How to Write the University of Tennessee Essay 2020-2021
The University of Tennessee is a public university located in Knoxville, Tennessee. With 11 colleges and over 360 undergraduate programs of study, as well as over 300 study abroad programs, the school has a wide range of offerings. Students at the University of Tennessee are affectionately referred to as “The Volunteers,” a mascot that originates all the way back from the War of 1812. So many Tennesseans volunteered to fight that military leaders dubbed Tennessee “The Volunteer State.”
Statistics-wise, the college has an acceptance rate of 79%, and the middle 50% of accepted applicants from the 2019-2020 application cycle had a 1140-1310 SAT score and a 24-30 ACT score.
Read on to find out how to approach the University of Tennesee’s supplemental essay! Want to know your chances at the University of Tennesee? Calculate your chances for free right now.
Want to know how much UT will cost based on your income? Or how long the application will take? Here’s what every student considering UT needs to know.
How to Write the University of Tennessee Essays
UT’s supporting statement is an opportunity for you to express things that were left unaddressed in other parts of your application. If there is something about your life that you wish to include, but doesn’t fit anywhere else on your application, this is the place to do it.
Relay Your Academic Interests
One approach you can take is to relay your academic interests. If you are applying to a competitive major, this is a good way to set yourself apart from other candidates. Write about your initial attraction to the subject in questions and what steps you took to nurture that initial spark. Show, rather than telling readers about your interest in the academic subject.
For example, instead of saying “I’ve had a love of reading since I was five years old.” try something a bit more vivid, like “I walked determinedly through the familiar mystery section of my local library, searching for the next literary crime I could solve.” The first response merely states a fact, but the second approach sets a scene, adding specificity and authenticity to your response.
If you take this approach, you should also include aspects of UT that align with your academic interests, or that would help you achieve your academic goals. For the example student above, they might want to mention the course “Special Topics in Literature: The Development of the American Mystery Story,” which would allow them to learn about the history behind their favorite genre.
Elaborate Upon Your Achievements and Extracurriculars
Another approach UT suggests is to elaborate upon your achievements and activities. You should take this opportunity to focus in on one achievement of extracurricular that you feel will set you apart from others.
When writing, do not be too humble or overly boastful; do not downplay your accomplishments or exaggerate them either. A way to walk the line between those two traits is to use specifics and vivid detail (as demonstrated in the previous paragraph) to show rather than tell readers your involvements.
You should also use active over passive voice to recenter the narrative with you as the speaker. To invoke active voice, scan your phrasing and make changes so that you are actively doing things rather than actions being done to you. For example, instead of saying “The Girl Scout Gold Award was given to me for the project I created for the Rolling Hills elderly home,” try saying “After organizing and leading an initiative hat optimized the Rolling Hills elderly home’s volunteer program, I achieved the Girl Scout Gold Award.” This phrasing centers you, giving you due credit while remaining factual.
Include Important Personal Experiences and Obstacles You Have Overcome
You can also include important personal experiences and/or obstacles that you have overcome. This can include but is not limited to: life-altering events and familial obligations. Keep in mind that admissions officers are looking for obstacles that genuinely impacted your life and it is important to remain as accurate and detailed as possible. When making connections, try not to guess or grasp at theories and make sure you are straightforward and specific.
A potential response could be: “In my first year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, which profoundly affected my entire family. It greatly impacted multiple areas of my life, including my academic performance. Therefore, there is a noticeable dip in my grades in the fall semester of that year.”
Another example: “Because my parents own a small hair salon, I spend a lot of time looking after my younger siblings while they are working, and even help out by sweeping or otherwise tidying up the salon in my free time. Because of these responsibilities, I was limited in my ability to join as many extracurriculars, as the majority of my after school time went towards helping ensure the family business was running smoothly.”
Discuss Other Aspects of Your Background
The final suggestion that UT offers for this prompt is for you to discuss other aspects of your background. This could be any aspect of your identity that you feel has not been accurately captured by the rest of the application. For example, though you may have marked down your gender or racial identity on your application, you may have more to share that would be relevant to an admissions officer in order to know your full background. For example, if you were the only girl in your honors engineering class and faced unique challenges because of that, you could write about how facing discrimination only strengthened your resolve to become the first female engineer to orchestrate an astronaut landing on Mars. Or, you could write about how as a hijabi, you faced ignorance from school administrators who did not understand your Muslim faith. You can connect that to your desire to be a teacher that can positively influence her students to not only tolerate, but embrace, diversity.
You can also write about positive experiences, such as how, as a Boy Scout, you undertook an Eagle Scout Project in which you built the Theater class a stage for their upcoming talent show. Or you can mention how learning to embrace your sexual identity inspired you to start an LGBTQ+ club at your school. Using stories of action, you can show, rather than simply telling admissions officers, about an aspect of your varied background while also demonstrating leadership. Writing about these experiences in a tangible, detailed manner in this section will allow you to paint a picture that transcends what you put into a checkbox.
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