Categories:

How to Write the University of Texas Essays 2020-2021: The ApplyTexas Guide

Need help with the University of Texas (ApplyTexas) supplemental essays and other applications? Check out our College Application Boot Camp. Submit your best application!

The University of Texas is a public research university located in Austin, Texas, with an acceptance rate of 40%.

One of the largest schools in the nation, UT is divided into 18 schools and colleges. It offers over 900 clubs and organizations, hundreds of study abroad programs, nationally ranked sports teams, and more.

If that sounds like your kind of school, you’ll first have to make it past the admissions process. While your GPA, SAT scores, and other accomplishments are important, your essays also offer a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

In this article, we’ll help you capitalize on that opportunity by providing tips, ideas, and inspiration for writing the University of Texas essays.

Let’s get started!

What Are the University of Texas Supplemental Essays?

The University of Texas uses the ApplyTexas application, a common application accepted by Texas public universities and some private Texas universities.

Along with this application, you must submit at least one essay and three short answer questions.

UT’s required supplemental essay is fairly long, at 500-700 words or 2-3 paragraphs. All applicants must write their essay addressing this prompt:

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Some majors and schools within the University of Texas require additional supplemental essays. These prompts are listed below, along with the school or major they relate to: 

UT School of Art and Art History:

In 500 words or less, please tell us about a meaningful way in which an artwork, or artist, has changed your life. How has this prompted your ambitions for a life in the arts?

UT Nursing Majors:

Discuss the factors that have influenced your desire to pursue a career in Nursing.

How have your academic and extracurricular activities prepared you to pursue a degree in Nursing?

UT School of Architecture:

What are the ways you explore and express your creativity? Please limit your response to 250-300 words.

Take and upload up to three photographs from a camera, smart phone or mobile device that capture how you see the world. Describe what you are trying to evoke with these images. Please limit your response to 50–75 words.

Steve Hicks School of Social Work:

Discuss the reasons you chose Social Work as your first-choice major and how a Social Work degree from UT will prepare you for the future.

Once you’ve responded to your main essay as well as any applicable major or school-specific prompts, you will need to respond to three short-answer questions, and you’ll have the option to answer one more.

U Texas Required Short-Answer Questions:

These are listed as short-answer questions, but they are more similar to the regular essays required by most college applications. They should be no longer than 40 lines, which is equivalent to 1 paragraph or 250-300 words.

Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?

Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Please share how you have demonstrated leadership in either your school, job, community, and/or within your family responsibilities.

Please share how you believe your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents have shaped your ability to contribute to and enrich the learning environment at UT Austin, both in and out of the classroom.

U Texas Optional Supplemental Essay Question:

Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19. Please limit your response to 250-300 words.

General Tips for the University of Texas Supplemental Essays

When you look over most of your ApplyTexas application, you’ll see a lot of numbers. These numbers include SAT scores, GPA, your class rank, the years you’ve been involved in various activities, and so on.

Perhaps these numbers capture your achievements over the four years of high school, but do they form an accurate picture of you?

Probably not; and that’s where the essays come in.

These essays will help admissions officers at UT get to know who you are beyond the numbers and statistics. They’ll get to know your personality, values, and goals. They’ll learn about where you come from and what has shaped or influenced you.

Keeping this purpose in mind, make sure that you’re honest in your essays and write in your own voice. The essays should “sound” like you and should address ideas and experiences that you find meaningful. Use specific details to make your essays interesting and memorable.

Try to be reflective and insightful, indicating that you’re a mature student who will thrive in a college environment.

Also, be sure to carefully edit and revise your essays, preferably getting feedback from a few trusted teachers, family members, or peers. You want to make a good impression; Spelling and grammar errors aren’t the way to accomplish that!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take an in-depth look at each of UT’s essays and short answer questions.

Need college application help? Check out our College Application Boot Camp. Your first session is free.

Required University of Texas Supplemental Essay

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

When you first look into this prompt, you may feel surprised or overwhelmed by the required word count. UT states that this essay should be between 500 and 700 words, which is much longer than the typical college application essay.

However, instead of feeling uncertain, try to get excited. It may be a longer essay, but that means you’ve got more space to show the University of Texas admissions team who you are and why you belong in their upcoming freshman class.

It’s also an interesting prompt because it starts broad and later gets more specific. “Tell us your story” is about as broad as essays can get. Then, however, you find out what UT really wants to hear about is the challenges you’ve faced so far in life.

Take these two questions and bring them together into one; What are some challenges you’ve faced that have turned you into the person you are today?

UT doesn’t necessarily want to hear the happy, upbeat parts of your story, they want to hear the hard stuff. They want to see what you’ve overcome.

Start by brainstorming the aspects of your story you’d like to address.

  • Have you gone through something challenging that significantly impacted your life?
  • If not, think of some small things: Make a list of tough classes, write about when you moved to a new town and had to start over by making new friends in a new school, or even describe some of the difficult aspects of your life at home.

It doesn’t matter if these challenges are big or small; UT simply wants to see that you’ve overcome them and they’ve shaped you into the person you are today.

Once you have your challenges, take some time to examine yourself.

How did these difficulties affect your life? How did they change the person you’ve become?

  • Did they make you more resilient?
  • Did they teach you to never give up?
  • Did they give you the motivation you need to work hard and make a difference in the world around you through your future career?

Look into who you are deeply, and don’t be afraid to be a little creative.

If you’re still stumped on how these events have changed you, ask a family member or close friend. If they watched you push through, they likely saw the change before you even began to notice it.

You may also be able to find inspiration by reading through old diaries, digging around in your attic or basement, or taking a drive through your neighborhood or town.

Use vivid, specific details to describe your experience. Allow the admissions team to feel as if they’re going through the challenge right alongside you.

Then, dig even deeper:

  • How did you mature or grow as a result?
  • What life lessons did you learn?
  • What elements of your personality were shaped by this experience?

No matter what challenges you write about, be sure to write your essay from a meaningful and authentic point of view. Take time to show the University of texas admissions team who you are and what makes you special.

If you write from your heart and show UT who you are, your essay is sure to impress.

UT School of Art and Art History Supplemental Essay

In 500 words or less, please tell us about a meaningful way in which an artwork, or artist, has changed your life. How has this prompted your ambitions for a life in the arts?

For the first part of this prompt, you should showcase your passion for  art history, visual art, or another intended area of study.

  • Have you had a powerful experience while viewing a specific art piece or artist’s work?
  • How did this experience shape you as an individual and/or an artist?
  • How did it change your life as a whole?

We’re talking about art here, so be descriptive!

Start by choosing your art piece or artist, and explain what you felt when you first saw or experienced it.

Then, explain the impact it has had on your life.

Maybe it’s affected who you are as an artist by compelling you to turn your hobby into a career:

  • Have you taken studio classes, completed an internship, or independently worked on relevant projects?
  • What do you plan to do at UT to continue exploring this interest?

Maybe it’s simply taught you about who you are.

No matter how the art piece or artist has changed your life, be sure to paint an image of your experience through your words. Be sincere, and show UT that you have a true passion for the arts.

They want to see that art has truly made you who you are today, and that you’re serious about your future in the creative world.

UT Nursing Majors

Prompt #1: Discuss the factors that have influenced your desire to pursue a career in Nursing.

For your first nursing-specific essay, think about experiences or other factors you’ve already had that have prepared you to be a good nurse.

  • Have you always been interested in the Human Body and how it works?
  • Did you have an amazing nurse at one point in your life, and you’ve wanted to follow in their footsteps ever since?
  • Have you had a family member experience a medical challenge, and what to give back through a career in nursing?

You may want to tie UT’s Nursing program specifically into your answer:

  • Research opportunities, professors, or classes you’d like to be part of, and mention how these specific programs or experiences can help you reach your goals.
  • Be sure that your tone is enthusiastic and excited.

You should also take the time to clearly express your goals in nursing.

  • Is there a specific population you’d like to work with or something in particular that you’d like to achieve? Why?

By showing UT that you’ve got good reason to desire a future as a nurse (and that you’re sure to make a good one) you’ve got a much better chance at being accepted into the program.

Prompt #2: How have your academic and extracurricular activities prepared you to pursue a degree in Nursing?

While brainstorming your response to this prompt, consider your past nursing-related academic or extracurricular experiences:

  • Do you have clinical experience?
  • Research experience?
  • Volunteer work you’ve done?
  • If not, any experience working with people and/or demonstrating compassion could suffice.

You’ll want to show UT that you’re dedicated to this career path, and show that you’ve already taken concrete steps to introduce yourself to the field.

U Texas School of Architecture

Prompt #1: What are the ways you explore and express your creativity? Please limit your response to 250-300 words.

This sounds like a simple question, but its broad origin makes it more challenging that other essay prompts.

Since this question is so broad, you’ll want to break it down to find your inspiration.

First, how do you explore your creativity?

  • What gives you your inspiration?
  • How do you come up with new ideas?
  • Where does your passion for architecture lie?

Think hard about where your creativity comes from, and let UT know. Don’t worry if it’s not the most amazing place; they want you to be honest and authentic.

Next, talk about how you express your creativity.

Once you get a new idea, how do you get it out?

Does it steam for a while, or do you stay up all night until you have the entire plan on a page in front of your own eyes?

  • Do you free-write to get all of your ideas down on paper?
  • Do you grab a sketchbook and start to draw?
  • Maybe you’re a 3D builder, and love creating models of future works you’d like to accomplish

Remember once again to be honest and authentic.

At the same time, be sure to fill your response with detail. Write in a way that gets the U admissions team excited about the creativity you’ve got inside of you. Show them how passionate you are and how you’re simply made for a future in architecture.

Prompt #2: Take and upload up to three photographs from a camera, smart phone or mobile device that capture how you see the world. Describe what you are trying to evoke with these images. Please limit your response to 50–75 words.

This is an interesting prompt because it requires photos, so it’s almost more similar to a portfolio submission.

However, it includes a write-up, so we want to support you through your response.

When you set out to take your pictures, be intentional. Keep in mind that you’ll have to write something that is both short and impressive when your done (and it needs to relate specifically to the pictures you take).

When you start writing, try a free-write to get the process going.

Write down everything you have to say about your images, and underlying the best things that come to you.

Take those best pieces of information, and make them as direct and compact as possible.

With only 50-75 words, everything you put on that final page needs to count.

Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Discuss the reasons you chose Social Work as your first-choice major and how a Social Work degree from UT will prepare you for the future.

This question is simple: Why social work, and why UT?

  • Have you had experiences working with others to help them overcome challenges, such as being a tutor or volunteering at a soup kitchen?
  • Can you demonstrate that you’re an empathetic, compassionate, and resilient individual?
  • Try using an anecdote to describe why you’re so interested in social work—and why you would make a great social worker.

For the second half of the question, you may need to do some research on UT’s social work program.

  • Look into classes, professors, opportunities, and other resources.
  • What most excites you about this program?
  • What opportunities will you take advantage of?
  • How will these experiences prepare you for a career as a social worker?

An essay that shows passion for social work and commitment through understanding UT’s social work program is sure to stand out.

UT Supplemental Required Short Answers

Remember, every UT applicant will answer at least three short-answer questions. Responses are limited to 250-300 words.

Short Answer #1: Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?

Don’t panic if you’re not completely sure what you want to do after college yet.

  • Is there a field you’re interested in exploring?
  • A career path you think you want to pursue?
  • Just choose something that interests you, and explain why you can see yourself working in this field.

Even if you have several possible careers in mind, remember that you only have 300 words. It’s best if you choose just one to focus on for the purpose of this essay. Get right to the point.

Even though you’ve only got 300 words, you still want to make sure UT has the chance to get to know you better through this essay. Be sure to include some information that sheds light on who you are and why you’re passionate about your potential future major:

  • Can you think of one particular moment or event that helped you decide on a career or academic path?
  • If so, this is a perfect place to narrate that anecdote for admissions officers.
  • Alternatively, perhaps there are several reasons you’ve become fascinated with a certain career. You can mention them here, but be sure to include specific details!

If you’ve spent time outside of school volunteering, researching, or exploring your selected career, mention it. Your essay should convey passion, excitement, and genuine interest in the career you’ve chosen to discuss.

Short Answer #2: Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Please share how you have demonstrated leadership in either your school, job, community, and/or within your family responsibilities.

Colleges these days aren’t looking for just any student, and UT is no exception. This essay prompt shows that the University of Texas is seeking leaders to join their upcoming freshman class.

What have you done to lead in the past?

  • Have you held a chair position in Student Council?
  • Were you the captain of the basketball team?
  • Maybe you started and lead your own language learning club

Remember that these leadership roles do not have to relate directly to school or academics:

  • Are you an older sibling who has helped raise your brothers and sisters?
  • Have you filled in for your manager at your weekend job?

It doesn’t matter where the role was, UT just wants to see that you’ve got it in you to be a leader.

They want to know that you’re capable of taking things into your own hands and making a difference in the world around you.

Remember to be authentic, fill your essay with specific details, and show UT a little bit more about who you are. They want to see a leader, but they also want to see you.

Short Answer #3: Please share how you believe your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents have shaped your ability to contribute to and enrich the learning environment at UT Austin, both in and out of the classroom.

This is a typical “Diversity” essay; it shows that UT wants to know about the unique pieces of you that will both benefit their campus and add to the diversity of their next freshman class.

Take it as an opportunity to show UT why and how you stand out.

When you begin brainstorming how you’ll respond to this prompt, be sure to consider all of the areas listed:

  • What unique experiences have shaped your learning venture so far? Have you attended specialty camps or had what you consider to be the best science teacher in existence?
  • What about perspectives? What are some interesting ways you have of viewing certain subjects? Have you had first-hand experiences to shape these views?
  • Don’t forget about talents; what are you good at? Don’t be afraid to brag! UT sincerely wants to know.

Once you’ve got your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents listed, consider how they’ll add to UT’s classrooms.

What do you have to offer to your future classmates and teachers?

What will make you stand out in class?

Take this essay as a chance to show UT what you’ve really got to offer in the classroom, even if it doesn’t show up in your GPA or test scores.

UT Supplemental: Optional Short Answer

As we’re living in unprecedented times, you’ve got what appears to be an unprecedented opportunity; an optional short answer essay that relates to COVID-19.

Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19. Please limit your response to 250-300 words.

Your response to this prompt is, of course, optional, but we suggest every applicant takes the time to respond. Why? Because they more you write in your application, the more UT will get to know who you really are.

When writing this essay, consider anything and everything that has impacted your academic performance throughout high school. COVID-19 almost certainly has made a mark on your high school experience, but include other factors when necessary:

  • Maybe you were ill throughout most of your Freshman year, causing you to miss a significant amount of school
  • You may have moved schools with every starting year, causing you to have trouble settling into each new schedule and routine.
  • You could have had a family emergency or tragedy that affected your academic performance at a specific time.

This is a unique opportunity, because it gives you the chance to explain something that may make your application look less than ideal.

Give your reason, and then go beyond the prompt.

Show UT how you grew through that challenge and what it taught you.

Show the admissions team how strong you are, and how you’re capable and ready to leave your mark at the University of Texas.

Conclusion: How to Write the University of Texas Supplemental Essays

As you write your UT essays, remember that the goal is to give admissions officers a glimpse into your background, personality, and goals.

Be enthusiastic, open, and honest. Instead of trying to impress, simply try to convey who you are. Genuine answers will be more interesting and memorable than forced answers.

Start working well in advance, giving yourself plenty of time to proofread and edit, and be sure to use the tips and inspiration we’ve provided here.

Strong essays will definitely increase your chances of joining the Longhorns in the fall. Good luck!

Get the best college application help.

Check out our College Application Boot Camp. It features a 100% satisfaction rate.

Learn more ➜