Tex Admissions

Thirteen New Apply Texas Essay A Tell Us Your Story Examples

High School Senior Year Government Leadership Day

High School Senior Year Government Leadership Day

Everyone has a story. What’s yours? I was elected Mayor for our senior year Government for a Day at City Hall. My friend Jay and I brought a piece of our demolished elementary school playground inside the Mayor’s hall to make a point.

UT-Austin requires first-time freshman applicants beginning with Spring/Fall 2021 to submit the following Apply Texas Essay A. It can be longer than the recommended 700 words as I cover in this post.

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

I provide helpful tips and general ways to approach this new prompt in this post. It may help to review real examples to get a better idea of the varied ways you can address this topic.

The thirteen examples below take many different approaches in sharing a story unique to them. Some relate to their first choice majors while others have no relation to college or their future goals. A few stretch over long periods of time and some focus on a specific experience or moment. They deal with themes of identity, culture, leadership, family, art, volunteering, animal welfare, recovering from injuries, moving cities, and founding an organization among others.

Interested in working together? Need help sharing your story? Complete my questionnaire for a free consultation.

Exploring Cultural Identity through Food

“Ammi, paneer is ready!” my mom hollered.  Paneer makhani /pa nir muh kuh nee/. Dictionary’s definition: Rich cheese blocks coated with buttery, creamy makhani with a hint of tomato and cashews.  Amrita’s definition: the best Indian dish, a reward from my mom each Saturday night; at first, my absolute favorite, and later, my nemesis. I loved food, especially paneer; so much so that my family called me a bhuka —one who devours food as if starved.  “Coming!” I replied. Eyes wide and mouth watering, I sat at the table. With the restraint of a toddler gripping cake, I started devouring my mom’s sublime paneer makhani. Since I couldn’t eat them, I didn’t initially notice papers folded in my mom’s hand. “Wuf er dose?” I mumbled through cheesy mouthfuls.  My mom hesitated, “They’re your glucose and blood test results. Ammi…”  I raised my eyebrows, mouth open cheese half-chewed, waiting for a reply.  “They said you have borderline diabetes and hypothyroid. There’s a diet that they want you to try so that you don’t have these for the rest of your life. No cheese, ghee…” my mom trailed off.  Panic set in. I stopped listening. I sat paralyzed. The list of forbidden, unhealthy foods consisted of Indian food ingredients. And now, I had to fix my diet? FIX MY DIET? ALL I EAT IS INDIAN FOOD!  I felt fine! But what was I to do, ditch my favorites? Who goes on a diet at fourteen? I couldn’t look at rajma and butter chicken without feeling bitterness and guilt. Before, paneer symbolized comfort and love; now, it teased me with reminders of my evidently poor health. I took it personally; there must be something wrong with me.  Our family meals connected me, a young girl immersed in American culture, to my heritage. Rejecting Indian food felt like shedding my brown skin. By extension, distanced from my favorite foods, I criticized Indian culture and overcorrected my embrace of American culture.  I bought all six Taylor Swift albums. I begged for Mac n Cheese and avoided paneer—the dish that became my enemy, unaware of the irony of consuming an equally fatty food. I wore jeans and a shirt to Diwali parties and complained that Indian clothes were “too itchy.” I had become a true ABCD—American Born Confused Desi.  Though American born, I’ve visited India 18 times. I’m all-too-familiar with the low-pitched “tuk-tuk” of Mumbai’s three-wheeled taxis and my extended family’s temperamental, sputtering air conditioners. Stray dogs meander in the middle of the streets, ambivalent to their potential semi-truck destruction. I perk up when the mango man chants “ apane aam le aao ”—“get your mangoes”—every morning. Mumbai is my second home, as part of me as Taylor Swift and macaroni. My visit to India two years ago brought clarity to my identity crisis. I was traveling from my grandmother’s to my cousin’s house with our family’s driver, Mohan Chacha, as it’s common for Indian families to hire drivers to navigate the hectic roads. He asks me, “Kya ham yahaan dopahar ke bhojan ke lie jaldee se ruk sakate hain?” He wanted to stop quickly for lunch. “Haan theek hai,” I responded, signaling that was fine. He stopped for a hamburger at the most traditional of Indian restaurants: McDonald’s. I’ve seen Mohan Chacha for my entire life, but I never took the time to really look at him. He’s older, wiry, and likely poverty-stricken. We were polar opposites, yet we each ate hamburgers.  When I saw Mohan Chacha eating McDonald’s, I realized my culture wasn’t the culprit of my poor health. He was of the same heritage eating the same foods—without diabetes or hypothyroid. I deflected blame for my health problems onto my ethnicity, alienating me from my background when the real issue was my own insecurity. I wasted time and energy misdirecting fights against my heritage while my health issues persisted. From that moment, I promised myself that I would take care of my body: eating fruits, vegetables, no processed food, and working out an hour each day.  I’m happy that my lifestyle changes leave me feeling more whole. Now, my dietary restrictions aren’t punishment, but an exercise in discipline and moderation. I’m not too hardcore, though. I allow myself paneer once in a while, and sometimes I go a few days without working out.  Lack of acceptance is like a hungry pit in your stomach; acceptance is like rich paneer. And I choose paneer. 

I love this example because they incorporate a storytelling mode throughout while shifting from an anecdote at home about not being able to eat their favorite traditional food to a connection they make during a visit to India. Originally, this essay had been two separate essays that we put together. Their process is an excellent example of how drafting a few different stories that might seem unrelated at first can integrate into later versions.

Discussing their identity and cross-cultural identity through the symbol of food elevates this essay from strong to outstanding. Instead of merely telling their reviewer about their inner conflicts, they illustrate through specific examples. Sticking with one symbol - food - rather than trying to do too much and spreading word resources too thin allows them to fully develop their ideas and bring an internal structure to their Essay A.

Content-wise, the themes they share are directly relevant to the prompt by sharing experiences in high school and opportunities to visit India each year. They supply a thoughtful discussion about their self-image and habits, something we all struggle with and that her reviewer will almost certainly relate with. They resolve their conflicts later on by engaging with how they’ve reformed their diet and wellness habits by using specific examples.

Arguably the strongest area in their essay is the style. It’s witty and relateable without trying too hard. Having spoken on video with this applicant, their personality translates almost perfectly in their written word. They’re not afraid to showcase their charm and write how they want rather than trying to fit into some rigid style that doesn’t match who they are. Sometimes, creative students with unorthodox ideas feel constrained by college admissions topics. They’re merely an invitation to write. If you have a charming and clever side, let it shine.

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Non-Conformity and Band Leadership

I laid gazing at the brilliant rural night sky enveloping my great grandmother’s house in Roby, Texas. I had just finished my long division worksheet from Friday. I probably should have kept quiet and enjoyed the tranquility, yet my dad patiently whispered answers to my questions. “If aliens existed, would they want us to find them?” He thought before answering, “It’s almost certain that they are out there, so probably not.” Our family had long retired to bed. I pointed upwards. “Why is the milky way cloudy?” Together, we wondered about life beyond Earth. We stayed out for one last shooting star (agreeing that they're merely falling space rocks on fire). My dad is an encyclopedia of obscure knowledge. Especially in my elementary years, he never passed up an opportunity to explain a computer or mathematical concept. I’m a little bit of a loner and a contrarian, so my dad and I relate. He’s math and science-oriented and worked as a computer programmer before becoming disillusioned with creating programs and algorithms that made stockbrokers and day traders rich. We spend hours discussing science, religion, and the human psyche. We compare perspectives about the origins of life and existence. Our conversations help keep me grounded when I’m struggling in school or questioning why I remain in band. I continued playing tuba after middle school because I sort of liked playing. Band is McNeil’s tightest knit community, so I figured a built-in group would force me to socialize and find my place among 2700+ students. I auditioned freshman year and made bottom band. We weren’t expected to audition for region, so opportunities for improvement slipped away. What few friends I had freshman year auditioned, made region band, received close instruction, and refined their musicianship. It embarrassed me to be left behind, so I made it a point to improve and practice every day. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I was better than a bottom band tuba player. December freshman year, I called my mom. “They noticed!” My band directors had decided to move me up to Wind Symphony for my second semester in high school. Pulled into the orbits of competent musicians, I learned and practiced my audition music, improving rapidly. I loved playing in my free time. I made top band, advanced to Area, and was soon recognized as the first chair tuba at McNiel. Junior year, I earned 1st in the region, number one in area, and eventually 15th in Texas. Receiving these accolades meant a lot to me, but not as much as the voice music gave me to express my ability to invest in something I enjoy. I feel loyal to music for it’s gifts of expression and community, so I struggled with my decision to leave marching band. I prefer concert band because it focuses more on performing beautiful pieces and less about how we look. Competitive marching band is all about how well the directors can teach a set of dots and power chords that were cut and pasted from last year’s winning show by expensive consultants. Section leader felt more like section servant. Rather than leading individuals, my role was confined to streamlining a superficial process. I found ways to subvert a system I viewed as corrupt and lacking purpose and focused on reaching out to motivated freshmen interested in improving their skills. Denied region auditions during my first year, I helped a few of them fine-tune their pieces despite the chaos of marching season. I’ve since determined it isn’t worth the struggle, so even though I’m one of our band’s top players, I decided playing tuba in the marching band for senior year isn’t in my best interest. I convinced the directors to give me a nominal role in marching band so I could still participate, have my band period, and focus on what I love - playing concert music. I’m grateful that we found a compromise. Adam Grant’s book, Originals, suggests that non-conformists and creatives disrupt systems and produce innovation and meaningful change. I’ll never apologize for asking questions or going against the grain. I’ve grown a lot in the ten years since that starry night at my great grandmother’s house. My dad introduced me to math and science and continues to inspire wonder. I only recently realized his response about aliens certainly being “out there” references Fermi’s Paradox. What I admire most is his walking away from lucrative programming roles and sticking to his principles. Sharing contrarian views and standing by my convictions keeps me true to myself.

I also really like this essay example as a different approach to storytelling. While our first example moves rapidly and features heavy dialog throughout with a few twists and turns, this Essay A communicates directly with the reader. There is a predictable order of events, so there is little chance that the reader could get lost or confused.

Analytically-minded and logical students can absolutely craft interesting essays worth reading. Not every essay needs to be witty and charming. Just as it isn’t optimal to fit your ideas into narrow expectations of what you think admissions reviewers want to read, it’s important to not try and be something you’re not.

Their introduction and conclusion are effective because they supply a common theme and line of reasoning that runs throughout the essay. Sometimes, students write killer, attention-getting introductions, and don’t fully develop it throughout their essay. They often write conclusions that sputter and linger when it’s often preferable to give a nod to the introduction in your conclusion.

Effective conclusions also add new information rather than simply restating or repeating what’s already been shared. Two places they did that are citing Adam Grant’s Originals and learning that their childhood question wondering if aliens are “out there” have perplexed scientists for decades, summed up in the Fermi Paradox.

They’ve also weaved a discussion and interest in science with their experiences in band, so they’re covering a few different dimensions to their identity without underdeveloping any particular area. I think “balanced” when I read essays like this. Moreover, their resume read many band accomplishments including all-state, but Essay A supplies a lot more context and details to provide nuance to their journey. It isn’t all about success and accolades. Inquiring about their school’s band structure and questioning their role in the organization provides a rare nuance and maturity that suggests to reviewers that the applicant is a critical thinker and one willing to go against the tide. Plan II honors must have appreciated this essay in particular.

Visiting Vietnamese Extended Family

The heat bombarded us as soon as we stepped off the plane. Crossing the tarmac, I couldn’t believe the intensity of radiating heat waves, unmatched even by Houston’s summers. We cleared immigration and exited the airport. The sun felt on top of us. I coughed from farmers burning their fields following harvest. Even the humidity felt foreign. In Vietnamese, my mother began asking for help. Although it’s a familiar language that I’ve heard countless times back home, somehow even here it sounded unfamiliar. My father is Italian American, and my mother is Vietnamese. We celebrate the Lunar New Year, Tet. We attend family gatherings for observing anniversaries of our ancestors who have passed away. I followed traditions from habit yet felt relatively disconnected from my Vietnamese identity until visiting Hanoi the summer following eighth grade, my first-time leaving America. It also was my mother’s first trip to her homeland since escaping by boat in 1979. I looked at the journey as a fun experience, but when the plane landed, I realized this trip would hold tremendous influence in my life. Communist propaganda posters and densely concentrated housing blocks contrasted with life in Houston. Buildings seem haphazardly piled on top of one another with hundreds of precarious electrical wires crisscrossing rooftops and intersections. It surprised me how life there seemed completely different. People sat on stools on every street corner, drinking, eating, and talking. Stray dogs ruled the streets at night. Crowds thronged to cramped and noisy outdoor markets. Despite initial, jarring, unfamiliar experiences, I started connecting Vietnam to my upbringing. I picked up Vietnamese phrases in the street that I hear at home. The food even tasted the same, just a bit better. With a local family, we cooked and ate my favorite dish, banh xeo, a Vietnamese savory crepe packed with shrimp, pork, and beansprouts. Importantly, and maybe surprisingly, the people were warm and welcoming, especially towards Americans. I couldn’t believe the country experienced catastrophic wars just a few decades ago. Their faces lit up when we shared that we’re American. They loved asking about what we thought about their country, culture, and food. For my mother, visiting Vietnam seemed bitter-sweet. She described how it felt great to see her home and remember her childhood. It also troubled her to see the remnants of the war that disrupted her life. My mother is usually reserved, but during the trip, she shared how she has recurring nightmares. By the end of the trip, I became curious in my mother’s story, and this otherwise neglected aspect of my identity. We made a return trip last year to volunteer in a rural community in central Vietnam. We served the Raglai, an indigenous minority marginalized because of their different language, lack of education, and lingering discrimination. My family and I traveled with the Catalyst Foundation to provide access to education and help prevent human trafficking. Life in the countryside contrasts substantially with Hanoi. Small Vietnamese women carried their body weight in rice sacks on their backs. Teenage girls acted as mothers towards their little sisters. Once the surprises and novelty wore off, I started looking for similarities rather than differences. The boys and I loved running around and playing basketball. Mothers yelled at their children to come inside or do their homework. The kids spent hours playing on the slides and swings. It surprised me how much we have in common. Just days after my time in Vietnam, I returned to school and went out with friends. I felt more aware of our superficial differences, but my time in Vietnam makes me appreciate more what we have in common. My classmates and friends are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and come from almost every corner of our planet. Some of my basketball teammates have only one parent at home and struggle to cover the AAU team fees. I’ve been surprised so many times that I’ve learned to not be overconfident in my assumptions about anyone based on their culture, family situation, or religion. We are much more than labels. My trips to Vietnam provided me with opportunities to explore the unknown as well as a part of myself. If I could relate with a seventy-year-old grandmother living in rural Vietnam, it seems foolish to write a classmate off because they’re from the “bad part of town.” Exposure to foreign places makes me appreciate where I come from and not fear others because of where they come from. I acknowledge that people and cultures have differences, which makes me the open-minded and curious person that I am today.

Thematically, this essay is similar in some ways to the initial example, but there are a few key differences. They are mixed-race, and their mother fled Vietnam during the war, so there was a loss of continuity and connection with their culture and extended family. Many applicants with roots in China or India, for example, regularly visit their family homeland. There are a wide variety of immigrant stories, however, and this applicant’s choice to share theirs provides a vehicle to discuss their personal development, sense of self, and lays a foundation for their short answers and BHP essay.

Spending the first half of their essay establishing and developing the setting - what they’re seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, observing, smelling - makes for an interesting read that maintains the reader’s attention. Establishing the setting provides context to the various actions and scenes in their narrative like eating with a local family and volunteering on a return trip.

Since their mother is the reason they’re visiting Vietnam, it’s effective to share a few sentences about her experience. Doing so provides nuance, maturity, and empathy to make the essay and their journey not exclusively about themselves. Many adults can relate to reframing and shifting their relationship with their parents as they get older or situations in life change.

Establishing the setting early on also allows the student to make similarities and comparisons later. Many essays fall flat because they don’t adequately illustrate what they’re seeing and feeling, so it reads like “I visited this other culture, I changed some beliefs, and now I see life differently” with little context or detail. The order of operations in this essay is similar, but their use of detail elevates their essay from strong to outstanding and offers credibility to the applicant that they really are seeing things in Houston a bit differently on their return home.

Art and Mental Health

“I love you mom.” I handed over my Crayon stick-figure family drawing like a proud, preening peacock. Dad stood tallest in my blended family portrait. I pointed here and there and jabbered to my parents who, I have to imagine, had better things to do than listen to my kindergarten, artistic nonsense for an hour.  Crayons and Crayola Markers may not be the cleanest or most efficient tools, but I miss my turkey handprints and the fairy tales doodled on my hand during math class daydreams. Often, I came home from school with wrists and forearms dotted with hot pinks and laced with electric blues. My parents always told me I had something special, but what parent doesn’t think their child is the most special in the world? Once in second-grade art class, I refused to follow directions. I glued my construction paper leaves falling off the tree rather than remaining on the branches like everyone else. My teacher smiled when I turned in my project. Bending the rules had earned my piece’s place the Principal’s selection, displayed with my name in big letters underneath. Growing older shifted my artistic style from sidewalk chalk and fantasy to a brooding, looming mist. My best friend Becca and I were a package deal. Losing her to a cross-country move shattered me like a porcelain vase tumbling to concrete. I felt like the chaotic greens and reds of an incoming squall line on the local news weather radar. After some time, the storm and my shock passed. Left in its wake were toppled trees and discarded roofs of my heart. Junior year was my hardest, and navigating it alone without my partner in crime overwhelmed me. Classes that once came easily and were fun because of her only reminded me of my loss. I didn’t know how to make new friends. My grades and mental health had begun to decline, and I had no interest in therapy. I still hadn’t accepted that she’d gone, but painting helped. It was my emotional outlet. My canvas is my safe place to explore my depression without judgment. I don’t want to answer a million questions about what I’m feeling and why. I want to be left alone with my color palette and canvas, so I painted. I painted a lot. My first pieces featured muted blues and smooth strokes that symbolized the pain and sadness of losing someone close to you. As my emotions evolved, so did my visual expressions. I experimented with abstract expressionism to communicate my convictions and values. My most significant work was a self-portrait. I framed my face with a blue and teal base, a nod to my previous works and a somber undertone without detracting from the emotional center: anger. I’m wearing dark clothes covered head-to-toe, signifying my refusal to be vulnerable or ask for help. I’m holding an extinguished match, a symbol of my social and academic burnout. What catches most reader’s eye upon initial inspection is a number 1 over my left eye. The “1” is the only clear aspect amongst the wild, angry strokes. Without Becca, I felt alone in my depression. My self-portrait is haunting, and it’s my pride. I dedicated around 30 foreground layers over many months, offering contrast that distinguishes it from other components. I deployed watered down paint, palette knife scratches, spatter paint techniques, and paint brushes to create a chaotic, but visually pleasing piece. I made the difficult choice to compete in the Texas VASE competition. My painting is extremely private, but I recognized that showcasing my self-portrait as an opportunity to “come out” about my feelings and struggles. I made VASE State sophomore year with a less expressive piece, so I feared the extensive interview with art professionals. On competition day, I entered, trembling, painting in hand. I felt intimidated yet undeterred. I stood firm, looked her in her eyes, and spoke directly about my recent depression. To my surprise, she remarked my piece was beautiful and encapsulated everything she was looking for. Rattling off my composition choices and inspirations made me slowly realize that maybe my darkest emotions produced something brilliant. Days passed until my art teacher emailed me. My jaw dropped; I qualified for state in the highest division. Emboldened, I wasn’t afraid to share my journey and encourage other students to express their emotions through art. I eventually received all-state honors, so I used my platform to demonstrate that it's okay to embrace and share your darkest sides. My piece now hangs prominently at school as a reminder to my classmates and teachers that we can transform dark, painful experiences into beautiful and inspiring works of art.

 Originally, this applicant was going to write about something totally different. On our phone call, they shared “sure, my first draft is okay, but what I really want to write about is…” and out came this story about their best friend moving and using art as a method for introspection, self-expression, and advocacy. It went through many drafts and was initially twice as long as the final copy.

They did an excellent job of supplying as much content as possible early on so we could figure out how to fit the pieces together in the most optimal way. Their drafting process is also a perfect example of writing what’s important to them rather than being overly concerned with what they think admissions reviewers want to read. There is also an unconventional and non-conformity streak that we also saw in the second Essay A example about band.

The most challenging part of their essay was illustrating their state-winning self-portrait knowing that the reviewer won’t ever see the painting (unless they clicked on an image link in the resume). Their approach is a variation on the old Apply Texas Essay D required of Fine Arts applicants to discuss an art piece or object and how it shapes their view of the world. Developing not just the image itself but the design process suggests to the reviewer that they’re willing to put in the work to convert their ideas into creative output.

They’re unafraid to share their emotional oscillations as they confront each step in their journey: their friend moving, early attempts at their final work, having to discuss their piece in an initially intimidating-seeming interview, and finally showcasing their piece in a highly visible place at school. Despite ranking outside of the top 10%, this applicant eventually gained admission to Plan II certainly due in part to their authentic and sincere Essay A.

Kitten Rescue and Fostering

It was 3 a.m. I knew that we needed to start the protocol. I held the tiny kitten’s limp body as he struggled to breathe. I rolled him into a small towel, and every three minutes, I dripped sugar water into his mouth. I refused to give up on Otis. I believed that, as long as I held him, there was a chance he would keep breathing. It wasn’t the first time I needed to follow the Fading Kitten Syndrome Protocol, but it never gets easier. Tears rolled down my face. Otis writhed and spread the sugar-water paste in my hands. Eventually, he stopped moving. I couldn’t help but feel I had given up and that this was my fault. His mom, Chickpea, looked at me. I desperately wished I could comfort her. I left Otis with Chickpea and searched our garage for a box. When I walked into Austin Pets Alive (APA) the next morning, the clinic technician recognized the “dreaded box.” She comforted and reassured me. Kittens are fragile creatures. She shared that even the most experienced fosters sometimes lose little ones and reminded me that I had a nursing mom at home with healthy babies who still needed care. Years earlier, my mom brought home four, hours-old rescue kittens. I couldn’t believe something living could be so tiny and helpless. Of course, I begged to keep them all, but orphaned neonatal kittens require exhausting medical care. For example, I’ve since learned that they cannot pass their waste and need belly rubbing to help them go. It's a messy, delicate, and time-consuming process. With our four kittens, we drove from shelter to shelter until one referred us to APA. I didn’t know there were kitten foster programs, so I pleaded with my mom to let us foster adolescents. I promised to help, and so began my APA journey. Throughout high school, I assumed complete responsibility for our fosters. I mixed ground cat food with hot water to make a fine gruel. I fed kittens through syringes every 4-6 hours. I weighed them twice daily and plotted their weight gain. I tried my hardest to save the sickest ones. My favorite cats are pregnant ones. Frankie, an expecting mother, loved to sleep in my room—a rare privilege. She was so sweet and followed me everywhere. Birthing is an incredibly joyous and anxious process. It’s wonderful to witness little blind babies squirming toward their exhausted mom. It amazes me every time how the moms clean them tirelessly despite spending hours in labor. Letting the kittens go is an entirely different experience. Some friends ask if it’s sad to send them away. It’s actually the opposite. APA screens prospective adopting families who we also interview. Matching kittens with caring owners and “forever homes” is one of the most rewarding parts of the process. There were, of course, a few kittens that were hard to say goodbye to, but there are always more foster animals in need of a temporary home. However, after nine years of resisting the urge to keep adorable kittens, we experienced our first “foster fail,” and I now have my own little black cat named Louis. I also started volunteering onsite at the APA shelter as soon as I was old enough, and I naively thought volunteering would involve playing with cute animals all day. Cleaning cages and emptying litter boxes was a less-fun reality. But it’s the important, behind-the-scenes work that makes shelters function. Since my freshman year, I’ve contributed over 1,700 hours fostering and volunteering. For three years in a row, I was honored to receive the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award and recognition for having the most volunteer hours at my high school. I’ve learned that APA is almost single-handedly responsible for making Austin a No-Kill city (a city that saves 90% or more of animals brought into shelters). I intend to continue volunteering with APA as a UT student to help keep it that way. I have also learned that the well-being of all living creatures contributes to biodiversity and humanity. I don’t eat meat, I make efforts to consume responsibly to lessen habitat loss from factory farming, I try to minimize my carbon footprint, and I constantly advocate for others to adopt these habits. The biggest impact has been from staring into those animals’ faces at APA: it inspires me to offer a voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves.

This applicant touches on pretty much all of the emotional heartstrings. They open with a harrowing story attempting to rescue a kitten life. Chickpea’s personality comes through, and the reader empathizes with the grieving mother. They switch gears a few times sharing heartwarming and cute stories about Frankie and Louis while discussing broader themes related to animal welfare and no-kill shelters.

I’ve never had a kitten or fostered cats, so early on, I encouraged her to share anecdotes and specific examples of cats that have passed through their house and a few who have stayed for longer. Naming each cat enriches the story and also limits the potential for the reader to lose track of which cat is who. If, for example, you share about multiple friends or teammates in an essay, it helps organize your ideas if you name which friends you’re talking about even if they’re pseudonyms. Compiling a list of experiences and stories prior to making a formal first draft helped us see how the pieces might fit together. Starting with the story you want to tell makes weaving in related themes later on a little bit easier.

They’re applying for Sustainability Studies, so their Essay A relates directly to their major. They also utilize this opportunity to discuss their extensive volunteering experiences and other lifestyle changes they’ve made from having a broader awareness of individual behaviors that influence society. It sets up their Major and Leadership short answers where they continue elaborating on their activism and advocacy efforts. Maybe most importantly, the applicant had a lot of fun navigating the writing process because they were writing on a topic close to their hearts and directly relevant to their daily lives.

Multiple Setbacks/Injuries

I went down hard, tumbling across the court. I skinned my knees and elbow as the basketball flew out of my hands towards the other fifth graders. The Sun Devils were our fiercest competitors. Facing them in the first round of the playoffs was tough enough. Tripping over another player and face-planting in front of everyone made our day even more difficult. I heard shouting from the bleachers and looked up. “Get up, you’re okay, keep going!” With my parents’ encouragement, I peeled myself off the court and kept playing. Growing up, I loved to play basketball; I dreamed of making my high school team. I worked hard enough to join and eventually start for an AAU team. I also started for my middle school team, leading each in three-point shooting and scoring. At the end of eighth grade, however, I started experiencing severe knee pain. A specialist diagnosed me with osteochondritis dissecans. Repetitive knee trauma from playing basketball created blood flow loss in the joints and caused dead spots on my bones.  For six months, I lived with debilitating knee inflammation because fluid surrounded my joints. I couldn’t walk up a single flight of stairs without pain. Fearing re-injury or surgery, my parents decided that my basketball days were over. I would never realize my dream of playing in high school. My recovery took over a year until I could finally play a little bit of pickup basketball with friends. Unfortunately, I've been no stranger to pain or life-changing conditions. By age five, I received a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, ethmoidectomy, and yet another surgery when a life-threatening mastoid sinus infection compressed my brain stem. When I was seven, I was diagnosed with slight scoliosis, which wasn’t an issue until the beginning of ninth grade. My spine specialist informed us that my spine’s curve had worsened. I had to wear a back brace that spanned from just below my waist to near the top of my chest for fourteen hours a day, every day. Breathing, and especially eating, felt unimaginably uncomfortable, like a giant squeezing me in a bear hug yet never letting go. My spine stopped curving by the end of my junior year, and thankfully, I avoided surgery, barely. I live with visible scars around my ribs from the brace’s rubbing. During my junior year, a surgeon removed a large aggressive cyst in my jaw that required bone grafting. This cancer scare severely affected my parents. I often watched them whispering to each other, faces painted with worry. I appreciated that they kept me focused on school or my volunteer work so that I didn’t internalize their fear.  My parents give me courage. They come from low-income families and continuously strive to create a better life for us. They are self-employed and work long hours, evenings, and weekends to support us. I witnessed my mom overcome an injury of her own. For over two months, she grimaced while strapping on a knee brace to stabilize her torn ACL so that she could work. I realize now how much they influence my recoveries. I follow their “never give in, never give up” attitude.  I may have a few scars, but they don’t define me. They serve as reminders that life often takes unexpected turns. How we handle them shapes our true selves. I didn’t let my limitations prevent me from finding new ways to be active and give back to my community.  When my basketball career ended, I returned to the court as a volunteer wheelchair basketball referee. Since my back brace prevented me from my usual volunteer work loading food trucks at our local food bank, I started the first-ever virtual food drive for my FBLA school club. We collected $4,200 in donations for the local food bank. While researching poets for my English class this year, I learned about the poet Khalil Gibran.   He wrote, “out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” I wear my scars with pride. 

The introduction of this student’s first draft read, “I went down hard, tumbling across the hardwood floor, the basketball flying out of my hands, skinning both of my knees and one elbow in the process.  “Get up, you’re okay, keep going” I could hear my parents shouting from the bleachers.  No matter what I’ve done, my parents have always been there to push me through the struggles and the pain.  I would take a few more spills and collect a few scars along the way, but they were always there for me.”

Compared with the final introduction, the reviewer has a much clearer idea of the setting that also grabs their attention. The intro had been underdeveloped, and there was so much potential here to expand both the original anecdote and other questions left unanswered that, although the core themes and experiences remained similar throughout each round of revisions, they developed their ideas and illustrated details substantially by the final version. Describing a scrape sets up their much more serious and varied ailments and injuries later on.

Some students are self-conscious to discuss accidents, disabilities, impairments, or hardship. It’s an understandable concern, that they don’t want to be perceived as “whiny” or playing up an otherwise minor injury too dramatically. In reality, though, admissions reviewers want to reward students and not penalize them.

In instances of genuine hardship, I encourage students to share their experiences with their admissions reviewers. It puts your transcript and resume into a much different light compared with the more typical applications from able-bodied and consistently healthy students. Confronting adversity and overcoming obstacles makes your commitments and accomplishments all the more impressive, especially if you can demonstrate with specific examples how you’ve made the most of your troubles, like when the student pivots to being a ref in a wheelchair basketball league after having to retire from competitive play.

Much of our revision work was to supply as many details as possible. A good essay might say “we raised money for charity” and a better one elaborates “we raised $4,200 for our local food bank.” Making dozens of small substitutions and supplying minor details adds up over time to a more sophisticated and nuanced essay. With each sentence, ask yourself: are there any details I can provide? It’s preferable to provide as much information as possible and trim/cut stuff later than to leave ideas, anecdotes, and themes underdeveloped.

Dubai and Chicago

It’s midnight in Dubai. I sat opposite the Burj Khalifa with tears streaming down my face. My family and I had just moved a few days before. My senior year at my new school started soon. I’m thousands of miles away from my community barbershop in Chicago, a modern-looking studio in which familiar faces smile and laugh and hip-hop beats blast from bass-boosted speakers. I’ve got a curly top faded on the sides; my hair needs that subtle touch. I needed a haircut, and I don’t trust just anyone to trim around my ears and clip my curls just right. After a long night at the mall, I took a gamble and walked into the barbershop. I tried not to look in the mirror as he chopped here, shaved there. Unless inside a nice restaurant or mall, there’s sand everywhere in Dubai. I foot-doodled the dust, but gusts of wind kept blowing it away. The barber waved the mirror waving in front of my face. It wasn’t a Chicago fade but not half bad, either. I sat a little dazed, unaware that my barber was digging around in a small wooden drawer. He approached me with a long string. I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes, expecting him to remove the apron, blow away trimmings, clean up my neck, and send me on my way. Staccato zipping sounds ripped apart my thoughts and, it turned out, my eyebrows. My eyes flare open. A sharp pain registered from my sinuses. I realized that the barber had started threading my eyebrows, unannounced and with vigor. I understood only later that eyebrow threadings are the norm in the kind of barbershop I entered. I went with it. I figured when in Dubai, do as the Arabs. I settled into the pain and discomfort and embraced the change. Part of me wanted it to happen, maybe because I also realized there was no turning back. The barber ripping my tiny hairs reminded me of my abrupt uprooting from Chicago to Dubai. My family relocated as quickly as the barber’s decision to thread me. I’m moving cities and threading my eyebrows, whether I like it or not — nothing to do but go with the flow. I find excitement in the uncertainty. Confronting challenges comes with new experiences that expand my worldview and sense of self beyond Chicago and the US. In a sense, eyebrow threading was a kind of character building. Can I remain stoic and look tough when my eyes want to well up? If nothing else, I’ve got a story for my barber brothers back home. It wasn’t my first time in Dubai. We spent my seventh grade here and the next four years in Chicago. I remember a lot from that year and even adopted a few customs: I ate on the floor, with my right hand and no silverware. I’m half North African, so in a way, I enjoyed connecting with my father’s Tunisian side, where men have finely sculpted eye hedges. I didn’t always live in the same part of Chicago, either. I loved living in the suburbs: block parties, neighborhood holiday barbeques, and even a community golf tournament. We then moved to the inner city, real Chicago, where my neighbors didn’t talk to each other. To visit my old friends, I needed to take two trains and a bus. Over time, we lost touch. Urban life felt cramped, but it wasn’t all bad. It’s where I got my first fade. I’m still assimilating my suburban, urban, and ex-pat lives with my Arab-American upbringing. My broccoli-style fade and loose thrift-store clothes reflect my inner-city barbershop. I feel most at home with my friends in the suburbs, but I have no issues laying roots and making friends here in Dubai. I’ve got something of a swagger that my Dubai friends call “American ego.” I take it as a compliment; I’m not afraid to speak my mind. Nobody would mistake me for an American after getting my eyebrows done. I realized that there will always be something new and exciting in my environment, no matter how stagnant it might seem. As a citizen of the world, I can belong anywhere, adapting to any changes in my life. On my walk home from the barber, I sniffled my tears in and gazed across the beautiful Dubai skyline. Blood and sweat were mixing and dripping off my chin onto my white tee; I felt hopeful and excited for the new experiences of the year to come.

Many students change schools, cities, and sometimes countries. This applicant has a lot going on. They moved to different neighborhoods and schools within Chicago and also spent their senior year in Dubai. They’re also part Arab, so they navigate these varied geographic and identity intersections through entertaining anecdotes and attention-grabbing details.

Like with the first essay in this post, their personality and character shine through this time with hair and haircuts as the symbol for cultural assimilation and identity exploration. It’s also a metaphor for risk-taking and going with the flow. With never meeting the student, an admissions reviewer will be left with a favorable impression. Admissions people read dozens and sometimes over a hundred essays each day. Applicants should avoid being forgettable.

One hypothetical exercise I sometimes assign to parents is: if your son/daughter’s essay was put into a pile with ten of their classmates with their information disguised, could you select your students among the pile with confidence? The average college admissions essay often reads like a Wikipedia entry devoid of personality with little story development or idea arch. I’m fairly certain if either parent read this essay among ten of their Dubai classmates, they’d know by the second paragraph it belongs to their son.

This essay is intrinsically interesting because they’ve lived a varied life in different environments. Living in many places isn’t a requirement for writing interesting essays that stand out, however, and with each example I supply here, every student has at least one story or moment that is unique and worth sharing. It’s also okay to write a little more informally if rigid grammar and a stuffy style doesn’t suit you.

Sibling Rivalry

My brother, Brock, was sitting on the floor playing with his Gameboy. I should have seen what was coming next as I ran past. He saw his chance and, being his sneaky self, he took it. My left foot hit the ground and found his outstretched legs. I flew into a cabinet and split my head open. He looked over at me and, instead of asking if I was okay, he said what any brother would, “Please don’t tell Mom!” I spent the rest of the day with my mom in the doctor’s office holding a cold soda can and a dishrag over my head while he went to the zoo with his friend. From the moment I was born, my very presence aggravated Brock. My mom tells stories of making dinner with me next to her playing and minding my business in the ExerSaucer when Brock, who’d been contently playing in another room, would stealthily appear. He timed his bops on my head the very second my mom turned away from me. I swear I’m being objective here, but 95% of the time, Brock instigated our fights. We’d be playing nicely when out of nowhere, he would clench his jaws, grab whatever was in my hand, and wallop me for good measure. His antagonism continued until he was in eighth grade and me in sixth. Almost overnight, it seemed that his attitude changed. I cannot pinpoint exactly why our dynamic shifted. Maybe growing faster than him and starting to beat him at video games tipped the scales. I was taller and weighed more. Maybe he just started maturing. Whatever the case, him not picking on me gave me more space to grow and develop my identity and interests. Starting in middle school, we became really close, and he started actually wanting to hang out with me. My first year of high school, I wasn’t very outgoing. I felt out of sorts in a new environment attending a school much larger than the small one I’d attended for ten years. I spent most of my weekends at home alone, maybe seeing a friend every few weeks. It wasn’t until my brother started encouraging me to go out more and socialize that I realized how much more enjoyable life is when you can share experiences with others. Time heals all wounds, even forehead scars. Nowadays, my brother, a current Longhorn, feels like my closest friend and mentor. I look up to and try to emulate him and his friends, for better or worse as my parent say. My brother has probably taught me more about myself and the world than anyone else. He’s confident almost to a fault. Self-assurance seems to come easily for him, which is a gift in one way, but working through my insecurities and developing self-esteem helps me not take any relationships or opportunities for granted. I remember my lonely days. I’ve realized recently that, if I want to do great things, having faith in myself will instill confidence in others. I struggled at first to put myself out there, but I listened to his advice and began by inviting people over and planning gatherings and activities. Now, I’m quite social, and I’m proud to have friends from a variety of social circles at school. I’ve also made friends through lifeguarding job and mutual friends at other schools. One reason I want to study business is to network with thought leaders and continue taking myself out of my comfort zone. I admit that I’m still not as adventurous or outgoing as I would hope, but thanks to my brother, I see the world in a different light. College will help me expand my horizons. I have spent more of my life beside my brother than I have anyone else. For that, I’m infinitely thankful. In times of joy or my darkest hours, there is nothing else that can brighten my days like a call or a visit to Austin. No one else has put me through more hell nor given me as much guidance as my big brother Brock.

I like this essay because it provides a straightforward discussion of their relationship with their older brother. Siblings, especially if they’re close in age, often leave lasting marks on our beliefs, character, and interests. Certainly, any admissions reviewer who has an older sibling can probably relate to their stories, including me with an older brother six years my senior.

Originally, the essay opened with a generalization about his older brother making life difficult. I suggested: why not illustrate a specific experience that illustrates this broader sibling rivalry theme? Out came the tripping and head injury story along with more backstory about his brother’s seeming nuisance. Their story is also believable in that their relationship matured and strengthened over time from one of annoyance to mentorship. Side note, I worked with the older brother two years prior, so it was entertaining for me to read this essay and hear the younger brother’s thoughts.

They back up their points about their brother’s support with specific examples of how they’ve moved out of their comfort zone or study business in the future. They also balance well a discussion of their brother with how it’s helped their personal development and sense of self. Particularly with essays about grandparents and parents, the applicant spends way too much time discussing their influence and too little about the applicant’s interests and identities. Universities are admitting you, the student, and not your favorite aunt.

Hurricane Harvey Cleanup and Open Source Technology

I looked around and couldn’t believe my eyes. Molded clothes rested on frayed couches. Abandoned toys sat next to damaged compressors. Damp letters seeped through mailbox doors. It surprised me how quickly appliances rust. Two weeks after Hurricane Harvey departed, homeowners still milled about in shocked disbelief. We drove past the lives of so many families, contained in trash bags at the end of their driveways, waiting to be picked up and dumped in a landfill. When Harvey hit two years ago, we were fortunately spared. I still shudder at tornado warnings and fear the next big one, but my best friend Davis’s life would never be the same. He lost his house, not in the initial deluge, but when the army corps of engineers released a levy by his neighborhood that was overflowing with storm surge. His family didn’t have flood insurance, but I was thankful that FEMA eventually awarded them about $40,000 to help rebuild. Davis and I played club and high school lacrosse together since we were ten, and our parents are close friends. During the two weeks it took for all the water to recede, the police blocked entry to his subdivision to prevent looting and theft. As soon as possible, our lacrosse teammates and I mobilized and went to his house. Harvey poured problems on hundreds of thousands of families. Our efforts were hardly a drop in the bucket compared to the overall catastrophe, but an accumulation of individual effort eventually filled buckets for Davis and his family. We removed everything from the first floor: drywall, insulation, flooring, appliances, furniture, and memorabilia. It took our team of thirty over ten hours to finish the demolition and sort the debris into piles on the front lawn for eventual removal. We were all a little nervous about talking to Davis because we thought that we’d struggle to find words that would provide emotional support. In reality, sincerity and support came naturally. It’s surreal how we talked about new plays for the upcoming season while shattering tile and ripping out drywall. We took turns straining ourselves to smash the water-soaked floor tiles, making sure no-one got too exhausted. Our parents found it just as natural to support Justin’s. What can you do besides make small talk about Houston sports and the heat and humidity? For most of my life, sports began and ended with proving I was the best, winning championships, or earning a college scholarship. I competed in Division 1 showcases before breaking my wrist twice, limiting my future athletic opportunities. After Harvey, I realized that teamwork and camaraderie go beyond the field, and our relationships mean more than state rankings. Although it felt great to be there with my team helping Davis, I couldn’t help but think of the other 30,000 displaced peoples, many of whom lacked flood insurance. Our 300-man hours merely demolished a home they still needed to rebuild. Witnessing nature’s power made me feel smaller and weaker than I ever had before, but it’s clear I wasn’t alone in feeling that way. Harvey inspired a team of computer scientists to found Organization, Whereabouts, and Logistics (OWL) to aid with natural disasters. They won IBM’s inaugural Call for Code challenge. OWL offers a hardware/software solution that provides first responders with a simple interface for managing natural disasters. Their system could have provided better information to the Army Corps of Engineers to better inform whether flooding Davis’s neighborhood was necessary. Even as the next lacrosse season started and Davis, along with our other displaced friends, returned home after almost a year of rebuilding and renovating, I didn’t forget about project OWL. It’s open-source, meaning anyone can visit with and modify the code. I started to try and contribute to the project but felt too intimidated to do much because I didn’t understand most of the code, let alone have the competence to improve it. Throughout junior year, I focused on personal projects to improve my skills. I finally developed the confidence to contact the project OWL founders. It turns out one of them lives a few minutes drive away. We connected, and he gave me complete access to the source code and hardware challenges. I’ve been both working on the user-interface part of the software and creating new enclosures for the hardware. Wherever my college journey or career takes me, using technology to help society will remain at my forefront.

Hurricane Harvey essays have been understandably very common since the disaster a few years ago. Usually, a good rule of thumb is to dedicate an essay to Harvey only if your family was directly affected like losing your home or a parent’s job. This essay, however, is less about the direct effects of Harvey on the applicant and more as a critical junction in the applicant’s life. The reader gets the impression that having a close friend and lacrosse teammate losing their house is almost the same as if it were their own.

Dedicating the first half of their essay to sharing their experiences of he and their teammates helping their friend’s family illustrates some of their character traits and their outlook on the world. One way to discuss an event is to describe your expectations prior and how they may have changed or evolved after the event passes. For example, they share how the experience is a lot less straightforward than they expected. “We were all a little nervous about talking to Davis because we thought that we’d struggle to find words that would provide emotional support.”

I think if they spent the entire essay discussing Davis and the cleanup effort, it would fall into the trap of focusing too much on someone else when admissions reviewers are admitting the applicant, not their friend. Developing the first half of their essay with the undercurrent of service helps establish the framework for the second half where they identify an opportunity to contribute to an open-source project. This signals to their reviewer that the applicant is considering wider disaster management and relief efforts beyond demolishing a house. Nobody presumably told the student they needed to reach out to a local startup. Demonstrating initiative like this is one way to convey to reviewers that you’re someone who goes beyond expectations and seeks out opportunities that interest you.

Helping the Family Business

My mom has an online gift store business called Zip’s Bazaar, that has approximately fifty brands, encompassing hundreds of different products. During my freshman and sophomore years, I grew increasingly interested in how she interacts with customers, procures products, and manages balance sheets. Once, I identified an efficiency issue with her inventory management. She manually tracked inventory levels, a tedious process that impeded her ability to maximize product delivery and customer satisfaction. I considered different solutions, but nothing seemed obvious until my school counselor recommended a specialized online research and product development course sponsored by our school district. As an inventory and sourcing analyst for Zip’s Bazaar, I’m responsible for evaluating potential product lines and brands to sell. I also reconcile the quantity and pricing of incoming goods from suppliers. The specialized course would teach me organizational skills and how to rectify inventory issues and improve the efficiency of our family business. I enrolled just in time because my mom’s business was continuing to expand out of the garage and living room. I even amusingly worried that inventory might find its way into my bedroom. I mused, “Mom will inevitably expand her sprawling, overflowing inventory from the garage to my bedroom – certainly, a hostile takeover.” At the course orientation, they instructed us to work with a mentor to build a product with real-world implications in preparation of the school district-wide Spring Exposition. I connected with a local professional programmer. After researching the automated alternatives to managing a diversifying inventory, I learned that the Radio Frequency (RF) scanner implementation in warehouses was too expensive and intensive. I realized that I had a year to fill the void in maximizing the efficiencies of businesses like my mom’s. Although I struggled with designing an affordable and functional product, I thought about how saving my mom time would allow her to spend more time with us. Even better, I developed my product in secret. My mom knew that I was enrolled in a business research class, but she was unaware that she would be my inspiration for the product development stage. After a few months, I conceived the Smart Container idea. It could effortlessly track the quantity of an assigned inventory item rather than manual inputs. It consisted of a concealed circuitry system that stored and recorded pieces of a single time, providing easy accessibility to each product line. Product weight is critical to my mom’s business; so, I utilized the Arduino microcontroller kit instead of Raspberry Pi, which lacked the required accuracy of a built-in weight tracking functionality. Arduino is an electronics platform for digital projects that would automate my mom’s manual inventory processing. I formulated a mathematical approach that displays the number of items in the container at any moment by dividing the total weight of items in the container by the weight of a single known item. Simple arithmetic ensured a structured method of maintaining accurate and acceptable inventory levels. I solved the software problem, but the hardware proved more concerning. I scrambled for a load cell, which converts applied pressure into an electrical signal. I also found an HX711 amplifier module that intensifies the signal for output as physical weight. I finally completed the invention and subsequent product testing a mere week before the unveiling at the Project Exposition in April. At the spring showcase concluding the course, my father, course mentor, and I planned the surprise for my mom. I stood in front of the audience while mom sat in the front row. She was utterly oblivious as she encouraged me to uncover my inventory tracking product. When I finally revealed my creation at the product demonstration, she inspected the functionality and design. “How thoughtful!” she exclaimed. I grinned sheepishly, slightly embarrassed by the glowing mom-praise. An established business professional in the audience advised me to file a patent and pitch it to nearby emerging companies. The real test is whether mom would use it. She loves the Smart Container because it saves her tedious Excel inputs and automates her re-ordering invoices from suppliers. I am proud of my technical achievement, but ensuring that my mom and I can spend more quality time together before her only child leaves for college fills me with satisfaction. It turns out that my mom is indeed planning a hostile takeover of my bedroom when I move away next year.

This essay is an excellent example of how you can dedicate an entire essay to identifying issues and proposing solutions similar to Common App number 3 “Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve.” One great thing about Apply Texas Essay A is you can discuss and share nearly anything, and almost any Essay A has the potential to fit Common Application essays or the U California Insight Questions. If you’re applying to nationwide universities in addition to UT, it can be a good idea to start with Apply Texas. Such a broad topic allows you to easily repurpose it for other universities whereas some Common App essay topics may not fit as nicely with Essay A.

Some of the essays exhibited in this post change timeframes or shift the chronology where something in the middle of the essay happens before something introduced in the beginning. This is a great example of how you can effectively share your story in a linear way: A thing happened, B event occurred next, and C presented obstacles. The reviewer knows exactly where the student is, and there isn’t any confusion about what is happening when. It can be very effective if executed well to move between different times, but sometimes, students err by shifting too quickly between examples and not adequately signaling to their reviewer the timeline of their experiences.

They’re also applying to the Business Honors Program, so they understand how honors reviewers will look for signs of business savvy and creative problem-solving. Their chosen content and story match their future goals and lays the foundation for their other essays. I especially like the two paragraphs beginning with “Product weight is critical to my mom’s business….” and ending at “….I finally completed the invention and subsequent product testing….” because they detail exactly what issues they confronted and how they trial and errored their way to two workable solutions. It’s also a neat conclusion that their mom actually used the Smart Container and it wasn’t just a “proof of concept” tucked away and forgotten in the garage somewhere.

Rural Private School, Serving Abroad, NASA

I hiked up the steep dirt road to a one-room church. I shouldered a black box containing a Cajon, my box-like percussion instrument. Sweating under the load, we reached the hill’s crest. I entered the church first while the rest of my team followed. Stucco walls and nearly two dozen cheerful Hondurans greeted us. None of the locals spoke English, and our classroom Spanish had limited use, so my friend brought out his guitar. A guitar they recognized as an instrument; it wasn’t obvious that my wooden box was meant for playing and not sitting. Cajons are popular in Cuba and Peru. You sit on top and drum on the front with your hands, so it’s perfect for jamming and traveling because you can beat different sounds without lugging an entire drum kit. We played a few songs. Afterward, our translator told me that the pastor wanted to learn how to play. I agreed! We spent the afternoon providing beats for worship music familiar in the United States and Honduras sung in both English and Spanish. Common tunes and the language of music brought us together despite some communication barriers. I live in a small town where everybody knows everybody. We help our neighbors out. My parents teach me important lessons about connecting with people and serving others. I remember joining them for the annual Thanksgiving meal provided by the local food pantries. We served awesome turkey dinners. My parents also anonymously assist some of my classmates to help pay their private school tuition. Their influence shapes my views on service and humility, whether it’s mission work abroad or helping in my hometown. Regardless of where I go to college, I will always feel a responsibility to my community. When I was eight, I played in a neighborhood flag football league. During one game, I accidentally head-butted another kid. I came out unscathed, but he walked away with a giant goose egg on his forehead. I apologized, and he introduced himself as Sean. He’s one of my closest childhood friends, and he even comes on family vacations. His mom Kathy Rose raised him without a father. I didn’t know until later that Kathy was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer right before our football field collision. Kathy held the hearts of so many in our community with her compassion and cheerful attitude. Her life and death, in 2018, have irrevocably changed me for the better. My school has less than thirty students per grade. We only have one AP and few dual credit courses, but we emphasize service. For the past few years, we’ve sent student teams to help build a children’s home in Costa Rica. I joined for freshman and sophomore year. Although it’s a lot of tiring manual labor, my favorite part is playing with the children. We played soccer with the kids and had cut-throat duck-duck-goose competitions. I became an expert in the game Ninja thanks to a seven-year-old boy who often cheated. It’s easier to participate in many more things than if I attended a large public school. I try to make the most of small-town life and take advantage of the available opportunities. I play varsity baseball, basketball, and golf. I’ve played the drums for my church’s youth band for three years now. I served as class President and Chaplain, and I’ve volunteered for hundreds of hours. Extracurriculars give me the chance to make friends across the Hill Country and across the state who are some of my closest. Even though I attend a small school, I received a competitive and prestigious internship at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Nine other students and I designed a manned-drilling vehicle for a future Mars mission. I quickly connected with my team as I had something in common with everyone. All of us were great at math, but success required diverse ideas. We contributed our thoughts about the vehicle’s look, performance, and functions. My primary responsibility was staying within our multi-million-dollar simulated budget. We all had a dream and creative ideas, but keeping our vehicle grounded on Earth before sending it to Mars was my unpopular job. We combined our strengths to overcome individual weaknesses. We completed our project on time and under budget. Regardless of what I study or do professionally, I will remain true to my ethics of compromise and making connections like with my Cajon in Honduras or NASA budget-slashing.

Similar to the second essay regarding band and non-conformity, this applicant does an excellent job illustrating an attention-grabbing introduction that provides a foundation throughout the body paragraphs and ties their various themes together nicely in the concluding sentences. Their conclusion also provides new information all the way until the final sentence. So often conclusions are just restatements of the obvious and multiple sentence fluff that surrenders the opportunity to communicate meaningful information to your reviewer. In more essays than not, when I reviewed for UT, I skipped the conclusion entirely if it began with some generalization about the things you’ve already told me. Every single paragraph and sentence needs to contribute to the argument of why you deserve a space at the university.

They’re also a fairly unique applicant. Their high school sends very few students to UT-Austin and has less than 40 students in each class, which they elaborate more in their Leadership short answer. It’s pretty uncommon for a student from rural Texas attending a Christian school with few or no APs to score very high on the SAT. They’re a textbook example of a diverse student UT wants to enroll even though they’re white and from a well-off and educated family. Diversity means so much more than skin color and socioeconomics.

I’m not usually a big fan of service-oriented essays. They can come off as privileged and lacking in nuance, especially if it’s a short mission trip or project in a developing country. They avoid some of these pitfalls by not embellishing their work. It’s enough to have a cool experience playing a unique instrument with people from different languages and cultures. As the Hurricane Harvey example a few essays before, this response is less about service and more about their mission trip experiences as a vehicle for a broader discussion of their biography and interests. If you’re going to write about service, maybe save it for a short answer or not dedicate your entire Essay A to it.

It’s also impressive that they pursued a rigorous NASA internship despite coming from a community where presumably their teachers and classmates are much less familiar or connected with elite opportunities than students living in wealthy suburbs. Their rural context puts their internship into a brighter light because they had to really work to apply and subsequently explore their goals. Sharing their experiences and observations sets up well their argument that they deserve a space in their first-choice major, Mechanical Engineering.

Pick up your copy of my comprehensive UT-Austin admissions guide Your Ticket to the Forty Acres today!

Ne8!!, Kxe8 a8=Q# My knight sacrifice to e8 to block the opposing king’s path set up the decisive move. I moved my pawn from the seventh to the final row, promoting it to a queen and securing the checkmate. This wasn’t just any victory; my team was confronting a must-win situation at the last stage of the regional tournament. I was paired against the opposing team’s strongest player. He had beaten me in our last two encounters. Team chess requires an accumulation of points across many matches, so I planned to play defensively and hold him to a draw. Opening play progressed uneventfully. Fifteen moves in, he played an unusual pawn move blockading my center. He leaned back confidently. Like our earlier encounters, he offered me a tempting yet puzzling trap, but this time rather than tilting emotionally and reacting impulsively, I kept my focus and stayed true to the process. Pushed to the corner, I dug deep and clawed back into the game. The next hour felt like forever. My lowly pawn marched steadily up the far left-hand a-column. I stared at a potential draw before deploying a novel sequence of moves. The crowd murmured. My counterintuitive knight sacrifice “Ne8!!” captured the victory and the pivotal match in our team championship. Our win meant that we represent Kuwait at the prestigious Chess Nationals of Indian Schools in New Delhi. It felt especially meaningful when a much younger player called me her hero. My journey with chess began unexpectedly. I was waiting in the lobby of the Kuwait Chess Federation for my dad to finish his chess game. The towering teenagers in the crowded lobby bantered incomprehensibly. The coach, a chess Grandmaster, came by and trooped all the kids to their chess class. Before I knew it, he roped me in, too. Noting that I was the smallest kid in the group and the only girl, he sat me in the corner of his class, handed me a thick Russian puzzle book, and told me to solve puzzles for the next hour. I protested, but nobody listened. With nothing better to do, I dived in as I recalled the basics my father had taught me in passing. I found the puzzles fun. Reviewing my work, the coach raised an eyebrow, “I like the way you think. Attend chess classes, and I will assess you within the next six months.” Playing with stronger students was humbling yet incredibly liberating. As a novice free from expectations, my continued practice expanded the boundaries for what I thought possible. Learning each opening sequence or a clever middle-game bishop positioning presented a myriad of new possibilities. It’s like reading great non-fiction and realizing that I must explore five more related but previously unfamiliar works. I began thinking differently about winning and losing. Disciplined play resulting in a close loss to a highly-rated opponent is sometimes preferable to a flashy one-off win. As I absorb stratagems from my opponents, I also touch the incredible diversity and the underlying humanity behind their distinct backgrounds. Like learning a second language, chess forces me to dissect my reasoning process. I’ve gotten more attentive to recognizing patterns in school and my daily life. My chess style requires delayed gratification and the gritting through prolonged endgames or grueling swim practices. I also don’t hesitate to play dramatically. My favorite piece is the knight because it provides boundless innovation opportunities. Knight play strategies help me counter my opponents’ sometimes timely knight maneuvers, not unlike responding with patience and persistence to life’s occasional curveballs. Chess makes me a better person and a more thoughtful student away from the board. As I look back at my chess adventure, I see myself as a patiently advancing yet persistent pawn that will metamorphose into a powerful queen when I continue my studies in the United States.

Leading with a chess notation signals straightaway to their reviewer that something is different about their response even if the reader doesn’t know what chess notation is. I like this example because the applicant “leads with the action.” Often, essays have these forgettably vague and generalized introductions about the importance of family or problem solving or overcoming adversity. Like conclusions, students frequently do themselves few favors by opening their essays with flat introductions that don’t grab the reader’s attention.

Even chess, which to some readers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when recalling what grabs their interest, can be communicated in ways that are dramatic, interesting, and compelling to non-chess players. Instead of spending a ton of time establishing the preceding plays and final moves, they get straight to the point that the opening notation signals victory over their opponent, so even if the reviewer has no idea what’s going on, anyone can understand the feelings that accompany a hard-fought victory.

Circling back to the middle game and how they arrived at the conclusion is a more effective timeline because this game offers an example of how the applicant perceives themselves as a younger female player relative to older the older boys at competitions. Unlike some essays that take a linear chronology where each event follows predictably from the one before, sharing their most memorable match estblishes the context to revisit how they began the sport. If they began their essay with how they started playing chess, it’s less likely to maintain their reader’s attention. Athlete’s memoirs, like Andre Agassi’s Open, rarely start with their first time hitting a tennis ball. Rather, they often lead with the most pivotal moment in their career whether it’s a victory or injury.

Finally, I appreciate how the applicant shares their views on competition. They see the bigger picture beyond winning and losing. It complements their resume by showcasing how they’re more than their accomplishments. Chess strategy and some of the pieces also serve as a metaphor for their personality and values. Even if the student has no interest in playing chess at the college level, focusing on a specific activity and developing it fully helps communicate to your reviewers who you are and what you consider important.  

MATHCOUNTS and Number Ninjas Summer Camps

Everybody knows that the Apollo missions launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Fewer people know where the rocket boosters originated. A visitor can’t spend more than a few days in Huntsville, Alabama, without reminders that Wernher von Braun settled there in the 50s and led the development team for the Saturn V moon rockets. He laid the foundations for America’s first Space Camp, opened in 1982 in Huntsville, not Houston or Florida. Rocket City had everything I needed. We lived in the same house for eight years. I excelled in math and had a close-knit group of friends. I participated and medaled in several regional and state-level competitions year after year. As I entered middle school, I had my eyes set on national competitions. To prepare, I attended the summer math camp, Eat Pie. Promising elementary and middle school students learned competitive math competitions like MATHCOUNTS and the US Mathematical Olympiad. I began as a student before quickly receiving promotion to intern. I eventually became an Eat Pie instructor, one of my most exciting experiences. Just before 8th grade, my parents announced our move from Alabama to Austin. I loved my life and constantly argued against moving. What seemed at first like a strike-out turned into a grand slam. Instead of fretting, I saw our move as an opportunity. I brought my experiences from Eat Pie and wanted to found my own version of the math camp, Number Ninjas, in Austin. I floated the idea to my friend, Rushil, and convinced my 8th-grade math teacher, Ms. Jones, to be our adult sponsor. Together, our team hosted our first camp in the summer of 2016 with one level and ten students. In our fourth summer, we expanded to three distinct levels - pre-introduction, introduction, and intermediate - and 45 students. Our growth attracted the attention of Eat Pie, who officially sponsored with curriculum support and mentorship. Concerned about the continuation of the camp after we graduate, we created an internship program to train new teachers who can expand the camp and ensure its legacy. This past year, we had ten interns. We’ve confronted challenges along the way. Hosting a summer camp requires preparing in the early spring while studying for AP exams and fulfilling our extracurricular responsibilities. Our first decisions involve identifying the site, date, and instructors. For the first two years, we hosted Number Ninjas in the Middle School facility. Our growth, however, caused logistical issues at school, so we found a local church that allowed us to host for a fee. Growth also meant rising costs, so we transitioned from a free volunteering event to a small business. Expenses meant we needed a minimum number of students. We leveraged our association with our school’s MATHCOUNTS chapter and other academic competitions like the North South Foundation to promote our camp. We invited elementary school teachers to visit our camp and elicit buy-in. Our primary goal was teaching children challenging math problems, but summer camps also need to be fun. Math can be especially dry to learners with short attention spans. We introduced some ice breaker activities like “Would you Rather?” to begin camp. We developed a scavenger hunt and used the outdoor labyrinth. We added student’s names in the problems to make them more appealing. One of our biggest challenges involved our wide range of students. For example, when we teach Algebra, we always have some students who don’t recognize the coordinate plane while others plot parabolas. Some pick up new concepts almost automatically and finish the worksheets before we end the lecture. Others need hands-on attention to grasp the concepts. For the hares, we’ve conceived challenging questions that relate to the curriculum yet introduce unfamiliar concepts. For the tortoises that want to get things right, I attempt different approaches and provide one-on-one attention. I workshop on the whiteboards, geometry nets, and online visualizations to see whether they’re auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. Tortoises eventually get it, and they encourage me to have patience and think quickly on my feet. They’ve become some of our best students. We want to generate excitement for math, so it’s essential that all of our students feel that they belong and have valuable contributions to share. Now that we have multiple levels, it’s great that we have excited students returning for the next year for higher-level classes. Founding Number Ninjas and working through logistical and teaching challenges taught me lessons about organization, collaboration, communication, instruction, and budgeting. I’m not yet sending rockets to the moon like Wernher von Braun, but introducing students to advanced mathematics and competitions may inspire the next Mars-mission rocket scientist.

Like the essay about helping with the family business, this applicant takes a linear approach to sharing their story. It’s cool how they provide some backstory about Huntsville and it’s origins in the US Space Program. I didn’t know about its influence on the space race, and it’s highly likely their admissions reader also associate space with Houston and, to a lesser extent, Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Without dwelling too much on the city’s history, they move promptly to a brief discussion of their early interests in math beginning in elementary school. It also demonstrates a deep level of commitment to their interests and how they’ve developed their math abilities through extracurricular competitions. It’s obvious that the student as a sincere interest in higher math concepts and also sharing their knowledge with others.

Walking through the steps of how they developed their school’s MATHCOUNTS chapter before founding their own summer camp provides sufficient context to their progression. Their essay also complements their resume well. Many students work for tutoring companies and some might tutor privately. There are very few who established a summer program or camp early on and expanded their operations. Dedicating most of their essay to their varied teaching and mentorship commitments also provides an excellent opportunity to discuss bumps and challenges they encountered along the way. Their response is an effective blend of demonstrating their fit for studying business, showcasing their interests, and illustrating their leadership potential.

Losing Your Best Friend

I shook off my anxiety, reassuring myself, “I can do this.” I strode through my morning practice run. I felt the pressure of competing in my first meet after earning a spot on the Varsity cross country at age fourteen. Coach Steve approached our team, interrupted roll call, and snapped me out of my worry. August 29th, 2016, was a Monday.  Coach pulled me aside. He knew that Thomas and I were best friends since childhood. I don’t remember what he said, only that I felt punched in the gut, unable to breathe, as his head seems to bob in slow motion. Instantly, I knew my life wouldn’t be the same. Once I calmed down, I understood that Thomas collapsed near the track. The trainer attempted CPR before an ambulance rushed him to the hospital. I felt numb, in disbelief, unable to process. I continued to first period as usual.  Later that morning, the school counselor pulled me out of class. Gossip had already started. She didn’t want me to hear the news from the hallways, but it was true that Thomas’s condition was severe.  My mom had already been at the hospital with Thomas and his family when she rushed to get me from school. She remained expressionless on the drive home, but her pink, swollen eyes told me everything wasn’t okay. I was quiet. In our living room, my parents broke the news - Thomas was on life support. Doctors released him free from the tubes and monitors early the next morning.   His sudden passing left us with so many unanswered questions. All that I knew was my best friend was gone. The next few days became very real; I couldn’t function.  His bedroom window faces my house. His lights left off after dark reminded me daily he wasn’t returning.  How could this happen to him, to me? I felt a tremendous void filled almost immediately by loneliness and devastation.  Each day was harder than the next. School and class wouldn’t wait for me to process my feelings and grief. I missed my entire second week of school. Other days that year, I couldn’t get out of bed. I felt a complete loss of control over my life. I started worrying about not living up to my potential. I felt I was letting my coaches, teammates, and teachers down.  I try not to be too hard on myself about my freshman year grades. I’ve since improved significantly. I also realize that life can be too short to worry about grades. I completed the 12 week Daring Way course that covers topics popular in Brené Brown’s boo ks like vulnerability, shame, empathy, and resilience.  My mom and I have practiced yoga together, and these help me process my trauma and channel my energies in constructive ways. I’m thankful for my encouraging teammates and close friends and family. Thomas’s mom visits a lot, and she never fails to make me laugh, reminiscing about his humor.  She also shared what happened. He lived with undiagnosed Sickle Cell Disease, causing him to have a Sickle Cell Crisis. His condition led me to take courses in health and anatomy. During my sophomore and junior years, my health, medical terminology, pre-AP pre-calculus, and AP Physics teachers reached out to my parents and me. They write notes and commending me on my natural ability, work ethic, and joy in their classes. My teachers were the “just right” push I needed to boost my self-confidence and determination.   I channeled my loss into purposeful activities. My hobbies involve creating, building, tinkering, and serving others. I’m starting to explore ways I can honor Thomas’s legacy. Last summer, I completed a paid internship with the orthodontist Dr. Akash. He invited me to work with him this summer as a full-time employee.  He trusts me with equipment, sterilization, managing molds/models, and making oral retainers for his patients. I’m also being trained to perform oral x-rays and manage them digitally for viewing. Seeing patients complete their treatments and leave with confident smiles reminds me of Thomas’s sense of humor. It is fulfilling to know that I have a part in these types of positive changes. I miss Thomas every day. I want to work with engineering and medical teams to design the next generation of equipment and procedures that will address preventable adolescent deaths like my best friend’s. 

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essay a examples apply texas

A Great ApplyTexas Essay Example

essay a examples apply texas

ApplyTexas allows its users to apply to hundreds of Texan colleges on one platform. While each school has its own essay requirements, most students should be prepared to answer either Topic A, B, or C. This article focuses on Topic A.

In this post, we’ll share an essay a real student submitted for Topic A. We will also cover what the essay did well and where it could be improved to give you ideas for your ApplyTexas essay. You’ll also have the opportunity to download another sample essay.

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

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

ApplyTexas Topic A Essay Example

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? 

Soft melodies float in the air, feathery sounds of consonance and dissonance create a bed of melodies that I fall asleep on each night. I was born into a family of musicians. I’m the daughter of two pianists who moved across the world to continue their studies, built a home to house two grand pianos, and taught their children to write their life stories on black and white keys. My version of a bedtime story was The Swan by Saint-Saëns; I can sleep through a concerto to this day.

When I turned four years old, my parents dedicated a portion of my day to sitting and practicing at our piano bench. As my relationship with music evolved from reading into interpreting, my hours with the piano turned into adventures, times to transform a monochrome score into a piece of art with color and dimension. Throughout most of my life, the best part of my day was spent creating music.

Enter high school, I found myself taking more classes, joining more extracurricular activities to feed my resume, and spending more time studying subjects that never quite sparked my interest.

As a result, my hours spent with the piano were replaced with hours spent at my bedroom desk. I became increasingly frustrated when my parents would remind me daily to practice the piano and envious of my older brother whose piano accomplishments made my parents so proud. By sophomore year, it would need to be a good day for me to practice the piano for even an hour.

My performances became defined by cold hands and memory slips, and I found it difficult to keep up with others in competitions. I began to resent the instrument I once considered to be my first love because I believed I had digressed from the hardworking pianist my parents have always wanted me to be, to a girl who let her talents go to waste. For months, I felt empty and distant from even myself; I no longer had the means to express my emotions and relate to the people I love the most.

Two nights before my brother left for college, he asked me the question I had been avoiding: “Are you ever going to practice the piano again?” After watching my uneasiness and embarrassment of not having an answer, he shrugged and explained simply: “I don’t practice the piano to win anything. I practice because I enjoy the process. I thought you did too.”

When my brother moved to Austin, my home became quiet. I no longer studied to his late-night practice sessions or fell asleep to his classical music study playlists. Our pianos were left untouched for longer periods of time and scores of music begged to be read. This absence of music made my heart grow fonder of the piano. I realized that I longed for the process of learning. It wasn’t the awards or successful performances that I craved; I wanted to again embark on the journey of telling an infinite amount of stories with just eighty-eight keys.

As I began spending more time expressing myself through the piano, I felt the joy of being heard and the vulnerability of being understood. I learned that music, much like academics, is about the individual journey. In our overly competitive society, I forgot to simply enjoy the moment in front of me. My journey with music over the past years has taught me that the travel is often more important than the destination, that I should cherish the imperfections inherent to learning and be content with my capabilities.

What the Essay Did Well

This student’s writing brings a level of musicality to her essay that nicely echoes the piano motif. From the beginning, she introduces their topic with descriptive language and a metaphor, incorporating imagery that immediately creates an immersive quality and grabs the reader’s attention. The student then shows, rather than tells, how music has been a formative part of her life by saying her “ version of a bedtime story was The Swan, ” and her “ hours with the piano turned into adventures. ” Using this word choice rather than saying “ I am very passionate about music ” shows admissions officers what your life is like.

As the prompt asks for your story, this essay follows the flow of a traditional story. After establishing a sense of serenity in the exposition, she incites conflict in the form of a busy schedule that drew her away from the piano. Although this isn’t the most unique conflict—as every high schooler is busy juggling a dozen different activities—the student gives the reader enough context to see the impact on her life. She describes the experience of playing as “ cold hands and memory slips “, a feeling that she “ let her talents go to waste “, and effect it had on her relationship with others including letting down her parents and fueling sibling jealousy.

This student’s vulnerability about how she lost her passion and had a tense relationship with her family members allows the reader to appreciate just how integral piano is to her story; without it she became a shell of the person she once was. Being vulnerable with the reader is the key to building the pathos needed to make your story resonate. If we can feel for this student at her lowest, we will celebrate her when she triumphs.

The author concludes this essay by mentioning her family again and making an extended metaphor about the world being a piano. By reiterating her family’s influence, she effectively connects back to the beginning of the essay and thus improves the overall flow of the essay. Furthermore, her metaphorical ending demonstrates her writing prowess and allows the essay to end on a more general, future-facing note.

What Could Be Improved

One area that could be strengthened is the turning point of the story where the student learns to love the piano again. She overly emphasizes her brother’s role by making this climactic point revolve around the advice he gave. It is important to emphasize how you were able to overcome your challenges; while it is okay to get help, you should remain the focus of the passage.

The student mentions her self-reflection after her conversation with her brother and how she worked towards reframing the way she thought about piano. In the end, it is her brother’s absence that causes this student to start playing again.  While this thought process is informative, the essay could be stronger if she detailed tangible steps she personally took to relearn the piano.

For example, if she fell in love with a piece she heard in a movie and made it her mission to nail those notes, or if she taught a younger cousin how to play and in doing so, rediscovered her love of making music, this could be an even more compelling read. Thus, it is important to pick a topic in which you were an active part of the resolution. Detailing tangible actions will show colleges your approach to conflict-resolution more than a passive recounting of your thought process. 

Where to Get Your ApplyTexas  Essays Edited

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

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

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essay a examples apply texas


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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write perfect applytexas essays.

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College Essays


The ApplyTexas college application contains many essay prompts, and each of the most popular colleges in Texas has different requirements for which essays they expect applicants to answer.

So how do you get advice on writing your best ApplyTexas essays, no matter which school you're applying to? Look no further than this article, which completely unpacks all possible ApplyTexas essay prompts. We'll explain what each prompt is looking for and what admissions officers are hoping to learn about you. In addition, we'll give you our top strategies for ensuring that your essay meets all these expectations, and help you come up with your best essay topics.

To help you navigate this long guide, here is an overview of what we'll be talking about:

What Are the ApplyTexas Essays?

Comparing applytexas essay prompts a, b, and c, dissecting applytexas essay topic a, dissecting applytexas essay topic b, dissecting applytexas essay topic c, dissecting applytexas essay topic d, dissecting the ut and texas a&m short answer prompts.

The ApplyTexas application is basically the Texas version of the Common Application , which many US colleges use. It's a unified college application process that's accepted by all Texas public universities and many private ones. (Note that some schools that accept ApplyTexas also accept the Common App.)

The ApplyTexas website is a good source for figuring out whether your target college accepts the ApplyTexas application. That said, the best way to confirm exactly what your school expects is to go to its admissions website.

Why Do Colleges Want You to Write Essays?

Admissions officers are trying to put together classes full of interesting, vibrant students who have different backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and dreams. One tool colleges use to identify a diverse set of perspectives is the college essay .

These essays are a chance for you to show admissions officers those sides of yourself that aren’t reflected in the rest of your application. This is where you describe where you've come from, what you believe in, what you value, and what has shaped you.

This is also where you make yourself sound mature and insightful—two key qualities that colleges are looking for in applicants . These are important because colleges want to find young people who will ultimately thrive when faced with the independence of college life.


Filling a freshman class is like dealing with those Every-Flavor jelly beans from Harry Potter : admissions just wants to make sure to avoid the ones that taste like earwax.

ApplyTexas Essay Requirements

There are four essay prompts on the ApplyTexas application for freshman admission (Topics A, B, C, and D). For topics A, B, and C there are slight variations on the prompt for transfer students, or those looking to be readmitted. We’ll cover each variation just below the main topic breakdown. There are also several short answer prompts for UT Austin and Texas A&M, as well as T opic D for art and architecture majors and Topic E for transfer students only. While there are no strict word limits, colleges usually suggest keeping the essays somewhere between one and one and a half pages long.

All Texas colleges and universities have different application requirements, including which essay or essays they want. Some schools require essays, some list them as optional, and others use a combination of required and optional essays. Several schools use the essays to determine scholarship awards, honors program eligibility, or admission to specific majors.

Here are some essay submission requirement examples from a range of Texas schools:

Texas A&M

Southern Methodist University

Texas Christian University


Dazzled by her options, she was overcome with hopeful optimism. And cuteness.

essay a examples apply texas

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

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Craft Your Perfect College Essay

There are three ApplyTexas essay topics that try to get to the heart of what makes you the person you are in three different ways. But since Topics A, B, and C all focus on things that are essential to you as a person, it can be difficult to come up with a totally unique idea for each—especially since on a first read-through, these prompts can sound really similar.

Before I dissect all of the ApplyTexas essay prompts, let’s see how A, B, and C differ from one another. You can then keep these differences in mind as you try to think of topics to write about.

ApplyTexas Prompts

Here are the most recent prompts for Topics A, B, and C on the ApplyTexas application.

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

Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself.

You've got a ticket in your hand—where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

How to Tell Topics A, B, and C Apart

One helpful way to keep these topics separate in your mind is to create a big-picture category for each one: Topic A is outside, Topic B is inside, and Topic C is the future .

In other words, Topic A is asking about the impact of challenges or opportunities on you, and how you handled that impact. On the other hand, Topic B is asking about your inner passions and how these define you. Finally, Topic C wants to know where you're going from here. These very broad categories will help as you brainstorm ideas and life experiences you can use for your essay .

Although many of the stories you think of can be shaped to fit each of these prompts, think about what the experience most reveals about you. If it’s about how your external community shaped you, that'd probably be a good fit for Topic A. If it’s a story about your passions, save it for Topic B. If it’s primarily about an event that you think predicts your future, it'll likely work well for Topic C.

(Note: if you are a transfer student writing the essay variation for topics A, B, or C keep in mind that these variations still ask you about the outside, inside, or future respectively.)


That time a spilled crate of stuffed frogs made you want to learn everything there is to know about French cooking? Probably Topic C.

Now, we'll do a thorough deconstruction of everything you need to know about Topic A, the first ApplyTexas essay prompt.

What’s the Prompt Asking and How Should You Answer It?

This prompt wants to see how your external environment as a high school student has shaped you. You can tell from the fact that the prompt uses the phrase "your story" that it wants to know what you believe has had the biggest impact on you.

Step 1: Describe Your Environment

The first part of the prompt is about identifying and describing specific experiences you've had as a high school student. You don't want your essay coming across too vague, so make sure you're focusing on one or two specific experiences. The prompt suggests zeroing in on something "unique," or something that has impacted you in a way it hasn't impacted anyone else.

You'll want to choose some aspect of your environment that you can describe vividly and that's really important to you. It doesn't necessarily have to be important in a positive way, but it does need to have had a significant impact on your personal development.

It should also be some aspect of your environment that has been part of your life for a while. You're describing something that's affected you "throughout your high school career," after all.

Step 2: Explain How This Environment Shaped You

You shouldn't just describe your environment—you also need to discuss how that environment impacted you as a person. How did this particular aspect of your environment turn you into the person you are today?

It's best if you can think of one or two concrete anecdotes or stories about how your environment as a high school student has shaped you. For example, don't just say that your family made you a hard-working person— describe in detail how watching your mother come home from a full day of work just to get ready to go to nighttime classes showed you that working toward your goals is worthwhile, even when it's hard.


Being a tomato in a peapod was hard on Frank, who could never really quite understand the peas' obsession with photosynthesis.

What Are Readers Hoping to Learn About You?

Readers are looking for two main things. First, they want to see that you can be mature and thoughtful about your surroundings. Are you curious about the world around you? If you've really observed and engaged with your surroundings, you'll be able to describe the people and places that have impacted you as a high school student in a nuanced, insightful way.

Second, they want to see how you stand out from your environment. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: (1) you can emphasize how you are somehow different from your environment and how that impacted you, or (2) you can emphasize how you learned positive qualities from the environment around you. Basically, how did your environment turn you into a special, interesting person?

How Can Your Essay Give Them What They Want?

How can you make sure your essay is really answering the prompt? Here are some key strategies.

#1: Pick a Specific Aspect of Your Environment

You'll need to select something particular in your overall surroundings to zero in on. You can take ideas such as your family, home, neighborhood, or community in several directions.

For example, your family could describe your immediate family, your extended family, or a found family. Your home could be the specific house or houses you grew up in, but it could also be your hometown, block, apartment building, or even country. Your neighborhood could be your street, subdivision, cul-de-sac; it could be an urban area or the rural countryside. Your community could be any community you've been part of, from your school community to your church community to your city.

When you consider what aspect of your environment to choose, think about significant things that happened to you in connection with your environment. Remember, you'll need to get beyond just describing how the setting is important to you to show how it makes you important.

#2: How Did This Environment Make You Special?

You then need to consider what about your environment turned you into a person who stands out. Again, this can be about how you overcame some aspect of your environment or how your environment positively fostered qualities or traits in you. You want to make sure you have a clear message that links your environment to one, two, or three special traits you have.

Try to think of specific stories and anecdotes related to your interactions with your environment, and then thoughtfully analyze these to reveal what they show about you. Important adults in your life can help you brainstorm potential ideas.

#3: Think of the Essay Like a Movie

Like a good movie script, a college essay needs characters, some action, and a poignant but ultimately happy ending. When you’re planning out your personal statement, try to think of the story you’re telling in movie terms. This way you can ensure your essay has the following features:


Did you feel ALL the feelings? Can you even name all of these feelings? Oh, yeah? Then what's the one in the bottom-right called?

#4: Add Details, Description, and Examples

Your essay will really stand out if you add effective examples and descriptions.

For example, imagine Karima decides to describe how learning to navigate public transit as a high school freshman made her resourceful and helped her explore the city she grew up in. She also discusses how exploring the city ultimately impacted her. How should she frame her experience? Here are some options:

I was nervous about taking the El by myself for the first time. At the station, there were lots of commuters and adults who seemed impatient but confident. At first, I was very afraid of getting lost, but over time I became as confident as those commuters.

I felt a mixture of nerves and excitement walking up the Howard red line turnstile for the first time. What if I got lost on my way to the museum? I was worried that I would just seem like a nuisance to all of the frowning commuters who crowded the platform. If I needed help, would they help me? Was I even brave enough to ask? When the metal doors opened, I pressed my nails into my palms and rushed in after a woman with a red briefcase. Success! At least for the first step. I found a sideways-facing seat and clutched my macrame bag with my notebook and sketching supplies. A map hung above my seat. Pressing my finger to the colorful grid, I found my stop and counted how many I still had to go. I spent the entire train ride staring at that map, straining my ears for everything the conductor said. Now, when I think about the first time I rode the El by myself, I smile. What seemed so scary at the time is just an everyday way to get around now. But I always look around on the platform to see if any nervous kids linger at the edges of the commuter crowds and offer them a smile.

Both versions set up the same story, plot-wise, but the second makes the train ride (and because of this, the author) come alive through the addition of specific, individualizing details, such as the following:

ApplyTexas Topic A Essay Ideas

There's no one best topic for this essay prompt (or any other), but I've included some potential ideas below to help you get started with your own brainstorming:

ApplyTexas Topic A for Transfer, Transient, or Readmit Students

If you are applying to transfer or to be readmitted, you likely already have some college experience. So in this case, ApplyTexas offers a personal statement option that allows you to write about your life beyond the high school years. This option still asks you to demonstrate what in your external environment has turned you into a unique individual. But if, for instance, you left college and now are reapplying, you’ll want to address how some aspect of that experience made an impact on who you are now. Otherwise, follow the advice above for the standard Topic A prompt.

Here’s the current Essay Topic A prompt for transfer applicants:

The statement of purpose will provide an opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances that you feel could add value to your application. You may also want to explain unique aspects of your academic background or valued experiences you may have had that relate to your academic discipline. The statement of purpose is not meant to be a listing of accomplishments in high school or a record of your participation in school-related activities. Rather, this is your opportunity to address the admissions committee directly and to let us know more about you as an individual, in a manner that your transcripts and other application information cannot convey.


And that's when I realized that I, too, had become an ostrich, accepted by and adapted into their culture of pecking and running.

essay a examples apply texas

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Next up, let's go through the same process for ApplyTexas Topic B, taking it apart brick by brick and putting it back together again.

What’s the Prompt Asking?

At first glance, this prompt seems pretty vague. "Tell us about yourself" is not exactly the most detailed set of instructions. But if we dig a little deeper, we can see that there are actually two pretty specific things this question is asking.

#1: What Defines You?

This prompts posits that "most students"—which likely includes you!—have some kind of defining trait. This could be "an identity, an interest, or a talent," so you need to express what that defining trait is for you specifically.

For instance, are you an amazing knitter? Do you spend your free time researching cephalopods? Are you a connoisseur of indie movies or mystery novels? Or maybe you have a religious, cultural, ethnic, or LGBTQ+ identity that's very important to you. Any of these things could plausibly be the main, framing theme of your essay.

#2: How Does That Defining Trait Fit Into "You" Overall?

Even though you have some kind of defining trait, that's not the entirety of you. Essentially, you need to contextualize your defining trait within your broader personality and identity. This is where the "tell us about yourself" part comes in. What does your defining trait say about you as a person? And how does it fit into your overall personality, values, and dreams?


Only deep in the woods could she explore her one true passion: moss.

Admissions readers are hoping to learn two main things:

#1: What You're Passionate About

It's essential that this essay communicates genuine passion for whatever you write about. College is a lot of work, and passion is an important driving force when things get busy. Thus, readers are looking for students who are really engaged in the world around them and excited about things!

#2: How You View Yourself (and How Successfully You Can Communicate That)

A strong, well-developed sense of self goes a long way toward helping you weather all the changes you're going to experience when you attend college. Even though you'll change and grow a lot as a person during your college years, having a sense of your own core traits and values will help those changes be exciting as opposed to scary.

Colleges are looking for a developed sense of self. Additionally, they are looking for students who can communicate messages about themselves in a clear, confident, and cohesive way.

The challenge with this prompt is giving a complete picture of you as a person while still staying on message about your defining trait. You need to be focused yet comprehensive. Let's explore the best ways to show off your passion and frame your identity.

#1: Define the Core Message

First, you need to select that defining trait. This could be pretty much anything, just as long as you're genuinely invested in this trait and feel that it represents some core aspect of you.

It should also be something you can describe through stories and anecdotes. Just saying, "I'm a redhead and that defines me" makes for a pretty boring essay! On the other hand, a story about how you started a photography project that consists of portraits of redheads like you and what you learned about yourself from this experience is much more interesting.

Be careful to select something that presents you in a broadly positive light. If you select a trait that doesn't seem very serious, such as your enduring and eternal love of onion rings, you risk seeming at best immature and at worst outright disrespectful.

You also want to pick something realistic —don't claim you're the greatest mathematician who ever lived unless you are, in fact, the greatest mathematician who ever lived (and you probably aren't). Otherwise, you'll seem out of touch.

#2: Fit Your Message Into the Larger Picture

Next, consider how you can use this trait to paint a more complete picture of you as a person. It's great that you're passionate about skiing and are a member of a ski team, but what else does this say about you? Are you an adventurous daredevil who loves to take (reasonable) risks? Are you a nature lover with a taste for exploration? Do you love being part of a team?

Select at least two or three positive messages you want to communicate about yourself in your essay about your key trait.


Brody added his special brand of XYZ to everything he ever made for that bro-tisanal touch.

#3: Show, Don't Tell

It's much more interesting to read about things you do that demonstrate your key traits than it is to hear you list them. Don't just say, "Everyone asks me for advice because I'm level-headed and reasonable." Actually describe situations that show people asking you for advice and you offering that level-headed, reasonable advice.

#4: Watch Your Tone

It's important to watch your tone as you write an essay that's (pretty overtly) about how great you are. You want to show your own special qualities without seeming glib, staid, self-aggrandizing, or narcissistic.

Let’s say Andrew wants to write about figuring out how to grow a garden, despite his yard being in full shade, and how this desire turned into a passion for horticulture. He could launch into a rant about the garden store employees not knowing which plants are right for which light, the previous house owner’s terrible habit of using the yard as a pet bathroom, or the achy knee that prevented him from proper weeding posture.

Alternatively, he could describe doing research on the complex gardens of royal palaces, planning his garden based on plant color and height, using the process of trial and error to see which plants would flourish, and getting so involved with this work that he often lost track of time.

One of these approaches makes him sound whiny and self-centered, while the other makes him sound like someone who can take charge of a difficult situation.

ApplyTexas Topic B Essay Ideas

Again, there's no single best approach here, but I've outlined some potential topics below:

ApplyTexas Topic B for Transfer, Transient, or Readmit Students

The ApplyTexas variation on Topic B is specifically designed for two different possible application situations. The first is for people who are applying as non-degree seeking or post-baccalaureate students (aka “transient students”). In that case they ask you to discuss the courses you want to take, and what you hope to accomplish if you are admitted. That means they still want you to focus this essay on what you are passionate about, as mentioned above, but they expect that passion to be based on courses the university offers more directly.  

The second is for students who are reapplying after being suspended for academic reasons. In that case they ask you to describe any actions you have taken to improve your academic performance, and to give them a reason why you should be readmitted. You’ll still need to focus on your positive traits in this variation, so this can be a tricky task. As in the example above you’ll need to watch your tone and not come across as whiny. Instead, confront the cause of your academic suspension and what you learned from that experience, then turn it into a newfound strength. Maybe you learned new study habits you can describe for them. Maybe working full-time while you were suspended improved your work ethic. Whatever you choose, show how a negative situation changed into a positive learning experience for you, and focus on the better person you are now because of it. 

Here’s the current prompt for Essay Topic B for transfer applicants:

If you are applying as a former student and were suspended for academic reasons, describe briefly any actions you have taken to improve your academic abilities and give reason why you should be readmitted. If you are applying as a nondegree seeking or postbaccalaureate application, briefly describe the specific objectives you wish to accomplish if admitted, including the courses in which you would like to enroll.


Now, we can take apart Topic C to get a good handle on how to tackle this future-facing essay.

If ApplyTexas Topic A and Topic B were all about your past experiences, Topic C wants you to give readers a glimpse of your imagined possibilities.

There are basically two potential approaches to this question. We'll break them down here.

Option 1: Describe Your Long-Term Goals

One approach to this prompt is to use your essay as a chance to describe your long-term goals for your career and life.

For some students, this will be a straightforward endeavor. For example, say you’ve always wanted to be a doctor. You spend your time volunteering at hospitals, helping out at your mom’s practice, and studying biology. You could easily frame your "ticket" as a ticket to medical school. Just pick a few of the most gripping moments from these past experiences and discuss the overall trajectory of your interests and your essay would likely be a winner!

But what if you’re not sure about your long-term goals yet? Or what if you feel like you really don't know where you're going next week, let alone next year or 10 years from now? Read on for Option 2!

Option 2: Demonstrate Thoughtful Imagination

While you can certainly interpret this as a straightforward question about your future, you can also use it as a chance to be more imaginative.

Note that this entire question rests on the metaphor of the ticket. The ticket can take you anywhere; you decide. It could be to a real place, such as your grandmother's house or the Scottish highlands or the Metropolitan Museum. Or it could be somewhere fantastical, such as a time machine to the Paleolithic.

The important point is that you use the destination you select—and what you plan to do there—to prove you're a thoughtful person who is excited about and actively engaged with the world around you.


Renata doesn't want a train ticket; she just wants a boat.

If you're on a direct path to a specific field of study or career, admissions officers definitely want to know this. Having driven, goal-oriented, and passionate students is a huge plus for any college. If this sounds like you, be sure your essay conveys not just your interest but also your deep love of the subject, as well as any related clubs, activities, and/or hobbies you’ve done during high school.

If you take the more creative approach to this prompt, however, realize that in this essay (as in all the other ApplyTexas essays) the how matters much more than the what . Don't worry that you don't have a specific goal in mind yet. No matter where your eventual academic, career, or other pursuits might lie, every activity you've done up to now has taught you something, whether that be work ethic, mastering a skill, learning from a mentor, interacting with peers, dealing with setbacks, understanding your own learning style, or perseverance. Your essay is a chance to show off that knowledge and maturity.

So no matter what destination you choose for your ticket (the what ), you want to communicate that you can think about future (and imagined!) possibilities in a compelling way based on your past experiences (the how ).

Whether you take the ideas of "where you are going" and "what you are doing" in a more literal or more abstract direction, the admissions committee wants to make sure that no matter what you study, you'll be able to get something meaningful out of it. They want to see that you’re not simply floating through life on the surface but are actively absorbing the qualities, skills, and know-how you'll need to succeed in the world.

Here are some ideas for how to show that you have thoughtful and compelling visions of possible futures.

#1: Pick Where You're Going

Is this going to be a more direct interpretation of your goals (my ticket is to the judge's bench) or a more creative one (my ticket is to Narnia)? Whichever one you choose, make sure that you choose a destination that is genuinely compelling to you. The last thing you want is to come off sounding bored or disingenuous.

#2: Don’t Overreach or Underreach

Another key point is to avoid overreaching or underreaching. For instance, it’s fine to say that you’d like to get involved in politics, but it’s a little too self-aggrandizing to say that you’re definitely going to be president of the United States. Be sure that whatever destination you select for your ticket, it doesn’t come off as unnecessary bragging rather than simple aspiration.

At the same time, make sure the destination you've chosen is one that makes sense in the context of a college essay. Maybe what you really want is a ticket to the potato chip factory; however, this essay might not be the best place to elaborate on this imagined possibility.

While you can of course choose a whimsical location, you need to be able to ground it in a real vision of the kind of person you want to become. Don't forget who your audience is! College admissions officers want to find students who are eager to learn. They also want to be exposed to new thoughts and ideas (and not just new potato chips).

#3: Flesh It Out

Once you've picked a destination, it's time to consider the other components of the question: what are you going to do once you reach your destination? What will happen there? Try to think of some key messages that relate back to you, your talents, and your goals.

#4: Ground Your "Journey" in Specific Anecdotes and Examples

The way this question is framed is very abstract, so it's important you ground your thoughts about your destination (whether it's more straightforward or more creative) in concrete anecdotes and examples that show you're thoughtful, engaged, passionate, and driven.

This is even more important if you go the creative route and are writing about an unusual location. If you don't keep things somewhat grounded in reality, your essay could come across as frivolous. Make sure you make the most of this chance to share real-life examples of your desirable qualities.

Imagine Eleanor’s essay is about how she wants a ticket to Starfleet Academy (for the uninitiated, this is the fictional school in the Star Trek universe where people train to be Starfleet officers). Which essay below conveys more about her potential as a student?

My ticket is to Starfleet Academy. There, I would train to become part of the Command division so I could command a starship. Once I was captain of my own starship, I would explore the deepest reaches of space to interact with alien life and learn more about the universe.

I've loved Star Trek since my dad started playing VHS copies of old episodes for me in our ancient VCR. So if I could have a ticket to anywhere, it would be to Starfleet Academy to train in the command division. I know I would make a superb command officer. My ten years of experience in hapkido have taught me discipline and how to think on my feet. Working as a hapkido instructor in my dojo the past two years has honed my leadership and teaching qualities, which are essential for any starship commander. Additionally, I have the curiosity and sense of adventure necessary for a long career in the unknown reaches of space. Right now, I exercise my thirst for exploration through my photography blog. Using my DSLR camera, I track down and photograph obscure and hidden places I find in my town, on family trips, and even on day trips to nearby cities. I carefully catalogue the locations so other people can follow in my footsteps. Documentation, after all, is another important part of exploring space in a starship.

Both versions communicate the same things about the imagined destination, but the second essay does a much better job showing who Eleanor is as a person. All we really learn from the first excerpt is that Eleanor must like Star Trek.

We can also infer that she probably likes leadership, exploration, and adventure, since she wants to captain a starship. But we don't really know that for sure. Admissions officers shouldn't have to infer who you are from your essay—your essay should lay it out for them.

In the second essay, on the other hand, Eleanor clearly lays out the qualities that would make her a great Command officer, and provides examples of how she exemplifies these qualities. She ties the abstract destination to concrete things from her life such as hapkido and photography. This provides a much more well-rounded picture of what Eleanor could bring to the student body and the school at large.


Eleanor just wants to explore the final frontier .

ApplyTexas Topic C Essay Ideas

I've come up with some sample essay ideas for the two different approaches to this prompt.

Possibility 1: Your Concrete Goals

Possibility 2: Creative/Abstract Destination

Remember to tie your imaginative destination to concrete details about your special qualities!

Topic C for Transfer, Transient, or Readmit Students

ApplyTexas offers a Topic C variant in case there is personal information you want them to consider along with your application, for instance, why you are transferring to a new school. They still want you to focus on the future, but they encourage discussing any hardships, challenges, extenuating circumstances, or opportunities that have impacted your abilities and academic credentials (in a positive way). They also want you to discuss how these circumstances can help you contribute to a diverse college community. In this case, this variation is not fundamentally different from the ticket question, it just asks for a more specific focus. So if this variation applies to you, use the advice above for question C option one. 

Here’s the current prompt for Essay Topic C for transfer applicants:

There may be personal information that you want considered as part of your admissions application. Write an essay describing that information. You might include exceptional hardships, challenges, or opportunities that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, personal responsibilities, exceptional achievements or talents, educational goals, or ways in which you might contribute to an institution committed to creating a diverse learning environment.


A future as a driving coach for motorcoach drivers was a no-brainer for the founding member of the homonym club.

If you're applying to one of several fine arts fields, you might have to write this essay.

Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?

If you’re applying to study architecture, art, or art history, one of the essays you will likely have to write is this one. This essay topic is trying to ask as broadly as possible about an experience with art that has moved you in some way. This means that your options for answering the question are quite varied. So what are the two different parts of this prompt? Let's take a look.

Part 1: Observation and Reaction

Think of a time you experienced that blown-away feeling when looking at something man-made. This is the reaction and situation the first part of the essay wants you to recreate. The prompt is primarily interested in your ability to describe and pinpoint exactly what quality made you stop in your tracks. The huge set of inspiring object options the prompt offers tells us that your taste level won't be judged here.

You can focus on a learning experience, which includes both classes and extracurricular activities, or you can focus on a direct experience in which you encountered an object or space without the mediation of a class or teacher. The only limit to your focus object is that it is something made by someone other than you. Your reaction should be in conversation with the original artist—not a form of navel-gazing.

The key for this part of the essay is that your description needs to segue into a story of change and transformation. What the essay topic is asking you to show isn’t just that you were struck by something you saw or learned about, but that you also absorbed something from this experience that impacted your own art going forward.


When you see the Angkor Wat Temple, you can't help but be psyched that at least humans haven't wasted all their time on earth.

Part 2: Absorption

This brings us to the second part of the essay prompt: this is where you need to move from the past into the present, and then at least gesture meaningfully toward the future.

It’s one thing to look at a piece of art, such as a sculpture or a form of architecture, and feel moved by its grace, boldness, or vision. But it’s a sign of a mature, creative mind to be able to take to heart what is meaningful to you about this work and then transmute this experience into your own art.

This essay wants to see that developing maturity in you; therefore, you should explain exactly how your own creative vision has changed after this meaningful encounter you've described. What qualities, philosophy, or themes do you now try to infuse into what you create?

More importantly, this essay prompt asserts that being affected by something once isn’t enough. That’s why in this second part of the topic you also need to explain what you’ve been doing to keep having similarly moving encounters with other creative works.

You have some choice, too, when it comes to answering, "What have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?" For example, you could describe how you’ve sought out other works by the same artist who moved you the first time. Or you could describe investigating new media or techniques to emulate something you saw. Or you could discuss learning about the period, genre, school, or philosophical theory that the original piece of art comes from in order to give yourself a more contextualized understanding.

If you’re planning an academic career in the visual arts or architecture, then you’re entering a long conversation started by our cave-painting ancestors and continuing through every human culture and society since.

This essay wants to make sure that you aren’t creating art in a vacuum and that you have had enough education and awareness to be inspired by others. By demonstrating how you react to works that move you—not with jealousy or dismissal but with appreciation and recognition of another’s talent and ability—you're proving that you're ready to participate in this ongoing conversation.

At the same time, this essay is asking you to show your own creative readiness. Describe not only the work you have produced but also your ability to introduce new elements into that work—in this case, inspired by the piece you described. This way, you can demonstrate that you aren’t a one-note artist but are mature enough to alter and develop what you make.


What are some best practices for teasing out the complexities of art in written form? Here are some helpful tips as you brainstorm and write your essay.

#1: Pick One Piece of Art or Learning Experience

Once you’ve chosen between these two contexts, narrow down your selection even further. If you're writing about an educational encounter, don’t forget that it can come from an informal situation as well. For example, you could write about something you learned on your own from a documentary, museum visit, or art book.

If you're writing about a direct experience with art, don't necessarily fixate on a classical piece. Alternatively, you could discuss a little-known public sculpture, a particularly striking building or bridge you saw while traveling, or a gallery exhibition.

Whatever you end up writing about, make sure you know some of the identifying details. You don’t need to know the answers to all the following questions, but do your best to research so you can answer at least two or three of them:

#2: Figure Out Why You Were Struck by This Particular Work

The make-it-or-break-it moment in this essay will be your ability to explain what affected you in the object you're writing about. Why is it different from other works you’ve seen? Do you think it (or you) was in the right place at the right time to be moved by it, or would it have affected you the same way no matter where or when you saw it? Did it speak to you because it shares some of your ideals/philosophies/tastes, or because it was so different from them?

Be careful with your explanation since it can easily get so vague as to be meaningless or so obscure and "deep" that you lose your reader. Before you start trying to put it down on paper, try to talk out what you plan to say either with a friend, parent, or teacher. Do they understand what you’re saying, and do they believe you?

#3: Make a Timeline of Your Own Creative Works

When you think about what you've been making or thinking about making during your high school career, what is the trajectory of your ideas? How has your understanding of the materials you want to work with changed? What about the message you want your works to convey? Or the way you want your works to be seen by others? What is the reason you feel compelled to be creative?

Now that you’ve come up with this timeline, see whether your changes in thought overlap with the art experience you're planning on describing. Is there a way you can combine what was so exciting to you about this work with the way you’ve seen your own ideas about art evolve?

#4: Use a Mix of Concreteness and Comparisons in Your Description

Just as nothing ruins a joke like explaining it, nothing ruins the wordless experience of looking at art as talking it to death does. Still, you need to find a way to use words to give the reader a sense of what the piece that moved you actually looks like —particularly if the reader isn't familiar with the work or the artist that created it.

Here is my suggested trick for writing well about art. First, be specific about the object. Discuss its colors, size, what it appears to be made of, what your eye goes to first (bright colors vs darker, more muted ones, for example), what it is representative of (if it’s figurative), where it is in relation to the viewer, whether or not you can see marks of the tools used (such as brush strokes, scrapes from sculpting tools, etc.).

Second, step away from the concrete and get creative with language by using techniques such as comparative description. Use your imagination to create emotionally resonant similes. Is there a form of movement (e.g., flying, crawling, tumbling) that this piece feels like? Does it remind you of something from the natural world (e.g., a falling leaf, a forest canopy being moved by wind, waves, sand dunes shifting)?

If the work is figurative, imagine what has been happening just before the moment in time it captures. What happened just after this point? Using these kinds of non-literal descriptors will let your reader understand both the actual physical object and its aesthetic appeal.


Both UT Austin and Texas A&M require short answers as part of the freshman application. For both schools, some prompts are required by all applicants, while others are required by those applying to certain majors or departments. 

We'll go over the UT Austin prompts followed by the Texas A&M prompt.

UT Austin Short Answer Prompts

UT Austin requires three short answers from all freshman applicants and also offers an optional prompt. Each short answer should be no more than 250-300 words, or one paragraph.

Short Answer 1: Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?

Short Answer 2: Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community, or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT.

Short Answer 3: The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is, “To Transform Lives for the Benefit of Society.” Please share how you believe your experience at UT-Austin will prepare you to “Change the World” after you graduate.

Optional Short Answer: Please share background on events or special circumstances that may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19.

(NOTE: The inclusion of COVID-19 in this optional question applies through Fall 2021, at minimum.) 

If you're applying to art and art history, architecture, nursing, or social work, you'll need to submit the following in addition to your short answers above:

Art and Art History

In 500 words or less, please tell us about a time when an artwork, artist or art teacher impacted your life. How did this inspire you to pursue an education in the arts?


Inherent in the design disciplines is the capacity to impact the world around us. What does the opportunity to develop such capacity mean to you and your approach to your college education?

Submit responses to the following short answer prompts:

Social Work

Discuss the reasons you chose Social Work as your major and how a Social Work degree from UT Austin will prepare you for the future. Please limit your response to 450-500 words.

What Are These UT Austin Short Answer Prompts Asking?

Obviously, these short answer prompts are all asking very different things, but they do have some similarities in terms of their overall goals.

The first set of prompts basically want to know what you can offer UT Austin and why you'd be a great fit as a student here. They also want to know why you chose UT Austin and your specific major. In other words, all these prompts essentially work together as a "Why This College?" essay .

For the major-specific prompts, you're being asked two basic things:

How Can You Give UT Austin What They Want?

Admissions officers will be looking for evidence that you're genuinely interested in the school, the major you've chosen, and the career you want to pursue. Make sure to identify features of the program that appeal to you. In other words, why UT Austin? What makes you a good fit here?

Be as specific as possible in your responses. Since you won't have much room to write a lot, try to focus on a particular anecdote, skill, or goal you have.

Admissions officers also want to see that you have an aptitude for your chosen career path, so if you have any relevant work, research, or volunteer experience, they definitely want to know this! It's OK to take a broad view of what's relevant here.

Finally, they're looking for individuals who have clear goals as well as a general idea of what they want to do with their degree. Are you interested in working with a specific population or specialty? Why? What led you to this conclusion?


Texas A&M Short Answer Prompts

UT Austin requires three short answers from all freshman applicants. Each short answer should be 250-300 words.

Short Answer 1: Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and why.

Short Answer 2: Describe a life event which you feel has prepared you to be successful in college.

Short Answer 3: 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.

All engineering applicants to Texas A&M must also submit a short answer to the following prompt:

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?

What Are These Texas A&M Short Answer Prompts Asking?

The first three short answer prompts are designed for the admissions committee to learn who you are as a person, and what moments/people/values are important to you. These are a chance for you to show another side of yourself that you feel shows your true personality.

The engineering prompt wants to know two essential things:

How Can You Give Texas A&M What They Want?

Be as specific as possible in your responses. Since you won't have much room to write a lot, try to focus on a particular anecdote. Each of the first three prompts is fairly broad, so make your response interesting and personal by focusing on telling a personal story, rather than making broad, general statements that most students could make.

For the engineering prompt, what admissions officers want to know here is simply what your biggest engineering ambition is and how you came to have this goal.

Since you don't have a ton of room to write your short answer, you'll want to be as specific as possible. Admissions officers want to see that you have a clear future in mind for what you want to do with your engineering degree. For example, do you plan to go on to a PhD program? Why? Do you have a particular career in mind?

In addition, make sure to specify the main inspiration for or motivation behind this goal. For instance, did you have a high school teacher who encouraged you to study engineering? Or perhaps you decided on a whim to take a computer science class, which you ended up loving.

Remember that the inspiration for your engineering goals doesn't have to be limited to something school-related. If you get stuck, think broadly about what initially got you interested in the field.


Briefly: ApplyTexas Essay Topic E (Transfer Students)

US transfer students and international transfer students must typically submit an additional essay on the following prompt (or must submit an essay on one of the topic variations listed above ).

Choose an issue of importance to you—the issue could be personal, school related, local, political, or international in scope⁠—and write an essay in which you explain the significance of that issue to yourself, your family, your community, or your generation.

What's the Prompt Asking?

This prompt, which targets transfer students, essentially wants to know what hardship, challenge, or social issue has affected you on a personal level (or a larger group you're part of) and why you think this particular thing is so important to you.

For example, maybe you identify as LGBTQIA+ and have personally experienced discrimination in your local community due to your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Or perhaps you grew up in a wealthy family but have begun to see recently how widespread the issue of homelessness really is and now are making a more conscious effort to find ways to remedy this problem in your own community.

The issue you choose doesn't have to relate to a wider social issue; it could be a learning disability you have, for instance, or the fact that you no longer share the same religious beliefs as your  family.

The most important part of this question is the connection between the issue and yourself. In other words, why is this issue so important to you ? How has it affected your life, your goals, your experiences, etc.?

This essay is a way for admissions officers to get to know you and what matters to you personally on a much deeper level than what some of the other essay topics allow, so don't be afraid to dive into topics that are very emotional, personal, or special to you.

Furthermore, be sure to clearly explain why this particular issue—especially if it's a broader social issue that affects many people—is meaningful to you . Admissions officers want to know about any challenges you've faced and how these have positively contributed to your own growth as a person.

The Bottom Line: Tips for Writing ApplyTexas Essays

The ApplyTexas application contains four essay prompts (Topics A, B, C, and D), with different schools requiring different combinations of mandatory and optional essays. There are also short answer prompts for UT Austin and Texas A&M, as well as a Topic E only for transfer students.

One way to keep these three similar-sounding essay topics (A, B, and C) separate in your mind is to create a big-picture category for each one:

Now, let's briefly summarize each essay topic:

Essay Topic A

Essay Topic B

Essay Topic C

Essay Topic D

Short Answer Prompts

Essay Topic E (Transfer Students)


What's Next?

Curious about the other college essay choices out there? If your target college also accepts the Common Application, check out our guide to the Common App essay prompts to see whether they would be a better fit for you.

Interested to see how other people tackled this part of the application? We have a roundup of 100+ accepted essays from tons of colleges .

Stuck on what to write about? Read our suggestions for how to come up with great essay ideas .

Working on the rest of your college applications? We have great advice on how to find the right college for you , how to write about your extracurricular activities , and how to ask teachers for letters of recommendation .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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Writing A Compelling ApplyTexas Essay A

Together with the short answers, 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 conceptual 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. 


To start, it can be helpful for a student to rewrite the prompt in their own words to be sure they're really 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 really 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 has 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. 

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


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.


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. 

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. 

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.


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. 


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.

essay a examples apply texas

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College Application Essay Writing

About ApplyTexas Platform

Apply texas application process and requirements, prompts and essays, tips for writing essay a prompt with topic ideas, 1. choose a specific aspect of your surroundings, 2. talk about how your surroundings made you special, 3. make it interesting, tips for writing essay b prompt with topic ideas, 1. identify your core message, 2. make your core message a part of a bigger picture, 3. don’t be afraid to describe situations, 4. be mindful of your tone, tips for writing essay c prompt with topic ideas, 1. pick your destination, 2. don’t overdo it, 3. include all other elements.

If you’re a student looking for a great opportunity to pursue a rewarding undergraduate education in the state of Texas, it could be very helpful to know that there are over 150 four-year universities at your disposal. 

The process of applying for these universities includes using the ApplyTexas application platform. Prospective students can use the Apply Texas platform to accomplish the following tasks:

The 2022-2023 application season is about to knock on your door, and you’ll have to do everything in your power to pass the admissions committee. 

The Apply Texas Platform is a direct result of a collaboration between a wide range of private and public universities from around the state, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board . 

This platform ensures that both Texans and non-Texans get an integrated means of applying to various post-secondary educational institutions. Prospective students can take their compelling application and use it to apply to multiple universities around the state. 

Instead of submitting applications for each school, students can use only one application that’s valid in all the 150 public university institutions in the state of Texas. The platform allows students to apply for admission to all private colleges and participating communities as well. 

Students can use this platform to find all necessary information about the platform, the process of application and requirements, and college essay topics according to their preferences, answer prompts, and more. 

It’s a great, actionable and very informative platform that helps students make their way to the school of their choosing. More importantly, students can use their ApplyTexas application to submit it to any other institution on the Apply Texas list of institutions.

The Apply Texas application uses a standardized form that allows students to use one application for several universities at once. Before you start your application process, make sure you verified that the school you want to get into is featured on the platform.

ApplyTexas is accepted in all public universities in the state of Texas. This platform offers a comprehensive range of tools students can use to determine whether a university of their liking is featured in the platform.  

Aside from ApplyTexas, students also use the Common Application colleges . It’s essential to determine which type of application suits your college list the most. ApplyTexas is just like an ordinary college application. There are some requirements, components, and materials you’ll need to consider before getting started. 

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to get started:

Just like any other application system, Apply Texas application is divided into sections that deal with your interests, background, and personal information. These sections are:

The system is divided into these sections to help admissions officers learn more about the prospective students, their habits, behavior, interests, aspirations, extracurricular activities, working and volunteering experiences, and more.

Since your application holds your personal information, they can use it to contact you in case they need clarification regarding questions, your information, etc. These sections help the officers get a clear picture of who their prospective students are, by understanding their interests and backgrounds.

When it comes to your biographical and educational information, it includes your demographics, school, and contact details. Admissions officers use this information to determine how you compare to other candidates, what resources your school provided you with, your background, etc.

Aside from these requirements, there are also custom questions to think about. These are included in most Texas universities are the Apply Texas version of supplemental essays. The most common topic of these custom questions is to find out why you’ve chosen a certain school or major or what you think your contribution should be to campus, etc.

Spring applications are mostly asked to write about their background and the environment in which they grew up in their essays. UT at Austin requires applicants to give answers to three 250-word questions that cover their future leadership, academics, and career. 

To make sure you’re properly prepared for your application and Apply Texas essay , see that you include all extra requirements before you submit.

If you’re comparing high school vs colleges , you’ll find out that college essays are almost the same, only a bit more serious. When it comes to Apply Texas essay requirements, these vary. The required prompts vary from school to school, but the most common essay prompt is Essay A. 

For example, UT Austin supplemental essays require Essay A with three smaller custom questions, while Texas A&M requires Essay A and B. All universities require an essay no longer than 1200-1500 words. If we take the fact that admissions officers have a lot of applicants to deal with, it would be wise to keep your word count to less than 1000. 

Now, there are three different ApplyTexas essay prompts for freshman and international freshman applications:

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three.

This prompt is almost like your personal statement, only different. Students who are using the Coalition App or the Common App usually write Essay A. It includes the most important things that admissions officers should know about you. 

The trick with Essay A is to make it unique and personal to make your essay impactful and memorable. That means that centering your essay around your strongest test performance isn’t going to be enough to make you stand out. 

The narrative you choose to go with should be focused on you and your personality. You’re applying to college, hoping to get a good education that will help you build your career. You can’t expect to reflect on such a major event in your life by writing about scoring great on a math test. 

The story you choose to go with should be deeply connected to you. In most cases, adversity comes in handy. With that in mind, our recommendation would be to write about certain challenges and obstacles you had to overcome, such as a natural disaster, loss of a family member, an illness, etc. 

On the other hand, you can use this prompt to write about your expectations and opportunities. It’s even better if you had a chance to engage in some activities that other students haven’t. It’s essential to pick a topic that separates you from the rest.

Essay B gives you full control over your essay. You have complete freedom to write about anything that comes to your mind. Essay B isn’t about all of the activities you’ve crossed your path with, so you’ll have to stick with the most essential and meaningful one.

Pick the one that really defines you as a person and then elaborate on it. Talk about it, why it matters to you, how it helped you and defined you as a person, what you’ve learned from it, and how it helped develop a specific interest.

It’s even better if the activity is connected to the theme of your application. It helps to highlight your commitment to what you’ve actively pursued and felt so passionate about. The most important part of Essay B is talking about you and your identity. 

This part of your personality refers to anything related to your personality like an unusual hobby that defines your personality, your socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, languages you speak, culture, ethnic background, and so on. 

Pretty much, anything that you think is essential and played a big role in defining who you are as a person, your way of thinking and acting could be the topic of your essay. 

It’s not just enough to talk about your identity — you have to go further beyond it and expand on the concept. Talk about why you think this matters to you and how it helped shape you, your life, and your perspective.

The third prompt is about using your imagination without limits or boundaries. In essence, writing an essay should be fun. You’re not here to defend your dissertation in medicine — you’re here to tell the admissions officers who you are, what you love, how you feel, and where you would like to be in the next few years. Essay C is exactly that — your view of the future.

You can talk about where you would like to go with your life and then expand on that concept by thinking critically about the reasons that compelled you to go that way. If you can relate it back to your application, that would be even better.

By doing so, you have far better chances of standing out in the entire college admissions process. The best thing about the Essay C prompt is that you can choose a fictional place, as there are no rules stating it has to be a real place.

Essay C is essentially how admissions officers ascertain your character and capability. By letting your imagination run wild, you’re showing them how your mind works but, more importantly, what your true values are. 

This question is also an excellent way to show them what characteristics of a community you really hold dear. There is no one size fits all when it comes to writing a college essay that stands out. You’ll just have to think it through and try to connect all the dots into a bigger picture. 

It’s vital that you give answers to the following questions: 

It’s important that you describe some meaningful situations that helped define you as a person. Oh, and don’t forget to edit before you submit as you can’t afford to submit an essay with grammar mistakes, etc.

Let’s elaborate a bit on what you can do with your Essay A prompt. The main goal of this prompt is to allow admissions officers to see how the external environment has shaped you as a high school student. You can start by describing your environment. 

Identify and describe specific events and experiences that shaped your personality while in high school. Only describe the experiences that are really important to you. It’s essential that you focus on how these experiences shaped you through your high school career. 

Just describing the environment isn't enough as you have to show how that environment shaped you into the person you are today. Your audience is hoping to learn two main things about you:

Here are some key strategies you can use to make sure you answer the prompt correctly.

Take ideas such as your community, neighborhood, home, or family and work on them in several different directions. Expand on each concept by including the most significant things and events that connected you with the surroundings. 

Reflect upon how this environment helped turn you into who you are today. More importantly, how it helped you stand out. You can talk about how your environment positively fostered certain traits or qualities in you or mention some obstacles you had to overcome. 

It’s vital that you make a connection between your special traits and the environment to send a clear message to your readers. Think of specific events, anecdotes, or stories that could be related to your interaction with your surroundings and explain what they say about you.

Remember when we said that writing an essay should be fun? You can make your essay more interesting by including some action and characters. Just like a good movie, your essay needs a happy ending or, at least, a poignant one. 

Here are some good features to consider for your essay:

Here are some good Essay A ideas:

Prompt B is all about telling others about yourself. Now, this is pretty vague, but we can dissect it into two specific sections:

Essay B tells your readers two things about you:

It’s important not to lose yourself in describing a complete image of your personality. Keep in mind that you have to stay on the right course in describing your defining trait. 

So, be both comprehensive and focused at the same time. Here are a couple of ways you can frame your identity and put your passion in the best perspective.

To be able to precisely, comprehensively, and accurately describe the essence of who you are, you first need to identify your defining trait. It has to be something that clearly represents who you are or the core aspect of your personality.

This is where we’ll mention anecdotes and stories once again. The best way to identify your core message isn’t by just saying what it is. If you can tell a story about how you’ve come to recognize it, now that’s a completely different thing. Be positive and realistic as this helps make your essay sound serious and mature.

So, you’ve identified your core message. The next phase should be using it to create a complete image of your personality. Think about what your core trait says about you. 

Go with two or three traits and start painting your final masterpiece about who you are in your essence.

Just telling about some event or experience that demonstrates your key trait isn’t nearly as effective as showing or describing how certain situations led you to develop and recognize those traits.

You’re here to talk about the special qualities that make you unique and valuable to your college and community. Therefore, avoid seeming narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, staid, and glib.

You don’t want to sound self-centered and whiney. Instead, describe yourself as a person people can rely on, as someone who can take charge of a touchy or difficult situation.

Here are some good Essay B ideas to contemplate on:

Essay C is essentially about you giving your imagined possibilities to your readers. Since there’s a pretty vast array of possibilities to reflect on here, we recommend taking one of the following two approaches:

Essay C helps admissions officers understand a specific path you’re set on. This prompt allows you to demonstrate your maturity and knowledge. More importantly, it tells about your capability to include all possibilities and portray a futuristic picture of your life and career in a compelling way. It is crucial to find out all the essay requirements the university you are going to enter has. That's why we prepared different blogs such as Virginia Tech GPA requirements , Carnegie Mellon essay prompts , Johns Hopkins essay that worked , etc, to help our users prepare for this writing task.

Here are some tips to help you express compelling and thoughtful visions of your future.

Since this is practically your direct interpretation of what you should be doing in the future, you have to pick a destination that has a special meaning for you. It has to be genuinely compelling to you.

Students usually get lost in describing their vision because there is so much they would want to say but are limited by the word count. Therefore, stick with a simple aspiration rather than brag about your vision. 

Remember that you’re writing a college essay . It has to be real, convincing and serious yet imaginative. Talk about what kind of person you’d like to become.

Picking a destination is just one side of the coin. Don’t forget to include and consider other elements of your story. Take the key ideas that relate back to your goals, talents, and personality. 

Your admissions officers shouldn’t have to think about your point or who you are — your paper is there to explain that to them.

Here are some good Essay C ideas you can use to accomplish that:

The prestige of university or college is measured by the acceptance rate. During the admission period, every application is counted and assessed. As a result, only the best get to study. Florida State University is not an Ivy League school, but getting in is challenging anyway. Let’s discuss what it...

Duke is a community of intellectuals who stand out from the crowd. The university united a group of people around the research institution founded back in 1838 in a small town of Trinity. Nowadays, this institution has millions of avid admirers who want to join the community. It takes more than a de...

A lot of selective colleges with a lot of applicants require supplemental essays. In many cases, these essays are just as important as the personal statement of the applicant. The University of Texas at Austin is one of those US colleges that requires a supplemental essay. Each year, new applicants ...

How to Write the University of Texas-Austin (UT) Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2022/2023

essay a examples apply texas


What are the university of texas austin supplemental essay prompts.

Proud home of the Longhorns (and Professor Matthew McConaughey), UT Austin takes to heart its constitutional mandate to be “a university of first class,” a mission that laid the foundation for its standing as a “Public Ivy.” UT is known for carving its own path, from sculpting a sprawling home out of the Texas wilderness, to building some of the world’s fastest computers, to fighting for universities’ rights to use affirmative action to diversity their campuses. 

So it should come as little surprise that this standard bearer offers its own college application system , but you can also apply through the Common App (and the requirements are the same, no matter which platform you use). And to show how serious school officials are about getting to know each of their applicants, the main application requires four essays, plus an option to write a fifth, and an optional (but highly recommended) extended resume. What are those prompts? Glad you asked ...

Topic A: Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today? (500-700 words)
Required Short Answer 1: Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major? (maximum 40 lines, or approximately 250-300 words, typically the length of one paragraph)
Required Short Answer 2: Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community, or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT. (maximum 40 lines, or approximately 250-300 words)
Required Short Answer 3: The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is, "To Transform Lives for the Benefit of Society." Please share how you believe your experience at UT-Austin will prepare you to “Change the World” after you graduate. (maximum 40 lines, or approximately 250-300 words)
Required Short Answer 4: Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19 (maximum 40 lines, or approximately 250-300 words)

Optional (but highly recommended) Expanded Resume

You may choose to submit an expanded résumé offering additional information about all of your achievements, activities, leadership positions, and student employment.

“That’s a lot of essays,” you say? It is.

And get this: If you’re applying to specific programs/majors or even the Honors College, you’ve got even more essays to tackle. (But we aren’t covering all those here.) 

Before you go to write, you may want to spend some time learning more about what UT Austin values, so you can explore how your values line up and reflect those shared values in your essays. If so, you’ll find an extensive, by-the-numbers look at its offerings, from enrollment and tuition statistics to student life and financial aid information, on its Common Data Set . For deep insights into how this public research university envisions its role and how it wants to grow and evolve, read its strategic plan .

Alright. Let’s get to the fun stuff.

How Do I Write Outstanding Essays for the UT Austin Application?

How to write ut austin required essay/topic a prompt:.

Topic A: 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? (500-700 words)

This essay gives you the best chance to share with UT something about who you are beyond the grades and test scores. When you hear people talking about their personal statement or college essay, this is the essay they’re referring to.

If you’re applying to other colleges using the Common Application (or applying to other schools via the Coalition Application), you may already be writing this longer essay.

If so, here’s some advice: 

Write your Topic A essay for UT so that it answers the same question you’re answering for 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). UT asks that you keep your Topic A essay between 500-700 words , but for ease of doubling, probably stick close to 650 max,  spending only the number of words necessary to tell your story in a concise, complete, and compelling manner.

Why answer the same question for all three? 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) and you’ll be good. But more importantly, by focusing on writing one main essay for various application portals (head here for more on Common App vs Coalition ), 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 actually created an entire step-by-step video course . Oh, and it’s pay-what-you-can. :) Or 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. Or head here for a bunch of personal statement examples .

How to Write UT Austin Short Answer Essay #1

Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major? (40 lines, or about 250-300 words)

This is a “Why major?” essay .  Many colleges require it, and it generally means that they’re curious to hear about how you’ve prepared for your intended major. But for UT, it’s particularly important. Why?

Demonstrating that you (and your interests and extracurricular involvement) are a clear fit for your first-choice major are super important for UT. As in, more so than at most other schools. This essay is a great chance to demonstrate that fit.

You can read our full guide here . Or, here’s the short version:

Step #1: Imagine a mini-movie of the moments that led you to your interest in a specific subject or your intended major and create a simple, bullet-point outline.

For example:

Why biology?

Elementary school: Getting my first dinosaur toy and reading dinosaur books

Middle school: Visiting museums, seeing water under a microscope

High school: Doing online research, getting internship where we analyzed brainwaves and dissected a stingray

Step #2: Put your moments (aka the “scenes” of your mini-movie) in chronological order, as it’ll help you see how your interests developed. It also makes it easier to write transitions. Since you’ve got about 250-300 words for this essay, you can probably include one “scene” per every short paragraph or two.

Step #3: 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. You can put this thesis at the beginning, middle, or end of your essay.

Here’s an example essay that does a great job:

My interest in Gender and Sexuality Studies was sparked in my eighth grade Civics class when we studied topics pertaining to sexual equality. I went into the class knowing I believed women had a right to make choices for their own bodies and that view remained the same, but I discovered the complexity of abortion debates. I challenged myself by thinking about the disparity between actual and potential personhood and the moral rights of unconscious lives. If pregnancy had the same consequences for men as it does women, how might the debate be different? Would this debate even exist? A year later, I shadowed an OB/GYN at a nearby hospital. On my first shift, I watched an incarcerated woman receive a postpartum exam after giving birth in her cell toilet with just Advil, and the issues discussed in Civics suddenly became urgent and real. My school projects have often focused on reproductive rights. I’ve spent numerous hours delving into summaries of Supreme Court cases on abortion and contraception, and am even known as the “Tampon Fairy” at school because I frequently restock the school bathrooms with tampons and condoms. I’m interested in exploring how Gender and Sexuality Studies connect to Public Health and Reproductive Biology, as well as Public Policy and Law. The interdisciplinary nature of this major will allow me to investigate many other areas of study and create a more nuanced understanding of how this particular field interacts with our world and society. (246 words) — — —

Tips + Analysis:

Write an outline to organize your essay before you write. We actually advise this for most essays, especially those 200 words and longer. Even if you’re not used to writing outlines, you’ll find that doing this ahead of time will help you organize your thoughts and—bonus—save you some time. What do we mean by an outline? A simple bulleted list would do. For example, here’s this student’s outline:

Why Gender and Sexuality Studies:

Eighth grade Civics class conversations

Shadowing OB/GYN at a nearby hospital and seeing woman receive postpartum exam

Being the school “tampon fairy” (restocking school bathrooms with tampons and condoms)

School projects on reproductive rights

Thesis: Name my major and briefly say why

Pose some thought-provoking questions. Don’t shy away from raising compelling questions in your essay, like those posed by the author in the second paragraph. Demonstrating you know how to ask insightful and critical questions is just as (if not more) important than having all the answers.

Don’t know what you’ll be majoring in? Don’t sweat it. You may be asking: But what if I don’t know what my intended major is? Don’t worry. Even if you’re unsure of your exact major or career path, go with what interests you at the moment.  You might research and select 1-2 areas of interest and describe how you became interested in each.  If possible, connect them and discuss your interests using an interdisciplinary lens. When it comes time to apply, you’ll still want to select a major on your application, but when writing this essay, the subjects you’re interested in are likely within a single college anyways. It’s often tough to transfer between colleges, say from the College of Liberal Arts to McComb’s School of Business, but it’s typically easier to transfer within a given college, say, if switching from the psychology to the sociology program. If you’re choosing “undeclared” on your application, which you can do for several colleges at UT, that’s okay! Describing several areas of interest is still a good idea for this essay. It demonstrates your curiosity as well as your ability to make connections across disciplines.

To see an example of an interdisciplinary essay, check out the example below. (And below that is another great example for this prompt.)

Example 2: Why Literary Arts or Modern Culture and Media?

My whole life, storytelling has shaped me. When I lived in London, my parents would read me The Lion King every night until I’d memorized the whole book. In elementary school, I would curl up in my bed, warm lamplight making my room golden, listening to my dad bring to life classics like Wilderness Champion and Tom Sawyer . Later, I found audio storytelling, laughing hysterically at Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on the car ride to school and connecting to a radio network of humanity through This American Life . It wasn’t long before I got hooked on visual narratives, mesmerized by the cinematic intensity of Whiplash and the whimsical world of Moonrise Kingdom , alternate realities I could explore as if they were my own. By high school, I was creating my own array of stories through satirical school newspaper articles, analysis of mise-en-scene in film class, podcasting, and my own locally-broadcasted radio series. A concentration in the Literary Arts or Modern Culture and Media is the next step in my life of storytelling. The dynamic world of connection and vulnerability a well-told story can create is what continues to fascinate me. At Brown, I would explore how engaging narratives have been told in the past and can be innovated in the future through new digital platforms. Whether researching radio’s historical impact on public opinion during World War II or the Vietnam War, developing screenplays, producing my own documentary or learning from Writers-In-Residence, I hope to pioneer networks of connection. (250 words) — — —

Example 3: Why Neuroscience?

Imagine all the stars in the universe. The brain has a thousand times the number of synapses, making neurological errors a near certainty. I learned this fact firsthand as a 14 year-old, when I suffered from sleepless nights because of an uncomfortable, indescribable feeling in my leg. It took months of appointments and tests to be told it was a condition called cortical dysplasia. Even after the diagnosis, there is no cure. I am lucky. My condition does not severely affect my quality of life. However, I know this is not the case for everyone. After this experience, I took AP Biology and attended a neuroscience program, which reinforced the subject as my future calling. One of the most impactful lectures discussed the plight of healthcare in developing nations. Newborns with extreme neurological deficits are common, but finding treatments is not. Without prenatal care, this is becoming a growing epidemic, leaving millions of children helpless. With a degree in neuroscience, I will gain a strong understanding of neural tube development and neuronal migration in infants. I will then become a neurologist, specializing in pediatric care. I hope to work for humanitarian organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, in Africa, where HIV and polio are rampant, as are numerous other diseases.  Imagine the stars once more. From across the world, I will look at the same stars in the future, as I help children secure the ability to not only look at the stars, but do much more. (247 words) — — —

How to Write UT Austin Short Answer Essay #2

Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community, or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT. (250-300 words)

If you’re applying to UT, you’ve likely already made an impact on your school, family, and community. Now it’s time to think beyond the four corners of your resume and consider how you’ll use your past to shape your future. If you think this feels a little bit like a “Why us?” essay, you’re not far off (and we applaud your critical analysis). But instead of incorporating details on how UT is going to change you , you’ll focus here on how you’d create lasting change at UT .

While this prompt isn’t new, the wording has been tweaked slightly, adding “your involvement in leadership activities” to the mix.

The student in the example below was writing to the old prompt, but he still did a great job of connecting his past experiences with opportunities at UT.

Some of my more interesting perspectives were formed in the backseat of my mom’s maroon Ford Explorer, where I’d unload the many questions inside my head, ranging from how toll roads worked to why we said the Pledge in school.  Today, my drive to learn new things has found an even more engaging outlet: arguing. I’ve spent many hours with friends in coffee shops, arguing over myriad topics. With each conversation, I walked away with new insights. During a debate over the Green New Deal, for example, I learned the effects of government action on the employment rate. I’m excited about the prospect of bringing my love of the argument to UT through the Lincoln-Douglas debate program and growing my skills under the guidance of skilled mentors like SunHee Simon.  As a Longhorn, I’d execute on the ideals I advocate for, perhaps by creating a voter engagement campaign targeting underrepresented communities in Austin with the help of organizations like Texas Rising and Generation UN.  When I lost my fingertip in a tubing accident, I dealt with my loss by researching my amputation. The more I learned, the more comfortable I began to feel, and I was able to make educated decisions about things like my prosthetic and nail removal. At UT Austin, I hope to exercise my newfound love of research in undergrad projects like How Campaigns Affect Voters, documenting the public’s changing views of political candidates throughout an election cycle in order to better understand the impact of news coverage on an election.  Although I’ve outgrown the Explorer, I’ve become an explorer of sorts in my own right, and I can’t wait to continue asking new questions and speaking out against injustice with my fellow Longhorns, whether it’s in the Perry-Castañeda Library, the South Mall, or Duren Hall’s courtyard. (300 words) — — —

Spotlight your values. By showing how and where you’ll choose to make an impact on UT, you’re showing admission officers what’s important to you. (Not sure what those values are? Spend 5 minutes exploring and naming your top values by completing the Values Exercise .) While this student may be talking about the activities he’d  join or the places on campus he can’t wait to explore, the details show what’s really important to him, like debate, community, social justice, and research.

Use the montage approach to write about multiple experiences. Consider using this prompt as an opportunity to expand on experiences you haven’t been able to highlight (or that don’t come through enough) elsewhere in your application. A mini-montage may be a strong, effective way to do just that. What’s a montage?  It’s an approach we liken to a beaded bracelet, with your experiences/perspectives/talents serving as the beads + a thematic thread that connects them all together. For this student, “arguing” served as his thematic thread, while debate, voter engagement, and research were the beads he wanted to accent in this essay.

If you’d like to try a similar approach, follow these steps:

Make a list of 7-10 ways you’d contribute to UT based on activities/clubs/experiences you’ve been a part of. Why so many? So you can choose the ones you want to focus on the most.

Consider connecting each contribution to a particular value (i.e., creativity, collaboration, social justice). Here’s that Values Exercise again. You can use it to generate some ideas or to connect with your 7-10 contributions.

Try to weave in parts of yourself that you haven’t yet talked about elsewhere on your UT application. Maybe you haven’t written about your volunteering experience yet, or your love of ventriloquism. Here’s your chance.

Consider writing about your experiences (the beads) as vignettes (maybe one vignette per paragraph), and string them together with a theme they all have in common (maybe they all tie into your love of art/culture or they’re your favorite hobbies).

Find unusual connections. Ford Explorer, amputation, and UT. It may seem like a Jeopardy! question (“Alex, what are three seemingly unrelated topics?”), but they work well. The Ford Explorer was the student’s driving (pun likely intended) force for pursuing debate, while his amputation was the springboard for a newfound love of research. The examples are attention-getters, but they also clearly connect with his interests.

Do your research, but be honest. Make legitimate connections between your experiences and how you’ll use them to UT’s benefit. Executed poorly, it can seem like name-dropping (and UT admission officers can spot insincerity a Texas mile away). But with each mention—SunHee Simon, Texas Rising and Generation UN, How Campaigns Affect Voters—this student shows not just that he’s familiar with UT opportunities, but how each can enrich his experience on the Austin campus.

Paint a clear picture of  your future. Help admission officers envision how you’d make an impact on campus using specific examples, like this: “At UT Austin, I hope to exercise my newfound love of research in undergrad projects like How Campaigns Affect Voters, documenting the public’s changing views of political candidates throughout an election cycle in order to better understand the impact of news coverage on an election.” Boom. In one sentence, the student lays down the written version of a breadcrumb trail, making clear how his past research experiences could inform how he could make a future difference on campus.

How to Write UT Austin Short Answer Essay #3

The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is, "To Transform Lives for the Benefit of Society." Please share how you believe your experience at UT-Austin will prepare you to “Change the World” after you graduate. (250-300 words)

While the last prompt asks you to consider the impact you’ll make during your time at  UT, this prompt fast-forwards you, Manifest -style, four years into the future. How will the post-UT you take what you’ve learned in college and use it to make a splash in the real world?

UT clearly doesn’t want just students on its campus—admission officials want critical thinkers and changemakers. Do you want to lead the charge for proactive, not reactive, pediatric health care approaches? Then your response might outline how the courses you take, the research you do, and the company you keep will help you initiate new cafeteria standards in elementary and secondary schools to reduce childhood obesity.

This essay, written for a similar prompt, could work well with just a few tweaks (which we’ll explain below).

Over the past 14 years, I’ve eaten 2,800 servings of peanut butter (PB), equal to 67.3% of my bodyweight. PB reflects who I am.  JUSTIN’s is the consistently gentle and cobbled PB. Providing a sweet but natural taste, Justin’s taught me to do the same in my interactions with others. Through participation in programs like UTeach Outreach and Alternative Breaks, I will become a better community member while growing into a leader and forming friendships.  JUBILIU is the imperfectly yet naturally perfect pebbled sesame PB. Non-homogenized in texture, it requires a big stir, but its natural taste is sustaining like its 600-year-old history. On one of my first days in China, my host mom and I ventured to Chinese Walmart, Wumart. Standing in the condiment aisle, she chose Jif for me, but I asked if there was a Chinese version. During my junior year immersion in China, I strove to be stirred around in the Chinese culture, adding to the depth of my own flavor, so I could purposely expand my worldview. Through UT’s Chinese Student Association, I look forward to immersing myself in and supporting the culture that taught me to purposely exert effort in my actions, seeking depth to lead a more sustaining life. SUNBUTTER is the unpredictably necessary non-PB PB. SunButter taught me to embrace what is hard, understanding it will enrich my life journey, or better yet, someone else’s. Pursuing my passion for finance and broadening my understanding of the world, I’m excited to join the Global Macro Team.  Crafted by other PB brands, I’m a continually evolving PB brand. I’m Ella. My PB brand is nowhere near shelf-ready; I’ve more experiences to be had, Longhorns to interact with, and 14,600+ servings of PB left to savor. (294 words) — — —

Tips + Analysis

Consider building off your responses to Essay #2. To answer the previous prompt, you thought about what’s important to you based on what you’ve been involved with. Now, consider what needs you’ve filled and what values you’ve gained from that involvement. How is that steering (Longhorn pun intended) what you’ll continue to do and how you’ll choose to get involved in the future?

It’s OK to not write about your career. You don’t have to change the world through your 9-to-5. (Although if you are pursuing a field of study or career that could effect positive change on the world around you, this is a great place to discuss it.) Plenty of people satisfy their desire to do social good outside their job. So maybe it’s your extracurriculars, not your major, that’s helping you be the change you want to see. And that’s great! This student did a nice job of showing how her past experiences will help her contribute at UT—with the UTeach Outreach and Alternative Breaks,  the Chinese Student Association, and the Global Macro Team. But had she been writing to this version of the prompt, she might have imagined how those experiences would help her change the world as a UT alum. So, likewise, make sure you take the longer view and focus on post-graduation activities.

Show you care about others. UT wants to make sure you’re the kind of person who’ll do good long after it’s something that looks good on a resume. How will you care for others with your UT education and your unique combination of skills and be the kind of Texas Exes the school is proud to call its own? Again, had this student been addressing today’s prompt, she might have gone into more detail on how she’s going to use finance and an expanded worldview post-UT.

Be specific, but not generic. Many of us would love to cure cancer and other diseases, or leave the world a little better than we found it by expanding sustainable energy sources. Clear, lofty goals for sure, but they’re probably not going to help you stand out as a changemaker. So how can you frame your potential contributions in a way no one else can? By sharing what drew you to UT and how that’s going to help you achieve your end goals. Again, this student may have served this prompt better by being more clear about how her UT experience would help her be the change.

How to Write the UT Austin Short Answer Essay #4:

(Optional for Summer/Fall 2023) Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19. (250-300 words)

Here, you can focus on anything that “impacted your high school academic performance,” and allowing for you to share any COVID-19 impacts. Though if you’re applying via the Common App, you’ll also have a box there you can use to address COVID, which we discuss how to use here . And because this section functions similarly to the Additional Info section, you can check out our full guide to the Additional Information section here . 

Check out an example of what that looks like.

Health Issue My fingertip was amputated in a tubing accident during the summer after junior year, which resulted in me having to relearn how to type and take extra time on tests and note-taking. However, I was able to adjust by mastering the hunt-and-peck typing method with my left hand and learning how to manipulate objects with only 9 and ⅔ fingers. Dropping AP French IV I became overwhelmed with my amount of advanced classes and coursework, including 3 hours a night from AP French homework. I made the choice to drop AP French in order to balance my coursework in my other classes and my mental health. I learned to respect and honor my limits as well as how to stand up for myself when I am feeling overwhelmed and unhappy. 2020 Spring Quarter Grades Before my school switched to pass/fail as a result of online learning, we completed our 3rd quarter grading period, which is not included on my transcript. I received the following grades: AP Physics 1: 91 AP Statistics: 99 Peer Coaching: 100 AP-GT English III: 93 Pre-AP Precalculus: 96 AP US History: 93 (154 words) — — —

Consider using bullets and section titles for easier scanning. The UT admission team already has a bunch of essays to read (and you’ve got plenty to write). Make it easier on them, and you, but bulleting out the main point you want to convey and organizing them under section titles (like Health Issues and Dropping AP French IV). A great/convenient benefit of this approach is that you don’t have to use full sentences, to save space (especially since, topping off at 300 words, UT’s version is less than half the 650 words the Common App accepts). 

Explain any red flags. Do you have gaps in your transcript? Poorer grades you want to explain? This is the place to do it. And it will help give UT admission counselors context as they review your application. A couple words of caution, though: a) try to put a positive spin even on something negative, like a bad grade, perhaps by sharing what you learned from the experience, as this will show maturity and perspective (and will help you avoid sounding like you’re whining), and b) don’t overly explain why, say, you got an A- instead of an A. It may make you seem like a perfectionist obsessed with grades, and that’s not a great look.

Use this space for achievements that wouldn’t fit anywhere else in your application. Like how this student shared the high grades he got before his classes went to pass/fail in the online learning environment during the pandemic. Since those scores are no longer being reported, UT wouldn’t know this otherwise, and it’s a pretty cool thing to share. 

You may choose to submit an expanded résumé offering additional information about all of your achievements, activities, leadership positions, and student employment. Your résumé should include all your achievements, not just those that didn’t fit on the ApplyTexas or Common Application. That said, if you’re able to list everything on your admissions application, there’s no need to submit a separate résumé.

Here’s what UT Austin says on its site:

“Your résumé should include all your achievements, not just those that didn’t fit on the ApplyTexas or Coalition for College application. That said, if you’re able to list everything on your admissions application, there’s no need to submit a separate résumé.  If you submit a résumé, you should include: - Details about what each activity involved rather than a general description - The number of hours per week and weeks per year you spent on each activity”

This expanded resume connects back to what we talked about earlier (in the section on short essay #1 regarding UT Austin’s focus on fit: Because the school places such emphasis on how you fit with your first-choice major, the expanded resume offers another great chance to show the admission team why you belong at their school, and how you fit in the program you want. This is particularly important for impacted majors, such as engineering, but we recommend submitting an expanded resume regardless of your major, and use it to further highlight why you and UT are a great match.

Head here for UT Expanded Resume Tips , including a sample resume/template.

Want advice on dozens of other supplemental essays? Click here

Special thanks to Julia for contributing to this post.


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


Create amazing supplemental essays for the most selective schools, polish your activities list, and complete everything else with ease and joy. Learn more here.



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essay a examples apply texas

Apply Texas Essay Prompts with Tips and Samples

College admission essays play a crucial role in ensuring that learners achieve their academic goals. Basically, application papers vary from one institution to another because they focus on admitting a vibrant and productive community. In this case, applying for colleges in Texas is unique when compared to other states because leaners decide to use either “Coalition for College” or “ApplyTexas” methods. Most Texas colleges require students to ApplyTexas method when completing their admission. However, the “Coalition for College” application is an alternative method that focuses on bridging the gap created by the first option. In turn, these two ways have the same value, and each applicant should use the most effective and accessible approach. The findings presented reveal that students should identify specific requirements for their colleges of choice. Besides, they must provide accurate details concerning their career goals and past experiences. Finally, seeking professional assistance enhances the overall quality of the papers.

General Aspect of Applying in Texas

Applying for college in Texas is unique when compared to other states because every student can either use “Coalition for College” or “ApplyTexas” methods. In this case, many Texas colleges require students to ApplyTexas method when completing their admission. However, the “Coalition for College” application is an alternative method for students. Then, these two ways have the same value, and each applicant should use the most effective and accessible approach. For example, ApplyTexas is an online application that enables individuals to create an account and provide personal information and papers. In turn, “Coalition for College” is more robust and allows students to begin their college admissions after joining high schools. Basically, this approach will enable them to do planning for their education. Also, college application essays vary from one institution to another due to the varying needs of learners. It is because educational institutions focus on admitting a vibrant and productive community. Hence, the writing process allows educational institutes to achieve this objective.

Apply texas essay prompts

Existing Apply Texas Essay Prompts 2020-2021

Essay prompts for college admission in Texas vary from one academic year to another. For instance, students must focus on identifying topics relevant to their academic year. In this case, these two admission processes have different issues. Basically, learners must identify the most suitable method of application and related topics. Then, each student has to complete several papers to receive admission to college by following the rules of an essay structure . In turn, aspirant students must demonstrate an adequate understanding of the subject to secure an admission position at the college of choice. Also, one may require looking for assistance from professionals to meet the necessary qualifications. In most cases, individuals must provide a specific number of words for each essay. Moreover, prudent scholars use the most straightforward and powerful language to communicate the intended message. Clarity and accuracy are essential factors that one must consider. For example, the following topics have been used in previous years for college admission.

1. ApplyTexas

Topic A applicable for freshmen applicants from the United States and International countries for summer 2020 through spring 2021 is:

Tell us your story. What exclusive opportunities or challenges have you experienced during your high school line of business, which has contributed towards your current character? (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

Topic A for the statement of purpose presented by the transfer, transient, readmit students from the United States or International transfers for summer 2020 through spring 2021 is:

The statement of purpose will provide an opportunity to explain any extenuating situations that you feel could make your application valuable. You may also want to clarify the exceptional features of your academic upbringing or valued experiences you may have, which relates to your career of choice. You should note that the statement of purpose should not be a mere listing of undertakings in high school or a record of your contributions to school-related activities. Instead, you should use it as an opportunity to address the admissions committee directly. A good statement of purpose should allow the committee to learn more about you as an individual. You should provide details that an interested person may not obtain from transcripts and other application information (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

Topic B for freshmen applicants from the United States and International countries for summer 2020 through spring 2021 is:

Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines their character most uniquely or exceptionally. Tell us about yourself (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

Topic B for the transfer, transient, readmit students from the United States or International transfers for summer 2020 through spring 2021 is:

If you were applying as a former student and were away from the institution due to suspensions for academic reasons, give a clear description of the specific activities that you took to improve your academic abilities. Besides, give reasons why you should receive readmission. If you are applying as a non-degree seeking or post-baccalaureate applicant, provide a brief description of the specific objectives you wish to accomplish after you receive an admission. Make sure to include the courses that you would like to enroll (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

Topic C for a freshman from the United States and other countries applying for summer 2018 through spring 2021, the topic is:

You have got a ticket in your hand – Where do you intend to go? What do you plan to do? Give a detailed account of what will happen when you get there? (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

Topic C for the transfer, transient, and readmit learners from the United States, or International transfers was:

You may have some personal information that you want to consider as part of your admissions application. Write an essay that describes this information. A good essay should include unique hardships, encounters, prospects that influenced or impacted your abilities and academic credentials, personal responsibilities, extraordinary achievements and talents, and educational objectives. Besides, you should include the ways that you might contribute to an institution committed to creating a diverse learning environment (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

Topic D relates to an essay specific to certain college majors. In this case, one should note that not all colleges or universities that rely on ApplyTexas Application require students to complete this essay. Besides, aspiring college students who intend to take majors in Architecture, Art, Art History, Design, Studio Art, and Visual Art Studies, or Art Education should complete this essay. Hence, one of the common topics is:

Personal interaction with objects, images, and spaces can have a powerful influence on how individuals think about specific issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies, or art education), give a clear description of an experience where instruction caused this type of change. You should also provide a personal interaction with an object, image, or space that caused this type of unprecedented change. What did you do to act upon your new thinking, and what steps have you taken to prepare for further study in this area? (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

Topic E for the transfer, transient, and readmit learners from the United States or International transfers were:

Choose an issue that has significant importance to your life – some of the matters that you can examine may include personal, school-related, local, political, or international in scope. Besides, you can write an essay where you give a clear and accurate explanation of the significance of your issue to yourself, your family, your community, or your generation (“ApplyTexas Essay Questions,” 2020).

2. Coalition for College

The following essay prompts are applicable for students who decide to make their college application through “Coalition for College.”

1. Tell a story from your life that describes an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape your behavior (“Coalition Application Essay Prompts,” 2020). 2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution (“Coalition Application Essay Prompts,” 2020). 3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the encounter affect your expectations? (“Coalition Application Essay Prompts,” 2020). 4. What is the hardest part of being a student now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)? (“Coalition Application Essay Prompts,” 2020). 5. Choose a topic that you find appropriate and write an essay (“Coalition Application Essay Prompts,” 2020).

Students should focus on providing the most appropriate and accurate information when writing essays. covering an essay outline . Basically, the most important facts that a learner should consider may include the depth of piece prompts. For instance, the “Coalition for College” application has fewer questions that ask for more details about learners. In this case, a college applicant must focus on providing adequate information to convince the admission committee about qualifications by considering an outline format . In turn, every aspiring college student should remember that each school requires a different combination of papers. However, some institutions may require one to write all the essay prompts or at least two. The preparation stage should include identifying the essay requirement needed for every college. Therefore, learners should focus on providing accurate details required to meet the specific needs of colleges.

How to Standout

Students can rely on adequate preparation and professional support to stand out from the crowd and win a spot. Basically, the admission committee focuses on unique papers when allocating admission opportunities to applicants. In this case, one should focus on ways to promote the quality of necessary compositions required by a college. Moreover, adequate preparation allows students to gather enough details for their writing purpose. Then, professional assistance can help students to horn their writing skills and deliver outstanding papers that appeal to admission officers. In other instances, experts can assist one in identifying flaws that can reduce the overall quality of college admission essays. Therefore, timely and adequate preparation and seeking professional assistance when writing a paper is the most effective way to get a college admission opportunity.  

Answer Different Essay Prompts

One’s choice of a major can influence responses to the above questions. For example, colleges assume that students make informed career choices when selecting majors. In this case, an applicant must engage in activities that enhance the skills and knowledge in selected courses. Also, applicants should relate past experiences and interests to the major selected. For instance, connecting the chosen majors to past experiences and leadership contributions shows the admission committee that one can make a significant contribution to society. In turn, the approach increases the opportunity to receive an acceptance from the admission officers.

Significance of Resumes

Resumes done previously for work and colleges can help one to improve the quality of the admission essay. Basically, students include their skills and experiences when writing papers. In this case, using the information for writing admission papers can prevent learners from omitting important skills and expertise. Moreover, those who include adequate information tend to convince the admission committee that they can benefit from a college education and give back to their communities. In turn, most higher learning institutions focus on molding all-rounded students who can become productive members of their communities. Also, including some information used in resumes makes the admission committee to determine if applicants can become productive members of their societies. Hence, students should consider integrating their resumes in college essays to promote the overall quality and chances to receive admission.

Truth Versus Idealization

Students should consider telling the truth as opposed to idealizing the information presented in college admission letters. In particular, accurate details, given most effectively, improve the overall quality of essays. The admission committee seeks to identify the abilities of every person who applies for a learning position. For instance, accurate facts allow the selection to make informed decisions and provide people who can make significant changes to the community a chance to study. In this case, responsible officers can reject one’s application if they realize the presence of false details in the paper. Also, applicants should not risk losing their chances to pursue higher learning by providing incorrect information. In turn, writing several drafts of college admission essays can ensure that learners prepare unique papers that can help them on the spot. The following specific benefits of providing accurate as opposed to ideal details are presented below:

Advantages of Providing Accurate Details when Writing College Essays

College admission papers play a crucial role in ensuring that learners achieve their academic goals. In this case, application essays vary from one institution to another because they focus on admitting a vibrant and productive community. However, the definition of such learners may differ in different states. For instance, applying for college in Texas is unique when compared to other countries because leaners decide to use either “Coalition for College” or “ApplyTexas” methods. In tur, most Texas colleges require students to ApplyTexas method when completing their admission. On the other hand, the “Coalition for College” application is an alternative method that focuses on bridging the gap created by the first option. The two ways have the same value, and each applicant should use the most effective and accessible approach. As a result, one should remember the following tips when writing a college admission essay:

ApplyTexas essay questions. (2020). Retrieved from www.applytexas.org website: https://www.applytexas.org/adappc/html/preview20/essay_preview.html

Coalition Application essay prompts. (2020). Retrieved from Coalition for College website: https://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/essays

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