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UVa announces essay questions for 2014-15

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The University of Virginia announced yesterday that essay questions for fall 2015 applicants will look largely like those in previous years, with only a few tweaks to keep things interesting.

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In addition to the personal statement required of all applicants using the Common Application, UVa will ask students to respond to two more essay prompts on the UVa “Member Screen,” along with other questions that are specific to UVa.

For those not familiar with last year’s changes in the Common Application, colleges may invite or require member-specific questions, essay responses, résumés, research papers, or even graded papers.

“Towards the end of every reading season, we gather to talk about which essay questions elicited great responses, which ones could be tweaked to be better, and which essays we'd like to retire,” explained Jeannine Lalonde , Dean J of the UVa Admissions Blog. “There are some questions on our application that prompt students to write interesting essays year after year, so we don't feel the need to change them. They've almost become traditions here, though the applicants rarely know this since few have looked at the application before.”

As in past years, UVa is “looking for passionate students” to join a “diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists.” Prospective “’Hoo’s” are asked to answer in approximately 250 words one of a series of questions corresponding to the school/program to which they are applying:

  • College of Arts and Sciences. What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
  • Kinesiology and Nursing. Discuss experiences that led you to choose the school/major.
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. UVa engineers are working to solve problems that affect people around the world, from our long-term water purification project in South Africa to continuing to research more efficient applications of solar power. However, most students start small, by using engineering to make a difference in daily life. If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make your everyday life better, what would you do?
  • Architecture. Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.

For the second essay, applicants are asked to pick one of four questions to answer in a half page or roughly 250 words:

  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language (we’ll welcome you to Grounds, not campus) and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
  • Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVa culture. In her fourth year at UVa, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
  • While a student at UVa Fulbright Scholar Rowan Sprague conducted groundbreaking research aimed at protecting the complex structure of honeybee hives. We know that colonies include bees acting in a diverse range of roles, all equally important to the success of the hive. What role will you play in the UVa Hive?
  • To tweet or not to tweet?

UVa is an “exclusive” member of the Common Application, which officially launches on August 1.

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