officers good luck with adhering to the law, internal directives, and their consciences when assessing these essay responses as part of their holistic review process.
Gone are the days when the powers that be at UVA asked about applicants’ favorite word or happy place – just a few weeks after The Supreme Court ruled that colleges may not admit students on the basis of race (background) and that essays may not be used to maintain the old unconstitutional affirmative action regime. As Alanis Morissette once asked, “And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think?”
For advice on how to make the most of UVA’s current supplemental essay prompt(s) and get into UVA, watch my new full “How to Get into University of Virginia” video below. Again, good luck!
Highlights Discussed in Above Video:
How to Build a Strong Foundation Those serious about getting into UVA will first read my article “ How to get into the Ivy League – Ethically .” While UVA is not officially an Ivy League school, its out of state acceptance rates prove that it’s certainly one of the most difficult colleges to get into in the United States. When you apply to UVA, you are competing against other high achieving students. This article sets the table for how to maximize one’s chances of getting into any highly selective college or university:
How to Differentiate Your Accomplishments While you must fill out the Activities page on the application, you should also take my How to Build an Extraordinary Extracurricular Resume short course in order to learn how you can share even more about the depth and breadth of your extracurricular accomplishments since you started high school.
Bonus: How to Differentiate Your Common App Essay Best & Worst Common App Essay Prompts
Most & Least Popular Common App Essay Prompts
Why Your Common App Essay Is Awful
Why Your Common App Essay Is So Bad
About Craig Meister
Craig Meister is a college admissions expert who, for eighteen years, has had the great fortune of providing personalized post-secondary guidance to students and families from around the world.
Filed Under: Advice & Analysis , Applications , Essays , News , Trending Posts , UVA
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How to Write the University of Virginia Essays 2022-2023
The University of Virginia has two required prompts, but it’s different from many other applications in that very few two applicants will have the same set of chosen prompts. With 11 prompts to choose between for the first two responses, and a program-based question, there’s a lot of room for choice here which means a lot of opportunities to distinguish yourself and really showcase the kind of student you want to be at Virginia.
Read these University of Virginia essay examples to inspire your own writing.
University of Virginia Supplemental Essay Prompts
Prompt 1: Required of ALL applicants, regardless of school or program. Answer two of the following questions in about 50 words.
- Option A: What’s your favorite word and why?
- Option B: We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. What is one of your quirks?
- Option C: About what topic could you speak for an hour?
- Option D: Take us to your happy place.
- Option E: You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that?
- Option F: What is the last gift you gave someone that wasn’t bought with money?
- Option G: What website is the internet missing?
- Option H: After a challenging experience, how do you recharge?
- Option I: Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself.
- Option J: UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
- Option K: Tell us about a time when, faced with an opinion or perspective that differed from your own, you responded as an empathetic speaker or generous listener.
Prompt 2: Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in about 100 words.
- College of Arts & Sciences: If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?
- School of Engineering: How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?
- School of Architecture: Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
- School of Nursing: Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.
- Kinesiology Program: Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.
Selecting a Prompt
Before breaking down each of the options, we wanted to paint a picture of exactly what admissions representatives are looking for. While the second prompt is entirely academic-based, the first prompt is all questions that are meant to break the ice between you and the admissions representatives. They are meant to be more lighthearted and to give you a chance to showcase your personality and creativity. This is your chance to showcase a side of you that isn’t captured by your grades, standardized test scores, academic interests or your common app — so take advantage of it!
When it comes to selecting two prompts to respond to, read through all of the options and immediately eliminate the ones that don’t speak to you. After you’ve narrowed it down to a few options that resonate with you, jot down a couple of topics that could work to answer each prompt. You’ll find during this brainstorming that out of all of the topics you come up with, two will develop in your mind more than the others. That’s when you’ve found your prompts!
Prompt 1, Option A
What’s your favorite word and why.
For this essay, avoid choosing a word that’s generally self-explanatory or cliche. Examples of this could be “happiness” or “love” because these words are often overused and the meaning can generally be inferred without an additional story. You want to choose something that is both personally meaningful to you and something that is attached to a greater story.
For instance, if you are multilingual and your grandmother would always offer you a specific piece of advice in another language, you could use a word related to that advice in that language. Perhaps there is a story attached to the reason why she gave you that advice, or perhaps it is what you remember the most from her. Tell a quick tidbit about this idea and your essay will be much more personal and impactful.
You could also show off your nerdy side here or highlight your interests. Perhaps your favorite word is “emulsion” because it is relevant to your two favorite activities: chemistry and cooking. You could discuss your love for each of these subjects and, like the previous example, tell a brief story on how the word relates to your personal experiences.
When choosing a word, you could also consider alternate meanings, or meanings outside the traditional dictionary definition. In this case, you could contrast the traditional meaning with your own personal interpretation of the word in order to point out any differences and highlight your own personal connection to the word. Again, the key for this essay is to be personal.
In terms of writing your essay, you want to make it clear what your word is without directly saying “my favorite word is _____.”; always start your essay with an interesting opener and a thoughtful conclusion. Since the essay is short at 50 words, you want to be very straightforward without being too stale or obvious.
Prompt 1, Option B
We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. what is one of your quirks.
Chances are, you have a unique quality that makes up who you are. This essay is all about pinpointing that quality and describing it in terms of its importance to your identity. Perhaps you have an odd fascination with insects or you collect unconventional objects. This is a perfect essay to discuss these facets of your life.
You must make sure to connect your quirk to your personality and individuality. Don’t simply describe the quirk; ask yourself why this quality is important to you and consider how your individuality would change had you not possessed this characteristic. You want to highlight your personality in this essay, whether it be through humorous writing or a creative story.
For example, if your quirk is having to do a cartwheel every morning before school, you can write a story mapping out your day, with emphasis on your daily cartwheel. Perhaps this is the only way to get your blood pumping and prepare you for the day ahead. Perhaps doing cartwheels ensures that you always start your day with a positive attitude, allowing you to tackle any obstacles during the day.
Because you only have 50 words to work with, you’ll want to hit on some key things in your response for maximum effect. You’ll want to briefly introduce your quirk, mention the effect it has on you or your surroundings, and then cap off on why it’s an essential part of you. You don’t have to follow that exact structure, but that may help you frame it.
There are endless possibilities for quirks you could write about, as each person is different and has unique habits. Your quirk could be a unique mannerism such as a “weird” laugh or a unique daily routine you have. Perhaps your quirk was the object of ridicule in your earlier years, but now you’ve become confident in yourself and your unique qualities. Show UVA what makes you you and how proud you are to be yourself — weird quirks and all!
Prompt 1, Option C
About what topic could you speak for an hour.
Like the two options before it, this is a prompt about picking favorites. Luckily, you should have no problem writing about your chosen answer – it is, in fact, the topic you can go on and on about. As such, the hard part will be condensing it down to 50 words.
In choosing a topic, this is your chance to showcase what your interests are outside of academics. Your topic should be something that someone wouldn’t know about you just by looking at your transcript. If you feel like you can talk about mathematics or sciences for an hour above anything else, then feel free to use that, but try to think outside the box.
Maybe it’s a favorite movie, or even the fact that you’re a huge movie buff. Maybe it’s an activity, like a sport or an art. Maybe it’s even an area of fascination you have – fashion, a scientific topic, or travel. If you’re having trouble figuring out a topic, close your eyes and think about the things that make you happy, and begin writing down topics. Once you have a list, start to write out everything you love about each. You should find that there’s at least one topic you feel like you have more to say about than others.
Just keep in mind the word limit. It’s a bit counterintuitive to have a prompt asking what you can rant about and not give you the opportunity to rant, but keep in mind that this is low-stakes and meant to just show what the topic is and why you’re interested in it, rather than what you have to say about it.
For example, if your chosen topic is a musical artist, you don’t have to list all your favorite albums and songs. Rather, you should write why that artist means so much to you and why it’s a cornerstone of your personality. Something like “I’ve been a fan of the Beach Boys since my mom played them on every car ride. I can talk through their history, lives, and sound, to the point that my friends are over my rambling. But that doesn’t change that they shaped my love for music and life.”
Prompt 1, Option D
Take us to your happy place..
While college is of course exciting, it can also be stressful. Thus, admissions representatives want to hear what you do or where you go to destress and find peace – your happy place. Don’t think that a happy place has to be a physical location. It can be a hobby that you do by yourself or with others, someone who never fails to brighten your day or a book, movie, or song that keeps you grounded. Thus, there are plenty of answers to choose from, so pick something that feels the most like you.
Also, note the wording of the prompt – “take us to your happy place”. This prompt extends you the opportunity to paint a vivid picture of what your chosen happy place does for you. Try putting the admissions representative with you while you’re in your happy place, and discuss what it feels like to be there.
For example, if your happy place is taking a walk while listening to your favorite tunes, describe the environment. A good way to do this is by using describing it using your five senses. What does it smell like? Look like? Taste like? Feel like? Sound like? Don’t simply list each of the senses of your happy place, but use them to guide you through your response.
Prompt 1, Option E
You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. what skill is that.
This prompt will require a bit of added creativity, and there are a few factors to consider when choosing an answer. Mainly, note that the prompt isn’t just asking you to choose any skill you’d want, so you may have to give up your dreams of becoming a Michelangelo-level painter overnight. Instead, it’s asking you which one of the skills you already have you’d like to suddenly become an expert in. The biggest factor here is going to be originality. Here’s an example of a don’t:
“I’m a huge foodie, and I’ve been learning to cook, but as a high school student, learning to cook falls behind some of my classes. If I became an expert cook, not only could I eat whatever I wanted, but I could share my love for food with the world.”
While you may be a big foodie, writing that you would want to be an expert cook doesn’t really say a lot about your personality outside of that you like food, which is already apparent from the first few words of the response. Additionally like many of the other prompts, the admissions reader is less interested in what you do with your skill and more interested in why you chose what you chose. Anyone can say that they would like to be an expert cook, but why do you want to be an expert cook?
It will take some time to reflect on why you would want to become an expert at something you already do. Perhaps you want to become an expert to advance your education such as becoming an editor for music videos, or maybe you want to become an expert in language so that you can travel and volunteer across the world. But say your chosen skill is cooking. What reasons do you have for that? Remember, the best responses are personal , so dig into the why instead of the what. Here are some questions that can get you thinking.
- Who or what got you interested in cooking in the first place?
- When did you start learning to cook?
- What food would you choose to be an expert in if you could only choose one?
- Is there a traditional family meal you remember fondly or perhaps still have?
- How does food play into your identity?
There are plenty more questions you can ask yourself to help craft a more thorough answer, but these are just a few to get you going. And for most of them, you should be able to replace the word “cooking” with your skill of choice.
Prompt 1, Option F
What is the last gift you gave someone that wasn’t bought with money.
This question is not about valuing your resourcefulness, but your thoughtfulness. The admissions representative wants to know how you show your appreciation for those you hold important in your life, and by taking money out of the equation, your answer is bound to be unique.
Most answers to this prompt will end up falling in the DIY category: scrapbooks, paintings, videos, handmade jewelry, etc. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use one of these answers, it just means that you should be as open about the reasoning for the gift as possible. In fact, this prompt is just as much about the gift as it is about your relationship with the person you gave it to.
Maybe you have a relative or close family member who cherishes a beach fondly, so you painted them a picture of that beach for them to have year-round. Maybe you made an original children’s book for you to read with your little cousin. Or it could be as simple as making matching bracelets for you and your friends from camp to wear when you aren’t together. Notice how all of these answers are not just highlighting the gift, but how the gift is a symbol of the bond you share with the person or people.
Not everyone will have a good answer to this prompt. This one, more than some others, requires some vivid personal detail, so remember that you only have to answer this one if you feel you have an answer that showcases a thoughtful nature.
Prompt 1, Option G
What website is the internet missing.
This prompt is for anyone who feels they have an inventive or entrepreneurial nature, as well as anyone who feels they’ve had a million-dollar idea for years with nowhere to put it. In the age of the Internet, it may feel like there’s nothing new to come up with, but the Internet continues to be surprising in what new can arise. New apps and websites rise in popularity every day, and many of them are founded by people who may not be much older than you. That’s not to put pressure on you, rather the opposite.
Think about the daily inconveniences you face, and then ways that the Internet could help solve them. If you’re still stumped, try going through one day and jotting down anytime you feel inconvenienced or frustrated. The first step in any great solution is identifying a problem, so keep jotting things down until you identify a problem that you feel needs solving.
This is a good prompt to choose as a balance to some of the more personal ones. But of course, don’t force an idea if you really feel like you don’t have one. There are plenty of other prompts to go with. But who knows? Maybe the answer you put here will someday turn into a million-dollar project.
Prompt 1, Option H
After a challenging experience, how do you recharge.
This prompt is very similar to the “happy place” one, so the first thing to note is that you’ll want to avoid choosing to answer both. It’s very likely that your answer would be the same anyway. Like the prompt above this one, if you aren’t immediately struck with an answer, try conducting an exercise to see what habits you exhibit.
Maybe you have a homework assignment you’ve been putting off, or maybe that’s even writing some of these essays. Try to take a crack at doing an assignment nonstop and then taking a mental break. What do you immediately gravitate towards? You may just go to the kitchen and grab a snack or watch some TV, or you may feel like you want to go for a bike ride, call a friend up, or even write in a journal. Essentially, what clears your head and refreshes you?
Or the answer may be something deeper – a challenging experience is a very broad term. If you’ve experienced some turmoil in your life, what got you through to the other side? How have you used similar strategies to handle further challenges? Remember that this question is less about the challenge and more about the aftermath, and admissions representatives generally want to hear what keeps you grounded.
Prompt 1, Option I
Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself..
This is another prompt that is similar to the concept of a “happy place,” meaning it’s another one that shouldn’t be done in conjunction with Option D or Option H. However, it is another strong chance to reveal a unique aspect of your personality and background. Unlike the other two similar prompts, this question refers to a physical location that you may go to that brings you peace in its privacy. The question alludes to the idea of you giving others that same sense of security, while simultaneously feeling as though it’s yours to keep.
Picture your hometown. Is there somewhere you would go with others and by yourself? Maybe it’s catching a movie alone or a nearby hike, or maybe the journey is better than the destination – maybe that place is in the car, just driving around. Whatever it may be, think about where you feel like you can breathe and relax.
This is another prompt that asks you to paint a picture, so use the five senses technique mentioned earlier. What does this place feel like? Smell like? Taste like? Sound like? And of course, what does it look like?
Just remember you only have 50 words so keep it short. When describing a place, you also don’t have to always use complete sentences. You can use the present tense to make the reader feel as though they’re there with you. For example, rather than saying “The flowers are a radiant blue and yellow, and the trees sway with the breeze,” you can write “Radiant blue and yellow flowers. Trees swaying in the breeze.” This further creates a sense of urgency and intimacy that will better transport the reader to your place of choice.
Prompt 1, Option J
Uva students paint messages on beta bridge when they want to share information with our community. what would you paint on beta bridge and why is this your message.
Like Option C, for this question, you’ll want to consider the topics you’re passionate about and want to share with others. You could interpret “message” as a form of artwork such as a painting, or you can interpret it more literally as a message or phrase.
For instance, if you’re passionate about redesigning the roles of modern women, you could describe a painting that includes a dichotomy between traditional and more progressive roles of women. Perhaps half of the painting includes black and white images of women performing household tasks and the other half uses vivid colors to portray women in positions of power and independence. Maybe you’ve been empowered by several strong women in your life and want to advocate for gender issues such as equal pay.
Maybe there is a quote or phrase from a novel that you’ve read that stuck out to you and want to share with UVA’s student body. For instance, if a quote from Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do resonates with you due to a similarity with your immigration story, you could paint this message on the Beta Bridge in order to create a sense of community with those who share similar backgrounds.
No matter what you choose to paint, make sure you have a personal connection to the art. Ensure that you answer the “why” aspect of the question and discuss the reasons why the message is important to both you and others.
Prompt 1, Option K
Tell us about a time when, faced with an opinion or perspective that differed from your own, you responded as an empathetic speaker or generous listener..
This prompt may be tricky as depending on the topic at hand, there may be a lot more to write than 50 words. However, the prompt is asking you to describe your response process rather than how you argued or debated the person or people opposing you. While the prompt may initially lead you to think back on political arguments you may have had, whether in your hometown, family, or on the Internet, the prompt doesn’t directly need to be centered around an argument you had.
It can also be a time that you listened and tried to educate yourself on a topic you were previously unfamiliar with. For example, maybe your high school brought in a minority speaker such as an Indigenous Person to teach you about their place in today’s America, and you responded with compassion and interest. And that instance led you to further research and action on the topic as well.
As mentioned before, the toughest thing about this prompt is keeping it short, so focus your response to be less on the topic at hand and more on how you responded.
Prompt 2, College of Arts & Sciences
If you could create a college course that all uva students would take, what would it be about and why (100 words).
This is where your interest in UVA’s academics needs to shine through. While the previous prompts allowed you a chance to get creative, this prompt asks you to showcase your excitement for a college education by expressing what you believe should be a part of it. Think about a topic that interests you or one that you’re already passionate about. It doesn’t have to be something you’re already an expert in, in fact, we’d recommend shying away from this route. This proposed course would be something all students at UVA would have to take, so just because you may be a World War history buff, doesn’t mean it should be a required course.
Using the example of history, however, think about a history course could that could apply to general liberal arts, which often covers not just arts and sciences, but social, political, and cultural topics as well. A course about women’s rights following the industrial revolution could appeal to students across the entire school, as well as positively impact campus culture as a whole. Choosing a more-specialized topic can help showcase your interests, drive, and overall values.
And feel free to get creative! It can be something more low stakes or even something skill-based like a public speaking course. An important tool to use is UVA’s course catalog which can be found here . Looking through this can help you avoid accidentally writing about an existing course and could also help you brainstorm some ideas. It’s a total win-win.
Prompt 2, School of Engineering
How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better.
If you want to be an engineer, chances are you feel like you want to use your skills in math and science to solve problems and make the world an easier place to live in. So if this answer to why you want to be an engineer is that you want to make the world a better place, then this question is asking how .
Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll know exactly how to use your engineering degree to solve the world’s problems at this stage in your life. In a sense, that’s probably why you want to go to school for engineering. But think of this prompt as similar to Option G, and much of the same advice applies there as well. Think of the daily problems in your life or that of your surroundings. If you can’t think of anything off the top of your head, spend the next few days going through your daily life and jotting down anytime you notice a problem that engineering can solve.
Maybe try driving around your neighborhood and taking note of what you see. Go to parks, plazas, and schools. See how engineering was used to design them. Look around your house and through your appliances. The key here is to go with something you know. In other words, start small.
Like Option G, you won’t want to jump immediately to building advanced robotic machinery or government submarines, but you can use your personal background to show a goal emerging. Maybe you have a friend or relative, or even just know of someone who uses a prosthetic robotic limb. Or maybe you live in a coastal or lake town that could benefit from greener boat transportation. Remember, the best response is one with a personal connection, so draw from your own life and experience.
Prompt 2, School of Architecture
Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the school of architecture..
This “significant experience” could take the form of visiting an architectural landmark, living in a neighborhood of a certain style, or even simply watching a documentary on Antoni Guadi that solidified your decision to pursue architecture.
If you’ve traveled to a place with intricate and unique architecture, or you visited a site that excluded aesthetic excellence, this is the place to discuss that.
Perhaps you were intrigued by the ancient architecture and designs featured in ancient Greece. Or perhaps you were fascinated by a particular home you saw while driving through Hollywood Hills due to its unique modern characteristics. Be detailed when describing the instance or location, and allow the reader to visualize the design. That being said, be careful not to write a completely descriptive essay; with every purely descriptive sentence, make sure there is an accompanying sentence that addresses why that particular description is significant.
Your goal for this essay is to use an experience as a tool to describe your interest in architecture. Maybe you loved the detailed engravings embedded into ancient European architecture, or maybe you love the intersection of minimalism and functionality, or on the flip side, perhaps there is a building in your city that you particularly dislike and you’re curious about what drove certain architectural decisions. Make sure to convey the passion you have towards architecture and show a genuine interest and love for unique designs.
Prompt 2, School of Nursing
Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing..
This prompt is essentially asking you why you want to study nursing. You want to trace your previous experiences and consider whether they impacted your decision to study health care. Perhaps an experience volunteering at a hospital changed influenced your love for nursing, or perhaps you realized nursing comes naturally to you after caring for an ill friend or family member.
If you worked or volunteered at a hospital, you could discuss a specific interaction you had with a patient. For example, maybe an elderly woman recently exited surgery and you were assigned to assist with her recovery. Perhaps the woman would often tell stories about her past experiences to you, reminding you of your own grandmother. Maybe it’s this deep interaction with patients that has attracted you to nursing.
You want to be personal in your response; don’t simply state that you want to study nursing in order to help people. These answers are cliche and vague, as they don’t really highlight a particular experience that you had.
Prompt 2, Kinesiology Program
Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology..
For those of you interested in kinesiology, or the study of how the body moves, you must complete this essay. There could be several reasons why you chose this field of study but make sure to choose something that is personal to you and had a large impact in terms of exciting your interest in the subject.
For instance, if you volunteered in a hospital and often worked with patients recovering from physical injuries, you could discuss watching people slowly regain mobility. You could discuss how you were amazed by the body’s ability to recover and how a person could transition from immobility to mobility. Maybe you have a more personal connection and witnessed a friend or family member experience the same recovery. If so, you could definitely include this in discussing your motivation for pursuing kinesiology.
You could also discuss the science and mechanics behind kinesiology if you did not necessarily have a defining moment that influenced you to choose the field. Perhaps you are interested biomechanics behind kinesiology and were always intrigued by how the body interacts with itself. If you have played sports before, you could draw a connection between the two here and discuss how your interest in sports influenced your interest in the body’s mechanics.
Where to Get Your Virginia Essays Edited for Free
Do you want feedback on your Virginia essays? After reading your essays over and over, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. Since they don’t know you personally, they can be a more objective judge of whether your personality shines through, and whether you’ve fully answered the prompt.
You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. We highly recommend giving this tool a try!
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University of Virginia | UVA’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts
Why this college short response.
If you have a personal or historic connection with UVA, and if you’d like to share how your experience of this connection has prepared you to contribute to the University, please share your thoughts here. Such relationships might include, but are not limited to, being a child of someone who graduated from or works for UVA, a descendant of ancestors who labored at UVA, or a participant in UVA programs.
Diversity Short Response
What about your individual background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA? Feel free to write about any past experience or part of your background that has shaped your perspective and will be a source of strength, including but not limited to those related to your community, upbringing, educational environment, race, gender, or other aspects of your background that are important to you.
Common App Personal Essay
The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
What will first-time readers think of your college essay?
Mastering UVA Supplemental Essays for the 2023-2024 Admissions Cycle
The college application journey is often full of excitement and, yes, a bit of stress. When it comes to the University of Virginia (UVA), a leading public university with a rich history and diverse academic offerings, the challenge includes creating a set of compelling supplemental essays. Don't fret! In this post, we will give you specific, actionable advice on how to ace each UVA essay prompt.
We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying. (250 words)
This prompt is about showing how your passion aligns with what UVA offers. Research is key here. Mention specific courses, professors, or opportunities available at UVA that align with your academic interests. Connect these to your past experiences and future goals. Show them that you aren't just interested in UVA; you're excited about it.
Growing up in a small town in Wyoming, my world was framed by snow-capped mountains and boundless sky. This isolated, rugged environment sparked my fascination with weather patterns, leading me to pursue studies in atmospheric sciences. At UVA’s Department of Environmental Sciences, I hope to explore this passion further, given the department's excellent reputation and innovative research.
What particularly excites me about UVA is the cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the environment, such as Professor Sally Pusede's research in air pollution. I'm eager to work under her guidance and explore the intersection between atmospheric sciences and public health, an area I see myself contributing to in the future. The balance of rigorous academics and collaborative community at UVA perfectly aligns with my intellectual curiosity and desire to create meaningful societal impact.
Answer one of the following questions in half a page, or roughly 250 words:
- What’s your favorite word and why?
- We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
- UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
- UVA students are charged with living honorably and upholding a Community of Trust. Give us an example of a community that is important to you and how you worked to strengthen that community.
These prompts all share a common goal: revealing something unique about your personality. Remember to choose the question that allows you to showcase an intriguing aspect of your character that isn't evident elsewhere in your application. Stay genuine and personable.
Prompt: UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
If I were given the chance to paint on Beta Bridge, my message would be "Look Up". Amid the hustle of student life, it's easy to get lost in textbooks, laptops, and cell phones. "Look Up" serves as a simple reminder to engage with the world around us, to appreciate the changing seasons, the architectural beauty of UVA, and the diverse community that populates it. My message aims to encourage mindfulness, curiosity, and a renewed appreciation for our shared surroundings. I believe that this perspective can foster stronger connections among the UVA community, enriching our collective experience.
Prompts for Specific Schools
Each school within UVA has its own prompt. These are opportunities to demonstrate not just why you're interested in your chosen field, but why you're interested in studying it at UVA.
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.
For this prompt, discuss a specific engineering achievement, how it benefits society, and how it inspires your academic journey. Make sure to connect this back to UVA's Engineering program and how it can help you contribute to the common good.
The creation of solar-powered water desalination systems is an engineering feat that never ceases to inspire me. It addresses two critical global issues: clean water scarcity and sustainable energy use. This integration of environmental concerns with engineering solutions demonstrates the profound impact this field can have on society.
Such an approach motivates me to pursue engineering at UVA. The multidisciplinary focus of the Engineering in Context course, coupled with the opportunity to collaborate with the UVA Center for Applied Biomechanics, matches my aspiration to develop technology-driven, sustainable solutions for global challenges. The chance to study engineering at UVA is not just an opportunity for personal advancement but a stepping stone towards fulfilling my commitment to the common good.
School of Architecture: Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
Here, UVA wants to hear about your passion for architecture or design. Describe a specific instance, place, or work that inspired you and explain why. Then connect this to UVA's School of Architecture, mentioning particular courses or professors you're excited to learn from.
The iconic Guggenheim Museum in New York, with its swirling form and revolutionary design, has been a significant inspiration for me. Frank Lloyd Wright's seamless integration of architecture and environment completely transformed my understanding of what architecture could achieve.
The way the museum interacts with its urban surroundings, how it invites the visitor on a continuous journey of discovery, sparked my interest in the power of architecture to shape human experience.
I see a parallel between Wright's philosophy and the UVA School of Architecture's emphasis on integrating theory, history, and practice. I'm particularly interested in Professor Shiqiao Li's work on urban theory and the cultural interpretation of architecture. I believe studying at UVA will allow me to delve deeper into these areas, shaping me into a conscientious architect capable of creating spaces that resonate with their inhabitants and environment.
The key to acing these UVA essays is to be reflective, genuine, and precise. Show them why you are a perfect fit for UVA and how UVA is the ideal place for you to achieve your goals.
Good luck, Wahoos!
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UVA Releases Its 2022-2023 Essays
2022-2023 #uva first year application writing prompts.
UVA did a total re-haul of its essays and word lengths.
100 word max.
College of Arts & Sciences: If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?
School of Engineering: How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?
School of Architecture: Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
School of Nursing: Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.
Kinesiology Program: Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.
Short Responses (Choose Two)
50 word max per response
Students will then write responses to two prompts out of ten options in about 50 words each. Again, the Common App boxes allow students to go a little over the stated limit. Some of these are old favorites and some are new.
1. What’s your favorite word and why? 2. We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. What is one of your quirks? 3. About what topic could you speak for an hour? 4. Take us to your happy place. 5. You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that? 6. What is the last gift you gave something that wasn’t bought with money? 7. What website is the internet missing? 8. After a challenging experience, how do you recharge? 9. Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself. 10. UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
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Test Prep, Tutoring, College Admissions
Our Analysis of the 2023-2024 Supplemental Essay Prompts
This year's batch of supplemental essay prompts was released on august 1st. here's what those prompts reveal about the changing priorities at colleges and universities..
Thanks to the perceived essay loophole Chief Justice Roberts’ Supreme Court decision language created—establishing that students can write about racial identity when tied to other experiences and characteristics—there has been much speculation that colleges would scramble to add diversity-related questions to their applications. Now that the Common App has reset for 2023-24, we can see colleges’ new supplemental questions. Did this bear out? So far, we’d say: yes. Yes it did. Here are a few overall trends and changes we’re noticing in the 2023-2024 supplemental essay prompts.
An increase in DEIB-related essays
This comes as no surprise. It’s important to note that many colleges already had prompts that asked students to reflect on their identities, on their communities, or on how they would contribute to diverse campuses; schools like Duke, Michigan, and Syracuse have included questions like this on their supplements for years now. But other schools have made notable changes since June’s decision: University of Miami, for example, replaced their question about the ibis (which, admittedly, we are not terribly sad to see go); American University scrapped their “why AU?”; and UVA retooled the essay questions they had only just retooled last year (even though UVA’s Dean J admitted she really liked last year’s version).
Here are the new versions of those schools’ supplemental essay questions:
University of Miami
“Located within one of the most dynamic cities in the world, the University of Miami is a distinctive community with a variety of cultures, traditions, histories, languages, and backgrounds. The University of Miami is a values-based and purpose-driven postsecondary institution that embraces diversity and inclusivity in all its forms and strives to create a culture of belonging, where every person feels valued and has an opportunity to contribute. Please describe how your unique experiences, challenges overcome, or skills acquired would contribute to our distinctive University community.” (max 250 words)
“At American University, Inclusive Excellence is a cornerstone of the academic experience for our students, and we deeply value the learning that is inspired by the diversity of backgrounds and life experiences that all our community members bring with them. Please share why you would like to join this community.” (max 150 words)
All Applicants (300 words or less):
“What about your background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA?”
(…and read more about UVA’s new legacy-based optional question here ).
More choice for students
Many colleges who have introduced new questions have included these questions as one of several choices. BU, for example, introduced a new question—“Reflect on a social or community issue that deeply resonates with you. Why is it important to you, and how have you been involved in addressing or raising awareness about it?”—but kept their classic “Why BU?” as an alternative option. Offering prompt choices—which schools like Tufts, Boston College, Villanova, Emory, and University of Richmond have done for quite some time—allows for students to write about their identities if they wish and on their own terms.
…Except at Harvard
As one of the defendants in the Supreme Court case, Harvard has lots of eyes on its post-SCOTUS decision making. Its response to the decision? Eliminating the previous optional (er, “optional”) essay and instituting five required essays. Very Harvard of them. And yes, one of them is directly about diversity:
“Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard?”
Less emphasis on “why us?” essays
While this isn’t true everywhere, we saw a few surprising changes at some “why us?” stalwarts. Perhaps most notably, Tulane’s “why us?” essay—which, for many years, famously had an 800-word limit—is now a mere 250. And while last year Tulane had three different robust supplemental essay questions, now it’s just the one. Truly, our jaws are on the floor (yes, at this time of year, this counts as Very Exciting News. We essay editors don’t get out much in August). Equally shocking: no “why Indiana?” question for Indiana University in Bloomington. In fact, no supplement at all! That’s one way to lower the barrier to entry and boost application numbers (just ask Northeastern).
For tips on how to tackle these essay questions, check out our College Essay Hub . And if you’re looking for more in-depth, one-on-one support, reach out to our college admissions team!