15 Jul
  • By Ayushi sharma

New Essay Requirements for ApplyTexas and University of Texas for Fall 2018

New Essay Requirements for ApplyTexas and University of Texas for Fall 2018

If you are applying to be an incoming freshmen to the University of Texas at Austin for Fall 2018, I believe this is a piece of good news for you.

The application essays you need to write have changed from writing three longer essays (Topics A, B, and C) to one long essay (Topic A) and three supplements, which they call ‘short answers.’

To address Topic A, you need to write one personal statement type of essay about your background for the prompt they call Topic A. There is no stated word length, but a good range is around 500 words.

For the three short answers, you will write no more than 300 words each on Career Plans, Academics and Leadership.

You can read all about the changes and new prompts on the ApplyTexas website.

Here is the exact prompt for Topic A:

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.

Read THIS POST for my advice and writing strategies on how to write about your background (‘the environment in which you were raised’) and address this prompt.

Here are the 3 New Short Answer Prompts and Tips(This is all directly from the ApplyTexas web site)

Short Answer 1: Career Plans

If you could have any career, what would it be? Why? Describe any activities you are taking part 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?

Short Answer 2: Academics

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.

Short Answer 3: Leadership

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.racism is wrong essay 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.

My friend, Kevin Martin, just published this guide, Your Ticket to the Forty Acres: The Unofficial Guide for UT Undergraduate Admissions, on Amazon (Kindle) to help students quickly figure out what they need to do to game the admissions scene at the University of Texas, especially its Austin campus.

What I love about this book is that Kevin was a first-gen student who graduated top of his class, and then went on to for their admissions department as a counselor.

So he has experienced both sides of the process.

In the book, Kevin shares his personal experience and stories as well as advice and tips on figuring out what you need to increase your chances of getting accepted.

The best news?

You can download this bookfor FREE through Saturday, June 17!

Just go to Amazon and get your copy and then do your homework.

This is from the review I left for his book on Amazon:

‘Unlike many guides for gaming the college admissions industry, Kevin has his priorities straight: It’s all about finding the right fit.

And this book offers everything you need to give it your personal best shot, from his insights on the psychology of the process to deciphering the actual algorithms used for deciding who gets in.’

Kevin also was kind enough to let me share with you some of his best advice on the University of Texas essays.

Kevin Martin

Here’s an excerpt from his book on how to brainstorm and write about what’s known as Essay A:

18 Questions

to Help Guide

Your Apply Texas Essay A

The English Department professor who conducted our UT-Austin essay review training would say, ‘Think of a college essay prompt not as box to trap students but as an invitation to write.’

It is up to the student to define what they want to write. Many essay prompts are broad, and Apply Texas Essay A is no exception.

‘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.’

Colleges and universities note a trend that primary and secondary school teachers have observed for decades.

A student’s home life heavily influences their ability to succeed or fail.

UT wants to learn about important people in your life, organizations that impact you, or the atmosphere of your household or high school.

I hear students say, ‘I don’t have anything interesting to discuss. My home life is boring, suburban, and predictable.’

Remember, you’re not writing your autobiography. You’re submitting at most 650 words making one or two observations.

If you’re having trouble getting started, consider asking yourself some of these questions to narrow down the prompt:

  • Were you raised in a household that encouraged reading?
  • What food did your parents put on the table?
  • Do you eat dinner together each night?
  • Do your parents support your interests and curiosities?
  • Do they attend your sports games or choir concerts?
  • Do you play outside?
  • What do your parents do for work, and does this inform your future goals?
  • Do you feel pressure to excel in the classroom?
  • Where does that pressure come from?
  • What are your days like before and after school, on the weekends, and in the summers?
  • Do you have any siblings who have influenced you?
  • What about grandparents?
  • Is there one memory or experience that sticks out among the rest?
  • What does your family do over the holidays?
  • Have you taken a memorable vacation?
  • What are your friends like?
  • Are your parents divorced?
  • How do you think living in Austin or attending UT will differ from your current environment?

I love working with students from all over the world.

I’m always surprised, however, how many of these students overlook their rich backgrounds when brainstorming topics for their college application essays.

There have been several grounds for this.

Many international students seem to believe that colleges wouldn’t be interested in their country of birth, and the related customs, food, traditions, etc.

These same students also believe they need to appear ‘Americanized’ in order to be attractive to their target schools in the U.S.

They are wrong and wrong.

I also have worked with students born in the United States who are reluctant to feature their ethnic heritage because it wasn’t white and waspy.

Others are so immersed everyday in their cultural backgrounds that they don’t even recognize how special they are or that they even have them.

Sometimes your ‘culture’ is so close to you that it’s hard to see.

For example, I had to convince some students by the Texas border in the Rio Grande Valley, which is almost entirely hispanic, that they had incredible cultural topics to feature in their essays, from Mexican myths and sayings to speciality breakfast tacos sold at their local convenience stores, called the Q-taco.

They were too close to these cultural treasures to understand that others outside their community would find them of interest.

The trick is to find your unique cultural bubble. Sometimes you have several!

Even students from ‘white’ backgrounds who feel they don’t have distinctive ‘ethnic’ cultural heritage often overlook their very own rich cultural surroundings. (Examples: surf culture; ‘redneck’ culture; ‘preppie’ culture; military culture; hippie culture; city culture)

Culture is everywhere.

It’s kind of like a mini-world having its own set of traditions, food, clothing, beliefs, etc. One good place to explore yours is to think about the background of your parents and grandparents.

In personal statements, you are looking for examples in your life of what has shaped or defined you, and your values.

Often, these cultural backgrounds have played a powerful role, and also are distinctive and fascinating so take advantage of that in your essays!

Not forgetting that many schools are seeking ‘diversity’ for their student body make-up: How will they know what you have to contribute if you don’t help them understand your upbringing?

Different is good!

Students who have any type of ethnic and cultural background are the lucky ones: They have something unique and often colorful to write about right out the door with these essay topics!

Advice for International Students

I have four pieces of advice for international students.

You are lucky since your cultural background is a given: It’s usually first defined by the country you live in which is naturally ‘different’ than the U.S.

Embrace and celebrate that in your essay!

Often, as you know, there are various cultures within your country. The more specific you can be about authoring your culture, the more relevant and meaningful your points will be.

My Four Tips:

1. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the type and style of essays that are most effective at most colleges and universities in the U.S. If you are writing a personal statement essay (such as The Common Application core essay), you want to write a personal essay that features real-life experiences to showcase your personality and character.

RELATED: Learn How to Write a Personal Essay

I’m not an expert in the required essays at colleges and universities outside the U.S., but the prompts and sample essays I have read from places in Great Britain, Scotland, Germany and other countries have often sought more formal, academic essays. If these are the type of essays you are used to writing, take the time to learn about writing a narrative-style personal essay. There’s a big difference.

2. When looking for a topic for your personal essay, consider the customs, traditions, (physical and emotional) environment, food, dress and other parts of your family background and lifestyle that were unique to your country, or particular region or community.

These can make terrific topics, especially if you can share related experiences and reveal how they helped you define your core qualities or values.

Not only are these culturally related experiences fresh and interesting (especially to the Americans reading your essays), they are also full of personal stories, color and details that can enliven your essays.

3. I believe that when admissions folks at college and universities notice that you are an international student, they will be on the lookout for evidence that you have what it takes to live far away from home.

To me, that means they want to see that you are independent, determined, resilient and have grit. If you can showcase these qualities in your college application essays, I think you could give yourself an edge.

RELATED: How to Show Your Grit

4. Although it might not seem fair, but I also think when colleges see that you are from a country outside the U.S., especially one where English is not the main language, admissions folks will look more critically at the mechanics of your writing.

Always have someone with a strong command of english review your essays, and make sure you nail the spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Also, ask them to help you make sure to use more everyday language, and ‘write like you talk,’ so you aren’t too formal and stiff in your style, and don’t use idioms incorrectly (a tip-off that English is a second language).

Advice For Everyone Else

Find your culture, no matter where you come from.

Often, you are so surrounded by it that it can be hard to see.

Once you recognize your cultural background, it is critical to avoid making cliche observations about it in your essay.

For example, if you are from such giant countries as China or India, you will need to carve out a smaller piece of your culture within your country.

HOT TIP: Pick one specific tradition or experience related to your cultural background to feature in your essay, instead of trying to write about too much. (The Q-taco; henna; Pho your grandma taught you to produce; roping cows; braiding hair; ghost stories; picking berries; your strange name…)

That will help you avoid the overdone and cliche.

Always look for ways to find the unexpected within your culture.

What would readers be surprised to learn about your culture? Look for things that bust their assumptions.


I’m from India, but I’m not Hindu. Instead, I’m …

I’m from a native american tribe, but I don’t own any indigenous costumes or dance. Instead, I …

I’m from Texas but I hate bbq. Instead, I …

My dad is from Guatemala and my mom from Mexico, but I don’t speak Spanish. Instead, I …

I’m from California, but I’ve never been to the beach. Instead, I …

You will get the drift.

As you know, many cultures come with stereotypes and generalizations, and even racism and prejudice.

Exploring these patterns and issues can lead to great essays topics, especially if you have had to deal with them.

Read my post on why Problems Make Great Essays.

Let the reader see and feel what it has sensed like to grow up in your unique culture, and then share what you have learned from it, both the good and the bad.

I’m confident you will end up with a personal, compelling and meaningful essay, no matter what planet you are from!

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