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College Essays

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Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia boasts impressive academics, competitive sports team, and a long list of notable alumni. Though about 17,000 students attend UVA, the school has an admissions rate of 19%—meaning you'll have to work hard if you want to be a Cavalier.

One of the best ways to boost your chances of admissions is by writing great UVA essays as part of your application. In this article, we'll break down what the UVA essay prompts are and how you can write responses to each prompt that will make you stand out.

What Are the UVA Supplemental Essay Prompts?

In order to apply to UVA, you'll submit the Common Application . No matter which option you choose, you'll have to complete the UVA supplement, which includes three writing prompts.

The first prompt requires a response of about 100 words, and the other two recommend 50 words each. So these are definitely more short responses than full-length essays. For the first UVA supplement essay, you're required to write a response based on the school within UVA that you're applying to. For the second and third UVA writing supplements, you get to choose the topic that resonates most with you.

UVA Essay Prompts

Here are the UVA essay prompts for 2022-2023:

We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer this question, which corresponds to the school/program you selected above in around 100 words.

  • College of Arts and Sciences — If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences — How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?
  • School of Architecture —Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
  • School of Nursing —Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.
  • Kinesiology Program — Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.

Prompts #2 and #3

Answer one of the following questions in around 50 words. (You'll answer one question from this set for prompt 2 and a different question from this same set for prompt 3).

What's your favorite word and why?

We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.

UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?

About what topic could you speak for an hour?

Take us to your happy place. 

You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that?

What is the last gift you gave someone that wasn't bought with money?

What website is the internet missing?

After a challenging experience, how do you recharge?

Tell us about a place you'd like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself.

Tell us about a time when, faced with an opinion or perspective that differed from your own, you responded as an empathetic speaker or a generous listener.

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UVA Essays, Analyzed

Looking for advice on how to write amazing UVA essays? Let's break down how to answer each prompt.

UVA Prompt #1

The instructions are the same for all of the first UVA essays:

" We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer this question, which corresponds to the school/program you selected above in around 100 words ."

Let's look at how to answer each one.

College of Arts and Sciences— If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?

This slightly unusual prompt lets you show UVA what knowledge you think every student there should know. The prompt isn't asking what you think would be an interesting or fun course necessarily, but a course that every UVA student should need to take and pass in order to graduate. To answer this prompt, you'll need to decide: what topic is important for every UVA student to think about and know before they graduate? 

You could take this in a lot of different directions. You might choose a practical topic, like Intro to Paying Taxes, Basic Home and Car Repairs, or Financial Planning 101. Certainly everybody will need to know that information sooner or later! You could also choose a more abstract topic that you think no one should graduate college without thinking critically about. Topics in this area could include living sustainably, understanding prejudice, or how to be a good communicator.

Whichever topic you choose, be sure to give a brief overview of what the course would cover and, most importantly, why you think every UVA student should take it. The topic you choose is less important than your reasoning behind it, so make sure you make a strong argument for why your course choice is valuable to the entire UVA community.

School of Engineering— How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?

This prompt is all about you and your plans for the future. What specifically do you plan on doing as an engineer? UVA asks this to understand your goals and motivations for wanting to enroll in their School of Engineering.

When answering this prompt, you might feel pressured to write something really impressive, like designing a space shuttle that'll allow humans to travel to Mars or developing a cheap water purification system that can be distributed to the millions of people living without access to clean drinking water. And if you do have those goals for yourself, then go for it! 

However, if you have more modest goals, don't feel like you need to "dress them up" in order to impress UVA. Wanting to become an engineer so you can create safe buildings, help people  manage and protect their data, or even just build cool roller coasters that people enjoy are just as valid.

The key is to be honest and enthusiastic about your career goals. Let your passion for engineering and your excitement for your future plans shine through, and you'll be all set for this prompt.

School of Architecture—Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.

Inspiration comes in many forms —what's important for this prompt is to think about an experience that has inspired you. Also, keep in mind that this prompt isn't asking you about a specific building or project that you love. Instead, it wants you to tell a personal story about how architecture has inspired you...and how that inspiration led you to choose architecture as a major.

The trick for this essay prompt is connecting your experience to architecture . For example, maybe you wanted to be an architect because you visited the Academy of Sciences in California, and you thought their underground aquarium was amazing. That inspired you to want to learn to build structures that create that sense of awe in others.

Whatever you choose, you should be sincere about your inspiration. Anything that sounds trite will be really obvious to the admissions committee. They'll read thousands of applications about wanting to make the tallest building in the world—make yours sound different.

School of Nursing—Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.

Don't feel like you need to highlight a huge moment here—rather, focus on something that's significant to you even if that experience was small!

The key to this prompt is to make sure that you're highlighting something real that happened to you or someone important to you. The more personal you can make the experience, the better.

Saying something like "I want to solve cancer for everyone" is less impactful than saying that you have seen firsthand how cancer affected your grandmother. Nursing is a personal profession—lean into that for this essay.

Kinesiology Program— Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.

For this prompt, focus on one experiences and discuss it in detail. Don't give an entire overview of your history—describing something more fully will resonate more than trying to cram a lot of experiences into a relatively short essay.

Be honest about what drove you to kinesiology— don't write what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Write what's true for you.

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UVA Prompts #2 and #3

Again, for both prompts 2 and 3, you'll choose one prompt from the list below (so two different prompts total) and write a response of roughly 50 words each.

This is quite an eclectic list! Of the 11 prompts, you only need to answer two, so don't worry if you can't think of a good response to some or even most of the prompts. Don't worry about choosing the two "best" prompts either; UVA chose each of these prompts which means they think they're all valuable. Choose the two that speak to you the most and that you can answer in a way that lets UVA learn more about you as a person.

Also aim to choose two prompts that show different sides of yourself as opposed to two prompts where your answers are quite similar. That helps UVA get more of a look into who you are as a person, which is the entire point of the prompts.

To choose your prompts, go through the list and think about potential responses for each question. Some you might not come up with anything for, but hopefully for a few an answer will jump out at you. For example, do you have a passion for collecting Minnie Mouse figurines? Do you have to run four miles every single morning? Do you stop everything you're doing whenever the Red Sox are playing? Do your parents always make fun of you for pronouncing a word strangely? Then you might want to answer the question about quirks. 

Or maybe the prompt about students writing messages on the Beta Bridge speaks to you. As with the other prompts, the "why" is the most important part of this prompt. Whatever message you land on, make sure you have a good reason for it.

Avoid trite or cliched phrases, like "Be the change you wish to see in the world." The admissions committee will have seen thousands of these—and those words are probably already written on Beta Bridge. What do you have to say? What message is personal to you? What lesson have you learned that you specifically can communicate?

For whichever prompts you choose, be honest and reflective so that your response gives a window of insight into who you are and what matters to you. Another thing to note: 50 words is not very long at all! So keep things concise in order to stay within the word count.

How to Write UVA Essays

Here are some general tips for how to write UVA essays that will wow the committee.

Your UVA supplement essays are a chance to show the admissions committee who you are. Take that opportunity to flesh yourself out. You're not simply a collection of A's and B's printed on a transcript. You're a real person! Show that in your UVA essays.

#2: Feedback Is Cool; Plagiarism Is Not

It can be tempting to bounce essay ideas off your peers, parents, and teachers. That's fine! But don't rely on them too heavily. Your work should be your own—from the ideas to the execution. There's a fine line between receiving helpful feedback and using that feedback in a way that misrepresents your work and ability . Seek out help, but know that you have the first and final say.

#3: Play With Form

Your UVA essays don't have to follow the traditional five paragraph structure. UVA encourages you to play with form. That means you can submit a poem, if you want!

Take advantage of the freedom from structure to write in a way that feels authentic to you. If that means starting every sentence with the letter "E", then go for it! As long as your work is well-written and engaging, the form doesn't matter.

What's Next?

There are over 5,000 colleges in the United States—how can you possibly decide which to apply to? Using a college finder tool can help you sort through your options and find your ideal school without having to tour every single campus.

Once you've decided on some colleges or universities that you're interested in attending , our guide will help you narrow down your list to safeties, matches, and reach school.

Still not sure what you're looking for in a college? Read our articles on whether you should go to a school close to home and whether you should attend a large or small college .

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Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.

Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :

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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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University of Virginia | UVA’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Why this college short response.

If you have a personal or historic connection with UVA, and if you’d like to share how your experience of this connection has prepared you to contribute to the University, please share your thoughts here. Such relationships might include, but are not limited to, being a child of someone who graduated from or works for UVA, a descendant of ancestors who labored at UVA, or a participant in UVA programs.

Diversity Short Response

What about your individual background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA? Feel free to write about any past experience or part of your background that has shaped your perspective and will be a source of strength, including but not limited to those related to your community, upbringing, educational environment, race, gender, or other aspects of your background that are important to you.

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What will first-time readers think of your college essay?

The Class of 2025 in Their Own Words

Excerpts from admission essays for incoming first-years

Engineering in motion

Essay prompt: Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.

Sean Mahoney

No piece of engineering is quite as versatile as the bicycle. For many, the bicycle acts as a low-cost alternative to cars, buses, and other motor vehicles. Others are drawn to bicycles as an emissions-free method of transportation, and still more use bikes for exercise and pleasure. The bicycle inspires me to study engineering because it combines all the elements of my mindset going into the field of engineering, namely: health, sustainability, and a humanitarian focus.

One of the beauties of the bicycle’s design is its simplicity: a pair of wheels, a set of pedals, and a chain. This simplicity enables bicycles to be manufactured cheaply, making them the transportation method of choice for many disadvantaged areas of the world. In the same way, I hope to engineer solutions for the benefit of disadvantaged communities everywhere.

The bicycle is also the perfect example of sustainability. In a world increasingly aware of its own carbon footprint, emissions-free solutions to transportation, like the bicycle, will only gain greater popularity. Similarly, my thinking in the engineering field will be molded by ideas of eco-friendliness.

Finally, the bike is also an excellent piece of technology for those looking to exercise. As an avid biker myself, I am especially passionate about this dimension of its design. In a country facing greater health challenges each year, it is important to have engineers thinking of solutions with a public health mindset, and the bike exemplifies this mindset perfectly. 

—Sean Mahoney (Engr ’25)

Paint on a page

I can’t tell you the difference between cross country and track and field, but I can tell you that the relay baton I used in 7th grade played a D natural when I hit it against my hand. I would recognize the note by the spot of yellow that would appear in my mind’s eye as the baton made contact with my palm: pale yellow, like the fading coat of paint on an old school bus. By middle school, I knew that my colorful sensory condition saturated every aspect of my life.

I have synesthesia, an intertwining of the senses. One sense triggers another. When I hear sounds, I see colors. When I see certain colors, I taste or smell different flavors and scents. Letters and numbers have their own hues. Peaches taste like ocean turquoise. My favorite song is the color of a blue raspberry Jolly Rancher illuminated by the sun.

Because I experience the world simultaneously through multiple lenses, I am fascinated by interconnectedness, both tangible and intangible. This influences how I view the world, making me more aware of the complexities of other people and their perspectives. I do not see myself, ideas, or life in black and white.

Given my color-infused world, it is ironic then that black words on white paper inspire my passions for creative writing and literature. Not that I see them that way. Creative writing allows me to spill paint across a white page. Reading and analyzing literature awakens my senses, and my synesthetic brain is fine-tuned to the musicality of writing.

—Jessica Ganley (Col ’25)

A gentle old soul

Meghan Powers

When you imagine a grandmother, there are several trademarked characteristics that must be included in the mental image. For example: hearing loss, hip problems, a bountiful stash of candies to be given out at random, cat-eyed reading glasses, and if you’re feeling spicy, maybe a cardigan or two. Of course this fictional old woman knits or engages in some other fiber art. If you adjust this mental image, to make the grandmother 6 feet tall, slightly more agile, and give her great skin—oh look! It’s me. I’m convinced that an autopsy will reveal that, in place of a heart, I have a ball of yarn and a few butterscotch candies. 

When I was in seventh grade, I joined the fiber arts club hoping to find some peers who also appreciate the value of working for weeks on a scarf that’s too itchy to use. First, I learned to crochet. My grandmothers introduced me to knitting as well. My school desk is actually a sewing table, with the sewing machine hidden behind a false drawer, under a removable panel. It’s very James Bond—if James Bond were an elderly woman and the fate of the free world rested upon a haphazardly made poncho.

People have told me I have an “old soul” all my life, and it isn’t a quality without flaws. I’m a bit of a pushover. When I was little, and coerced into playing soccer, my official position on the team was flower picker. I was hopelessly passive, even for a volunteer-coached team of fruit-snack fueled four-year-olds. 

That being said, I’ve found being sensitive is usually helpful, if not for me, then for others. Social justice depends on the sensitivity of the masses. It requires us to care enough about other people to act in their best interests. This becomes clear in an increasingly chaotic world. I’m grateful that empathy comes easy to me. It drives a passion for helping others. 

—Meghan Powers (Col ’25)

A word to aspire to

Essay prompt: What’s your favorite word and why?

Dedra Dadzie

I was working a quiet evening shift at Denny’s when I first heard the word assiduous .

I was sulking a bit that day. I had kept missing easy shots at field hockey practice that afternoon and the NHS rejection letter I opened before work only made things worse. As childish as it sounds, it felt like nothing I did mattered.

I was busy brooding when someone came in. I sat him in a booth by the window myself. He had a kind smile so I chatted with him as I took his order. 

It was surprisingly pleasant. He told terrible jokes that I could not help but laugh at. When he heard I was a student he asked what I planned to study. I began speaking excitedly.

I spoke of engineering and women who inspired me. I rambled about Farida Bedwei, Edith Clarke, and Mary Jackson. I talked about the things I wanted to do, the person I wanted to be. It was not until I handed him his check that I realized how long I was talking. Before walking out the door, he said with a final smile, “You are a rather assiduous young lady.” I laughed and thanked him. Then I looked up what it meant: To be diligent and persevering.

I frowned a bit. I did not think I was a very assiduous person, but I couldn’t help but want to be. To be the kind of person who worked hard and persisted through failure.

Since that day to be assiduous has become almost a goal of mine and has become my favorite word.

—Dedra Dadzie (Engr ’25)

The house in the middle

Zain Ahmed

It’s an odd sight: a secluded neighborhood with only two houses, one brown and one white, on opposite sides of the street. It seems as if they are in their own galaxies, repelled by one another. I’m drawn to the espresso-colored house.

The deep almond-colored walls—a reflection of my brown skin—radiate an inimitable sense of warmth and comfort. The scent of fresh-cooked naan and kebabs fosters an overwhelming sense of hunger. As Lakdi Ki Kathi plays in the background, I sing along without missing even a syllable of my favorite song. My mom calls out my name “Zain!” in a way that it rhymes with “tan.” Dressed in shalwar kameez , I feel proud. I feel understood. I feel like I’m more than enough. Yet an ineffable part of me feels missing.

I exit with a strong desire to explore and expand at the white house. As I amble toward it, the feeling of warmth slowly evaporates from my body.

The bright, bleached walls blind me; the adjustment from a warm coffee, to a foreign, beaming white immediately unsettles me. The scent of freshly sharpened pencils and pungent Expo markers permeates the air, with an undertone of pizza and fries. My ears immediately observe the obscure tune in the background; the only decipherable content seems to be “trucks” and “blue jeans.” Someone in the house exclaims “Zain!” so that it rhymes with “plain.” I realize I’m dressed in a collared polo shirt, khaki pants, and black dress shoes; my confidence is stripped away. I feel misunderstood. I feel like I am not enough. And this time, it is much more apparent that something is missing.

As I return to the street, both houses continue to tug at me. I am lost in the middle of two worlds: my innate Pakistani home culture and my primarily white educational environment. I notice a new construction site in the lot between the white and brown houses. A feeling of liberation and certainty fills me. This one, I realize, is my house, and I am building it. 

—Zain Ahmed (Col ’25)

Grounded in the chaos

Catherine Ann McLaughlin

Well-grounded, shiny, and square—a black IKEA table is my command center. The three and a half feet square stands three feet high, and has become central to my identity. Located in the living room, in the midst of my family’s madness, it is situated next to the couches where my energetic mom claps to the Friends theme song every night. When I’m sitting there, I have a clear view into the kitchen where my bustling parents hastily prepare dinner—Mexican is a McLaughlin staple. The chaotic background noise helps me think clearly, and because of my prime location, I am privy to every conversation that takes place on the first and second floors of my house. “Hey, that’s not right,” I yell, when my parents are talking about me. I passionately interject and insert commentary.

From homework to remote learning lessons, I complete each assignment and prepare for the next school day from the confines of this black square. My table is my safe haven, and with each daunting task I undertake, it maintains its steady composure and remains as it was when I left it—steadfast despite the chaos interjected by my fun-loving family. The table supports my determination, relentless drive, and passion for learning. 

It is a symbol of my diligence and relentless perseverance. Like me, it is grounded, the table to the hardwood floors, as I am by the morals and examples set by my parents and sisters: respect, honesty, and selflessness. Sturdy and strong, I too can take a beating, and I am a force to be reckoned with, fierce, strong-willed, and hardworking by nature. 

—Catherine Ann McLaughlin (Col ’25)

A romance with Romance

Avery Niven

Helpless, I stand beneath the swirling black clouds. The mast groans as the north wind howls mercilessly, striking the sail head on. Gaping surges of seawater snatch the surrounding fleet and hurl them onto sandbanks and spikes of rock. Saltwater lashes my skin; the boat plummets this way and that; procella fluctusque ad sidera tollit. And the storm lifts the waves to the stars , I write with a smile, pleased with how effortlessly the translation comes into my head and in awe of Virgil’s lyricism. Even as I close my notebook, a faint whistling still fills my bedroom.

OK, I’ve never personally been stranded in the Mediterranean Sea amid a storm invoked by “the unforgetting anger of savage Juno” (ominous, right?)—I’ve just lived vicariously through Aeneas. I’ve also been ambushed by barbarians with Caesar and watched the eruption of Vesuvius with Pliny the Younger, all from the comfort and safety of my own desk. Instead of tidal waves and tearing winds, I’ve navigated ablatives and accusatives. I’ve methodically matched verbs to objects and nouns to modifiers with only a few telltale letters to go on, and, in doing so, unraveled the most intricate grammar into a retelling of the fall of Troy. 

As a self-proclaimed “STEM person” ever since I laid eyes on an astronomy book at age 7, my romance with the forefather of Romance languages was unexpected, to say the least. I’ve always embraced the meticulous and methodical side of myself. It’s the side captivated by chemistry and calculus, but now I also recognize it as the side that idolizes Virgil as a mathematical genius. I mean, seriously—there are 9,896 lines in the Aeneid , and the guy had to analyze every single letter to satisfy the complex dactylic hexameter! But Latin has bridged my quantitative nature to the part of me I often discount: the one pulled to open-ended beauty.

—Avery Niven (Col ’25)

Waking up local schools

Essay prompt: Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that “…there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.

Benjamin Kim

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! The alarm awakened my grumpy side. The 7:30 a.m. high school start time was destructive. It caused an endless cycle of lethargy and crankiness. For the good of 30,000 high school students, I chose to do something about it. 

To challenge the start time, I delved into the research. In Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, he cites several benefits of later start times, such as improved academic performance, focus, and mental health, as well as a decrease in road accidents and substance abuse for teens. A neighboring school district conducted a study on later start times, which spurred me to do the same. I conducted interviews and surveyed hundreds of students in my school district. I pitched my ideas and discussed the feasibility with associate superintendents and administration.

On Jan. 22, 2020, I presented my case before the School Board. The board members were intrigued by my proposal. A month later, they directed the superintendent to “study possible changes to student start times.” Validation! Progress was being made.

Then the pandemic hit. The county’s focus shifted to distance learning. For the 2020-2021 virtual school year, the county decided to change the high school start time to 8:30 a.m. As a result, I’m getting more quality sleep and feeling energized for a day of learning. More importantly, my peers are benefiting from the later start times both physically and mentally. 

Although I do not know if my voice influenced the county’s decision, I’m proud of myself for taking action rather than sleeping in.

—Benjamin Kim (Col ’25)

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June 12, 2022

UVA 2022-2023 Admissions Essay Prompts

uva engineering essay prompt

The University of Virginia has released its 2022-2023 application essays. Applicants to the UVA Class of 2027 will be asked to complete three essays in total on the UVA supplement to The Common Application. The first essay should be about 100 words in total. The second and third essays should be about 50 words each. So, yes, UVA, one of our nation’s top public universities, has a relatively short supplement. And what questions does the Thomas Jefferson-founded school pose to applicants? Wonder no more!

University of Virginia Class of 2027 College-Specific Essay Prompt

For the first prompt, the 100-worder, applicants must select the corresponding essay for the school within UVA to which they are applying. For the College of Arts & Sciences, the prompt reads, “If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?” For the School of Engineering, it reads, ” How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?” For the School of Architecture, it goes, “Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.” For the School of Nursing, the prompt reads, “Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.” And for the Kinesiology Program, applicants are asked, “Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.”

University of Virginia Class of 2027 Essay Prompts for All Applicants

For the second and third prompts, applicants are directed to answer two of the following ten essay options: “(1) What’s your favorite word and why? (2) We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. What is one of your quirks? (3) About what topic could you speak for an hour? (4) Take us to your happy place. (5) You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that? (6) What is the last gift you gave something that wasn’t bought with money? (7) What website is the internet missing? (8) After a challenging experience, how do you recharge? (9) Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself. (10) UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?”

Have a question about the 2022-2023 UVA essay prompts? Let us know your question by posting it below. And while you’re here, see how the UVA essays have changed over the years.

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Analyzing the UVA Supplemental Essays 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

December 27, 2021

uva engineering essay prompt

The University of Virginia is known for being home to the Academical Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether you want to be a future Cavalier due to its historical foundations, or you find yourself wanting to major in Kinesiology or Speech Communication Disorders, it’s time to show the admissions office who you are through the UVA supplemental essays 2021-2022. The essays not only want to get to know your academic interests, but they provide you with space to elaborate on your endeavors outside the classroom. Use these prompts as a chance to highlight your personality and what makes you unique.

School-Based Prompts

We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.

  • College of Arts and Sciences - What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences - Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.
  • School of Architecture -  Describe significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture .
  • School of Nursing -  Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.
  • Kinesiology Program - Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major. 

The only required prompt you have to answer in the UVA supplemental essays 2021-2022 requires you to reflect based on the college within UVA you have chosen and think about your interests within your field. Though these are framed in a unique way compared to the typical “why major” question, your approach doesn’t have to be all that different from the way you’ve been thinking about other essay prompts that ask you to talk about your major. The start of interest in any subject or field is inspiration. So, think about the ways you might have been inspired by the work that exists around you and in the broader world. If you’re a prospective music major—is there an artist whose work you follow carefully who has influenced you? If you’re a budding engineer, consider any projects that have inspired positive change in your community and how it has contributed to your love for engineering. And so on for architecture, nursing and kinesiology. Admissions officers want to know that your interest in a topic spans beyond just saying “I love X field.” They want to know about the roots of your passion. 

Prompts That Give You Choices

Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words. 

What’s your favorite word and why?

This is a fun question that allows room for a really introspective essay. Don’t overthink which word you choose. What matters most is that your explanation allows the reader to have a chance to get to know who you are, whether that’s inside or outside of the classroom. For example, your favorite word might be “serene,” and this could lead to a wonderful essay about your love for nature, hiking, and perhaps painting landscapes by your favorite lake. Or, your favorite word could be “tomato,” and you could write an essay about the first time you cooked your favorite dish. The word doesn’t have to come out of the SAT catalog. What’s important is that your response helps the admissions officers get to know you and your interests and goals better.

We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.

If you have a unique habit or trait that people around you know you for, this prompt can be a good one to try. A “quirk” can be pretty loosely defined. It can refer to your habit of marking a day off your calendar to countdown to your favorite community fair, or it can be a signature phrase that you have. No matter what it is you choose, focus on “why it is a part of who you are.” Colleges want students who will uniquely contribute to their community. What does your quirk say about you? Does it showcase someone who is caring for their peers? Does it highlight a love for a certain hobby? If you’re not sure what a quirk is, don’t answer this prompt, but if there’s something you think is cool and unusual about you, this can definitely be a good way to show it!

Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?

If there is a topic that interests you that you feel like people should know about, you could elaborate on it through this particular prompt among the UVA supplemental essays 2021-2022. A lot of students are interested in matters in the news or politics, or even pop culture, that traditional coursework doesn’t cover. Whether you have a strong passion for the Atlantic Ocean, or you’ve spent hours reading about the life of Michael Jordan, or you want to start a debate about DC vs Marvel, consider what idea you want to explore alongside classmates. Again, what you choose shouldn’t matter as much as the why. Admissions officers want to know what you consider important, and how you think a discussion would fuel important conversations.

UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?

Similar to the previous question, this prompt among the UVA supplemental essays 2021-2022 allows you the chance to talk about what is important to you that others might not consider as easily. Is there a piece of news that has recently stuck with you? Are you trying to create awareness for a certain cause? And once again, I emphasize that you shouldn’t use all of your words describing the message itself. Remember that the main part of the essay should be the “why.” Of course you should think about what you want others around you to know, but spend a greater amount of time considering the reason behind your choice. Why this particular message over others?

Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that "...there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints." Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.

Choosing to tackle this final optional prompt within the UVA supplemental essays 2020-2021 is a good way to inform the university about your role as an impactful leader and changemaker. Admissions officers don’t want a detailed description of the logistics of the action. Within the given 250 words you must focus on how you are taking efforts to make a difference in your community—so you should take a more reflective approach. Think about your most significant involvement, but stay wary of commonly cited activities such as service trips. Remember that “action for the greater good” doesn’t have to signify a large-scale activity. You could have helped your entire neighborhood or school, or you might have helped one or two individuals who belong to it, and still made a difference. 

Use a short anecdote to highlight the role you played in the activity. What were some of your tangible achievements? How did you involve the rest of the community? How would the result have been different if you weren’t present? What have you learned in the process? While you definitely don’t want to undermine your role in the activity, remember that you shouldn’t sound arrogant either. Talk about your achievements in a way that still conveys humility and portrays you as both a team player and respected leader. And of course, make sure your account is truthful and not overly exaggerated. 

The UVA supplemental essays 2021-2022 might seem intimidating at first but they really are catered to students’ personalities and ways they spend their time. Take advantage of these prompts to help the university know who you are and how you can contribute to their institution. Good luck! 

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UVA Essay Examples

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UVA Essay Examples – Introduction

In this guide, we’ll learn about the University of Virginia supplemental essays through several UVA essay examples. We’ve included UVA supplemental essays examples, addressing various UVA essay prompts to teach you what a successful essay looks like. After each, we’ll discuss the parts of these UVA essays that worked. Read on to learn more about writing strong University of Virginia essays.

University of Virginia background

The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, today UVA is home to over 27,000 undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students. With UVA ranking among the top U.S. public universities, thousands of UVA applications flood the University of Virginia admissions annually. Of all the UVA application requirements, the University of Virginia supplemental essays are perhaps the most important aside from grades.

What are the UVA Supplemental Essays?

Ultimately, applicants to UVA will write three essays. The first has a 100-word limit, while the other two are 50 words or fewer. Since the UVA application is part of the Common Application , you’ll also need a personal statement .

When you apply to UVA through the Common App , you must choose to apply to one of UVA’s five schools and colleges. The school or college you select on your UVA application is an important decision as it will determine one of three essays that you will write. Below is a list of UVA’s five schools and colleges and their respective essay prompts.

University of Virginia- School-Specific Essays (100 words)

I. college of arts & sciences.

If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why? 

II. School of Engineering

How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better? 

III. School of Architecture

Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying at the School of Architecture. 

IV. School of Nursing

Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing. 

V. Kinesiology Program

Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.

Mind the word limits

This first University of Virginia essay has a word limit of 100 words. For your second and third essays for the University of Virginia, you will choose from a list of eleven UVA essay prompts. Remember, the last two University of Virginia essays have a word limit of only 50-words. Below are the prompts students must choose from.

UVA Essay Prompts- Choose Two 

  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. What is one of your quirks?
  • About what topic could you speak for an hour?
  • Take us to your happy place.
  • You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that?
  • What is the last gift you gave someone that wasn’t bought with money?
  • What website is the internet missing?
  • After a challenging experience, how do you recharge?
  • Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself.
  • UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
  • Tell us about a time when, faced with an opinion or perspective that differed from your own, you responded as an empathetic speaker or generous listener.

Essay prompts do change

If you’ve read our University of Virginia supplemental essays guide from last year, you may be scratching your head. Weren’t there only two required University of Virginia essays? Well, the University of Virginia admissions team has changed the UVA application requirements when it comes to essays. This isn’t uncommon—college essay prompts usually change in some way from year to year. But the University of Virginia supplemental essays and UVA essay prompts have seen a pretty big change.

As a result of this change, the UVA supplemental essays examples we’ve included below may not exactly reflect this year’s UVA essay prompts. However, reading our UVA essay examples and other college essay examples can still help you brainstorm for other essays.

UVA Essay Examples – Prompt #1

To kick off our UVA supplemental essays examples, we have three UVA essays addressing a singular prompt. As mentioned above, the UVA essay prompts have changed pretty drastically this year. Therefore, this prompt isn’t part of this year’s UVA application. However, these UVA essays that worked have some strengths you can apply to any college essay.

Even if these UVA essay examples are different from what you’ll write, it’s good to consider how you might approach different essay prompts . 

Our First Essay Example Prompt

So, for UVA essay prompts like the one below, what should strong UVA essay examples have in common? Obviously, the work you choose should have impacted you deeply. However, it doesn’t have to be a world-famous work: it could be a manga, a theorem, or a video game. Most importantly, the impact this work had on you should reflect something about you, your values, or your worldview.

At the end of the day, successful UVA supplemental essays examples share traits with all effective college essays. They address the prompt, tell a compelling story, and shine a spotlight on you. Strong UVA supplemental essays examples, even short ones, add depth to your personal narrative — so make every word count! With that in mind, let’s look at three UVA essay examples for this prompt.

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, literature, or other media has surprised, unsettled, or inspired you, and in what way?

Uva essays that worked #1.

Staring blankly at a black square, I pull on my hair in frustration. As my teacher announces that there are three minutes left on the test, my frustrations turn into rage and I burst out in the middle of class: “How do we analyze this? This isn’t art!”

My love-hate relationship with Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square piece started when my middle school art teacher told us to analyze his work on a test.

Although I wasn’t a renowned artist, I thought Kazimir’s Black Square was nowhere near art. How could someone paint a black square, declare it art, and then call it a day? My dislike for Kazimir’s art, however, changed when I learned about the context behind his artwork. I became fascinated by how Kazimir was able to use his artwork to completely revitalize people’s definition of “art”. As I learned about Kazimir’s motives I had an epiphany: the Black Square was more than just… well, a black square. Instead, it was a revolutionary tool used to deconstruct reality and form a new perception of art.

To this day, Kazimir has taught me to not let my preconceptions of reality shape how I process information. I realized the importance of striving to understand cultures, identities, and ideas that are different from mine rather than reject them because of my preconceptions. With this in mind, I learned that any idea or concept is not static and can be expanded and changed; it’s imperative to not reject any ideas that are different from my own to expand my own understanding of a concept.

It’s safe to say that my 12-year-old self was wrong: black squares can be art too.

Why This Essay Worked

Most essay guides, ours included, will hammer home the effectiveness of narrative essays. This doesn’t make a narrative structure essential—as we’ll see, plenty of UVA essays that worked aren’t narratives. However, UVA essay examples that open with some action or scene have the power to instantly grab a reader’s attention. The vivid language this author uses in their opening to frame their topic quickly conveys their frustration.

Regardless of how they hook readers, strong UVA supplemental essays examples for any prompt will look inward. After the opening, the author talks about how their perspective changed. This is what the prompt asks, and strong UVA essay examples like this clearly define that change. Again, impactful language illustrates how the author’s new understanding of Kazimir’s work widened their perspective on art.

The author concludes by connecting their revelations from Kazimir to their worldview as a whole. All of these UVA essay examples show admissions officers who the author is and what they consider important. Effective UVA supplemental essays examples illustrate your values or background and how you’ll enrich the campus community with them. In your University of Virginia essays, be reflective in your writing to allow your principles to shine through.

Another Response to the First Prompt

Uva essays that worked #2.

I think that this is best answered by sharing the letter I wrote the author after reading A Place for Us :

Reading has always been my favorite escape, my favorite pastime. Only, your book was never an escape, but a mirror: the first time I saw my life truly reflected in literature, and not because you told an Indian-American story. I felt as though you had written my story, because of the raw and honest meditation on family that your book centers on. 

As is true with many immigrant families, my family resorts to anger often too quickly. We shy away from expressing love. I have cried out that I hated my father on more than one occasion and passionately believed it to be true each time, just like Amar did to Rafiq. As I read Rafiq’s dying words to Amar at the end of the book, expressing his regret, his love for his son–I couldn’t stop crying because suddenly, I saw my family in a completely different light. Not that we will never disagree or fight again, but I began to consider all that goes unsaid between us. A lack of communication caused their family to fall apart, and it made me examine the cracks in mine. 

Behind the anger is almost always love, and while I’ve known this subconsciously, there is something about seeing your struggles outside the context of your own life that forces you to confront the truth about them. I’m endlessly indebted to you, in awe of you, and I needed to say thank you. I cannot begin to express how much this book truly means to me, but I have tried to explain a little portion of my love for it. Thank you, Ms. Mirza, for my new favorite book. I will carry it with me always. Sincerely, [NAME REDACTED]

The second of our UVA essay examples also has a compelling frame: it’s a letter to an author. This opening immediately tells us just how deeply this work moved the applicant. It’s a unique hook among UVA supplemental essays examples. If you have a fresh frame, don’t be shy! This structure works because it allows the author to be emotionally open as well as specific in discussing the work.

By virtue of the subject, this University of Virginia essay is inseparable from the author’s background. Like all good UVA essay examples, this essay reflects on the author’s experiences. Instead of simply praising the book, the author connects it to their place within their family relationships. They describe how it gave them a different perspective on their family and a new awareness going forward.

Ideal UVA supplemental essays examples show readers that the author can reflect on and grow from their experiences. This author checks that box by illustrating the connections among the book, their experiences, and how they’ve reflected on both. Furthermore, they recognize the new ways they view their life and relationships thanks to this book. That’s growth! Take note of these UVA essay examples and include moments of personal growth in your essays whenever possible.

A Final Response to the First Prompt

Uva essays that worked #3.

I’m a firm believer that J.G Quintel’s Regular Show is the only TV series capable of portraying an apocalyptic, flesh-hungry black hole spiraling out of the skies while an anthropomorphic blue jay, Mordecai, and raccoon, Rigby, play nearly one hundred tied games of rock, paper, scissors. I knew that there was only one way for Mordecai and Rigby to preserve the world as they knew it; the tie had to be broken.

Wait a second—How does declaring the victor of a stupid hand game dictate world order? J.G, how did you forget to add “Ir-” in front of your show’s title?

This was just the pilot episode and I had witnessed a revolution in children’s television programming: an animated one that struck an undeniably perfect balance between science fiction and satire. Regular Show fascinates me in that its supernatural occurrences aren’t unreasonably dramatic and its humor is intentionally well-played and witty. I would argue that episodes of Regular Show embrace the beauty of tragicomedies in roughly the same way that Plautus, the Roman creator of tragicomedies, intended to in his famed work, Amphitryon. Quintel, however, captivates me with a compelling twist. He ditches traditional Greco-Roman tragicomic themes of seduction and envy and models his artform around a more bizarre construct: randomness.

The only constant in Regular Show is the mere existence of the main characters; every other component of the show is wildly variable. The structure of the show is liquid as it is free flowing and takes the shape of its container, or the viewer’s interpretation. Although I’ve come to understand most of the conundrums my prepubescent self was unable to comprehend, it still baffles me as to how Regular Show can weave together the most unrelated and paradoxical concepts into an animated, twelve-minute masterpiece.

As exemplified see in our UVA essay examples, a distinct writer’s voice can immediately elevate a supplemental essay. The lines following the first paragraph, where the author asks a rhetorical question, inject some humor. After that, the use of strong language like “revolution,” “undeniably perfect,” and “fascinates” convey the writer’s admiration for Regular Show. Don’t be afraid to embrace expressive words like the ones you’ve read in our UVA supplemental essays examples. Still, remember not to go overboard with a thesaurus to the point where you’re using complex words insincerely.

For this author, the impact of their selected work is creative, like the first of our UVA essay examples. They explore what it is about Regular Show that captivates them, even drawing parallels to Greco-Roman tragicomedy. That’s not to say you have to cite Plautus—most UVA essays that worked probably didn’t mention Amphitryon. But by linking those together, we understand that this author enjoys classical plays as well as finding connections across media.

Rather than telling the reader about their love of classics or literature, this author lets their analysis speak for itself. This University of Virginia essay shows us the author is thoughtful toward the media they interact with, from cartoons to classics. Strong UVA essay examples will show — not tell — the reader what’s important to you.

UVA Essay Examples – Flash Seminar Prompt

uva essay examples

Although the three UVA essay examples above responded to an old prompt, we hope they were helpful. Reading various UVA essays that worked can help you write your own, regardless of the prompt. Remember, all good UVA essay examples have something to teach you. The next of our UVA supplemental essays examples is also for an old prompt. 

Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?

In truth, this prompt is somewhat similar to the prompt for College of Arts & Sciences applicants. If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why? Even though the focus may be somewhat different, effective UVA supplemental essays examples for both prompts should have the same takeaway: what topic do you consider important, and why?

Strong UVA essay examples for this prompt are specific about the topic. Moreover, we still need to consider the tips from our previous UVA essays that worked. The author is personal, referencing and reflecting on their interests, experiences, or goals. With that in mind, let’s look at the next of our UVA supplemental essays examples.

UVA Essays That Worked – Flash Seminar

Before I could even read, The Lorax was my favorite book. When my dad read the book to me, I instantly fell in love with the cotton-like trees and the small orange creature with a mustache. While I still love the cartoonish illustrations, The Lorax remains my favorite book, to this day, because of another reason: it exemplifies how consumerism driven by Capitalism can harm the environment.

So, should the U.S. abandon Capitalism and force everyone to become hunters and gatherers? That would be quite effective, but we don’t have to. My seminar would address how we could use consumerism to protect the environment. For people who think that an individual’s actions to protect the environment are insignificant, this seminar will prove them wrong. People will learn how the money they spend in companies can shape how companies act. While environmental protection is not a priority for most companies, the power of consumerism that individuals have can force companies to care about our environment. Most importantly, the seminar will be a call to action, encouraging people to take initiative for the sake of humanity’s future. The audience would leave the seminar knowledgeable about the ways in which they can use consumerism to create the change that the world needs.

While the damage done to our environment is immense, it’s not too late to change. One small action at a time, I know that humanity can create substantial environmental reform: one that will even make the Lorax proud.

Some UVA essay examples reference the author’s childhood, like this one, to demonstrate a longstanding interest. In their opening paragraph, the author shows how their understanding of The Lorax has grown with them. Where they once saw cute illustrations, they now see an insightful commentary on consumerism and the environment. Already, we see the personal growth that characterizes many of our UVA essays that worked. 

Successful UVA supplemental essays examples that address academic topics include the author’s personal thoughts on the topic. After all, the prompt asks why it’s important to you —so what do you think about it? This author briefly outlines their position: consumers can pressure companies to protect the environment. Additionally, they state their goals for the seminar as a call to action for participants as consumers. Effective UVA essay examples for this prompt should also consider the course’s impact on others.

Obviously, there are as many topics as there are UVA essay examples. You don’t have to choose a sweeping topic like environmentally conscious consumerism—maybe you choose accessible design or internet safety. Whatever the topic, UVA essays that worked for this prompt concisely explained why that topic is significant to the author. More importantly, the best UVA essay examples also make a compelling case for why other people should learn about the topic.

UVA Essay Examples – “Quirks” Prompt

For the last of our UVA essay examples, we’re looking at a prompt from the 2022–2023 list. 

We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.

Whereas UVA essay examples in previous years had a 300-word limit, responses to this prompt are limited to 50 words. Keep the limited space in mind when reading the last of our UVA essay examples. Every word counts in college essays, but especially so for short essays. If you’re worried about sticking to the word limit, don’t worry. We’ll talk more about crafting your University of Virginia supplemental essays in the next section.

So, how do you approach UVA essay prompts like this? Well, whatever quirk you choose should be one that is “part of who you are.” What’s a behavior, trait, or habit that anyone who knows you could name? Maybe you sing your way through every day, or perhaps you write exclusively in cursive. Why is it integral to You ? Let’s see what the last of our UVA essay examples has to say.

UVA Essays That Worked – Quirks

While the rest of my body lies in the third dimension, my feet seem to remain entrenched in the second. 

Envision prancing through a never-ending bed of thorns; that’s almost how walking with flat feet feels. Essentially robbed of the rewards of exercise, I never became as tall as I once aspired to be. At age seventeen, I stand at a “solid” five foot four: the average height of a middle schooler. With the help of my toes, however, I’ve always been able to propel myself by an extra two inches while creating a temporary arch to relieve my feet of their chronic soreness. In other words, they’re natural stilts. It was the perfect remedy; ever since my years as a toddler, I’ve never fell off from the tips of my toes.

Of course, I have to deal with my fair share of criticism from my others or as I refer to them, my arch-enemies: usually taller people, whose feet were blessed with arches. I hear everything from “You’re not Peter Pan; why are you walking like a fairy?” to “Maybe you should invest in heels instead of tiptoeing.” To their dismay, I pay them no mind; their “advice” only detracts from my walk. Just like the Hulk’s aggressive lunges add to his grotesque demeanor, my light tiptoed gallops never fail to remind my peers of my classiness and jubilance. Not to mention, tiptoeing also upholds my composure even in the most unflattering situations. Although someone might expect stomps and a vulgar confrontation from me, my tiptoes signal a more diplomatic approach to conflicts, maybe even over a cup of chai.

Chances are that my feet will not enter the next dimension any time soon. I’ll still much rather — proudly — teeter 150 pounds over ten feeble appendages.

Again, many impactful UVA essay examples have a distinctive voice—some wry, others poetic. This author’s quirk is flat feet, a condition they describe tongue-in-cheek as very painful. If your quirk is something that bothers you, consider addressing it with humor if that is how you confront it in your life. Well-executed humor can leave a lasting impression on any reader, especially when applied ironically to an otherwise negative subject.

This writer’s cheeky praise of their toe-walking highlights their ability to make the best of their situation. It demonstrates their confidence and comfort with how they are—or perhaps, how they have to be. From this essay, a reader sees someone who faces adversity with humor while not negating their experience. This author frames flat feet as an irritant while using them to illustrate how they deal with negativity.

Effective UVA essay examples for this prompt contain layers: the quirk also says something about the author. As you think of your quirk, consider which ones can be used to illuminate a deeper truth about you. This could be something about how you learn or how you interact with the world around you. 

How to write the UVA Supplemental Essays

uva essay examples

Now that you’ve read several UVA essay examples, we hope you feel ready to write your own University of Virginia supplemental essays. The first step in writing your University of Virginia essays is choosing from the UVA essay prompts. Luckily, the first prompt is chosen for you based on your school of choice. The second and third ones will come from the list of 11 prompts.

When evaluating the short-answer prompts, you may feel you could write something for all of them—or none of them. Try some different reflection exercises to organize your ideas and get those writing juices flowing. Since our UVA essay examples for these prompts are pretty short, you could try your hand and a handful of the prompts. Then, you can further rewrite and refine the ones that speak to you.

Each of the longer prompts is rather common among supplemental essays , so there’s no shortage of college essay guides out there. In writing your longer essay, you can brainstorm various topics to figure out your focus. Pick what you’re passionate about. Unlike our UVA essay examples, essays that aren’t genuine are really obvious. Go for honesty, and highlight your unique qualities and experiences through your topic.

Don’t forget the editing stage if you really want your essays to shine ! Revising your essays—both on your own and with another person—can weed out errors you may have missed on a first pass.

Additional UVA Essays & the UVA Admissions Process

If you’re looking at the best colleges in the U.S. during your college search , you might consider applying to UVA. UVA ranks highly for both undergraduate and graduate programs every year. The UVA acceptance rate is rather low, at just 21% . Given the high UVA ranking and low UVA acceptance rate, we can tell it’s a selective university. As a result, the University of Virginia supplemental essays are critical for a strong UVA application.

With UVA ranking consistently high and the UVA acceptance rate staying low, acceptance to UVA isn’t guaranteed. To be considered, you need to be sure to meet all of the UVA application requirements.

University of Virginia Application Requirements

  • University of Virginia supplemental essays
  • One academic teacher recommendation
  • Guidance counselor recommendation (optional)
  • Standardized test score (optional for 2022–2023 cycle)
  • Common Application requirements: activity list , personal statement , etc.

At the time of publication, the Early Decision and Early Action deadlines have already passed for Fall 2023 applicants. The Regular Decision deadline for Fall 2023 applicants is January 1, 2023.

These days, having a high GPA alone isn’t enough. With University of Virginia admissions being test-optional this year, the rest of the application is weighted more heavily, especially for those who don’t submit test scores. Your essays and letters of recommendation provide an important window into who you are and what kind of UVA student you’ll be.

What about additional essays? UVA offers two merit-based scholarships for high-achieving students. One of these, the Jefferson Scholarship, requires two additional essays. While UVA isn’t among the most expensive universities , it still costs five figures per semester. In addition to financial aid, scholarships can help with the cost of college once you enroll .

More University of Virginia Resources to Support You

uva essay examples

After reading the UVA essay examples above, maybe you feel ready to jump into the UVA application. Or, you might be looking for more UVA supplemental essays examples and UVA essays that worked. Or maybe you’re still unsure about UVA and just want to learn more. CollegeAdvisor.com has countless resources for you to explore, however you’re feeling.

If you want to hear more about UVA from alumni and current students, check out our webinar panel . The participants talk about their experiences at UVA in and out of the classroom. They also discuss the University of Virginia admissions process and their UVA application experience.

University of Virginia Panel

For more about crafting a successful application overall, we have a how-to get-into UVA guide . The UVA ranking isn’t dropping any time soon, but the acceptance rate will almost certainly stay selective. If you want to maximize your odds of admission, check out our guide.

How to Get Into University of Virginia (UVA) Guide

Lastly, we have an essay guide for the University of Virginia supplemental essays. Instead of providing UVA essay examples, it digs deep into last year’s prompts. You might even recognize some of the prompts from the UVA supplemental essays examples we just read. Although the UVA essay prompts have changed this year, our guide still provides valuable tips that can help you write any college essay.

University of Virginia (UVA) Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

UVA Essay Examples – Final Thoughts

The UVA acceptance rate makes it a selective school, so every part of your application counts. Writing strong University of Virginia supplemental essays is essential to crafting a stand-out application.

We hope reading our UVA essay examples and discussing areas of these UVA essays that worked has given you an idea of how to get started. Remember, although the essay prompts have changed, these UVA essay examples are still useful.  Take some time to review our UVA essay examples, make a list of things you want to incorporate into your UVA essays, and get writing!

UVA Essay Examples

This article was written by Chelsea Holley . Looking for more admissions support? Click  here  to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how  CollegeAdvisor.com  can support you in the college application process.

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uva engineering essay prompt

College essay resources

Update: new uva essay prompts for 2020-21, college admissions.

Update: New UVA Essay Prompts for 2020-21

Attention! The University of Virginia has new supplemental essay prompts for 2020-21. Some of the changes are significant, while some are just a word or two. Let's take a look at all the changes to the UVA essays! We'll start with the school-specific essays. You'll only write one of these, depending on which of the UVA colleges you are applying to.

First up, the UVA Arts and Sciences College Essay. 

The old prompt was:

  • What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? 

The new prompt is:

  •   What work of art, music, science, mathematics, literature, or other media has surprised, unsettled, or inspired you, and in what way?  [ WORD CHANGE ] 

As you can see, it's just a tiny addition that gives you even more options to show off your passion and intellectual curiosity!  Check out our updated guide to this prompt here.

The UVA School of Engineering essay prompt involves a more significant change.

Last year's prompt was:

  • If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design?

This year's prompt is:

  • Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.  [ NEW ]

The new version of the UVA Engineering essay encourages you to think big, and show off your knowledge of engineering history and current events. You can check out last year's guide here, and the updated guide here!

The UVA essay prompts for architecture, nursing and kinesiology have been updated as well. We've got helpful tips for all three of these essays in our updated guide!

School of Architecture:

  • Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
  • Describe significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.   [ NEW ]
  • School of Nursing applicants may have experience shadowing, volunteering, or working in a health care environment. Tell us about a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.
  • Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.  [ NEW ] 

Kinesiology Program:

  • Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major.
  • Discuss experiences that led you to apply to the kinesiology major.  [ WORD CHANGE ] 

Finally, every UVA applicant must respond to the "choose one of five" essay prompt.  Four of your options are still the same for 2020-21. (You can read about them in our  updated guide!)

This is the only option that has changed. Last year's prompt:

  • UVA students are charged with living honorably and upholding a Community of Trust. Give us an example of a community that is important to you and how you worked to strengthen that community.

Has been changed to:

  • Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that "...there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints." Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good. 

The new UVA essay prompt also asks you to talk about your contribution, but it has a slightly different focus, asking you to highlight one of your specific actions instead of your extended relationship with a community. Stay tuned for our updated guide

Cassandra Cloutier

uva engineering essay prompt

What the Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Decision Means for College Essays

Bex ehrmann.

Writing the Wake Forest Application Essays: Showcasing Individuality | 2022-2023

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6 Awesome UVA Essay Examples

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UVA is a pretty selective school, so writing strong essays is essential to improving your chances. By reading former applicants’ essays and seeing what they did right and what they did wrong, you can learn how to better impress UVA admissions officers!

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 

Read our UVA essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 

Essay Example #1: College of Arts & Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences—What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (250 words)

Cringing when thinking about human sacrifice in “Vida y muerte en el Templo Mayor,” I puzzled over the motive behind the Aztec practice of killing a person to appease the gods of nature.

 After a lengthy discussion with Mexican friends, I learned that Aztec civilization considered humans just one part of the natural world, rather than the dominant species. Only when the gods of nature are satisfied, they believed, can worldly creatures live in peace.

That’s when I recognized how I’ve been looking at the world from an anthropocentric model. Whether in the Four Heavenly Kings of Chinese mythology, or in the Bible story of Noah’s Ark my Christian grandma told, these stories revolve around humans’ survival and prosperity, and nature is just a backdrop.

The Aztec “nature-centric model,” truly challenged my perspective. Humans might not be as superior as we think; everything may not be about us. Reflecting on my motivations for advocating sustainability, I’m guilty of preserving the Earth for the sake of our human offspring, not for the Earth’s own sake.

The Aztec perception of humans’ relationship to nature inspired me to reconceptualize my own perspective. I expanded my framework from humanity to all creatures: why not consider the elephants our siblings, or the trees our cousins?

I reject the Aztec practice of human sacrifice, but their belief that we are but a tiny part of nature resonated deeply with me. Rather than protecting Earth with self-interest and fear, I now treat Earth with empathy and love.

What This Essay Did Well

This UVA essay is well-structured and well-written. It answers the prompt while providing valuable personal information about the applicant.

With the introduction, the student achieves the most important part of this essay: answering the prompt. This student identifies their topic of discussion— “Vida y muerte en el Templo Mayor,”— quickly, but keeps it interesting through using a complex sentence structure.

Rather than stating it explicitly, the author shows their desire to understand other cultures and positions themself as open-minded, as they took the time to have “lengthy discussion with Mexican friends.” 

The student also relates the story back to their interests and perspectives. They share how this book caused them to reflect on the way they’d been advocating for sustainability, and view their advocacy more holistically to benefit the earth itself rather than just humans. Presumably, this student is declaring environmental studies or environmental science as a major. That means that, while readers are learning about the student’s values, they also learn that values are the central motivation behind this student’s career choices. This self-reflection is important and looks great to admissions officers!

The conclusion of the essay perfectly summarizes the growth that the student has described. It shows the self-reflection that they have experienced, with some of their beliefs staying the same and others changing.

What Could Be Improved

While overall this essay is a great example, this paragraph is its weakest link:

That’s when I recognized how I’ve been looking at the world from an anthropocentric model. Whether in the Four Heavenly Kings of Chinese mythology, or in the Bible story of Noah’s Ark my Christian grandma told, these stories revolve around humans’ survival and prosperity, and nature is just a backdrop. 

That’s because this paragraph makes the error of telling, not showing . The student uses the summarizing phrase “that’s when I recognized” (which should generally be avoided) then continues to tell readers what they learned. Rather, the student could have provided a piece of dialogue from their discussion with their friend or used self-reflective questions to show us the message of this paragraph.

An example of how this paragraph could be improved:

“So you’re telling me that your culture doesn’t view humans as the main characters?” I asked my friend, still slightly baffled. When I got home, I went down a Google rabbit hole, obsessively researching Aztec beliefs. I landed on a page about the anthropocentric model. Had I been learning this model all along without even knowing? I thought about my Christian grandma’s stories—Noah’s arc, the Four Heavenly Kings, Genesis. They all revolve around humans’ survival and prosperity, and nature is just a backdrop.

This revised paragraph is much more captivating and would have strengthened the overall essay.

Essay Example #2: School of Architecture

Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture. (250 words)

During my freshman year, my studio art class arranged a field trip to the National Portrait Gallery. To say I was excited was an understatement. Although I have lived near DC all my life, I never had the chance to visit its art museums. This trip would be my first time. 

When we arrived, I stood in the courtyard, waiting for directions. I don’t remember what spurred me to look up, but when I did, the sight of a floating steel and glass canopy above amazed me. It was unlike anything else in the room. The undulant form of the ceiling reminded me of being underwater, looking up to see waves dancing. What struck me the most was how its sleek and modern design juxtaposed the gallery’s Greek revival architecture. 

I’ve gone back several times since then, each time appreciating something new from the ceiling—in the shelter, it provides from the outside elements to the beautiful grid of shadows it leaves on the ground and walls on sunny days. Inspired by the relationship between the ceiling and the rest of the gallery, I have sought out ways to combine contrasting styles like classic vs. modern, organic vs. geometric, hard vs. soft, and fine art vs. crafts in my art. I’ve become hyper-aware of the physical spaces I occupy and their functional yet artistic characteristics. While studying architecture at UVA, I hope to continue exploring these relationships and apply them to my architectural style. 

This essay clearly answers the prompt and provides a tangible example for readers. 

From the intro, it is clear that the experience will be visiting the National Portrait Gallery. 

The writer uses a simple writing style for most of the essay, but shows that this straightforwardness is not due to lack of ability or effort, but is intentionally authentic. Through the phrase “ I don’t remember what spurred me to look up” the writer lets readers know that they aren’t going to tell us anything that isn’t true. This value placed on authenticity is important and tells us a lot about the student.

The student uses elaborate language to emphasize the important part of their story. The description of the ceiling—“ The undulant form of the ceiling reminded me of being underwater, looking up to see waves dancing”— is interesting and engaging. It creates an image of the ceiling in the reader’s mind, but also makes the reader want to hear more!

This final paragraph ties it all together. We learn that the National Portrait Gallery’s architecture isn’t just cool, but is inspirational for this student. Additionally, through this paragraph, admissions officers learn that this student has thought out their decision to apply to UVA’s Architecture school. They are familiar with architectural styles and already think like an architect. A student who is ahead of the game and passionate about their field of study is very important to admissions officers!

The essay could be considered unengaging at times, but there is also beauty in its simplicity that gives it an authentic feel. It lacks the bells and whistles that often accompany college essay writing and just tells the writer’s truth. While this wouldn’t be a great essay if you’re applying to creative writing, it works well for this writer and this writer’s intentions!

Still, the intro paragraph could be improved through editing the second sentence: “ To say I was excited was an understatement.” Because this writer engages with a simple style (with little imagery or elaborate descriptions), they can use descriptive language strategically to emphasize certain scenes, emotions, or aspects of their story. Because they are applying to Architecture, their excitement about art is important and this excitement could have been emphasized through more elaborate language. This would also make the essay more engaging from the start and draw the reader’s attention.

Essay Example #3

We are a community of quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are. (250 words)

I haven’t let another person cut my hair in four years. Bangs, layers, a fringe, a bob, I have been my own hairdresser. With only me, a mirror, and scissors in hand, I enjoy having complete control over my appearance. Cutting my hair is liberating; it’s like removing dead weight off my shoulders. Messing up isn’t a concern, as I know my hair will grow back. I am proud of the freedom I have with my hair, but I haven’t always been this way. 

 In traditional Quechua culture, women have long, braided hair. One braid indicates that a woman is single, while two means she is married. Growing up surrounded by women who kept their hair long, I desperately wanted to stand out but was too afraid to break tradition. I love my Quechua heritage, but as a young girl, I thought it was silly to have braids when I wasn’t even allowed to date. Why did it matter if others knew I was single?

Eventually, my parents agreed to let me cut my hair, and for a moment I’d been looking forward to for so long, I wanted to be the one to do it. Like every time I’ve cut my hair since then, I felt like a new person. Looking back to who I was then and who I am now, I know 12 year old me would think I look cool, and she’s the only person I want to impress.

This essay is fun and interesting! Readers learn about the student’s personality, family history, and values. It is well-structured, engaging, and original.

For a short essay, a lot of words are given to this introduction. That being said, this introduction also provides a lot of the essay’s content. First, the student identifies their quirk—cutting their own hair. This topic is interesting and automatically makes readers think “oh, that’s cool!” but then the student takes it a step further by engaging readers with a small cliffhanger—“ I haven’t always been this way.” Cutting your own hair isn’t a quirk that inherently requires a deeper meaning, but this student draws us in by letting us know that there is one.

This essay’s second paragraph is where we get to know the student, which should always be a priority when writing any college essay. We learn about the student’s Quechua heritage and how it affected their childhood. We also learn about the student’s capacity for self-reflection, which seems to have existed from a young age—“ I thought it was silly to have braids when I wasn’t even allowed to date. Why did it matter if others knew I was single?”

Finally, the last paragraph brings things full circle and draws a connection between the young girl’s confusion about Quechuan braids and the current writer’s passion for cutting their own hair. The last sentence of this essay is particularly powerful—“ I know 12 year old me would think I look cool, and she’s the only person I want to impress.” 

The beginning of the final paragraph is the only part of this essay that could use some rewriting. This essay is generally well-written, so the confusing sentence structure of “ Eventually, my parents agreed to let me cut my hair, and for a moment I’d been looking forward to for so long, I wanted to be the one to do it” throws off the essay’s flow. Similarly, it is difficult to parse through the sentence “ Like every time I’ve cut my hair since then, I felt like a new person.” 

After improving the language of these two sentences, this would be a top-notch essay! This student’s personality really shines through.

Essay Example #4

Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering. (250 words)

“I hope your kids have my curly hair,” quipped my mom. “As long as they have my eyes, I’m happy,” joked my dad. While my parents were casually bantering with me at the dinner table, I was closeted as bisexual, and my mind started to reel. Eventually, I knew I wanted to have kids, and the nuclear family I had previously envisioned began to crumble. What if I couldn’t have genetically related children with my partner?

As I grappled with this question, I discovered that biomedical engineering could provide me with an answer. Gene-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 could allow for a same-sex couple to have genetically related children. This tool works as a precise pair of molecular scissors to cut out targeted DNA sequences in an organism’s genome. In China, researchers experimented with CRISPR and obtained live bipaternal and bimaternal mice.

CRISPR’s potential to change the world thrills me for reasons beyond my future family. With CRISPR, researchers began to cut out human DNA sequences associated with neurodegenerative diseases, blood-related disorders, and cancer. CRISPR is on the cusp of revolutionizing the medical industry, and I want to be part of innovating and discovering new uses for the technology.

Maybe one day, I’ll share a meal at the dinner table with a husband and a child who shares our features, laughing as we talk about our day. At UVA Engineering, I will acquire the tools necessary to pioneer research that could make this possibility a reality for millions of same-sex couples around the world.

This essay does a great job infusing a personal story into an engineering feat that inspires them. The intro opens with an anecdote, which is engaging and brings us closer to the writer by showing some vulnerability, as the student shares their thoughts and fears with us.

We learn about CRISPR in easy-to-understand terms. The writer lays out how it works, what it’s done so far, and how it could benefit society.

The final paragraph brings the essay full circle, with the student imagining their future family, made possible by CRISPR and the impact it could have for other same-sex couples.

There honestly isn’t much that the writer could’ve done to strengthen this essay. It’s already extremely engaging, personal, well-written, and easy to understand.

Essay Example #5: College of Arts and Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences – What work of art, music, science, mathematics, literature, or other media has surprised, unsettled, or inspired you, and in what way? (250 words)

Every ten years the state and congressional district lines open up to the public; the only piece of art influenced by the fluctuating votes of human souls. The bold black lines, separating communities with luscious green lawns from those with concrete playgrounds, are redrawn redirecting millions of dollars and sparking waves of protests on state capitol steps. In its sum, the wonky headphones and salamander shapes reflect the imperfect art of gerrymandering. Within its components, the fabric is sewed with the sweat and tears of communities. From ones with family obligations rendering them unable to advocate for themselves to communities a five-minute walk from the state capitol. 

In its final form, the line strokes between streets, bayous, and freeways surprise me. Instead of equal representation and distribution of power, districts group communities voting in accordance to a political party with communities who do not vote – essentially maintaining an iron grip on power. To challenge it, I have gone into non-voting communities helping register voters and have taken the time to listen to families terrified of the political process. One of my most cherished memories was meeting an elderly man who had immigrated to the U.S. and became naturalized but never registered to vote. For years, he watched his community change and never understood why he could not stop the process. Now, every time I see the district lines, I sense the unsettled doubt that within each district resides one person taken advantage of and never nurtured with civic love.

The subject of this essay—gerrymandering—is a surprising choice for this essay, as most people wouldn’t consider it a “work of art, music, science, mathematics, literature, or other media,” but more of a concept. Still, the author makes it work by likening the gerrymandering lines to a work of art.

The writing in this essay is very descriptive and rich with imagery, with phrases such as “luscious green lawns” and “salamander shapes.” We can clearly visualize how unusually these districts are drawn.

The author also incorporates a personal connection through their work in registering voters. We see that they care about helping others participate in the political process and exercise their civic rights/duties.

One of the biggest weaknesses of this essay is that it spends nearly half the space describing gerrymandering, leaving not enough room to discuss how it’s impacted them personally.

The intro paragraph helps us visualize gerrymandering very well, but the wording of many sentences is confusing (some are even not grammatically correct, and it doesn’t seem that this was a conscious decision, such as this line: From ones with family obligations rendering them unable to advocate for themselves to communities a five-minute walk from the state capitol) . It takes a few sentences to even realize what the topic of the essay is, and that is a critical flaw when admissions officers need to read essays quickly. 

The author should’ve introduced their topic more simply, especially since gerrymandering is an unexpected subject for this essay. They could’ve also cut out several lines to focus more on the work they’ve done in their communities. The story about the immigrant man is underdeveloped and vague; the writer could’ve shared more specific details about their interaction or even included some dialogue.

The impact of this topic on the student’s identity and future goals is also unclear. Do they plan to try to work to end gerrymandering or increase access to voting? The last sentence of the essay is a missed opportunity: Now, every time I see the district lines, I sense the unsettled doubt that within each district resides one person taken advantage of and never nurtured with civic love . This line is not only difficult to understand, but ends on a sad note rather than looking towards the future with how the student hopes to make an impact.

Essay Example #6

We are a community with quirks, both in language and traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are. (250 words)

I sit at a booth at California Pizza Kitchen as my legs swing back and forth, barely scraping the floor. With a mischievous grin, I grab a red crayon and scribble on the black-and-white coloring book with my own mission in mind. One times two equals two, times two equals four, times two equals eight, and so on. After I fill the page, the napkins in the dispenser in front of me become my canvas. When I finish, red numbers sprawl across the workbook and neatly ordered napkins on the table, mimicking a college professor’s chalkboard. My masterpiece is complete.

At five years old, I cherished multiplying numbers by two until I reached numbers in the millions, and my love for simple math became a staple of my personality. When I entered high school, I was delighted to discover my passion for mental math reflected in the activities I pursued:

( 310 total seconds – 162 seconds ran) / 2 laps left = 74 seconds per lap. During a 1600m dash, I recalculated the average pace I needed to meet my goal after every lap and adjusted my stride accordingly. 28 rows * 36 seats per row = 1008 total seats. During a chorus class, I calculated the number of seats in the auditorium we sang in with enthusiasm.

My arithmetic may not always serve a practical purpose, yet I find comfort in making sense of the little things in my life. The math problems penned with a red crayon may seem trivial to some, but they represent my curiosity seeking a better grasp of the world around me.

This essay paints the student as intellectually-engaged and ambitious. We see all the different ways they incorporate mental math into their life.

The anecdote at the beginning shows us exactly what it may be like to spend time with the student in an everyday setting, which helps admissions officers visualize what the student may be like on-campus.

While well-written, the essay falls a bit flat since the student spends almost all the allotted space describing the quirk rather than discussing what it means to them.

They also explicitly tell us the significance of their quirk by saying it “represent[s] my curiosity seeking a better grasp of the world around me.” This is redundant since they already show their curiosity through the details they reveal, such as counting the number of seats in the auditorium during chorus.

The topic of this essay may simply not be ideal since there isn’t much of an emotional backstory, unlike the third essay example where the student cuts their own hair. As you’re selecting a quirk, you should ensure that there is an opportunity for you to share your identity, emotions, and thoughts more deeply.

Where to Get Your UVA Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your UVA essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

uva engineering essay prompt

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The Admissions Strategist

How to write the uva supplemental essays 2020-2021: the excellent guide.

Housed on a beautiful campus in Charlottesville, VA, the University of Virginia boasts a 27% acceptance rate and brings great students from across the country together based on their shared desire for an excellent education.

One way to stand out among other UVA applicants is to write amazing and unique supplemental essays.

UVA requires you to submit school-specific supplemental essays so they can get to know the parts of you that don’t show through a typical college application. These essays are often one of the ways that admissions committees make their final decisions.

What are the UVA Supplemental Essay Requirements?

There are two types of supplemental essays for the University of Virginia, and both are required for your application.

  • The first is the college or program-specific essay, which will ask you to describe or respond to a situation related to the program to which you are applying.
  • The second is the general essay, which gives you more creative liberty (but can also be equally as difficult to write).

The supplemental essay prompts can be found under the “University of Virginia” section on the Common Application, as well as on the University of Virginia Office of Undergraduate Admissions Website.

UVA Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them!

Click above to watch a video on UVA Supplemental Essays.

Worried? Don’t be!

In this guide, we’ll offer specific tips on how to write supplemental essays for the University of Virginia. Then, we’ll go through each of the essay questions individually, providing advice on how to approach them.

Tips from the University of Virginia

To start, UVA’s admissions team offers some advice to applicants:

  • Try not to overthink your responses.
  • Don’t feel like you have to use academic writing structure.
  • Don’t feel like you have to take all of the advice you receive.

UVA notes that the supplemental essay questions are intentionally broad and open-ended in order to give you the opportunity to share your voice through the essay. They recommend that you ignore feedback if it doesn’t fit your writing style.

  • Above all else, be sure to write essays that are true to your experiences and values .

Below, we’ll begin looking through each of the University of Virginia supplemental essay questions.

School/Program-specific Questions:

The University of Virginia begins their school/program-specific question prompt list with the following statement:

“We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.”

Keep this statement in mind as you work on the prompt that pertains to the program you are applying to, and be sure to incorporate it into your essay.

UVA College of Arts and Sciences Supplemental Essay

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or inspired you, and in what way?

If you know the specific major you’re wanting to earn, you can use it to answer this question.

  • Did a recent finding in the field of biology have an impact on you?
  • Maybe you read a news article on CRISPR and were so amazed that you can’t imagine working in any other field.
  • Or, if you’re interested in physics, maybe you saw the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch and are interested in developing the next generation of space flight shuttles.

Whatever your future major is, relating your essay to the general field is a good idea because it shows that you’ve spent some time thinking about what you may want to major in and what kind of impact you’d like to have as an alumnus of the University of Virginia.

It also shows you’ve got a passion for the field you want to enter.

Okay, but what if you aren’t sure what you want to major in?

  • Instead, pick something that occurred recently in your life related to art, music, science, math, or literature.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem particularly groundbreaking. The important thing is to pick a topic on which you can write 250 well-crafted words.

  • Did your favorite band release a new album that doesn’t sound anything like their old music?
  • Is there a book or magazine/newspaper column you read that shocked you?

Pick something that inspires your curiosity, and use the essay to show a bit of yourself while you explain why your finding was so awe-striking. After all, the admissions team is wanting to learn about you through your essay submission.

UVA School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Supplemental Essay

Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.

This question is extremely broad, so you can take it almost any direction you’d like:

Simply think of an engineering feat (which could be basically anything ever built) and why it “serves the common good,” or has made a difference in the lives of people around the world.

If you’re able to, you may want to consider choosing an engineering feat that has affected your life personally. That way, you’re shining a light on various aspects of your life in one supplemental essay, allowing the admissions team to get to know you even better.

  • You could talk about the most amazing bridge you’ve ever seen, and what its done for the community its located within
  • Maybe you grew up in the most efficient tiny home imaginable, and it gave you an incredible childhood. How does your tiny home (and other tiny houses) affect the lives of the people who live in them?
  • If you’re in need of some more inspiration, check out these 25 engineering feats from around the world. Many of them could lead to unique and creative essay prompt responses

Don’t forget the second half of this prompt; why does this specific engineering feat inspire you? Would you like to make a similar difference in the world one day? Does the structure simply blow your mind every time you see it?

Use the second half of the prompt to show your passion for engineering, and even some of your engineering experience and/or knowledge if it fits and flows well.

UVA School of Architecture Supplemental Essay

Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.

Since you’re passionate enough about Architecture to want to major in it, this question should come fairly easy.

However, that doesn’t always make starting a simple process. If that inspiration doesn’t hit right away, try not to worry; You’re still going to write an amazing essay.

First, think back on your life and your experiences with Architecture:

  • Was there a “light bulb moment” that inspired your future in the field of Architecture?
  • Have you loved intricate buildings since you had the chance to visit a castle on your family trip to Europe?
  • Did you walk into an odd building one day and come out with a plan to improve its layout and functionality?

Your experience doesn’t have to be one-of-a-kind (though it’s great if it is). The most important thing is that you bring the admissions team with you to that place through your essay, showing them those specific details that made you fall in love with Architecture.

Show your passion and drive for your future career in the field. Share your curiosity and interests. When the admissions team sees why you love the field and when they can tell you’re truly interested in becoming the next Architectural expert, your essay is sure to stand out.

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Uva school of nursing supplemental essay.

Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.

This is an excellent prompt, as it’s not extremely specific. The admissions team simply wants to know why you want to become a nurse, and they want you to show them through a heartfelt or inspiring story.

Don’t worry if your story isn’t specifically related to nursing; just let your essay show why you’re passionate about your future as a nurse.

  • Do you have a relative in a nursing home or hospital? How have your interactions with them shaped your ideas on nursing?
  • Have you seen media coverage (TV, documentary, etc.) on nursing?
  • Why are you interested in going into nursing rather than becoming a doctor? Was there a moment where you chose nursing over becoming a doctor?

Once you have an experience in mind, write it all down. Make bullet-points, make a list, write a three-page story; whatever you have to do to get your passions down onto a page.

Then, take what you’ve written and find the most important parts. Take the words that mean the most (and the ones that tell the story well) and turn them into an essay of no more than 250 words.

Remember to be honest about your experience (in other words, it doesn’t need to be a positive experience) and how it affected your decision to study nursing. Authenticity is unbeatable.

Show the admissions team your heart for nursing, and you’ll give them what they need to make your final admission decision.

UVA Kinesiology Program Supplemental Essay

Discuss experiences that led you to choose the Kinesiology major.

This is the most straightforward of the program-specific essay prompts, in that it tells you exactly what to write about.

If you have trouble answering this prompt, think about why you’re interested in Kinesiology and what you might want to do with a degree in Kinesiology.

  • For example, you may have injured yourself playing a sport and needed physical therapy, which introduced you to the field of kinesiology.
  • Maybe you’re fascinated by all things needed for athletic performance; joints, muscles, bones, etc.
  • You might be passionate about continuing your sports journey without becoming a professional athlete.

Hopefully, this brainstorming will help you connect to experiences that you can write about. If you need more help brainstorming, use this excellent guide .

The UVA General Supplemental Essay Prompts

Now, we’ll take a look at the more general supplemental essay prompts. You only need to pick one of these prompts for your application.

If you are having trouble deciding on a prompt, try writing a rough draft for each of them (or any number of them that you’d like to try out).

Once you read through your drafts, it will become easier to see which prompt provides the best platform for you to make your mark on the admissions committee.

Before diving into the individual prompts, here’s a quick reminder: Try not to overthink these essays. In most cases, they are as straightforward as they seem.

UVA Supplemental Essay 1: Your Favorite Word

What’s your favorite word and why?

Before starting this essay, it might be helpful to perform the following exercise: Over the course of a few days, write down all the words you encounter that seem odd or interesting.

You might ask yourself some questions to help brainstorm as well:

  • Are there certain words you use often?
  • Are there certain words you use only in specific situations? Why?
  • Have you read a book that contained a word you found interesting? What was it?

A problem that students usually have with this essay prompt is that they change their minds mid-essay as other potential words pop into their minds.

One day, you might think that your favorite word is “complacent,” whereas, the next day, it might be “hamster.”

This exercise helps you to list out all of the potential words you could write about. From there, you can pick the word that you like the most or find is easiest to write about.

Then it’s time to write your essay.

Share your word with the admissions team, and possibly a quick definition. Then, explain what it means to you. Remember that the admissions team wants to learn about you. Try making more of the essay about why this word is your favorite, and less about the definition of the word itself.

UVA Supplemental Essay 2: Quirks

We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.

Similarly to the last essay prompt, you may want to take a couple of days to think about this one, listing out any quirks you might have:

  • Do you have any memorable habits or routines?
  • Is there a phrase that you use frequently?
  • Do your friends or family members comment on any of your positive personality traits? How does this trait manifest in everyday life?

Maybe you wake up every morning and have a glass of water with lemon because it helps you feel refreshed. Write about it!

Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family about your quirks , as it may reveal interesting potential essay topics you may not have considered.

Along with your quirk, share some reasons why it’s great. You are trying to get into a college with this essay, after all.

UVA Supplemental Essay 3: Flash Seminar

Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?

This prompt may seem intimidating because of its reference to a student creating an impressive organization, but try to remember that it isn’t the point of the prompt.

Instead, pick a topic that interests you!:

  • What are your hobbies?
  • Do you play any sports?
  • What is the first random fact that pops into your head?
  • What did you do last summer?
  • Are there any global issues you care about and want others to know of?

For example, if you spent your last summer volunteering at a soup kitchen, you might create a Flash Seminar on the importance of volunteering based on your experiences.

The essay may even be about a topic that you feel is important for every person to think about and discuss.

The essay does not need to be related to academics. As long as you can write 250 words about the topic and why you think it is important for other people to learn about, it’ll be worth creating an essay about.

UVA Supplemental Essay 4: Beta Bridge

UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?

This might be the most difficult essay prompt for most students because of how open-ended it is, but it also gives you a lot of room to leave your own creative or intellectual mark on the admissions committee.

  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?
  • What is something helpful that you think more people should know about?
  • Is there a public issue that you feel needs more awareness?

Even if your idea is small, don’t worry. Maybe you’ve noticed that you don’t carry enough water around, and want to remind everyone to stay hydrated!

Your message does not need to be groundbreaking or related to academics, as long as you can write about it.

Make your response unique, and try to catch the attention of the admissions team.

If your essay shines on who you are, what’s unique about you, or a topic you care about, it’s sure to stand out when it’s reviewed at UVA.

UVA Supplemental Essay 5: An Alternative to Complaining

Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that “…there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.

We all know that complaining isn’t the best way to deal with the problems we encounter; however, it sure is a natural thing to do (and it can be hard to avoid).

Think back on a time you chose to take action instead of complaining.

  • Maybe you forgot about an assignment until the night it was due. Instead of complaining and asking for more time, you stayed up late to get it done.
  • You may have noticed someone being treated unfairly and stood up for them right there on the spot.

No matter what the situation was, if you chose not to complain, you can turn it into a compelling essay.

Show UVA that you are an initiative taker and a difference maker. Show them you’re responsible and you don’t like to take the easy way out.

When the admissions team sees those qualities shining through the words you write, they’ve got to be impressed.

Conclusion: How to Write the UVA Supplemental Essays

Now that you’ve read through some tips on how to write the supplemental essays, it’s time to get writing!

Be sure to start early with brainstorming and planning. UVA, more so than most universities, asks you to be creative with their supplemental essays.

Even if you don’t like your first drafts, it is much easier to rewrite a draft based on the things you did not like than it is to attempt to revise an essay you haven’t yet written.

Last, remember to keep it real. Authenticity is key.

With an essay written from a place of creativity and authenticity, you’re sure to stand out.

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University of Virginia (UVA) 2019-20 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

UVA 2019-2020 First-Year Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: Answer two essay prompts of roughly 250 words each.

Supplemental Essay Type: Why , Oddball , Community

1. We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.  Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.

The first of UVA’s two required essays is specific to the school within UVA to which you will be applying. In most cases, the prompt bears some relation to the classic “Why” essay, which probes for the reasons you are a good fit for a school and vice versa. When you search for answers to this prompt, think about why you want to study what you want to study. What past experiences and commitments will show admissions that you are truly committed to the field you’re interested in. And how might you act on your passions and interests?

The small curve ball in these UVA “Why” prompts is that many of them ask you to demonstrate your interest by discussing a topic or providing a specific example of something that inspires you within your chosen field. In these cases, you won’t be talking about why you want to pursue your chosen field in the abstract, but rather you will prove your interest on the spot with your examination of the subject you choose.

College of Arts and Sciences

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?

This is one of those curve balls we were just referring to. In asking you about an academic or artistic work that has captured your attention, UVA is asking you to put your love of the arts and sciences on display (which in turn will prove your interest in the school you’re applying to). These kinds of questions can be tricky if specific examples don’t immediately come to mind. Try to avoid the obvious (no Great Gatsby, please) unless you have a hyper-personal connection to the material at hand. Instead, search for concepts, ideas, art and stories that ignited your curiosity, made you fall in love with a subject, or pushed you to new academic heights. We recommend going through your bookshelf and old school notebooks to start to collect ideas worth expanding upon.

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design?

Again, with this prompt UVA wants to see your interest in a subject in action. If you are an aspiring engineering and applied sciences student and those fields are a good fit for your passions and skills, you will very likely be excited by this prompt. After all, it takes a creative and innovative mind to invent something that improves the lives of others – and as an engineer or applied scientist that is exactly what you will be signing up to do. We recommend starting this prompt by interviewing some of the people that are close to you and asking them about the simple annoyances and inconveniences of their daily lives. This should give you some initial ideas for problems that need solving so you can put on your thinking cap and invent some thoughtful solutions. Again, try to stay away from the obvious here. And do your research to make sure the thing you’re trying to create hasn’t already been invented!

School of Architecture

Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.

Answering this prompt requires an interesting combo of creative interest in action and traditional why essay elements. In asking you to describe an inspiration, admissions is not simply asking you to identify something that has motivated your interest – they also want to know WHY the landmark, building, or other element of design struck your fancy. Feel free to expand upon how being exposed to creativity pushed you to explore your own talents. Another helpful hint: using terminology that showcases a command of design and architecture concepts can be really helpful in showing admissions your commitment to the field.

School of Nursing

School of Nursing applicants may have experience shadowing, volunteering, or working in a health care environment. Tell us about a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.

This is yet another prompt from UVA that asks students to detail a specific experience to prove interest in a field of study. It is a bit closer to a traditional why essay in that students should make sure, not just to discuss the experience that led them to pursue nursing, but also to connect that experience to their larger goals for the future. If there are elements of the UVA program that support your particular interest or connect to the experience you choose to highlight, definitely build those bridges to show admissions you are familiar with the programs UVA has to offer and have already connected how your experiences will help you achieve future academic success.

Kinesiology Program

Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major.

This is a straight up “why” essay. As such, it asks you to detail your background and exposure to the field of kinesiology and the inspiration and experiences that led you to want to pursue this passion academically and professionally. Be sure to highlight specific activities and experiences from your past to showcase a history of commitment to the field. It also can’t hurt to highlight some of the elements of the UVA kinesiology program that are of interest to you. There is no better way to prove your interest in a school and your determination to master a subject than to show you understand a school’s offerings and have thought through how you will best use the resources at your disposal to accomplish your goals.

2. Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.

What’s your favorite word and why.

This prompt has been posed by UVA for a few years in a row now, and it’s one that students usually love or hate. If this question immediately tickles your fancy and you have an idea for the word you’d like to highlight, go for it! If you look at this prompt and feel totally stuck, but still want to try answering it, try this trick: What might you tell admissions about yourself that they haven’t already heard from you in your Common App essay? Is there something in your history and experience worth expanding upon? Once you’ve identified what you want to discuss, think about what words might be helpful launch points for describing that experience and back into your “favorite word.” This is also a great strategy for choosing a word that is slightly less expected than those submitted by the average applicant.

We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.

This is another prompt that has appeared on past UVA applications. Most students we’ve worked with seem to have difficulty defining the word “quirk” as it applied to themselves. We like to think of a quirk as something you do regularly that is a bit bizarre or charming. For example, our founder often bursts into spontaneous song when she’s happy. (Don’t tell her we told you.) What might that say about her? That she’s an optimist and an extrovert? That she knows all the words to The Little Mermaid ’s “Part of Your World”? (She does.) Whatever you choose to highlight, it should reveal something to admissions about your character and personality. If you don’t think you have quirks, you’re probably just not attuned to them – they’re hard to identify from the inside. So maybe ask a parent or a friend if you do anything out of habit that makes them laugh or even shake their heads in mock disapproval. You’d be surprised what you do routinely and never notice!

Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?

Responding to this prompt is a fantastic way to showcase an area of interest or passion you have not had the opportunity to expand on already. Maybe you want to teach an entire course of the history of rock poster art. Or pizza-making. Can you combine two of the things you love and discuss the unusual ways in which these things intersect with and influence each other? Make sure you are answering the question and that you frame your subject of interest as something that would make for an interesting course. And try not to limit yourself to the academic – many subjects can be explored through an intellectual lens if you approach them in an unexpected and creative way.

UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?

This prompt choice is glorious in its infinite potential. You can choose to elaborate on anything about which you feel passionately here. Do you want to send a message to your fellow students about the environment? Maybe you want to rally students to join you at a demonstration of some kind. What is important to you, and what might be important to communicate to other people in your community? Essays responding to this prompt tend to lean in the direction of activism and community engagement, but don’t feel limited to these angles – anything you want to share with other UVA students is fair game, as long as it is reflective of something about which you feel strongly. After all, you’re trying to communicate what it important to you, both to the community and to admissions.

UVA students are charged with pushing the boundaries of knowledge to serve others and contribute to the common good. Give us an example of how you’ve used what you’ve learned to make a positive impact in another person’s life.

While this prompt could seem like the perfect opportunity to elaborate on your community service experience, circle back and take another look. UVA wants to see how the pursuit of academic knowledge has made you a better person. How have you “used what learned” to make the world a better place? So, rather than starting with a personal story, we’d encourage you to dig through your memories of your favorite classes. When has a teacher, or text, or debate opened your eyes and inspired you to take action? How has it stuck in your mind and affected the way you see and interact with others? These connections can be hard to force, so if nothing springs to mind, consider picking another prompt. That said, maybe a heated debate over Huckleberry Finn taught you a thing or two about how the personal can become political; and maybe embracing these conversations in your personal life helped create a safe space for other people in your community.How have you made a positive impact on someone’s life in an unexpected way? Maybe it was your little cousin who you’ve babysat since you were thirteen, who you taught how to read and now he looks up to you and has one more role model in his life. Think outside the box about a truly rewarding relationship.

UVA students are charged with living honorably and upholding a Community of Trust. Give us an example of a community that is important to you and how you worked to strengthen that community.

This is a classic community essay with a twist. As you brainstorm for this prompt, consider the following questions: Out of the many communities to which you belong, which one is the most meaningful to you, and why? (Choose a community that you have not already discussed in your other UVA essays or personal statement, so you can showcase a new side of yourself to admissions.) And now (drumroll, please…) for the twist! 

Unlike other community questions, this prompt asks you to discuss how you strengthened or added value to your community. Maybe you and your fellow student council leaders presented amendments to your school’s honor code to the Board of Trustees for the first time in the council’s history. Did you work tirelessly to perfect your talking points in late night meetings with your peers over donuts? Maybe you make the best pork dumplings ever (thanks to your grandma’s secret recipe) and you decided, with the help of friends, to create an International Food Club at school. Did you combine your design and cooking skills to advertise for your club’s International Cuisine Day tasting event? As with every community essay, it’s important that you discuss how you plan to continue your work with this community during your time at UVA, so be sure to review UVA’s extensive list of clubs and activities . If nothing listed strikes your fancy, don’t be afraid to propose starting a brand new organization at UVA that celebrates your area or community of interest!

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2022-23 Virginia Tech Essay Prompts and Tips

July 21, 2022

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Unlike many other public institutions with notable strengths in the areas of business, computer science, and engineering, Virginia Tech’s acceptance rate does not yet strike fear into the hearts of prospective applicants (although it has fallen from 70% to 58% in the past two years). However, it is important for wanna-be Hokies to be aware that the admissions process at this university is becoming highly-selective. This is particularly true for the aforementioned popular majors. Thus, prospective Virginia Tech students need to take advantage of every component of the application in order to stand out. This includes the Virginia Tech supplemental essays.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into Virginia Tech? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into Virginia Tech: Admissions Data and Strategies  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Virginia Tech’s motto “Ut Prosim” is Latin for “That I May Serve”. The school requires all undergraduates to complete the “Ut Prosim Profile” which consists of four service-related essay prompts. These essays are “very important” to the admissions committee. Therefore, it is vital that all Tech applicants dedicate a significant amount of time to these short answer questions.

Below are Virginia Tech’s supplemental prompts for the 2022-23 admissions cycle along with our advice for composing winning essays.

2022-2023 University of Virginia Tech Essay Questions

Prompt 1:  virginia tech’s motto is “ut prosim” which means ‘that i may serve’. share how you contribute to a community that is important to you. how long have you been involved what have you learned and how would you like to share that with others at virginia tech (120 words).

The term “community” can have many meanings. In this instance, it could be an ethnic, religious, or neighborhood community or a group of individuals who gather for a club, sport, or service project. Pretty much everyone applying to Virginia Tech is deeply involved in some semblance of a “community”. Perhaps you are the captain of a team, the editor-in-chief of your school paper, or the president of a club. On the other hand, you may simply be a valuable contributing member. Regardless of whether you are a leading man/woman or a still-essential bit player, make sure that you use your writing ability to show the admissions officer what type of community member you are rather than merely telling them.

You can also discuss how you have engaged with your high school local/community and what you have learned from interacting with people of a different ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc. Draw on past evidence of your commitment to being a positive force in your community and speculate how that is likely to manifest on Virginia Tech’s campus. Research and cite Virginia Tech student-run organizations or local nonprofit groups. The admissions committee wants to understand precisely how you will contribute to their campus community of 30,000+ undergrads. Drawing the link between your past efforts and future aims is critical here.

For example, if you’ve done work with Habitat for Humanity throughout your teens, it will be most impactful if you express your commitment to joining Tech’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity in the future.

Prompt 2:  Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt and learn from a difficulty. Reflect on a time that you have exhibited resilience. What growth did you see in yourself after this experience? (120 words)

Colleges like students who demonstrate grit, perseverance, and resilience as these qualities typically lead to success in a postsecondary environment. No matter what type of example you offer, demonstrating these admirable traits can do wonders for your admissions prospects. Challenges can be anything from disabilities, depression, anxiety, or attentional to a tumultuous event like: you moved in the middle of junior year, the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with your activities, your parents got divorced, a grandparent passed away, or any number of other personal/family traumas one can name.

Remember that the problem/roadblock itself is just a prelude to a recounting of your resilient actions. Even with a fairly tight 120-word count, be sure to answer the final part of the question. Sum up how you grew as a result of this experience. Be as emotionally honest and nuanced as possible. Trust us—the admissions reader will appreciate your honest thoughts (even if they are a bit scary to share) more than clichés and platitudes.

Prompt 3:  Share a time when you were most proud of yourself either as a role model or when you displayed your leadership. What specific skills did you contribute to the experience? How did others rely on you for guidance? What did you learn about yourself during this time? (120 words)

Leadership is an admirable quality, but it can manifest in many different forms. This essay is not only for those who captained a varsity team to a state title, started a charitable organization, or made sweeping changes as student body president. Teamwork and collaboration are also valued leadership skills both in academia and in the workplace, and students with strong interpersonal skills and a high EQ can be an asset to any university. Think beyond the title that you may have held and more about the action(s) of which you are most proud.

To sum up, this essay is about leadership, broadly defined. You can chronicle anything from mentoring others on your debate team to a simple instance of conflict resolution within your peer group. Along the way, just make sure that you provide answers to each question embedded in the prompt. This includes what you learned about yourself through this role modeling/leadership moment.

Prompt 4:  Describe a goal that you have set and the steps you will take to achieve it. What made you set this goal for yourself? What is your timeline to achieve this goal? Who do you seek encouragement or guidance from as you work on this goal? (120 words)

Through this prompt, Virginia Tech wants to know more about your goal-setting, work ethic, and level of executive functioning. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that becoming a master or expert at anything takes 10,000 hours of practice. Consider talking about the grind and sacrifice it will take you to become great at a given skill. Further, explain how you see that skill becoming even more finely-tuned/developed over time. If this goal fits into your future academic/career plans, all the better—share that too! As with the other three prompts, #4 packs in a lot of questions into a single prompt.

Ultimately, you’ll need to produce a well-edited, concise piece of writing that chronicles not only your goal, the steps you will take to achieve it, the timeline of the steps, but also who will help you along the way. Answering the last question is key in showing that you are a mature learner who understands that you will need mentorship, assistance, and other resources along the path toward achieving your dreams.

How important are the Virginia Tech supplemental essays?

The essays are “very important” to the Virginia Tech admissions committee. This places them the same tier of importance as the rigor of your coursework, GPA, first-generation status, geographical residence, state residency, and race/ethnicity.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

Lastly, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Virginia Tech supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote  today.

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