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How to Write the University of Georgia’s 2016-17 Essays
So you have decided to apply to the University of Georgia, where the only thing hotter than your ardor for the Georgia Bulldogs will be your animus toward the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, or the Georgia summer heat. While UGA is known for its passion for football, it also offers a southern retreat into the lively college town known as Athens. UGa boasts a wide array of pre-professional career tracks into any one of its specialized colleges, such as the renowned Terry College of Business, the College of Veterinary Medicine, or the School of Social Work. Whichever field of study you end up choosing, there is little doubt that you will not have the classic Southern college experience, along with about 27,000 other undergraduates, while at UGA.
Part of being a public institution of higher education – as opposed to many of the private institutions that we at CollegeVine write about – means that UGA may make their final admissions decisions based on factors like GPA and test scores, and soft factors like essays are given less weight. Though ensuring your stats are up to UGA’s standards is the most important thing you can do to increase your chances at admission, strong essays can also have a significant impact on your application. About 52% of applicants were admitted in 2015, with the middle 50% of admitted first-year students having SAT scores ranging from 1290 to 1440, and admitted Honors students having scores ranging from 1480 to 1530. In terms of the ACT, the middle 50% of admitted first-year students ranged from 27-31, and those admitted to the Honors College were usually 32-34.
Below, our essay specialists have created a guide to help you write your essay for UGA:
Here are the four essay questions for this admissions cycle, with Essay 1 being required (200-300 words) and Essays 2-4 being three options from which the applicant can select two (150-200 words).
As the instructions explain, you must write two essays, and the topic for one of them can be chosen from any of three different prompts. Note that none of them require you to write an exorbitant amount, with the longest possible response being 300 words, or about half a page, single-spaced. For all these prompts, you may find it helpful to write out longer responses with everything you could possibly include in them, and weed down your reponses from there until you’re within the maximum word count. This can help you ensure your responses contain all essential information and no fluff.
Now that we’ve discussed a general approach to getting around tight word limits, let’s tackle these prompts one by one:
(Required) The UGA faculty has defined the qualities that the student body should demonstrate in the Admissions Philosophy Statement. After reviewing this, help us understand which of your qualities will add value to our community of scholars. (200-300 words)
The first prompt requires you to have read the UGA Admissions Philosophy Statement and given it some thought. Principally, it calls for a UGA scholar to commit to the conservation and enhancement of our society’s intellectual, cultural, and environmental heritage. While this statement echoes the concepts of many upstanding colleges, it also emphasizes more uncommon sentiments, such as an understanding and respect of foreign cultures, as well as commitment to citizenship.
Ideally, it would be great if you had regularly participated in some activities prior to applying that attested to your commitment to what the Philosophy Statement demands. This does not mean you need to have traveled abroad to teach English or opened a soup kitchen, as long as whatever activity you took part in rendered efficacious results, and was worth the effort. This question also forces you to demonstrate the amount of high-level introspection you have done, such that you are able to relate and connect your personal qualities to your activities to effectively answer the prompt. A tale only of what you have done will not go as far as explaining what the experience meant to you, how it changed you, and how that change will cause you to impact the UGA community in a similar manner.
Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue. (150-200 words)
Should you choose to write a response to the second prompt, you will need to demonstrate a significant amount of technical information about a field you are very familiar with and translate it into colloquial terms within 150-200 words. This is a challenging essay to write, since you will have to be your own fact-checker in whatever you are writing about; however, if you are truly passionate about the subject, then this essay will not be too difficult.
Often, the kind of knowledge necessary to concisely speak to the problem in a particular field requires one to have worked in the field in some capacity. If you have done some research in high school or have worked a job (related to your upcoming field of study), then it might be easier for you to discuss the problem in the field. Discussing its importance to you also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate how passionate you are about the interest (Note: avoid using the word “passion” in your writing – it has become extremely overused to the point that it has lost much of its meaning in the admissions world). Even though you will make claims at large about your general love for the topic, this essay response will be much easier to write if you choose a specific problem within the field. You might try to talk about, for example, the problems in scientific validation when published experiments are rarely replicated and so it is truly unknown if the findings are sound, the poor effectiveness of creating dozens of new potential sources of energy in the last decade since none have gained traction in funding, attention, etc., or the need to address implicit gender-based discrimination arising from the Romance languages such that new terms such as “Latinx” (non-gendered, thus not Latino/a) have risen among millennials of Latino descent. Choose a problem that speaks to you, and that you could see yourself potentially working to address in the future.
After choosing what problem you wish you discuss, you could research how others have attempted tackling it so that you have an idea of what might be expected of a reasonable solution. Your proposed solution does not (and most likely will not) need to be a surefire fix to the problem, but it does need to show a thoughtful attempt at innovation crafted by knowledge of the issue at stake. In fact, if you are feeling unsure about your solution, you might even try discussing the methods that you would employ to come up with an efficacious solution. This is another way to demonstrate how far you would be willing to go to solve the problem, and might include the the specific types of people you need to talk to, current potential fixes in the field and how they need to be changed, or even tangential topics like how you would go about acquiring funding for creating your solution. The point of this essay is not so much creating a solution as it is about your drive to find a solution.
Tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself that you have not already shared in your application. (150-200 words)
Should you choose to write a response to the third prompt, you will need to exercise your creativity muscle a bit more, but responding to this prompt gives you an opportunity to create a piece of writing that will truly stick in your reader’s mind. Quick psychology tip: humans are creatures of stories, and thus, making yourself memorable through a good story is an ingenious way of making sure your application sticks out from the rest, especially when your competition might be discussing about problems in their field (above), or inventing a course (below).
In order to create an adequate response to this prompt, you will probably try and rack your brain for funny experiences to share. It’s a good idea to utilize your friends when brainstorming; friends will probably be your biggest help in jogging your memory to stories you may have forgotten. Whatever the story ends up being, you need to be sure that it is appropriate, because the quality of humor be critiqued by all your readers who are UGA admissions officers. Consider running your story by a few of your teachers beforehand. Your essay does not necessarily need to be funny, so do not try to cram humor into a story that is more geared towards the “interesting” aspect of the prompt.
UGA’s First Year Odyssey Program offers more than 300 seminar courses for new freshmen. Some examples include “The History of Horseracing”, “Einstein and the Theories of Relativity” and “The Zombie Plague”. If you could create your own seminar course at UGA in any subject area that interested you, what would it be? What would the course be named and what would you hope to learn? Please write your response in the style of the UGA First Year Odyssey descriptions as seen on their website. (150-200 words)
Should you choose to write a response to the third prompt, you will need creativity, much like in the second prompt. However, it will have to be more focused in order to take on the format of course descriptions as seen on UGA’s First Year Odyssey website. In a sense, this prompt asks the applicant to imagine how an interest of theirs could play out if it were to be set in an open-discussion classroom context.
A good starting point is taking some time to ponder about questions that you may have had while learning about something in school. Admissions officers want to measure the extent of your intellectual curiosity, and how much debate you are willing to undergo to pursue some answers. This is a test of innovation in thinking, since inventing a feasible course capable of educating students via discussion requires diligent industry and thought. Interestingly, many of these courses at UGA tend to combine different disciplines – like the economics of crime, or the policy implications of neuroscience findings – and this is definitely an avenue that you could pursue to make your application stand out.
As many of the course descriptions for UGA’s First Year Odyssey demonstrate, you should begin by describing the context of the subject matter. Due to the variability in course topic, this context could take the form of a brief history, the description of a particular event, or even a single thought someone might have that is worth delving into. Often the titles of these courses are not obscure or vague, so you should name yours something similarly bearing in mind you can be as creative as you want to be in the naming. Some possible titles include: Law and Professional Ethics, or Save the Bees! Beekeeping and and Colony Collapse Disorder.
If you come across this article well before time to apply to college, and you wish to gain admittance to UGA but fear your baseline stats will not grab the admission officer’s attention, we suggest that you book an appointment with any of our mentorship specialists or admissions consultants.
From our team at CollegeVine to you, we wish you the best as you apply to the University of Georgia.