Jun 9, 2015

UVa announces essay questions for 2015-16

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia announced yesterday that essay questions for fall 2016 applicants will look very similar to those in previous years, with only a few minor tweaks to keep things interesting.

In addition to the personal statement required of all UVa applicants using the Common Application, students will be asked to write two short responses to prompts provided in the member-specific section of the application.

We usually have admission officers, deans from the different schools/programs, and current UVa students weigh in on the questions,” explained Jeannine Lalonde , Dean J of the UVa Admissions Blog.  After reading thousands of essays, most admission officers are pretty passionate about the questions that need to stay on the application and the ones that need to go or be edited.”

This year, Dean J invited readers of her blog to provide feedback on the essay prompts from last year.

My favorite one was the quirks essay! It allowed me to show another side of me that's not just my gpa, grades, and extracurriculars. That one was the one I had the most fun writing,” said one Class of 2019 applicant.

Another agreed, “Definitely keep the quirks prompt…Out of all the college application essays I had to write, I honestly think I had the most fun writing the quirks essay.”

Others debated the “To tweet or not to tweet” prompt.  One applicant though the question was “very cool because it allowed us to write about social media which has become a generational treasure for us younger folks.” But another complained, “I didn’t really understand what ‘to tweet or not to tweet’ was supposed to mean and therefore avoided it.”

As in past years, UVa is “looking for passionate students” to join a “diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.” Prospective “’Hoo’s” are asked to answer in approximately 250 words one of a series of questions corresponding to the school/program to which they are applying:
  • College of Arts and Sciences.   What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
  • Kinesiology and Nursing. Discuss experiences that led you to choose the school/major.
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. UVa engineers are working to solve problems that affect people around the world, from our long-term water purification project in South Africa to continuing to research more efficient applications of solar power. However, most students start small, by using engineering to make a difference in daily life. If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make your everyday life better, what would you do?
  • Architecture. Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
For the second essay, applicants are asked to pick one of four questions to answer in a half page or roughly 250 words:
  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions.   Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
  • Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVa culture. In her fourth year at UVa, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
  • U.Va. students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
UVa is an exclusive member of the Common Application, which officially launches on August 1.

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