Admissions advice from Kevin McMullin
Hokie Hopefuls: Advice for Virginia Tech applicants
Virginia Tech is a large public school (21,000 undergrads) that receives over 17,000 applications for admission. And the admissions portion of the web site makes it clear what they focus on most.
"Admissions directors use a holistic approach throughout the application review process. Many factors are considered, the most important being strength of schedule, high school GPA, and standardized test scores."
That means classes, grades and test scores will dominate the admissions process. But it doesn't mean that VT is using formulas. They're still going to read your application, so you should make the most of what opportunities they give you to help them see the person behind the numbers.
Here are a few tips to balance their need for numbers with your need to express yourself.
A lot of people talk about how colleges focus on the grades you got in your sophomore and junior years. But at Virginia Tech, the grades you receive in the first semester of your senior year will absolutely be considered, too. So if you're a senior reading this, view this semester as one last opportunity to show admissions officers what you are capable of.
Consider how your test scores stack up.
Virginia Tech requires SAT or ACT scores. But while they want to see the scores from all of your administrations, they will "use the highest scores and even combine your highest test scores from multiple test dates when evaluating your application."
Top of ForBottom of Form
December test scores will still be viable for admission at VT, so it may be in your best interest to a) re-take one of the exams, or b) try the other test type (if you've taken the SAT, try the ACT, or vice versa). Remember, numbers drive the process here, and picking up a few extra points, even in just one of the sub-scores could really make a different.
What about the optional personal statements?
When a college makes essays optional (and has no required essay at all), it's a subtle way of saying that an essay won't usually carry the same importance in admissions as grades and test scores will.
So you have two options–you could blow them off, or you could be one of the students who not only does the optional statements, but also one of the rare students who submits great responses, someone who really sits down and works hard on these essays just for Virginia Tech. If you do that, you’ll know you’ve done everything you possibly could to put out a compelling application. Bottom line–if you really want to be a Hokie, do the personal statements.
Here are the directions:
On an attached sheet, you may respond to up to three of the personal statements below (choose one, two, three, or none) as you feel they support your individual application. Please limit your statement(s) to no more than 250 words in length (each).
So, how many essays should you do?
Think of it this way–if you were going to be set up on a blind date and the person asked you to send one, two or three pictures of yourself, how many would you send? That's a simple answer. It depends. You'd find the very best pictures of yourself, the ones where the lighting and the angles and the magic of photography somehow captured you looking much better than you do in every other photo (we’ve all got those). If you had just one photo like that, you’d send just one photo. If you had two of those photos, you’d send two. If you had…ok…the point’s been made.
So read the prompts. For which one(s) do you believe you've really got something to say, something that you're actually semi-excited about sharing and to which you feel you could give a great response? Those are the prompts you should focus on.
Here are some tips for the specific prompts.
• What are the top five reasons you want to attend Virginia Tech?
Droning on about the academic reputation and pretty campus and the football team won't do a thing to separate you from the other applicants who came up with exactly the same answer. The key to answering questions like this is to avoid reciting facts and statistics about the school, to think honestly about why you'd be excited to attend VT if you were accepted, and to provide some evidence of thoughtful consideration about what you'd like your college career to be like. The answer should be as much (or more) about you as it is about Virginia Tech.
• If there is something you think would be beneficial for the Admissions Committee to know as we review your academic history, please take this opportunity to explain.
Some students have faced particularly difficult circumstances in high school that affected their academics. If that's the case for you, here is your opportunity to describe it. But this is not a place to make excuses for things that were your fault. Colleges read a lot of "My grades went down because I was so overwhelmed with all my activities" essays. That may be true, but it's still your fault. And it's not the job of the admissions committee to excuse it.
I don't want to take on the role of deciding whose circumstances were legitimate and whose weren't. But as you consider this question, think about how much this circumstance really impacted you. If it did, you should talk about here. "I took a part time job working 35 hours a week during my junior year because my father lost his job," or "I have a 65% hearing loss that requires me to sit in the front row of every class so I can read the teacher's lips," or, "When I was sixteen, I lived in a shelter with my mother for six weeks when she decided to leave my abusive father"–those are the kinds of things that absolutely affect a student and should be shared in question like this.
• What do you consider the greatest benefit(s) of a diverse educational community?
Keep the focus on you here.
Are you excited to meet and learn from people who are different from you? What life experiences have you had that make you want VT's diverse environment for your college experience?
Students who have the strongest responses here will likely have a personal and/or emotional reason for seeking out a diverse college environment like that at Virginia Tech.
"Diversity is important because we can learn from people who are different from us," is not a personal or emotional reason. But…
"Every single person in my neighborhood is white. So is every student in my senior class. There's nothing wrong with us. We're good people and we come from good families who work hard and care about each other. But I know this about myself–the world I have been living in for the last eighteen years is not the world I want to live in as an adult. And it's not a world I want live in where I go to college."
That's a personal, emotional reason.
• Describe five unique or interesting things about yourself.
First of all, it wouldn't be a bad idea to look up the word "unique" before you write this. Seriously. A lot of people misuse the word unique and it's a grammatical error that I think should be punishable in the court of law. But that's just me.
Unique means "one of a kind.” And "interesting" means, well, interesting. "I have done over 20 hours of community service" isn't either of those things. Neither is "I am a huge Hokie football fan" or "I was a National Merit semi-finalist."
What kinds of things are interesting and/or unique?
"I once entered a local rodeo competition and road a 1200 pound bull for 7 seconds. Then he threw me off and I broke my pelvis."
"I set a goal for myself three years ago to learn every single one of The Beatles' songs on the guitar. I've got about 20 left to go."
"I've read all of Shakespeare's plays. And I'm not just talking about the famous ones. Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, and I've read them all."
"I will not only be the first person to attend college in my family, but I will also be the first to graduate from high school."
"I am the only person knows how to make my grandmother's meatballs. She taught me before she died and told me to share the recipe only with my own daughter one day."
"I am a black belt in karate and can break bricks with my forearm."
"I teach Greek dancing to little kids, and I compete in dancing competitions at local Greek festivals."
"I can throw a softball 70 miles an hour."
"I worked part-time as a magician for the last two summers."
"I was in a car accident when I was 15 and severed tendons in my fingers. My doctors told me I wouldn't be able to play the piano anymore, so that's how I discovered singing."
What's the common theme here? Every one of these things is interesting, and a few of them are technically unique. Those are the kinds of examples that will get a reader's attention.
• Free response —writing sample.
This response should probably be reserved for true writers. What's a true writer? Writing is difficult skill not unlike music, dancing or art. And true writers spend as much time practicing their skill as musicians, dancers and artists spend practicing theirs.
I would not suggest, however, writing complicated poetry, prose or haiku. Remember, the person reading this might have been a math, physics, music or forestry major. Don't write something that won't be accessible to most readers.
• Which of your current or previous teachers do you admire most, and why?
When you've been fortunate enough to cross paths with a person that you truly come to admire, you change a little bit (and sometimes a lot). That's why the best responses to this prompt will show how you are different today as a result of this teacher's influence. Describe the teacher and why you admire him or her, but don't forget to explain how your actions, perceptions or goals changed as a result of the example this person set for you.
• Describe how a world event has helped to shape the person you are today.
Again, you want to focus on something that fundamentally changed the way you think, behave or act. Or you could write about something that had it not happened, your life would be very different today. If your parents fled a war-torn country before you were born, or you first began volunteering for a political party during the last election, or you decided to stop going to church because the members supported legislation you disagreed with, those are events that really did shape who you are.
Virginia Tech's admissions process may not be as personal as that at other colleges, but they're still asking the questions (a lot of public universities their size don't). And questions like these are one of the few parts of the application process that you still control at this late date. Why not surprise them by treating your responses as though they were the most important part of the application?
Note: Before you follow our tips, we recommend you read our "How to" guide here: Download HowToUse30Guides
And if you have other questions about essays, applications, interviews or financial aid, visit our online store. We’ve got books, videos and downloadable guides to help you. Or you could speak with one of our online college counselors.
"Our motto is Ut Prosim" – Virginia Tech Application Essays
I would rewrite the "but I have overcome" it sounds in complete.
The beginning of the sentence is slightly awkward. Also, you might want to think of your word choice with the word "late;" it sounds kind of redundant. And maybe you don't want to say that you didn't have the connections to get work ahead of time, but something more along the lines of being behind everyone trying to catch up? Just a thought.
The inside scoop straight from the Hokie’s mouth!
Friday, August 31, 2012
A note on essays
Undergraduate Admissions, Virginia Tech
- Don’t introduce yourself in your essay. I’m holding your application that has, believe it or not, your name, high school, list of extra-curricular activities, etc. No need to review what I already know.
- Note the word limit. There’s a reason we prefer personal statements of 250 words or less. Reference above the size of the applicant pool. And each should answer at least one essay. Many will choose to respond to the maximum of three. So let’s say on average we get two from each applicant. That’s 42,000 personal statements. That’s a lot of reading; almost as much as your AP English teacher. So we appreciate brevity, clarity, individuality, and poignancy. And entertainment, but that brings me to my next point…
- This is not the time or place to try to be funny if you’re not naturally a funny person. Enough said.
- Similarly, this is not the place in which to demonstrate your extraordinarily colossal lexicon undeniably facilitated by the overemployment of the thesaurus option on your computer. Translation: don’t use a thesaurus. Remember: we want your voice.
- Lastly, proofread. This should go without saying. But every year I am reminded how apparently trivial this step is for many applicants. I’m often regaled with stories of how you “can’t wait to walk the Lawn following in Jefferson’s footsteps” or how you were “born to wear purple and gold.” Copying and pasting from another application is frowned upon. Really, that’s just in poor taste. And it doesn’t stop there. Please remember that THIS IS YOUR APPLICATION TO COLLEGE! Capital letters, spellcheck, the avoidance of acronyms, and punctuation are all, in fact, still greatly appreciated.
- In all seriousness, we do look forward to your personal statements. It is the highlight of my day when I come across a personal statement that makes me laugh out loud, shed a tear, or run down the office hall sharing that, “I just read the best personal statement. Listen to this!” (And yes, we do that.) Personal statements are what make application review bearable; even enjoyable I daresay. So please, help me help you. Give some thoughtful reflection to your personal statements and make them just that, reflections of who you are as a person.
Application Dates & Deadlines
- Early Decision Deadline: November 1
- Early Decision Notification: December 15
- Regular Decision Deadline: January 15
- Regular Decision Notification: April 1
- Deadline: February 15
- Notification: June 1
Friday, March 16, 2012
Consider visiting us this spring
Spring has arrived in Blacksburg, Va. Hokies are eagerly finishing their spring semester. This time of year, you often see a lot of activity on campus, be it Hokies feeding ducks at the Duck Pond; biking, walking or jogging the Huckleberry Trail; or enjoying the many other recreational activities on campus or in the surrounding areas. You’ll almost always find some sort of activity on the Drillfield – Hokies playing sports, the Marching Virginians practicing, a special event, or people simply studying while sunbathing.
For those of you who are contemplating whether to apply to Virginia Tech in the future, we hope you will consider visiting our campus. Many choose to visit during their high school spring break. Others decide to visit during one of our fall Open House programs (October 20 and 21 and November 10 and 11). However, we accept visitors most any time of the year. If you do decide to visit, please take a minute or two to register so you can be sure to reserve a space in one of our admission information sessions as well as one of our student-led campus tours.
(Note: For those of you who have applied for the fall of 2012, you are most likely waiting to learn of your admission decision. Those who applied will learn of their decision no later than April 1 – the national notification date.)
We hope you decided to check out our campus this spring. However it’s really hard to pick a bad day or time of year because Blacksburg truly is a beautiful and welcoming place throughout the seasons.
The Freshman Regular Decision notification date has been moved up from April 1 to March 5, 2018.
- Virginia Tech expects all applicants to apply using the online application.
- Only the completed application is due by the application deadline. Your transcripts and test scores can follow at a later date.
- After you submit your application, please allow time for your transcripts and test scores to be matched to your file. This may take up to four weeks. Once items have been matched to your file, they will be noted on your Application Status Page.
Start your application now!
You are a freshman applicant if you:
- are a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
- meet the minimum graduation requirements from high school.
- have not attempted more than 12 hours at any college or university since graduating from high school.
- have never attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate student.
If you would instead prefer to fill out the paper application:
Download and complete the 2017 Virginia Tech Freshman Application for Admission
You are a Transfer Applicant if you:
- have completed all entrance requirements, or the equivalent in a college program, for all entering students.
See minimum academic requirements.
Visit this page for more information about enrolling as a transfer.
If you would instead prefer to fill out the paper application:
Download and complete the 2017 Virginia Tech Transfer Application for Admission
You are an International Applicant if you:
- are NOT a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
- meet the minimum graduation requirements from high school.
- are pursuing an undergraduate degree (either as a freshman, transfer, or visiting non-degree student).
International Transfer Applicants – If any of your previous or current education has been or is currently in an international education system, please submit the international application. We require extra information for transfer applicants who have completed or are completing courses at an international college or university. See the application checklist or the application instructions for a full list of what is needed from international transfer applicants.
Visit this page for more information about enrolling as an international student.
If you would instead prefer to fill out the paper application:
Download and complete the 2017 Virginia Tech International Application for Admission
Virginia Tech 2017-18 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
The Requirements: 1-3 essays of roughly 250 words each
Virginia Tech 2017-18 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
Virginia Tech certainly lives up to its name. Its independent application requires students to execute perhaps the trickiest calculation of their lives. You can write “up to three” essays? No official word limit? This level of autonomy could kill you. How do you decide what and how many essays to write? How long is too long? How short is too short?
Okay, before you have an existential meltdown, we have some advice. Although we usually urge you to take any and every opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice, in this case, we advise you to proceed with caution. If you don’t think writing is your forte, you might be better served pouring all of your energy into one tight, memorable essay than dividing your attention among three meh essays. If you feel blocked or you’re only drawn to one prompt, maybe you should consider writing something longer than the recommended 250 words. You don’t need to write a novel, but 300-500 words gives you more space to add detail and character to your story. Aim for quality over quantity, but keep in mind that if you want to stand out, you will want to paint a complete picture of yourself. Can you do that in just one essay?
Essay Prompts (Strongly Recommended)
You may respond to up to three of the essay prompts below (choose one, two, or three) as you feel they support your individual application. In general, concise, straightforward writing is often the best for college essays, and good essays are often approximately 250 words in length.
1. What are the top five reasons you want to be a Hokie?
If you only write one essay, this is the one you should pick. This “why essay” is the most common variety out there… and the reason should be pretty obvious. It provides admissions with a direct barometer of your commitment to the school. Prove you’re a good fit by demonstrating a deep knowledge of the institution and offering personal reflections on what appeals to you. Luckily, this question has a twist. Once you’re done with your research, you can have a little fun. Five good reasons can span a few different areas of student life, so play around with the structure. Pick things connected to some central theme: maybe you’re a prospective linguistics major who hopes to expand her knowledge of languages by singing them in chamber choir and studying abroad in Prague. Or guide admissions through a little tour of your brain: as a skater who is obsessed with calculus, you see curves everywhere, from the chalkboard to the best potential ramps on campus.
This prompt doesn’t ask you about any particular aspect of the school, which gives you the freedom to pick and choose as you like. You can talk about academics, majors, classes, professors, top of the line labs and technology or you can discuss clubs, events, communities, societies, dining halls, and football games. Just make sure you’re relating what you have done to what you plan to do. If you decide to list the clubs as one of the reasons you want to be a Hokie, write about how you were involved in High School and how that helped you grow. They want to see you reflect.
2. If there is something you think would be beneficial for the Admissions Committee to know as we review your academic history, please take this opportunity to explain.
This is an opportunity for students with blips on their transcripts to address and explain these shortcomings. Usually, schools offer this sort of prompt as an optional “additional info” essay, and we think that’s the right perspective to take on the Virginia Tech application as well. In theory, you could submit a response to just this prompt and none of the others, but do you really want your one and only essay to be a dissection of your shortcomings? The whole point of an essay like this is to show that a few bad grades don’t define you. So, applicants who write this essay, should definitely submit at least one other.
Should you choose to tackle this prompt, your story should be one of success and overcoming hardship. Even if you’re sure your chemistry teacher was out to get you, placing blame won’t do you any good because it says nothing about your ability to grow and change. Were you sick and missed two months of school? Talk about what you did to catch up. Was there a death in the family that took you out of class? Describe the process of overcoming your grief. Did you have a learning difference that you weren’t receiving special help for? Tell the story of your evolving relationship with this aspect of who you are.
3. Our motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). How is service to others important in your life?
Chances are, you’ve done some community service at some point in your life, and this prompt asks you to reflect on that experience. If you were a perfunctory participant in a school-mandated volunteer program, this might not be the essay for you. Since Virginia Tech has given you options, we recommend this prompt only for applicants who honestly believe community service has been a meaningful part of their lives. Without a deep personal connection to the service you do, you risk writing a list of America’s top 10 clichés and platitudes.
Virginia Tech wants to know how service is “important in your life,” so go beyond what you have gained from community service. Why do you care so deeply about a particular cause or community? Why does service matter? What change do you hope to see in the world? Remember that, fundamentally, community service is not about personal glory or achievement. Did you volunteer at a hospital over the summer? Describe how this affected your beliefs about what doctors owe their patients and vice versa. Have you been fundraising for girls’ education in developing countries? Reflect on what drew you to this cause. For bonus points, talk about how you’d like to continue your service on Virginia Tech’s campus.
4. We believe strongly in the Virginia Tech Principles of Community and the value of human diversity affirmed therein. Share a perspective or experience related to your culture, age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status that might explain how you will enrich the climate of mutual respect and understanding here.
Diversity can be defined in many ways, but Virginia Tech has highlighted a list of specific options. So, do any of these feel like they apply to you? Have you ever been told that you were too young or too old to do something? Does your experience with something like race or gender say a lot about who you are? Has it impacted who you are today? If yes, pick this prompt.
Virginia Tech wants to know that you will add a new layer to their campus. They want to hear about your culture, traditions, diverse experiences, and ultimately, what makes you, you! Diverse perspectives allow for learning, understanding, and broader minds. You don’t have to focus on explaining why the perspective or experience you choose will enrich the climate of respect and understanding on campus, admissions should be able to put two and two together if you communicate your point effectively. Instead, zero in on a moment or anecdote about a time when you realized you were different. How has this affected the way you see the world? Has it impacted what you eat, who you read, or the way you dress? What do you do when you encounter people who are different from you? This is your place to show VT that you stand out, and also demonstrate your personal approach to difference and change.
5. Virginia Tech is one of six senior military institutions in the country. How will this setting contribute to your college experience?
Virginia Tech is an interesting and rare school and they want to make sure you know it too! When approaching this prompt, prepare yourself by researching VT and other military institutions. Find out how they differ from other schools, read student’s opinions, learn about the positives and the negatives, and imagine yourself in this atmosphere. Do you think this setting will offer you a stronger academic edge or protect you from the lurking dangers that other colleges struggle with? Even if this aspect of VT’s culture didn’t factor into your decision to apply, it will affect your experience of the school, so it’s a worthwhile prompt for everyone to consider. That said, this essay risks being redundant with the initial “why” question since it’s another way to demonstrate your fit. Distinguish the two essays if you choose to write both, and at the end of the day make sure Admissions knows that it’s military background is a plus for you.
6. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
This prompt is tough because it is so vague and you only have around 300 words to tell an incredibly detailed and revealing story about yourself that will have Virginia Tech clamoring to have you on their campus!! Luckily, it’s also incredibly similar to the first Common App prompt and Virginia Tech isn’t on the Common App! If you happened to write your Common App personal statement on prompt #1, whip out your scissors and cut it down to size.
If you aren’t clairvoyant and don’t have an essay to recycle, all is not lost! As you brainstorm how to answer this, think of pivotal moments in your life when you made a decision to pursue a career or life path. If this prompt is giving you trouble, think about yourself from someone else’s perspective. Why does your grandma think you’re the best thing since sliced bread? Which stories does she recount every Christmas? Don’t talk about a formative person in your life, that’s not what this prompt is asking you to do. Focus on one moment, one experience, one story and make sure you are the protagonist. Your grandma is a rockstar, we don’t doubt it, but she’s not applying to Virginia Tech, you are!
7. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
SURPRISE! The very presence of this open-ended prompt reveals that you have almost no excuse not to submit at least two essays: the why essay and some other essay of your choosing. Literally any other essay. Pick your favorite essay from another supplement and dress it up for Virginia Tech. Or recycle your Common App personal statement here. If you’re applying to literally any other school, you probably have something that you can recycle that will shed new light on who you are and how you think.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling motivated (and really want to show off), you could start from scratch.
If you have something you want Admissions to know that you don’t think any of the other prompts allow you to say, then this prompt is right up your alley. Maybe you wish there was a “What’s your favorite quote?” prompt so you could talk about how Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try” changed your perspective on life. Perhaps you were hoping there would be a “Who is your favorite character on television?” prompt so you could explain how Archie from Riverdale ’s drive to follow his dream inspired you to do the same. If you go this route, have fun with it! Show admissions how your quirky brain works.
About Kat Stubing
Check out our Guide to the Caltech prompts!
Want free stuff?
We thought so. Sign up for free instructional videos, guides, worksheets and more!
How to Write the Virginia Tech Application Essays 2017-2018
Hokie, Hokie, Hokie, Hi! Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, is a public university located in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech serves around 31,000 students, making it the third largest university in the state.
Because Virginia Tech uses its own application — rather than the Common Application or the Coalition Application — the 1-3 supplements stand alone as each applicant’s writing sample(s). Virginia Tech evaluates the same essays whether an applicant chooses to apply to the Engineering School or the College of Humanities and Sciences.
For the 2017-2018 admissions cycle, Virginia Tech has provided seven essay prompts, from which applicants are free to choose one, two, or three prompts to answer. Each prompt has a word count limit of 250 words.
With an acceptance rate of 73%, Virginia Tech admissions are somewhat competitive, meaning that stellar supplemental essays have the potential to push an otherwise below-average applicant over the top. Here is how CollegeVine suggests you tackle each prompt.
What are the top five reasons you want to be a Hokie?
This prompt is an excellent opportunity to convey interest in attending Virginia Tech and to show that you have thought seriously about how you might take full advantage of your Virginia Tech experience.
To answer the prompt, first you should visualize how you might spend your four years at Tech — what classes, extracurriculars, and social aspects would you be most excited to explore? These three categories can serve as the basis for drafting your five reasons. Your essay should strike a balance between what you’ll pursue inside the classroom, what you’ll spend your time doing outside the classroom, and what aspect(s) of the Tech community appeal to you most.
For example, a well-rounded essay could include (1) two specific reasons related to academics (such as a class you would like to take and research opportunity you would like to pursue); (2) two activities you can either start or continue pursuing at Tech (such as intramural soccer and Hiking Club, for example); and (3) an aspect of dorm culture that interests you (such as the living-learning labs in some dorms).
Aside from this academic-extracurricular balance, the most important tactic for writing an essay for Prompt 1 is specificity. Cite specific examples within your reasons — writing “I’m eager to pursue PSCI 3034: The CIA In Today’s World” is much more effective in showing interest and commitment than writing “I’m eager to pursue classes in my major, Political Science.” Look for clubs or extracurricular opportunities that appeal to you at Tech and call them out by name, showing your dedication to Tech’s academic and community offerings.
If there is something you think would be beneficial for the Admissions Committee to know as we review your academic history, please take this opportunity to explain.
Prompt 2 provides an opportunity for applicants whose academic careers have been affected by adverse or unanticipated circumstances to explain precisely how the situation(s) was/were detrimental to their academic performances. Moving during the school year, suffering a prolonged illness, being in an accident that required extended time off of school, or caring for an elderly relative or younger sibling are just a few examples of circumstances that could impact your academic performance.
The Virginia Tech Admissions Committees want the whole picture as they review your application, so if you feel that something in your academic history requires additional explanation, take this opportunity to engage in a candid dialogue about how the situation affected you as a student.
The essay you’ll write for this prompt will necessarily be personal, so there’s no “right” way to write it effectively. As you brainstorm, think of specific circumstances in which your academic career was affected by the topic of the essay. Don’t say “recovering from the accident made it harder for me to do my homework, which is why I did poorly my sophomore year.”
Instead, say, “Even after returning home from the hospital, waking up in the middle of the night to change my bandages often left me unable to focus effectively in my early classes.” Instead of “It took so much time to feed and get my little sister to bed that I just didn’t have time for my homework,” try, “Some nights, an unexpected stomach bug left me preoccupied caring for my little sister until late in the night; my chemistry reading was left untouched as I administered pink medicine and took her temperature at 30-minute intervals.”
As you write this essay, make sure that you’re honest and candid about how a situation or experience impacted your ability to perform academically, and keep in mind that the goal is to provide context for the evaluators of your academic credentials.
Our motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). How is service to others important in your life?
Service is an integral part of Virginia Tech’s community, so this is a great essay choice if you prioritize serving others in any way and on any scale. You may wish to talk about your servant leadership in a school or community club, a service capstone project you organized to benefit those in need, or simply how you incorporate the ideal of service to others in your day-to-day actions.
Whatever you choose to write about, make sure that you hit not only the specific consequences of your service but also the reasons why your service is important to you personally. It’s not enough to say, “I love to serve others because it gives me a chance to help my community, and it makes me feel fulfilled.” Instead, try something like this: “Video chatting with the overseas beneficiaries of my used bike drive and hearing about how Sofia was able to spend two more hours each day with her son because of her new work transportation inspired me to continue my work with Bikes for the World.”
It may be appropriate for you to touch on how you plan to continue a prolonged service activity in college. For example, if you tutor elementary students in math each week as a volunteer service, you may want to cite your plans to join or create a similarly-oriented service club at Virginia Tech. Showing that you’ve taken the time to research service opportunities at Tech will help to show your commitment to service and its importance to your identity.
We believe strongly in the Virginia Tech Principles of Community and the value of human diversity affirmed therein. Share a perspective or experience related to your culture, age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status that might explain how you will enrich the climate of mutual respect and understanding here.
By this question, Tech strives to help potential students see that the admissions office and the university as a whole understand these aspects of identity to be complex and individualized facets of character rather than descriptors that can be answered for by simple yes/no check boxes. If you believe that there is an aspect of your identity that warrants special consideration of how you’ll fit into and benefit the Tech community, then this question is for you.
It’s easy to get carried away while discussing an aspect of your identity, so the important tip to remember while writing this essay is to stick to the prompt as much as possible. You want to write about your identity through the lens of Tech’s commitment to “mutual respect and understanding.”
This means you’ll want to discuss how your perspective can help others learn something about their community and the world. For example, your religion might give you a unique perspective on Eastern literature that would enhance your English class discussions. Alternatively, you might be committed to changing the narrative about disabilities on campus because of your physical or mental disability.
One of the most important factors that admissions readers consider is how each applicant will contribute to the school community. This essay is a direct opportunity for you to explain in a personal fashion how you would be able to contribute to Virginia Tech. So be sure to keep your essay focused on how you will use your identity to enrich your community at Tech both inside and outside the classroom.
Don’t Worry — We’ll edit your admissions essay in a few hours.
Submit your essay and we’ll get it back to you with helpful edits.
Virginia Tech is one of six senior military institutions in the country. How will this setting contribute to your college experience?
This prompt is specifically tailored to students hoping to participate in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. This is an immersive, residential program that provides a military training experience that’s comparable to the college experience at a U.S. military institution. Participants include all ROTC participants as well as some students who participate in the Corps of Cadets but not an ROTC program.
Most students choosing to pursue the Corps of Cadets have distinct personal reasons for their commitment. This is the time to convey those personal reasons – your convictions, career goals, and other motivators for your pursuing the program. Additionally, you’ll want to touch on what about the program appeals to you. This could include the residential aspect, the opportunity for leadership responsibilities, or the tight-knit community feel of the program, among many other possible motivators.
While the Corps of Cadets will likely serve as a track to your future career goals, it’s important that (if you choose to make this point in your essay) this not overshadow your answering the prompt – how will the CoC contribute to your college experience? Think about what you want to get out of your college experience, do your research on the CoC and all that it entails, and then speak candidly about why you would benefit from the program and what you would bring to it.
For example, if you participated in JROTC in high school, this would be a good time to describe a situation during training in which you exhibited honor, courage, leadership or another foundational value of the program — whether establishing a tradition to welcome new members, finding a way to motivate your peers during training, or enabling community by facilitating bonding outside of training. Then you’ll be able to tie your potential contributions into what you’re hoping to get out of the program.
You could write about how having a strong bond with a team of committed peers would help you stay on track in and out of the classroom. You might be eager to engage in the leadership training and education offered by the program. Explain your reasons for wanting to be a part of the Corps of Cadets community, keeping in mind the residential, immersive nature of the program in shaping your college experience.
Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
Writing a narrative, anecdotal account of an important experience can be an effective method for showing the admissions committee who you are as a person and what kind of Hokie you would be on campus. It’s an open-ended prompt — the story can be about something good or bad, seemingly insignificant or monumental, a failure or a triumph, as long as you can convey why and how the experience made you who you are today.
The most common mistake applicants will make on this essay is falling into the trap of “telling” rather than “showing.” Don’t just say what happened, set the scene and appeal to the senses of the reader. You want to give the reader a deeper understanding of the situation by making them feel a personal connection to the scene — this will help them understand better its impact on you.
For an essay about navigating your parents’ divorce, you’d want to avoid general “telling” statements like, “I had to calm down my little sister, who was upset about having to split time between our parents’ new houses.” Instead, you could “show,” saying, “As the blue-grey facade of my mom’s house faded out the car window, I distracted my sister with a game of tic-tac-toe. By the time we approached dad’s apartment, her tears had dried and she happily pressed her face against the glass to get a glimpse of dad.”
Remember that the focus of the essay is on how the experience changed your character. It may be helpful to use parallel examples from before and after the experience. For example, you could recount the ease with which you wrote, ate, and ran before an accident, and then detail the struggle of relearning these previously taken-for-granted abilities afterward.
If you choose to write about an experience that demonstrated your character rather than shaping it, choose one of your defining character traits and think of a situation or experience that was emblematic of that value.
For example, if you’re hardworking, you may want to write about a project that you gave your all and poured your heart into. No matter what topic you choose, “showing” by appealing to the senses rather than “telling” objectively will help you to write an effective narrative supplement.
2018 Virginia Tech Essays
2018 Virgina Tech Essays
We are busy adding new 2018 essays as they are released. Virginia Tech released its essays. Students have the option to respond to eight prompts. They can answer one, two or three of the prompts, and the recommended word length is 300 words. These essays are also used Honors College consideration.
One of our favorites is
3. Our motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). How is service to others important in your life?
Check our site and mobile app for the other great choices. www.allcollegeessays.org
Dr. Rebecca Joseph is the developer of this unique integrated website and mobile application that provides all college application requirements for more than 750 major universities in the US and Canada. She has a PhD from UCLA and is a national expert on writing powerful college application essays.
Virginia Tech Admission Essay Sample on A Significant Experience
Virginia Tech Admission Essay Sample on A Significant Experience
Essay by Margaret Elizabeth Connell
At seven thirty, every morning, I race down the stairs, as fast as my drowsy body permits me, and take a detour through the kitchen on my way to the door. I pick up my filled to-go cup, with the same urgency and accuracy of a relay racer reaching for the baton. The purple isolated container has been graciously filled by my mom with piping hot coffee brewed by my father earlier that morning. I don’t dare try a drop of the scorching drink until I pull into the school parking lot. Once arriving at school, I finally sip on the black coffee, no cream, no sugar, armed and ready to face the long day.
My dad drinks coffee all hours of the day. When he’s home, there’s always a comforting, fresh pot in the kitchen that fills the whole house with a warm, cozy ambience. And my mom refuses to start the day without a warm latte. She concocts one every morning with different creamers and sugar. Ever since I was young, I had watched my parents drink coffee and I enviously dreamed about being old enough to enjoy a cup. My elder cousins grew older and began drinking coffee. In the mornings, they now could stand in the kitchen and lean nonchalantly against the counters, chatting with the adults. From my seat at the kitchen table I watched jealously and glanced pitifully to my glass of cold orange juice.
My family and I were in the airport early in the morning destined for Denver, Colorado, when my parents wanted a second cup of caffeine, so we went to the terminal’s Cup O’ Joe café. My brother, David, and I were always given hot chocolate as our default hot beverage, but that day in an effort to assert my age I asked for a cup of coffee. My parents, laughing in disbelief, scanned the menu and ordered me a cup half filled with coffee, but then leveled off with the familiar hot chocolate. The steamy liquid concoction eliminated my distaste for coffee! I could consume this new drink without trying to conceal my disgusted face from my parents. By my sophomore year I had become the champion, after weaning myself off the chocolate milk, I could digest a cup of hot black coffee with ease and grace. And I made sure my entire family was aware of my new talent by downing cups of coffee every morning.
I loved the new privileges I gained as a coffee consumer in my family. I could participate in conversations about politics or family gossip during breakfast as I casually leaned against the counter and gawked at truths that were revealed. I felt like an adult in my family; my opinions could be heard, my actions could be trusted, and my independence began to expand.
But David allowed me to see the true reason for my new independence—I was actually becoming an adult. I had trained myself for years to become immune to coffee’s bitter taste, but I didn’t need to. My brother tried coffee and didn’t like it, so he never drank it. And to my dismay, he was still earning the same increments of freedoms that I had once gained when I was his age. Coffee had nothing to do with it. I now only drink coffee when I want it. And I can stand in the kitchen and talk with the adults no matter what the temperature of my beverage is.
Margaret Elizabeth Connell attends Virginia Tech.
"I felt like an adult in my family"
Many students will relate to the following essay by Margaret Elizabeth Connell, who describes the familiar rite of passage of learning to drink coffee. Margaret’s flair for detail makes her a good storyteller, as in her opening description of grabbing her morning cup of coffee (but not drinking it until she arrives at school). Margaret draws in the reader for two full paragraphs before subtly sharing the main idea—that she wanted to drink coffee in order to feel grown up—almost as an aside. Margaret ultimately learns that she can be mature without the coffee, a final realization that has the reader nodding in agreement. "It took about three months to make my essay the way it is now," recalls Margaret. "I worked on it a lot during the summer before my senior year."