How to Write the University of Denver Essay 2020-2021
The University of Denver is a private research university in Denver, Colorado. US News & World Report ranks it 97th in best national universities, and Forbes lists it as 74th in research universities. During the last admissions cycle, DU accepted 56% of applicants. Once admitted, students can choose from over 100 degrees, including dual degrees if you wish to pursue undergrad and grad school concurrently.
DU is very environmentally conscious and has an A- on the College Sustainability report card, and was named in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges. The school also has a global mindset, with 73% of undergraduates studying abroad and alumni from 145 countries. Want to know your chances at DU? Calculate your chances for free right now.
DU has an optional supplement for those applying via the DU’s Pioneer Application. If you use the Common App, there is no supplement. Read on to learn how to answer DU’s supplemental prompt!
How to Write the University of Denver Supplement
Optional: This personal essay will help us become acquainted with you beyond your grades, test scores, courses, and other objective data. In at least 250 words, please write about a topic of your choice.
This prompt is both open-ended and optional. In 250 words, the University of Denver asks you to describe an aspect of yourself that is not readily apparent based on your college application. Because this is your only extra space to write more about yourself, you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity.
If you have written a supplemental essay for another college with a prompt that falls along these lines, feel free to reuse it after making necessary adjustments. If you are writing to a prompt like this for the first time, focus on a specific trait of yours that makes you different from others, and reflect on how it has shaped you as a person. Remember that this is your main college essay, so be sure to pick an experience that was integral to your growth throughout high school.
A critical first step in approaching this prompt is exploring your identities. A strong strategy is narrowing in on one one of them, instead of attempting to describe multiple in detail. Though some identities, such as your race or nationality, may be clear potential candidates, we encourage you to also consider your other identities as well. Are you the captain of your high school’s varsity hockey team? Do you volunteer at the animal shelter by your house? Are you a caring older sibling?
This is a good chance to elaborate further on any extracurriculars on the list of activities you may have submitted. For example, you might write “cheer team captain” as an extracurricular, but that is telling, not showing. This essay is an opportunity for you to show the hard work and dedication that was required for you to reach that position, as maybe you once were extremely shy.
You can also use this space to provide admissions’ officers insight into identities that don’t appear elsewhere on your application, such as your role as an older sister. For example, you can write about how you tutor your younger sister in history, and how watching her face light up after you told her stories about Joan of Arc and Cleopatra sparked your love of teaching that subject.
The phrase “show, don’t tell” is thrown around often, but putting it into practice is easier said than done. Major points to keep in mind when using this technique are vividness and authenticity, both of which can be created by invoking imagery and specific details. For example, rather than saying “I like track and field and have always loved to run,” try conjuring an image in the reader’s mind such as “At the start of my first race, I hunched down on the starting block, shifting my weight ever so slightly back-and-forth in the ‘ready’ stance that I had practiced for hours during our daily practices.” While the first response may be true, it is generic and can apply to any track and field runner. The latter response provides a more vivid image than the former, demonstrating your authentic experience to readers.
If you’re having trouble conjuring imagery, start by thinking of your five senses – sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Brainstorm which aspects of the senses you can incorporate in the anecdotal portion of your essay, that will draw the reader in effectively.
After the anecdotal portion of your essay, you can go into a more general dialogue about what you have learned from the experience and show how it has affected you with concrete evidence. Rather than saying something like “Joining cheer taught me to be a more comfortable public speaker,” say “Due to my newfound confidence from cheering in front of my peers for three seasons, I was able to confidently deliver my final AP Lit presentation.” This shows, rather than tells, how the experience changed you for good.
Wrap up your response with one to two lines on how you plan to continue using the skills you mention beyond the present. Do you plan to continue cheer (or another public speaking activity, such as speech and debate) in college? Do you plan on using your public speaking skills to advocate for yourself and/or others? Ending on a future-facing note is a good way to wrap up your response in a way that helps admissions officers see how your essay topic fits into your future self.
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