How to Write the University of Oklahoma Essays 2021-2022

The University of Oklahoma (OU) is a large public research university in Norman, Oklahoma. OU has an active student body and is known for its competitive football team and strong campus community. 

 

Any student hoping to be a Sooner is required to respond to one of the Common Application Essay Prompts. Additionally, on your OU application you will see the optional scholarship section. Answering these scholarship questions—which address the topics of leadership, community service, and career interests—will put you in the running for a variety of scholarships that can help out with the cost of attendance.

 

Want to know your chances at OU before getting started? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

University of Oklahoma Scholarship Prompts

 

 

Prompt 1: The University of Oklahoma believes strongly in educating leaders of communities in Oklahoma, as well as across the country and the world. Please share your leadership experiences and why they are important to you. (650 words)

 

Prompt 2: The University of Oklahoma is the home of a vibrant, diverse and compassionate University community that is often referred to as “the OU family.” Please describe your cultural and community service activities and why you chose to participate in them. (650 words)

 

Prompt 3: What is your career area of interest, and why do you have a desire to work in this particular field? (650 words)

 

Prompt 1

The University of Oklahoma believes strongly in educating leaders of communities in Oklahoma, as well as across the country and the world. Please share your leadership experiences and why they are important to you. (650 words)

 

These essays have high word counts, which means they have potential for greatness, but also means that you need to stay focused and organized. 

 

Start by brainstorming your leadership experiences. Common responses include holding a leadership position in a school organization or being captain of a school team, but keep in mind that the word “leadership” can encompass many other experiences. The admissions committee will be drawn to students who are leaders inside and outside of the classroom, so try including examples of both!

 

A leadership experience can include any time you “took the initiative” or served as a positive role model for your community (at your church, at your after-school job, at a place you volunteer, or in your apartment complex or neighborhood). Some examples:

 

  • You noticed that the students at your school weren’t properly identifying recyclable materials and printed posters explaining the difference between trash, recycling and compost
  • You heard some girls talking about how their homes are loud and they have nowhere to study and organized a Tuesday night study group at the coffee shop down the street from your school
  • You have been a VBS counselor for eight years and one of your students made you a card with all the reasons they want to be like you when they grow up
  • Your apartment complex wasn’t accessible to your neighbor’s mother who uses a wheelchair so you wrote your landlord a letter and got automatically-opening doors installed 

 

After figuring out what experiences you want to talk about, you need to find a way to organize your essay. This might take a few tries and some creativity!

 

One way to organize your essay is to center it around one or two defining values. Ask yourself: why do I value leadership? Some examples of centering your essay around values could include writing about:

 

  • How you feel it is important to give back to your community. You could discuss your experiences as a charity organizer and as the director of your school’s peer mentoring program.
  • How leaders are important for creating positive work environments. You could describe the open forums you led for your school’s advisory board.
  • How leaders are important for making sure things run efficiently. You could share the ways you delegated tasks when leading your school’s robotics team to nationals, as well as the system you organized at work that allows coworkers to easily trade shifts.

 

Another option is to organize your essay through a central anecdote. This is valuable if one of your examples is stronger than the others because you can focus on one experience and use the others as supporting evidence. This could look like:

 

  • Sharing your experience as a camp counselor and how, when you noticed your campers uninterested in the camp’s activities, you integrated activities you learned at the daycare you worked at to keep them interested
  • Writing about your experience as the captain of the school’s swim team and how, when interpersonal drama started affecting the team, you used the skills you learned working on a restaurant staff to help your team learn to separate personal life from work life

 

If you are really stuck, you might want to spend some time thinking about the qualities of a good leader, then thinking about how you can show admissions officers that you embody those qualities. Some qualities of a good leader include:

 

  • Having strong communication skills
  • Knowing how to utilize the strengths of your team
  • Creating a positive working environment for others
  • Showing compassion
  • Looking for opportunities to grow
  • Being committed to inclusive and ethical practices

 

If the university selects you for a leadership scholarship, they are saying that you represent the university’s value of leadership. Make sure to present your leadership experiences as fundamental to your identity and leave them thinking “now that’s someone who really sees the value of being a good leader!”

 

Prompt 2

The University of Oklahoma is the home of a vibrant, diverse and compassionate University community that is often referred to as “the OU family.” Please describe your cultural and community service activities and why you chose to participate in them. (650 words)

 

Responding to this prompt will put you in the running for community service-based scholarships, so you should try to show admissions officers that you have been extensively involved in community service and are passionate about it. While this essay invites students to explore cultural activities, it is important to make sure you ultimately bring your essay back to ideas of service.

 

In the same way that “leadership” can be broadly-defined, “community” can be broadly defined. Your community can be your neighborhood, your school, a sports team, a cultural community, a church body, or any other group. You have freedom to stretch this prompt and talk about unconventional ways that you have served unconventional communities—maybe you help the elderly people in your apartment bring their groceries upstairs or you take candy to the altar boys at church on Sundays. 

 

That being said, it will also be valuable to ground your essay with some examples of typical community service. These include:

 

  • Being involved with an in-school community service organization
  • Volunteering outside of school at a local community service organization
  • Participating in events that involve giving back to your community
  • Identifying the needs of your community and taking the initiative to satisfy those needs

 

As you identify the ways you give back to your community, you may start to see a central theme emerge. Students often get involved with things they care about, so lean into those themes and show your passion around them.

 

For example, a student who is part of a cultural assembly at their school might also be involved with activism regarding racial equity. A different student might be involved with the feminist club at their school and volunteer at Planned Parenthood on the weekends. Identifying a theme like racial justice, women’s rights, animal activism, sustainability, or decreasing the suffering of poverty can lead to a structured and compelling essay. (Though, keep in mind that OU is a more moderate school, and plan your essay accordingly).

 

If you don’t notice themes that connect your community service experiences, try focusing on your values or organizing your essay around an anecdote about a formative experience serving your community or the origin story of how you became involved with community service.

 

The goal of this essay is to position yourself as dedicated to community service and passionate about the community that you serve, so write with intensity and make sure your essay shows how much you really care.

 

Prompt 3

What is your career area of interest, and why do you have a desire to work in this particular field? (650 words)

 

Only students whose majors offer major-specific scholarships will have the opportunity to answer this prompt. The prompt may or may not appear in your scholarship section depending on the academic preferences you list in your application. 

 

If you do have this prompt, your first step should be identifying your career area of interest and making sure that it connects to your future major and the academic preferences you indicated. With a deeply personal prompt like this one, it is important to identify your initial responses to the question: why do you have a desire to work in your particular field? 

 

Some other questions that might help guide you include:

 

  • When did you first become interested in your chosen field?
  • What part of your future career gets you excited?
  • What do you value that aligns with the values of your future field?
  • Why do you think your career will make you happy?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What do you picture when you picture your future career?

 

One of OU’s essay writing tips is to “Be Open, Be Honest.” This advice is particularly important for this prompt. While you should be honest about your passions and motivations, there are some answers you should avoid when responding to this prompt. Do not write about financial stability. Do not write about job security. Write about your passions, your interests, your curiosities. If you write about aspects of your future career that excite you and the stories behind them, your passion will shine through. Just be sure to tie in your personal experiences, as it can be easy to write a general essay about the benefits of this career, which doesn’t tell admissions officers more about you. 

 

An easy format for this essay would be to start with an anecdote, include some reflection, and look towards the future. For example, a student who wants to be a teacher might share an experience where they were really struggling in school because of their family’s financial instability, but their English teacher went out of her way to check in, provide resources to help meet basic needs, and advocate for the student when administration wanted to fail them. The student could share how they later went on to get an A and become an English tutor. From there, they could discuss how they feel it’s important for teachers to understand barriers to education and nurture students where they are. That’s why this student wants to become a teacher in a high-need area and eventually create educational policy to support low-income students.

 

Another potential format is to envision yourself in your future career. What will your day look like? What will you be doing, what will you be feeling, and how will you be making a difference? How did you get here, and why did you work towards this goal?

 

Of course, you can use any format that suits you as long as your career interest and reasons for pursuing that career are clear. For this prompt, you have complete freedom to show your passion! 

 

Where to Get Your OU Essays Edited for Free

 

If you’ve already written your OU scholarship essays, it is time to get them edited. Having peers read your essays will help you to identify areas for improvement and, ultimately, will help you maximize your chances of getting a scholarship at OU. By creating a free CollegeVine account, you will have access to CollegeVine resources like our free peer-review service. We also recently added a paid expert option with College Essay Guy’s team.

 

We’re here to help you put your best foot forward and feel prepared throughout this application season—because we know how overwhelming it can get.


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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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