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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Write the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Essays 2023-2024

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities requires applicants to submit two supplemental essays of 150 words or less. Applicants who intend to pursue a nursing degree must submit an additional three essays of 250 words or less. This post contains some tips for how to make your responses to UMN’s prompts as engaging as possible.


Since UMN is a fairly selective school, writing strong essays are a great way to make yourself stand out throughout the application process. Do you want to know your chances of getting into UMN? Calculate your chances for free right now.


University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Supplemental Essay Prompts


All Applicants


Prompt 1: The University values diversity, broadly defined to include diversity of experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, and talents. Enrolling a diverse community of scholars interested in learning with and from each other fosters discussion and discovery inside and outside of the classroom. Please share briefly how you might contribute to, or benefit from, our community of scholars. (150 words) 


Prompt 2: Please include an explanation of why you would like to study the major(s) you have selected. You may also use this space to indicate your interest in other major(s) in the colleges listed above. (150 words) 


Nursing Majors


Prompt 1: Why have you chosen to pursue a nursing career? Explain how your experiences shaped your decision. (250 words)


Prompt 2: How have your studies and activities prepared you for a career in nursing? (250 words)


Prompt 3: Provide a brief reflection about why you feel the University of Minnesota School of Nursing will be the best fit with your degree and career plans. (250 words)


Prompt 1

The University values diversity, broadly defined to include diversity of experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, and talents. Enrolling a diverse community of scholars interested in learning with and from each other fosters discussion and discovery inside and outside of the classroom. Please share briefly how you might contribute to, or benefit from, our community of scholars. (150 words)

Understanding the Prompt


The theme of this prompt, diversity, seeks to find students who have had experiences that have led them to view life in a certain way. There is no right or wrong way to answer this question, but admissions officers want to know how your background will contribute to their college’s community in academic and nonacademic ways.


The other half of this prompt asks how you would benefit or contribute to the University of Minnesota’s community. You’ll want to research what you would gain as being a part of the community. This isn’t just limited to actual communities you would join at UM, but you can also discuss the traits and qualities you have that may benefit the community as a whole.


Picking a Topic


For this prompt, you’ll want to brainstorm some communities that you are a member of and understand very well. Perhaps this is a religious or special interest group, or a group you belong to as a result of your ethnicity or gender. Some other groups you might consider would be a language you speak, your hometown, or your income class. Next, write down some adjectives that you associate with these communities and what you’ve learned about yourself and others through these communities. Below are some questions to help you brainstorm: 


  • What about this community is special to you?
  • Have you learned any new skills or traits by being a part of this community?
  • How would you describe a member of this community?
  • If you had to describe this community in one word, what would it be?
  • Has this community changed over time? Have you changed with it?
  • What were the formative experiences associated with this community? What happened?


You’ll also want to know some information about UMN students. Are they curious learners? How do you know this? Sometimes, a campus visit or even a visit to the school’s website can provide ample information on student life and interests. Make sure to take some notes on this, and write down a few adjectives about academic and campus life at UMN. Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can start figuring out how your experiences can be tied to college. 


Lastly, you’ll have to determine how you can benefit from UMN’s community. This could be through a shared interest you’ve had in high school or college, or even simply a trait that you feel is shared between you and UMN students. For example, maybe you’ve realized that your high school dance group taught you the value of persistence and determination which you noticed as you talked with a UMN student during a campus tour. You could talk about this in this essay.


Writing the Essay


As you write the essay, you should dedicate about ¼ of the paragraph to background on the community that you’ll be discussing. The remaining essay should be about what you learned through this community, and how you’d bring the lessons you learned through it to UMN.


The last part of the essay should be dedicated to discussing how you can benefit from the UMN community. You’ll want to tie your story back in with UMN and how going to the university can help you grow or develop even further.


Mistakes to Avoid


Although this essay gives you ample creative freedom, there are still some things that you will want to avoid. First of all, try not to dwell on negative experiences. While you can certainly discuss these in your essay, admissions officers tend to prefer essays that have a positive ending. Additionally, you’ll want to be very organized as you write this essay. There are many moving parts to the prompt, and the last thing you want to do is leave the admissions officers confused as they read your response. 


Example Scenario


Brooke, a high school senior, is applying to UMN. For this essay, she chooses to talk about her extracurricular involvement in a community for Spanish speakers. Through this community, Brooke has realized that she is a curious learner who has learned to appreciate cultural misunderstandings because it has helped her connect with others on a deep, personal level. In her essay, Brooke may talk about how UMN students are curious learners, and how she wishes to be involved in the school’s Center for Community Engaged Learning. 


Prompt 2

Please include an explanation of why you would like to study the major(s) you have selected. You may also use this space to indicate your interest in other major(s) in the colleges listed above. (150 words)

General Strategy


This is a classic example of the “Why This Major?” essay question. In approaching this prompt, try to think of it as straightforwardly as possible; the university wants to briefly know what your reasoning behind studying your major is, and whether you are considering other fields as well. Colleges ask this question to differentiate applicants who might have similar grades and test scores. 


Note that you only have 150 words, so keep your answer succinct. The key here is to be specific to UMN’s offerings as well as your prior experiences and current interests. A common blunder is to mention money or prestige — avoid these topics at all costs. The admissions officers want to see that you are genuinely passionate about what you do or want to pursue.


To effectively answer this prompt, you need to show admissions officers why you like the subject rather than merely telling them. Focus on why you enjoy the subject: What niches in this subject area appeal to you most? Why do you have a personal connection to it? Use imagery and descriptive language to create an immersive level of detail that engages your readers.


Picking Resources


You also need to connect your passions to UMN’s school-specific offerings. This underscores your interest in the school to admissions officers. A great way to research for this response is by perusing the school website. You can also communicate in-person or virtually with admissions staff, alumni, or current students to get a better idea of how you and your interests fit into UMN. For instance, a prospective food science major could respond like this:


“Ever since I can remember, cheese has been my favorite food. Whether I’m spreading a smoked gouda on a cracker or melting some creamy parmesan into a bowl of noodles, cheese consistently provides me with a reliable, hearty meal. Last summer, my sister and I experimented in the kitchen and made our own mozzarella; that intricate process sparked my desire to learn more about the science behind food. I want to further explore my passion for this delectable substance through UMN’s CFANS Food Science program. Through classes like Sensory Evaluation of Food Quality, I can learn what factors go into a nutritious cheese and how to taste the difference between a healthy and spoiled block of cheddar. Through the Baumler Lab, I can explore whether antimicrobials in chili peppers can help keep a wheel of brie fresh for an extra week or two.”  


This response deftly weaves the student’s current passion and knowledge of cheese with potential future endeavors they could carry out in college. The essay tone is casual but the use of specific detail demonstrates passion. The author grounds each hypothetical activity to a specific UMN offering.


Strategy for Multiple Majors


If you have another major you are considering, split the 150 words to devote enough time to both subjects. However, keep in mind that you might not be able to elaborate on each one enough to craft a thorough response. Try explaining why both subjects are interesting to you, and if you have any space left, you may want to write about how the subjects relate to each other, and why studying one gives you a deeper understanding of the other. This will tie the essay together, and give a clearer picture to admissions officers as to why you would like to pursue both.


For instance, a student could first write about studying mathematics, then follow-up with writing about art as a second interest. Additionally, the student could end with how mathematics influences art in symmetry, space, and perspective, and how the study of mathematics is necessary for creating art.


With these tips in mind, you’ll be equipped to write a stellar response to UMN’s supplement prompts. Good luck! If you’re applying to Nursing, stick around for a breakdown of those prompts. 


Nursing Applicants, Prompt 1

Why have you chosen to pursue a nursing career? Explain how your experiences shaped your decision. (250 words)

General Strategy


This question, like most questions for specialized programs, is intended to assess your commitment to a difficult, long-term path–as a high school senior. As such, your primary focus here should be to convey, with concise focus and concrete examples, your commitment to and passion for this path.


Furthermore, in such a short space, it’s crucial that you remain focused. There might be a million reasons that you want to be a nurse–and that’s great! Just don’t list them all here. Your reader won’t assume that this response is an exhaustive list of all the reasons you want to be a nurse–instead, they’ll assume that you’ve chosen one or two of the most compelling experiences you’ve had to illustrate the core motivation behind this aspiration.


This brings me to the final important thing to note: With why-driven essays, your focus should be on digging beyond basic explanation. Try to show not only the experiences that have inspired you but also what your deepest motivations and aspirations are. What drives you? What makes you tick? What do you aspire to do with your life? Use specific examples to offer insight into these important, deeply personal questions, even as you explain why you want to be a nurse.


Picking Examples


Though strong responses will have an abstract/aspirational dimension, your response should still be grounded in concrete examples. This means that your writing process should still begin with some brainstorming as you search for concrete examples. Think back: is there an obvious experience that made you go “Aha! I want to be a nurse?”


Strong experiences to focus on can include:


  • Family or close friends in health-related fields who have inspired you.
  • Your own medical experiences, as a patient.
  • Experiences with close family members or friends who have been patients and who have been cared for by excellent nurses.
  • An internship or shadowing experience.
  • An academic or pre-professional course that exposed you to nursing.


The experiences you choose to depict should be vivid and meaningful enough that you can offer a brief, but detailed, description that shows the reader how they impacted you. As such, a brief glimpse of a nurse on a break from work or an impression you got from watching a TV show might be too superficial to develop as an experience that “shaped your decision.”


One note of caution: Note that the next prompt asks about how your “studies and activities” have prepared you for a career in nursing. This means that you’ll get a chance later to focus on specific academic or extracurricular things that have given you the skills and knowledge to dive into nursing studies. Here, your focus should be on motivations and interests, not preparation.


Digging a Little Deeper


Once you’ve chosen your example, take a moment to consider what this experience touched in you. Was it your desire to help others? Your anger at the suffering in the world? Your fascination with biology and the mechanisms of the human body? These sorts of more abstract motivations are what, ultimately, will provide a deep, satisfying answer to this question’s “why.” However, you need to “pull” these sorts of deeper points out of your examples.


  • If your deeper motivation is a fascination with the human body and a desire to help others, you could focus on a personal medical experience.
  • Describe a moment of reflection as you sat in your bed while a nurse drew your blood. You could watch her care and consideration intently, moved by it, but also fascinated by the procedure itself. This “moment” could be framed as helping you realize that these two passions could go together.


Structuring Your Response


A strong response will seamlessly interweave introspection/deeper reflection and concrete examples. In order to plan your essay, you should consider the relationship between your motivations/interests and the example(s) you’re giving. It’s sort of a “chicken and egg” question, but your job is to decide which came first.


  • Perhaps you had an interest in helping others, which motivated you to pursue an internship at a local hospital, which, in turn, cemented your desire to become a nurse.
    • In this case, you might start by describing that initial impulse, then jump into the example of your shadowing experience, then reflect on how it shaped/specified your long-term aspirations.


  • Perhaps you really hadn’t realized your passion for the science of the human body until a particular medical experience you had.
    • In this case, it might make sense to dive right into the “moment” when you found yourself in a hospital, fascinated by the procedures going on around you/happening to you. Then, you can extrapolate from this example, discussing what you realized about yourself and your long-term goals.


Nursing Applicants, Prompt 2

How have your studies and activities prepared you for a career in nursing? (250 words)

General Strategy


This is a fairly straightforward question. However, as with the previous question, the key here is to not go overboard. Your focus should not be to exhaustively list everything that has prepared you in any way for a career in nursing. Instead, pick 2-4 specific academic and/or extracurricular activities to discuss.


Crucially, this should not just be a list: for each example, go into detail. Explain what specific skills or information each experience you cite has given you; explain how this has prepared you to become a nurse.


Choosing Your Examples


This essay should cite specific studies and activities, so your first order of business should be to pick which studies or activities you want to discuss. However, your examples shouldn’t be chosen just because they “seem” like the good nursing prep. Instead, try working backward.


First, think about what skills and knowledge you have that would make you a good nurse. Then, think about how you acquired these competencies. Whatever comes out of this last reflection will be a potential “study or activity” to include in your response. Given the framing of the prompt, however, you should try to focus on clearly defined things, like courses or extracurriculars, rather than on personal experiences.


Strong examples could include:


  • Your anatomy course.
  • Your internship at a local hospital.
  • Your job, which has given you strong administrative skills (record-keeping is essential for nursing!).
  • Your biology course.
  • Your food science course, which has taught you a lot about nutrition (also key for nursing, though not always adequately covered!).
  • Membership in a club like Best Buddies that lets you connect with and help those who might be differently-abled than you are.


Importantly, avoid choosing redundant examples. Each course or activity that you describe should touch on a different aspect of your preparation.


Writing Your Essay


Once you’ve chosen your examples, the key is just to weave them together. The key, however, is to make sure that for every example you give, you do three things: (1) Explain the study experience activity in some detail; (2) describe what skills or knowledge you gained; and (3) explain how this has prepared you to become a nurse.


If several of your examples do show similar knowledge/skills, you can group them together.


  • For example, if your overall thesis is that you have the specific knowledge of the human body and practical experience of engaging empathetically with others that you’ll need to be a nurse, you could have two main paragraphs.
  • The first could focus on your knowledge of the human body, describing your anatomy course and your experience working in a physical therapist’s office.
  • You can explain how this knowledge base will allow you to rapidly develop efficient mastery of everyday procedures that nurses must conduct.
  • The second could focus on your experiences empathetically helping others: you could describe your involvement as a peer mental health counselor and your volunteer work at a local nursing home.
  • Then, you could explain how this comfort with comforting and helping others will allow you to be an effective and compassionate nurse.


If your examples all feel quite disparate, that’s fine. Each paragraph can focus on a different skill/area of knowledge–just be sure that all three components (example, detailed description, and explanation of how this will allow you to be a good nurse) are present. Then, try to add transitions and tie all your examples together in a strong, specific, personal conclusion.


Nursing Applicants, Prompt 3

Please provide a brief reflection about why you feel the University of Minnesota School of Nursing will be the best fit with your degree and career plans. (250 words)

General Strategy


First, a note about what this prompt is not asking: This prompt is not asking you to explain why you want to be a nurse (you’ve already done that, hopefully, in your first response!) or why you like the University of Minnesota in a broad sense. This is a very specific question about why this particular program fits your degree and career plans.


Given this, your response should contain three elements:


(1) A statement of your career and degree plans;

(2) a reflection on key elements of the University of Minnesota’s Nursing Program; and

(3) an explanation of how these elements facilitate the achievement of your plans).


These elements can be combined in different ways, but all strong essays will contain all three in some form.


Defining Your Goals


Unlike most essays here, this one doesn’t require the incorporation of specific examples, though you might end up giving specific examples of what you aspire to do with your life.


Instead, you should begin stating your goals. What do you aspire to do with your nursing degree? Note that you need to go beyond “I want to be a nurse” as your career plan–this is already self-evident. Instead, you should explain the particular kind of nursing you want to practice, or, more abstractly, the kind of impact you want to have on your patients.


Furthermore, you might also mention aspirations beyond simply working as a nurse: perhaps you would like to eventually advocate for better nursing practices on a policy level, or work in a more managerial or administrative role in a hospital. Feel free to be as specific as you like here. The more clearly you set your “targets,” the more focused, personal and powerful your essay will be.


Familiarizing Yourself with the Program


Though you are hopefully already familiar with the program, take some time to brush up on its essential features. Identify particular requirements that really fit your goals. Go beyond what is readily accessible on their website’s front page.


Try making a list of all the unique features of the program that excite you and that you know you couldn’t find on a regular undergrad-nursing school path. Then, dig a bit deeper. Find specific mentors, courses, labs, etc., that really excite you.


Once you have this list, go back to the goals that you’ve defined. Which of these resources fit your goals? Can you draw a line from one particular offering of UMTC’s Nursing Program to achieving that aspiration?


Linking Program Features to Your Goals


This brings us to the final step: explaining exactly how the features of the Nursing Program fit your goals. Remember, the key here is to show how this program will better fit your aspirations than a normal path (undergrad, then nursing school). You should not spend too many words explicitly making negative statements about a “normal” path–however, you should avoid elaborating on things that a “regular” path could also provide to you.


For example:  


  • If you’re really interested in supporting patients suffering from cognition-altering brain conditions, you might want to talk about how the opportunity to work closely with faculty from an early point in your education will really steep you in different approaches to brain trauma. Emphasize how this sort of close study and mentorship simply wouldn’t be possible in another program; you could explain how this sort of close work early in your studies will allow you to focus, as you continue to take classes, on problems and questions that arise as you start to learn more about current approaches to brain maladies and trauma.


  • If your long-term goal is to work in hospital administration, trying to raise nurse’s voices in hospital decision-making, then you might focus on aspects of the program that will allow you to become more familiar with administrative dimensions of nursing. 


Where to Get Your University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Essays Edited 


Do you want feedback on your UMN Twin Cities essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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