How to Write the University of Florida Essays 2021-2022

The University of Florida has four supplemental essay prompts for all students. You will have the chance to address family obligations or extenuating circumstances that impacted your high school experience, share about college preparatory programs you’ve participated in, and extrapolate on your most meaningful extracurricular activity.

 

Honors students will also have the opportunity to answer two supplemental essay prompts about their interest in the college’s honors program and two topics they’ve studied separately that they would like to address together during their time in the program.

 

Since the University of Florida receives thousands of applications from academically strong students, your essays are your opportunity to stand out. In this post, we’ll discuss how to craft an engaging response to each prompt.

 

 

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University of Florida Short Answers

All Applicants

 

Prompt 1: Do you have any employment or family obligations that limit your participation in extracurricular activities? If so, please describe. (250 words)

 

Prompt 2: Have you participated in or been assisted in your college preparation and search by programs outside of the classroom, such as Educational Talent Search, Take Stock in Children, Upward Bound, Boys and Girls Club, etc.? Please provide the name of the program, details/benefits of your involvement, and how long your experiences continued. (250 words)

 

Prompt 3: Please provide more details on your most meaningful commitment outside of the classroom while in high school and explain why it was meaningful. This could be related to an extracurricular activity, work, volunteering, an academic activity, family responsibility, or any other non-classroom activity. (250 words) 

 

Prompt 4: Is there any additional information or extenuating circumstances the Admissions Committee should know when reviewing your application? (250 words)

 

Honors Program 

 

Prompt 1: Why is applying for the UF Honors Program important to you? Which aspects of the program’s three pillars of opportunity, community, and challenge pique your interests? How would you engage with the program to exemplify these pillars yourself? How does the program factor into your long-term goals? Please be specific. (150-400 words)

 

Prompt 2: Identify two topics you have previously studied that do not traditionally overlap. How do you envision you might bring these topics together during your time in Honors to engage a pressing societal, medical or technological concern? The concern you wish to engage could be of local, national or global scope, but you should be clear about the issue you want to address. For the purposes of this essay, the topics you identify need not have been formally studied in high school, but you should have studied them since beginning in high school. (150-300 words)

 

 

All Applicants, Prompt 1

“Do you have any employment or family obligations that limit your participation in extracurricular activities? If so, please describe.” (250 words)

 

This is similar to the Additional Information section listed in the Common App. Explain what the employment/obligation entailed and why you had to take it on, as well as the results of you taking on said extra responsibility.

 

Some potential obligations involve working to contribute financially to your family, taking care of an ill relative, or babysitting younger siblings.

 

For example:

 

“For a period, my single mother was let go when the insurance company she worked at was struggling financially and going through a period of transition. As a result, we both had to take on additional jobs to make ends meet, so I briefly left the Robotics Team throughout the second semester and summer following junior year. Instead, I worked at a local grocery store after school and on the weekends, learning how to work efficiently under pressure while supporting my family.”

 

If you have no obligations to write about, just write in “Not Applicable” or leave it blank.

 

 

All Applicants, Prompt 2

“Have you participated in or been assisted in your college preparation and search by programs outside of the classroom, such as Educational Talent Search, Take Stock in Children, Upward Bound, Boys and Girls Club, etc.? Please provide the name of the program, details/benefits of your involvement, and how long your experiences continued.” (250 words)

 

This prompt is straightforward and simple. It requires you to list your involvement in programs that have helped you with your college search (outside of school), and it also asks you to list the details and benefits of your involvement in the program(s).

 

Here’s a sample response:

 

“During my junior and senior years of high school, I participated in the Take Stock in Children Program. While I was involved in the program, I was paired with a volunteer mentor and received frequent college readiness coaching. My mentor, James, was an undergraduate student at the University of Florida. Before participating in the Take Stock in Children program, I wasn’t interested in attending college, and I was planning to work at my local grocery store after high school to support my hobby, music production. James helped me understand the importance of college and he encouraged me to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Florida. I am grateful for how my involvement with Take Stock in Children has impacted my future education and aspirations.”

 

This student does a great job at answering the prompt. He lists the program name (Take Stock in Children) and the duration (junior and senior year) that he participated in the program. He also includes the details of his involvement (volunteer mentor and college readiness coaching) and most importantly, the benefits of their involvement (how his relationship with James inspired him to apply for college as a music major).

 

If you have no program(s) to write about, just write in “Not Applicable” or leave it blank.

 

 

All Applicants, Prompt 3

“Please provide more details on your most meaningful commitment outside of the classroom while in high school and explain why it was meaningful. This could be related to an extracurricular activity, work, volunteering, an academic activity, family responsibility, or any other non-classroom activity.” (250 words)

 

This prompt is a variation of the Extracurricular Activity essay archetype since it’s asking you to write about a meaningful commitment you had outside of the classroom.

 

First, you’ll need to narrow down your list of extracurricular activities to just one to write about. It’s important to choose an activity that you’re passionate about, you have been involved in for a while, and has helped to shape you into the person you are today.

 

Here are some ideas of the types of topics you can write about:

 

  • Activities where you’ve shown significant commitment
  • Clubs or groups that you’ve created, or where you’ve had a leadership role
  • Activities that have helped to shape a personal aspect of your life
  • Experiences that relate to your future goals
  • Unique extracurriculars that require an explanation

 

Once you’ve chosen a topic, think about the following questions before you begin writing:

 

  1. What is the strongest emotion you feel about this activity?
  2. What do you think about when you participate in the activity?
  3. Has the activity helped you strengthen or develop any personality traits?
  4. Are there any specific skills you’ve developed from participating in this activity?
  5. How does this activity impact the rest of your life?

 

When you’re writing your essay, here are some mistakes to avoid:

 

Choosing the wrong activity. Please don’t choose an extracurricular to write about because you think it sounds impressive, or even because you’re skilled at it. This essay is a chance to write about an extracurricular that is meaningful to you, so it’s important to select an activity that you’re passionate about!

 

Writing a shallow response. ​​It’s not effective to give a detailed history of your participation or tell an enticing story about the extracurricular you’ve chosen if you forget to explain how the activity has changed you. It’s crucial to explain your personal development from participating in the activity.

 

Listing your accomplishments. Instead of listing your accomplishments, provide a unique perspective by sharing how the activity impacts your current life and your aspirations for the future.

 

Here’s an example of an excellent response to this prompt from Sara, a prospective entrepreneurship major:

 

“During my sophomore year, I started creating charcuterie boards for parties, events, and other occasions for my friends and family. I loved finding the perfect assortment of crackers, fruit, cheeses, and jams to arrange into beautiful boards, but more importantly, I enjoyed networking with people at each event I worked.

 

After a few months, I began to receive so many referrals that I decided to start a small business. Managing my schoolwork, sports schedule, leadership roles, and my small business required me to develop excellent time management skills. I also learned about the financial aspects of running a business—from how to manage cash flow, balance costs, and pay taxes—and how to leverage social media, paid ads, and other marketing channels to promote my business.

 

Prior to my sophomore year, I had aspirations of becoming a doctor. However, after starting my charcuterie business, I realized my interests in finance, marketing, and business lent themselves to a future in entrepreneurship. I’m grateful for the opportunities my business has given me, and I’m excited to watch my business, and other businesses I start, grow in the future!”

 

 

All Applicants, Prompt 4

“Is there any additional information or extenuating circumstances the Admissions Committee should know when reviewing your application?” (250 words)

 

​​This also resembles the Additional Information section listed in the Common App. This is essentially your shot to either explain a lapse in your performance somewhere or to introduce something new about yourself that isn’t evident elsewhere in your application. 

 

You may elaborate further upon an extracurricular activity you feel isn’t clearly explained throughout your application (For example, say you were a Head Designer for your town’s Environmental and Aesthetic Initiative, and admissions officers may not know what that is). You could also talk about a personal story or history that has affected you greatly. You may even discuss a previously unmentioned extracurricular activity that says a lot about you.

 

This is a wonderfully free space for you to dive into whichever information you feel will give the admissions team the most complete version of your identity. If you don’t think this space is necessary for you, that’s fine too! Just write “Not Applicable” or leave it blank. However, it’s wise to find something to talk about in this space, so the admissions team recognizes your interest in the school.

 

 

Honors Program Applicants, Prompt 1

“Why is applying for the UF Honors Program important to you? Which aspects of the program’s three pillars of opportunity, community, and challenge pique your interests? How would you engage with the program to exemplify these pillars yourself? How does the program factor into your long-term goals? Please be specific.” (150- 400 words)

The Honors Program offers many unique opportunities to its students, including honors-specific course selections and their respective professors, smaller class sizes, sponsorship for study abroad programs, undergraduate research, unique internship programs, and specialized advising.

 

This wealth of opportunity is abundantly available to Honors College students, but the University of Florida is looking for students who will actually push themselves to engage with said opportunities.

 

This essay is looking for elements of not only a “Why this College?” essay, but also a “Why this Program?” essay. Of course, you should incorporate concrete examples of what UF has to offer here, but notice how they ask you to engage with their core values in chasing after your goals.

 

Remember, this prompt is asking four key questions, so you have a lot to cover in only 400 words. Write concisely and try to tie related ideas together. 

 

We recommend starting off with a brief introduction stating what drew you to apply—i.e., why the Honors Program is important to you. Perhaps you felt unchallenged academically in your high school, so you would like a more rigorous education, or you cherished your close academic relationships with your high school teachers and you would like to pursue meaningful relationships with your new professors as well. In a sentence or two, make a careful distinction in explaining why you are aiming for honors instead of just matriculating as a “regular” Gator. 

 

Avoid saying or implying that you’re applying for the impressiveness or prestige of being in an honors program.

 

Next, dive into the program’s three pillars. The Honors Program offers an array of opportunities, each of which may be viewed as contributing to values of opportunity, community, and challenge. For example, study abroad program sponsorships foster a greater sense of global community, while rigorous course selections and research are both opportunities and challenges. 

 

Write with enthusiasm, curiosity, and energy to convey your genuine excitement about each aspect of this program. You also need to explain how engaging with the pillar you chose will play into your long-term goals. For example, a prospective engineer may write about how challenging themselves through the mandatory Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering thesis project (which requires completion of a written thesis and research) will make them a better writer and analytical thinker, spark their innate curiosity, and make them a more resilient and focused engineer.

 

Here are some suggestions for exploring the UF Honors Program’s core values throughout your essay.

 

Opportunity: Quite literally every offering under this program, from course selection to mentorship to internships, is an opportunity, so we recommend focusing on how you will use it to achieve your goals. 

 

Here’s an essay excerpt from Sophia, a prospective doctor who hopes to join UF’s summer study abroad program in Merida, Mexico:

 

Sample Essay: “While shadowing a doctor in high school, I quickly realized two things. The first, just how many patients spoke Spanish. The second, just how few doctors were bilingual. The disheartening language barrier I witnessed day after day made it clear that I won’t be able to help every individual who walks into my office one day if I can’t communicate with them. At the University of Florida, I will have the opportunity to learn beyond the confines of the campus walls by studying abroad in Merida, Mexico.

 

There is no better way to establish bilingual fluency than to immerse myself in the Spanish language culture by living with a family in Merida. This unique opportunity will allow me to build upon the mechanical grammar and semantics I studied in high school by developing a rich, well-rounded, cultural understanding of the people who might one day be my patients. After taking advantage of the opportunity to immerse myself in the Mexican culture, I will be well equipped to return to my community in Florida and open a clinic that offers equal access to native English and Spanish speakers.

 

The title of “Doctor” is not earned for a love of math and science. It entails a love of people, and with it, a willingness to connect and communicate with them in a way that allows them to open up and receive the quality care they deserve.”

 

This essay works for a few reasons. Sophia highlights a past experience that reveals the roots of her motivation to learn Spanish and a simultaneous passion for her career path paired with a desire to succeed. She exemplifies why the UF study-abroad program appeals to her since it offers a unique opportunity to live with a host family.

 

Community: Community is a wide-spanning term, and you can build it almost anywhere within the honors program, especially considering its small class sizes, mentorship opportunities, student organizations, and study abroad programs. 

 

Consider this sample from John, an applicant planning to join the PRISM Honors Student Magazine:

 

Sample Essay: I will never forget my first interview. My hands were shaking so bad I could barely write down quotes. My bobbing knee kept thumping against the table. I was so preoccupied with preparing my next question I forget to listen to what my interviewee had to say. Suffice to say, I went back to the editor of our school newspaper empty handed. 

 

I expected to be fired—I wouldn’t blame them. Here was a freshman too shy and anxious to conduct a simple interview. Instead, the scary senior editor told me not to worry and meet him tomorrow after school. To my surprise, rather than being chastised, I gained a mentor. Over the course of multiple after-school meetings, my mentor helped me relax and get comfortable interviewing. He invited other students in the club who were struggling to learn from him as well. He helped us talk and listen to others, not just during a formal interview, but during our free time as well. I became a part of the newspaper community thanks to my mentor.

 

As a journalism major and PRISM contributor, I hope to find that same sense of community, surrounded by a like-minded  group of individuals. I know we’ll be a mixed bag of writers, editors, planners, and visual artists, but we’ll be unified by a common desire to create a fantastic magazine. This desire to create quality and to collaborate creatively will push and enhance my skills in written and verbal communication, making me a stronger and more empathetic journalist and community member.”

 

John’s essay works because he is able to tie past experiences into his future aspirations at UF and beyond. The common thread of journalism both in high school and on campus shows his dedicated to this community. By sharing his perception of the word “community”, he proves he knows what it takes to be an engaged member of the UF Honors community. 

 

Challenge: Surprise, surprise! Being an honors student will challenge you and hold you up to high academic and personal standards. Here, you will have to develop a strong work ethic, time management skills, and even interpersonal skills as you engage with your professors and peers. Write with specificity about how you expect to be challenged in your own way and where it will take you.

 

Let’s look at the example of Maria, a first-generation college student:

 

Sample Essay: “S-A-T. Sat. The boy sat in a chair. These letters never meant anything more to me than the composite parts that made up a rudimentary word every kindergartner learns. My parents taught me what they knew, and the combination of S, A, and T made the word sat. However, I’m alone in that sentiment.

 

All my classmates grew up meeting their parents’ friends from college, wearing the parents’ alma mater sweatshirts, and being told they will one day have to take the SAT. As the daughter of two high-school graduates, I never shared these experiences. Just because I faced these disadvantages, does not mean I let it hold me back. While my classmates relied on their parents to tell them what extracurriculars to take and which SAT tutor to hire, I scoured the Internet each night finding free practice tests, informational blog posts, and descriptive YouTube videos that guided me through this complicated process.

 

I know I will again be in the minority at the University of Florida as a first-generation student, but again I will not let this set-back influence my potential for success. The Honors First Generation organization will provide me with mentorship my freshman year to make the transition to college more feasible. I hope to get involved with this organization as an upperclassman and give back to my fellow first-generation students as a leader and mentor. It might take a little more initiative on my part, but I refuse to let my past disadvantage my future.”

 

Maria’s essay works because she exemplifies the values of the University of Florida’s Honors Program. Her story shows how she overcomes a challenge rather than letting it get the best of her. She goes on to explain how she will overcome the challenges she will face at UF as well to show she has the grit and resilience to handle the problems she will encounter. 

 

At the end of this essay, admissions officers should be able to see you as someone who embodies the values of the University of Florida’s Honors Program. Do your research and write about the aspects of their programs which interest you the most so that your genuine enthusiasm will shine through. Write with specificity and care, tailoring your goals to the opportunities you will find as a UF Honors Student. And remember—be as specific as possible, as the prompt requires.

 

 

Honors Program Applicants, Prompt 2

“Identify two topics you have previously studied that do not traditionally overlap. How do you envision you might bring these topics together during your time in Honors to engage a pressing societal, medical or technological concern? The concern you wish to engage could be of local, national, or global scope, but you should be clear about the issue you want to address. For the purposes of this essay, the topics you identify need not have been formally studied in high school, but you should have studied them since beginning in high school.” (150-300 words)

 

This prompt, like most honors prompts, will require a bit of thought and some brainstorming before you begin to write.

 

First, you’ll need to think about two topics you’re previously studied that do not traditionally overlap. As the prompt mentions, you didn’t have to study these topics at your school, but you did need to study these topics during your time in high school.

 

Ideally, these topics should align with ideas you are passionate about. The prompt asks you to explain your plan to combine these ideas to engage a pressing societal, medical, or technological issue during your time in the honors program, and that will be challenging to do if they do not align with your interests or future plans.

 

Since you only have 150-300 words, you will need to be concise in your explanation.

 

Here is an example of a student’s response:

 

“I grew up gardening with my mom, and she taught me how to arrange flower bouquets and nurture plants. Our home was always filled with plants and flowers, and I nothing brought me a greater sense of peace at the end of a long day than caring for a living thing and watching it grow and thrive right under my fingers.

 

Since I’m interested in becoming an elementary school teacher, I’ve studied childhood behavior extensively by reading psychology books and journals. I’m particularly interested in childhood anxiety—what causes it, how it manifests, and how to manage it.

 

During my time in the Honors college, I would love to dive deeper into how houseplants can help alleviate anxiety in children.

 

Eventually, I would love to start an organization called, “Plants 4 Kids.” This nonprofit would collect houseplant donations from people who are allergic, can no longer care for their plants, or are avid gardeners, and deliver them to daycares, schools, pediatrics offices, and other places that may amplify a child’s anxiety. The hope is that the presence of these plants will help to ease anxiety in children across the country. I experienced the benefits of houseplants before I knew the psychological terminology and phenomenon occurring. At UF I will finally be able to understand the science behind my experiences to hopefully help future children.”

 

In this response, the student clearly states the two topics she has previously studied (benefits of indoor plants and childhood anxiety) and her plan to engage a pressing issue (mitigating childhood anxiety). Notice how the student chose two topics she studied that she is passionate about, and she explains her personal connection to each topic. You want to make sure your essay really focuses on why the synthesis of these two topics is interesting to you, and how that synthesis will help the planet.

 

 

How to Get Your University of Florida Essays Edited for Free

Do you want feedback on your essays before submitting your application to the University of Florida?

 

After re-reading your essays, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. They can offer an objective evaluation of whether your personality shines through and let you know if you’ve fully answered the prompt. 

 

You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. Give this helpful tool a trip to see for yourself!


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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.

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