How to Write the University of Colorado Boulder Essay 2021-2022

Founded in 1876, CU Boulder is a 600-acre public institution situated in the hip mountain town of Boulder. CU Boulder is the only university in the Rocky Mountain region to be accepted into the Association of American Universities, an elite group of 62 research universities. The university has highly ranked programs in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as other fields.

 

As part of your CU Boulder application, you are required to respond to two supplemental essay prompts. These prompts give you a chance to show off what makes you unique and discuss your academic interests. Read along to learn the best ways to approach these essays!


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University of Colorado Boulder Essay Prompts

Prompt 1: At the University of Colorado Boulder, no two Buffs are alike. We value difference and support equity and inclusion of all students and their many intersecting identities. Pick one of your unique identities and describe its significance. (250 words)

 

Prompt 2: Please share a bit more about your academic interests. What do you hope to study at CU Boulder? What has inspired your interests in this area? Or if you are undecided, what area(s) of study are you considering? Think about your prior/current coursework, extracurricular activities, work/volunteer experiences, future goals, or anything else that has shaped your interests. (250 words)

Prompt 1

At the University of Colorado Boulder, no two Buffs are alike. We value difference and support equity and inclusion of all students and their many intersecting identities. Pick one of your unique identities and describe its significance. (250 words)

This essay prompt allows you to discuss a part of you that is not as apparent in other parts of your application. A good way to start your writing process is by brainstorming your identities. An identity can be religious, racial, ethnic, sexual, socio-economic, related to disability, or personal. However, your essay does not have to go along those lines ─ feel free to make it more casual or humorous if that’s more your style. Your identity could equally mean a hobby, perspective, or your values. CU Boulder wants to know what makes you, you. 

 

Since you can only choose one of your many identities, try to weigh which ones you can write about in the most unique manner. Also keep in mind that your Common App essay may have a similar theme to this one. You should aim for minimal overlap to make the most of your application. If your Common App essay is already a diversity essay, write about a different identity for CU Boulder.

 

The best way to introduce your chosen identity is to tell a human story. This means going beyond cookie-cutter explanations and embracing vulnerability. Explain how you came to develop your identity, or when you had an epiphany that this identity has always been a part of who you are. For example, you could start the essay like so:

 

Hello everyone, thanks for tuning in to the first episode of the Scar Face Podcast. Today I’m going to tell my story of what it’s like to live with a scar on your forehead in a seemingly polite, yet scathingly judgemental world.

 

I wasn’t born with a scar, but I was reborn when it came to my face. It all started when…

 

Be sure to highlight the struggles that have come with your identity. Who has accepted you for who you are and who has not? Was it challenging to discover your identity in the first place and reveal it to others? Are there legal and political issues that have prevented you from fully expressing your identity?

 

You will then want to explain what your identity means to you. What lessons has living with your identity taught you about life and humanity? Has it inspired your educational, extracurricular, and career choices? Most importantly, what do you love about your identity? Describe how being different from others makes your life feel fulfilling and unique. 

 

Lastly, how is your identity significant to the world around you? Connect yourself to the bigger picture ─ what community of similar people have you found by embracing your identity? Conclude by talking about how you strive for your uniqueness to enrich the spaces around you. 

 

For instance:

 

At that moment, I realized that the vegetables and noodles in my bowl were just like humanity – each was of unique shapes and sizes, but together, they were something greater than the sum of their parts. I try to be one of the shapes in the chaos of heterogeneity ─ and if I could convince people to accept me as a scar face, hopefully I can convince others to accept people affected by the scars you can’t see…

 

Prompt 2

Please share a bit more about your academic interests. What do you hope to study at CU Boulder? What has inspired your interests in this area? Or if you are undecided, what area(s) of study are you considering? Think about your prior/current coursework, extracurricular activities, work/volunteer experiences, future goals, or anything else that has shaped your interests. (250 words)

 

This prompt is more structured than the last and is an example of the typical “Why This Major” essay. The ultimate goal here is to outline your past academic background, your future academic/career goals, and your intellectual passions—all in an engaging essay that stands out!

 

A good first step is to think about your major and how you became interested in your major:

 

  • Was there a specific event that triggered your interest? For example, a student who picked up a book by Audre Lorde at the library, was unable to put it down, then learned about their interest in LGBTQIA+ communities, so they decided to major in Women and Gender Studies.
  • Was there a specific moment when you realized your future career goals? For example, a student who went to work with their mother one day because school got canceled and saw the intensity of an emergency hospital, then realized that they don’t want to work in emergency care, but they do want to be a doctor.
  • Do the values associated with your field align with your values? For example, a student choosing to study Architectural Engineering because they value reason and things making sense or a student choosing to get a certificate in Latin American and Latinx Studies because they are passionate about minority representation in media.

 

This “How I Got Interested” story could serve as a unique way to frame your essay. An anecdote could help your essay stand out amongst all the activities, experiences, and goals that admissions officers will be reading about. That being said, you should supplement your anecdote with the details from the prompt: prior/current coursework, extracurricular activities, and work/volunteer experience.

 

Keep in mind that your courses, activities, and experiences don’t have to exactly align with your major or intellectual interests. This can be a place for you to show your understanding of the connectedness of academics and forefront ideas of interdisciplinarity. Of course, you can write about something expected like high school theatre inspiring you to study Theatre at CU Boulder. But, if you need to stretch, that’s okay also!

 

Here are some examples of stretching your coursework and extracurriculars:

 

  • A student planning to study Strategic Communication could reference their AP Psychology course and emphasize the value of understanding the human mind to applying effective communications strategies.
  • A student planning to study Theatre might mention their performances as a witness for their high school’s mock trial team.
  • A student planning to study Philosophy could write about their involvement with a science fiction book club on campus and describe the fundamental philosophical concepts that permeate today’s literature. 
  • A student planning to study Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology could mention their past experiences with computer science and recognize the ways that technology and medicine are increasingly interacting.

 

Finally, if you write about career goals, make sure that your field of study aligns with your future career. If it is tangentially related (like studying English to go into Communications or studying Political Science to go into Journalism), focus on the skills that you will learn in your major curriculum that will help you in your future career. Stretch less here. If your major doesn’t relate to your career goals, focus on your passion for your major and your past experiences with your major.

 

When applying to CU Boulder, you likely have academic interests that you are passionate about. Dig into those as you write this essay and let your excitement shine through. If your interests are authentic, that will show. And, if you aren’t quite sure what you want to study, focusing on specific courses and activities that have interested you in the past will show admissions officers that you are intellectually curious, but just haven’t figured out where you want to focus that curiosity yet. 

 

Where to Get Your CU Boulder Edited for Free

 

If you’ve already written your CU Boulder supplemental essays, it is time to get them edited. Having peers read your essays will help you to identify areas for improvement and, ultimately, will help you maximize your chances of getting into CU Boulder. By creating a free CollegeVine account, you will have access to CollegeVine resources like our free peer-review service. We’re here to help you put your best foot forward and feel prepared throughout this application season—because we know how overwhelming it can get.


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