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3 Writing Tips for the University of Florida Essay Prompts

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Posted by Christine Sarikas | Sep 14, 2021 5:00:00 PM

College Essays

 

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Are you applying to the University of Florida? You'll need to answer some essay prompts as part of your application.  Read this guide to learn what the University of Florida essay prompts are, what admissions officers are looking for in your response, what you should include and avoid in your answers, and what strong UF college essay examples look like.

 

What Are the University of Florida Essays?

The University of Florida accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application, and applicants must answer one of the Common Application or Coalition Application prompts, depending on which application you use to apply.

As part of your application, you'll also need to answer an additional UF-specific essay prompt, and you'll have the option of answering three additional essay prompts. Your answer to each prompt can be up to 250 words. Here are the prompts:

  • Please provide more details on your most meaningful commitment outside of the classroom while in high school and explain why it was meaningful. This could be related to an extracurricular activity, work, volunteering, an academic activity, family responsibility, or any other non-classroom activity

  • [OPTIONAL] Do you have any employment or family obligations that limit your participation in extracurricular activities? Please describe.

  • [OPTIONAL] List any programs or activities that helped you prepare for higher education, such as University Outreach, Talent Search, Upward Bound, etc.

  • [OPTIONAL] Is there any other information for the Admissions Committee to consider when your application is reviewed?

We'll go over how to best answer each of these supplement questions in the next section.

 

The UF Essay Prompts, Analyzed

In this section, for each of the four UF essay prompts, we explain what the prompt is asking for, why UF is interested in this information, what information you should include (and what information to avoid), and what a strong example answer could look like.

 

Prompt 1

Please provide more details on your most meaningful commitment outside of the classroom while in high school and explain why it was meaningful. This could be related to an extracurricular activity, work, volunteering, an academic activity, family responsibility, or any other non-classroom activity.

  • What the prompt is asking for: A description of the one extracurricular you feel is most important to you.

  • Why UF is interested: Students who are dedicated to something show they are passionate, interested in learning, and have a strong work ethic. These are all characteristics colleges want their students to have, so having something you're committed to is a major boost to your application. Seeing what you choose also gives UF a better sense of who you are and what you value.

  • Potential topics to discuss: What the extracurricular, is how long you've involved with it, how much time per week/month/etc. you dedicate to it, what activities your involvement includes, why you consider it meaningful. 

  • Topics to avoid: Listing multiple activities or simply describing the extracurricular without explaining why it's important to you.

  • Example: "The extracurricular most important to me is my involvement in my high school's Model UN team. I've been involved for four years, since I was a freshman. We meet once a week during the school year to prepare for the four conferences we participate in each year. As a Model UN member, I research different political events and international relations topics, then debate the issues with other team members to build my skills in those areas. Model UN is so important to me because, not only did it solidify my choice to major in International Relations, it strengthened me personally. As a result of my participation, I've improved my debate skills, become a more confident public speaker, and have much more experience finding a compromise even between very different groups."

 

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Prompt 2

[OPTIONAL] Do you have any employment or family obligations that limit your participation in extracurricular activities? Please describe.

  • What the prompt is asking for: A job or family expectation that limited you from participating in extracurriculars. (That second part is key. Most students won't have anything to put for this prompt.)

  • Why UF is interested: Some students don't the time ability to get involved in a sport or club because they have other obligations. That's much different than a student who simply chooses not to join any extracurriculars, and UF wants to know this so it can evaluate your application fairly. Note that this essay is optional, so if you don't have anything to write about here, don't.

  • Potential topics to discuss: Jobs whose hours made it hard to join an extracurricular, regularly watching your siblings, chores you needed to complete each day that made it difficult to stay after school, not having access to transportation needed for extracurriculars.

  • Topics to avoid: Anything unrelated to a job or family obligation. For example, don't discuss being really busy with classes as a reason. Also, don't include things that would be considered regular chores or family obligations for a teenager to have. Washing the dishes every night likely doesn't prevent you from playing a sport. For whatever you do include, don't turn it into a rant or whine about the work you did. That's not a good look to colleges. Just state what prevented you from joining extracurriculars, without adding additional commentary. Additionally, if you had a job or family obligation but were still able to participate in as many extracurriculars as you wanted, leave this prompt blank (and congrats on balancing everything!). This prompt is only for things that actually limited your extracurriculars.

  • Example: "I'm in charge of watching my two younger siblings from 3:30pm until my parents get home at 7pm. This prevented me from joining sports and extracurriculars that meet after school."

 

Prompt 3

[OPTIONAL] List any programs or activities that helped you prepare for higher education, such as University Outreach, Talent Search, Upward Bound, etc.

  • What the prompt is asking for: The programs listed are all primarily aimed at helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds prepare for college and higher education. UF wants to know if you participated in any of them.

  • Why UF is interested: Participating in one of these programs can show you're committed to attending college and are developing the skills you need to succeed there.

  • Potential topics to discuss: If you did participate in one of these programs, list it, along with when you attended. Since the prompt says only to list them, there's no need to describe what you did with the programs.

  • Topics to avoid: Anything unrelated to one of the programs listed or a similar one meant to help disadvantaged students prepare for college. This is a pretty narrow range of programs they're interested in, and if it's not one of the Federal TRiO programs or something similar, it isn't what they're looking for in this prompt. This includes private tutoring, working with your academic advisor, a paid college-prep summer camp, etc.

  • Example: "Participated in Upward Bound during the 2019/2020 school year."

 

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Prompt 4

[OPTIONAL] Is there any other information for the Admissions Committee to consider when your application is reviewed?

  • What the prompt is asking for: Any information that you feel is important for UF to know in order to have the most accurate idea of your application.

  • Why UF is interested: In order to make the admissions process as fair as possible, UF wants to give you a chance to explain anything else you think could impact your chance of being accepted but weren't able to mention in another part of the application.

  • Potential topics to discuss: Any extenuating circumstances that you feel may have had a negative impact on your application. For example, you may have had mono your sophomore year and your grades dropped, your school may not have offered AP Calculus so you had to take it at a community college, etc. You can also use this space to mention test scores or awards you won that don't fit in elsewhere in the application, but remember to only include them if you think they're important enough to actually have an impact on your chances of being accepted.

  • Topics to avoid: Don't include anything you've already mentioned elsewhere in the application. Also, avoid anything that sounds too much like an excuse, i.e. "I didn't like my geometry teacher so I didn't do well in the class." Stick only to situations completely beyond your control that you really feel could negatively impact your application.

  • Example: "Although I made the soccer team as a junior, I broke my arm before the season started, which is why I didn't participate that year."

 

Tips for the UF Essay Prompts

Follow these three tips when completing the University of Florida supplement essays to make sure your answers are as strong as possible.

 

#1: Keep Your Answers Concise

You only have 250 words per prompt. That isn't that much! This means your responses need to be brief and to the point if you're trying to fit a lot of information in. Prompt 1 is the most common prompt students run out of space on because you likely have a lot of reasons why a particular extracurricular is the most important to you.

 

#2: Don't Think You Need to Answer All the Prompts

Almost no student will answer every prompt. Remember, only the first prompt is required; the rest are optional. Most students won't have answers to Prompts 2, 3 and 4. That's perfectly fine! In no way will leaving those questions blank hurt your application.

 

#3: Show Your Strengths

Even those these prompts are short, they are still an opportunity for you to impress the admissions committee. Prompt 1 is typically the best place for this, as you can dive into how you've been involved in your extracurricular, as well as any leadership roles you may have had. Try to include themes you've mentioned in other parts of your application, such as your longer essay. For example, if you mentioned that your dream is to be a doctor, try to highlight experiences that reflect that, such as volunteering at a hospital.

 

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Summary: UF College Essay Examples

There is one main University of Florida essay, and it'll be the Coalition or Common Application (depending on which application you use) prompt of your choice. But there are also additional UF essay prompts to answer. These shorter prompts are a way for the UF admissions committee to learn more about you and have the most accurate look at your application.

Here is where you can discuss extracurricular activities, anything that prevented you from participating in extracurriculars, certain programs you took part in, and anything else you think is important for the people reviewing your application to know. As you answer these UF essay prompts, remember to keep your responses short, don't feel pressured to answer every prompt, and highlight your strengths.

 

What's Next?

Considering the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship? Our guide to Bright Futures Scholarship programs answers all the questions you're wondering about.

Want to bring up your GPA? Read about four ways to bring up your high school grades fast.

Interested in community service ideas? Check out our guide to 129 great community service projects.

 


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Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

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Christine Sarikas
About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.



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