How to Write the Forty Acres Scholars Essays


What? A full ride to UT Austin? Yes, such a thing does exist, all thanks to UT’s alumni program--Texas Exes. But just like any scholarship that offers all tuition paid, the Forty Acres Scholars Program requires its applicants to answer three short prompts. So let’s talk about how you should approach these topics!

Prompt #1: Community.

Join a community that will be a lifelong support system. Our scholar community is a collection of high-achieving students with a wide range of diverse experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, and talents. This diversity strengthens our program and supports an open and supportive environment. As you consider applying for a program that values a community enhanced by the diverse contributions, perspectives, and experiences of our scholars, please share how you believe you might contribute to our community of scholars.

This question is pretty straightforward and common among colleges and scholarship programs. In essence, you need to write about your unique perspective and identify a key experience that gave you this perspective. The bonus of the Forty Acres Scholars Program is that it is separate from the regular UT application, so the program directors will not have access to your UT or UT Honors responses.

That said, there should be some overlap between what you’ve written for the regular application (i.e., UT Short Answer #3) and this question. My recommendation is that you recycle the content and, if anything, place more emphasis on contributing to a community of high-achieving scholars.

Prompt #2: Connection.

As the only program of its kind administered by an alumni association, Forty Acres Scholars develop a unique connection with their alma mater. Scholars meet, mingle, and hear from alumni who are at the top of their game and regularly interact with leading faculty and staff of the university. During and after your time on campus, these Longhorns will serve as a powerful network and resource. If you could have dinner with any three alumni—dead or alive—of The University of Texas at Austin, who would be on your guest list and why?

When you think “UT alum,” people like Matthew McConaughey may come to mind immediately. I would advise you to be a little more creative about the people you select, not to say that actors or other kinds of celebrities are bad.

In fact, you should invite famous individuals to your dinner, but think of people who are meaningful to you and your goals and also the question itself, which is centered on connection. People can connect to you and others in many ways--politically, artistically, informationally, technologically. Don’t limit yourself to coming off as too stuffy with all “serious” people, but also don’t come off as superficial by choosing only celebrities. Basically, balance your dinner guests, just like you’d want to balance your meal.

Prompt #3: Discovery.

Discover the world—then make the change you want to see. Forty Acres Scholars benefit from the opportunity to go abroad in order to expand their view of the global society—whether in the form of study abroad, a service trip, or a professional experience. What do you think can be gained from this global perspective?

Forty Acres wants to know that by sending you abroad you will be able to take away meaningful lessons and not just treat the trip as an informal vacation to another country. The best method for answering this question is to take an experience you had while traveling out of the country (if applicable) and extrapolate how that would play out if given the opportunity to do so with Forty Acres Scholars. For example, you could talk about a service trip that you did in high school and explain how this trip changed your perspective into a global one (while avoiding the faux pas of making yourself out to be a savior or describing the people you helped in a paternalistic way).

In cases where you can't describe a literal experience abroad, you can say how the global perspective would come from the richness of experience that goes beyond what you’ve already had with, say, interstate travel or digital communication. The key is that you recognize the importance and know how to express the benefits of seeing other cultures and countries.

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All right! You should have a better idea of how to tackle these short responses for the Forty Acres Scholars Program. Good luck on getting that full ride to UT Austin!

Need more help brainstorming or editing your Forty Acres Scholars Program essays? No worries! Check out B2A’s College Admissions Services (CAS)! Our professional, qualified admissions counselors and essay specialists can help you refine and focus your responses, giving you a better chance at connecting with the rich alumni network at UT!

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