Jun 12, 2013

UVa announces Essay Questions for 2013-14

University of Virginia

One of the more exciting features of the new Common Application (CA4) is the diversity of information colleges may choose to collect through the CA4 Writing Supplement. 

Functioning as the “uncommon” portion of the Common Application, the Writing Supplement is where colleges may invite or require essay responses, résumés, research papers, or even graded assignments.

Among the first colleges to reveal questions intended for their CA4 Writing Supplement, the University of Virginia this week announced essay prompts for 2013-14.

And although a number of questions will look familiar from years past, UVa has come up with several new prompts designed to avoid topics covered by the previously-announced CA4 essay questions.

“Students love hearing about our favorite essays and after I rattle off a few examples or quotes, they inevitably want to know about how we come up with our essay questions,” explained Jeannine Lalonde , Dean J of the UVa Admissions Blog.  “Essay questions evolve as our students’ reactions to them change.  Our goal is to present prompts that serve as jumping off points for many types of students.”

In general, UVa continues to look for “passionate students” to join a “diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.”

Beyond the single 250- to 650-word essay required by the Common Application, prospective ‘Hoos are being asked to write two 250-word statements, the first of which ties into a school or major with the second requiring a response to one of five challenging prompts.

As in past years, students applying to UVa’s College of Arts and Sciences are asked to discuss a work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature that “surprised, unsettled, or challenged” them in some way.

Applicants to Kinesiology and Nursing will describe experiences that led them to choose these career paths.

Prospective engineers are once again asked to come up with a “small engineering project” without dollar limits. The sky’s the limit.

And architects will explain in 250 words or less how a particular physical place has influenced their growth as a person.

For the second essay, applicants are asked to pick one of four questions to answer in a half page or roughly 250 words:
  • What is your favorite word and why?
  • The Honor code at UVa states that students will not lie, cheat, or steal.  This strengthens our Community of Trust.  What would you add to the Honor Code and why?
  • In 2006, graduate student Robert Stilling discovered an unpublished poem by Robert Frost while doing research in UVa’s Small Collections Library.  Where will your Stilling moment be in college?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language (we’ll welcome you to Grounds, not campus) and in traditions.   Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
  • To tweet or not to tweet?
Dean J promises that she is not responsible for the last prompt.

CA4 officially launches on August 1, and all Common App member colleges are committed to posting their Writing Supplement requirements on or before the official launch.

And hint to colleges:  it would really help to have them posted on websites before August 1.

Thank you UVa for getting the ball rolling!

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