If you’re applying to the University of Texas, you’ll need to write four supplemental essays. This guide will get you off to a great start on the UT Austin essays by helping you with the all-important first step: developing strong topics.
Let’s take a look at the prompts!
What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood, or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person. (750 words)
This is an opportunity to explain how you became the person you are today. In other words: what makes you awesome, and how did you get that way?
With a 750-word limit, this is the longest of the UT Austin essays. You may be tempted to talk about many different parts of your upbringing. (For example, talking about your family and your school and your volunteer work.) But your essay will be much stronger if you focus on just one topic. This will allow you to add more depth – all the juicy details about your unique experiences, traits, and values.
Here are some tips to help you pick a topic:
- First, make a brainstorming list of 2-4 parts of the environment you grew up in. Choose aspects of your environment that had a big impact on who you are - Things that influenced your present-day values, interests, or goals. You might want to include environments like:
- Your family
- Your school
- Your neighborhood
- A religious or cultural group
- An extracurricular club, volunteer group, or job where you formed close personal connections
- Then, pick one item from your brainstorming list that had a big impact on your values, interests, and goals.
- Finally, write down how it changed you. How did it make you the awesome person you are today?
- Let’s look at some example students’ topics:
- Student 1:
- Environment: My temple’s community service corps
- How it changed me: It taught me leadership skills and made me dedicated to community service
- Student 2:
- Environment: Attending an international school
- How it changed me: It made me interested in learning about other cultures, and I developed the goal of majoring in International Relations.
If you could have any career, what would it be? Why? Describe any activities you are involved in, life experiences you’ve had, or even classes you’ve taken that have helped you identify this professional path.
Tips to consider: This is an opportunity to describe your academic and future professional interests. You may not yet be 100% certain about what you want to do, but is there a particular field that you think you want to work in, or a certain path you want to pursue after college? How have your interests and experiences influenced your choice of majors or your plans to explore in college?
Please limit your response to 250-300 words.
This prompt is asking two main questions:
- What career path do you want to pursue after college?
- What is a past experience that really helped you identify this goal?
The second question allows you to get creative. For example, you could talk about experiences you had in school, extracurricular activities, or in your personal life. There’s no right or wrong answer. What inspired your future goals?
Let’s look at a few example students’ topics:
- Student 1:
- Career Path: Becoming a chemistry professor
- Influence: Volunteering for a science museum
- Student 2:
- Career Path: Entrepreneurship
- Influence: Helping my mom market her small business on social media
Note: The "environment" and "career" essays both involve talking about experiences you've had, and how those experiences have shaped you. As you develop your topics for these UT Austin essays, avoid talking about the same experience or interest in both of them.
Do you believe your academic record (transcript information and test scores) provide an accurate representation of you as a student? Why or why not?
Tips to consider: Feel free to address anything you want the Office of Admissions to know about your academic record so that we can consider this information when we review your application.
You can discuss your academic work, class rank, GPA, individual course grades, test scores, and/or the classes that you took or the classes that were available to you.
You can also describe how special circumstances and/or your school, community, and family environments impacted your high school performance. Please limit your response to 250-300 words.
There are several different ways to approach this 250-300 word essay.
A learning experience: You could describe a learning experience that didn’t make it onto your transcript, like taking a class outside of school or learning from an independent project. For example:
- A student’s high school didn’t offer any Korean language classes, but he took private Korean classes for 3 years. This isn’t a part of his academic transcript.
- An aspiring art major had few opportunities to take art classes, but she started a successful business where she sold her paintings on Etsy.
A clarification: You could explain something about the tests and courses on your transcript. Is there anything that would be confusing or unclear?
- Example topic: A high school senior attended an internship with a museum two afternoons per week. During these periods, her transcript only says “independent study,” with no mention of an internship.
Life circumstances: You could explain how a special circumstance in your life negatively impacted your application.
- Example topic: A student missed several weeks of school after she was in a car accident, and her grades dropped during her recovery time.
How do you show leadership in your life? How do you see yourself being a leader at UT Austin? Tips to consider: Leadership can be demonstrated by positions you hold as an officer in a club or organization, but other types of leadership are important too. Leaders can emerge in various situations at any given time, including outside of the school experience. Please share a brief description of the type of leadership qualities you possess, from school and non-school related experiences, including demonstrations of leadership in your job, your community, or within your family responsibilities, and then share how you hope to demonstrate leadership as a member of our campus community. Please limit your response to 250-300 words.
This prompt asks two main questions:
- How have you been a leader in the past?
- How will you be a leader at UT Austin?
Past Leadership: As you develop your topic, feel free to get creative with your interpretation of “leadership.” It’s fine to write about a traditional leadership role, but you could also write about a time when you led an informal group of peers, family members, or community members.
At UT Austin: Try exploring the UT Austin website as you brainstorm. This may help you identify opportunities for you to be a leader in the future. For example, you might want to be a volunteer mentor with Student Engineers Educating Kids, advocate for sustainability with the Green Campus Club, or strengthen your leadership skills with ProjectLEAD.
Coalition App vs. ApplyTexas
UT Austin accepts the ApplyTexas application and the Coalition App. You can use either one – there’s no right or wrong answer.
Both of these applications are accepted by multiple schools. To cut down on your application workload, you may want to choose an application that’s accepted by the other schools you’re applying to.
Note: If you’re using the Coalition App, you’ll also need to respond to one of the Coalition App essay prompts. Prompt offers a free guided brainstorming module that can help you get started on all of your personal statements. Click below to get access!