How to Write the University of Delaware Essays 2020-2021

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. The acceptance rate for in-state students is around 66%. If you’re out-of-state, the acceptance rate is around 50%. Want to know your chances at the University of Delaware? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

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 three short written answer prompts on the My Blue Hen application portal. 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. 

 

Want to learn what the University of Delaware will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering the University of Delaware needs to know.

 

The University of Delaware Supplemental Prompts

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)

 

Honors College Applicants

 

Prompt 1: How will you contribute to a diverse and inclusive community? What will other Honors students learn from you and what do you hope to learn from others? (300 words)

 

Prompt 2: Reflecting back on the past year and all the challenges that we have faced as a society, what have you learned about yourself and how has that shaped your goals as an Honors student? (300 words)

 

Prompt 3: While a formal education is important, lessons learned outside of the classroom are as well. What is something you’ve learned outside of school, and how will that impact your Honors education and/or your contributions to our community? (300 words)

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.

Honors College Applicants, Prompt 1

How will you contribute to a diverse and inclusive community? What will other Honors students learn from you and what do you hope to learn from others? (300 words)

The first question they ask applicants of the Honors College to address is what role they will play in the Delaware community. Questions about community are opportunities for students to display unique aspects of their personalities that would make them great additions to the campus. You want to highlight something that either sets you apart from other applicants or makes you a great member of a community. At the end of the day, the admissions officers are trying to create a diverse, cohesive community of students from a multitude of backgrounds with different perspectives, interests, and values, so you have to highlight your own positive traits while also demonstrating how you would fit into that community.

 

Students might want to consider aspects of their personality that they value and consider defining characteristics. Don’t feel pressured to write about something obscure like how you juggle after one summer at circus camp if it doesn’t really apply to you, and isn’t something you would continue in college. 

 

Instead, you should focus on something that really speaks to who you are and what interests you. For instance, a student who wants to go into fashion design but is also interested in history, might write about the podcast they started to discuss common historical fashion mistakes portrayed in television and movies. She could discuss how observing details about skirt lengths and dress patterns has made her very observant, and now she likes to meet new people and learn more about their personal styles. Maybe she would talk about how she wants to design clothes for people her age that have historical elements to them, so she wants to teach other students about what fashion really looked like back then and learn more about current fashion. 

 

This would be a very successful essay for this student because she was able to thoroughly discuss the role she would play on campus while also providing many details about one of her favorite hobbies. The admissions officers reading her essay would know she is a detail-oriented, observant person who is fascinated by the intersection of the past and present and fashion is her outlet to explore these interests. They also learn about her desire to interact with other students for her own personal benefit and for theirs. Following this model of taking in interest of yours and expanding it to describe more about your personality and goals on campus and beyond would make a great essay.

 

Maybe a different student wants to focus on his background rather than one of his interests. A student that grew up with all of his extended family living in one house might want to talk about the perspective he has gained on the importance of family. He could talk about his experience being as close to his grandparents as he is with his parents and considering his cousins more like siblings. He would then talk about how the people you live with can become your family and will be there for you no matter what, which is the same mentality he will have and tell his roommates and floormates when he moves into his dorm on campus. He might discuss how his unique upbringing afforded him a sense of compassion and understanding that he hopes other students will adopt because it has helped him in many ways.

 

This student also successfully addressed the question asked of him while making it a very personal essay that truly establishes what makes him unique and has shaped him. The admissions officers would know that if they accept this student, he will bring a warm sense of compassion to campus and help other students feel at home as they adjust to a new setting. 

 

You could also choose to address different aspects of your personality that have influenced your identity in this essay. However, be careful that you aren’t too vague. The admissions committee is really looking to see what makes you special and how you would perfectly fit into the community they are trying to build. Your essay should convince them that you are the missing piece of the puzzle and they simply can’t have a community without someone who has as interesting and compelling a story as you do.

Honors College Applicants, Prompt 2

Reflecting back on the past year and all the challenges that we have faced as a society, what have you learned about yourself and how has that shaped your goals as an Honors student? (300 words)

This essay prompt is unique and different from other years because admissions officers want to hear about how the Covid-19 pandemic and the societal challenges that have been brought to light—racism, anti-semitism, natural disasters, and so forth—have impacted you. There’s no denying that 2020 has been a tough year for everybody, but this is not an essay designed for you to complain about how unfair life has been to you or to list all the tragedies that have occurred. The purpose of this essay is for you to demonstrate how you have overcome adversity and gained new perspectives and values that you will carry with you moving forward.

 

The amount of ways a student could tackle this essay, considering all that has happened in this past year, are endless, so it is crucial that you pick something meaningful to you and that you learned a lot from. 

 

Many people felt an overwhelming feeling of helplessness at the beginning of the pandemic, when all we could do was stay home and we were unable to find answers to help all the people getting sick. After months of feeling that way, maybe you finally came to the conclusion that you never want to feel that way again so you have decided to major in Medical Laboratory Science at Delaware so you can be hands on in a laboratory and try to find vaccines and cures for diseases.

 

Or, maybe you never considered your privilege until you started educating yourself on what it means to be an anti-racist during the racial justice protests that happened over the summer. You could write about how this was the wake-up call that made you realize you need to be less complacent. Since then, you have set new goals for yourself to identify your privilege and fight for racial justice which is something you will continue to do on campus by taking classes on systemic racism. 

 

If you always cared about the environment and saw the positive effects the world going into lockdown had on the environment, maybe it inspired you to find creative solutions to replicate the effects you witnessed without shutting down the world for another year. You might discuss your interest to explore all the resources at the College of Earth, Ocean, and the Environment that will be available to you as a student of the Honors College.

 

What is really important about this essay is that it expresses what changed for you during the pandemic and how you intend to pursue this new perspective and not let it go to waste. 

 

This has been an emotional time for the world, and not everyone has been able to handle it with positivity and a renewed sense of hope. That is totally okay too. Don’t feel that you have to have come out stronger from the pandemic, because the reality is many people have not. If you went through the unfortunate loss of a loved one or felt isolated and alone because you couldn’t spend time with your friends or family, you can still describe your experience. Maybe you learned something as simple as the value you place on friendship in your life, and you will remember how important it is to have a strong network of friends at college who you can rely on. Or perhaps you dealt with your grief and anxiety by channeling your emotions into music or poetry, and now you have a healthy outlet at college for when you get stressed or lonely.

 

This question probably requires the most self-exploration, and it is okay if it is challenging. The admissions committee knows they are asking a challenging question by asking you to reflect on what has probably been one of the hardest experiences of your life. However, as a prospective student of the Honors College, it is important that you can reflect on your thoughts and feelings during a challenging time and find lessons that you can carry with you for the future.

Honors College Applicants, Prompt 3

While a formal education is important, lessons learned outside of the classroom are as well. What is something you’ve learned outside of school, and how will that impact your Honors education and/or your contributions to our community? (300 words)

For this final question there are two different approaches students could take to answer it. The first being centering on material have you learned outside of the classroom on your own account—whether it be from reading books or teaching yourself. The second is what knowledge have you acquired in your daily life, that are lessons you live by. You could choose to go down either route, although we suggest you only focus on one. That being said, depending on what you choose to write about, you might have learned something that also taught you a lesson about yourself or the world around you.

 

If you decide to write about physical material you have learned outside of school, then you want to focus on what drew you to continue learning outside of school, and how this was different from the education you get in school. Maybe you were really excited to learn about all the battles of the Civil War in your AP United States History class, but the curriculum skipped over all of them. This inspired you to do research on your own time and pick up books about specific battles and strategies used during these battles, so you were able to learn about something you were passionate about. Or maybe you really want to learn how to code but your school doesn’t offer any computer science classes, so you spent your weekends looking up instructions and tutorials so you could teach yourself Java and Python. 

 

Writing about something you taught yourself, through your own determination, will show the admissions officers your intellectual curiosity. An important aspect of any Honors College student is someone who loves to learn and is never satisfied, so you would demonstrate how you already possess this quality. In order to connect what you learned back to the Honors community, you might want to discuss how doing private research in high school prepared you for the research opportunities you will have with the Honors College to research a topic you are interested in, only this time you will have professors and academic experts on the subject who can help you. Or maybe you want to talk about the grit and perseverance it took to teach yourself a new skill or hobby will help you when you are confronted with difficult concepts in college. 

 

If you decide to go the other route, and write about knowledge and life lessons you have learned outside of school, you should probably incorporate anecdotes about what you were doing at the time, who taught you the lesson, and how it has shaped you ever since. Humans are constantly learning from their environment without even realizing it, so a lot of what you have learned throughout the years has come from places other than school. But don’t fall into the trap of picking the first cliché life lesson that pops into your head. Make sure it’s something personal that has a profound impact on you. A lot of times you learned important lessons at pivotal moments, so try looking back on those and see if you come up with anything. Moments could include:

 

  • Overcoming a challenge
  • Making and losing friendships
  • Trying something new
  • Doing something without your parents for the first time

 

A student who consistently moved to a new school every two years because one of his parents were stationed in the military might talk about how he learned the different idiosyncrasies and customs of different regions and countries. He might mention how he grew accustomed to calling soda ‘pop’ when he was in the south, so when he moved north and told people he liked pop, they all thought he meant pop music. While a humorous story like this could express your personality, the student would also be able to show how he has gained an interesting perspective and now when he’s on campus, he will be more aware of everyone’s different backgrounds. 

 

Maybe a different student who’s both a poet and football player has learned the importance of embracing one’s identities, even if they might be mocked for it. The student didn’t want to “own up” to his identity as a poet for the longest time, but once he did, he was able to break down social barriers at his school, and encourage his teammates to do things they were hesitant to. 

 

Either way you choose to focus your essay, you can still show the admissions committee that you are a thoughtful, pensive, and engaged student both in the classroom and outside of it. While you should place an emphasis on the benefits of learning outside of the traditional school environment, be careful that you don’t disrespect school because the admissions officers want to make sure they pick students who also find joy and value in a traditional setting. As long as you are able to connect what you have learned back to the University of Delaware and the Honors College community, you should be in good shape!

 

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