University of Virginia (UVA) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
University of Virginia (UVA) 2023-2024 First-Year Application Essay Question Explanations
The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words, 1 optional essay of 100 words, 1 essay of 250 words for applicants to the School of Nursing only
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why , Community
In around 250 words, please answer the following question:
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..
Odds are that this isn’t the first “diversity” essay prompt you’ve come across this year—even if the prompt doesn’t explicitly use that word. If it is, however, please read on. UVA wants to accept students from a range of backgrounds who will contribute to an inclusive community. The prompt uses the phrase “source of strength” twice; this tells us that they want to hear about not only what makes you you , but also how these characteristics will support you and those around you. What you focus on here can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or specific to you and only you. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Maybe you began practicing meditation and discovered Buddhism during your sophomore year and you hope to spread some wisdom and mindfulness on campus next fall. Perhaps you were raised on a farm and have a very special relationship to all living things (plants, animals, people, etc.) around you. How will you incorporate this element of your identity into your college experience? Show admissions that you’re eager to make your mark in their community.
Students applying to the School of Nursing are required to answer this question in around 250 words.
School of nursing – describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing..
This prompt asks applicants to detail a specific experience to prove their interest in their chosen field of study, nursing. 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. Perhaps you were diagnosed with diabetes as a child and the nursing care you received inspired you to go into the field yourself. Maybe your grandfather was a nurse and you were awed by his skills when your grandmother fell off a ladder. 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 considered how your experiences will help you achieve future academic success.
Optional: 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. (100 words)
Now that UVA is no longer explicitly considering legacy in their admissions process, admissions has added this question to identify not only those whose parents went to UVA, but also those whose ancestors labored at UVA. This reflects the university’s ongoing reckoning with its own founding, which included the use of enslaved labor. Here, anyone with personal or historic ties to the university, including students who attended summer programs there, can describe their unique connection. If you don’t have a connection, that’s okay! Most people won’t. If you do, however, read on.
This question doesn’t just ask you to state your tie, it asks you to explore how that connection has primed you to contribute to the community. Maybe your mom was an RA and has shared all the steam tunnel routes with you, so you can initiate your roommates into this UVA tradition. Perhaps one of your ancestors built the iconic Rotunda, and you look forward to educating your classmates about their legacy. Maybe you attended a summer program and fell in love with the Jeffersonian architecture, inspiring your passion for historic preservation. Remember, your job here is to explore how your personal connection to UVA will make you a contributor to campus life.
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University of Virginia (UVA) Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompts & Advice
August 16, 2023
The University of Virginia is one of the handful of flagship public institutions in the United States that attract massive numbers of high-achieving applicants from around the country/globe each and every year. In the most recent admissions cycle, over 56,000 students applied (up 10% from the previous year) and only 16% were accepted. While becoming a Cavalier is challenging for a Virginia resident, out-of-staters and international applicants face an even tougher admissions gauntlet. You’ll likely need a straight A average (or very close) to get serious consideration at the 2023 version of UVA and an SAT in the 96th percentile (or better) doesn’t hurt either. And that brings us to today’s main topic- the UVA supplemental essays.
(Want to learn more about How to Get Into the University of Virginia? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into the University of Virginia: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)
With only one supplemental essay for the majority of applicants (you’ll only need to write more than one if applying to the School of Nursing or the Dance program), UVA’s supplemental section affords applicants the chance to illustrate what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below are the University of Virginia’s supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with our advice for composing winning essays.
2023-2024 UVA Supplemental Essay (All Applicants)
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. (300 words)
This prompt asks you to not only share a particular life experience, element of your background, or perspective but also describe why that experience, element, or perspective will help you serve as a source of strength to either yourself or those around you. Essentially, it’s asking you to take your essay’s reflection one step further—you’ll need to communicate why the experience or element you’ve chosen is important to you as well as why/how you believe it will allow you to thrive at UVA or positively impact the UVA community.
UVA Supplemental Essays (Continued)
First, choose a key aspect of your experiences, background, or identity that reveals something deep and meaningful. (Although you could choose more than one, we’d advise against it, given that you only have 300 words in which to respond.) As you brainstorm, consider the following avenues:
- Your role in your family.
- A challenge you’ve faced.
- A formative experience or realization.
- Important aspects of your upbringing.
- Cultural, religious, community influence.
- Racial background.
- Sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Second, you’ll need to explain how you’ll use what you’ve learned to persist through future personal challenges or strengthen others at UVA. Will your life experiences allow you to uplift those around you? Will your unique perspective enable you to connect more deeply with others? Lastly, will your background make it possible for you to advocate more effectively for specific populations? Alternatively, has your experience or background provided you with a perspective that will benefit and support you as you move on to college? If you connect with at least one of these questions, you’re headed in the right direction for this essay.
UVA Program-Specific Essays
School of nursing.
Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing. (300 words)
“A nurse is not what you do, it is who you are.”
This quote from an anonymous source captures the idea that becoming a nurse is more of a calling than a profession you just stumble into. Nurses are willing to work long shifts in the service of others, be on the frontlines of a pandemic, and deal with life’s toughest challenges (e.g., suffering and death) on a regular basis. Many applicants share stories of caring for sick relatives or going through a tough medical episode themselves as inspiration for wanting to study nursing. This essay is a chance to show the admissions committee that you are a passionate and mature nursing candidate and that nursing is genuinely “who you are.”
Submit a short essay discussing your interest in dance as a practice and/or a form of scholarship. What roles have dance and movement played in your life thus far? What insights and connections have you made in your day-to-day and academic life through the practice and study of movement? What do you hope to explore further by participating in dance program courses upon entry to UVA? (275 words)
Essentially, UVA wants to understand how your participation in dance has impacted your life. How has it benefited, strengthened, and/or challenged you as a person? Moreover, they’d like to understand the connections you’ve made between dance and other academic subjects, if any—what interdisciplinary connections have you observed? How has your academic life been made richer by dance? Finally, in addition to how dance has already impacted you, UVA is looking for a brief discussion of what the future holds in regard to dance, and how you plan to pursue that future at UVA.
How important are the UVA supplemental essays?
The essays (both the Common App essay and the supplemental response(s)) are “important” to the UVA admissions committee. This places them in the same tier of importance as extracurricular activities and talent/ability. Standardized test scores are rated a notch below as “considered.” Read more about the importance of the UVA supplemental essays in the fabulous Notes from Peabody blog .
At UVA, the rigor of your coursework, class rank, GPA, recommendations, character/personal qualities, and state residency status are the most important factors in the admissions process. However, application components like the supplemental essay can serve as a critical tie-breaker between similarly-credentialed applicants.
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UVA Supplemental Essays 2023-24
The University of Virginia , a public research university in Charlottesville, is one of the top public universities in Virginia and nationwide. As a result, many students ask themselves how to get into University of Virginia. Well, one of the most important things is UVA supplemental essays. Strong University of Virginia supplemental essays can help you stand out in the competitive UVA applicant pool.
Each year, thousands of students apply to UVA hoping to gain access to its world-renowned academic programs and research facilities. In addition to academics, UVA also hosts an array of student organizations and off-campus opportunities in a thriving college town . It’s no surprise that UVA has a highly competitive 21% acceptance rate. In light of that, the University of Virginia essay is a critical part of the UVA application. Understanding the intricate details of UVA supplemental essays and UVA requirements is crucial to getting into UVA. Luckily, we are here to help.
In this guide, we will discuss the University of Virginia supplemental essay requirements, UVA application deadlines, and UVA requirements. Furthermore, we will cover the importance of the University of Virginia supplemental essays and analyze the UVA essay prompts. Most importantly, we will provide a variety of resources to help you craft the strongest UVA supplemental essays. Let’s get started.
University of Virginia Essay: Quick Facts
Uva essay: quick facts.
- The University of Virginia Ranking Overall: #25 National Universities
- The University of Virginia Public University Ranking: #3 Public Universities
- The University of Virginia Acceptance Rate: 21%– U.S. News identifies UVA as an extremely selective school.
- The University of Virginia Retention Rate: 97%
- The University of Virginia Graduation Rate: 94% (the highest of any public university in America)
- Common Application Essay
- 1 (~ 300 words) The University of Virginia background essay
- 1 (~ 250 words) School of Nursing Essay for School of Nursing applicants
- The University of Virginia Admissions Application: UVA application is a Common Application member institution. Therefore, students must complete their application using the Common Application.
- Early Action: November 1st
- Early Decision: November 1st
- Regular Decision: January 15th
- The University of Virginia Supplemental Essays Tip: The University of Virginia supplemental essays have a very limited word count. Therefore, make sure your UVA essays are clear and concise.
Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website.
Does UVA have supplemental essays?
Yes. In addition to your Common Application personal statement, all students applying to the University of Virginia must complete supplemental essays. Compared to previous years, UVA has reduced the maximum number of UVA essay prompts to two this year.
All students who apply to UVA are required to complete one UVA supplemental essay. This required University of Virginia essay is commonly known as the background essay. It forces applicants to consider how their background will impact their experiences at UVA.
Even though all applicants are only required to write one UVA application essay, don’t think this makes the application process easier. In fact, having just one University of Virginia essay can be tougher for applicants than having multiple UVA essay prompts. You have only one opportunity, with fewer than 300 words, to make a good impression on University of Virginia admissions .
In contrast, prospective nursing students can respond to two UVA essay prompts. Students applying to the University of Virginia nursing program must submit an additional University of Virginia supplemental essay. The nursing student UVA essay prompt asks students to recall a healthcare experience that deepened their interest in nursing.
Whether you must complete one or both UVA supplemental essays, we have answers to your questions. In the next section, we will dive deeper into both University of Virginia supplemental essays.
What are the UVA supplemental essays?
The UVA supplemental essay that all applicants must complete asks applicants about their background. Specifically, applicants must explain how their experiences or perspectives will be a source of strength for themselves or their UVA peers. This UVA application essay showcases students’ ability to reveal how their personal experiences and backgrounds will strengthen the UVA community.
The second University of Virginia essay is only for students applying to the University of Virginia nursing program. Nursing program applicants are asked to describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened their interest in nursing. This essay provides students the opportunity to describe the roots of their passion and how it will positively impact UVA.
Ultimately, well-written UVA supplemental essays will illustrate how you’ll contribute positively to the UVA social and academic community. Supplemental essays allow students to prove to UVA admissions that they are the perfect fit for the university.
UVA Common App Essay
As discussed earlier, the University of Virginia presents applicants with two distinct UVA supplemental essays. The first UVA application, known as the background essay, is mandatory for all applicants. In contrast, the Nursing School UVA supplemental essay is specifically required for those aspiring to the nursing program. However, beyond these University of Virginia supplemental essays, prospective students face an additional crucial component—the Common Application essay.
As part of the Common App, this essay—also called the personal statement —is sent to all schools on an applicant’s list. The Common Application essay provides students with a platform to share their unique identities, experiences, and aspirations. The UVA supplemental essays allow one to delve into specific aspects of one’s background and ambitions. On the other hand, the Common App essay casts a broader net with seven possible prompts . These range from overcoming a challenge to sharing an accomplishment, all to add depth to one’s personal narrative in the application.
In comparison to UVA supplemental essays, the UVA Common App essay provides a greater word count of 600 words. This additional space permits an applicant to expand on what has not already been highlighted in their application. Therefore, selecting the best Common Application essay prompt can make or break one’s application. Writing a good personal statement is no easy feat and requires plenty of planning and preparation with example essays .
UVA Application Essay: Background Essay
The University of Virginia essay that all applicants must complete is the background essay. The UVA application essay prompt is as follows:
What about your background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA?
When writing this University of Virginia essay, your response should offer a thoughtful exploration of a defining aspect of your identity. You should begin this UVA application essay by identifying a specific element, such as a cultural background, personal challenge, or unique viewpoint. Make your focus as specific as possible to make it easier to write a clear, concise essay.
Once you have identified your unique background or perspective, you should discuss how it will be an asset. How will it contribute to your personal growth and to building a stronger UVA community? You may have experience with caretaking that makes you an empathetic and effective leader. Or maybe you have overcome setbacks with help from others, making you both resilient and highly encouraging of your peers.
In this UVA application essay, you want to show that you have done your research on the University. Therefore, you should try to make connections to the university’s values and specific classes or organizations. Ultimately, your response should exhibit self-awareness and a deep understanding of UVA’s values. You should provide a clear roadmap for how your background, perspective, or experience will positively influence yourself and the campus community.
While there’s only one required UVA application essay for everyone, that does not guarantee an easier application. In fact, having just one essay can be seen as more challenging because you only get one shot to impress UVA admissions. You must ensure your one UVA supplemental essay is well-written, with intention behind every word.
Keep reading for more about writing UVA supplemental essays and tips for impressing the UVA admissions committee.
How to write UVA supplemental essays?
Crafting a standout UVA application essay can boost your application and help you get noticed by the admissions team. Your UVA supplemental essays are your chance to show your personality and explain how you can contribute to the UVA community.
Helpful tips to make your UVA supplemental essays stand out:
1. understand the university of virginia.
When writing your University of Virginia supplemental essays, take time to learn about the university’s values, goals, and programs. Use this knowledge to show your genuine interest in and connection to the University of Virginia.
2. Be Yourself
Write your University of Virginia supplemental essay in a way that reflects who you truly are. Share personal stories and moments that have influenced your beliefs, passions, and goals. Avoid generic answers and focus on what makes you unique.
3. Tell a Great Story
Narrative essays may not be strictly required, but there’s a reason they stay popular in college admissions. Make your UVA supplemental essays interesting and captivating by telling a compelling story. Use descriptive language and engaging words to grab the reader’s attention from start to finish.
4. Check and Improve
Before submitting your University of Virginia supplemental essays, proofread and edit your essay carefully. Look for correct grammar, punctuation, and clear sentences. Since you have a limited word count, choose your words wisely and avoid repeating yourself.
By following these tips in your University of Virginia supplemental essays, you can create a knockout UVA application essay. Remember, the UVA supplemental essays let you shine and show admissions why you’d be a perfect fit for the University of Virginia.
What does UVA look for in essays?
When considering what UVA looks for in the University of Virginia supplemental essays, the best place for advice is admissions officials. Luckily, UVA’s associate dean of admission, Jeannine Lalonde, wrote about the importance of University of Virginia supplemental essays. She also outlines what admissions officials look for from their applicants’ University of Virginia supplemental essays.
In the article, Lalonde says, “I think that [the essay] helps us get insight into the personality, voice, and style of the student. The rest of the application consists of forms and other people telling us about the student. This is their chance to talk directly to us.”
While the article is several years old, what she shared remains true for students wondering how to get into University of Virginia. UVA supplemental essays allow applicants to tell their stories using their unique voice and point of view. Therefore, be authentically you; ensure your personality shines through and truly connects to the University of Virginia community.
In addition to the importance of University of Virginia supplemental essays, Lalonde also highlights three tips for approaching them. These tips may help students craft the strongest University of Virginia supplemental essays and stand out to admissions representatives.
Don’t overthink the topic
In your UVA supplemental essays, simplicity can often be the key to success. The admissions committee is interested in your genuine experiences and perspectives. Instead of selecting the “perfect” topic, focus on choosing an aspect of your background, perspective, or experience that resonates with you. By staying true to your story and not overanalyzing the topic, you can present a sincere and engaging portrayal of yourself.
You don’t have to write like it’s a school essay
UVA supplemental essays allow you to showcase your personality, creativity, and individuality. Unlike formal academic essays, you can infuse your voice, anecdotes, and even a bit of your sense of humor. By steering away from the formal tone of a typical school essay, you can create engaging, illuminating UVA supplemental essays. Strong UVA supplemental essays captivate the admissions committee and give them a deeper understanding of you beyond your academic achievements.
It’s smart to get advice, but be authentic
When crafting your University of Virginia supplemental essays, seeking guidance and feedback from mentors or peers can offer valuable perspectives. However, while incorporating advice, ensure that your UVA supplemental essays remain true to your narrative and maintain the authenticity that sets you apart. Your UVA supplemental essays should reflect your true character and motivations.
By adhering to these tips in your UVA supplemental essays, you can create a compelling and authentic narrative. Additionally, these tips are applicable to any college essay, not just UVA supplemental essays. Ultimately, your UVA supplemental essays offer a platform to showcase your personal growth, strengths, and potential contributions to the campus environment.
More UVA Application Info
Of course, knowing critical information about the University of Virginia supplemental essays and UVA essay prompts is step one. However, students should also be aware of other critical UVA requirements and information that may play a role in your application.
First and foremost, for the 2023-2024 application, the university limits the legacy factor in its admissions process. In the past, students could simply check a box indicating their legacy status on their application. Now, if students want to indicate this status, they may write about a personal or historic connection with the university. This change is incredibly important for students who are personally connected to the university by alumni or historical ties. Therefore, be mindful of how to communicate the impact of having a historical connection. Don’t just say that you have parents or grandparents who went to the university. Instead, focus on what that has meant to you growing up. How do you wish to use that connection to live up to UVA’s values and foster a greater sense of community at UVA?
Another update or continued practice for 2023-2024 is that UVA will remain test-optional . As a test-optional university, students have the choice of whether or not they want to submit their SAT and/or ACT scores . UVA does super score for applicants who submit test scores and considers the best combination of section scores without recalculation. Whichever path students choose, UVA promises to consider your application carefully.
Besides understanding the legacy admissions factor and test-optional admissions options, there is also a lot of other information students may need to know prior to applying. Some of these factors include the AP/IB credit process, navigating the waitlist process, and using application fee waivers. If you are interested in finding information about these factors, you should check out UVA’s FAQ page. There, you will find a lot of helpful information about applying to the University of Virginia.
What is the application deadline for UVA?
The University of Virginia offers three distinct application deadlines to accommodate a range of prospective students. For those who are eager to submit their applications early and receive a quick decision, the Early Action and Early Decision deadlines fall on November 1st. ED is binding, with admissions decisions released in mid-December; EA is non-binding, with decisions released in mid-February. Deferred applicants from both are reviewed in the Regular Decision round. Early applicants usually have a higher chance of admittance, but they also have stronger applications on average.
In contrast, the Regular Decision deadline extends to January 15 for those requiring more time to finalize their submissions. This later date allows students to better prepare their applications in order to craft the strongest application narrative possible. Although this later deadline has a larger applicant pool than EA or ED, a particularly strong application will still stand out.
Remember that each application deadline aligns with a separate teacher/counselor deadline. Therefore, ensure your teachers and counselors promptly submit their secondary information and recommendations. Choosing a college application deadline relies on several factors such as your grades, essay preparation, and overall interest in a university. Consider the strength of your application and how much you want to go to UVA when choosing a deadline.
Additional UVA Resources from CollegeAdvisor
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of writing the best UVA supplemental essays and gaining acceptance into the college? Well, don’t fret. CollegeAdvisor has many resources tailored for UVA and University of Virginia supplemental essays. Here are a few that may help you.
1. University of Virginia Webinar Panel
The University of Virginia panel is a recorded webinar and Q&A panel with alumni and current UVA students. They share their perspectives on campus life, academic programs, and career opportunities at UVA.
2. University of Virginia Essay Examples
This guide will teach you about the University of Virginia supplemental essays through several UVA essay examples. The article includes UVA supplemental essays examples addressing various UVA essay prompts to teach you what a successful essay looks like. While the UVA essay examples are from last year’s admissions cycle, their advice still applies. Seeing how strong the University of Virginia supplemental essays were crafted will help you craft your own UVA supplemental essays.
3. How to Win UVA Scholarships
This article discusses two specific scholarships: the University of Virginia Jefferson Scholarship and the Walentas Scholarship. The article provides information on eligibility for these two UVA scholarships, academic scholarship requirements, and how to apply for them.
UVA Supplemental Essays – Takeaways
In closing, we hope we have answered how to get into University of Virginia with a strong UVA application essay. Ultimately, the UVA supplemental essays play a pivotal role in the application process, providing applicants with a chance to distinguish themselves. In order to ensure you know how to craft the strongest University of Virginia essays, here are some key takeaways.
Importance of UVA Supplemental Essays
The UVA supplemental essays are instrumental in showcasing your unique qualities and compatibility with the university’s values. A well-crafted essay can set you apart in the competitive admissions process.
Two Types of UVA Supplemental Essays
UVA requires applicants to write two types of UVA supplemental essays. The first, known as the background essay, is mandatory for all applicants. The second UVA application essay is specifically for those applying to the Nursing School at UVA.
The UVA background essay prompt challenges you to articulate how your background will serve you or your peers at UVA. This essay offers an opportunity to reveal personal growth, resilience, empathy, and alignment with UVA’s values.
Nursing School Essay
For nursing applicants, the UVA supplemental essay describes a healthcare-related experience or significant interaction that deepened their interest in nursing. This University of Virginia supplemental essay enables candidates to highlight their passion for nursing and their unique motivations.
Tips for UVA Supplemental Essays
Crafting standout UVA supplemental essays requires a balance of authenticity and strategic storytelling. Research UVA’s values, show genuine interest, and make connections between your experiences and how you’d contribute to the UVA community.
University of Virginia Common Application Essay
Alongside the UVA supplemental essays, the Common Application essay holds significant weight. It’s a platform to showcase your identity, experiences, and aspirations, presenting a broader perspective than the targeted UVA supplemental essays.
Understanding the role of UVA supplemental essays and adhering to these tips can enhance your application’s impact. Good luck, and happy writing!
This article was written by senior advisor Ashley Hollins . Are you looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. Our team will discuss your profile during your meeting 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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September 14, 2023
2023-2024 University of Virginia Supplemental Essay Prompts
The University of Virginia has released its supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle . In addition to The Common Application ’s Personal Statement, applicants to UVA’s Class of 2028 must answer one essay question. Additionally, an optional essay question is hidden at the bottom of the “General” section that we at Ivy Coach encourage students to write — even though it is the most inappropriate question posed by any of our nation’s elite universities this admissions cycle. So, what are this year’s essay prompts for Virginia’s flagship university?
2023-2024 UVA Essay Topics and Questions
Students should answer the following prompt in around 250 words:
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.
In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing Affirmative Action , America’s colleges are maneuvering around not being able to lawfully consider an applicant’s race in the college admissions process by capitalizing on a loophole penned in the majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts .
As Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”
This essay is an opportunity for applicants to discuss how their race has impacted their lives. Or they could write about their faith, their community, their sexuality, or their gender identity — the possibilities are endless.
Students should answer the following prompt in up to 100 words:
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.
We at Ivy Coach deem this optional essay question the most outrageously inappropriate prompt posed by any highly selective university during the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. Why’s that?
In our experience, most UVA applicants will not choose to write a response to this optional essay prompt because they’ll think they need to be legacies , students who attended fancy shmancy UVA summer programs , or the descendants of enslaved people. Yes, the question is as jarring as it seems and, for the first two groups of people (legacies and summer camp attendees), it caters to the privileged.
It’s why we encourage all applicants to answer this optional essay question by writing a Why UVA essay — one filled with specific reasons why they wish to attend Virginia’s flagship. Their response should include enduring aspects of the university — programs, institutes, activities, culture, traditions, etc. — rather than names of professors and classes, which can easily be found and replaced like a game of Mad Libs from one college to the next.
So, yes, we are saying even if an applicant has no familial connection to UVA or didn’t attend a UVA summer enrichment program, they should write this essay to make their case for admission. Essays give students an opportunity to tell their stories. Legacies and summer program attendees should not be afforded more space than everyone else. Shame on UVA!
Ivy Coach’s Assistance with UVA Essays
If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to UVA by submitting essays that compel admissions officers to wish to offer you admission, fill out Ivy Coach ’s free consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services.
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How to Write the University of Virginia Essays 2023-2024
University of Virginia has two supplemental essay prompts, one of which is optional. Although we normally encourage applicants to respond to any and all optional supplemental prompts, this one can be categorized as an “additional information” essay, which is truly optional–in fact, you should really only respond to this question if it truly applies to you.
Whether you are writing two essays or just one, we’re here to break down UVA’s prompts, so that you can feel confident your responses will showcase your best qualities, and maximize your chances of acceptance.
Read these University of Virginia essay examples to inspire your writing.
University of Virginia Supplemental Essay Prompts
Prompt 1: 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. (100 words, optional)
Prompt 2: 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. (250 words)
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. (100 words, optional)
As noted above, this is not a typical supplement, but is more along the lines of the prompt in the “Additional Information” section of the Common App that allows you to share how COVID-19 and/or natural disasters have impacted your academic performance. If you don’t have a preexisting connection to UVA, don’t force one by talking about how your childhood best friend’s cousin went there. Most students accepted to UVA don’t have any prior association to the school, so not answering this question isn’t going to negatively impact your odds of acceptance.
If this prompt does apply to you, however, we encourage you to respond to it, even though it is still optional for you, as you’re being given an opportunity to help UVA admissions officers better understand your perspective on their school. You don’t have much space, though, so you want to make sure you already have a clear sense of what you want to say, as otherwise your words will be gone before you know it.
While UVA may have been a huge part of your life growing up if, say, both your parents are alums and took you to football tailgates every fall Saturday since the time you could walk, that probably isn’t the case for most applicants. That’s completely fine–you don’t need to diminish your connection to the school just because your house isn’t painted blue and orange.
Rather, take a step back from the actual essay and the word count, and ask yourself honestly how your connection to UVA has shaped you. Remember, this is still a supplemental essay, so you want UVA admissions officers to learn something about you. You don’t want to say just “my dad went to UVA and his friends from college are all really great,” because that won’t teach admissions officers anything about your personality.
Rather, talk about how one of your dad’s friends played basketball at UVA, and how he was an invaluable resource for you as you weighed the pros and cons of pursuing varsity sports in college yourself. You could wrap things up by describing how, if you attend UVA, you will do your best to be similarly generous and compassionate with anyone who is even tangentially connected to the school.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Just make sure you’re avoiding clichés that could be written about any college, like how you’re glad your family is part of a worldwide alumni network, this essay won’t add anything to your application. It may be truly optional, but if it applies to you, you still want to take full advantage of this opportunity to share your personality with admissions officers. So, be honest, and explain your thoughts in enough detail that your readers learn something substantive about you.
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. (250 words)
Brainstorming Your Topic
This is a good example of the popular “Diversity” essay, which you may have already come across in another school’s supplemental essay package. This kind of essay requires you to do two things: highlight some particular aspect of your identity, and then explain why it’s fundamental to understanding who you are as a whole.
Before we go further, it’s important to note that this kind of essay may carry more significance for certain applicants in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning affirmative action . Colleges are now banned from directly factoring an applicant’s race into their admissions decision, but they are allowed to consider race in the context of your overall background and experiences. What that means is that, if your race is an important part of your identity, you should think about focusing this essay on it, as otherwise UVA admissions officers will be legally unable to consider your race as part of their holistic review process.
If your racial identity doesn’t feel like quite the right topic for this essay, there are also plenty of other options out there. You could write about your gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other qualities people often associate with the word “diversity,” but you can also broaden your net, and write about, to use UVA’s words “any past experience or part of your background that has shaped your perspective.”
Our past experiences and backgrounds are not just the demographic boxes we check, but also our interests, hobbies, and favorite memories. So, if you want to write about your family’s yearly camping trips during the summer, or your experience planting your own herb garden, that is completely fine, so long as those topics have been influential in making you who you are.
Finally, note that UVA wants you to write about something that “will serve as a source of strength.” That means you should focus on some aspect of your identity that makes you feel empowered. Our identities are complicated, so that doesn’t mean you need to have strictly positive experiences with this part of yourself.
You do want your overall framing to be positive, however, as if you only talk about how frustrating it was when your herbs kept dying, UVA admissions officers may not understand how you’re going to draw strength from this experience in college. Instead, touch on your frustration briefly, and then dive into how rewarding it was for you to see them thrive after you built a short protective wall to shield them from the worst of the wind.
Tips for Writing Your Essay
In your actual response, it’s crucial that you don’t just describe what this especially important aspect of your identity is, but also explain why this quality is so fundamental to your personality as a whole. In other words, what have you learned about yourself as a result of your experiences connected to this part of your identity?
Like in any college essay, the most engaging, informative way of answering that question is by showing, not telling. What that means is rather than just saying “Being raised trilingual taught me the importance of being truly open to other ways of thinking,” describe a moment when this realization shaped your actions.
For example, maybe you once had to act as an impromptu translator at the supermarket, as a Japanese couple was having issues with their card but couldn’t communicate with the cashier. As you bounced back and forth between languages, you realized that certain things are impossible to say in exactly the same way, due to the drastic differences between Japanese and English. That in turn made you realize that language isn’t just words that passively come out of our mouths, but something that shapes how we engage with the word around us.
With the original, tell-y line, UVA admissions officers don’t get any detail about what being open to other ways of thinking means in the context of your particular life, so you aren’t doing anything to set yourself apart from other applicants who may also have this value. In the more detailed, show-y example on the other hand, readers get to see how your broader takeaway has manifested in your daily life, which helps them better understand how this aspect of your identity will help you fit into their broader campus community.
Mistakes to Avoid
The most common mistake students make with this kind of essay is focusing too much on the particular feature of their identity they’ve chosen, and not fulfilling the second goal of this kind of essay by connecting it to their broader personality.
In the context of the above example, that might look like diving into great detail about when you learned your three languages and how long it took you to consider yourself fluent, but not incorporating any information about how this ability has shaped their worldview. Remember, UVA admissions officers want to learn as much about you as possible, so don’t just give them one piece of the puzzle. Also give them enough information that they can see how this single piece fits into the broader framework of your life.
Where to Get Your University of Virginia Essay 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!
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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?
Undergraduate Admissions Uncensored
New University of Virginia Supplemental Essay Question for 2023-2024 Admissions Cycle
Posted on July 19, 2023 by Craig Meister 4 Comments
All first-year UVA applicants must complete an essay in up to 300 words responding to this new prompt:
What about your background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA?
Those students applying to UVA’s School of Nursing also are being asked to respond to this prompt in no more than 250 words:
Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing.
The new required question for all applicants is clearly leading in nature and developed by committee in order to elicit responses that highlight prospective students’ diversity; yet, the way in which the question is being asked seems somewhat complex while also opening applicants – and the university itself – to a number of challenges.
Most notably, applicants need to balance describing a particular background, perspective, or experience AND how it will strengthen them or will strengthen others during their time at UVA. That’s a lot to ask for in 300 words and still expect to get much depth.
Many perspectives and experiences require quite a bit more than one sentence to describe, which will leave limited space to elaborate upon how such a perspective or experience will strengthen the student or others if and when the student arrives on campus. This may lead many applicants to opt to focus on their background instead of a perspective or experience, but those who do will need to focus less on the background and more on how it has served to date or will serve in the future as a source of strength for them or others.
One wonders why UVA doesn’t just ask a far more user-friendly question like, “What lesson from your past will help you thrive in or give back to the UVA community?” A potential reason that students are not getting a clearer or more direct question this cycle may be because a particular faction on the committee that developed UVA’s new short essay question felt that UVA had to explicitly mention “background” and “source of strength” in one question in order to align the university with President Biden’s suggestion to colleges to assess applicants for admission based on previous adversity faced now that The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that affirmative action is illegal in the college admissions process , and those with the final say at UVA wanted to underscore that they see one’s race as ripe for discussing adversity faced and thus strengths developed.
Yet, because The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that college applicants can’t be admitted on the basis of racial background , UVA admissions officers will need to be very careful to build their internal assessment rubric for student responses to this prompt around students’ ability to communicate clearly and effectively about the INFLUENCE of the background, perspective, or experience on them or potentially others rather than on the choice of background, perspective, or experience itself. Black students, for example, can’t legally be rewarded or punished by UVA for selecting their race as the background that will give them or others strength; therefore, it should also be the case that pro-traditional family students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for selecting a natalist perspective to write about, environmentalist students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for sharing their perspective on protecting Earth’s limited resources, right wing students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for sharing a nationalist perspective they developed from which they draw strength, and left wing students shouldn’t be rewarded or punished for sharing a socialist perspective that they’ve developed from which they draw strength. Instead, the essays should be assessed entirely on whether the student articulately and compellingly conveys HOW their background, perspective, or experience will give them or others strength during their time at UVA.
Interestingly, giving students the chance to focus on a source of strength for themselves OR a source of strength for others also adds a degree of essay content variability that may make the essays produced in response to this question quite hard to compare to each other. Maybe that’s the point? While I certainly wish students good luck as they draft their responses, I also wish UVA admissions officers good luck with adhering to the law, internal directives, and their consciences when assessing these essay responses as part of their holistic review process.
Gone are the days when the powers that be at UVA asked about applicants’ favorite word or happy place – just a few weeks after The Supreme Court ruled that colleges may not admit students on the basis of race (background) and that essays may not be used to maintain the old unconstitutional affirmative action regime. As Alanis Morissette once asked, “And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think?”
For advice on how to make the most of UVA’s current supplemental essay prompt(s) and get into UVA, watch my new full “How to Get into University of Virginia” video below. Again, good luck!
Highlights Discussed in Above Video:
How to Build a Strong Foundation Those serious about getting into UVA will first read my article “ How to get into the Ivy League – Ethically .” While UVA is not officially an Ivy League school, its out of state acceptance rates prove that it’s certainly one of the most difficult colleges to get into in the United States. When you apply to UVA, you are competing against other high achieving students. This article sets the table for how to maximize one’s chances of getting into any highly selective college or university:
How to Differentiate Your Accomplishments While you must fill out the Activities page on the application, you should also take my How to Build an Extraordinary Extracurricular Resume short course in order to learn how you can share even more about the depth and breadth of your extracurricular accomplishments since you started high school.
Bonus: How to Differentiate Your Common App Essay Best & Worst Common App Essay Prompts
Most & Least Popular Common App Essay Prompts
Why Your Common App Essay Is Awful
Why Your Common App Essay Is So Bad
About Craig Meister
Craig Meister is a college admissions expert who, for eighteen years, has had the great fortune of providing personalized post-secondary guidance to students and families from around the world.
Filed Under: Advice & Analysis , Applications , Essays , News , Trending Posts , UVA
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Tuesday, July 18, 2023
2023-2024 uva writing prompts.
Confession: I really liked last year's writing prompts . We had only been reading applications for a few days when I first marveled at how well students were expressing themselves in the new short answer portion of our application. During one of my live q&a sessions on Instagram , I wondered if students being able to write meaningful, concise statements was a function of growing up writing captions on social media...something for people to study one day!
In the past, a few admission officers have met to go over feedback about the application essays to see if we should tweak the writing prompts. This year, we had a lot more input during the update process. The change is pretty big: most applicants will answer one prompt for the UVA portion of the Common App. Those applying to the School of Nursing will answer two.
So let's get to the prompts.
All Applicants (250 words or less)
School of nursing (250 words or less).
Choose Your Test
Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 3 expert tips for tackling the uva essay prompts.
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.
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.
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.
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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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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.
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.
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.
Get personalized advice!
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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