ApplyTexas Essay Examples: Breakdown + Analysis

ApplyTexas allows its users to apply to hundreds of Texan colleges on one platform. While each school has its own essay requirements, most students should be prepared to answer either Topic A, B, or C. This article focuses on Topic A.

 

In this post, we’ll break down Prompt A of the ApplyTexas platform and explain what admissions officers are looking for. We’ll then go over an example essay from a real applicant, analyzing what they did what, and what could be improved. You’ll also have the opportunity to download another sample essay.

 

ApplyTexas Prompt A

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today? 

When you hear “tell us your story,” it might feel like you have to summarize your entire life in a few hundred words. That’s definitely not the case, and a common mistake is actually to share a resume of your achievements or high school journey. Instead, try to think of specific moments or experiences that shaped you, and focus on a single one, or a few related experiences. 

 

Some ideas of strong topics are:

 

  • A unique extracurricular activity or passion
  • An activity or interest that contrasts heavily with your profile
  • A seemingly insignificant moment that speaks to larger themes within your life
  • Using an everyday experience or object as a metaphor to explore your life and personality
  • An in the moment narrative that tells the story of a important moment in your life

 

For example, a student who is both a football player and poet might write about his struggles coming to terms with these contrasting identities. He could include specific anecdotes, like a time he was afraid to tell his teammates about a poetry reading night he was performing at, how he overcame that fear, and how his teammates all showed up to support him.

 

Or, a student who is highly interested in environmental science and advocacy might write about their experiences visiting Glacier National Park each year, and how they noticed the glaciers shrinking over time. This anecdote would be a great segue into the environmental initiatives they started at their school.

 

With every college essay, the goal is to share more about who you are, your perspective, and your goals. Don’t be afraid to get personal and share your thoughts and feelings.

 

ApplyTexas Topic A Essay Example

 

Let’s read through the following example and subsequent breakdown to get a better idea of what the ApplyTexas colleges are looking for in a response to this prompt.

Soft melodies float in the air, feathery sounds of consonance and dissonance create a bed of melodies that I fall asleep on each night. I was born into a family of musicians. I’m the daughter of two pianists who moved across the world to continue their studies, built a home to house two grand pianos, and taught their children to write their life stories on black and white keys. My version of a bedtime story was The Swan by Saint-Saëns; I can sleep through a concerto to this day.

 

When I turned four years old, my parents dedicated a portion of my day to sitting and practicing at our piano bench. As my relationship with music evolved from reading into interpreting, my hours with the piano turned into adventures, times to transform a monochrome score into a piece of art with color and dimension. Throughout most of my life, the best part of my day was spent creating music.

 

Enter high school, I found myself taking more classes, joining more extracurricular activities to feed my resume, and spending more time studying subjects that never quite sparked my interest.

 

As a result, my hours spent with the piano were replaced with hours spent at my bedroom desk. I became increasingly frustrated when my parents would remind me daily to practice the piano and envious of my older brother whose piano accomplishments made my parents so proud. By sophomore year, it would need to be a good day for me to practice the piano for even an hour.

 

My performances became defined by cold hands and memory slips, and I found it difficult to keep up with others in competitions. I began to resent the instrument I once considered to be my first love because I believed I had digressed from the hardworking pianist my parents have always wanted me to be, to a girl who let her talents go to waste. For months, I felt empty and distant from even myself; I no longer had the means to express my emotions and relate to the people I love the most.

 

Two nights before my brother left for college, he asked me the question I had been avoiding: “Are you ever going to practice the piano again?” After watching my uneasiness and embarrassment of not having an answer, he shrugged and explained simply: “I don’t practice the piano to win anything. I practice because I enjoy the process. I thought you did too.”

 

When my brother moved to Austin, my home became quiet. I no longer studied to his late-night practice sessions or fell asleep to his classical music study playlists. Our pianos were left untouched for longer periods of time and scores of music begged to be read. This absence of music made my heart grow fonder of the piano. I realized that I longed for the process of learning. It wasn’t the awards or successful performances that I craved; I wanted to again embark on the journey of telling an infinite amount of stories with just eighty-eight keys.

 

As I began spending more time expressing myself through the piano, I felt the joy of being heard and the vulnerability of being understood. I learned that music, much like academics, is about the individual journey. In our overly competitive society, I forgot to simply enjoy the moment in front of me. My journey with music over the past years has taught me that the travel is often more important than the destination, that I should cherish the imperfections inherent to learning and be content with my capabilities.

Breaking Down This ApplyTexas Example Essay

 

Let’s take a look at what this student did well, and what could be improved.

 

Soft melodies float in the air, feathery sounds of consonance and dissonance create a bed of

melodies that I fall asleep on each night. I was born into a family of musicians. I’m the daughter

of two pianists who moved across the world to continue their studies, built a home to house two

grand pianos, and taught their children to write their life stories on black and white keys. My

version of a bedtime story was The Swan by Saint-Saëns; I can sleep through a concerto to this

day.

 

The applicant introduces their topic with descriptive language and a metaphor, incorporating imagery that immediately creates an immersive quality and grabs the reader’s attention. The student then shows, rather than telling, how music has been a formative part of their life by saying their “version of a bedtime story was The Swan.” Using this word choice rather than saying “I am very passionate about music” shows admissions officers what your life is like. The former statement is more illustrative and memorable than the latter, which is what you’re aiming for with this essay.

 

When I turned four years old, my parents dedicated a portion of my day to sitting and practicing at our piano bench. As my relationship with music evolved from reading into interpreting, my hours with the piano turned into adventures, times to transform a monochrome score into a piece of art with color and dimension. Throughout most of my life, the best part of my day was spent creating music.

 

The author talks about their parents and introduction to the piano in a narrative-like manner. The response contains a chronological storyline which lends it better flow and readability than if the author had just listed out the facts. They relay the background in a relatively concise manner that explains playing the piano in a creative way. The phrase “transform a monochrome score into a piece of art with color and dimension” is especially incisive, demonstrating the author’s unique way of looking at the world.

 

Enter high school, I found myself taking more classes, joining more extracurricular activities to

feed my resume, and spending more time studying subjects that never quite sparked my interest.

 

As a result, my hours spent with the piano were replaced with hours spent at my bedroom desk.

I became increasingly frustrated when my parents would remind me daily to practice the piano

and envious of my older brother whose piano accomplishments made my parents so proud.

By sophomore year, it would need to be a good day for me to practice the piano for even an hour.

 

Every good story has a conflict, and this essay is no exception. Here, the author introduces the relatively cliche issue of being too busy to pursue their passion for the piano. Like most high schoolers, you are probably busy juggling academics and extracurriculars, so this is not the most unique challenge that you could point out. 

 

If you are writing about a more cliche subject, the most important thing to remember is that how you write about it really matters. In this essay, the author is able to write about their struggle with piano by discussing their “cold hands and memory slips.” They tie in this obstacle to others, such as their parents’ disapproval and sibling jealousy. If you are describing a challenge, give the reader enough context to see how it impacted your life. Provide specific examples of how it made you feel and affected your ability to execute optimal performance.

 

One thing to note is that you should be careful mentioning distaste for studying or participating in extracurriculars. In college, you will be doing similar work, especially for those with a liberal arts curriculum. You don’t want to come across as lacking the desire to learn, as this is a crucial component for success in college. 

 

Your essay should also include an emotional component. In this sample, the author mentions how they feel while creating music and even admits to frustration. This vulnerability adds another dimension to their essay that allows admissions officers more insight into their situation. Similarly, you should try to think through your chosen topic in terms of how you felt in order to give your story that first-person narrative-like quality. Relaying your emotions is a good tactic that allows you to tell your story in a way that connects with readers on another level.

 

Next, the applicant illuminates the turning point that helped them resolve the issue. 

 

Two nights before my brother left for college, he asked me the question I had been avoiding:

“Are you ever going to practice the piano again?” After watching my uneasiness and

embarrassment of not having an answer, he shrugged and explained simply: “I don’t practice the piano to win anything. I practice because I enjoy the process. I thought you did too.”

 

When my brother moved to Austin, my home became quiet. I no longer studied to his late-night

practice sessions or fell asleep to his classical music study playlists. Our pianos were left

untouched for longer periods of time and scores of music begged to be read. This absence of

music made my heart grow fonder of the piano. I realized that I longed for the process of

learning. It wasn’t the awards or successful performances that I craved; I wanted to again

embark on the journey of telling an infinite amount of stories with just eighty-eight keys.

 

This is a well-written section; however, the author overly emphasizes their brother’s role by making this climactic point revolve around advice that he gave. It is important to emphasize how you were able to overcome your challenges; while it is okay to get help, you should describe yourself working as independently as possible. The author mentions their self-reflection after their conversation with their brother and how they worked towards reframing the way they thought about piano. In the end, it is their brother’s absence that causes them to start playing again. 

 

While this thought process is informative, the essay could be stronger if they detailed tangible steps they personally took to relearn the piano. For example, if they fell in love with a piece they heard in a movie and made it their mission to nail those notes, or if they taught a younger cousin how to play and in doing so, rediscovered their love of making music, this could be an even more compelling read. Thus, it is important to pick a topic in which you were an active part of the resolution. Detailing tangible actions will show colleges your approach to conflict-resolution more than a passive recounting of your thought process. 

 

I was born into a family of artists and learners. I’m a student who loves learning about not only

the world as it exists now, but the process in which humans shaped society. I’m a creator who

sees the world as a piano that needs to be played in order to create something that is truly

meaningful. My version of a life story is written with passion and dedication in an open book,

always ready to hold new obstacles, knowledge, and adventures.

 

The author concludes this essay by mentioning their family again and making an extended metaphor about the world being a piano. By reiterating their family’s influence, they effectively connect back to the beginning of the essay and this improves the overall flow of the essay. Furthermore, their metaphorical ending demonstrates their writing prowess and allows the essay to end on a more general, future-facing note. When writing your story, you should focus mainly on the conflict-resolution and less on the conclusion. A powerful ending, like the one in this example, will ideally contain a future-facing sentiment that demonstrates your writing skills.

 

Whatever your essay topic may be, make sure it is rich in detail and written in a way that keeps readers’ attention. Take the time to let your voice come out through the writing and revisit your word choice when editing to make sure your thoughts are being conveyed properly. Avoid making this response sound overly formal or serious, unless your topic calls for that kind of tone. Most importantly, have fun crafting a compelling narrative that helps others appreciate your journey. Remember, it’s your story, and no one can tell it better than you.

 

If you’re looking for more tips and examples to help you answer the ApplyTexas prompts, check out this breakdown of how to write to each one

 

More ApplyTexas Essay Examples

 

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