Jun 11, 2011

UVa Releases 2011-12 Essay Questions

There aren’t too many surprises among next year’s essay questions for the University of Virginia supplement to the Common Application. After all, they’ve been asking the same basic questions in one form or another for a long, long time.

But for college-bound juniors wanting a head start on their summer assignment, a couple of options were changed or subtly adjusted to produce more targeted responses.

In general, UVa continues to look for “passionate students” to join a “diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.” Beyond the questions required by the Common Application, prospective Hoos are 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 four prompts.

As in past years, students applying to UVa’s College of Arts & 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 the Architecture and Nursing schools have to describe experiences that led them to choose those professions.

Prospective engineers are once again asked to come up with a “small engineering project,” but the distracting $10,000 limit has been lifted. This time, the sky’s the limit and you no longer have to assemble a team.

In a curious new addition to the supplement, students headed toward the Kinesiology program are specifically asked what led them to “choose the major.” The Kinesiology Program within the Curry School of Education offers both an undergraduate degree as well as a 5-year BSEd/MT program in health and physical education. It looks like applicants are being asked to commit early.

For the second essay, three of the four possible prompts remain the same:

  • What is your favorite word and why?

  • Describe the world you come from and how that world shaped who you are.

  • Discuss your favorite place to get lost. (This question was written by U.Va. students who live in one of residential colleges, Brown College at Monroe Hill.)

But instead of responding to a challenging statement related to “The Dumbest Generation” and the erosion of social and private environments, applicants may now choose to discuss something they “secretly like but pretend not to, or vice versa.” Is that a collective sigh of relief?

The Common Application officially launches on August 1st after a brief hiatus at the end of July. This is when retooling takes place and new supplements are brought online.

In the meantime, a 2011-12 preview edition is available to downloand and take to the beach. Prospective UVa early action applicants would be wise to take it along and start drafting a few essays.

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