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4 Tips for Writing Stellar UGA Essays

Posted by Hannah Muniz | Jan 25, 2019 5:00:00 PM

College Info, College Essays

 

feature_UGA_postcard

The University of Georgia is an excellent public school ranked in the top 50 universities nationwide. If you’re applying here, you’ll need to submit two amazing essays. So what are the UGA essay prompts? And how can you ensure your UGA essays will make you stand out?

In this in-depth guide, we give you all the current UGA essay prompts and tips for choosing and approaching the best prompt for you. We also look at an actual UGA application essay example to give you an idea of what your own essay can and should look like.

Feature Image: Boston Public Library/Flickr

 

What Are the UGA Essay Prompts?

The UGA application, which you can submit via either the UGA application portal or the Coalition Application, requires all first-year applicants to submit two essays. The two UGA essays must be between 200 and 300 words each, making them relatively shorter than the usual length of a college essay, which is 500-600 words.

Despite this small word limit, the UGA undergraduate admissions blog advises applicants to "focus on substance and not word count." In fact, the UGA essay word count isn’t super strict: you can technically submit an essay of up to 350 words without getting cut off (though you should still try your best to make your statement fit within 300 words).

The first UGA essay must answer the following prompt:

The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application.

This essay prompt is pretty different from what you’d expect in a college application; it offers you many possibilities, both content-wise and stylistically.

For the second of the two UGA essays, you’ll get four prompts to choose from, giving you a lot of leeway with what you can write about and how you can approach your statement:

Option 1: UGA’s 2017 Commencement speaker Ernie Johnson (Class of '79) told a story from his youth about what he refers to as blackberry moments. He has described these as "the sweet moments that are right there to be had but we’re just too focused on what we’re doing …, and we see things that are right there within our reach and we neglect them. Blackberry moments can be anything that makes somebody else’s day, that makes your day, that are just sweet moments that you always remember." Tell us about one of your "blackberry moments" from the past five years.
Option 2: Creativity is found in many forms including artistic avenues, intellectual pursuits, social interactions, innovative solutions, et cetera. Tell us how you express your creativity.
Option 3: Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
Option 4: Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue.

Now that you’ve seen all five UGA essay prompts, let's take a look at each of the essays up close. In the following section, we'll explain how you can craft effective responses for your own UGA essays.

 

body_woman_funny_glassesTime to get cheeky.

 

How to Write UGA Essay 1

The first UGA essay has just one prompt that all applicants must respond to in 200-300 words. Here it is again for reference:

The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application.

As noted above, this prompt isn’t like most other college essay prompts in that instead of asking about your academic goals, skills, or accomplishments, it’s trying to loosen you up by having you write about something fun and unique in your life.

In other words, UGA wants to tease out your less serious, less academic side to get a better sense of who you are as a person and not just as a student. Specifically, they want to know what holds meaning in your life and what kind of experience you think is worthy enough to share with the admissions committee.

Therefore, your first UGA essay must accomplish the following:

  • Should be different from what you’ve talked about elsewhere on your application
  • Should highlight your sincerity and personality
  • Should reveal something important about who you are and/or what you value
  • Should NOT be too seriousremember that UGA wants an "amusing" story!

Some of these qualities might go against everything you thought you knew about college essays, but it’s important here to really try to be sincere, write with an authentic voice, and not shy away from showcasing your more irreverent side.

Here are some examples of possible topics you could write about:

  • A time you made a faux pas or silly mistake (in or outside of school), how others reacted, and what you did to remedy the situation and/or learn from it
  • A funny misunderstanding you had with someone, such as a teacher, friend, or parent, and what this experience taught you about the importance of clear communication
  • Something amusing or thought-provoking you watched, listened to, read, or did, and why you found this particular thing so fascinating (this shouldn’t be any old movie or book but something a little more unique)
  • A unique hobby or interest you have, how you developed it, and why it's important to you

As you can see, you have a lot of options for what you can write about for this UGA essay. That said, make sure to avoid the following topics:

  • Politics, religion, or any other overly serious or potentially controversial topic
  • Death, illness, or any other grave event or moment from your life
  • Something everyone has experienced or heard ofyour topic should be unique to you
  • Anything you’ve already mentioned in a different section of your application

 

How to Write UGA Essay 2

The second UGA essay, which must also be 200-300 words long, offers four essay prompts to choose from. Here, we go over these UGA essay prompts in detail, offering you specific tips on how to choose the right prompt for you and write an excellent statement.

 

body_blackberriesA "blackberry moment" doesn't actually have anything to do with blackberries. Sorry, little buddies.

 

UGA Essay Prompt 1: "Blackberry Moment"

UGA’s 2017 Commencement speaker Ernie Johnson (Class of ’79) told a story from his youth about what he refers to as blackberry moments. He has described these as "the sweet moments that are right there to be had but we’re just too focused on what we’re doing …, and we see things that are right there within our reach and we neglect them. Blackberry moments can be anything that makes somebody else’s day, that makes your day, that are just sweet moments that you always remember." Tell us about one of your "blackberry moments" from the past five years.

This essay prompt is about the small, joyous, and surprising moments in life. The moment you talk about in your essay should be an unassuming and ostensibly insignificant momentnot some revolutionary or life-changing event.

For your essay, you’ll need to talk about one such moment you remember, describe in detail what happened, and explain why it made you so happy and left a lasting impression on you.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

This prompt is ideal for those who can easily think of a happy or feel-good moment from their livessomething that might sound unremarkable or mundane but that you can’t seem to forget.

For example, maybe you’ve always remembered that time when you sat beside an elderly woman on a plane to Hawaii and she regaled you with memories of playing chess (a game you love to play as well) and even taught you some tricks for outsmarting your opponent.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Focus on one unique and positive moment from your life. This could be a fun thought-provoking conversation you had with a stranger or acquaintance, a poignant moment you witnessed from afar, a time you did or ate something new, etc.
  • Use lots of description and imagery. The crux of this prompt is this blackberry moment of yours, so try to get creative with your descriptions here. Imagery is one great literary device guaranteed to make your writing stand out.
  • Explain how and why this moment affected you. Don’t just describe what happenedtell UGA why this particular moment was so happy and memorable for you. For example, maybe it was the first time you did something you'd always wanted to try or maybe you’d never had the chance before to talk about something you were really passionate about.

 

UGA Essay Prompt 2: Creativity

Creativity is found in many forms including artistic avenues, intellectual pursuits, social interactions, innovative solutions, et cetera. Tell us how you express your creativity.

This UGA essay prompt is all about creativity and how you specifically express yourself in creative terms, whether that’s through painting, writing short stories, coming up with new ways to solve a social problem, etc.

Creativity can be interpreted in numerous ways, as the prompt itself says, so don’t feel confined to any one definition of creativity, art, or expression.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you strongly consider yourself a creative personeven if not in a purely or obviously artistic waythis is a good prompt to consider choosing. For example, maybe you love to watch Bob Ross and follow along as he paints. Or perhaps you constantly jot down ideas for inventions you want to try to make.

Just be sure that the topic you have in mind clearly demonstrates your creative, expressive, and unique thought process.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose a single creative outlet. Even if you have several creative outlets (which you most likely do!), it’s best to focus on just one of them for your essay, such as writing short horror stories or coming up with new yoga poses.
  • Focus on a specific project or thing you’ve done/made. A great way to approach this essay is to narrow down your topic to one specific thing you’ve produced. This could be something tangible, such as a drawing or sculpture, or something more abstract, such as a choreographed dance routine.
  • Explain the significance of this creative outlet to you. The point of this essay isn’t to show off your artistic skills but rather to emphasize how you think creatively and what this process means to you as a person. For example, If you’re a pianist, you could explain how composing piano pieces de-stresses you and allows you to easily visualize solutions to any problems you have going on in your life.

 

body_seal_surface_waterThis next prompt is all about getting beneath the surface and revealing who you really are: a seal.

 

UGA Essay Prompt 3: Character

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

This essay prompt is a pretty classic type in that it wants to know about your character: who you are and what you value. In short, what makes you you?

In your essay, be sure you’re focusing on something unique to you and your life.

Your topic also needs to be meaningful in some way. Don’t just talk about a random incident that sounds meaningful if it actually had zero effect on you or how you see yourself. Think about what’s happened in your life and what kinds of interactions, experiences, and circumstances have shaped the person you are today.

Here are some examples of possible incidents you could write about in your essay:

  • A time you stood up for someone else
  • A time you admitted to a mistake or wrongdoing
  • A time you learned something new about yourself and/or your abilities
  • A time you challenged yourself
  • A time you solved or helped solve a problem

It can be helpful to brainstorm the positive qualities you have and work with those to narrow down incidents from your life that demonstrate these traits. Good qualities to write about could include the following:

  • Your commitment to truth and honesty
  • Your sense of responsibility or maturity
  • Your ability to collaborate successfully with others, even when you don’t like the person or disagree with them on certain things
  • Your compassion for others

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

Can you easily think of a significant moment or event from your life that helped define something important about yourself, such as what you value or what your future goals are? Alternatively, can you think of a time you did something that highlights a defining trait or value you have?

If your answer to either of these questions is yes, then this would be a solid prompt to choose.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose a specific, significant incident from your life. Specificity will bring realism and raw emotion to your story. Don’t try to cram in as many "important" moments as you can, or else you’ll just confuse the admissions committee.
  • Reveal something important and positive about yourself. Though the topic you choose doesn’t need to be "happy," what you take away should ultimately demonstrate something positive about your character. For instance, if you’re writing about a time you tried to comfort a friend who was in a situation out of your control, you could emphasize the fact that even in times when you know you can’t fix a problem, you still aim to be supportive and hopeful.
  • Don’t exaggerate. The UGA admissions committee will be able to tell if you’re trying to make something seem more significant than it really is, so make sure you’re being honest with your feelings and writing authentically.

 

UGA Essay Prompt 4: A Problem to Solve

Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue.

The final UGA essay prompt for the second essay asks you to discuss a particular issue and how you would solve it.

This particular prompt actually consists of three related questions:

  • What’s the problem you want to solve?
  • Why does this problem matter to you?
  • What will you do to solve this problem?

This problem could be connected to your intended major, though it does not need to be. If not, just make sure you’re focusing on a topic that clearly connects to the rest of your application in some way.

Here are some broad examples of problems you could talk about in your essay:

  • The lack of representation of women, people of color, and other minorities in literary canons
  • Gun violence and crime rates in the United States
  • The dearth of women in STEM majors and fields
  • Climate change, air pollution, and other environmental issues

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you’re passionate about some sort of social or widespread issueeven if it’s not related to your majorand you’ve mentioned or alluded to it in your application, this could be a good prompt for you.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Think of a specific problem. You can’t write a good essay if the issue you want to solve isn't clear to the admissions committee. Narrow your interests as much as possible. For example, if you want to solve issues relating to the environment, try to go beyond just global warming on a grand scale—talk about introducing a recycling program to your city, or explain an idea for how people can reduce food waste.
  • Emphasize your passion. The issue you write about should be something that you’re deeply passionate about and that has a clear connection to the rest of your application. For instance, if you plan to major in German, you could use your own anecdote to explain how you believe US high schools should change their approach to teaching foreign languages so that students will remain interested in the language they've chosen to learn.

 

body_thumbs_up_two_peopleHow we all imagine admissions committees vote on applications.

 

A Real UGA Application Essay Example + Analysis

Below is an actual UGA application essay example written by an admitted applicant named Micaela B. This essay, which is a response to Prompt 3 (the "character" prompt), was taken from the UGA undergraduate admissions website where it was used as "an example of what we [UGA] consider a strong essay."

Here is the essay, at just around 300 words long (the word limit):

It’s unassuming, the tiled top square table with mismatched chairs, its lacquer wearing thin from dishes being passed back and forth, room for four but always crowded by eleven. It may be unassuming but its power is undeniable.

As I grew older, the after-dinner conversations grew more intriguing to me. I began to stay and listen, to the politics I didn’t understand and the adult gossip I shouldn’t have been privy to. The dynamic of the debate shifted almost every time the topic changed, but the one thing that was consistent was that after all the plates were cleared and the chairs were pushed back in, everyone came together for dessert; pizzelles and biscotti. No afterthoughts, no bitterness.

I admire my family's ability to embrace each other for their differences, instead of letting it break us apart. There was no greater example of the lesson in acceptance than when my family learned of the change in sexuality of one of our relatives. After the dissolution of a marriage and a traditional family, the initial resentment towards her for the challenge to our family values was difficult to digest, yet unavoidable. It was the first dispute that ever brought tears to that weathered table with the peeling laquer. Instead of allowing differing lifestyles to drive a wedge between us, our family challenged each other's misconceptions, we discussed, we cried and we accepted.

Being raised in such a racially, economically and religiously diverse community, I am lucky to have developed the skill set to empathize with the people around me and understand that not everyone thinks the same way. In fact life would be pretty boring if everyone acted in uniformity; in a more harmonious world, everyone should be able to voice their opinions and speak their minds, and still come together for dessert.

 

Here’s what makes this UGA essay work:

  • It opens with a captivating description: This essay, especially the first two paragraphs, is undeniably attention-grabbing. The vivid image of the "tiled top square table" and how it is "always crowded by eleven" thrusts us directly into Micaela’s boisterous life, making us feel as though we're sitting right there beside her and her family.
  • It’s tightly focused and easy to follow: From the beginning, we can tell that the crux of this essay is family, specifically the challenges that come with being a member of a large, diverse group. The story here really begins to open up by the third paragraph, where Micaela relates a surprising eventthe "change" in a relative's sexualityand shows how her family learned a valuable lesson in acceptance as a result.
  • It’s got a positive spin: Even though the essay discusses the challenges for a family to come together, it ultimately ends on a high note. This reveals to us a lot about Micaela’s character, especially her commitment to harmony and her open-mindedness toward others.

 

4 Essential Tips for Your UGA Essays

Now, it's time to wrap up with some final helpful tips for your UGA essays.

 

#1: Be as Specific as Possible

Specificity is key to producing an effective and compelling college essay. In both your UGA essays, make sure you’re being as specific as you can be: use real names of people or places, describe the emotions you felt at the time, and tell us what was said, both by whom and to whom.

Details are what will ultimately make the UGA admissions committee be able to more easily relate to your experiences, passions, and point of view. So don't forget to include them!

 

#2: Use an Authentic Voice

The essays are the time for your personality to shine, so don’t hold backuse your natural voice to tell your story. It’s OK to tell some jokes or emphasize your love of flowery language with a few poetic metaphors, for example.

That said, essays don’t give you free rein to be impolite or to completely break the conventions of English grammar, so know what your limits are as you write.

 

body_red_panda_tongueUse your real, honest, authentic voice—unless it's really, really weird.

 

#3: Write Concisely

You only have up to 300 words for each UGA essay, so it’s important to focus on being concise. If one of your rough drafts exceeds the word limit by a lot, you can try to trim it down by deleting any irrelevant or wordy passages.

 

#4: Remember to Edit and Proofread

Finally, don’t forget to edit and proofread your UGA essays! As you edit, spend time looking for the following:

  • Irrelevant passages, phrases, and/or sentences
  • Redundant words, phrases, and/or descriptions
  • Awkward-sounding or misplaced phrases/passages
  • Errors in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation

Once you’ve done your own edit of your UGA essays, give them to someone to look over, such as a teacher, parent, or older sibling. Ask this person to proofread the essays and to offer you any advice they might have on how you can improve them in terms of organization, examples or details, word choice, etc.

 

What’s Next?

Applying to other colleges in the eastern United States? Then check out our in-depth guides for tips on how to write the Georgia Tech essays, the Duke essays, and the Johns Hopkins essay.

Lots of colleges use the Common App and require an essay submitted through this system. Read our guide to learn all about the Common App essay prompts and how you can ensure your essay will impress admissions committees.

Still want to know more about UGA? Take a look at our UGA admissions requirements page to get info on the GPA and test scores needed to secure admission to this popular school.

 


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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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