2 Magnificent University of Miami Essay Examples
Located in sunny Miami, the University of Miami consistently ranks as one of the top 50 colleges in the country. With over 180 degree programs to choose from, more than 300 student organizations, and a prime location in one of the most vibrant cities in the U.S., there is something for everyone at UMiami—especially those that love the sun!
Given how much UMiami has to offer, getting in isn’t easy: you’ll need more than just strong grades and test scores. Your essays will play a large role in your admissions decision, so they need to be good. In this post, we will share two essays that got students accepted into UMiami We will also go over what each essay did well and where there is room for improvement.
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Read our UMiami essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.
Essay Example #1 – Perspective
I had been dreaming of my high school experience since my six-year-old self watched High School Musical. I saw this dream shatter, as I was tasked with watching my baby sister after school until 5:30 due to my mom’s struggles with her birth. Although months had passed since the birth, she continuously struggled with c-section recovery. After one of my mom’s surgeries, my sister and I went to the hospital to visit her. Seeing her in such a fragile and vulnerable state shocked me into reality.
One day I would be the person carrying on the family name. I worked hard academically to make the family proud, but failed to embody the mindset and values my mother taught me. All her positivity, love for new experiences and family were clouded by my disappointment and frustration. Watching my sister wasn’t the fun, new experience I hoped for, but it was the one I was given and I needed to embrace it with the same happiness and excitement as the other.
In the previous years, I had failed myself before I even started with my pessimistic mindset. This period in life showed me the importance mindsets hold. When I began to embrace and enjoy my time watching my sister, I realized I still lived out my dream. I cheered her on in games peek-a-boo and created our own, personal coloring club. Now when things are not going to plan, I take on the challenge of remaining positive with a smile.
What the Essay Did Well
This is a classic “Overcoming Challenges” prompt, so the key to writing a strong response is to focus not just on the challenge itself, but also your thoughts and feelings to demonstrate how you grew as a result of experiencing the challenge. This essay does just that.
The shift from context to self-reflection occurs at the end of the first paragraph with the sentence “Seeing her in such a fragile and vulnerable state shocked me into reality.” What follows is a description of the student’s thoughts, which shows readers what being shocked into reality meant for them, and why that shock caused them to change their mindset.
We see the student start to see their unexpected high school experience not as a burden, but a responsibility and perhaps even an honor: “One day I would be the person carrying on the family name.” They also show humility by explaining how they “failed to embody the mindset and values” of their mom, and then telling us what those values were by describing her “love for new experiences and family.”
Additionally, opening the essay with the lighthearted, fun image of High School Musical is a savvy choice, as the contrast between the “fun, new experience [they] hoped for,” and the serious, mature position they actually found themself in emphasizes the emotional weight of the student’s situation.
It’s also nice that this essay finishes by showing us what the student’s new mindset looks like: “I cheered her on in games peek-a-boo and created our own, personal coloring club.” Since the “Overcoming Challenges” essay is usually about a heavy topic, readers will appreciate things ending on an uplifting note.
Although a lot of the focus should be your thoughts and emotions in this type of essay, getting to see how those internal factors affected your choices and actions takes the story out of your head, and proves that this experience changed not just your mindset, but also how you conduct yourself out in the world.
What Could Be Improved
While the first paragraph does a nice job providing context, it could be rewritten to be more engaging by telling the story like it’s currently happening rather than reflecting. This might look something like replacing the line “I saw this dream shatter, as I was tasked with watching my baby sister after school until 5:30 due to my mom’s struggles with her birth” with “Instead of bursting into song and dance at the drop of a hat, however, every day after school I found myself cleaning mushy peas off the floor, dozing off during educational TV shows, and trying anything to keep my baby sister from kicking her socks off.”
The part of this essay that needs the most attention, however, is the last paragraph. As it’s written, the student is telling us in a general sense that this experience was good for them: “This period in life showed me the importance mindsets hold…Now when things are not going to plan, I take on the challenge of remaining positive with a smile.”
While this is a valuable realization, it also comes across as generic, as many people have this realization at some point in their lives. In this kind of essay, it’s okay to have your big takeaway be something familiar, since lots of teenagers learn similar lessons as they’re growing up. But to keep your essay from sounding like a Hallmark card, you want to include enough details that your reader can concretely see how this lesson has impacted your life. The writer could have accomplished this by reworking the last paragraph to something like:
“I’d always considered myself pessimistic, but suddenly I found myself smiling even on my worst days. I replaced counting down the minutes left watching my sister with a giggle-infused countdown that ended in “Ready or not, here I come!” My boredom-induced pencil doodles gave way to an invite-only sisters coloring club with glitter gel pens. Maybe my experience doesn’t look like High School Musical, but with a positive outlook, I’ve enjoyed myself just as much as Troy and Gabriella.”
Essay Example #2 – Perseverance
Content warning: This essay includes graphic depictions of mental health struggles. If this topic is triggering for you, please read with caution. If you’re thinking about covering similar topics in your essay, we recommend reading our post Should You Talk About Mental Health in College Essays?
For the past two years, I’ve been more familiar with toilet bowls than dinner bowls.
Given my lengthy hours vomiting in the bathroom weekly, seeing liquid reiterations of each meal is commonplace. When people discuss mental health, they neglect to mention its physical manifestations.
It starts with an intense stomach ache that cements me to the bed. Then, the dry heaving ensues. For the rest of the day, I alternate between the bedroom and the bathroom as I endure body pains, fevers, and chills that persist even after I’ve finished vomiting. Major Depressive Disorder is more than a mental illness— it’s a physical issue that has affected my attendance for years.
However, despite my class absences, I’ve managed to juggle health, extracurriculars, and grades. From staying after school to complete make-up tests, to receiving study guides and class agendas from friends, diligence and community are the key ingredients of perseverance. At first, adapting to my limitations was difficult, but today, I work with my condition, not against it. When I launched a POC writers space for marginalized creatives and took on heavy social justice work, I learned setting time boundaries and honoring my own needs was necessary for my health.
At UMiami, my approach to adversity will thrive. Whether my Public Affairs Internship is too demanding, or my slam competition with Speak What You Feel is anxiety-inducing, I’ll remember to prioritize my mental health so my academic commitments don’t suffer.
Most importantly, I hope UMiami’s toilet bowls are decent.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay is incredibly well-written. While their graphic descriptions of their struggles may initially be jarring for some people, their detailed imagery is what allows this student to elicit such a visceral reaction from their readers.
For example, the image of being “more familiar with toilet bowls than dinner bowls” is a shocking way to start an essay, but the reader can’t help but immediately be invested. Although we might not like the thought of “liquid reiterations” of food, the creative phrasing paints a crystal clear picture in our heads, and that clarity helps us feel like we’re right beside the writer, rather than watching her struggle from a distance.
The student’s descriptions of the physical manifestations of their mental illness, including, “an intense stomach ache that cements me to the bed,” “the dry heaving ensues,” and “I alternate between the bedroom and the bathroom” continue to build our sympathy towards them, as these lines are described so well that we feel like we’re experiencing some of their pain ourselves.
However, this essay’s strength isn’t just in the imagery. This student also provides details that show us how they have overcome their challenge. For example, the line “From staying after school to complete make-up tests, to receiving study guides and class agendas from friends, diligence and community are the key ingredients of perseverance” shows the student can weather a storm, which is exactly what admissions officers want to see in your response to this kind of prompt.
They also show us how they were able to “[launch] a POC writers space for marginalized creatives and [take] on heavy social justice work” by “setting time boundaries and honoring my own needs.” This sentence shows that they have not only persevered through their struggles, but actually used the lessons they learned as motivation in other areas of their life.
Another positive aspect of this essay is how the student ties in UMiami in the second to last paragraph. Just because you aren’t writing a “Why School?” essay doesn’t mean you can’t talk about resources at the college that align with your interests—in fact, colleges will be even more impressed if you weave school opportunities into a different essay topic.
That being said, you don’t want the connection to the school to feel forced, so if you aren’t able to figure out how to do it in a way that’s natural, it’s completely fine to just focus on responding to the prompt you actually have.
Finally, the ending is a nice tie back to the opening of the essay, which reminds the reader one last time about the challenges this student has had to overcome. Bringing back the image of a toilet bowl might be a bit of a shock, but it ensures that this essay is memorable.
What Could Be Improved
While this essay doesn’t necessarily need to change anything, one thing to keep in mind is how to approach difficult or possibly triggering topics in a college essay. Although, on the whole, this essay handles the topic of mental health with tact, you never know who your reader is and what perspective they are bringing to the table. It’s important to not be excessive with your depictions of mental health, and to make sure the focus is primarily on how your illness has impacted your personal growth.
Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay
Do you want feedback on your University of Miami 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!