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  • Click to see new requirements: Learn about changes.

    To sum them up: Students must write one core, personal-statement type essay about their background (Same Prompt A as before), and three short answers about their Career Plans, Academics and Leadership (under 300 words each)

    Below is the original post I wrote about UT essay requirements in 2016. All advice on how to strategize for Prompt A still applies perfectly.

    Incoming freshmen no longer need to write essays for Prompts B and C; instead they need to write the new 3 short answer essays.

    I will be writing a new post with advice and tips on how to answer the 3 new short answers sometime this month. Stay tuned! (Follow my blog to not miss new posts!)

    ORIGINAL POST BELOW:

    ApplyTexas, which handles the applications for the public universities in Texas, as well as many private colleges, has announced on its web site that they have all-new essay prompts for Fall 2017.

    These new ApplyTexas essays apply to students who would be starting as freshman in Fall 2017, and applying to schools such as the University of Texas at Austin, or its other locations, as well as other Texas colleges.

    Students who want to apply to most public colleges and universities and some private colleges in Texas must use the ApplyTexas application.

    They replaced the three main prompts, called Topic A, Topic B and Topic C, with new questions.

    Though the ApplyTexas essays don’t specific a word count, I believe a good average for each essay is around 500 words.

    Many college admissions experts believe this is the most important of the three essays, and that if possible, students should mention their intended major, and build a strong case for why they would be successful at it in college and beyond.

    ApplyTexas Essay Prompts A, B and C For U.S. Freshman and International Freshman Applications Slated to replace current ApplyTexas essay choices A, B and C For inclusion in ApplyTexas applications for the 2017-2018 cycle (Summer 2017, Fall 2017, and Spring 2018 - opening 8/1/16)

    (Essays for Summer 2016, Fall 2016, and Spring 2017 Applications are NOT changing)

    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.

    Go back to the sample outline I shared at the beginning of this post, and start to craft your ideas into “chunks” or paragraphs in an order that makes sense. Usually, starting from the earliest activities and describing them from there in chronological order works the best.

    Topic B: Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.

    Topic C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand - Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

    If you are just starting brainstorming ideas for these ApplyTexas essays, I have some ideas for you that I have written about in posts about similar essay prompts.

    A great way to focus this essay is to determine what personal quality or qualities you have developed that will make you effective at reaching your goal(s), and then collect some of the experiences or activities in school and out where this has happened.

    And news one for you, too!

    IDEAS FOR
    APPLYTEXAS ESSAYS:
    TOPIC A

    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.

    For Topic A, I would suggest you learn how to write about “the environment in which you were raised” by first thinking about your background.

    In the previous post, I wrote about ideas on how to answer Topics A and B in the ApplyTexas college application.

    This is also sometime referred to as the “world” you come from, or your “roots.” It can mean anything about your past experiences involving your “family, home, neighborhood, or community.”

    In essence, I believe this prompt wants you to write about something in your background (family, home, neighborhood, or community) that has “shaped” or defined you in some way.

    Write down these goals in a few sentences. Even if you truly have no idea about your future, you need to have something in mind to write a decent essay.

    As in writing about your “world,” one big tip is to focus your essay and not try to write about more than one of these parts of your background. Pick only one, such as “family” or “community,” and then focus in even more on what you want to say about it.

    The other advice is to not simply describe one of these (family, home, neighborhood, etc), but find something that happened involving those environments that “shaped you as a person.

    Depending on the school(s) in Texas that you are applying to, there’s a good chance you will need to answer any combination of Topics A, B or C.

    Hint: To find a mini-story (anecdote) about something that happened that you can use to illustrate how your background shaped you, think back about “times” you faced some type of problem (aka challenge, mistake, set-back, obstacles, change, etc)

    Also, try to identify one core value (what you care most about) you developed in handling the problem (Example core values: Integrity, honesty, truth, generosity, gratitude, reverence, kindness, individuality, courage, passion, creativity, open-mindedness, loyalty, fun-loving, etc)

    When you write about how your environment shaped you, pick one core quality that you value in life to showcase and your essay will have a strong focus, which you want!

    Note there are two parts to this question, so you make sure to answer both parts:

    1. Describe something from your background (something that happened is best!)
    2. Explain HOW it shaped you (what you learned related to your core quality)

    So you could start your essay describing something that happened related to your family, home, neighborhood or community. (The first paragraph or two)

    Then you could go into how that made you feel, what you thought about it, and then how you responded to it. (Another paragraph or two on this)

    In order to explain how it shaped you, then continue by explaining what you learned from that experience—about yourself, others and even the world.

    Include both qualities and skills that you intend to continue to develop in college and after through academic experiences (specific course, majors, internships, study abroad, speciality programs, notable professors, etc.) in college, and other activities (clubs, hobbies, travel, etc.)

    This is where you can reflect, analyze and explain what you learned from dealing with that problem, and also talk about how you either used your core value in the process, or had that core value tested or developed further.

    You want to find a way to serve disadvantaged youth. You want to discover new sources of renewable energy. You want to learn about finance and business and possible start your own company some day.

    (This is the meat of your essay; two or three paragraphs)

    Did it change you in any way? If so, share how.

    Conclude by sharing how you believe you will use or apply whatever you learned about yourself and the world in your future goals and dreams.

    Remember, no one is going to come back at you in a couple years and call you out for not following whatever goals you write about now.

    (One paragraph)

    Here’s a more specific Sample Outline for Prompt A:

    1. Share moment, incident or “a time” from your background when SOMETHING HAPPENED. Include some type of problem. (One to two paragraphs ONLY!)
    2. Go back and describe what led up to this moment (the “back story”). Then explain how you handled the problem; the steps you took.
    3. Include how you felt. (One to two paragraphs)
    4. Share what you learned from handling the problem. Focus on one core quality that it helped you develop or was tested.
      Instead, start by sharing some simple real-life moment from your past where you first realized you enjoyed helping people (or got your first taste of it), especially those who were ill or somehow impaired.

      What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the world. What was the upside? (One to two paragraphs)
    5. Conclusion: Give status update on the problem you shared. Explain again what you learned in one sentence.
      Then, think of experiences and activities in school and out where you learned specific skills that could help you meet your goals.

      Then share how you intend to use what you learned to help you meet your future goals. (One paragraph)

    To learn more on how to write an essay about something from your background that shaped you, check out How to Write a College App Essay in 3 Steps.

    IDEAS FOR
    APPLYTEXAS ESSAYS:
    TOPIC B

    Topic B: Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.

    If you are the type of student who has set specific goals for yourself, good for you. This part can be easier. You want to be a doctor. You want to be a lawyer. You want to be an artist. (Find the major that would prepare you for that field. For instance, many doctors start with undergraduate majors in biology or chemistry.)

    Good news on this new prompt!

    (You can recycle an idea you had for this Topic B to Prompt 1 of the Common App or consider using this essay to inspire your Prompt 1 essay for the Common App!)

    Again, it’s crucial to give a sharp focus to your essay, and the best way is to think of a specific example or “time” you can use to illustrate something about the identity, interest or talent you want to showcase in your essay.

    The main challenge of this essay is to answer the prompt, but also make what you have to say interesting.

    Then you can go into how it makes you feel, what you learned about it and yourself, the good and bad of it, and why it matters to you.

    I think this Topic B is your best place of the three new ApplyTexas essays to feature your area of interest or what you intend to major in or study in college.

    If you can find a major that lines up with those goals, mention it in your essay, and why you are already poised to succeed at it.

    So include that if it fits.

    For example, if you know you want to study business, try to think of something specific that happened that related to your “interest” in that field. Same with other fields, such as medicine, law, computer science, engineering, nursing, art, etc.

    If you want to go into one of the more competitive majors, such as business or engineering, you need to “prove” why you deserve a spot in the college or university’s program.

    Not everyone knows what they want to study, and that’s fine. You can still write a great essay for this prompt.

    But if you do know, try to work it in. The UT, and most colleges, likes students who have a plan!

    IDEAS FOR
    applytexas essays:
    TOPIC C

    Topic C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand - Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

    Wow! Now this is a fun, almost whacky new prompt!

    Since Topic C is playful and creative, this is your chance to display similar qualities in your essay.

    To write this essay, you need to be able to state your goal or goals in a sentence or two. This can be hard if you aren’t sure of them.

    They want you to use your imagination and think out of the box.

    I believe the goal is to see your personality, sense of humor and dreams.

    So the idea is you can go anywhere you want.

    It can be your first time there or somewhere you’ve been before.

    Before you start writing, brainstorm and take notes about your goals. Then, start listing what has prepared you for them, and how you expect your future school will help continue to prepare you for them.

    The most creative part of this prompt is the last question: What will happen when you get there?

    Yes, you get to totally make up a story.

    If this stumps you, try thinking up some type of problem that comes up in this place you land.

    Include both qualities and skills that you developed throughexperiences and activities in school and other places, such as clubs, hobbies, sports, volunteering, travel, etc.

    That way you inject some action and interest. Otherwise, you will find yourself simply describing this new place, and that could end up on the dull side.

    By sharing you how handled that problems—be it big or small—your fun little essay will also end up highlighting something about you. That will give it focus and also reveal a piece of you that sets you apart from other students.

    For many students, the hardest part is figuring out what those goals are at this point in their lives.

    Have a little fun with this essay. Maybe your ticket is to Mars. Or to a country of your family’s origin and culture. Or to the town of a friend you haven’t seen in years.

    The ticket could be for any mode of transportation—from airplanes, busses and trains to helium balloons and Disneyland.

    It could even be a ticket to the future, or the past.

    Just make sure something happens there, and describe how you reacted, dealt with it and learned.

    Finally, if you know what you want to study or major in at your target Texas college or university, I would try to link your fantasy travel essay to that field.

    Check out the web sites of your target schools. See what specific majors, programs, courses, internships, etc. they offer that could help prepare you for your area of interest and life goals.

    For example, if you want to study biology, maybe imagine time travel back to the days of Darwin and visit the Galapagos Islands.

    Try to brainstorm places you could “go” where you would be likely to have some type of experience related to your field of interest.

    This is a terrific opportunity for you to showcase what you want to study in this essay, and most schools love to see this!

    I really like these new ApplyTexas essays and think they give you an opportunity to showcase three distinct parts of yourself.

    Make sure that those three parts do show different things about you, and don’t overlap.

    Good luck!

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    • Sources:
    • 1. www.essayhell.com/2016/04/3-new-prompts-for-university-texas-applytexas-essays-fall-2017/
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    • 2. www.essayhell.com/2016/01/more-help-for-applytexas-essay-topic-c/
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