How to Write the University of Nevada, Reno Essays 2021-2022

University of Nevada, Reno, is a large public university with over 17,000 students. In 2020, 88% of students who applied were admitted to the university. This year, UNR changed its prompt for the Honors College. In this post, we’ll discuss the prompt and how you can write a great response that will maximize your chances of acceptance. This prompt asks you to discuss the honors mission pillars, and how the honors college can help you further these characteristics. 


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University of Nevada, Reno Honors College Supplemental Essay 


Rather than have a choice in which prompt to choose, students applying to the Honors College Applicants must respond to the following prompt: 


“The Honors College is mission driven. Throughout their time in the Honors College, students are evaluated based upon their development in the four honors mission pillars – resilience, ingenuity, stewardship, and equity.

Select the honors mission pillar that interests you most and/or responds best to your strengths.

Describe how membership in the Honors College will support your development in this area. Limit your response to 500 words.”


Prompt Breakdown


As you can tell from the prompt, the question requires that you do sufficient research on the Honors College. This prompt basically asks you two questions–first of all, which mission pillar is important to you? Then, you must reflect on how the program will help you build resilience, ingenuity, stewardship, and equity. 


We suggest first conducting research on the honors mission pillars. You can start your research here. Admissions officers want to see your connection with the university and understand your personal values, so you’ll want to show that you know enough about the Honors College and how the honors mission pillars intersect with your strengths. 


Brainstorming Questions


After you’ve done research on the honors mission pillars and you’re able to define them, take some time to brainstorm how you may connect with these values. Below are some questions to help you brainstorm.


  • Have you had any moments in your life where you’ve had to demonstrate the honors mission pillar values? What happened, and how did those values come into play?
  • What personal values do you think are most important? Why?
  • Which value do you think you exhibit the best or worst?
  • What most impresses you about the Honors College? How is this connected to the honors mission pillar values? 


As you think of examples where you’ve used one of the honors mission pillar values, you’ll want to pick meaningful moments from your life rather than something that may be considered cliché. Below are topics that are often overused in college essays and that would be best to avoid.


  • Sports injuries or challenges
  • Immigrant stories
  • A summary of your resume
  • Tragedies such as death or divorce
  • Volunteer trips or traveling 
  • Someone you admire
  • Family pressure of going into a particular course of study
  • Moving to another area of the country


Some good examples you could use would be: 


  • An extracurricular activity that you were involved in and very passionate about
  • A moment that could be seen as insignificant but showed your true character
  • An important moment in your life that changed your perspective on something


After you’ve thought about your example, it is time to connect your story back with UNR and with what you’ve learned about the Honors College. One way to do this would be to make a list of what you believe the Honors College can bring you, and then try to fit those things in with the mission pillar value of your choice. An example of this would be a student who talked about the struggles they faced when running for student council, and how they learned to be resilient. They may discuss how they would like to bring their ideas to the Honors Student Council, and will bring the same resilient, determined personality to the Honors College.


What Does a Good Response Include? 


For this question, you’ll want to stay very organized and specific. A good response would include the following elements: 


  • A strong introduction where you pick the honors pillar value that you want to talk about and define what that value means to you.
  • You’ll want to then discuss your connection to this pillar and tell a short story about how you connect to this pillar
  • Then, connect this back to the Honors College and take the essay one step further by projecting how the college could help you develop this value. You’ll want to be specific with how the Honors College can do this. Use specific examples/programs to make this connection
  • For this essay, stay organized! There are many moving parts to this prompt, so you’ll want to keep that in mind as you write
  • Lastly, remember to keep your response to 500 words. Since this is a longer prompt for only 500 words, keep your essay concise


Common Mistakes


Besides picking a cliche topic, some common mistakes would include the following:


  • Not writing the essay in a cohesive manner. Make sure your response follows the prompt and answers the questions as they are presented in the prompt
  • Not tying the honors mission pillar back to the college or how you can grow through your time at the Honors College
  • Poor spelling or grammar. Always make sure you proofread your work before submitting
  • Copying and pasting another college essay. This is a unique prompt, so start with a fresh essay
  • Picking a cliche topic
  • Picking something that you think admissions officers would want to hear rather than your own authentic story




Below are excerpts from two essays responding to the prompt. 


Excerpt 1: 


One of my most vivid memories from junior year was when I was elected to student council, and I soon realized that students at my school were not at all interested in being involved in school-wide activities and not engaged in their community. I set out to change that by meeting with smaller school interest groups for months after being elected to learn how student council could better serve their needs, and find out why students were not more involved. This act of stewardship taught me that even small actions can have influence. Within a year, student groups at our small high school were becoming involved in local politics and social justice organizations within our town. At the UNR Honors College, I hope to become involved in the Honors Student Council so that I can serve my classmates and community.


This example is a good start for an essay. The student describes a quick story that shows how they demonstrated stewardship and then how they plan to bring this to the Honors College. This student should expand this example by describing how and why students decided to become involved in the local community and how stewardship ties into this. Additionally, the student could add more about how the Honors College could further their goals.


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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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