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Application Guidelines

Below are guidelines for completing your Texas A&M University College of Engineering Entry to a Major (ETAM) application. 

Please note: Enrollment in the Bachelor of Arts in computing program or the Bachelor of Science in technology management program occur(s) through:

Join the Aggie Family!

  what location do i want to attend, college station, higher education center at mcallen, texas a&m university - galveston, how to be admitted, in-state students, top 10% admission.

Texas residents who rank in the top 10% of their graduating class qualify for automatic admission to any state school in Texas.

Holistic Review

If you do not qualify for top 10%, but meet the State of Texas Uniform Admission Policy , your application file, which includes all factors you noted, will be reviewed in a holistic manner*.

Students applying for fall admission may receive a decision within a month of file completion. However, applying early does not guarantee an early decision. Generally, most students in review will receive a decision between January 1 and late March. * All applicants to the College of Engineering will be reviewed for placement into General Engineering including students who qualify for Top 10% automatic admission.

Non-Resident Students



You are an international freshman if you:

Learn about your future as an  International Freshman .

What Do I Need to Apply?

Admission application.

Prospective students can submit their applications through ApplyTexas or  Common App . The application you choose will not affect your admission decision.

NOTE : On average, it takes 3-5 business days from the time your application is successfully submitted for Texas A&M to receive it. Monitor your email address which you provided on the application for the Application Acknowledgement communication.

The application essay is your chance to set yourself apart from other applicants. Texas A&M cares about more than your grades and scores, we want to know what makes you you!

Apply Texas and Common App Essay: “Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?"

Read through our essay and application tips to get a step ahead on the competition.

Essays should be submitted as part of the application or uploaded in the Applicant Information System (AIS) .

Non-Refundable Processing Fee

A $75 non-refundable processing fee is required to complete your application.

The application fee can be paid through ApplyTexas or Common App , or to pay with a credit card by phone, call 979-458-5155.

Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR)

If you need help, see our SRAR FAQs and video tutorials ..

The following applicants are required to submit a high school transcript:

Note: If a rank is not provided by the high school for students to enter in their SRAR a rank will be assigned.

If Applicable

High school curriculum requirement (texas private high schools only).

Students who do not meet the State of Texas Uniform Admission Policy (UAP) must provide Exemption Form 3 .

Best Method: Upload in the Applicant Information System OR  Mail

Permanent Resident Card or I-551

Students who are not U.S. citizens but are permanent residents (or have applied for permanent residency) need to provide a copy of the card.

For information about submitting the Permanent Residency Card, see the  Document Submission Page .

Senate Bill 1528 Affidavit

Resumes .

Resumes should only be used if you run out of space on the application. If you've accomplished so much your application can't handle it, this is what a resume is for. Struggling to figure out what belongs? We've got you covered with Accomplishment Tips .

Upload in the Applicant Information System

Official Test Scores

Texas A&M University is test optional and will not require ACT or SAT scores for freshman applicants. We encourage students who have test score to send them. The submission of test scores will not create any unfair advantage or disadvantage for those students who provide them.

For additional information regarding test scores for the Spring and Fall 2023 semesters, read our FAQs under "Test-Optional Admissions.".

Letters of Recommendation 

Once submitted, you will not be able to see your letters of recommendation. We will consider the first two letters received as part of your admission file.  Letters of recommendation should be uploaded via the  Applicant Information System or sent through the  mail .

When Can I Apply?

What happens after i apply, notification of decision.

We make admission decisions on an ongoing basis throughout an admission cycle. Applying early does not guarantee an early decision. Once a decision is released it will be posted in the Applicant Information System.

Top 10%: Students who qualify for Top 10% admission will typically receive a decision within three weeks of completing their admission file. 

Students in Holistic Review: All students applying for spring admission will receive a decision by early December. Most students applying for fall admission will receive a decision between January 1 and late March.

Applicants who apply to the College of Engineering and have a complete admission file by the Early Action Deadline of October 15 will receive a communication regarding their admission decision by mid-December. The communication will notify the student of admission or deferral to the January-February decision timeline.

Admissions Decision Appeals 

Every applicant who was not admitted through automatic admission criteria to Texas A&M University has had their application file considered through an extensive holistic review  that considers both academic and non-academic factors . T he review process is ve ry thorough — therefore,  it is unusual for an admission decision to be reversed.

F or an appeal to have merit, it must bring to light new  and compelling academic and/or personal information as well as details pertaining to extenuating circumstances that were not addressed in the original application. The appeals process is not a re-review of an existing applicant file and appeals will not be  considered  from applicants who are not submitting new information.

Guidelines for Submitting an Appeal:

Basis for an Appeal:

Supporting Documentation:

Information Not Considered:

Who is eligible to submit an appeal?

Any student who has received an admission decision from Texas A&M and can present new and compelling academic and/or personal information, including extenuating circumstances, that were not addressed in the original application. How do I submit an appeal?

Appeals are submitted  in AIS —  however, you must first contact an admissions representative at a  Prospective Student Center  to activate the appeal option. You will be asked to answer a series of questions to qualify your appeal. If you   present information that quali fies  for an appeal  as  outlined  abov e , the admissions representative will then enable your appeal. You will be required to submit your appeal along with any supporting documents through AIS. All documents should be submitted at the same time. What kind of situations can someone appeal?

You may appeal about a variety of things, including significant academic or personal achievements that were not disclosed  with  the original application. For an appeal to have merit there must be new and compelling information such as a grade change, medical condition or extenuating life circumstance.  You  are encouraged to submit any supporting information  you  feel will help the committee make an informed decision. Can I appeal if I was offered to participate in   TEAM ,   PSA or Engineering options?

You may appeal any admission decision if you meet the criteria to do so — however, since it may take some time for a final decision to be reached, it is not a good idea to put off any required paperwork necessary to participate in   TEAM ,   PSA  or Engineering options  if these are in any way a possibility you would consider. I have been admitted to another university. Should I wait for my appeal decision before accepting the other offer?

Since there is no guarantee that your appeal will be granted, it is always a good idea to have a backup plan. Most universities require students to accept their admission offer by May 1.  How long do I have to submit an appeal?

Appeals must be submitted by April 1. What happens after I submit an appeal?

After submitting your appeal, the committee will consider all new information and make a decision about your request. It’s important to remember that only new information will be considered. The appeals process is not a re-review of an existing file. Once a decision has been made, it is final. How long will it take to receive a decision?

The time it takes for a decision to be made can vary. In some cases, a decision may be reached within a couple of weeks. In other cases, decisions may involve questions that are more complex and so it may take longer. All students will be notified of a decision no later than May 1. Appeal decisions will be posted  in AIS . Who will make the decision?

All appeals are reviewed by an Admissions  Decisions  Appeals Committee  which is comprised o f representatives from Admissions, Financial Aid and the academic colleges . The committee will meet weekly or more often if deemed necessary. May I speak with someone on the Admissions Appeals Committee?

No, members of the Admissions Appeals Committee are not available to speak with applicants by phone or in person. Can someone submit an appeal on my behalf?

Appeals will only be accepted from the student, not a parent/guardian, teacher or alumni. What is the likelihood that my appeal will be granted?

Historically, few admission decisions have been changed through the appeals process. There is no guarantee that any appeal will be approved or that any specific factor will increase the odds for an appeal to be approved. Appeals are considered on a case - by case basis.

Tracking Your Application Status

After you submit your application you will receive an email with your Universal Identification Number (UIN) and instructions to access the Applicant Information System (AIS) at the Howdy Student Portal via the Applicant tab. Check regularly to make sure all your documents have been received.

Allow 2-3 weeks to process each document you submit. Documents you submit within one month of the deadline may not appear on your AIS checklist until after the deadline. Please bring any questions about your file to our attention immediately by clicking "Contact Us" in AIS.

What Happens If I Get In?

How to Write the Texas A&M Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2022/2023

texas a&m admissions essay length


Located in aptly named College Station, Texas, A&M University has evolved significantly since its founding nearly 150 years ago. The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas was originally formed to teach military tactics and the agricultural and mechanical arts (the A&M in the school’s name is a symbolic nod to this past), alongside traditional classical and scientific studies.

Today, Texas A&M is a premier research facility with the triple distinction of holding land-, sea- and space-grant designations, while its Corps of Cadets is the largest uniformed body outside the national service academies.  

Although Texas A&M is rooted in tradition, it’s by no means stuck there. Its long-term vision focuses on four pillars: transformational education; discovery and innovation; impact on state, nation, and world; and university as a community. Understanding this vision can help you write essays that reflect those same morals and values.

For deeper insights into these pillars and how this public university envisions fostering long-term student success and making a global impact, read through its strategic plan and vision for the decade ahead . And to get a better understanding of what Texas A&M is looking for in its Aggies, a by-the-numbers look at its offerings, from enrollment and tuition statistics to student life and financial aid information, is available on its Common Data Set . 

Note: Texas A&M now accepts applications via the Common App (new for 2022) and ApplyTexas . It’s worth pointing out that the maximum word counts for A&M’s supplemental responses vary based on which application portal you’re using. We’ve noted the word counts for both portals below.

What are the Texas A&M University supplemental essay prompts?

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today? (Required, 10-750 words for Common App, recommended 500-750 for ApplyTexas)

Optional: If there are additional personal challenges, hardships, or opportunities (including COVID related experiences) that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, which you have not already written about , please note them in the space below. (250 words for Common App; max. 439 for ApplyTexas)
Short Answers: Describe a life event which you feel has prepared you to be successful in college. (Required, 10-250 words for Common App; max. 439 for ApplyTexas) Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and why. (Required, 10-250 words for Common App; max. 439 for ApplyTexas)

For Engineering Applicants: Describe your academic and career goals in the broad field of engineering (including computer science, industrial distribution, and engineering technology). What and/or who has influenced you either inside or outside the classroom that contributed to these goals? It is important to spend time addressing this question as it will be considered as part of the engineering review process. (50-500 words for Common App; max. 539 for ApplyTexas)

How to write each Supplemental Essay Prompt for Texas A&M University

How to write texas a&m supplemental essay prompt #1.

Essay prompts don’t get more open-ended than this. While it may seem overwhelming to have such a broad prompt, it’s actually an amazing opportunity. You now have the latitude to share with A&M something about who you are beyond your grades and test scores. 

If you’re applying to other colleges using the Common Application or Coalition App and think you need to write a second personal statement for A&M to match this prompt, don’t panic . Here’s some valuable advice for you: Choose a subject for this essay that can also answer a prompt for other schools on the Common App (which sets a max limit of 650 words) and/or Coalition Application (which suggests but doesn’t strictly limit your essay to 500-650 words).

If you’re applying to A&M through ApplyTexas, they suggest this Topic A essay be 500-750 words , but that’s just a suggestion—you won’t be penalized in any way for going over (or under) that suggested word budget. Things are a little different if you’re applying through the Common App: Your max word count is 750, and you’ll paste your Topic A essay into the A&M Questions section of the Common App (max of 750 words). You’ll want to not also submit your Common App personal statement when you’re asked if you want to include it or not (A&M won’t consider it, and it’s likely the same essay as your Topic A anyway).

In either case, we recommend you spend only the number of words necessary to tell your story in a concise, complete, and compelling manner, without going to extremes one way or another.

We know that you’re thinking. “Can I really use the same essay for all three application portals?”

All the prompts for these application systems are so broad and open-ended that you can pretty much write about any topic (well, almost any). But, more importantly, by focusing on writing one main essay for three application types, you can spend more time drafting and revising it so that it’s really, really great. #efficiency

“But what if I’m not applying to other schools using the Coalition Application or Common App?

Then write your deepest story. 

What do we mean by that?

There’s so much to say about writing your personal statement that we’ve created an entire step-by-step video course . Oh, and it’s pay-what-you-can. :) But if you want the short version, check out this free, one-hour guide . It covers the three core parts of writing a great college essay: brainstorming your topic, structuring your essay, and revising it to make sure it’s doing its job.

This essay, written for the University of Texas at Austin, does a great job at answering this Topic A prompt.

I am fascinated by the ways that microscopic biomolecules like proteins, fats, sugars, and nucleic acids come together to create an incomprehensibly complex organism. The systems of the body are vast and intricate, and yet, one tiny mistake can be the difference between health and disease. Biology is about searching for that one small missing piece, the single A out of 3 billion, swapped with a T, that can mean the difference between normal hemoglobin and single-cell anemia, a disease that comes with a lifetime of complications. From the little boy hunched over his science kit to labs in AP Bio, my search for that special missing piece has continued to drive me down the many important avenues of my life. My mom signed me up for my first acting class when I was 4, and I jumped right into my role as a male Glinda the Good Witch, complete with sparkly pants and vest. I was hooked. On the day of the show, racked with nerves, I stood in front of the crowd of parents as I did my best to remember what seemed like a bajillion lines. I fell in love with the cheers of proud parents and bored siblings. Afterwards, I ran over to my parents and begged them to sign me up for another show. Although my initial performance was not exactly what one would call moving, as I grew, so did my dedication to discovering how to portray a realistic emotional arc of a complex character. Acting, to me, is about finding the missing, hidden piece and unlocking the mystery of a character's dreams and motivations. Another mystery I’ve come to marvel at is the complex, intricate ways that numbers can model situations. I love looking at a confusing question, seemingly unrelated to anything I’ve learned, and stripping it down to its basic concepts. For example, the limit as x approaches 1 of (4(-2+x)-4)/(x-1) is just asking for the slope of the line y=4x-8, where x is -1. From Algebra I to AP Statistics and AP Calculus BC, math has become a game, as I scavenge for the missing pieces that can turn a dataset of 100 heights into the probability that a randomly selected person is 5-feet tall. When I discovered the world of politics, I became engrossed in the moral dilemmas, ethical trade-offs, and the profound effects the people we elect can have on society. I watched with disgust as same-sex couples were denied the right to marry, migrants were locked in cages, cops shot unarmed Americans, and mass shooters massacred hundreds while politicians offered little more than “thoughts and prayers.” Searching for the missing pieces of justice, I have turned my outrage into action—organizing and attending protests, educating friends and family on current issues like climate change and presidential abuse of power, and leading a voter registration campaign at my high school. From the newsie Davey's righteous anger, to the DNA double-helix, to local linearization, to gun reform, my search for the missing pieces in the world around me comes together to assemble a portrait of the person I am today. But, like the world around me, my portrait is still missing pieces, especially when I try to sort out the puzzle of my future career. Will I be a lawyer, crafting complex arguments, defending the civil liberties of the neglected and abused? Or a lawmaker, working to create a more just system of laws that benefit the masses, not just the top one percent? I’m not sure, but one thing’s for certain: My search for the missing pieces of my life has taught me to look beyond the easy, obvious answers, and instead work to devise multifaceted solutions to intricate world problems. As I continue my quest, the question is: What other pieces will I find along the way? (643 words) — — —

Tips + Analysis

Look for unusual connections. Remember that admission officers want to see the unique sides of you that don’t come through in the four corners of your application. This student takes a potentially simple theme—missing pieces—and uses it to show dramatically different sides of himself: acting, math, politics, and biology. The result? We walk away with a better understanding of who this student is and how he’ll contribute to a college campus.

Showcase your knowledge. It’s perfectly OK to show you know what you’re talking about when it comes to your favorite subject. But there’s a way to do it without losing your reader in complex lingo. This student is obviously well-versed in biology and math, yet he weaves slightly technical explanations of the biological component of hemoglobin and the limit of X in a conversational way that displays genuine curiosity and interest without over-jargoning the essay.

Don’t be afraid to have fun. It’s easy to think your personal statement has to be super-serious and to the point. After all, your future is at stake here, right? But we’re confident in saying schools are also looking for students who enjoy life, seize opportunities, and have a sense of humor about the things life throws at them. This student shows he’s well-rounded by balancing the serious topics of migrants’ rights and LGBTQIA+ equality with the descriptive visuals of him as “Glinda the Good Witch, complete with sparkly pants and vest.”

End with a clear “So what?” This student takes the opportunity at the end of his essay to restate his theme about searching for missing pieces. And then he leaves us with a takeaway—a “So what?” moment that demonstrates he’s still just as curious as ever: “But, like the world around me, my portrait is still missing pieces, especially when I try to sort out the puzzle of my future career.”

how to write Texas A&M Supplemental Essay Prompt #2

Optional: If there are additional personal challenges, hardships, or opportunities (including COVID related experiences) that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, which you have not already written about, please note them in the space below. (Max 250 words for the Common App; max 439 words for ApplyTexas)

If you’ve already filled out your Common App, this might sound like a familiar question. And that’s great news for your typing-weary fingers! If you’re using the Common App for your A&M application and you’ve already completed the Additional Information and COVID responses, you can leave this blank. If you’re using ApplyTexas to submit your application , you can use your same answer for this question as you’ve done on the Common App. 

And if you haven’t gotten started on either, here are our can’t-miss tips.

Resist the urge to use the whole word count. Instead, use only the space needed to say what you need to say. No more, no less. This is especially true if you’re completing this prompt for the Common App, where you’ve likely already completed responses to the COVID-19 and Additional Information sections and you can’t think of what on earth more you could possibly write about. Which brings us to …

Say something new. Don’t repeat things you’ve already included elsewhere in your application. This would be the place to explain how the lack of Wifi impacted your grades during remote learning or to add important details about the nonprofit organization you started that didn’t fit in your activities list. If you’re not sure what to include, head over to our guides on How to Use the Common App Additional Information Section and How to Write About Coronavirus/COVID-19 in Your College Essay & Application.

Don’t feel obligated to fill it out at all . This section is optional (really!). So don’t feel like you have  to write something just because there’s space there. You want to add value to your application, not empty words. Little frustrates (and bores) an admission officer more than reading a whole lot of nada .

how to write Texas A&M Supplemental Essay Prompt #3

You might panic at the two different (like, really different) word counts for the same essays in the different portals. But let’s take a deep breath together first. Inhale. Exhale. Better? 

Now, in the past, Texas A&M has described these as responses required for you to move through the application. Your response can be a few sentences to a few paragraphs, depending on what you have to say about the topic. So as we encouraged you earlier, use the word count needed to answer the question and tell the story you want to tell. No more, no less. And don’t open an ApplyTexas account just to get extra word count. When you choose your words wisely, you can tell a great (amazing, even) essay in just a handful of words. More isn’t always better, y’all.

Although we don’t have any A&M-specific responses to share with you, but we do have these tips on brainstorming and writing your responses:

Understand your response is about more than answering the prompt. If you simply address the prompt, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. While you must describe the person and event, that’s not really what admission officers want to read about. Instead, read between the lines and be reflective. How have you changed because of this person/event? What have they taught you about yourself or the world? How is your perspective different because of them?

Make lemonade from lemons. Your response doesn’t need to be all sunshine and roses and puppy kisses. We’ve all met people we don’t get along with and gone through traumatic or upsetting experiences. But often, something amazingly positive can come out of it. That’s  the story to tell—the transformation you went through and the insight you gained. 

Consider the obscure. The 2020 election. Malala Yousafzai. Immigration policy. George Floyd. All are very important and relevant, but as an essay topic, they might be a little too common and make it harder for you to stand out. But what about the 5’0” basketball player on your team who taught you a lesson in overcoming obstacles. Or learning to ride a bike as a 16-year-old? These more obscure (even mundane) topics can be just as (sometimes even  more impactful) than those making headlines.

how to write Texas A&M Supplemental Essay Prompt #4

This is another one of A&M’s “short answer questions,” so follow the advice for Prompt 4 when considering how long your essay should be. Now that we’ve clarified length, let’s talk content. This is a by-the-numbers “Why Major” essay , covering the events and people who led to your interest in engineering, what you’ll do at A&M to further this interest, and what you’ll do in the future.

The example below was written by a student applying to UT, and while UT’s prompt is slightly different from A&M’s, it does touch on many of the important points you’ll need to cover in your essay.

At the University of Texas, I plan to major in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on preserving the environment. The Bridges to the Future Credentials Program will enable me to research sustainable energy systems under Dr. Dongmei Chen and take Energy, Technology, and Policy, where I will learn about different clean energy technologies and their positive environmental effects. I can then use what I learn in class by joining the UT Solar Vehicles team to raise awareness for solar energy. Through my previous research on lithium-ion batteries in high-school, I can help produce a hybrid vehicle with a solar-powered lithium-ion battery which can be used on days with no sunlight. In the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, I plan on bringing my previous experience coding autonomous robots, recording sensory feedback, and creating chassis to research intelligent mechanical systems utilizing AI. I plan to participate in the Engineers for a Sustainable World program by working with mechanical, electrical, and robotics engineers to invent automated devices that make workers more efficient. UT offers the Longhorn Energy Club, an organization supporting energy-related events and fundraisers. People with various STEM careers discuss their opinions and debate on current events related to energy such as renewable power generation and cost-effective fuel cell technology. Through conversations I’ve had with NASA engineers and astronauts, I offer a unique perspective on how current technology is both harming and helping society. Furthermore, through Habitat for Humanity, I have been able to construct four new houses and raise $30,000 to help fund future projects. Not only is the fundraising and building process enjoyable, but every new house gives one family a secure setting which they previously may have never had. I would like to continue giving homes to those in need through the UT Habitat for Humanity program. — — —

You’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing the "Why Major" essay here , and we strongly  recommend reading through it, because this is probably not the only essay of this kind you’ll have to write. But here’s the TL;DR version, along with analysis of how the example essay above hit the right points:

Imagine a mini-movie of the moments that led you to your interest, and create a simple, bullet point outline. Can you find (and describe) the unique influences that set you apart from other aspiring engineering students? Detailing how you meticulously cut out and put together a kinetic hummingbird sculpture will be far more intriguing and memorable than those connecting Legos (no pun intended) with a passion for engineering. The A&M prompt doesn’t ask for students to describe their influences, but if it had, this student could’ve expanded on his lithium battery research or told a story about his conversations with NASA scientists and how that changed the student’s course of study.

Put your moments (aka the “scenes” of your mini-movie) in chronological order, as it’ll help you (and the reader) see how your interests developed. Bonus: This structure also makes it easier to transition between paragraphs. This student keeps each experience in its own paragraph, making it easy to see his academic and future goals.

Decide if you want to include a specific thesis that explicitly states your central argument—in this case, what you want to study and why. This thesis can be at the beginning, middle, or end of your essay. This student chooses to start his essay with a clear, to-the-point declaration of his academic focus.

Write a draft! Don’t forget to address each part of the prompt (in this case, your past, present, and future with engineering).

Special thanks to Julia for writing this post

texas a&m admissions essay length

Julia published her first “book” on the elusive Pika in elementary school and has been writing fervently ever since. She’s thrilled to unite her quirky love of grammar and master’s in psychology to help students tell their most meaningful stories. Her favorite punctuation mark is the apostrophe because, in the words of Imagine Dragons, it’s “a symbol to remind you that there’s more to see.”

Top values: Collaboration | Family | Productivity

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texas a&m admissions essay length


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texas a&m admissions essay length

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Texas A&M University Supplemental Essay Guide: 2021-2022

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Not sure how to approach the Texas A&M essay prompts? CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Texas A&M application essays will breakdown the Texas A&M essay requirements and show you exactly how to write engaging Texas A&M essays to maximize your chances of admission. If you need help answering the Texas A&M essay prompts, create your free or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Texas A&M Essay Guide Quick Facts

Does Texas A&M have any supplemental essays?

Yes, there are two Texas A&M application essays. The Essay tab of Admission’s Freshman Application Page , lists the Texas A&M essay requirements. You’ll find both Texas A&M essay prompts there. In the first essay, you’ll share a bit about your high school career. The second, is an engineering-specific short answer question.

Does Texas A&M require a supplemental essay?

Yes, the Texas A&M requirements require all applicants to write Texas A&M application essays. While there are two Texas A&M essay prompts, there is only one required Texas A&M essay. Only students applying to the College of Engineering need to answer both Texas A&M essay prompts. 

To summarize, students applying as engineers will write two Texas A&M admissions essays. All other non-engineering students will write one Texas A&M essay. Now that we have established the Texas A&M essay requirements, let’s write those Texas A&M admissions essays!

How do I write my Texas A&M supplemental essay?

After you’ve reviewed the Texas A&M essay requirements, you can begin brainstorming topics for your Texas A&M essays.  Remember, there isn’t a perfect topic or a formulaic approach to writing your essay. Your Texas A&M admissions essays are an opportunity to infuse your application with your life, personality, and voice. Rather than trying to impress Admissions with your Texas A&M essays, go for honesty! That means being true to yourself and your experiences. 

No matter what topic you end up choosing to write about in your Texas A&M essays, it is important you remember your audience. Your Texas A&M application essays are part of an application, so you need to appeal to the needs of your reader: the Admissions team. They are looking to get a sense of who you are and how you’ll add to the vibrancy of their student body.

Here are three questions you should keep in mind when writing each of your Texas A&M admissions essays:

Now that we have our essay goals in mind, let’s move on to the first step: brainstorming. We have provided the 2021-2022 Texas A&M essay prompts below. You’ll find a breakdown of how to approach each question, as well as tips for writing Texas A&M application essays that will help you stand out in admissions. 

Texas A&M essay – Question 1 (Required)

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today? (no word limit).

The Texas A&M essay prompts do not have specified word limits. Because there is only one required Texas A&M essay and this prompt is open-ended, we suggest sticking between approximately 500-700 words. Remember, if your essay is too short, you may not be telling a complete or detailed story. Too long, and you may not keep your reader’s attention.

Generate ideas

This Texas A&M essay is going to be about cause and effect. As you brainstorm , split your page into two columns: “Opportunities/Challenges” and “How I Was Affected.” The first column addresses the “what” part of your Texas A&M essay. The prompt asks about plural opportunities or challenges. Therefore, it is important you write down as many memories you can think of, as you’ll likely be picking more than one to include in your Texas A&M essay. Also, this prompt specifically asks about your high school career . Restrict your brainstorming to high school memories. 

The second column will be the “why” of your Texas A&M essay. Why is it important for the admissions team to hear this story? For each opportunity or challenge, write a corresponding bullet point that summarizes what you learned, how you grew, why you were proud of yourself, or why it was important to you.

Look for patterns

Once you’ve completed your brainstorm, start looking for patterns or ways to group your experiences. Was there a particular class you grew in? Perhaps there was a challenge that later reappeared as an opportunity. Or maybe there’s an aspect of your personality that shined through in multiple situations.

Whatever you settle on, be sure to refer to the three objectives before you start drafting your Texas A&M essay. This breakdown has already helped you be sure you are responding to the prompt, so you need to be sure the story you’ve outlined will reflect something about who you are and how you might positively impact Texas A&M’s community.

Tell your story

All that’s left to do is tell your story. As you begin drafting your Texas A&M application essays, be sure you aren’t simply listing facts or details. Instead, string them together with your thoughts, feelings, and interpretations. Even if the events on paper are simple, your voice is what makes will make you stand out .

Essay Draft Key Questions:

Texas A&M essay – Question 2 (Required for Engineering Applicants)

Describe your academic and career goals in the broad field of engineering (including computer science, industrial distribution, and engineering technology). What and/or who has influenced you either inside or outside the classroom that contributed to these goals? (no word limit).

According to the Texas A&M essay requirements, all applicants to the School of Engineering must respond to a second prompt and write a total of two Texas A&M admissions essays. Neither of the Texas A&M essay prompts has word counts, so there is no specific word limit for your Texas A&M essays. Because this question is more straightforward, we suggest keeping your second Texas A&M essay between 300-500 words.

Although the topics are different, both Texas A&M essay prompts are cause & effect questions. For this brainstorm, split your page into two columns: “Academic and Career Goals” and “Who/What Inspires Me.” List out what you hope to learn and the kind of work and research you might want to do at college as well as the kind of positions or work you’d like to hold or be involved in post-graduation (including grad school if you’re already thinking of attending). Remember, whatever you include on your inspiration list needs to have “contributed to these goals,” so as you list people, topics, or events, also write down how they helped lead you to your goals. 

Focus on what’s important

Once you have all the information and details you’d like to include, all you need to do is write about them in a way that shows who you are and what is important to you. For example, if you already know the kind of job you’d like to have one day, you could start with your academic goals, reflect upon your inspirations, and end with your career aspirations. Or if there was one pivotal moment that has defined your path, maybe start with that moment and tell the story of how that has led you to have the goals you have today.

Everyone’s goals and inspirations will be specific to them. However, a strong Texas A&M essay should focus on your passion for engineering. Let that passion shine through in your writing, and you’ll be sure to have Texas A&M application essays that will blow the admissions team away. 

What does Texas A&M look for in essays?

To begin, you should think of the Texas A&M essays as a chance to introduce yourself. They’re also an opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants. Therefore, you’ll want to write your Texas A&M application essays in your own voice and show how your unique experiences have impacted how you view the world. The admissions team cares about more than just your grades and test scores; they care about the person behind the numbers.

Although it is not specifically mentioned in the Texas A&M essay requirements, it is expected your essays have the correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. In addition to telling your story, the admissions department is looking for Texas A&M admissions essays that are clear and polished. Excellent editing and proofreading are a must. The less distracted your reader is by little mistakes, the easier it will be to focus on the story your Texas A&M essays are telling.  

Tips for writing Texas A&M essays

In addition to providing the Texas A&M essay requirements, the university has a College Readiness page with resources and tips to help you through the application process. Be sure to review these tips on the website or below.  Approaching the Texas A&M application essays can be daunting. CollegeAdvisor offers 39 Essay Tips from Admissions Experts that will you navigate the writing process.

Answer the question

Our guide has already broken down the Texas A&M essay prompts to be sure you’ve answered the question completely. As you settle on a topic, be sure to use your Texas A&M admissions essays as an opportunity to touch on something not mentioned anywhere else in your application. Although the Texas A&M essay requirements don’t specifically tell you to, providing new information will help give the admissions team a full picture of who you are and the experiences that have prepared you for college.

Be authentic

We’ve said to “use your voice,” which is just another way to say be authentic. While it is important you keep your audience in mind (and specifically use language appropriate to the formality of a college application), it is also important you stay true to who you are. There’s no need to try to sound smarter or funnier or more serious in your Texas A&M essays than you do in real life – Admissions wants you to be yourself. 

Focus on details

The details you include will make your Texas A&M application essays stand out from the rest. Even if your circumstances or experiences seem like everybody else’s, your experience of them is what makes them special and unique to you. Being specific will also help bring your story to life and help drop your reader into your shoes so they can better understand who you are and what you bring to the table. 

Proofread your essay

Proofread, proofread, proofread! Grammar or spelling mistakes aren’t the end of the world. However, they do distract your reader from what is important: your story. Whether or not you are a strong proofreader, have a second pair of eyes on your Texas A&M essays. A teacher, counselor, or guardian is a great place to start. Even a fellow peer can be a good resource. Most importantly, your reader should give feedback on both grammar and story. This will ensure your final draft is as polished as it can be. 

As you begin compiling all the information you’ll need for your application, check out the Admissions blog for prospective students. Additionally, if you’d like more tips from Texas A&M’s undergraduate admissions team on approaching your essays, check out this video on telling your story!

Texas A&M Supplemental Essays: Final Thoughts

If the essay requirements seem daunting to you, remember that the admissions team wants to be impressed by you. There are so many types of students and people in the world. It is impossible to know who a person is by their grades and test scores alone. Consequently, the admissions teams reads the Texas A&M admissions essays to get a better understanding of each candidate as a person. Unlike the other aspects of your application, you have complete control over your Texas A&M application essays. Take that freedom and use your Texas A&M essays to show them your best, most curious self. Start early. Then, you’ll have time to brainstorm, draft, edit, rewrite, and proofread. With a little preparation, your Texas A&M application essays can wow the admissions team.

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This 2021-2022 essay guide on Texas A&M was written by Stefanie Tedards. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on Texas A&M, click here . Want help crafting your Texas A&M admissions essays? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

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How to Write the Texas A&M University Essays 2022-2023

Texas A&M University has three required essay prompts on its application. You are asked to write about your personal story, a life event that has prepared you for success in college, and a person who has profoundly impacted your life. There is also an optional essay prompt about any additional challenges or opportunities you have had to overcome. There is another prompt specifically for applicants to the College of Engineering.

Texas A&M receives tens of thousands of applications from students with a strong academic record, so the essays are your opportunity to paint a unique picture of yourself that separates you from the crowd.

Want to know your chances at Texas A&M? Calculate them for free right now!

Texas A&M Supplemental Essay Prompts

All applicants:.

Prompt 1: Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today? (750 words)

Prompt 2: Describe a life event which you feel has prepared you to be successful in college. (250 words)

Prompt 3: Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and why. (250 words)

Prompt 4 (Optional): If there are additional personal challenges, hardships, or opportunities (including COVID related experiences) that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, which you have not already written about , please note them in the space below. (250 words)

Applicants to the College of Engineering:

Describe your academic and career goals in the broad field of engineering (including computer science, industrial distribution and engineering technology). what and/or who has influenced you either inside or outside the classroom that contributed to these goals (500 words), tell us your story. what unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today (750 words).

Notice how you are encouraged to speak about an opportunity or a challenge. Many students believe that they must talk about a tragedy in order to grab the attention of admissions officers, but this isn’t true. An essay can easily be thoughtful, insightful, and an engaging read without utilizing this specific emotional appeal.

Still, stories about difficult circumstances are often memorable. They are most effective when focused primarily on the student’s journey of working through the challenge instead of the challenge itself. Check out Collegevine’s article if you would like more tips on writing about challenges .

You’re trying to stand out, so beware of overused tropes like the following:

Side note: Sometimes students face challenges that are outside of their control and which have negatively impacted their academic and/or extracurricular performance. If this has been your experience, and you don’t want to explain them within this essay response, you may ask one of your recommenders to do so through their letter of recommendation, or explain it in the shorter prompt #4.

Now, there’s no such thing as a “bad” or “good” essay topic; students have gotten into top schools with essays about Costco, pizza deliveries, and sparkling water. It often matters less so what you write about than how you write about it! 

These common essay topics are only doable when well-written, specific, and featuring a fresh take. The story of how fixing your Calculus grade taught you the value of hard work is not nearly as interesting as that of a student who is diagnosed with dyscalculia—a disability which creates a difficulty in understanding and working with math and numbers—and then opens up a dyscalculia awareness club with plans to become a special education teacher. The latter story would demonstrate the student’s ability to turn preconceived weaknesses into strengths, and admissions officers will quickly see that though he may initially struggle with long division, this student is nonetheless a creative problem-solver.

Please be aware that although it is possible to make a “common” topic interesting, it is easier to write about a situation that is unique to begin with. Also, don’t feel pressured to write about a challenge, especially if the situation has happened so recently that you haven’t fully finished processing or growing from it.

With all of this in mind, let’s get into brainstorming! Many people begin their ideation process through writing long lists or even talking into their phones in an untethered stream-of-consciousness. Do whatever it takes to get your creative juices flowing! 

As you reflect, you may consider these questions:

Practice self-compassion while considering topics, and know that none are too big or too small. You can write about anything from taking a summer math class (even though you’re more of an English person) to being a camp counselor to giving your first speech in front of a crowd.

Overall, the admissions officers are looking for growth. They want to see the circumstances you turned into opportunities for improvement. You may even reflect upon a situation that initially seemed like an unpleasant challenge but later revealed itself as a hidden opportunity. For example, you may have reluctantly let your friend drag you to a business club meeting before discovering a passion for economics and rising as a club leader.

Ideally, your story will be unique and offer a fresh perspective. Be specific about the challenge or opportunity you were presented with, and think about how it changed you for the better. 

Remember, they are literally asking for you to “tell [them] your story,” so consider using a narrative format, especially if storytelling is a talent of yours. 

Here’s a general outline: 

Finally, you are human, so you don’t have to portray yourself as perfect in the end. You are using this essay to talk about what may be one of your greatest strengths or sources of pride, but make sure to stay balanced with a humble tone.

Describe a life event which you feel has prepared you to be successful in college. (250 words)

This prompt is similar to the first in that it is asking about a life event, but there are two things to note. Firstly, the word limit is quite small, so there is less room for a vivid, image-laden introduction. Secondly, the prompt does not specify challenge or opportunity, so you have more creative freedom in your answer.

Before you begin writing, you should think about the different paths you can take when answering this question:

One effective way to address this prompt is to think of what you want to major in. If there is a life event that drew you to a specific field, you can discuss how you have looked into this field already and how you are equipped to take classes in it. If you haven’t decided on a major, you can think of skills you have picked up that aren’t necessarily academic but can translate well into being a student.

Examples of some events that helped prepare you for college success include:

You have ample opportunity to talk about intriguing and unusual experiences, but as with the first prompt, you should avoid cliché topics unless you are able to add depth to them. For example, you would not want to write about how losing a school baseball game taught you to accept failure. However, you might be able to spin that kind of story into something more interesting by talking about how you lost that game because you stayed up the night before studying for a physics exam, which ended up revealing to you how much you love physics more than baseball. You could then move into a discussion about how that turning point taught you how to manage time better, how to set priorities better, and what you wanted to pursue in college. Again, be mindful that the word limit is small so you must be succinct.

These supplemental essays are supposed to give an impression of who you are as a person. Don’t be afraid to go outside the boundaries of common, everyday life events if there is something really distinct that you experienced. The questions are intentionally vague to give students elbow room to write something unique if they want to.

Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and why. (250 words)

This is a common prompt in essays and interviews, and it can be difficult overwhelming to decide on a role model. Many students default to a parent/sibling for this question, and though that’s a valid choice, it’s extremely common. You can write a good essay with this choice, but it’s harder to stand out. 

If you do decide on a family member, be sure to provide granular detail about how this person impacted your life. While anyone can write about their family members, only you can tell the specific stories of how your family member impacted you. Admissions officers don’t want to hear how caring your mom is; they want to know about the time she gave the scarf off her neck to someone who said they were cold. 

Some other potential people to write about include a teacher or close friend. Some people have teachers who completely changed their outlook on a subject or on learning as a whole. If this describes a teacher you once had, you might be interested in this choice. Be sure to provide detailed examples about the teacher’s personality and/or pedagogy. Don’t just say, “Mrs. Johnson made me like math.” Describe how she did it and why you like math now. Some people have friends who have completely changed (or even saved) their lives. Often, our closest friends are people we grew up with and know intimately. This deep knowledge of a person and his impact on your life can give you a lot of details to write about.

You might have a community leader (pastor, coach, shopkeeper) who taught you to think beyond your immediate circle and begin to engage with the wider community. This kind of person is another great example of someone outside your nuclear family who influenced your life for the better.

Though there is a plethora of people you can write about, there are a few that you should do your best to avoid , even if they truly have impacted your life:

As with the previous prompt, be mindful of the lower word limit. You can definitely share 1-3 anecdotes, but you only have 250 words, and you want to spend some of that on reflection.

Prompt 4 (Optional)

If there are additional personal challenges, hardships, or opportunities (including covid related experiences) that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, which you have not already written about , please note them in the space below. (250 words).

This prompt is optional, and while we typically recommend that you respond to optional prompts, this one is asking about additional info not reflected in your application—so you should only write a response if you truly have something to add. 

Notice that this is very similar to the first prompt, but it’s more focused on hardships and challenges. Unlike the first prompt, this would be a fine space to address any issues in a straightforward manner—you don’t have to worry about coming up with an original topic. Some potential things you can address include divorce, tragedy, financial hardships, family responsibilities, learning disabilities, etc. 

The specification of “COVID related experiences” also allows you to discuss any particular issues you faced due to the pandemic. Since everyone has been going through the pandemic, we only recommend discussing COVID if you had a particularly disruptive experience.

Finally, don’t forget that this prompt also allows you to elaborate on any positive opportunities that shaped your high school career. If you have a unique extracurricular that you haven’t written about yet (beyond the Common App Activities section), you can write about it here. You could also talk about your experience at a leadership program or a mentor you had.

Basically, anything goes, as long as it impacted you significantly, and isn’t addressed properly in the rest of your application.

Prompt for Applicants to the College of Engineering

This prompt is your opportunity to show Texas A&M you are a good fit for both the university and its programs. You are asked to cover a lot of ground here, so it is important to be specific throughout your essay. Use precise wording and double-check that each word, phrase, and detail has a place in your piece.

Let’s start by breaking down the academic and career goal components of this prompt. If you don’t have a clear plan for your future, don’t worry; most high schoolers don’t! Also, you aren’t tied down to whichever path you decide to write about, so feel free to get specific.

If it helps, think of the research you will perform for this prompt as an exercise in thinking about your future. Follow your natural curiosity while reading about the academics within the College of Engineering and the careers graduated Aggies often pursue. Hone in on the programs and opportunities which appeal to you most, many of which are featured on Texas A&M’s website .

Academic goals aren’t limited to getting good grades in school. These accomplishments may take many forms, including the following:

A solid engineering degree such as the one you will receive at Texas A&M will likely open up to a fascinating and challenging career within any of a multitude of given specialties. The engineering umbrella is broad, but you have to pick one to focus on for this prompt when describing your career interests. What’s your dream engineering job, or your target field? What type of engineering most interests you and why?

When discussing your aspirations both within your career and academic world, directly connect them to opportunities offered by Texas A&M to demonstrate that you’re a strong fit. Don’t just say that you would like to perform research; say that as a prospective aerospace engineering major and computer science minor, you hope to join Professor Jacques Richard in his aero-propulsion studies under the Aero-U program. Due to circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, some opportunities may be delayed, canceled, or altered, so be aware of this and look deeply into each option.

Now that we’ve covered which goals you would like to pursue, let’s get into explaining why these goals matter to you. Instead of focusing on relatively superficial aspects of your aspirations, like prestige and pay, think about what makes it interesting, worthwhile, or personally fulfilling. This may be linked to your description of the “whats or whos” which have influenced you to pursue these goals. 

Finding a “who” to write about is relatively straightforward, as many of us can point to the people in our lives who have pushed us in the right direction. Think back on your family members, friends, mentors, and teachers who believed in your ability to succeed academically or in the general world of engineering. This could be anyone, but most importantly, this person somehow pushed you to work harder or simply led by example.

For example, having a mechanic as a father may have sparked your fascination with deconstructing and reconstructing mechanical systems for maximum efficiency, leading you to a path in manufacturing and mechanical engineering. 

The “What,” our second potential motivator, is much more open-ended. Yours may be an event, background, special interest, closely-held value, childhood fascination turned adult aspiration, or even an innate personality trait. 

For example, your childhood fascinations with puzzles and remote-controlled robots, followed by your later software position with your high school’s Robotics Team, may all be indicative of your inclination towards problem-solving, which influenced your decision to major in Computer Science.

As you’re tying all the aforementioned aspects of your response together, make sure to maintain cohesive links between all of them. Your academic and career goals should be aligned with your professed personal qualities as well as the influences you claim the people and things in your life have had on you. Through writing clearly and concisely, you’ll paint a compelling portrait of your character as someone with direction, drive, and a future as a fantastic asset to Texas A&M’s vibrant community.

Where to Get Your Texas A&M University Essays Edited

Want feedback on your Texas A&M University essays to improve your chances at admission? When you’ve proofread your essay a dozen times, it can be hard to even spot where there’s room for improvement. That’s why we’ve created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also sharpen your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays!

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, CollegeVine advisors 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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Texas A&M University 2022-23 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision Deadline: Dec 1

You Have: 

Texas A&M University 2022-23 Application Essay Question Explanation

The Requirements: 3  essays of roughly 500 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community , Oddball , Additional Information

Texas A&M University believes that diversity, diversity.tamu.edu, is an important part of academic excellence and that it is essential to living our core values. Describe the benefits of diversity and inclusion for you and for the Texas A&M campus community. Please share any personal experiences that have shaped your views. (No word count provided)

Admissions officers want to know that you value diversity and will contribute to inclusivity on campus, so share a story that demonstrates your commitment to that goal. When have you engaged with people from different walks of life? What did you learn or take away? How does expanding your horizons benefit both you and your community at large? You can also address how you will contribute to diversity on campus. Consider why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting or can enrich or inspire others. Were you raised in an indigenous community? Do you identify as transgender? Have you lived on four different continents? What has influenced your identity? What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the community at Texas A&M?

Describe a life event which you feel has prepared you to be successful in college. (500 words)

This prompt is incredibly vague, which is kinda awesome because it sets you up to talk about almost anything you want. Which life event has sparked personal growth? What do you think it takes to be successful and how do you embody those qualities? Maybe a parent’s fragile health situation challenged you to take on more responsibilities than the average teenager, preparing you for the hard work ahead. Or perhaps you learned to love your football team’s playback sessions, as they forced you to routinely examine your mistakes, welcome constructive criticism, and guide you toward self-improvement. Whatever story you choose to tell, be sure to infuse it with personal details that no one else could include in their essay.

Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and why. (500 words)

Who is the first person to come to mind when you read this prompt? The person you write about can be someone in your immediate circle, larger network, or on the world stage. Remember that the person you choose is going to say a lot about what you value and respect in others. Maybe an adult in your life has served as a mentor and role model for you, or perhaps the person who has impacted you most is a close friend and confidant. Once you identify the person you’d like to write about, be sure to summarize who they are to you, how they have impacted your life, and how you’ve changed as a result of knowing them.

If there are additional personal challenges, hardships, or opportunities (including COVID related experiences) that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, which you have not already written about, please note them in the space below. (250 words)

Let us start by saying: this prompt is not for everyone. If your GPA has not dramatically increased or decreased during your high school career, move along. If, on the other hand, you’re thinking, “Yes! An opportunity for me to explain!” then read on.  Your transcripts are like Garfield Minus Garfield . Sure, we can see that something’s changed from frame to frame, but we don’t know why. Grades need context. Admissions doesn’t know why or how things happened—good or bad—so ake a look at your grades and note any anomalies or odd jumps/drops. Think back to that time in your life and tell your story. Maybe your family struggled with financial instability or the loss of a loved one. Maybe you started meeting virtually with a tutor and climbed from a fall semester C in geometry to a spring semester A. No matter your story, you are not alone in your journey of ups and downs—high school is a veritable war zone of distractions and possibilities. And, remember, everyone loves a comeback. 

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Writing A Compelling Topic A Essay for Your Application to Texas A&M University

All freshman applicants to Texas A&M must submit the Topic A essay (commonly referred to as the personal statement) in their application. This essay, between 500 and 700 words, plays a crucial role in the review of applications.

Essay A is a student's primary vehicle for communicating the aspects of their personality, perspectives, and relationships that a resume alone can't convey. It's their chance to give the admissions committee a sense of who they are and how they see the world. 

Here's the prompt:

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Students are used to writing academic papers, where their teachers provide clear prompts, a list of expectations, and even a rubric that lays out exactly what they need to do to earn full credit. Personal essays are a different beast. This Essay A prompt is particularly open-ended. That means the expectations can seem frustratingly amorphous, and no one can tell your student with 100% accuracy what they need to do to succeed. That freedom of thought, though, is representative of what college will be like for your student, so it's a great chance to embrace that new mindset.

Here, we'll offer some targeted advice on how to approach the brainstorming and drafting process for Essay A. The goal is to spark ideas and help demystify the process of writing a personal essay. 

Breaking Down the Prompt

To start, it can be helpful for a student to rewrite the prompt in their own words to be sure they're clear on what it's asking. We've "translated" the prompt here to give you an idea of what we mean. Here's our take on what Essay A is asking.

Tell us a story. It might be a big, important story about an event or experience that completely changed the course of your life. But it might also be a small story: a memory or experience that's a special meaning to you, even if it doesn't seem important from the outside. We hope you'll choose an interesting story, but ultimately, the story is just a window into your world. We don't get to spend years in your company, becoming friends with you or getting to know you in your everyday life. But when we look through the lens of your story, we'll get a glimpse of who you are beyond this application. We'll begin to form an understanding of what you care about and how you make sense of the world. You get to choose where in your life or history you want to open that window for us—and then you get to tell us why that's the spot you've chosen. 

With that in mind, the Essay A prompt can be broken down into two primary parts.

Part 1: The narrative component ("Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career...")

Part 2: The reflection component ("...that have shaped who you are today?")

Let's take a look at each of these sections separately.

The Narrative Component: "Tell Us Your Story"

Why do we call this the "narrative" section instead of the "story" section? They're similar terms, but narrative suggests development, change, and growth. In other words, a narrative isn't just one thing happening after another, or a bunch of disconnected events happening simultaneously. In a personal essay like this one, the narrative arc traces some aspect of your student's development as a person. 

Which Story Should You Tell?

Although this story might be rooted in your student's earliest experiences, the primary focus of the narrative should be on the past three or four years. For most teenagers, high school is a period of rapid personal and interpersonal growth. During that time, your student has probably begun to form their own individual ideas and beliefs, explore new interests, and take on more responsibility at school and at home. They've also gained experience navigating new social and emotional challenges, and they may have started developing a stronger sense of what they have to contribute to the communities they belong to. 

In short: Their narrative should explore some aspect of their personal growth, regardless of what area they choose to focus on.

The college essay & resume for Texas A&M process can feel overwhelming. Our program provides an experienced coach and a proven framework, working one-on-one to reduce the stress so the student can tell a compelling story.

Our program for students applying to Texas A&M includes:

Your student will be carefully matched with a coach based on personality, working style, and first-choice major—it’s just one of the many ways we modify our proven process to meet individual student needs

texas a&m admissions essay length


“We’ve noticed that the “opportunities or challenges” language from the prompt can sometimes confuse students or prematurely narrow their thinking in the brainstorming phase.”

The first common stumbling block is students feeling like they need to choose an experience that's either clearly an "opportunity" or clearly a "challenge." In reality, most experiences contain elements of both. For instance, taking on a major leadership role might be an opportunity to create change within the community, but it would also be challenging to balance schoolwork with the responsibilities of the new position. Pursuing an independent study gives the student an opportunity to delve deeply into a topic that fascinates them, but it challenges them to improve their time management skills and to learn how to solve problems without as much formal guidance as they're used to. 

The second common stumbling block can be a little trickier because it's rooted in a misconception about what the personal essay should do. When students hear the stock phrase "opportunities or challenges," they assume the admissions committee must want to hear about either their most impressive achievement or their most harrowing defeat. In brainstorming examples from their lives, students tend to focus almost exclusively on extremes (the highest highs, the lowest lows), which are usually things they've already listed on their resume as well.

These don't necessarily make for bad essay topics—in the hands of a thoughtful, introspective writer, virtually any subject can make for a compelling and personally revelatory piece. But both have certain risks.

Remind your student that it's okay to pick a topic that seems less extreme. Often, it's the subtler experiences that are more defining.

“Bottom line: Be sure your student doesn’t worry too much about labeling an experience as a challenge or an opportunity. Instead, they should focus on moments that have produced some type of change in their life or thinking. Change, whether they experience it as positive or negative, opens up the possibility for growth, which will be important for the second part of the essay. ”


Imagine you're listening to someone you've just met tell you a story about a recent experience. Part of your attention is probably focused on the content of the story itself: You might be picturing the scene in your imagination, for instance, or making connections between the story and your own experiences. 

But as you listen, you're also forming an impression of the storyteller themselves. Whether you consciously realize it or not, your brain is busy gathering data about who this person is, where they come from, and what it feels like to spend time in their company. As the person continues speaking, offering new details, your brain continues to flesh out those initial impressions, adjusting or revising your mental image of the storyteller. By the time you leave the person's company, you might not remember all the details of their story, but you will probably walk away with a distinct impression of what that person is like. 

You form these impressions based not only on the content of the story, but also on the way the person chooses to tell the story. The expressions someone uses, the descriptive details they decide to include, their reliance on humor or a more serious, intellectual tone—all these are choices a storyteller makes that communicate information to their listener. 

For example, if someone walked up to you at an event and began to deliver a formal, scripted address, avoiding the first person and using lots of technical jargon, you might think they were a little cold, a little aloof, or even intentionally intimidating. Of course, that judgment might be wildly off-base, but since you part ways with them immediately after the story's end, all you have to go on is your initial perception.

Remind your student that the words they use to tell the story are just as important as the story itself. Most importantly, the essay should sound like them.


As your student decides on a story and begins formulating how they'll communicate it, be sure they imagine themselves as both the storyteller and the listener. The first part is simple—that's them. But putting themselves in the shoes of the listener will help them figure out how they might make the most authentic impression on the admissions committee.

Here are some questions they can ask themselves:

This exercise will be difficult at first. It takes practice to get outside of your own perspective and try to see yourself from someone else's point of view. It can be helpful for your student to talk through their ideas with a friend or family member, someone who can remind them of the parts of themselves that they take for granted or have trouble seeing. And if those people have heard this story before, or remember it happening themselves, they can also help remind your student of details they might have forgotten. 

It can also be intimidating or stressful to think about how others perceive us. Your student might struggle to come up with a story not because they can't think of examples, but because they're worried that the story they've chosen won't seem "good enough" or impressive enough to the admissions committee. And regardless of how your student reacts to this kind of concern—covering up vulnerabilities, self-deprecation, acting over-confident—it can make it difficult for them to be themselves. 

So as they test out their stories and think through the questions above, they should try to imagine their listener as someone who's eager to get to know them, rather than someone who can't wait to start judging them. Changing their perception of their audience can change the student's entire experience of writing a personal essay. They'll be able to think in more curious, exploratory ways, and they'll be more open to taking creative risks or trying something that feels a little outside of their comfort zone. 


Another strategy for generating ideas is to look at physical reminders of the past. 

The Reflection Component: Unique Opportunities and Challenges and How They Shaped Who You Are

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Different people's narratives may overlap—for instance, multiple people might write about an experience connected to their sports team—but the reflection on that narrative is always unique to the student. The narrative tells us what happened; the reflection tells us why living those experiences mattered to your student--not to the person next to them and not to a generic student, but to your student personally . 

The reflection aspect of the essay helps the reader understand how the student has grown and changed over time. It's where your student will look back at the narrative and think seriously about how they have changed because of it. The admissions committee is asking students to substantiate the impression of themselves that they're trying to convey in their story, by giving examples of how the qualities they're emphasizing have played out in their life. 

Even though reflection involves looking back, it isn't about getting stuck in the past or waxing nostalgic about the good ol' days. Instead, it's an activity you engage in to prepare for the future, especially in periods of transition. Reflection can help your student begin to discern patterns in their lives and interests, or threads that connect seemingly disparate areas of their life. They might realize that even in different settings, they naturally gravitate toward certain roles or certain ways of solving problems. These insights can help them understand what their professional strengths might be as they prepare to pursue internships and eventually choose a career. 


As your student explores different ways of substantiating or fleshing out that impression of themselves, they should remember to include both external and internal experiences. 

Let's say, for example, that your student is a compassionate, caring person who has always believed in using their talents to strengthen their community. In their essay, they would want to include some details or examples that would help demonstrate how this quality manifests in their life. It's easy to talk about how they completed 150 hours of community service every year at a local homeless shelter—and they've no doubt already listed that on their resume. But their essay can—and should—explore aspects of those experiences that aren't communicated by the resume, if they are truly meaningful for your student.

There's likely more to the story—an internal journey that your student hasn't yet communicated. Perhaps they were raised in a family that prided itself on toughness and self-sufficiency. As a child, they often heard adults in their life urge others to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" or pass harsh judgment on people who were out of work and unable to support their families. When your student first started volunteering, they sometimes found themselves echoing these beliefs in their thoughts, especially during challenging or frustrating moments. 

But then they began to pay attention to those thoughts and reflect on moments where they arose. As they observed the social workers and other adults who worked at the shelter, they sought to learn from the way they talked about the communities they worked with. During your student's volunteer shifts, they began spending time talking with the people who came to the shelter, forming relationships with them and seeking to better understand their lives. In their free time, they watched documentaries about homelessness and checked out books from the local library. Eventually, as their convictions became stronger and their sense of purpose clearer, they began to have conversations with their family about the work they were doing, even inviting family members to start volunteering with them once a week. 

This learning process may still be ongoing, but they're proud of the change they've seen in their own thoughts and behaviors. They feel like they've finally begun to develop a more nuanced understanding of an issue they care about, as well as a more empathetic perspective toward the people they work with. And within their own family, they are making a quiet but intentional effort to expand their worldview and advocate for those communities. 

“Bottom line: Unless we articulate our internal experiences, others may never know how important they have been to our personal growth. The admissions committee won’t know what your student was thinking about and learning unless they explicitly say it.”

Plus, these inner experiences are driven by intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation. In other words, they aren't motivated by a desire to earn external recognition in awards, good grades, or praise from others; rather, they emerge out of quieter, more inwardly focused desires, including the desire to deepen their understanding of something they care about, or their desire to more closely align their beliefs and actions with the type of person they want to be.

In general, internal experiences tend to be more emotionally "sticky" than external experiences. They may elicit conflicted or ambivalent feelings, especially if the student is grappling with ideas that fundamentally challenge something about their worldview or sense of self. And while external experiences may have clear endpoints, internal experiences tend to unfold on different timelines. The core questions these experiences generate are not usually ones your student can answer definitively, or just once. Instead, they become guiding preoccupations—ideas they'll spend their whole lives wrestling with and exploring. And that's exactly what the admissions committee wants to hear about.

Reflection isn't necessarily something we know how to do naturally. It's a muscle we gradually strengthen, through processes like freewriting, asking ourselves questions, and discussing our experiences with others. 

Here are some questions your student can ask themselves during the reflection process: 

Engaging in reflective thinking can transform a flat description of "here's what I did" into a compelling, richly layered exploration of the thoughts, feelings, and convictions that shaped your student's engagement.

One final note: Often, students feel like their "unique opportunities or challenges" can only be meaningful if they emerge from those experiences with a positive, punchy life motto or a Sunday school-style moral lesson. But leave the "and they all lived happily ever after" to fairytales. Real life—and real growth—is a lot more complicated. Your student should strive to be honest about what they've learned, how they've changed, and what they're still growing through. 

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Tex Admissions

Texas A&M Engineering and Computer Science Supplement Essay Tips and Examples

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Skyscraper construction, Hong Kong

Prospective Texas A&M applicants to Engineering or Computer Science should submit their applications no later than the October 15 priority deadline. Texas A&M Engineering prefers students submit sooner than that due to rolling admissions decisions.

Check out my new book Surviving the College Admissions Madness and Youtube Channel

In addition to the required Apply Texas Essay A Tell Us Your Story, prospective Engineering students must also submit a supplement. A&M for Fall 2021 has imposed the same 40 lines word limit as the UT-Austin short answer questions, so I suggest around 350-400 words to respond to the following. Your response to UT Major can be basically the same as TAMU, adjusted with references to each university:

Describe your academic and career goals in the broad field of engineering (including computer science, industrial distribution, and engineering technology). What and/or who has influenced you either inside or outside the classroom that contributed to these goals? It is important to spend time addressing this question as it will be considered as part of the engineering review process. If you have chosen an engineering major for both your first and second choice majors, you will see the same question twice and may provide the same response to both questions.

Consider these tips and examples as you craft your Texas A&M engineering supplemental essay.

Reference Specific Previous or Current Experiences

The prompt asks you specifically to reference which experiences and activities influence your future academic goals and professional ambitions. You don’t need to speak specifically about your major or area of interest, but discussing your subfield/major can help tie in your experiences to how you feel Texas A&M can help you achieve your goals.

It’s critical that you include examples from your academic, extracurricular, professional, or independent studies experiences that influence your first-choice major. It isn’t enough to discuss vaguely your academic ambitions because you will be competing for spaces with students who have decent ideas where they have come from and where they want to go.

Consider developing lessons you’ve learned in a specific course or from a teacher who has influenced your future goals. If you have participated in an internship, discuss your roles and responsibilities and how the opportunity helped you explore and refine your interests. Particularly with STEM, if you’re competing in robotics, engineering, or science fair competitions, discuss your most memorable events or projects.

Many students also pursue their interests independently of the classroom or student organizations. If there is a topic or theme where you find yourself losing track of time or you voluntarily pursue certificate programs, this can be a great opportunity to share with your reviewer experiences that may not appear on your transcript or resume.

Locate Texas A&M Professors and Courses that Match Your Interests

Go beneath the surface of discussing rankings or career placement. One way to demonstrate how Texas A&M uniquely can help you explore your interests and achieve your goals is to identify a professor and expand upon how their research interests coincide with yours. All A&M departments have a list of faculty, their CVs, research interests, and courses they teach. You can often find their syllabi.

Spending even a little bit of time digging deeper about opportunities within your major will go a long ways towards demonstrating interest in your major. Citing a professor or course that interests you may also connect with research opportunities or labs that provide undergraduate research possibilities. Undergraduate research is a cornerstone of the A&M experience. If you want to dive really deep, you could find relevant articles, podcasts, or essays they have published.

Whether you end up working together with a professor or taking their course is less important than demonstrating that you’ve made at least a little bit of an effort to see what’s out there. You can also view a partial list of research labs like here , and a complete list by area and major here , which also does you the favor of listing relevant courses. Exploring research opportunities can help articulate your interest in a subfield that goes beyond the general and broad major categories.

Interested in working together? Complete my questionnaire for a free consultation.

Find Related Student Organizations or Academic Resources

Like in high school, the college experience is not confined to the classroom. Most students pursue extracurricular activities or student organizations that may or may not relate to their academic pursuits.

Citing specific resources will help elevate your essay beyond platitudes about “rankings” and “prestige.” They make no secret about The Zachry Engineering Education Complex serving as their flagship Engineering facility. If you haven’t had the chance to visit campus and share your impressions and observations of this and other campus buildings, then consider reading student blogs or researching these resources online to demonstrate your interest for enrolling in Texas A&M.

Instead of speaking generally about student organizations, identify one or two that match your current activities or proposed future interests. Consider this list specific to Engineering or for Texas A&M more generally here. You can filter for any number of things like cultural organizations, service, special interests, pre-professional societies, visual and performing arts, sports, etc. Texas A&M has a tight-knit community, and they will want to know how you see yourself on campus.

Share Relevant Personal or Family Circumstances

Oftentimes, students have personal reasons for choosing their first choice major that go beyond professional prestige, money, academic interests, or hobbies.

If you have compelling personal reasons for choosing your major, by all means include them especially if you haven’t mentioned them in your Essay A. There are no sob stories in college admissions, and I encourage you to be open about any adversity you’ve experienced particularly if it influences your future academic goals.

Example of Texas A&M Engineering Supplement: Clean Energy

“The turbine converts the energy of flowing water into mechanical energy,” my dad explained, pointing to our newly finished water turbine model. For my fourth-grade science project, I wanted to demonstrate various clean energy processes. My dad and I spent hours developing model solar panels, a water turbine, and a wind turbine after excitingly researching how they worked. Since then, I have learned everything I could about energy. Both of my parents studied electrical engineering. Their support has been a strong influence in my interest to pursue engineering and research. They encourage me to push myself in math and science, and they’ve also taught me about the business aspects of the energy industry after they started an energy brokerage company. In high school, I became fascinated when I first heard about Elon Musk’s Tesla, and I’ve dedicated many hours researching not just how electric cars work. One day, I would like to become the CEO of an innovative company like Tesla. As CEO, I would open a division dedicated to developing an ideal battery for our electronics. Most modern electronics, including phones, laptops, and even electric cars, require lithium-ion batteries. They are the most efficient power source currently available, but I see opportunities for innovation. With many countries planning to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles, the electric car industry will flourish. However, since mining lithium is unsustainable and expensive, I would like to be a pioneering leader who develops the panacea of power sources for our electronics. Studying as an Aggie would provide me with the resources and opportunities to further investigate research, and produce revolutionary products in the world of energy.  As Elon Musk says, “The path to the CEO’s office is through engineering and design.”  My parents emphasize that academic excellence is for the greater good, which makes Texas A&M the optimal place to pursue my dreams. Because I am concerned about future sustainability, I would love to research under the distinguished Professor Mehrdad Ehsani regarding sustainable energy systems and electric vehicles. As an Aggie, I will not only be able to benefit from the surroundings of my home state, but I will also be able to push the limits of my knowledge. I look forward to joining a supportive scientific community and the welcoming environment of College Station.

Example of Texas A&M Engineering Supplement: Aerospace Engineering

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to view the world from the sky. Air travel and aircraft design invoke feelings of awe, progress, discovery, and adventure unlike anything else I’ve experienced. I remember my tour of the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington vividly. The impressive machines, enormous aircraft, and the brilliant minds bustling around created an infectious atmosphere. Ever since it’s been my purpose to explore as much as I can about aviation. I’ve taken rigorous courses at school, pursued independent studies, and became a certified pilot. I scored a 4 on AP Physics I, and I am registered for AP Physics II, AP Physics C, and Calculus BC. I especially love applying science to solving problems, which is why I’ve spent hundreds of hours studying for my pilot’s license, learning aerodynamics, and training in flight simulators. Aerospace engineering is the perfect balance for my interests in problem-solving, applied science, and aviation. Texas A&M Aerospace Engineering will help me further my aviation goals and provide me with the technical competencies for building an engineering career. During my on-campus visit in July, I learned about the different degree tracks and research opportunities. I want to join other Texas A&M students who compete in national aerospace competitions including Design/Build/Fly. It also impressed me how A&M alumni earn positions at prominent firms nationwide and how career resources help place current students in interesting internships. My favorite part was visiting Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence and Innovation. I also want to be part of research and industry teams who are pushing forward the next generation of aircraft. These academic and professional resources learning alongside enthusiastic classmates create an environment that will promote my growth and long-term advancement in the field of aerospace engineering.

Example of Texas A&M Engineering Supplement: Mathematics and Interdisciplinary Engineering

It wasn’t until sophomore year that I acknowledged math’s beauty and harmony. Like my classmates, I went through the motions in Algebra II and complained about quadratic equations, questioning how we would ever use it in the real world. Over time, I’ve opened my mind to the elegance of numbers: the rhythm of solving problems, the melody that forms when one concept flows seamlessly into the next, and the occasional unison of understanding myself with knowledge of the world. I love calculus because it brings order to our chaotic world. Underneath the surface and outside of our perceptual abilities are mathematical structures that reveal order and calm. Math allows us to understand fundamental aspects of chemistry, biology, and physics, and it offers a quantitative perspective on various subjects while also revealing an interconnectedness. Math creates a common bond and invites everyone to communicate and find meaning regardless of culture, language, age, or religion. Therefore, I find that engineering is the best way to pursue my passion for mathematics and contributing to the improvement of the world. Taking calculus helps me realize that there are solutions to unpredictable and seemingly unsolvable problems. Studying change is an essential part of calculus and computational engineering, and Texas A&M interdisciplinary engineering programs combine engineering, computer science, and applied mathematics to create a degree that equips students with statistical analysis and data processing skills. Computational science holds the power to create meaningful change and contribute to the betterment of humanity. Predicting climate change requires models and simulations that process large amounts of variables and data. By combining conservation efforts with calculus, computational engineers supply environmental scientists and policymakers with the data required to mitigate continued environmental degradation. Studying interdisciplinary engineering would allow me to tie my care for the environment to my love of math and problem solving while also giving me the abilities to use my passion for the greater good of humanity. It’s up to my generation to address pressing issues like climate change.

Example of Texas A&M Engineering Supplement: Biomedical Engineering

We were told by locals that our first Spokane winter was unusually harsh. Veterans of the snow season, I won’t forget our quizzical neighbors doubting that a kindergartener could unfreeze our elderly neighbor’s garage door. My parents and other grownups pushed, pulled, lifted, cajoled, and checked the power to the house. No budge.   Maybe it was because I lived lower to the ground, or perhaps children just think a little bit more outside the box than adults, but the story is something of a family favorite around the Thanksgiving table. They love to laugh about how I squatted, looked around, and shouted the obvious - it was frozen to the ground. Let’s throw some hot water on it.  I’ve always been in my element when tinkering projects. My Sophomore year, I upgraded my twin-size wooden childhood bed by first removing the bottom drawers. I rebuilt the base to house a light source that gave my room the illusion of a never-ending tunnel using two-way mirrors and light strips.   Recently in AP Physics, I went beyond the requirements for our “egg drop” experiment where we must support a falling egg using only plastic straws, glue, tape, and rubber bands.  My teacher was impressed when I created a suspension system and intricate crumple zones, looking more like a lunar landing for my egg than my classmate’s more simple and less effective methods. This past year, I visited several colleges. Attending Texas A&M’s Biomedical Engineering orientation and exploring Zachry Engineering Complex solidified College Station as my number one choice.  I loved examining the equipment. I couldn’t believe I got to see, in person, the types of machines that perform 3D-printing of STEM cells to create coronary stents.  I also appreciated Texas A&M’s new intimate and interactive high-tech learning spaces. I feel this approach will help me collaborate more with my classmates and not have solely large lecture classes. Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M aligns with my interests of studying how the human body functions, solving engineering problems, and creating life-saving devices.  

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