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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Write the ApplyTexas Essays for Transfers, Re-admits, and Transient Students

Whether you’re transferring from another school, applying for readmission, or looking to supplement your ongoing degree with courses at an ApplyTexas school, this article gives you the information you need to craft stellar application essays.


If you have not read CollegeVine’s How to Write the ApplyTexas Essays (2019-2020), check it out before you read this article. It offers great general advice for how to approach this application. Keep in mind that your essay prompts are different than those of most applicants. This article offers a detailed breakdown of how to write to the prompts specifically for transfer, re-admission, and transient students.


General Tips for Writing ApplyTexas Essays as a Transfer, Re-admit, or Transient Student


Determine which essays are required before you start writing. While you are welcome to respond to every prompt, only a few are required for each University of Texas school. Check out the requirements for schools on your list before beginning your essays.


Write your essays in a word processor. If you’re typing essays into the ApplyTexas portal directly, you may lose some of your work before you get the chance to submit it. Instead of drafting on the ApplyTexas portal, create a new file in a Word Document, Google Doc, or similar word processor. Many of these softwares have the added advantage of a grammar and spell checking tool.


Explain your unique path to this college application. As a special applicant, you have a little extra work to do in terms of persuading the university that you are a good fit for the school. Admissions officers want to know why you are applying to college now. Whatever your unconventional path to ApplyTexas has been, these essays should weave together your life story into one coherent narrative. You want both your past experience and reason for applying to make sense to those reviewing your application.


The great news is that, in many ways, you are better positioned to wow admissions officers than the typical applicant. While high school seniors are full of potential, you have the added benefit of age. Your dreams and ambitions have already been vetted by experience, and you have a better sense of what good your education will do for you in the long run. With that in mind, be sure to address how your additional life experience has prepared you to succeed.


How to Respond to the ApplyTexas Prompts


Notice that for topics A, B, C, and E (but not D), your prompt is different from that of a traditional applicant. See below for tips and examples on how to tackle each one.


Topic A (U.S. Transfer, Transient, Readmit, International Transfer) Statement of Purpose


The statement of purpose will provide an opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances that you feel could add value to your application. You may also want to explain unique aspects of your academic background or valued experiences you may have had that relate to your academic discipline. The statement of purpose is not meant to be a listing of accomplishments in high school or a record of your participation in school-related activities. Rather, this is your opportunity to address the admissions committee directly and to let us know more about you as an individual, in a manner that your transcripts and other application information cannot convey.


Explain your situation. For this essay, it’s critical that you address why you are applying at this time in your life. “Extenuating circumstances” refers to any aspect of your life story that does not fit the mold of a traditional college applicant. Maybe you’re applying after taking time off from school. Perhaps you have attended a few semesters of college only to realize it is not the school for you.


Frame your life as a narrative with an admissions theme. Your application presents a series of facts, but you are more than just facts. Use this essay to show how your life experience has made you into the person you are today. Whether you state it outright or imply it, your essay should fill in the blank for, “I am applying to college now because ______________.”


Good answers include:

  • …I have learned from my DUI and want to pursue a career in teaching to help others make better choices than I did.
  • …I discovered my love of science a bit later in life.
  • …the depression I experienced in my current environment has shown me that your school is a place where I can thrive.
  • …only your school provides the specific courses I need to complete my degree in physical therapy.


One thing that should stand out with these admissions themes is that they are very specific. Use the details of your application to weave together a narrative about why college, why now.




The scratch of pencils, a familiar sound, filled my high school gymnasium. Metal dividers separated one watchful student from another, such that for once I did not have to arch my arm over my paper to protect the knowledge I had worked tirelessly to obtain.


B, B, D.

C, D, A.

C, C, C.


We fell into a rhythm as the twin scents of sweat and stress permeated the stale air.


I have always been a straight-A student, and taking that AP Chemistry exam felt like just another notch on my belt at the time. Back when I confused learning with the chronic headache I felt every test day, these moments made me feel like the king of my school. I was the only student in that room to get a five on the AP. When I learned, I was elated—I thought to myself, I deserve it.


Cut to Chemistry 201 at Cornell, and I am in a similar room again. The metal dividers have been replaced by empty air, as gaping holes between the modern desk designs assure students that their answers are protected. My eyes are itchy, as I read, “Draw the Lewis Structure for Isopropyl Acetate.”


I freeze. A jumble of Hs and Os, spills out of my head on the page, but none of it makes sense, even to me. I scribble it out and move on, figuring I can make up the lost points on another question. The next three questions receive similar gibberish, and then time’s up. I cannot make eye contact with my TA when I hand in the exam.


Better luck next time! scrawls an optimistic grader atop the test I have failed. I look down at the correct answers, which appear just as much like gibberish to me as my guesses. Study harder, I think to myself. You know you can do this! 


Eventually I ace the course, but even after I have crammed the right configuration of atoms into my skull, I come to find that this has not been my first taste of failure after all. I cannot remember the last time I called my mother. I cannot remember the last time I had a meal. Of the five hundred students in my class, I do not know the name of a single person. Each of my siblings has had a birthday since I started college, and I have not celebrated any of them. There is a world beyond Chemistry, and I have failed it with my obsession to be the best.


Transferring to Corpus Christi represents my next step in preparing for the only exam I care about anymore—the test of life. Two years ago, I never would have considered applying to a college a mere ten minutes away from my home. I would have flaunted its active student life and connections to the community I love in favor of fame and prestige. But I have learned that my real success was never leaving home. I want my legacy to be building up the people and places that have built me. 


Topic B (U.S. Transfer, Transient, Readmit, International Transfer)


If you are applying as a former student and were suspended for academic reason, describe briefly any actions you have taken to improve your academic abilities and give reason why you should be readmitted. If you are applying as a nondegree seeking or postbaccalaureate applicant, briefly describe the specific objectives you wish to accomplish if admitted, including the courses in which you would like to enroll.


Answer “Why now?” For readmission applicants, explain what will make you a better student now than previously. If your school has asked you to leave, chances are you know why they no longer wanted you on campus. Perhaps disciplinary action was involved for academic integrity, a criminal offence, or disruptive behavior due to an untreated mental illness. This is your opportunity to put the past behind you and move forward.


What have you learned during your time off? What past wrongs have you sought to amend and how? What gives you confidence that this time, your performance at the institution will be different?


For baccalaureate candidates, use the space to explain how you came to realize additional undergraduate coursework was necessary. How will this new degree prepare you for your future career? Why are you pursuing these courses now rather than as part of your undergraduate degree? Paint a picture for your readers about why it is important for you to return to school now.


Incorporate evidence, such as anecdotes and quantitative metrics of your success. This essay is one of the most important you will write, so it has to be polished. If you only request feedback for one essay, do it for this one.


Adopt a more formal tone for this essay. While many other essays invite creative, descriptive responses, this prompt is designed for a direct, persuasive entry.




I hit my personal rock bottom in October 2018, when a campus police officer at UT Austin apprehended me for attempting to sell marijuana to my fellow students at a party. That drug test was my bill come due for the drug abuse I had embraced, ironically, out of fear that I would not succeed at UT Austin. When I faced disciplinary action, it seemed I was on the fast track to a life of drugs and crime, but looking back with a year of perspective, I see that the incident proved to be a blessing in disguise. The past twelve months have provided me with opportunities to get sober, discover my interest in real estate through my first paid position, and address the underlying issues that made me turn to substance abuse in the first place.


Immediately upon vacating my undergraduate dormitory, I checked myself into a thirty-day rehabilitation program, where I experienced a combination of physical pain and mental breakthrough. My AA sponsor, transformed my life through the power of his example. Once mere hours away from losing custody of his children, my sponsor turned his life around and showed me that no one is beyond redemption.


With the help of my sponsor, I secured a position as an administrative assistant with a real estate agency in Houston. The satisfaction of a job well done became my new high as I scheduled meetings, researched listings, and coordinated with clients to help them find the perfect home. Clients fascinated me with the diverse life stories and priorities they brought to their search for a home, and I found myself staying late to conduct research and talk to our realtors about their experiences. As a social person, I loved discovering a profession in which I could be paid for listening carefully and helping someone achieve a dream. Over the summer, I earned my realtor’s license and recently closed escrow on my first deal. Even if I am readmitted to UT Austin, I will continue my real estate work part-time. I see my formal schooling as an opportunity to increase my impact in this sector in the long-term.


But life is more than what one does for a living. This past year gave me the space I needed to dive into the most important thing—my relationships. After ten years of not speaking to my father, I reconnected with him, going so far as to visit him three times in Minneapolis. My time in rehab showed me how much my reliance on substances was escapism from the pain of losing my relationship with my father during my parents’ divorce. I feel as though, in reconnecting with him, I have given myself and my family the gift of an emotionally healed version of me.


Returning to UT Austin next academic year would bring me full circle. My priorities have been upended entirely and in the best sense. Instead of dealing drugs, I would be a source of support and a potential mentor to students facing similar struggles with addiction. Instead of approaching my studies out of fear, I would strive academically, knowing that the foundation I lay now sets me up to have a stronger benefit on others in the real estate industry. Having reconciled with my father, I would enter the campus with a strength and wholeness that I could not even have dreamt I would bring this time last year. Leaving UT Austin has made me a new man, and it would be my honor to bring that new self to campus. Thank you for considering my reapplication.


Topic C (U.S. Transfer, Transient, Readmit, International Transfer)


There may be personal information that you want considered as part of your admissions application. Write an essay describing that information. You might include exceptional hardships, challenges, or opportunities that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, personal responsibilities, exceptional achievements or talents, educational goals, or ways in which you might contribute to an institution committed to creating a diverse learning environment.


Highlight your unusual circumstance. Is there any way in which you do not feel like a typical college applicant? What has been different about your life relative to your peers? These are good questions to keep in mind as you draft your response to this prompt. What makes your application unique may be something negative, like a death in the family, or a positive development, such as an unusual talent you have pursued.


Emphasize your growth and maturity. Regardless of your essay topic, demonstrate how this exceptional circumstance has made you into the person you are today. If you cannot think of any way in which your circumstances have changed you, then that may be a sign you need to choose a different essay topic.




A bit about me: I’ll bet I am your only applicant this year who knows what pigeon meat tastes like, or how to make shoes out of cardboard boxes, how to concoct a Christmas feast out of old tortillas and canned tomato soup. For years after my family immigrated from Juarez, Mexico, I was the only student in my school who needed free or reduced lunch, the only person who could not afford to go on field trips, the only foreigner.


If, four years ago, you had told me I would breathe a word of these aspects of my identity in a college essay, I would not have believed it—me, go to college? Not with a track record like mine. As a stack of statistics, my record was not promising. But I am learning that poverty, ethnicity, and difficult life circumstances are what you make of them.


I have learned to prefer a different list of onlies: I am the only person who was taught to read before Kindergarten by my big sister. Thanks to my mom, I’m the only girl at my school who has met all my city council members, state representatives and congresspeople. I am the only student I know who has met every cousin, aunt, uncle, and been to every grandparent’s grave.


When my school district began an initiative to redraw the boundaries of which neighborhood it served, I was the only student to protest discriminatory redistricting. That led me to become the first student representative to serve on the school board. Though I began school doubting I would graduate from high school, I have gone on to write a bill proposing increased spending on community, which State Senator Juan Hinojosa recently sponsored.


My commitment to education equity is what draws me to apply to Texas A&M, where the degree I earn will empower me to help students in poverty to rise above their circumstances. On campus, I hope to be a first generation student serving in student government, the first Latinx student to earn presidential recognition for my service, the first undergraduate to run for student office.


Progress always starts with an only, a first, but it does not have to end there. Through my activism, I hope to build a legacy of getting involved and advocating for better treatment. My children and grandchildren will inherit a family tradition of strong women who speak up for the marginalized. Applying to Texas A&M is another first for me, but it’s only the beginning of my story.


Topic E (U.S. Transfer, Transient, Readmit, International Transfer)


Choose an issue of importance to you—the issue could be personal, school related, local, political, or international in scope—and write an essay in which you explain the significance of that issue to yourself, your family, your community, or your generation.


Showcase your intellect. If you are drawn to this prompt, that probably means there are a few ideas that matter a lot to you. Your topic can be anything from how to bake the perfect pie to why the national debt crisis is the greatest concern facing our generation. Choose a topic about which you are knowledgeable, then write in such a way that demands your readers consider your point of view seriously.


Make a point. This prompt invites you to talk about something you care about, so don’t shy away from speaking your mind. Rather than summarize the views of others, try to insert your own voice and perspective into an ongoing debate.


Avoid divisive issues. This topic has a difficult balance to strike. On the one hand, you want to write about something that really matters to you. On the other hand, taking a strong stance on a polarizing issue could alienate your readers. Use your best judgement when it comes to selecting your area of interest. Share essay drafts with trusted friends and family members to get a sense of whether your topic will cause the admissions committee to react negatively.




Would you want to wake up to bed sores, feel the dull ache of blisters cracking under your weight? Or to have your only connection to the outside world be a plastic button that worked but sometimes? Would you want to subsist on a diet of mealy muffins served on teetering trays? To hear the demented ravings of your peers as they battled the demons standing between them and the grave?


Most of us don’t like to think about these questions—they make us uncomfortable. That’s why we don’t talk about the approximately 1.5 million Americans currently residing in assisted living facilities. Most do not know, or care, that the assisted living population is expected to double by 2030. We are too busy enjoying our own youth—or else nipping and tucking our own signs of aging—to confront the crisis of apathy we have created when it comes to the elderly.


“Growing old ain’t for sissies,” as my Nanna liked to say. At first as a visitor then as a volunteer at her assisted living facility, I learned about the thousand losses that make advanced aging so difficult. The young do not listen to you, diminishing your autonomy with daily restrictions on your freedom, while the old abandon you as, one by one, they pass away.


I was in the bed with my grandmother when she died. Though she could not form sentences of her own, she could still pray the Catholic prayers she had learned as a child, mouthing the “Hail Mary” with me into morning’s early light. I started another decade, but her voice was not humming to the rhythm of my words. By the time I found my mother and brought her in, my grandmother’s sallow face showed that the end had come.


Witnessing her death, and the grim days that preceded it, had a profound impact on me. Watching a woman who had led our family for so long become dependent and senile taught me that my own independence was fragile and temporary. It gave me a sense of perspective every time I had a setback at school.


But when I tried to talk about my experience with friends, nobody wanted to hear about it. That is not to say they did not want to listen, but they seemed unable to bear the discomfort even of hearing about end of life care. “Won’t you be surprised when it happens to you,” I remember thinking, a callous response even if it does raise a point.


I wish more people cared about the elderly the way I learned to from my time with Nanna. An elder used to mean someone you respected, not ignored. Our choice as a society to distance ourselves from that pain and suffering makes the plight of the elderly even worse. What is more, it denies the next generation the vital perspective that makes them good stewards of their own lives.


Dear reader, if I could persuade you of just one thing, I would ask you to read those first questions I posed to you again. If you live long enough, this will happen to you. And it’s happening to people who need you now. I ask you, if you had to grow old, would you want to go through it alone?


That’s everything you need to know to get started on your own unforgettable essays. Be sure to start early, write often, and review your work before sending it in. Your college essays may not be a walk in the park, but they give you a great opportunity to explain your special circumstance and showcase what makes you a strong candidate. Happy writing!


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