University essay prompts (order an essay inexpensively)

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The University of Chicago

College Admissions

The University of Chicago has long been renowned for its provocative essay questions. We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.

Each year we email newly admitted and current College students and ask them for essay topics. We receive several hundred responses, many of which are eloquent, intriguing, or downright wacky.

As you can see from the attributions, the questions below were inspired by submissions from UChicago students and alumni.

2017-18 UChicago Supplement:

Required Question:

How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

Extended Essay Questions:

(Required; Choose one)

Essay Option 1.

“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert

Sometimes, people talk a lot about popular subjects to assure ‘victory’ in conversation or understanding, and leave behind topics of less popularity, but great personal or intellectual importance. What do you think is important but under-discussed?

Essay Option 2.

Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History. a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here: https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/academics/majors-minors.

-Inspired by Josh Kaufman, Class of 2018

Essay Option 3.

Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Heart! Captain Planet supposes that the world is made up of these five elements. We’re familiar with the previously-noted set and with actual elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but select and explain another small group of things (say, under five) that you believe compose our world.

-Inspired by Dani Plung, Class of 2017

Essay Option 4.

The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham once said “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.” Tell us about your “armor.”

-Inspired by Adam Berger, Class of 2020

Essay Option 5.

Fans of the movie Sharknado say that they enjoy it because “it’s so bad, it’s good.” Certain automobile owners prefer classic cars because they “have more character.” And recently, vinyl record sales have skyrocketed because it is perceived that they have a warmer, fuller sound. Discuss something that you love not in spite of but rather due to its quirks or imperfections.

-Inspired by Alex Serbanescu, Class of 2021

Essay Option 6.

In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

Why UChicago?

I came to UChicago because I wanted a world-class education in a diverse neighborhood with the natural amenities of a large city. Additionally, I came to learn how to think. Sure, learning a specific skill-set is also great, but the ability to think critically, I believe, will take me much farther.

Because of the University of Chicago.

. I now have a wide network of friends and colleagues around the world; an education that speaks volumes wherever I go; and a community (Chicago) that I love and cherish.

University of California – Admissions

Accessibility

How to apply

Personal insight questions

The personal insight questions are about getting to know you better — your life experience, interests, ambitions and inspirations.

Think of it as your interview with the admissions office. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it.

While this section of the application is just one part we consider when making our admission decision, it helps provide context for the rest of your application.

Essay Topics

All applicants to Yale are asked to respond to a few Yale-specific short answer questions. Those applying with the Coalition Application are asked to upload a digital file of their creation along with a short reflection. Those applying with the Common Application are asked to respond to two short essay prompts. Those applying with the QuestBridge National College Match Application are asked to complete a short Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available via the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application is received and a student activates his/her status portal. See additional details below.

You may begin your freshman application to Yale by visiting the Coalition Application, the Common Application, or QuestBridge online. We recommend reviewing Yale’s advice on putting together your application before you begin.

If you would like to begin working on your short answer responses and essays before beginning your application, please see the 2017-2018 Yale-specific questions for the Coalition Application, Common Application, and QuestBridge Application below.

Short Answer Questions

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application are asked to respond to the following short answer questions:

  • Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
  • Why do these areas appeal to you? (100 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Applicants submitting either the Coalition Application or Common Application are also asked to respond to the following short answer questions:

  • What inspires you? (35 words or fewer)
  • Yale’s residential colleges regularly host intimate conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask? (35 words or fewer)
  • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (35 words or fewer)
  • Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six people. What would you contribute to the dynamic of your suite? (35 words or fewer)

Essays – Coalition Application

In 300 words or fewer, write on one of the two essay topics below. In addition to writing on your chosen topic, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created that is meaningful to you and relates to your essay. Above your essay, include a one-sentence description of what you have submitted.

  • What do you most enjoy learning?
  • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community?

Please limit your upload to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Note that advanced editing of audio/video/image/documents is not necessary. While we are not providing limits to the length of the material you upload, the Admissions Office may not have time to review the entirety of your submission. Sometimes, less is more.

Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. If you wish to submit material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty, please see our Supplementary Material instructions.

Optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay

If you selected one of the computer science or engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in computer science or engineering, and what it is about Yale’s program in this area that appeals to you. (Please answer in 500 words or fewer.)

Essays – Common Application

Please choose two of the following topics and respond to each in 250 words or fewer.

  • What do you most enjoy learning?
  • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community?
  • Write on something you would like us to know about you that you have not conveyed elsewhere in your application.

Optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay

If you selected one of the computer science or engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in computer science or engineering, and what it is about Yale’s program in this area that appeals to you. (Please answer in 500 words or fewer.)

In This Section

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Yale College Undergraduate Admissions

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Applying for Admission

If you h ave graduated or will soon graduate from high school or receive a GED and you have not enrolled in another college or university after graduating, apply for freshman admission.

To be considered, submit the following:

The online application

Like other Texas public universities, we use the ApplyTexas application. Use it to report your complete academic record, including college credit earned as dual credit.

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Application Open Dates

The ApplyTexas summer/fall application opens on Aug. 1. The spring application typically opens in late January.

ApplyTexas Processing

After you submit your ApplyTexas application, you’ll receive an email from us that includes your UT EID, allowing you to access MyStatus and the Document Upload System. During peak periods, this can take 2-3 days.

Typically, the deadline for receipt of supporting credentials (such as essays and transcripts) is extended a few days beyond the application deadline in order to allow those who complete last-minute applications time to upload items after they receive a UT EID.

International Applicants

If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and will not graduate from a Texas high school, select the ApplyTexas option to apply for freshman admission as an international applicant.

Your application fee

Pay the non-refundable $75 application fee—$90 for international applicants—when you submit your ApplyTexas application. Fee waivers are available.

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Fee Waivers

If you can’t afford the application fee, request a waiver in your ApplyTexas application. We may request that you submit documentation in support of your request; to do so, use the Document Upload System to submit a copy of your SAT, ACT or NACAC fee waiver or a letter from your high school counselor or principal explaining the financial circumstances that qualify you for a waiver.

International applicants who do not qualify for Texas residency are not eligible for a fee waiver.

International Applicants

If you are an international applicant and are not able to pay your fee online using a credit card, mail your payment in the form of a cashier’s check, bank money order or bank draft in U.S. dollars to:

The University of Texas at Austin

Graduate and International Admissions Center

Austin, TX 78713-7608

Make checks payable to The University of Texas at Austin, and write your six-digit Application ID number, UT EID or UT Assigned Student ID number on your check or money order. Do not send cash or personal checks.

Along with your ApplyTexas application, submit at least one essay.

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What’s Required

All applicants must submit an essay responding to Topic A.

Special Requirements

In addition to Topic A, Topic N is required for those applying to N ursing for their first-choice major.

Essay Topics

What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.

Considering nursing as your first-choice major, discuss how your current and future academic activities, extracurricular pursuits and life experiences will help you achieve your goals.

Submitting Your Essays

Generally, you should plan to submit your essay in conjunction with your ApplyTexas application; do so even after you’ve submitted other portions of the application by logging in to your ApplyTexas account.

Essays written in response to Topic N may not be submitted through ApplyTexas. To submit these essays, use the Document Upload System.

You may also submit other essays using the Document Upload System—or by mailing them to the Office of Admissions—although these submission methods are not preferred.

Three short answers

Answer at least three short-answer prompts in the ApplyTexas application.

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What’s Required

All applicants must submit three short answers responding to prompts in ApplyTexas. Answers are limited to no more than 40 lines, or about 250 – 300 words.

Special Requirements
Art and Art History

An additional short answer is required for those applying to Fine Arts’ Department of Art and Art History. Responses are limited to 450 – 500 words.

Social Work

An additional short answer is required for those applying to Social Work. Responses are limited to 450 – 500 words.

Short Answer Prompts

Short Answer 1: Career Plans

If you could have any career, what would it be? Why? Describe any activities you are involved in, life experiences you’ve had, or even classes you’ve taken that have helped you identify this professional path.

Tips to consider: This is an opportunity to describe your academic and future professional interests. You may not yet be 100% certain about what you want to do, but is there a particular field that you think you want to work in, or a certain path you want to pursue after college? How have your interests and experiences influenced your choice of majors or your plans to explore in college?

Short Answer 2: Academics

Do you believe your academic record (transcript information and test scores) provide an accurate representation of you as a student? Why or why not?

Tips to consider: Feel free to address anything you want the Office of Admissions to know about your academic record so that we can consider this information when we review your application. You can discuss your academic work, class rank, GPA, individual course grades, test scores, and/or the classes that you took or the classes that were available to you. You can also describe how special circumstances and/or your school, community, and family environments impacted your high school performance.

Short Answer 3: Leadership

How do you show leadership in your life? How do you see yourself being a leader at UT Austin?

Tips to consider: Leadership can be demonstrated by positions you hold as an officer in a club or organization, but other types of leadership are important too. Leaders can emerge in various situations at any given time, including outside of the school experience. Please share a brief description of the type of leadership qualities you possess, from school and non-school related experiences, including demonstrations of leadership in your job, your community, or within your family responsibilities, and then share how you hope to demonstrate leadership as a member of our campus community.

Short Answer: Art and Art History Applicants

Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?

Short Answer: Social Work Applicants

Discuss the reasons you chose social work as your first-choice major and how a social work degree from UT Austin will prepare you for the future.

Submitting Your Short Answers

You should plan to submit your essays in conjunction with your ApplyTexas application. You will be required to complete the short answer responses in order to complete and submit your application on ApplyTexas.

Your high school transcript(s)

Send us official transcript(s) documenting all coursework undertaken during your high school career. If your high school does not rank students, include a statement from your school describing its policy, a copy of your school’s profile and a GPA or grade distribution report.

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What’s Required

Transcripts must include your class rank in addition to information about high school coursework.

Rank should be indicated as your numerical position out of the total number of students in the class. For example, if you’re fifth in your class of 130, your transcript should report your rank as 5/130. Applicants should submit transcripts indicating rank for the latest completed semester prior to the application deadline.

If you attend a Texas public school, your transcript should indicate the high school diploma program you will be graduating under, as defined in the state’s Uniform Admission Policy.

Submitting Your Transcript(s)

Applicants who attend a Texas public school should ask the school to submit their transcript through TREx, a system managed by the Texas Education Agency.

Document Upload System

If TREx is not available, submit a copy of your official transcript using the Document Upload System, or you may use the system to ask someone to submit the transcript to us on your behalf. The uploaded document must be a digital scan or PDF version of an official transcript. (Be sure to include both the front and back!) Any document labeled “unofficial,” grade reports or advising reports, photos (i.e., images taken with a smartphone) and screen shots are not acceptable.

Track upload status by logging in to the Document Upload System.

Mail or Hand Delivery

You may also submit transcripts by mailing or hand-delivering them to the Office of Admissions, although these submission methods are not preferred and may result in processing delays. (International students may not use these methods.)

We cannot accept transcripts submitted via email.

Home-Schooled & GED Students

Home-Schooled Applicants

Applicants who were home-schooled must submit a transcript that:

  • Lists all courses undertaken at each grade level, along with a brief description of the course content and information about the format of the course (in a classroom, via correspondence, online, etc.)
  • Is signed by a school official, defined as the adult person who was primarily responsible for the education of the student
Special GED Requirements

Applicants who earned a GED must submit high school transcript(s) showing any coursework completed, along with a copy of the GED certificate.

Rank Will Be Assigned

In accordance with Texas Senate Bill 1543, applicants who present evidence of obtaining a non-traditional secondary education (for example, those who were home-schooled or earned a GED in lieu of a high school diploma ) will be assigned a percentile rank comparable to the average class rank of students from traditional schools who have equivalent SAT or ACT test scores.

International Applicants

If you are an international applicant, you must submit documentation showing that you have completed an accredited secondary school series equivalent to that of a U.S. high school.

Submit an official record or transcript (mark sheet) that shows all your secondary school work and grades (or marks) starting with ninth grade and continuing through at least the end of 11th grade. You should also include copies of your official final examinations taken at the end of the secondary school program, including external exams such as the General Certificate of Education (GCE) “O” and “A” level examinations, school leaving certificates and matriculation exams.

If the documents you are submitting are written in a language other than English, you must also submit complete and official English translations together with the original-language records.

Any college transcript(s)

Send us official transcript(s) documenting any college credit earned while in high school (dual credit counts!).

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What’s Required

You must report your entire academic record, including all college credit earned. Such coursework must be detailed on the ApplyTexas application, and you must submit official transcripts documenting the coursework.

Submitting Your Transcript(s)

Some colleges and universities are able to submit transcripts to the university on your behalf using our SPEEDE server.

If SPEEDE is not available, submit transcripts documenting college credit earned by mailing or hand-delivering them to the Office of Admissions.

We cannot accept transcripts submitted via email.

Test scores

Ask testing agencies to send official reports of scores you earned on the SAT or ACT exams. (You must also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores if you are an international applicant.)

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What’s Required

You must request that a testing agency—SAT or ACT—send us an official report of at least one set of test scores. (We do not require the SAT Essay or ACT Writing scores.) Scores included in transcripts and copies of score reports first sent to you don’t meet this requirement.

When you ask the testing agency to send your scores, use the codes the agencies have designated for the university:

Multiple Score Reports

You may submit as many score reports as you like. If you submit more than one, we will consider the score from the single test date that will benefit you the most. We will not, however, “superscore,” or combine scores from different test dates (a critical reading score from one test date with a mathematics score from another test date, for example).

We strongly encourage you to send us the results from all tests you take.

SAT Subject Tests

You are not required to submit SAT Subject Test scores as part of a complete application for admission. Some students may choose to submit these scores—for instance, home-schooled students may send them if they feel they reflect academic potential, or those hoping to earn course credit by examination may submit them for consideration after the application cycle is complete.

International Applicants

International applicants must submit either an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score report demonstrating an adequate knowledge of English. The TOEFL iBT is preferred over the IELTS. We cannot accept institutional TOEFL (ITP) scores.

International applicants are exempt from this requirement if they:

  • Are from a country where English is the only official language; or
  • Graduate from a high school in the United States or in a country where English is the only official language after completing at least three years of study.

Minimum scores acceptable for admission are:

  • TOEFL: 79 (internet-based test)
  • IELTS: An overall band of 6.5 on the Academic Examination

The university’s TOEFL code is 6882. There is no institutional code for the IELTS examination. To fulfill the requirement with scores from the IELTS, have official scores sent to:

The University of Texas at Austin

Graduate and International Admissions Center

Austin, TX 78713-7608

Major-specific items

In addition to reviewing the prerequisites , s ubmit any additional items required by the majors you’ve selected as your first and second choices.

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See MyStatus

Messages prompting you to submit additional items to meet major-specific requirements post to MyStatus following submission of your ApplyTexas application or after you’ve requested a major change. Be sure to regularly monitor MyStatus, and to complete all to-do items prior to the application deadline.

Requirements by College or School

Major-specific application requirements by college or school include:

Cockrell School of Engineering

Meet the calculus readiness requirement, and demonstrate it by submitting an appropriate test score or transcript.

College of Fine Arts
Butler School of Music
  • Submit the Butler School of Music application.
  • Perform an audition.

Read more about completing Butler School of Music application requirements on its freshman or international admission webpages.

Department of Art and Art History
  • Respond to a short-answer prompt in ApplyTexas.
  • Design, Studio Art or Visual Art Studies: Submit a portfolio.
Department of Theatre and Dance
  • Acting (BFA): Complete an audition.
  • Dance (BFA): Complete an audition.
  • Theatre and Dance (BA): Complete an audition or submit a portfolio.
  • Theatre Studies (BFA + Teacher Certification): Take part in an interview.
Jackson School of Geosciences

Meet the calculus readiness requirement, and demonstrate it by submitting an appropriate test score or transcript.

College of Liberal Arts

Economics or Environmental Science (Geographical Sciences): Meet the calculus readiness requirement, and demonstrate it by submitting an appropriate test score or transcript.

College of Natural Sciences

Environmental Science (Biological Sciences): Meet the calculus readiness requirement, and demonstrate it by submitting an appropriate test score or transcript.

School of Nursing

If applying first-choice, submit an essay addressing Topic N.

Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Respond to a short-answer prompt in ApplyTexas.

Other Colleges and Schools

Colleges and schools not listed above do not have major-specific application requirements.

Submit an expanded résumé offering additional information about your achievements. While this isn’t required, it’s strongly recommended.

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What to Include

Your résumé should include all your achievements, not just those that didn’t fit on the ApplyTexas application. That said, if you’re able to list everything on the ApplyTexas application, there’s no need to submit a separate résumé .

If you submit a résumé , you should include:

  • Details about what each activity involved rather than a general description
  • The number of hours per week and weeks per year you spent on each activity

Submitting Your Résumé

Letter(s) of recommendation

Ask someone who knows you well to write a letter about your character and accomplishments. Letters of recommendation are appreciated but not required.

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About Recommendations

Letters of recommendation are helpful only when they provide meaningful information about you, offered by someone who can speak of you in an unbiased way. If you choose to submit a letter of recommendation, select someone who is capable of providing a well-written, sincere, personal account. Avoid recommendations from those who know you too well to be unbiased—family members, for instance.

Special Circumstances

Although you have the option to detail special circumstances in your life in Short Answer 2, you might prefer that someone else tell us about it. In that case, ask that person (even a doctor or counselor, when appropriate) to write a letter on your behalf.

Submitting Your Recommendations

Letters of recommendation may be submitted via the Document Upload System, or you may use the system to ask someone to submit their recommendation to us directly. Track upload status by logging in to the Document Upload System.

You may also submit recommendations by mailing or hand-delivering them to the Office of Admissions, although these submission methods are not preferred and may result in processing delays. (International students may not use these methods.)

Permanent resident card

If applicable, provide a copy of your permanent resident card.

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Applicability

The permanent resident card requirement applies only to non-U.S. citizens who have permanent resident status in the United States.

If the requirement applies to you, submit a copy of the front of your permanent resident card using the Document Upload System.

Student Information Form

If applicable, tell us about your high-school coursework via MyStatus.

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Applicability

Most applicants don’t need to submit the Student Information Form. MyStatus will prompt those who are required to complete the form.

About the Form

The Student Information Form is used to streamline our processes, allowing us to confirm that you meet our high school coursework requirements and move your application into review.

To complete the form, you’ll probably need a reference copy of your high-school transcript.

Coursework exemption form

If applicable, submit a form to claim an exemption to the state’s Uniform Admission Policy.

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Applicability

Most applicants don’t need to submit a coursework exemption form. Those who do include Texas private-schooled students who do not satisfy test score requirements — either an SAT score of at least 1070 (combined critical reading and math) with a minimum of 500 on critical reading (if the test was taken prior to March 2016); a minimum SAT score of 480 on evidence-based reading and writing and 530 on math (if the test was taken in March 2016 or later); or an ACT score that meets ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks. Students who attend a Department of Defense high school who are not exempt based on test scores should also submit a form. It will be used in determining qualification for automatic admission.

Submitting Your Form

If you believe you need to submit a coursework exemption form, do so using the Document Upload System, or you may use the system to ask someone to submit the form to us on your behalf. Track upload status by logging in to the Document Upload System.

Residency affidavit

If applicable, submit the residency affidavit.

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Applicability

Most applicants don’t need to submit the residency affidavit. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident but graduated or will graduate from a Texas high school, you may qualify for residency for tuition purposes and should submit the affidavit. The ApplyTexas application will prompt those who indicate they meet these criteria to download the appropriate form.

Submitting the Affidavit

To submit the residency affidavit, mail it to the address listed on the form.

Track Your Status

Track the completion of your application in MyStatus—see the Admission tab.

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