How to Write the University of Delaware Essays 2019-2020

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Situated in the suburban city of Newark, the University of Delaware is home to over 19,000 undergraduate students spread out across its sprawling 1,996 acre campus. As a public university, the University of Delaware seeks to provide an affordable world-class education to all students, with a special emphasis on those who already call Delaware home. In-state students benefit from a few perks such as test-optional admission and even application fee waivers, this year from October 1 to November 30th.

 

But don’t be discouraged if you’re an aspiring Blue Hen from outside the First State. UD is moderately selective, with about half of all out-of-state applicants gaining that coveted acceptance each year. And while this is lower than the in-state acceptance rate, out-of-state students who demonstrate their ability to succeed can secure admission to the University and one of its eight colleges.

 

Students can apply to UD using either the Common or Coalition Application by the non-binding Early Action Deadline of November 1st, or the Regular Decision Priority Deadline of January 15th. In addition to the Common or Coalition Application, the University of Delaware requires any prospective Honors College students to respond to two short written answer prompts. All students are also invited to respond to an entirely optional prompt. Read on for our tips on how to respond to each of these prompts.

 

For All Applicants

 

Optional: The Admissions Committee expects that you will take advantage of this question to explain any grade on your transcript that is unusually low or varies significantly from your usual performance in the section below. (250 words)

While we generally advise that students respond to any and every prompt that applies to them, you’ll really only want to use this space if you have a grade on your transcript that requires an explanation. This isn’t the place to grieve the one B that you received in your freshman year Geometry class, and it’s certainly not the place to bash the teacher that gave it to you. 

 

Perhaps you had a chronic illness that caused you to miss a substantial amount of time in class one year. Or maybe there were some serious changes in your home life that took some time adjusting to. We are by no means the judge of what constitutes a worthy response to this question, however we encourage you to think critically about your high school career and the challenges you faced throughout that time to determine if your record requires any explanation, and how to maturely and respectfully address the topic if applicable.

 

At times, drops in performance can be attributed to personal trauma or tragedy, and we encourage you to be particularly sensitive if you’re hoping to address these types of events. Delving deeply into play-by-play discussions of a traumatic event or tragedy might not be the most effective strategy here. Instead, focus on communicating clearly and concisely what the circumstances were and how they impacted your performance. 

 

As you consider whether or not this question applies to you, remember that colleges like to see growth throughout your high school career. If you maintained a slightly weaker GPA throughout your freshman year, but improved your grades as you challenged yourself to take more rigorous coursework over the course of your career, you needn’t explain away your entire first year of high school. Know that the progress you achieved over the course of your career will speak for itself.

 

For Applicants to the Honors Program

 

Creating a community is a hallmark of the Honors Program. Outside of academic pursuits, please tell us a few ways you intend to contribute to the Honors community. (300 words)

 

The purpose of every personal essay is to show the admissions committee a bit about who you are, what you value, and how you’d fit into the broader campus community. This prompt is no different. 300 words isn’t the largest amount of space to reflect on your goals and expectations for your college career, so it’s crucial that you develop your thesis and supports in a clear and concise way. In short essays, it’s important that each sentence serves a clear purpose in answering the prompt and crafting your overarching narrative, and this isn’t always an essay task. So start early and prepare to draft and redraft your response until you’ve landed on something that you’re content with. In drafting an effective response to this prompt, you’ll want to keep in mind the following key tasks:

 

Focus on Community. There’s a certain balance to be struck in any personal essay that asks you to discuss your own goals in the context of the community. On the one hand, you want to be specific, and demonstrate thoughtfulness in how you present your goals for your college experience. However, in order to successfully answer this prompt, you’ll need to address how your goals and interests fit into the larger community. At the end of the day, while college admissions officers are admitting individual students to UD and the Honors program more specifically, they’re also curating a cohesive campus community in the process. The Honors program is particular is like a microcosm of the broader campus community, and students who are admitted to this program will live together, serve as mentors to one another, and collaborate both in and outside of the classroom. Consequently, you’ll want to address your unique strengths, goals and values within the context of how they’ll add to the Honors community in order to answer this prompt in its entirety. 

 

Be specific. Specificity is really the key to any college admissions essay, but it’s especially important when you’re applying to a more selective program, like the Honors Program. UD’s Honors Program provides students with unique opportunities in advanced coursework, research, study abroad and more with the expectation that Honors students will become active, key contributors to the broader campus community. Consequently, when answering this prompt, you’ll really want to provide specific goals and examples of how your pursuits will benefit the broader Honors community. 

 

Perhaps you’re really interested in service, and hope to use the lessons you learn in your advanced coursework to execute a substantial service project with the help of a few classmates. Perhaps you’re a budding project manager or event planner, and you look forward to creating more opportunities for the Honors community to collaborate and engage outside of the classroom in new ways. 

 

Whatever goals you choose to discuss, be sure to support them with strong, specific details. It’s not sufficient to say that you hope to become a leader. Dig into how you’ll demonstrate leadership and where and in what ways your skills will be applied. For example, maybe you want to join the Honors Student Advisory Council, as you enjoyed being a representative in your high school’s Student Council, and want to continue voicing the thoughts and concerns of your peers.

 

Be true to yourself. You always want to write about topics that genuinely excite you. If it’s not your passion to mentor younger students, then you needn’t discuss this topic at length. If you’re introverted, then you needn’t convey an interest in public speaking or performance. Focus on what you can write about with conviction. Ultimately the most memorable responses aren’t always those with the highest stakes. Instead, these are the essays that convey clear and convincing narratives that audiences (in this case, admissions officers) can really connect to. So talk about your desire to implement key strategies you developed as an E-board member in your special interest group to increase engagement across Honors program events and initiatives. Remember that your unique experiences and interests allow you to contribute to the community in a way that is unique to you. Own that.

 

The Honors Program values a talented and diverse student body. Please tell us five interesting facts about you. (50 words)

The world is your oyster with this prompt! Since the university is only allowing 50 words for this prompt, there’s no need to develop and extensive narrative using a great deal of anecdotal evidence. Your five facts should tell your reader something they don’t already know about you from reading the rest of your application. You were the president of your Student Body Government? Co-captain of the track team? It’s likely that you’ve already fleshed out of all this information in much greater detail in the activities section of your application. Be creative and tell your admissions reader something they don’t already know!

 

Which special interests or hobbies have you not yet addressed elsewhere in your application? Perhaps you spent a summer baking bread with homemade yeast, and after several failed attempts, you mastered the formula. Maybe you write music in your spare time. Maybe you simultaneously learned to speak several languages at the same time. Try to select five facts that not only communicate your interests and values, but also in some way demonstrate your character, creativity, and work ethic. You don’t have 650 words to do this, so be sure to choose facts that exemplify these traits. 

 

And most importantly, have fun. The personal essay and supplements are the only place where applicants can add their own voice to their application, and comment on their experiences from their own perspective. So focus on showcasing the real you. 

 

Whether you’re applying Early Action or Regular Decision, from in-state or out-of state, give yourself time, take a deep breath, and have fun with this process. Ultimately, the purpose of any supplemental essay is to give you the opportunity to present yourself, your experiences and achievements from your own perspective using your own words. After all, no one could ever be better equipped to showcase you than you.

 

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