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UMBC Admissions Counselors' Blog

Essays, essays, essays

Now that school is back in session (in Maryland, anyway) many senior high school students are diving into the college application process. UMBC’s online application for students applying for the fall of 2009 will be up on our website by the end of September, so until then I thought I’d give those of you who are itching to get a start on your applications some advice: start working on your application essays now!

If you’ve looked at the application for undergraduate admission already you’ll know there are a few options for essays–these are not going to change with the updated application. Three options are specific, so if one of them inspires you, go for it. Often students find it is more enjoyable, however, to write an essay using the fourth option, which asks you to discuss your educational and career goals or personal experiences. Generally the best essays we counselors see are those responding to this option. After all, since grades and SAT scores only tell us so much about a student, the essay is a key part of the college application. Sure, it’s great that Billy has a 3.5 GPA and got a 1200 on the reading and math portions of the SAT, but what’s this guy really like? Oh, I see…according to his essay, he’s passionate about everything from Shakespeare to Led Zeppelin and would love to double major in English and recording. Or, hmmm…it looks like Jenny was doing really well in high school her freshman and sophomore years, but her grades slipped a lot her junior year. She must have been slacking off…but wait! Her essay explains that her family experienced some serious financial difficulties that year, and as a result of the extra job she took on to assit them, her grades suffered. Now that things at home are back on track and now that she has a better work schedule, her grades are creeping back up.

A well-written essay can make a big difference in your overall college application, so do spend some time on it and for pity’s sake, read it over before submitting it! See a previous posting of mine from December 19th of last year for more tips on writing those essays. Good luck!

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What is the essay topic for enrollment in the 2011-2012 school year? I was unable to find it. Thank you

If you would like to preview the essay topics you can find them in the PDF version of our application: http://www.umbc.edu/undergraduate/pdf/full_application.pdf

The essay topics UMBC uses are the same that are found on the Common Application.

Umbc essay

UMBC is a place where “the student experience is about finding your passion and exploring issues that matter, in the classroom and the community.”

Princeton Review’s 2017 “Best 381 Colleges”

Top 20 Undergraduate Teaching

U.S. News & World Report

Best Value College

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

8 years running.

Top 5 – Most Innovative National University

U.S. News & World Report

Whether you are just starting college, transferring from another school, or taking individual classes, at UMBC you will have access to exceptional resources, stimulating teachers and individual attention. Let’s get started now!

UMBC ranks in the top ten on the closely watched Most Innovative Schools list for “making the most promising innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, students, and campus life.” And for another consecutive year, UMBC tops the list for an “unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching,” as one of the nation’s top universities overall on the Best National Universities list.

© University of Maryland, Baltimore County • 1000 Hilltop Circle • Baltimore, MD 21250

Umbc essay

The Admissions Committee weighs a number of factors in making its decision. In addition to grade point average and standardized test scores, the strength of your curriculum, class rank and other achievements as well as your essay will be considered. Reviewing the 2017 Freshman Class Profile in UMBC’s Fast Facts may give you an idea of the students who are admitted to UMBC. UMBC expects applicants to have completed a strong college preparatory program of study from an accredited high school. The minimum program of study should include:

  • English: four years
  • Mathematics: four years including Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. Additionally, applicants are expected to be enrolled in an eligible mathematics course in their senior year of high school study.
  • Social Science/History: three years
  • Science: three years
  • Language other than English: two years

The Redesigned SAT

As of March 2016, the College Board has launched a redesigned SAT. To learn more about how UMBC will use the redesigned assessment as part of our admissions application, please visit our FAQ page for the redesigned SAT.

How to Apply for Freshman Admission

  1. Complete the Common Application in its entirety.

Apply Online

  • Complete the residency questions. This information is located in the Member Questions section for applicants seeking in-state residency for tuition purposes.
  • Submit the Common Application and $50 non-refundable application fee. You must submit all sections for UMBC to receive your Common Application. Prior to the deadline, make sure that there are green “complete” checkmarks under the application in your “My Colleges” dashboard under UMBC.
  • Request an official transcript from your high school. Counselors may send us your transcripts electronically through the Common Application School Report or they may mail a transcript to our office. UMBC Office of Undergraduate Admissions

    1000 Hilltop Circle

    Baltimore, MD 21250

  • Send us your test results. UMBC requires official SAT I scores or ACT scores from all freshmen applicants attending high school or home schooled in the United States. Official scores should be sent directly from the College Board or the ACT. The UMBC College Board code is 5835, and UMBC’s ACT code is 1751.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation. Once designated by the applicant, recommenders may submit recommendations electronically through the Common Application. A maximum of two recommendations, based upon the order in which they are received, will be reviewed in the evaluation process.
  • Applicants applying to the Honors College. Please make sure to answer “Yes” to the Honors College question located in the Academics Section of the University Questions and complete the additional required writing supplement.
  • Send us an official final high school transcript. All students enrolling in UMBC are required to send a final high school transcript upon completion of their senior year. UMBC does not require a Mid-Year Report.
  • Submit any additional application materials. All supporting documents not submitted electronically can be sent to our office at the address below: UMBC Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation

    1000 Hilltop Circle

    Baltimore, MD 21250

  • Send us a final high school transcript. All students enrolling in UMBC are required to send a final high school transcript upon completion of their senior year. UMBC does not require a Mid-Year Report.
  • Integrity is a value at UMBC. As such, applicants are expected to represent their self in the most true and accurate way. Learn more about academic integrity at UMBC.

    Freshman Application Timeline

    The timeline detailed below is meant to give applicants a general idea of the steps involved in the application process.

    1. Application and supporting documents are received by UMBC Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation.
    2. Once the application is processed, an acknowledgement e-mail is sent to applicant which includes instructions on how to create a myUMBC account and monitor their application status.
    3. Completed application and supporting documents are reviewed by UMBC Admissions Committee. Additional information may be requested via the applicant’s myUMBC account at this point.
    4. Applicant is notified by mail of the admissions decision. Applicants are welcome to contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation at admissions@umbc.edu with questions.

    Early Action – Decision letters for complete applications are mailed in late-December.

    Regular – Decision letters for complete applications are mailed beginning in February.

    Decision letters for complete applications are mailed within two weeks of completion date.

  • Applicants for the visual and performing arts programs will be notified by the departments regarding their status in the program upon review of portfolio and/or completion of audition.
  • Home Schooled Applicants

    UMBC welcomes home-schooled applicants. In addition to the above admissions materials, home-schooled applicants should submit curriculum vitae describing course content, instructional materials, and an evaluation of the student’s work.

    About UMBC

    Welcome to UMBC

    UMBC is defined by makers, explorers, doers and dreamers. Whatever your passion, at UMBC you’ll find a program to truly challenge and excite you, while working side by side with phenomenal professors, accomplished mentors, and leading researchers. Ours is an incredible and diverse community, but what makes it unique is the way everyone comes together to learn, solve problems, and just have fun. Because no matter who you are, we are all Retrievers.

    UMBC is a dynamic public research university integrating teaching, research and service to benefit the citizens of Maryland. As an Honors University, the campus offers academically talented students a strong undergraduate liberal arts foundation that prepares them for graduate and professional study, entry into the workforce, and community service and leadership. UMBC emphasizes science, engineering, information technology, human services and public policy at the graduate level. UMBC contributes to the economic development of the State and the region through entrepreneurial initiatives, workforce training, K-16 partnerships, and technology commercialization in collaboration with public agencies and the corporate community. UMBC is dedicated to cultural and ethnic diversity, social responsibility and lifelong learning.

    Our UMBC community redefines excellence in higher education through an inclusive culture that connects innovative teaching and learning, research across disciplines, and civic engagement. We will advance knowledge, economic prosperity, and social justice by welcoming and inspiring inquisitive minds from all backgrounds.

    Fast Facts

    2017-18 Tuition, Fees, Room and Board

    • Resident Tuition $11,264, Non-Resident Tuition $24,492, Room & Board $11,836

    Degrees: Bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, certificate

    Mascot: Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

    Spirit Colors: Black and Gold

    2017 Freshman Class Profile

    • Total Freshman Enrollment: 1,772
    • Average GPA: 3.71
    • Average SAT Score: 1251 (2 part)
    • Gender: 56% men; 44% women
    • Living on campus: 70%
    • Racial/Ethnic Diversity:
      • White: 40%
      • Asian American: 26%
      • African American: 17%
      • Hispanic: 7%
      • Other/unknown: 7%
      • International: 3%

    Student Body

    Fall 2017 Enrollment 13,662

    • Undergraduate 11,234, graduate 2,428
    • Full-time 10,669, part-time 2,993
    • Male 7,446, female 6,216
    • 546 Full-time, 292 Part-time

    Meet Our President

    Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, has served as President of UMBC (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County) since May 1992. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. Learn more.

    HONORS COLLEGE

    Welcome to the Honors College at UMBC!

    The Honors College is a selective academic community that deepens UMBC’s commitment to the life of the mind, and seeks to provide a unique academic and social experience for its members.

    Our enhanced versions of standard courses and Honors Seminars allow students and faculty to discuss issues and questions in small groups, to write and think across and beyond disciplines, to test their own and others’ ideas, and to make scholarly and social connections they otherwise might not. Students are also encouraged and supported in undertaking independent research, engaging in service learning, studying abroad, and doing internships.

    Our students major in all the disciplines on campus, and we encourage applications from new, established and transfer students who wish to be excellent scholars.

    HONORS COLLEGE

    Academic Life | Beyond the Campus | Student Life | Qualifications | How to Apply

    Is the Honors College for you?

    Academic Life

    The Honors College at UMBC is an academic home for students who seek broad intellectual challenges, a comprehensive liberal arts foundation for their chosen field of study, and a community of like-minded and dedicated scholars. Honors College students have access to special Honors courses and seminars with limited enrollment. For more information regarding the Honors College Certificate Requirements click here.

    Beyond the Campus

    The Honors College experience also involves much more than the classroom—it brings students together with one another and with people and events throughout the Baltimore-D.C. region and beyond. Honors College students enjoy opportunities to study abroad, conduct research, present their work at conferences, and engage in service learning and internships. In addition, students can attend Honors College sponsored events. Recent cultural excursions have included theatre trips to New York, the Baltimore Symphony and Baltimore Opera, the Everyman Theater, the Kennedy Center, and the Folger Shakespeare Library and Theatre in Washington, D.C.

    Honors College students take full advantage of the many opportunities at UMBC, within and outside the Honors College.

    The Honors College Living-Learning Community in Susquehanna Hall offers Honors College students the chance to continue their collaborative learning experiences in a relaxed residential setting. Students are able to pursue a range of academic and social activities with their peers, and to develop strong friendships through common goals, classes, conversation, and fun.

    The student-led Honors College Council (HCC) coordinates cultural and social events and service projects. These events include the Lunch in the Lounge series, where students have lunch with faculty members; the annual Mirror Ball, a spring celebration; and Service Day, when Honors College students participate in service projects together. For more information about the HCC, please contact Dr. Jessica Guzmán-Rea at jessica.guzman-rea@umbc.edu.

    Honors College students are also actively involved at all levels of campus life– in student government, athletics, publications, and student clubs and organizations– frequently as the leaders of student groups.

    Qualifications

    In reviewing applications, the Honors College places special emphasis on the written material submitted. The strength of the high school curriculum, GPA and standardized test scores are also very important.

    Freshmen who wish to apply to the Honors College should have a high school GPA of 3.5 or better and good standardized test scores.

    Successful applicants for Fall 2017 had an average of 1430 on the SAT and an average of 31 on the ACT.

    For Transfer Applicants and Established UMBC Students, we look favorably on applicants who have already successfully completed honors courses, at UMBC or elsewhere.

    A minimum unweighted GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale

    How to Apply

    Freshmen and Transfer Applicants

    In addition to meeting university requirements for admission, Honors College applicants must submit an Honors College Application.

    Instructions for utilizing the Honors College application: We strongly encourage prospective freshmen and transfer students to complete the Honors College Application via UMBC’s Common Application. Our application appears as a Supplement to the Common Application.

    Applicants may also download an Honors College application and submit it to the Honors College; applicants must also apply to UMBC. Download the Honors College application form to your computer (do not open the file in an internet browser). Open it in Adobe Acrobat, fill out the application, and save the completed application on your computer. After saving, open the file to ensure that your application information was saved. Attach the completed application to an email and send to honorscollege@umbc.edu.

    Applications received after February 1st for freshmen or June 1st for transfer students will be reviewed on a space-available basis. Decisions about admission to the Honors College are only made after applicants have been admitted to UMBC. Generally, Honors College decisions are communicated beginning in January through April for incoming freshmen and beginning in April through July for fall transfer applicants.

    For more information on scholarships and financial aid for freshmen, please click here.

    For more information on scholarships and financial aid for transfer students, please click here.

    UMBC Requirements for Admission

    Choose Your Test

    What are UMBC’s admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

    In this guide we’ll cover what you need to get into UMBC and build a strong application.

    School location: Baltimore, MD

    This school is also known as: University of Maryland Baltimore County

    Admissions Rate: 59%

    If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.

    The acceptance rate at UMBC is 59%. For every 100 applicants, 59 are admitted.

    This means the school is moderately selective. The school expects you to meet their requirements for GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but they’re more flexible than other schools. If you exceed their requirements, you have an excellent chance of getting in. But if you don’t, you might be one of the unlucky minority that gets a rejection letter.

    UMBC GPA Requirements

    Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

    The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school’s average GPA for its current students.

    Average GPA: 3.73

    (Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

    With a GPA of 3.73, UMBC requires you to be above average in your high school class. You’ll need at least a mix of A’s and B’s, with more A’s than B’s. You can compensate for a lower GPA with harder classes, like AP or IB classes. This will show that you’re able to handle more difficult academics than the average high school student.

    If you’re currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.73, you’ll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.

    SAT and ACT Requirements

    Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

    You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to UMBC. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

    UMBC SAT Requirements

    Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school’s average score.

    Average SAT: 1280 (Old: 1792)

    The average SAT score composite at UMBC is a 1280 on the 1600 SAT scale.

    On the old 2400 SAT, this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1792.

    This score makes UMBC Competitive for SAT test scores.

    UMBC SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

    The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1180, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1370. In other words, a 1180 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1370 will move you up to above average.

    Here’s the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

    UMBC SAT Score Analysis (Old 2400 SAT)

    The 25th percentile Old SAT score is 1640, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1940. In other words, a 1640 on the Old SAT places you below average, while a 1940 puts you well above average.

    Here’s the breakdown of old SAT scores by section:

    SAT Score Choice Policy

    The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

    UMBC has the Score Choice policy of “Highest Section.”

    This is also known as “superscoring.” This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.

    Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.

    For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:

    Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, UMBC will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1000 to 1400 in this example.

    This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and UMBC forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.

    Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 1280, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.

    Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.

    Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and SAT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you’ll study smarter and make huge score improvements.

    UMBC ACT Requirements

    Just like for the SAT, UMBC likely doesn’t have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

    Average ACT: 27

    The average ACT score at UMBC is 27. This score makes UMBC Moderately Competitive for ACT scores.

    The 25th percentile ACT score is 24, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 29.

    Even though UMBC likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 24 or below, you’ll have a harder time getting in, unless you have something else impressive in your application.

    ACT Score Sending Policy

    If you’re taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

    Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

    This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school’s ACT requirement of 27 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you’re happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

    ACT Superscore Policy

    By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

    We weren’t able to find the school’s exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to UMBC, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 27.

    Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you’ll study smarter and make huge score improvements.

    SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

    Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.

    UMBC considers the SAT/ACT Writing section optional and may not include it as part of their admissions consideration. You don’t need to worry too much about Writing for this school, but other schools you’re applying to may require it.

    SAT Subject Test Requirements

    Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

    We did not find information that UMBC requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.

    Final Admissions Verdict

    Because this school is moderately selective, strong academic performance will almost guarantee you admission. Scoring a 1940 SAT or a 29 ACT or above will nearly guarantee you admission. Because the school admits 59% of all applicants, being far above average raises the admission rate for you to nearly 100%.

    If you can achieve a high SAT/ACT score, the rest of your application essentially doesn’t matter. You still need to meet the rest of the application requirements, and your GPA shouldn’t be too far off from the school average of 3.73. But you won’t need dazzling extracurriculars and breathtaking letters of recommendation to get in. You can get in based on the merits of your score alone.

    But if your score is a 1640 SAT or a 24 ACT and below, you have a good chance of being one of the unlucky few to be rejected.

    Admissions Calculator

    Here’s our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.

    How would your chances improve with a better score?

    Try to take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?

    At PrepScholar, we’ve created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program. We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.

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    Application Requirements

    Every school requires an application with the bare essentials – high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We’ll cover the exact requirements of UMBC here.

    Application Requirements Overview

    • Common Application Accepted, supplemental forms required
    • Universal Application Not accepted
    • Electronic Application Available
    • Essay or Personal Statement Required for all freshmen
    • Letters of Recommendation 2
    • Interview Not required
    • Application Fee $50
    • Fee Waiver Available? Available
    • Other Notes

    Testing Requirements

    • SAT or ACT Required
    • SAT or ACT Writing Optional
    • SAT Subject Tests
    • Scores Due in Office February 1

    Coursework Requirements

    • Subject Required Years
    • English 4
    • Math 4
    • Science 3
    • Foreign Language 2
    • Social Studies
    • History
    • Electives 3

    Deadlines and Early Admissions

      • Offered? Deadline Notification
    • Regular Admission
      • Yes February 1 Rolling
    • Early Action
      • Yes November 1 December 15
    • Early Decision
      • No

    Admissions Office Information

    Other Schools For You

    If you’re interested in UMBC, you’ll probably be interested in these schools as well. We’ve divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to UMBC.

    Reach Schools: Harder to Get Into

    These schools are more selective and have higher scores than UMBC. If you improve your SAT score, you’ll be competitive for these schools.

    Same Level: Equally Hard to Get Into

    If you’re competitive for UMBC, these schools will offer you a similar chance of admission.

    Safety Schools: Easier to Get Into

    If you’re currently competitive for UMBC, you should have no problem getting into these schools. If UMBC is currently out of your reach, you might already be competitive for these schools.

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