Are you hoping to be part of Virginia Tech's next matriculating class? If so, you'll need to write strong Virginia Tech essays to supplement your application.
All Virginia Tech applicants are required to answer four short answer questions as part of their application. In this article, we'll break down what the Virginia Tech essays are and what the admissions committee is looking for in your answer.
Why Does Virginia Tech Require Applicants to Answer Essays?
Virginia Tech requires all applicants to answer four short answer questions. If you're applying to the Honors College, your answers will also be shared with the Honors College admissions committee. You don't need to answer any separate questions as an applicant to the Virginia Tech Honors College.
The Virginia Tech essays are designed for the admissions committee to get a better sense of who you are, both as a student and a person. The short answers questions ask about your character, leadership, and goals. The admissions committee will use your answers to better understand you as a person—who are you? What do you care about? How will you fit in on Virginia Tech's campus?
It's important to put some serious effort into your Virginia Tech essays so that you represent yourself well to the admissions committee. These essays are your chance to present a well-rounded version of yourself that makes the admissions committee say, "We have to admit this student!"
What Are the Virginia Tech Essays?
Virginia Tech requires that every applicant answer four short answer questions. These short answer questions are just that—short! Each has a word limit of 120 words. Let's take a look at the 2022-2023 essay questions:
#1: Virginia Tech's motto is "Ut Prosim" which means 'That I May Serve'. Share how you contribute to a community that is important to you. How long have you been involved? What have you learned and how would you like to share that with others at Virginia Tech?
#2: Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt and learn from a difficulty. Reflect on a time that you have exhibited resilience. What growth did you see in yourself after this experience?
#3: Share a time when you were most proud of yourself either as a role model or when you displayed your leadership. What specific skills did you contribute to the experience? How did others rely on you for guidance? What did you learn about yourself during this time?
#4: Describe a goal that you have set and the steps you will take to achieve it. What made you set this goal for yourself? What is your timeline to achieve this goal? Who do you seek encouragement or guidance from and how do they support your progress as you work on this goal?
Virginia Tech Essays, Analyzed
Now that we know what the Virginia Tech essays are, let's break down how to answer each one as best as possible.
Since the Virginia Tech essays are so short, the key is to be super targeted in your responses. For each prompt, we'll break down what the essay is asking and how you can tailor your response to make sure it's what the admissions committee wants to hear.
Essay Question 1
Virginia Tech's motto is "Ut Prosim" which means 'That I May Serve'. Share how you contribute to a community that is important to you. How long have you been involved? What have you learned and how would you like to share that with others at Virginia Tech?
This essay question is asking about your involvement or service with a specific community. The admissions committee is looking for you to demonstrate a genuine commitment to a cause—what the cause is doesn't matter as much as the fact that you genuinely care about it.
To start, think about the communities that are important to you. This could be your family, neighborhood, school, place of worship, a club, etc. Then think about how you've worked to have a positive impact there. Finally, consider the lessons you've learned from helping the community that you'll bring with you to Virginia Tech.
You should pick a community that you've made real, lasting change at. Don't choose something that sounds the best if you haven't actually done a lot for them. For instance, if you were a member of your school's Habitat for Humanity club but didn't actually attend very many meetings, don't talk about how meaningful it was to build houses for disadvantaged people just because you think it sounds nice. Any insincerity in your application will be very obvious.
Essay Question 2
Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt and learn from a difficulty. Reflect on a time that you have exhibited resilience. What growth did you see in yourself after this experience?
This second question can seem intimidating—you'll need to reflect on a tough time and analyze how you grew as a person because of it.
Fortunately, this doesn't need to be an all-out catastrophe that happened in your life. Anything that you found a challenge but were able to overcome and learn from is fair game. For example, you could discuss not making the school basketball team, even though it was your dream to play on it, then deciding to rededicate yourself to practicing so you wouldn't let this failure define you.
Your goal isn't to impress the admissions committee with the most tragic tale they've seen, but instead to show how you learn and grow from challenges. So, as you're writing, keep the actual description of the setback short and focus most of your response on how you showed resilience because of it.
Essay Question 3
Share a time when you were most proud of yourself either as a role model or when you displayed your leadership. What specific skills did you contribute to the experience? How did others rely on you for guidance? What did you learn about yourself during this time?
This prompt wants to know two things: first, have you taken on the responsibility of leading other people? Second, what did it teach you about yourself?
The admissions committee wants to know that you don't shy away from mentorship roles and growth opportunities. You don't have to be president of a club or captain of a sports team to demonstrate leadership. Perhaps you took on the role of project coordinator for a classroom project or are section leader of a few instrumentalists in the band. The size of the role isn't as important as the scope of your influence—how did your choices and actions influence others as well as your perception of yourself?
The question also specifically asks you to explain how you relied on others for guidance, so be sure to make it clear that you weren't just making decisions unilaterally. In this essay, you want to show that you're capable of making decisions, but also that you're capable of cooperation and self-reflection.
Essay Question 4
Describe a goal that you have set and the steps you will take to achieve it. What made you set this goal for yourself? What is your timeline to achieve this goal? Who do you seek encouragement or guidance from and how do they support your progress as you work on this goal?
The final Virginia Tech short essay question assesses your commitment to growth. Notice that the question asks about a personal goal—that means you don't have to pick something lofty or world-changing. You just have to pick something that resonates with you.
Maybe you decided to wake up 30 minutes earlier every day so you can meditate or do yoga before school. Maybe you made it a goal to complete all of your essays two days before they were due so you could revise your work. Maybe you made it a goal to try a sport this year when you normally hate sports.
Whatever your goal is, you want to demonstrate that you're capable of self-reflection and of positive growth—that you're constantly assessing how to better yourself.
You also want to show humility in this prompt—that you can rely on or ask for help from others when you need it. The admissions committee doesn't expect that you'll have all the answers yourself. They want to see that you can collaborate with and learn from others when you need to.
Tips for Answering Your Virginia Tech Essays
Follow these general tips for making sure that your Virginia Tech essays are as strong as possible.
#1: Demonstrate Growth and Self-Reflection
Virginia Tech places a strong emphasis on service and self-reflection. These qualities are reflected in the choices of essay topics.
You should demonstrate these qualities in your answers. Show that you're constantly working to better yourself. Demonstrate humility and understanding. Virginia Tech wants students who will grow on their campus—not ones who will matriculate already thinking they're perfect.
#2: Be Honest and Sincere
All of the experiences that you outline in your Virginia Tech essays should be real—they need to have actually happened to you.
It can be tempting to lie about or exaggerate your experiences to make them seem more impressive. Don't do this!
First of all, lying on your application is a major ethics violation and can get you in some pretty serious trouble if you're caught.
Second all, insincerity will be super obvious. The admissions committee reads thousands of applications every year. They can easily sniff out people who are lying. Be as honest as possible in your Virginia Tech essays and remember—they WANT to hear about how you've grown.
It should go without saying, but your Virginia Tech essays should be the best examples of your work possible. Don't just write your essays and be done with them. Take the time to formulate an answer and then go back and edit it. Make sure to proofread and run your work through a spelling or grammar checker to ensure it's polished.
#4: Get a Second Opinion
Getting a second opinion on your work can be a helpful way to assess whether your Virginia Tech essays are demonstrating your best qualities. Ask someone to read your work who really knows you, so they can tell you whether or not you're underselling yourself or missing a key feature of your personality that the admissions committee should know.
That being said, there's a fine line between getting a second opinion and plagiarism. It's okay to ask for someone's opinion on your work. It's not okay to steal their ideas and pass them off as your own. Make sure you're doing the former, not the latter.
Recap: Responding to the Virginia Tech Essay Prompts
The Virginia Tech essays are designed to show who you are as a student and how you'll fit in on Virginia Tech's campus.
- Be honest and sincere.
- Highlight opportunities you've taken to grow and change.
- Edit and proofread your work to make sure it's as strong as possible.
- Lie or over exaggerate to make yourself seem better.
- Steal anyone else's ideas.
- Sweat the short answers too much. They're important, but they won't make or break your chances at admission to Virginia Tech.
Want to know how to make your extracurriculars stand out even more? Check out this guide to four amazing extracurricular activities and learn why they're so impressive to colleges.
Thinking of applying to other great schools like Princeton, Brown, or Columbia? Then be sure to check out our guides to learn how you can write amazing essays for these schools' supplements.
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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.