What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

A Great ApplyTexas Essay Example

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 share an essay a real student submitted for Topic A. We will also cover what the essay did well and where it could be improved to give you ideas for your ApplyTexas essay. You’ll also have the opportunity to download another sample essay.


Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 


Read our ApplyTexas essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 


ApplyTexas Topic A Essay Example


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


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.


What the Essay Did Well


This student’s writing brings a level of musicality to her essay that nicely echoes the piano motif. From the beginning, she 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 tells, how music has been a formative part of her life by saying her “version of a bedtime story was The Swan,” and her “hours with the piano turned into adventures.” Using this word choice rather than saying “I am very passionate about music” shows admissions officers what your life is like.


As the prompt asks for your story, this essay follows the flow of a traditional story. After establishing a sense of serenity in the exposition, she incites conflict in the form of a busy schedule that drew her away from the piano. Although this isn’t the most unique conflict—as every high schooler is busy juggling a dozen different activities—the student gives the reader enough context to see the impact on her life. She describes the experience of playing as “cold hands and memory slips“, a feeling that she “let her talents go to waste“, and effect it had on her relationship with others including letting down her parents and fueling sibling jealousy.


This student’s vulnerability about how she lost her passion and had a tense relationship with her family members allows the reader to appreciate just how integral piano is to her story; without it she became a shell of the person she once was. Being vulnerable with the reader is the key to building the pathos needed to make your story resonate. If we can feel for this student at her lowest, we will celebrate her when she triumphs.


The author concludes this essay by mentioning her family again and making an extended metaphor about the world being a piano. By reiterating her family’s influence, she effectively connects back to the beginning of the essay and thus improves the overall flow of the essay. Furthermore, her metaphorical ending demonstrates her writing prowess and allows the essay to end on a more general, future-facing note.


What Could Be Improved


One area that could be strengthened is the turning point of the story where the student learns to love the piano again. She overly emphasizes her brother’s role by making this climactic point revolve around the advice he gave. It is important to emphasize how you were able to overcome your challenges; while it is okay to get help, you should remain the focus of the passage.


The student mentions her self-reflection after her conversation with her brother and how she worked towards reframing the way she thought about piano. In the end, it is her brother’s absence that causes this student to start playing again. While this thought process is informative, the essay could be stronger if she detailed tangible steps she personally took to relearn the piano.


For example, if she fell in love with a piece she heard in a movie and made it her mission to nail those notes, or if she taught a younger cousin how to play and in doing so, rediscovered her 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. 


Where to Get Your ApplyTexas Essays Edited


Do you want feedback on your ApplyTexas essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.