University of Viginia Supplemental essays: "Why college?"

University of Virginia is a public institution that was founded in 1819. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 16,331, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 1,682 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. University of Virginia's ranking in the 2018 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, 25. Some of the greatest minds graduated from UVA, from Edgar Alan Poe to Tina Fey. 

UVA has two supplemental questions: the why, and the oddball essay. Lets start with the why question!

1. We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.  Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.

 The first of UVA’s two required essays is specific to the school within UVA to which you will be applying. In most cases, the prompt bears some relation to the classic “Why” essay, which probes for the reasons you are a good fit for a school and vice versa. When you search for answers to this prompt, think about why you want to study what you want to study. What past experiences and commitments will show admissions that you are truly committed to the field you’re interested in. And how might you act on your passions and interests?
The small curve ball in these UVA “Why” prompts is that many of them ask you to demonstrate your interest by discussing a topic or providing a specific example of something that inspires you within your chosen field. In these cases, you won’t be talking about why you want to pursue your chosen field in the abstract, but rather you will prove your interest on the spot with your examination of the subject you choose.

College of Arts and Sciences

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?

This is one of those curve balls we were just referring to. In asking you about an academic or artistic work that has captured your attention, UVA is asking you to put your love of the arts and sciences on display (which in turn will prove your interest in the school you’re applying to). These kinds of questions can be tricky if specific examples don’t immediately come to mind. Try to avoid the obvious (no Great Gatsby, please) unless you have a hyper-personal connection to the material at hand. Instead, search for concepts, ideas, art and stories that ignited your curiosity, made you fall in love with a subject, or pushed you to new academic heights. We recommend going through your bookshelf and old school notebooks to start to collect ideas worth expanding upon.

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design?

Again, with this prompt UVA wants to see your interest in a subject in action. If you are an aspiring engineering and applied sciences student and those fields are a good fit for your passions and skills, you will very likely be excited by this prompt. After all, it takes a creative and innovative mind to invent something that improves the lives of others – and as an engineer or applied scientist that is exactly what you will be signing up to do. We recommend starting this prompt by interviewing some of the people that are close to you and asking them about the simple annoyances and inconveniences of their daily lives. This should give you some initial ideas for problems that need solving so you can put on your thinking cap and invent some thoughtful solutions. Again, try to stay away from the obvious here. And do your research to make sure the thing you’re trying to create hasn’t already been invented!

School of Architecture

Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.

Answering this prompt requires an interesting combo of creative interest in action and traditional why essay elements. In asking you to describe an inspiration, admissions is not simply asking you to identify something that has motivated your interest – they also want to know WHY the landmark, building, or other element of design struck your fancy. Feel free to expand upon how being exposed to creativity pushed you to explore your own talents. Another helpful hint: using terminology that showcases a command of design and architecture concepts can be really helpful in showing admissions your commitment to the field.

This brings us to the end of the first installment of the UVA supplemental essays guide! Head over to the University of Virginia category link and read more on the oddball essays! 

Welcome back to the UVA supplemental essays guide. Here are some brainstorming tips for the oddball prompts!