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UT-Austin Changes Essay Requirements

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The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) has big news for those applying for Summer/Fall 2018 freshman admission (or later).

Previously, UT-Austin accepted two essays from the Apply Texas prompts, but now it will only require one--Topic A. But here’s the kicker: instead of simply dropping the other essay, the university now requires that students respond to three short prompts.

While it may seem like an applicant’s workload has been reduced, shorter essays often come with the challenge of cramming in as much meaningful information as possible in a small word limit. In this case, students will need to respond to questions about future careers, leadership abilities, academic records, and contributing to learning environments, all within the confines of 250-300 words.

Thankfully the admissions staff at UT-Austin has provided some tips on how to answer these short-response prompts, but that still doesn’t mean you should expect an easier task. As it is with anything you write to college admissions officers, every word counts, and even the shortest and seemingly least important questions require planning and careful execution.

What is required for UT Short Answer #1?

UT Short Answer #1 (Career Plans) prompt
The question itself makes it seem like you can be really inventive with your response, but then the tips clarify that you should state a career that is practical and that you’ve developed some interest in based on previous experiences. (So you probably can’t say something like “wizard.”) Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t imagine a perfect career based on the realities of the world and your personal desires.
Also, notice how the prompt uses the word “career,” which is a broad category for a type of job. A career is something like a teacher or a doctor, but don’t think you are limited to predetermined categories. Successful response won’t dish out bland statements like “I want to be a doctor because I enjoyed volunteering at my local hospital.” You should say something more akin to “With all the days I’ve spent hammering the final nails into the homes of those in need, I’ve learned that my perfect career would be one that combines humanitarian efforts with endless challenges; hence, the career of a medical specialist in war-ravaged countries would be the best fit for me.”

What is required for UT Short Answer #2?

UT Short Answer #2 (Academics) prompt
This question can be a little tricky. Obviously, in many cases, your academic record is a strong representation of you as a student (notice how the prompt doesn’t use the word “person”--so the context is limited to educational settings). However, you probably want to take into account any bad grades or other circumstances that may not be represented in your academic record. With that in mind, you’d have to admit that the record is not an accurate representation.
In most responses, there will need to be some equivocation: essentially, your academic record is accurate to a certain extent, but you’d like to explain yourself beyond the parameters of test scores and transcript information. It seems that UT-Austin’s admissions staff wants you to explain yourself, unless of course you have an immaculate academic record, so make sure you present your setbacks in positive terms.

What is required for UT Short Answer #3?

UT Short Answer #3 (Leadership) prompt
Most schools want to know about your leadership abilities, so you just need to select one particular situation that will fit the 250-300 word limit. There’s nothing too special about this question, except the prompt does add in the specificity of “being a leader at UT-Austin,” so you should definitely give some examples of how your leadership experiences would translate at UT-Austin.
While these new changes may make your college admissions task even more daunting, know that you don’t have to go at the process alone. B2A has many services to help students get into their dream schools, and many of our students not only get acceptances to UT-Austin but also receive additional scholarships. So let us help you craft the best responses to these prompts (and more) so you can “hook ‘em.”
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