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2015 Apply Texas Essays

 

UPDATE as of July 13, 2017:

ApplyTexas CHANGED prompt requirements for incoming freshmen for Fall 2018!!

Click to see new requirements: Learn about changes.

To sum them up: Students must write one core, personal-statement type essay about their background (Same Prompt A as before), and three short answers about their Career Plans, Academics and Leadership (under 300 words each.)

*Below is the original post I wrote about UT essay requirements in 2016. All advice on how to strategize for Prompt A still applies perfectly. Incoming freshmen no longer need to write essays for Prompts B and C; instead they need to write the new 3 short answer essays (refer to ApplyTexas web site for details).

ORIGINAL POST BELOW:

*(Only the advice for Prompt A is still relevant!)

ApplyTexas, which handles the applications for the public universities in Texas, as well as many private colleges, has announced on its web site that they have all-new essay prompts for Fall 2017.

These new ApplyTexas essays apply to students who would be starting as freshman in Fall 2017, and applying to schools such as the University of Texas at Austin, or its other locations, as well as other Texas colleges.

They replaced the three main prompts, called Topic A, Topic B and Topic C, with new questions.

Though the ApplyTexas essays don’t specific a word count, I believe a good average for each essay is around 500 words.

Here are the new instructions for new ApplyTexas essays:

ApplyTexas Essay Prompts A, B and C For U.S. Freshman and International Freshman Applications Slated to replace current ApplyTexas essay choices A, B and C For inclusion in ApplyTexas applications for the 2017-2018 cycle (Summer 2017, Fall 2017, and Spring 2018 – opening 8/1/16)

(Essays for Summer 2016, Fall 2016, and Spring 2017 Applications are NOT changing.)

Topic A: 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.

Topic B: Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.

Topic C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

If you are just starting brainstorming ideas for these ApplyTexas essays, I have some ideas for you that I have written about in posts about similar essay prompts. And news one for you, too!

 

IDEAS FOR
APPLYTEXAS ESSAYS:
TOPIC A

Topic A: 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.

For Topic A, I would suggest you learn how to write about “the environment in which you were raised” by first thinking about your background.

This is also sometime referred to as the “world” you come from, or your “roots.” It can mean anything about your past experiences involving your “family, home, neighborhood, or community.”

In essence, I believe this prompt wants you to write about something in your background (family, home, neighborhood, or community) that has “shaped” or defined you in some way.

As in writing about your “world,” one big tip is to focus your essay and not try to write about more than one of these parts of your background. Pick only one, such as “family” or “community,” and then focus in even more on what you want to say about it.

The other advice is to not simply describe one of these (family, home, neighborhood, etc.), but find something that happened involving those environments that “shaped you as a person.”

Hint: To find a mini-story (anecdote) about something that happened that you can use to illustrate how your background shaped you, think back about “times” you faced some type of problem (aka challenge, mistake, set-back, obstacles, change, etc.)

Also, try to identify one core value (what you care most about) you developed in handling the problem (Example core values: Integrity, honesty, truth, generosity, gratitude, reverence, kindness, individuality, courage, passion, creativity, open-mindedness, loyalty, fun-loving, etc.)

When you write about how your environment shaped you, pick one core quality that you value in life to showcase and your essay will have a strong focus, which you want!

Note there are two parts to this question, so you make sure to answer both parts:

  1. Describe something from your background (something that happened is best!)
  2. Explain HOW it shaped you (what you learned related to your core quality)

So you could start your essay describing something that happened related to your family, home, neighborhood or community. (The first paragraph or two)

Then you could go into how that made you feel, what you thought about it, and then how you responded to it. (Another paragraph or two on this)

In order to explain how it shaped you, then continue by explaining what you learned from that experience—about yourself, others and even the world.

This is where you can reflect, analyze and explain what you learned from dealing with that problem, and also talk about how you either used your core value in the process, or had that core value tested or developed further. (This is the meat of your essay; two or three paragraphs)

Did it change you in any way? If so, share how.

Conclude by sharing how you believe you will use or apply whatever you learned about yourself and the world in your future goals and dreams. (One paragraph.)

Here’s a more specific Sample Outline for Prompt A:

  1. Share moment, incident or “a time” from your background when SOMETHING HAPPENED. Include some type of problem. (One to two paragraphs ONLY!)
  2. Go back and describe what led up to this moment (the “back story”). Then explain how you handled the problem; the steps you took. Include how you felt. (One to two paragraphs)
  3. Share what you learned from handling the problem. Focus on one core quality that it helped you develop or was tested. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the world. What was the upside? (One to two paragraphs)
  4. Conclusion: Give status update on the problem you shared. Explain again what you learned in one sentence. Then share how you intend to use what you learned to help you meet your future goals. (One paragraph)

To learn more on how to write an essay about something from your background that shaped you, check out How to Write a College App Essay in 3 Steps.

 

IDEAS FOR
APPLYTEXAS ESSAYS:
TOPIC B

Topic B: Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.

Good news on this new prompt!

It’s very similar to the first of the five prompts for The Common Application.

(You can recycle an idea you had for this Topic B to Prompt 1 of the Common App or consider using this essay to inspire your Prompt 1 essay for the Common App!)

Read How to Answer Common App Prompt 1 to get some ideas on how to write about an identity, interest or talent you have.

Again, it’s crucial to give a sharp focus to your essay, and the best way is to think of a specific example or “time” you can use to illustrate something about the identity, interest or talent you want to showcase in your essay.

Then you can go into how it makes you feel, what you learned about it and yourself, the good and bad of it, and why it matters to you.

I think this Topic B is your best place of the three new ApplyTexas essays to feature your area of interest or what you intend to major in or study in college. So include that if it fits.

For example, if you know you want to study business, try to think of something specific that happened that related to your “interest” in that field. Same with other fields, such as medicine, law, computer science, engineering, nursing, art, etc.

Not everyone knows what they want to study, and that’s fine. You can still write a great essay for this prompt.

But if you do know, try to work it in. The UT, and most colleges, likes students who have a plan!

 

 

IDEAS FOR
applytexas essays:
TOPIC C

Topic C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

Wow! Now this is a fun, almost whacky new prompt!

Since Topic C is playful and creative, this is your chance to display similar qualities in your essay.

They want you to use your imagination and think out of the box.

I believe the goal is to see your personality, sense of humor and dreams.

So the idea is you can go anywhere you want.

It can be your first time there or somewhere you’ve been before.

The most creative part of this prompt is the last question: What will happen when you get there?

Yes, you get to totally make up a story.

If this stumps you, try thinking up some type of problem that comes up in this place you land.

That way you inject some action and interest. Otherwise, you will find yourself simply describing this new place, and that could end up on the dull side.

By sharing you how handled that problems—be it big or small—your fun little essay will also end up highlighting something about you. That will give it focus and also reveal a piece of you that sets you apart from other students.

 

 

Have a little fun with this essay. Maybe your ticket is to Mars. Or to a country of your family’s origin and culture. Or to the town of a friend you haven’t seen in years.

The ticket could be for any mode of transportation—from airplanes, busses and trains to helium balloons and Disneyland.

It could even be a ticket to the future, or the past.

Just make sure something happens there, and describe how you reacted, dealt with it and learned.

Finally, if you know what you want to study or major in at your target Texas college or university, I would try to link your fantasy travel essay to that field.

For example, if you want to study biology, maybe imagine time travel back to the days of Darwin and visit the Galapagos Islands.

Try to brainstorm places you could “go” where you would be likely to have some type of experience related to your field of interest.

This is a terrific opportunity for you to showcase what you want to study in this essay, and most schools love to see this!

I really like these new ApplyTexas essays and think they give you an opportunity to showcase three distinct parts of yourself.

Make sure that those three parts do show different things about you, and don’t overlap.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMPORTANT: The UT has NEW prompts for 2017-18, so much of the information in this post is now outdated. 

Here’s the link to the update-to-date information on UT prompts:New Essay Requirements for UT.

Former Admissions Counselor
at University of Texas-Austin
Shares Insider Advice

 

Are you planning on applying to any of the 14 University of Texas institutions, including the most popular in Austin, Texas?

(Or Texas A&M, and even some private Texas colleges, such as SMU, TCU, Baylor and Trinity College.)

I’m excited to share some tips from a former college admissions officer at UT-Austin with you. His name is Kevin Martin, founder of TexAdmissions, and he focused these tips on the one of the 3 required essays he believes is by far the most important, based on his experience.

Kevin Martin of TexAdmissions

The University of Texas essay is called Topic C, and the prompts asks:

“Considering your lifetime goals, discuss how your current and future academic and extra-curricular activities might help you achieve your goals.”

Here is what Kevin has to say about writing your college application essay for this prompt for the University of Texas essays:

Top 10 Tips for Writing University of Texas Essays

1.

It’s all about Essay C – For universities like UT-Austin, which requires essay C, this is where you should spend the most effort. Here, they are looking to see if you are a good “fit” for your intended area of study. This means that you should focus on why they should invest in offering you a space in their program.

2.

Only your first choice matters – When applying to UT, you are given options for a first and a second choice major.

This is an illusion; they only consider your first choice. One hundred percent of your essay should reflect on your past experiences and skills that show how you would contribute in the classroom and the overall university community.

3.

Treat your essays like an argument – Provide proof! The biggest problem I saw when I reviewed files for UT were vague or cliché statements.

Instead of, “A strong foundation in math is important for success in engineering,” transform this statement into a “me-focused” sentence: “Because of my internship at Texas Instruments and my strong performance in calculus, I am well suited for studies in electrical engineering.”

4.

Each sentence should tie back to the idea of “fit” – With each sentence in your essay, ask yourself: “Does this sentence contribute to my argument that I deserve a space in their program?

Does this sentence help continue the thought from the ones before and set up my argument in later sentences?

Is this sentence absolutely necessary?

If not, can I take it out and not hurt my argument?”

5.

This is your chance to interview – UT and other Apply Texas universities do not conduct interviews as part of their admissions process. Instead, this is your only opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

You want the reviewer to walk away thinking, “This is a pretty neat student. We want them here!”

 

6.

How many essays should I write? – UT has a somewhat confusing system where they require two essays.

You must submit the Essay Topic C, and then your choice among Essays Topic A on diversity, Essay Topic B on overcoming an obstacle, or a special circumstances essay.

Sometimes students write all four thinking it will help them.

Don’t do this!

Unless you have a very compelling reason, only submit Essay C and your choice of one of the remaining three.

7.

Should my second essay also focus on fit? – If you can relate your second essay to why you are a good fit for your major, then I would go for it.

I worked with a student who selected electrical engineering.

His essay C was a strong piece arguing why he had the skills and experience to contribute, but his essay B told an entertaining and insightful story of how him and his friend accidentally broke some computers they were repairing and managed to fix them just in time.

8.

What if I am undecided? – That’s okay! Most students are undecided, even those who swear they know they are going to medical school before they enroll in freshman biology.

You can still demonstrate curiosity and passion by reflecting on one or two things that capture your interest and creative energies.

9.

How am I evaluated? – In short, you are scored on a scale of 1-6 – whether to recommend you for admission or not.

Most students receive a 3 or a 4 with only the most exceptional students scoring a 6.

The admissions reviewer looks at everything you have submitted (resume, essays, recommendation letters, coursework, etc.). If the reviewer is on the fence about giving you a 4 or a 5, you want your essay to argue decisively that you are a good fit and an interesting person.

Essays, more so than recommendation letters, are often what tips the scale where the admissions reviewer can reward you with a higher score and improve your admissions chances.

 

10.

Relax! – There comes a point where your essays are “done.”

Over-editing can cause a lot of unneeded stress and be counterproductive for the quality of your essays.

Once you submit your application, it is best just to forget about it until you receive your decision in the spring.

Excessive refreshing of your My Status page never does any good. ; )

*****

Here’s a video that Kevin put together
with more great insider advice and tips
on writing essays for the University of Texas:

 

 

 

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