Florida State University, or FSU, is a top-100 school and ranked number three in Florida Colleges. With a 56 percent acceptance rating, they’re considered to be a competitive school. That means you’ll need to impress them in your application, and a well-written FSU essay is one great way to go about it!
This guide will walk you through the FSU essay, including whether or not writing one is the right choice for you.
What Should You Know About the FSU Application Essay?
Unlike many schools, FSU’s essay is optional. You can apply using the Coalition or Common Application, or even FSU’s own app—the Coalition and FSU apps have the same prompts, whereas the Common app has its own set.
Whether you should use the Coalition, Common, or FSU-specific application depends on a few different variables. What application system do the other schools that you’re applying to use? Because these applications can be sent to multiple schools, you can use whatever one is most convenient.
If you’re not sure, read up on the pros and cons of each to help you make a decision. If you’re still not sure, you can always use FSU’s unique application.
FSU only requires one essay. You have five prompts to choose from if you’re using the FSU or Coalition Application, and seven to choose from if you’re using the Common Application. Regardless of what prompt you choose, your essay should be under 600 words.
If you're thinking about writing an FSU essay, you probably should.
Should You Write an FSU Essay?
Because FSU’s essays are optional, it’s natural to ask whether you should write one at all. You’re likely writing tons of essays for other applications, and maybe you just want a bit of a break from the whole process.
However, if you’re given the opportunity to expand on your application in an essay, it’s usually in your best interest to take it. Before you start, do some brainstorming about what aspects of yourself could use some fleshing out in your application. If you have an interest that hasn’t been covered elsewhere or an experience you want to share that will help make you a more appealing candidate for FSU, definitely write the essay—it’s your best opportunity to showcase that side of you, and those personal details are exactly what FSU wants to see.
If you’re struggling to think of something to cover in the supplemental essay, spend some time brainstorming and looking through all of the available prompts. If you’re offered a place to write an essay, it’s best to take it, unless you truly feel that you have nothing to expand upon. If that’s the case, consider why that is—you may find that there’s an essay topic there, too!
Essentially, you should be writing an essay for this section, even if it’s optional. Taking this opportunity to expand on your application both demonstrates your commitment and shows your multiple facets. It won’t be the sole determining factor in your application, but if you have the opportunity to up your chances, do it!
A fresh notebook is one great way to get your brain in gear to write.
What Are the FSU Essay Prompts?
FSU’s essay prompts are determined by which application you choose to use—Coalition, Common, or FSU’s own application. If you choose the Coalition or FSU application, you have five prompts to choose from, and if you choose the Common Application you’ll have seven. You only need to write one essay, so choose whichever prompt resonates with you most strongly.
Because these are the same prompts used in the standard application formats, follow the guidelines for either the Coalition Application or the Common Application depending on which prompt you choose. Do feel free to get more specific than you would if the essay was going to every school, however—if you’re only sending it to FSU, tying your essay to something specific about the college can demonstrate that you’re more serious about attending!
Coalition Application/FSU Essay Prompts
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- Has there been a time when you've had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
- What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What's the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Common Application Essay Prompts
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Having a plan from the start will help you write a better FSU essay.
5 Key FSU Essay Tips
As with all college essays, having a plan before you start is the best way to ace FSU’s supplemental essay. Don’t just jump in and hope for the best—start early, give yourself plenty of time to revise, and polish your essay as best you can to impress the admissions office with your achievements and individuality.
Remember everything you learned in school about brainstorming and outlining? Now’s the time to put it into action. If you brainstorm and outline a few different options to find the one that works best for you and that makes you feel the proudest of it, you’ll save yourself some time. A strong outline is the first step to a strong essay, and you won’t be losing hours and hours of work if you decide midway through that a prompt isn’t working for you.
Once you’ve settled on a topic and you have a firm idea of how you want to write it, it’s time to draft. Don’t worry about making your first draft perfect—nobody has to see it but you! Get your ideas out first, set them aside, and return to them after a few days to polish them into a state where you’re comfortable letting others see them.
#3: Seek Feedback
Now comes the hard part—letting other people give you feedback. Choose a few people you trust to give you honest and helpful advice on your essay, not just those who are going to tell you it looks great. When you receive feedback, don’t feel like it’s a personal attack or that you need to make every change people suggest—often, you can find a middle ground between readers not understanding what you meant and maintaining your own voice and writing style.
Revising is one of the most important steps in crafting a great essay. All that feedback you got in the previous step will help guide your next draft, giving you a roadmap to work from. Make notes on your draft, add and delete things, and read the whole thing aloud to make sure it flows well. Once you’re satisfied, put it away!
#5: Let It Rest
Letting your draft rest for a bit gives you some time to forget what you’ve written and come back to it with fresh eyes. When you read your essay for the first time in a while, you can start to see any errors that have crept in or any inconsistencies in your logic. Now that you’ve already gotten feedback and revised your essay, you can clean these last bits up and have an essay you’re really proud of!
If you're applying to FSU, you want to be sure that your standardized test scores are up to snuff. Whether you're taking the ACT or SAT, our guides will help you figure out where you are and where you need to be.
Part of college searching is figuring out what colleges you can afford and how much financial aid you'll need to cover. With our guide to FSU's tuition and financial aid, all your bases are covered!
Not sure if FSU is for you? Check out this list of other schools in Florida to find the college that suits you best.
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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.