Many universities in Texas use the Apply Texas application, making it easier for students to apply to multiple schools without having to repeatedly submit similar applications. As part of Apply Texas, colleges either require that you submit at least one essay or highly recommend that you send an optional essay that responds to one of the three main prompts.
The Apply Texas essay topics change periodically, but the most recent versions have been the same for the past few application cycles, and this trend seems like it will continue for the next few. (I’ll get to what exactly those topics are a little bit later.) Still, schools have different requirements, so here is a list of the major colleges in Texas and what they require or recommend:
UT-Austin - Topic A required
Texas A&M - Topic A required
Texas Tech - all optional, but recommended that you submit at least one
UT-Dallas - all optional, but recommended that you submit at least one
Texas State - all optional, but highly recommended that you submit at least one
UNT - all optional, but suggested that you submit Topic B (if anything)
What is the General Approach to Writing Apply Texas Essays?
While each of the topics have unique challenges and opportunities, there are still some general guidelines you should follow when writing any of the Apply Texas essays. Here is a list of considerations for all essays:
Length: Aim for 650-750 words (unless your college says something else).
Content: Connect moments in your life into a story that addresses the topic; include a title.
Tone: Have a positive attitude and outlook, even if you describe failures and challenges.
Structure: Include at least 7-8 paragraphs (e.g., Hook, Intro, Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Resolution, Conclusion)
Scope: Write about one event or series of events with depth instead of listing out “your life story.”
Overall, your essays should be a blend of storytelling and traditional essay elements (thesis statements and intro and conclusion paragraphs). Also, since the purpose of the essays is to express yourself on a more personal level, you should feel free to be more informal and authentic with your writing.
How Do You Write the Apply Texas Topic A Essay?
Apply Texas Topic A: What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood, or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.
Step 1: Think how you define yourself as a person -- or how you want admissions officers to see you.
There are a lot of ways you can define yourself. Are you a problem solver? Are you a leader? Do you like discovering strengths in people? Are you a coding diehard? Does music run through your veins? The options are endless, but you should try to define yourself precisely and not as thousands of other teenagers will.
Example: You come from a city that blends cutting edge technology with appreciation for the environment. This blend has shaped your worldview, allowing you to see the beauty of integrating tech and nature.
Step 2: Determine which environment was most important for shaping you into this person.
A family, home, neighborhood, or community might be …
A biological or extended family, or a family that is a group of friends or members of a club
A literal home, or a home that is metaphorical, such as a place where you feel like you are yourself
A neighborhood where you live, including the people who live or work near you
A community that's a city, or a community that's a group of people who share similar ideas and experiences (physical or online)
Step 3: Develop a narrative to show how the environment shaped you into this person.
Here is an example outline for a hypothetical essay about how a hometown influenced a prospective business major:
Exposition: I grew up in a town that did X.
Rising Action: As I grew up, I decided to start my own Y, based on city influences.
Climax: As part of the company, I was excited that we were finally able to do Z.
Falling Action: We have extended operations into X.
Resolution: By being inspired by my hometown, I now am working on Y.
Step 4: Write the essay.
If you read your essay and think it's boring, then the admissions officers will think the same thing (but multiply that boredom by 1,000).
How Do You Write the Apply Texas Topic B Essay?
Apply Texas Topic B: Some students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. If you are one of these students, then tell us about yourself.
Step 1: Think of an essential part of yourself that you haven’t described already on your application.
You don’t need to be the stuffy academic on every part of your college application. Topic B is a great time to let loose and reveal the “cool” aspects of who you are.
Step 2: Choose an identity, an interest, or a talent that reveals this essential part of yourself.
An identity, an interest, or a talent might be …
A racial, ethnic, or gender identity
An interest in school-related topics (e.g., medicine, research, business, or programming) or in extracurricular topics (e.g., online videos, figurines and memorabilia, or gourmet cuisine)
A talent for something academic (e.g., leading people, helping others, or discovering things) or for something recreational (e.g., juggling, making clothing, or gardening)
Warning: You should avoid essays about race and ethnicity. Tens of thousands of them are written every application cycle and often do little to make you stand out from your peers.
Surely you have an interest or talent that goes beyond the normal high schooler profile, right? You like singing in the rain? You have an interest in ancient Rome? You collect butterflies?
Example: You are really good at making videos and documenting important events in people’s lives. You have an entire method for shooting and editing videos to make people feel like they belong to a group.
Step 3: Develop a narrative to show how this identity, interest, or talent is an essential part of yourself.
Exposition: My interest in X all began with ...
Rising Action: At first it was hard to do Y ...
Climax: But then I mastered Y, and I was able to ...
Falling Action: I learned how to do Z because of my struggles.
Resolution: Now X is how I … and also ...
Step 4: Write the essay.
This essay should make you think something like, “Wow! I had no idea a pre-med student like yourself also had a talent for breakdancing!”
How Do You Write the Apply Texas Topic C Essay?
Apply Texas Topic C: You've got a ticket in your hand - Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?
Step 1: Determine what about your personality you want to add to your application that is not already included.
Topic C is usually meant for fun, especially if you still had some serious things to say in Topic B. At this point, you should definitely be okay with revealing the non-academic parts of your life.
Step 2: Think of what place you could go to that would reveal this side of your personality.
The ticket can go to …
An actual place, such as a country, city, or other physical location (e.g., Paris, China, the moon)
A time period, such as the future (e.g., when we are colonizing other planets) or the past (e.g., medieval times when knights are fighting each other)
An imaginary place, such as inside the body or a place from a novel or television show (e.g., going to your stomach to see how digestion works, going to Hogwarts from Harry Potter)
Warning: While the essay opens the door for creativity, you should NOT go “off the rails” and write a story or an essay that illustrates your abstract musings or philosophical insights. Stick to the essay format, even if you want to take your admissions officers to far off places.
Also, time travel is nice. Don’t be afraid of it.
Example: You go to the set of your favorite tv show from a foreign country, where you speak with the actors and go on adventures in that country.
Step 3: Develop a narrative that addresses where you will go, what you will do, and why all of this is important to you.
Exposition: My sister and I watched X show every since Y time that something happened.
Rising Action: I take my sister and off we go to the set, seeing actor A and actor B, and we do X.
Climax: Along the way, we learn about the country, but we still don’t feel welcome.
Falling Action: Actor A and Actor B teach us their language and we start to feel more at home.
Resolution: We go back to the set, seeing the difference between screen and real life.
Step 4: Write the essay.
So many students write that they go to their home countries to see family. Also, many students choose real locations, which are great, but there are so many missed opportunities for being creative and imaginative.
While it is important to show your passion for prospective majors and careers, don’t neglect parts of your personality that typically go unnoticed in college applications.
Remember: You should be the star of these essays. If you start writing too much about grandma or your friend Billy, then you need to revise.
Keep it simple. Keep it fun. There are plenty of other serious parts of your applications.
Do you need help drafting your Apply Texas essays? Consider signing up for one of our college admissions essay services. We can help you brainstorm, outline, rough draft, revise, and/or edit your essays. Get a head start on your applications before senior year becomes too overwhelming!