How to Write the University of Maryland College Park Essays 2021-2022

 

The University of Maryland does not have any traditional supplemental essays, but they do have five required “complete this sentence” prompts. While your answers to these questions will be slightly shorter than a tweet, you will have more than enough space to reveal unique and distinctive parts of your personality to admissions officers. 

 

Make sure you give yourself enough time to craft thoughtful responses to these prompts, as you want to take full advantage of every opportunity you have to share something about yourself with the admissions officers. Although they are short, these kinds of prompts can be a great opportunity to showcase something that might not come across elsewhere in your application. Especially with how competitive college admissions have become, the more your responses stand out to admissions officers, the better your chances of admission will be.

 

 

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University of Maryland Supplemental Essay Prompts

 

All Applicants

 

  1. If I could travel anywhere, I would go to… (160 characters)
  1. The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was… (160 characters)
  1. In addition to my major, my academic interests include… (160 characters)
  1. My favorite thing about last Tuesday was… (160 characters)
  1. Something you might not know about me is… (160 characters)

 

Prompt 1

If I could travel anywhere, I would go to… (160 characters)

 

This is one of the more straightforward questions you’re going to come across in your college applications. A strong response will identify a place, and share a little bit about why you have picked this particular place.

 

Keep in mind that your response should be unique to you, and teach your reader something about your personality or interests. If your answer sounds like something any average person might say, you need to work on specificity. Here are some examples to show what we’re talking about.

 

Generic response: “Rome, because I’ve always wanted to see the Coliseum”

 

Personal response: “Rome, because I’ve studied Latin since middle school, and seeing historic sites like the Coliseum in person would enrich my understanding of the classical world” (160 characters)

 

The first response is generic because just about anybody would love to see the Coliseum. The second answers the crucial question, why?, which is where your personality shines through.

 

Obviously, the source of specificity will depend on you and your personal experiences. If you haven’t studied Latin, or if you studied it but didn’t like it, this response clearly would not work for you.

 

Finally, remember that this place doesn’t have to be a city. You could also say something like “The Pro Football Hall of Fame” or “Abbey Road Studios.” 

 

That being said, you don’t want to go much bigger than a city. Saying something like “The United Kingdom” or “China” may make you sound clueless, as countries are too large and diverse to understand in their entirety with just one trip. 

 

Instead, think about the main reason why you want to go to this place, and narrow your response from there. So, instead of saying “The United Kingdom” you could say “The Scottish Highlands,” and instead of “China” you could say “The Great Wall of China.”

 

 

Prompt 2

The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was… (160 characters)

 

If you haven’t done research before, don’t panic. Most high school students haven’t, and nowhere does the prompt say the research has to be yours. 

 

Rather, your response should show your reader that you are informed about the research that goes on at places like the University of Maryland. Of course, research is not the only thing colleges do, but being surrounded by cutting-edge researchers in a wide range of fields is an opportunity that is difficult to find outside a college campus.

 

We don’t mean to say you have to cite some dense, obscure study on molecular neuroscience. If that is what you’re interested in, great! But research can take a variety of forms. Below are some examples of facts that would work just as well as something from a hardcore STEM study.

 

  • Consistent physical exercise throughout life correlates with better mental health in old age
  • Sea turtles use magnetoreception to find the same breeding grounds each year
  • The Egyptian pyramids have passages leading up from the burial chamber, which they believed the dead pharaoh could climb through to join the gods in heaven

 

If you have the space, you can also share a short explanation of why you found this particular fact so interesting. For example, for the sea turtle example, you could say something like “Sea turtles find the same breeding grounds each year with magnetoreception. This made me appreciate nature’s diversity―turtles have an entire sense that we lack” (160 characters)

 

If you don’t have space for this kind of elaboration, don’t stress out. Sharing a fact you found genuinely interesting will already show your reader something about your intellect, and just explaining what the fact is may take up most of your space―the pyramid example above is 155 characters. The elaboration is not necessary to have an excellent response.

 

 

Prompt 3

In addition to my major, my academic interests include… (160 characters)

 

The key phrase here is “in addition to my major.” Remember that you should use your supplements to share information that your reader cannot find elsewhere in your application. 

 

So, if your intended major is neuroscience, your answer here shouldn’t be “biology.” That is technically a different academic interest, but it doesn’t really tell your reader anything new. If they know you want to major in neuroscience, they probably already assumed you had at least some interest in biology.

 

Remember that your reader also has your high school transcript and activities list. Maybe math isn’t your intended major, but if you’ve taken AP math classes and done math camps during your summers, you still won’t be sharing something new with your reader, because they can already tell you like math.

 

Your response also shouldn’t just be a list of other interests you have. That won’t give your reader any sense of why you’re interested in these things, and the why is where your personality comes across. Without it, your reader doesn’t know what they’re supposed to take away from this response.

 

Now that we’ve covered what you shouldn’t do, let’s talk about how you should approach this response. As noted above, you want to pick an interest that is genuinely different from what is already reflected in the rest of your application. As long as you’re honest, there’s no right way to do this. Maryland just wants to see that you’re academically explorative, not that you’re interested in any one particular thing.

 

The second piece of your response is the why. Say you’re an intended history major, and the other area you’re interested in is sports psychology. Your response might read something like this: “Sports psychology, because I was raised a diehard Miami Heat fan, and I’ve always wondered what helps some players thrive under pressure while others fold” (154 characters).

 

Alternatively, say you’re an intended engineering major, and the interest you share is in music theory. A strong response would be: “Music theory, because I’ve always wanted to know how composers for movies and TV shows can use sound to enhance the emotions of a scene” (135 characters).

 

These responses share interests that are not only not distinct from the intended majors, but are also probably not showcased anywhere else in the application either. It’s an unfortunate reality that college applications often only capture a thin slice of who you are, and leave out things like sports fandom that may be a huge part of your personality. If you can share one of those things here, your response will be all the better for it.

 

 

 

Prompt 4

My favorite thing about last Tuesday was… (160 characters)

 

Only you know what you did last Tuesday, so the best advice we can give here is not to overthink. Most people don’t do anything revolutionary on an average Tuesday. Maryland doesn’t expect you to have cured cancer. What they do want to see is that you can engage with, and bring energy to, seemingly mundane situations.

 

In order to do this successfully, all you really have to do is describe the situation, and give your reader at least some sense of what made it your favorite part of the day. Below are some examples of weak and strong responses to this prompt.

 

Weak: “Getting dinner with my friend.”

 

Strong: “Doing a picnic dinner with my friend and watching the sunset. We used to hang out a lot before she moved, so I felt lucky to spend quality time with her again” (160 characters)

 

For this particular prompt, even a few extra details, like those that are included in the strong example, can go a long way. Most people enjoy getting dinner with friends, but the strong response shows the reader why, for you personally, this particular dinner was so meaningful.

 

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, 160 characters is more than you think. Take advantage of the space you have to make your response as personal as possible. From the rest of your application, your reader knows what you’re like in the classroom or on the basketball court. Now show them what you’re like on just a regular old Tuesday.

 

 

Prompt 5

Something you might not know about me is… (160 characters)

 

A prompt this open-ended can be overwhelming at first. But, as we advised with Prompt 4, don’t overthink. This fun fact doesn’t have to be anything crazy, or an attempt to impress anyone―that’s what the rest of your application is for. Just share something unique to you that doesn’t already come across elsewhere in your application.

 

This last part is key―if your answer to Prompt 3 (the one about academic interests) was something about liking astronomy, your answer here shouldn’t be something about stargazing every night. Remember that you only have so many opportunities to share yourself with the admissions officers, so take advantage of them.

 

Here are some examples of potential responses to this prompt. Your response also may look nothing like these, which is completely fine. We just want to get your gears turning by giving you a sense of what a good response looks like.

 

  • I can do a double backflip off a diving board
  • I have every word to Taylor Swift’s album “Reputation” memorized
  • For my eighteenth birthday, I went skydiving and passed out in the air
  • I’ve won my fantasy football league three years in a row
  • Every New Year’s Day, my dad cracks the ice on the pond near our house and my family does a polar plunge together

 

There are a couple of things we want you to take away from these examples. First, you might not use all 160 characters, which is okay. For most supplements, you want to take advantage of  the space they’re giving you as much as possible, but this is one where writing a longer answer can actually detract from your point.

 

For example, if the first response above were instead “I can do a double backflip off a diving board, and one time I was at the pool and kept making the lifeguard nervous every time I did it,” by the end of the sentence your reader may not even remember what the original fun fact was. It’s not a problem if you need the space to share whatever it is you’re sharing, but also remember that short and sweet can go a long way.

 

Finally, hopefully the examples above show that your fun fact doesn’t have to be super serious. A more lighthearted response can actually be a positive―college applications are in general quite dry, so it can be a good idea to remind your reader that you’re more than a GPA and a Common App essay you’ve revised 43 times.

 

 

Where to Get Your University of Maryland Essays Edited for Free

Because these responses are so short, once you’ve written them it might be hard to see how you could improve them. Someone else can typically offer a more objective perspective on your own writing, which is why we created our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student, who can better judge whether your personality comes across in your response.

 

You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. We highly recommend giving this tool a try!

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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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