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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 2017-2018

The University of Minnesota is a public university with an acceptance rate of 45 percent, with two separate campuses three miles apart in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The Minneapolis campus is divided into the East and West Bank by the Mississippi River. Considered a “Public Ivy,” UMN typically ranks in the top 50 universities in the world.


UMN is considered the top University of Minnesota school, with 19 academic divisions, from the College of Continuing Education to the College of Veterinary Medicine. The alumni of the university have been credited with major discoveries and inventions such as Melvin Calvin with the Calvin Cycle and Robert Gore’s GORE-TEX.


The university does not have an early-action or decision date, but it has two different application deadlines, with one letting you know your admissions decision early: November 1st and January 1st. If you want to enroll in the Freshman Nursing Guarantee Program, you must apply by November 1st. University of Minnesota offers a University Honors Program and certain scholarships that you do not need to apply for separately.


However, there are certain non-university-wide scholarships that do require a separate application. CollegeVine has prepared the following guide to help you tackle the application essays!


UMN Application Essay Prompts

Prompt #1

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. (Response required in 150 words.)

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. You only have 150 words, so keep your answer succinct.


That being said, steer away from generic answers, such as “I like biology.” Write about why you enjoy a certain subject: Why do you have a personal connection to it? For instance, if an applicant were to write about biology, he or she could explain that biology is a way of understanding how the world works and functions, from an amoeba moving using pseudopods to a friend devouring a hamburger.


Explain why the subject is significant to you personally. Does it allow you to have a clearer understanding of your environment? Is it a way of expressing yourself and your thoughts? Does it allow you to understand others and yourself more fully? There are countless ways of thinking of why the topic is important to you and your life, as well as your surroundings. Avoid at all costs speaking about money or prestige — the admissions officers want to see that you are genuinely passionate about what you do or want to pursue.


If you have another major you are considering, split the 150 words to devote enough time to both subjects. Explain 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, and end with how mathematics influences art in symmetry, space, and perspective, and how the study of mathematics is necessary for creating art.


Remember, answer the question honestly and with what you genuinely want to study. There are no loopholes in the essay prompt — be direct, concise, and specific.

Prompt #2

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. Please limit your short answer to 1,000 characters. (Response required in 1000 characters.)

So, once more, the college is asking for a short supplement — you will run out of the 1000 characters quickly. Therefore, keep your writing concise: a “short answer” is a short answer. In this question, the college defines diversity for you, so as with the first question, you can give a rather direct answer.


In the first part of the paragraph, speak to some of the diversity you would bring to the college: What are some interests or talents that you have? Any interesting familial experiences? A specific culture you are proud of being a part of? Attempt to stay away from any political topics (especially in the “perspectives”) case, because it may make the admissions officers uncomfortable, detracting from your application. Write about what makes you unique, what makes you “you.”

If you are having troubles coming up with a topic, you can utilize the following ideas for brainstorming:


  • Experiences – Choose a life-changing experience, such as going to a summer camp that had a profound impact on you, volunteering at a local nonprofit that affected you, reading a certain novel that changed your perception of the world; etc.


  • Moments that were significant to you, for example –
    1. Your grandfather teaching you how to fish
    2. Your family having a specific dinner together that stuck with you as emblematic
    3. A touching moment with one of your friends that you weren’t expecting


  • Perspectives – This should be an example of how you approach understanding the world. For example: You try to have an open mind when approaching any situation; you attempt to understand others’ stories; you try to facilitate a safe environment that would support others; etc.


  • Background – Your culture can be a specific ethnic group you are part of, the culture of your family, or another group you belong to (if you have certain traditions, if your family has certain qualities that it holds above all, etc.). Some examples: Watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off every Christmas with your family, making origami with your little sister, celebrating your French culture, your parents stressing the importance of honesty; etc.


  • Talents – Interests and extracurriculars you spend the most time doing, such as collecting items, making origami turtles, theater, dance, soccer, etc.

After first describing your experience, perspective, background, or talent, discuss how it has shaped you. Has it changed the way you perceive the world? Has it allowed you to grow and learn a certain idea? Then, write about how that will help you to contribute to the university’s community.


UMN wants to know that you can self-analyze and reflect on what diversity means to you, and whether you will be an active participant in the community if you are accepted. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and think not only about what makes you unique, but how you could learn from others’ individuality as well. If you are having a lot of trouble coming up with what makes you diverse, you can focus your essay on why being in a diverse, supportive environment at the school would “benefit” you, from an academic or emotional perspective.


Don’t forget that with these supplements, the university wants to see you more fully as an individual. Your transcript has already done a lot of the talking on how you are as a student. Utilize these supplements to add a bit of your personality to your application — UMN does not want to see another rehash of your resume. Answer the questions honestly, and remember to not overthink the prompts: The university writes exactly what it wants to know about.


We hope you found this guide useful in writing your University of Minnesota, Twin Cities supplements!


View the essay prompts for hundreds of schools in our Essay Prompts Database.


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