How to Write the University of Kentucky Essays 2020-2021
University of Kentucky is a public research institution located in Lexington, Kentucky. It prides itself on being one of only eight institutions in the US with the full complement of liberal arts, engineering, professional, agricultural, and medical colleges on one contiguous campus. UK has a total enrollment of around 30,500 and its acceptance rate hovers around 90%.
University of Kentucky applicants have the choice of applying via the Common Application, Coalition Application, or a UK-specific application. Students applying to the Lewis Honors College or the UK’s competitive academic scholarships must use either the University of Kentucky-specific application or the Common Application, and respond to an additional prompt. Want to know your chances at University of Kentucky? Calculate your chances for free right now.
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University of Kentucky Supplemental Essay Prompts
For All Applicants
This prompt asks you to address your self-awareness and response to adversity. The challenge you choose to discuss does not have to be something large-scale or grand to effectively answer the prompt. Instead, your topic should allow you to fully answer the questions posed. Try to choose a time when you faced a unique challenge or reacted in a way that brought out your strengths; avoid hackneyed topics about grades or losing a sports game.
For example, an essay that discusses struggling to get a good grade in calculus would not be as effective as an essay that focuses on what it took to develop the mental fortitude to become a runner despite being highly unathletic. A challenging class is simply too common of an experience, and is not considered a substantial enough challenge If you do choose an academic topic, be sure that it is distinctive and significant enough to give admissions a better picture of who you are. For more tips, check out Collegevine’s guide to writing to an overcoming challenges prompt.
Tone is crucial in answering this question. This prompt asks you to reflect on a challenge, so do not be afraid to admit that you struggled at first. Humility is key to successful self-reflection. However, your tone should also not be overly self-critical – resilience is an equally important value.
So if you were to write about going from hating running to becoming a varsity runner, you could begin with descriptions of your thoughts mid-race before you came to appreciate running. “A mile in and my breath grew ragged; my feet dragged as if I were wearing shoes made of lead. ‘I just can’t wait to finish the season and be done with running forever,’ I thought as I stared at the runner in front of me.”
The first portion of this prompt asks how you handled your challenge. You do not need to focus on only one solution if you relied on multiple mechanisms. Often, there isn’t just one magic solution to our problems. However, you should provide clear methods that you used to address your challenge.
For example, saying you had a change of heart and suddenly loved running does not explain how you handled the problem in enough detail. What were your methods? Were other people involved in the change? Who were they and how did they help you? Go through the concrete steps and internal processes that led you to a resolution.
Support systems — both peer and faculty-based — will become crucial during your college years. Success during a challenge can largely depend on your ability to know where and when to ask for help. This prompt asks you to explain how you use the support systems in your life. Your challenge should at least be partially addressed by an effective use of your support system. Let’s return to the running example. In that case, you could discuss how you were inspired by an older teammate, or how your coach became a mentor.
Note that your support systems do not need to be official organizations or people in authority. Your friends and family can also serve as a support system. Your support system also doesn’t need to provide you with something tangible, so long as they can provide you with emotional support or good advice.
For Lewis Honors College and Competitive Scholarship Applicants Only
Before you begin to consider your response to these questions, it would be beneficial to briefly assess what Lewis Honors College stands for and why you would like to attend this program (if applicable). If you are applying to Lewis Honors College, you should be prepared to demonstrate your commitment to the College’s values, either directly or indirectly, in your response to this essay prompt. Lewis Honors College’s mission is “to better the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the world by helping students to explore their purpose, develop intellectually, and lead with integrity.” As you can see, leadership is one of the College’s foremost values, and the admissions office wants to understand how you think about leadership and who has been a model of leadership to you.
Another related aspect of the prompt is your values. The prompt itself is asking you to consider who and what you value (within leadership), and then come up with three people who represent those values from the last century. What do you consider a “significant impact”? Is it scientific, humanitarian, athletic, intellectual, political, artistic?
You should select people whose contributions span a few different areas you value or are interested in. The people you choose do not have to be universally popular or known; the only requirement is that they have made a significant impact on the world in your view. For example, if you’re scientifically inclined, you might choose Rosalind Franklin, the chemist who discovered that DNA has a double helix structure. Or maybe you believe the Percy Jackson series changed the world, in which case you might choose Rick Riordan. As long as the person represented or directly created change on a global scale in the past century (and you can back it up), they’re a valid choice.
This prompt then goes a step further by asking you to discuss how you would choose to commemorate each person. In last year’s honors prompt, applicants were asked to create a “new Mount Rushmore” with four different individuals. This year’s prompt challenges you to think critically about what memorialization means and come up with your own means of recognizing your chosen figures. There are a few suggestions embedded in the prompt – a day, a celebration, or a monument – but don’t feel like you must choose one of these options. Think creatively: what is the best way to remember your chosen figures? Here are a few ideas:
- Time – Is this person best remembered by setting aside time? Perhaps a moment of silence, a day, a week, or a month dedicated to remembrance of this figure. Is there a specific time (in the day or year) during which this person has special significance?
- Object – Is this figure best remembered with a permanent object? For example, a monument, a museum, or a cenotaph. Is there something about this person’s contribution that can be permanently displayed?
- Event – Is this person best represented by a social act or gathering in their name? Possibly a celebration, a vigil, a ritual, or a festival. Is there something about this person’s achievement or path to re-enact, enjoy, or grieve in conjunction with others?
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