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Answering the University of Maryland Application Questions 2019-20

The University of Maryland, College Park is one of the most selective public research universities in the U.S. You’ll be submitting your resume (see our resume guide) and a main essay responding to one of the Coalition App prompts, but these short answers let you show an even fuller picture of who you are.

The key to these University of Maryland application questions is to brainstorm until you find a unique, creative angle to approach each one. You don’t have to use all 160 characters, but use enough to put your own spin on it. Make sure your answers are distinctive from each other, too, so that readers see various sides of your personality.

160 characters is enough to tell a tiny story, which could be more compelling than a simple list or a two-word answer. You also might want to hint at your future goals. It’s fine to touch on areas covered in your main Coalition essay, but try to highlight some new aspects in your responses to these University of Maryland application questions.

Let’s look at some sample answers for each prompt.


If I could travel anywhere, I would go to…

Instead of just “Costa Rica,” you might showcase your passions and values: “study tree frogs in a Costa Rican cloud forest, discover why they’re endangered, and help local organizations protect tree frog habitats.”


The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was…

Instead of “electrons can be waves or particles,” elaborate and look to the future: “electrons can behave as both waves and particles, a fact which opened my eyes to the strange wonders of the quantum world and inspired me to major in physics.”


In addition to my major, my academic interests include…

Not just “writing and history.” Majoring in computer science? Perhaps show a more holistic perspective: “writing techniques for communicating my computer science ideas effectively, and the 19th-century historical roots of the Digital Revolution.”


My favorite thing about last Thursday was…

“Going bowling” isn’t quite enough. Better might be: “going bowling with my friends to take a break from our weekly biology study group.” Another example: “the moment I finished revising my AP History paper and began writing the final chapter of my epic fantasy sci-fi novel Dragons vs Robots of the Chesapeake Bay.” It’s okay to have fun with these, as long as you still convey something meaningful about yourself!


Something you might not know about me is…

Go beyond “I’m very, very tall.” You can use these short University of Maryland application essays to portray values of yours that will enhance the UMD community. For example: “since third grade, I’ve towered over my classmates; although I’ve felt awkward at times, my height has helped me empathize with others who don’t quite fit in.”


Let’s also look at UMD’s additional information question:

Please include any additional information you would like to provide if extenuating circumstances have affected your performance or extracurricular activities. This information is only necessary if these circumstances have not been discussed in any other part of your application. Maximum 100 words.


This is optional. Describe any major disruptions to your life, your health, or your time available for schoolwork. If possible, show how you’ve moved past any obstacles or learned to manage them. Unless you have crucial information for admissions readers, skip this response and just use your other essays and short answers to shine. With only 100 words here, be direct, honest, and concise.


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