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Our Tips on Writing Your College Essay

Posted on Sep 25, 2017

Renee Buchanan

Renee Buchanan is communications manager for the Division of Enrollment Management. She has worked for the University of Florida for 22 years as a magazine writer and editor, medical alumni director, academic catalog editor, and designer for print and web.

The essay should not be the most dreaded part of the application process for any university. Maybe these tips will help you find that you can do this writing task with ease.

1. Tell Your Story In Your Own Voice.

Now is the time to market yourself to the best of your ability. Your college essay gives our admissions officers an insight into what makes you unique beyond your high school grades, test scores and extracurriculars. Your essay tells us how you will add something to UF’s freshman class, what you can bring to our community of leaders, learners and thinkers, and what sets you apart. This is the story of YOU!

2. Does the Essay Matter?

UF will receive more than 30,000 applications for the approximate 6,500 seats in the freshman class. There will be many outstanding students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. Your essay helps us learn what makes you unique from other equally talented students.

3. Who Reads ‘Em?

Various officers throughout the UF Division of Enrollment Management are trained to read essays, and each essay will be read at least twice by randomly assigned readers. Keep in mind that these individuals may read more than a thousand essays, so it is important to try to catch the readers’ attention quickly with the most interesting example or point at the beginning of the essay. Here’s an example:

When I was in high school, I played the violin in the high school band. It was my favorite activity, and I never missed a practice or a performance. But one day, to my horror, I left my thousand-dollar violin on the school bus…

(from the book, Heavenly Essays)

4. Make the Story Unique to You

If you believe 10 or 20 or 100 students could write your exact essay, then it’s time to rethink your topic. Work on being distinctive. Here are some overused topics that essay readers have seen many (many) times:

  • Winning or losing the big game
  • Loss of friendships or relationships
  • Critiques of others (classmates, parents)
  • Pet deaths
  • Summer vacations

Think about what you would say in three to five minutes to a total stranger to impress or inform them about your terrific qualities or unusual experiences.

5. Show and Tell—Be Vivid with Your Words

If you recall show and tell at school, your essay should follow the same principle. Remember when the student went to the front of the class with something of interest inside the plastic sack? You hear the story. You see the object. With essays, you need to draw the reader out beyond the straight text and use words that trigger imagery and the senses.

6. Big Words Are Just Big Words.

Impress us with your content and who you are; not your ability to use a thesaurus. Most of our readers would prefer if you wrote, “I hung out with a group of friends” instead of, “we congregated as a conglomerate of like-minded individuals”.

7. Don’t Repeat.

Don’t repeat what you’ve already supplied in your application—grades, test scores, etc. Your essay serves to fill in the blanks beyond what you have supplied.

8. This is your essay, not your English class.

We will be reading your essay more for your words and information and less for your grammar. We know you’ve learned to limit use of contractions, eliminate sentence fragments and not to split your infinitives. However, no text-lingo, such as “lol” “ttyl” “kk” etc. We won’t judge you heavily on grammar, but we ask that you keep it appropriately professional. Pick up a best-selling book, and you’ll find that many authors no longer write by the rules. It’s your story that counts!

9. Have Someone Else Read It.

It’s always wise to have someone else read your draft before you submit your essay. You’ll be much more relieved knowing you submitted your very best work.

10. Now, go fine tune your drafts, tell us your story and be confident in your submission.

If you follow these tips, they will take you far on the UF application.

Freshman Deadlines

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline

Application considered on space-available basis

November 16 – March 1

Submit and Link Student Self-Reported Academic Record

By December 1 for applicants who met the November 15 deadline

By March 1 for those who apply after November 15

Submit Online Housing Application and Fee

As soon as possible after you have submitted your UF Application. Campus housing is not guaranteed and room selection is based on your housing application date

University of Florida Undergraduate College Application Essays

These University of Florida college application essays were written by students accepted at University of Florida. All of our sample college essays include the question prompt and the year written. Please use these sample admission essays responsibly.

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College Application Essays accepted by University of Florida

An Eye-Opening Experience Josh Weiss

University of Florida

On November 18, 2000, a group of my friends and I returned home from my birthday dinner at a local steakhouse. Upon our arrival, it was suggested that we watch the movie Fight Club. As if it were meant to be, we discovered that Fight Club was to.

The Means By Which I Better My Community Josh Weiss

University of Florida

In order to contribute to a community of any size or structure, some aspect of said community must be made better. This can be something as simple as cleaning up refuse or as profound as changing the way people live their lives. Regardless of the.

Experiences and Personality Wes Neuman

University of Florida

Personal Statement Choice #1

Swimming has been the main focus of my life since I was 8 months old, when I first learned how to swim. In 1988, I was part of the Senate Safety Council on whether or not to teach infants how to swim. From learning how.

Individuality Anonymous

University of Florida

Essentially, individuality is a product of nature and nurture. I believe that one’s individuality, comprised of many factors, ultimately predicts their later success and influence. A product of my environment, my unique upbringing has affected my.

A loss that has changed me for the better Anonymous

University of Florida

I always looked forward to June 17, the birthday of my only living grandparent. Every year I spent the day composing corny jokes that made her to snort with laughter and murmur loving approval. But in 2002, in a matter of seconds, my associations.

Who I Am Salvador Bou

University of Florida

I credit the development of my personal values to my parents and culture. My parents were raised in Puerto Rico, where they became medical doctors. While my father came from a college educated family, my mother did not. Overcoming deep economic.

Running Child Anonymous

University of Florida

Although my tale is about a basketball player, it is not about a six-foot-eleven athlete whose name is splashed across the sports pages of daily newspapers and whose picture graces the tops of Nike and Adidas boxes. Rather, this is a story of one.

A Journey Through Perdition Hilary Jewel Lange

University of Florida

I stood on the ground where millions of innocent people perished. I walked into a gas chamber, and I walked out. I saw the scratch marks on the walls where people were clawing their way to the top, trying to get one last gasp of oxygen as the.

Crossing the Chasm Anonymous

University of Florida

A crowd of people forms at the entrance of the Eastside High School Gym. A five-foot-eleven, one-hundred-and-sixty-pound, curly-haired freshman shyly makes his way into the sea of faces. Today is tryouts for the Eastside basketball team. Eastside.

Finding Purpose Anonymous

University of Florida

We were inches from the edge; they were shouting “Dale la vuelta! Dale la vuelta!” (“Go around!”). Unless they moved their truck forward, we would plunge to our deaths, our tires were beginning to slip over the edge of the 2,000-foot cliff.

Pipo Sara Claro Piwko

University of Florida

I’ve lived with my grandparents all my life. My grandfather, whom I call “Pipo,” is like a father to me, and he is absolutely, no-doubt-about-it my favorite person in the world. He is intrigued by everything academic and has a photographic memory.

Warmth of a Smile Anonymous

University of Florida

My annual trips to Pakistan can be summarized with the use of a few basic words, including eating, sleeping, shopping, and complaining. If the car didn’t have a fully-operating AC system, I’d curse the people and their lack of technological.

A Modern Holocaust Anonymous

University of Florida

Countless books, documentaries, and museums recount the story of the Jewish Holocaust. Comparatively few people, however, have heard of the modern holocaust that took place in Indonesia twelve years ago in my hometown of Jakarta.

Family Builds Character Anonymous

University of Florida

I left my house on the first day of middle school wondering if I would fit in and if my iPod was fully charged. By the end of the day I was wondering if my mother would be alive by the time I got to seventh grade. I still vividly remember parts of.

Becoming One of Them Taylor Dougherty

University of Florida

Kicking rocks as I trudged down the windy path to my undesired destination, I heard my dad loading the obnoxious sounding cars onto the ramp. Every time I looked at the vehicle I was being forced to ride in, I couldn’t help but be embarrassed. My.

Spain Awaits Anonymous

University of Florida

I get off of the train into the piercingly cold winter morning, anxious, not knowing what to expect. “So who am I supposed to be looking for?” I think as I nervously scan my surroundings. After a draining 20 hour flight and train ride to get to a.

4'11 Forever Anonymous

University of Florida

When my mom gave birth to me, I weighed in at nine and a half pounds and measured twenty-two inches. One could say I was pretty big for a newborn, but whenever I tell this story, it is soon followed by a: “And that’s pretty much when I stopped.

My Life Jordan Williams

University of Florida

“Jooooorrrrddddannnnn,” my mom screamed with utter fear and panic in her voice. Surprisingly, amongst all of the chaos, her voice was all that I heard. I’m not sure if I was disoriented, bewildered or just in complete shock but at that particular.

Moving Forward Felipe Parodi

University of Florida

As the new student in my sixth grade English class, I was asked where I was from. “Where is your home?” a classmate inquired. As I opened my mouth to answer, I was struck by the sudden realization that there was no particular place that I was able.

The Backyard Anonymous

University of Florida

I remember when the flowers stopped blooming.

All throughout my childhood there was always one thing that would instantly make me happy. I had a beautiful backyard in my childhood home. The smell of the ripe red mango trees and the chirping of the.

Playground Andrew Elsakr

University of Florida

There was one playground not too far from my grandparents’ apartment in Cairo (the summer home of my childhood) where I wasn’t treated like the quirky, abnormal kid that I was used to being. It wasn’t your ideal picture of a playground, though.

The Good Life Nicole Relics

University of Florida

Warm, fluffy bread — because Romanians cannot eat any meal without it. Pillowy pumpkin spinach ravioli — a recipe my mother got from a chef in Italy in exchange for her strudel recipe. And apple pie — because the U.S. makes the best. This could.

St. Elmo's Fire Anonymous

University of Florida

As a child, I was obsessed with 80’s movies. I admired Ferris Bueller’s infectious charisma and fearless confidence. I dreamed of having my own Jake Ryan waiting outside the church, grinning an impish smile while standing by his cool red Porsche.

UF Butterfly Garden Gaitana Jaramillo

University of Florida

The University of Florida’s butterfly and moth exhibit houses more than 10 million variations of 10 million species! When I read that fact I couldn’t believe it. Each critter displayed in those glass cases is completely unique; now multiply that.

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Recent Questions about University of Florida

The Question and Answer section for University of Florida is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

SSAR Questions

The Student Self-Reported Academic Record (SSAR)

SSAR is the student self-reported academic record that lists the courses and associated grades that have been attempted, or will be attempted, for high school and/or college credit. It replaces the high school and college transcripts used by the Office of Admissions during the initial review process. All freshman applicants, with a few exceptions, will enter their courses and grades in the SSAR. The SSAR should be submitted and linked with your application by December 1.

If you need more help, we also have a SSAR tutorial available.

How can I make sure my SSAR is accurate?

Where do I create my SSAR?

When do I create my SSAR?

Do home-educated students complete a SSAR?

What will happen if I do not complete a SSAR?

Do I need to include high school courses taken while I was in middle school/junior high school?

How do I enter my grades on the SSAR?

1. If your school only assigns semester grades, you will enter your semester grades as shown on your high school transcript into the appropriate places in the SSAR.

2. If your school only assigns a final grade for each class taken, you will enter the final grade twice (first semester and second semester) for year-long classes (one credit), and once (either first semester or second semester) for semester-long classes (1/2 credit). For example, if you earned a grade of B in Algebra I which is a year-long class (1 credit), you will enter that grade twice (first semester and second semester). If you took Trigonometry which is a semester-long class (1/2 credit), you will enter that grade only once in whichever semester you took the class.

3. If your school assigns both semester grades and a final grade, only use the final grade when entering your grades in the SSAR. For example, if you took Algebra I and earned an A in the first semester and a B in the second semester and your final grade is B, you will enter a grade of B twice (first semester and second semester) in the SSAR.

4. If your school assigns trimester grades and a final grade, only use the final grade, the same principle as in #3. If the class is a year-long class you will use the final grade and enter it twice in the SSAR. If the class is only for one trimester, enter the final grade on either the first or second semester field.

If your transcript does not fall into one of the above categories, please call the Office of Admissions at 352-392-1365 or email us.

University of Florida College Essay Example

This is a college essay of how to approach a personality-type supplemental question for the University of Florida. Hopefully from reading this essay, you will be able to gain a better idea of what the University of Florida is looking for. This student was accepted to the University of Florida’s Honors Program.

Prompt: What’s your theme song?

“There comes a time when we hear a certain call, when the world must come together as one.” My theme song is “We Are the World” by Michael Jackson because it carries with it so many profound messages. On the most basic level, it shows how we can all unite behind one another when we need each other the most as seen with the song’s initial release in 1985 and more recently following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Yet beyond this, “We Are the World” makes me consider each decision I make and its influence on others. The song makes me cherish the classic American values of “[making] a brighter day,” helping others and expecting nothing in return. Ultimately, our selflessness and ability to empathize with others make us human.

Photo by Chad Miller from Orlando, Florida, US of A (graduation hugs) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Dates & Deadlines

Don’t be late for your future. All of the deadlines are published well in advance, so stay on target with your application materials.

Application Details

The application has many components that help us learn more about you. Review these details, begin your application process, and tell us how you can contribute to our Gator family.

Application Details

As a member of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, the University of Florida uses the Coalition Application. Complete all sections of the Coalition Application, including the UF supplemental section, and submit it no later than November 15, along with the $30 nonrefundable application fee plus $5 processing fee or fee waiver.

Application Dates

  • The freshman application opens each year in August.
  • The application deadline is November 15.
  • Applications received after November 15 are accepted on a space-available basis, which is extremely limited.
  • The Student Self-Reported Academic Record (SSAR) is due by December 1.
  • Test scores should be received from the testing agency by December 15.

At UF , students may begin their first term of study during the summer or fall.In addition, students have the opportunity to enroll at UF during the spring and summer terms only throughout their UF career in Innovation Academy. On your application, please select your preferred term of entry — either summer or fall. If you wish to be considered for Innovation Academy, you will be asked to complete a short-answer question. While every effort will be made to accommodate your preferred term of entry, space limitations may result in admission to an alternate term, PaCE, or one of the state college partnership programs.

Application Sections

If you will claim Florida residency for tuition purposes, you will need to submit the Florida Residency Declaration. With very few exceptions, applicants younger than 24 years of age will need a parent or guardian to complete and sign the residency declaration to establish Florida residency. Claimants must provide proof of Florida residency as evidenced by a Florida driver’s license, vehicle registration and/or voter registration. Additional Information

You will be asked to submit one personal essay. The personal essay will allow the admissions staff to get to know who you are as a student. Your essay should be limited to approximately 2500 characters, including spaces.

2017-2018 Essay Topics

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  • Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  • Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  • What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

International Applicants

Student Self-Reported Academic Record (SSAR)

The SSAR is the self-reported transcript of your high school grades from 9th-11th and courses in progress for grade 12. The SSAR is required for all freshman applicants including applicants who have already graduated from high school. Please see the Exemptions tab for exceptions.

If you have met the November 15 deadline, submit and link the SSAR no later than December 1. Students who have applied after November 15 should submit and link the SSAR no later than March 1. If your SSAR is received after December 1, your application will be considered on a space-available basis.

Exemptions

Creating Your SSAR

After you have submitted your SSAR through the SSAR portal, you must link it to your UF application. To link your SSAR to your UF application, click the Check Application Status button. You must submit your application for admission before you will be able to check your status and link your SSAR to the application. From the status page, you will click on the SSAR link to link your SSAR to your application.

SSAR Portal

Click here to complete your SSAR.

International Applicants

International freshman applicants are required to submit secondary and college or university credentials from non-U.S. institutions to a credential evaluation agency for a course-by-course evaluation with grade point average calculation. Companies offering these evaluation services include:

  • Academic Evaluation Services
  • Educational Credential Evaluators
  • Josef Silny & Associates Inc.

If using the Josef Silny & Associates Credential Evaluation Application, please refer to the UF application on their site.

The 2016-2017 University of Florida Essay Prompts

Beginning with the 2016-2017 admissions cycle, the University of Florida will use the Coalition Application for the freshman application. These essays have a maximum word count of 500 words. Here are the prompts.

  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  4. What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

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With a wealth of experience as a writer, journalist, and educator, Robert Schwartz has written for all four major television networks. In the feature film world he has written or rewritten screenplays for all of the major movie studios.

Planning your Journey

Start planning now for UF

Each school year, there are numerous things you can do to help prepare yourself for college. Even though high school graduation may be years away, it is never too early to begin learning about what it takes to get accepted into the college of your choice.

Grades 7 & 8

  • In middle school, you may be offered the opportunity to take some high-school level courses (for example, Algebra 1, physical science, or a foreign language). These courses will count for high school graduation and for college admission consideration.
  • What are your interests and skills? This is a time to begin thinking about what type of extracurricular activities you might wish to pursue in high school. How you spend your time outside the classroom is an important consideration in UF ‘s admissions process.
  • What are your favorite subjects? This is a time to start thinking about matching your academic talents with a possible college major and eventual career discipline.
  • Involve your family. Parents, guardians, siblings and school counselors all can help you and offer advice on staying on the right path.

Grades 9 & 10

Arrange your class schedule so you will complete the following college preparatory classes during high school:

  • English (with substantial writing) – 4 Units
  • Math (Algebra I, Algebra II, Formal Geometry, and additional math beyond Algebra II) – 4 Units
  • Natural Science (2 units must include a laboratory) – 3 Units
  • Social Science – 3 Units
  • Foreign Language (two sequential years in same language) – 2 Units
  • Total Units – 16* Units

*The university recommends that you complete at least four additional units of electives in these core disciplines. The more academic units you complete, the more competitive your application.

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Essay Prompt to Ponder

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Wisdom & Inspiration

New UF Application Essay Prompt for 2014-2015

The University of Florida Application for Summer/Fall 2015 Admission is available and includes a NEW essay topic:

We often hear the phrase “the good life.” In fact, the University of Florida’s common course required of all undergraduate students is titled “What is the Good Life?”. The concept of “the good life” can be interpreted in many different ways depending upon the experiences, values and aspirations of each individual.

In a concise narrative, describe your notion of “the good life.” How will your undergraduate experience at the University of Florida prepare you to live “the good life”?

Remember to keep within the 500-word maximum length. (The counter on the page counts down from the 3885-CHARACTER limit, which is approx. 450 words with room for spacing between paragraphs.)

I recommend to my college admissions consulting clients that they draft the writing sections (e.g. Resume Questions and Personal Essay) of the UF application in GoogleDocs or Word and then use a text editor (e.g. TextEdit) to remove any formatting prior to copying the text into the UF application.

Basic information about the UF “Good Life” course, copied from the UF website, can be found below.

BEFORE drafting your essay, I suggest that you (1) learn about the UF course (Google search); (2) reflect on your experiences, values and goals; (3) outline your personal interpretation of a “good life” and (4) research/consider how your potential UF experience could help you prepare for a “good life”.

HUM 2305: What is the Good Life? (from the UF website)

Through a close examination of relevant works of art, music, literature, history, religion, and philosophy, students in this class will consider the basic question, “What is the Good Life?” The course will serve as an invitation to the Humanities and to a lifetime of reflection on the human condition through the unique opportunities available to the students at the University of Florida.

The Humanities, a cluster of disciplines that inquire into the very nature and experience of being human, provide many approaches to the question ‘What is a good life,’ as well as a multiform treasury of responses that comprises the cultural and intellectual legacy of world humanity.

The question is especially relevant for a detailed examination as you become more and more involved in making the decisions that will shape your future and the future of others. In order to make reasonable, ethical, well-informed life choices, it is useful to reflect upon how one might aspire to live both as an individual, and a member of local and global communities.

The course is interdisciplinary and draws on the considerable humanities resources at UF. It is also cross-cultural and draws on the full range of human experience across the world and through time in trying to answer the question: “What is the good life?” It contains elements such as the gateway readings, museum exhibits, and performances that are common to the several sections being taught this semester. The lectures, discussion sections, and other readings are specific to your section of this course.

  • FOLLOW SCHOOL
  • Following School

– people following this school – people applying to this school

Your Status for This School

in the last 30 days

Full-Time MBA Rankings

Bloomberg Businessweek: 46

News World Report: 40

Part-Time MBA Rankings

News World Report: 20

Executive MBA Rankings

Online MBA Rankings

Financial Times: 5

News World Report: 5

Full-Time MBA Employments

Median Base Salary: $90,000

Median Salary with Bonus: $100,000

% Employed After Graduation: 93.0

Application Essay Prompts

“Personal Statement The applicant’s written essays and personal interview provide opportunities to convey ones unique background, personality, and ability to add to the diversity of the UF MBA community. A selection of required and optional essays allows candidates to describe important attributes that are not apparent in other parts of the application. The essays are evaluated not only for content, but also for writing style and grammar. Candidates may be asked to interview with a UF MBA admissions representative prior to the Admission Committees final decision. Interviews are by invitation only.”

Part-Time MBA Employments

Median Base Salary: $87,000

% Employed After Graduation: 93.0

Application Essay Prompts

“The applicant’s written essays and personal interview provide opportunities to convey ones unique background, personality, and ability to add to the diversity of the UF MBA community. A selection of required and optional essays allows candidates to describe important attributes that are not apparent in other parts of the application. The essays are evaluated not only for content, but also for writing style and grammar. Candidates may be asked to interview with a UF MBA admissions representative prior to the Admission Committees final decision. Interviews are by invitation only.”

Executive MBA Employments

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% Employed After Graduation:

Application Essay Prompts

Online MBA Employments

Median Salary: $124,449

% Employed After Graduation: 93.0

Application Essay Prompts

Other Pages With Statistics

Official INSEAD Career Statistics

Bloomberg Businessweek INSEAD Profile

Wikipedia INSEAD Profile

Beat The GMAT: A New Chapter

Formal Logic: Sorting Out the Necessary and the Sufficient

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