This past year’s college application and admissions cycle has been unprecedented. With 1000 colleges, including the most selective, making SATs and ACTs optional, applicant pools soared. Students who would never have thought to apply to Harvard swelled their pool from the usual 40,000 to 57,000 students, and so on down the line. Admission to the most selective universities sank to 3.6% in some cases!
I imagine colleges are trying to figure out what to do for the upcoming year, but in the meantime, three of the country’s top state universities — California, Michigan and Texas — have announced their essay prompts. California and Texas are NOT on the Common Application, while Michigan requires the Common App essay (LEARN ABOUT THEM HERE!) and two supplements.
If you are applying to California and/or Texas state universities, as well as Common App schools, I usually suggest you begin with the Cal or Texas essays, get your essay muscles working on these smaller essays, and then use the skills and even the material you have uncovered for your Common App and additional supplements.
How important are these essays? Since the UC colleges no longer require standardized tests, and it may be that the same colleges are test optional for the coming year, the answer is: VERY IMPORTANT. That doesn’t mean the essays have to be literary masterpieces. It means they need to show your academic and personal strengths. They need to show your engagement in your school work and your community — and maybe even the larger world, if you’ve had jobs and internships that have taken you there.
BELOW are the prompts for each of these universities. AND if you want to see last year’s supplements for 30 colleges, please write to me Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com and I’ll send you a document with them. Supplements do not often change from year to year. The final prompts will be out later this spring or summer.
University of California INSIGHT PROMPTS
1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
2. 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.
3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time? TO READ MORE CLICK HERE
University of Texas
The Apply Texas prompts will remain the same for the next school year (for the class of 2022).
The Apply Texas application is a common application form for most Texas public universities. It allows students to input their information for several different colleges at once. ApplyTexas college essay prompts for class of 2020 are:
- Essay A:
Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?
- Essay B: Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.
- Essay C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?
Each school requires a different combination of these three college essays-some require all three, some just one or two, or others make certain ones recommended or optional. Some schools even use these essays for both admissions decisions AND scholarships so it’s important to put time and effort into each one!
While the Apply Texas application doesn’t “open” until July before a student’s senior year, you can preview the application online. Students can start submitting applications to colleges in July, but they shouldn’t wait until then to start on the college essays. In fact, the best time for most students to write their college essays is the summer between junior and senior year of high school.
UT Short Answer Essay Requirements
As part of ApplyTexas, all freshman applicants will also respond to three short-answer questions. Answers are limited to no more than 40 lines, or about 250 – 300 words.
Short Answer 1: Career Plans Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?
Short Answer 2: Leadership Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Please share how you have demonstrated leadership in either your school, job, community, and/or within your family responsibilities.
Short Answer 3 Please share how you believe your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents have shaped your ability to contribute to and enrich the learning environment at UT Austin, both in and out of the classroom.
Optional Short Answer Please share background on events or special circumstances that may have impacted your high school academic performance.
University of Michigan: Common App Essay plus two prompts:
- Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants)
- Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants)
FOR HELP WITH THESE ESSAYS OR ANY OTHERS — and any aspect of your college applications — please shoot me an email or pick up the phone (Eastern time zone)! Thanks for dropping by.
ElizabethBenedictOK@gmail.com and 1-885-99-ESSAY
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