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How to Pick the Right University of Oregon Essay Prompts

In the University of Oregon application, you’ll have the opportunity to choose 1 of 2 prompts for the Equality and Inclusion essay. This essay is optional, but we recommend completing it to maximize your chances and show that you’re a great fit for UO. This guide will help you pick the best University of Oregon essay prompt for your application.


The Equality and Inclusion essay:

This essay is an opportunity to show that you share UO’s values. You’ll need to choose 1 of 2 prompts. Here are some tips to help you choose a University of Oregon essay prompt:

Option #1: Describe an experience with discrimination, whether it was fighting against discrimination or recognizing your contribution to discriminating against a person or group. What did you learn from the experience? In what ways will you bring those lessons to the University of Oregon?

If you’ve had an experience that might fit this prompt, try answering these questions:

    • Did you learn something from this experience?
    • Was this experience important to you?
    • Did it have a lasting impact on your actions, interests, values, or goals?

If you answered yes to these questions, this prompt is a good option for you!


Option #2: The University of Oregon values difference, and we take pride in our diverse community. Please explain how you will share your experiences, values and interests with our community. In what ways can you imagine offering your support to others?

This prompt gives you more freedom. Most students will have something in their life that fits this prompt – but it can be difficult to identify it.

    • Is your topic something you want to share or discuss with your peers?
    • Can you think of specific situations where you could share it with others at UO?

If you answered yes to both, then your topic is off to a good start! 


Complementing Your Common App Essay

When choosing a University of Oregon essay prompt, think about how it works with your Common App essay. Try to use your UO essay to discuss a different interest, value, or goal.

Here’s how an example student handled this:

    • Common App essay topic: Advocated for better wheelchair accessibility in her community
    • UO essay topic (Prompt #2): Mentored underserved middle schoolers in STEM program; wants to be a peer tutor at UO.

 Her Common App essay had similar themes to UO Prompt #1, so she decided to use UO Prompt #2 instead. This allowed her to discuss different interests and values.


The Additional Information Essay

The University of Oregon application has a second optional essay. It allows you to share additional information or context about life circumstances that may have limited your academic or extracurricular achievements.


Additional Information Prompt:

This section can be used for various purposes, and gives you an optional opportunity for discussing any of the following.

•Your academic record might have included periods of low performance such as grades of D or F, inconsistent or downward trends in grades, deficiencies in particular subject areas, or discrepancies between your test scores and GPA. This might be because of special personal circumstances such as death or illness of a parent, caring for a family member, homelessness, frequent moves, or due to learning disabilities/differences or study habits. If relevant, be sure to let us know what actions you have taken in order to be successful, and what you have learned from the experience.

•You want to help us better understand how your involvement in activities was limited by work or family obligations, or by the unique setting of your school or community

•You need to share any other information with us about yourself that is not provided elsewhere, or UO admissions staff told you to provide certain information in this space

  • This prompt is optional. You don’t need to use it unless you have circumstances to explain.
  • Note: the Common Application has a similar prompt. If you’ve already written about a topic in the Common App’s Additional Information essay, then you don’t need to repeat the same material here.

The Robert D. Clark Honors Essay

Oregon has a new choose-one-of three honors essay prompt for 2019-20!  If you want to go that extra step and get into the honors college, here's what you have to choose from.


The CHC faculty are involved in the review of applications to the Honors College, and are eager to learn about how you think, and how your mind works. Please write an essay that responds to one of the three quotations below. Reflect on how the quotation relates to your own experience, beliefs, and attitudes.

Select one of the three quotes listed below. (650 word maximum).

  • Hannah Arendt: "Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it, and by the same token save it from that ruin which except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and the young, would be inevitable."

  • Maya Angelou: "Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible." 

  • John Steinbeck: "I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen.”

There's a trap in this prompt!  Even though you are responding to some very deep philosophical quotes, you don't want to spend this essay making broad philosophical statements.  Instead, follow that last sentence of the prompt and relate your quote to one of your own real-life experiences.


Click here for our guide to writing the Common App Essay

Prompt’s Essay Specialists reviewed 13,000 admissions essays in 2018, helping thousands of students submit their applications with confidence.

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