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Located just west of Tallahassee, Florida State University is a suburban public university that hosts over 41,000 students on its campus. FSU boasts a top 40 ranking among public universities in the United States and offers its students a wide selection of 351 programs, including 107 undergraduate majors across various disciplines.

 

Florida State is well known for its vibrant social scene and its top varsity athletic programs. The beloved “Seminoles” have won many Atlantic Coast conferences and national championships. The intensity of the football team’s rivalry with the University of Florida’s Gators spreads throughout the entire student body and reaches a climax at the annual Sunshine Showdown.

 

Florida State accepts neither the Common Application nor the Universal College Application. Instead, prospective candidates are required to complete FSU’s own application online on the school’s website. Approximately 56% of applicants gain admission. FSU received a record-high of 42,325 applications in the previous application cycle, but that number is expected to increase even more for the current one.

 

Our essay specialists at CollegeVine are here to help you write your essay for Florida State University.

 

FSU Application Essay Prompts

Essay Prompt Instructions

Candidates are to compose one 550-word essay after deciding on one of the five prompts published on the school’s website.

 

The purpose of the essay is to help the admissions committee learn more about you as a person. Although the essay is described as only “highly recommended,” in reality admissions officers are expecting serious applicants to submit an essay (unless under extenuating circumstances). Your writing will paint a personal picture for the admission officers and demonstrate serious interest in the school.

Prompt #1

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

The first prompt asks for you to discuss a memory or story of a situation that either showcased or affected you personally. FSU’s goal here is to assess your storytelling ability and better understand your values and character through a specific example.

 

It is crucial for you to connect your story and its effect on your character to who you are as a person. It would be an easy mistake to use all 550 words to discuss this important narrative and ignore the crux of the question: its “demonstration of your character.”

 

Impactful essays do not have to be based on extreme physical or mental experiences. In fact, it is the accumulation of small experiences that defines how we react during turbulent times. An act of any scale that was especially memorable to you can work; it’s about how you analyze the incident, not what the incident was.

 

For instance, you might choose to write about being friends with someone who faced mental health issues and how that changed your feelings toward such illnesses and led you to participate in a campaign for raising mental health awareness. You could take it a step further, explaining how the experience shaped your behavior not only around that particular friend, but also around everybody else you know.

 

Keep in mind that the scope of the question also includes experiences that helped shape your character, so you can even choose to write about something you’ve witnessed others do. Remember to use concise but vivid imagery to describe the situation in the first 150-250 words and then devote the rest of the words to analyzing its impact on character.

 

It may be wise to write longer drafts at first (in the 700-word range). This allows the editing process to filter for the essence of the writing, instead of trying to add more content, thereby ensuring the fluency of the writing.

Prompt #2

Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

This question appears to be more challenging than the previous one, as you have to detail a selfless act of sacrifice while explaining your motivations and avoiding corny wording.

 

Note that this “greater good” contribution does not limit you to instances in which you interacted with groups of “great” numbers. No matter the scale of your impact, if there existed a beneficiary to your actions, then you can write about it. Remember that “greater good” excludes class assignments or other activities that were required of you.

 

The key to this essay is making sure your motivations for the contribution are portrayed as personal and unique to you.

 

Many students will choose to write about a volunteer experience they participated in. If you choose to discuss a community service activity, make sure you differentiate your experience by highlighting your motivations and your emotions during the experience (rather than describing simply the activity you participated in).  

 

For example, you might choose to write about a mission trip to another country that you took in your sophomore year of high school. However, rather than discussing the trip as a whole, it would be more effective to focus on a particular moment or problem that you encountered during the trip.

 

For instance, you could elaborate on the experience of visiting one of the children’s homes and the feeling of speaking to his parents directly. Describing a particular moment, as well as the specific emotions you felt and how your perspectives changed because of it, would help the essay stand out in a pile of volunteering essays.


In addition, focus on the process of the contribution and how you felt emotionally throughout the act.

 

Try to answer the following questions:

 

  • What would have happened if you did not make that sacrifice/contribution? How would you have felt then?
  • How did the contribution make you feel? How did it make others around you feel? How did it make the beneficiaries feel?
  • What did you learn?

 

Emphasizing the internal development that occurred during your experience is key to making this essay shine.

Prompt #3

 

Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?

This third prompt asks to hear about a philosophical difference you have had with a family member, teacher, peer, society at large, or even yourself. In a sense, this prompt is similar to the previous one about the “meaningful contribution.” In both cases, FSU wants to learn about a process occurring in your mind. The previous prompt emphasizes actions and their effects, while this focuses more on an ideological struggle.

 

For example, though you’ve believed in religion all your life, perhaps you learned of a different viewpoint while reading a research paper and began questioning the validity of adhering to the religion in which you grew up. The research paper may have been the stimulus that led you to develop your own feelings toward particular values or even the presence of the supernatural.

 

An average essay would discuss an incident in which you completely disregarded the challenging viewpoint or, on the other end of the spectrum, completely threw away your previous tenet and grasped onto the new idea. Such an essay does not show any meaningful growth or internal re-evaluation. Instead, a great essay would elucidate the internal struggle stemming from confronting a new viewpoint and the difficulties associated with challenging your own beliefs.

 

As with the first prompt, remember to focus the essay on your response to someone/something’s questioning of your tenant. Using too much of the essay for a description of the conundrum will render it ineffective in answering the latter two parts of the question.

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Prompt #4

 

What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

This prompt is the wild card. It allows more room for creativity and “fun” writing than any of the other questions. FSU’s goal here is not only to evaluate your ability to reflect on experiences, but also to understand what you value in life.

 

This essay can be particularly difficult to write well because it requires additional effort to compose an engaging, intriguing, fun, but also appropriate essay. There are universal challenges to being a teenager: arguments with parents; teenage angst; finding one’s place in school, family, and life, etc. It is completely fine to write about “common” obstacles, but you need to be able to differentiate your stories from others.

 

Humor and style of writing will play large roles in this essay, so we recommend this prompt if you sincerely enjoy creative writing, particularly short stories, novels, and comedies. Keep in mind, however, that the majority of admissions officers reading these essays are going to be in a generation older than you. It is not a bad idea to consider what kinds of teenage experiences would be relatable to them.

 

Additionally, the essay is asking for the “hardest part” as well as the “best part;” answering both of those separately in 550 words can make both answers short and ineffective. We recommend that you choose one single story that can relate to both of those questions. For example, you could use stories from your part-time job at Dairy Queen to connect the difficulties of adjusting to added responsibility in conjunction with the increased respect you received from your parents.

Prompt #5

 

Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

This last question is a catch-all.

 

Do not let your guard down because you can write about anything here. Unless you already have a great essay prepared from answering another school’s prompts, without a prompt here your creative idea may lose focus. Oftentimes, candidates are so engrossed in telling the story that they lose sight of what is really important: selling yourself.

 

As with the previous essays, you should decide and write down concretely what exactly you want the admissions officers to think about you upon finishing this essay. Build the rest of the essay around how you want them to perceive you, and dedicate more than half of the writing to demonstrating that main point through various anecdotes, not general statements.

 

We here at CollegeVine wish you the best of luck on your FSU essay!

 

If you would still like more help, CollegeVine is here! Click here to learn about our Essay Editing Program.

 

And if you want us to quickly edit your college essay, you can submit it to our Rapid Review Program, and we’ll get it back to you quickly with comments from our expert team.

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CollegeVine College Essay Team

CollegeVine College Essay Team

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. Learn more about our consultants
CollegeVine College Essay Team