University of Virginia (UVA) Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompts & Advice
August 16, 2023
The University of Virginia is one of the handful of flagship public institutions in the United States that attract massive numbers of high-achieving applicants from around the country/globe each and every year. In the most recent admissions cycle, over 56,000 students applied (up 10% from the previous year) and only 16% were accepted. While becoming a Cavalier is challenging for a Virginia resident, out-of-staters and international applicants face an even tougher admissions gauntlet. You’ll likely need a straight A average (or very close) to get serious consideration at the 2023 version of UVA and an SAT in the 96th percentile (or better) doesn’t hurt either. And that brings us to today’s main topic- the UVA supplemental essays.
(Want to learn more about How to Get Into the University of Virginia? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into the University of Virginia: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)
With only one supplemental essay for the majority of applicants (you’ll only need to write more than one if applying to the School of Nursing or the Dance program), UVA’s supplemental section affords applicants the chance to illustrate what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below are the University of Virginia’s supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with our advice for composing winning essays.
2023-2024 UVA Supplemental Essay (All Applicants)
What about your individual background, perspective, or experience will serve as a source of strength for you or those around you at UVA? Feel free to write about any past experience or part of your background that has shaped your perspective and will be a source of strength, including but not limited to those related to your community, upbringing, educational environment, race, gender, or other aspects of your background that are important to you. (300 words)
This prompt asks you to not only share a particular life experience, element of your background, or perspective but also describe why that experience, element, or perspective will help you serve as a source of strength to either yourself or those around you. Essentially, it’s asking you to take your essay’s reflection one step further—you’ll need to communicate why the experience or element you’ve chosen is important to you as well as why/how you believe it will allow you to thrive at UVA or positively impact the UVA community.
UVA Supplemental Essays (Continued)
First, choose a key aspect of your experiences, background, or identity that reveals something deep and meaningful. (Although you could choose more than one, we’d advise against it, given that you only have 300 words in which to respond.) As you brainstorm, consider the following avenues:
- Your role in your family.
- A challenge you’ve faced.
- A formative experience or realization.
- Important aspects of your upbringing.
- Cultural, religious, community influence.
- Racial background.
- Sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Second, you’ll need to explain how you’ll use what you’ve learned to persist through future personal challenges or strengthen others at UVA. Will your life experiences allow you to uplift those around you? Will your unique perspective enable you to connect more deeply with others? Lastly, will your background make it possible for you to advocate more effectively for specific populations? Alternatively, has your experience or background provided you with a perspective that will benefit and support you as you move on to college? If you connect with at least one of these questions, you’re headed in the right direction for this essay.
UVA Program-Specific Essays
Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing. (300 words)
“A nurse is not what you do, it is who you are.”
This quote from an anonymous source captures the idea that becoming a nurse is more of a calling than a profession you just stumble into. Nurses are willing to work long shifts in the service of others, be on the frontlines of a pandemic, and deal with life’s toughest challenges (e.g., suffering and death) on a regular basis. Many applicants share stories of caring for sick relatives or going through a tough medical episode themselves as inspiration for wanting to study nursing. This essay is a chance to show the admissions committee that you are a passionate and mature nursing candidate and that nursing is genuinely “who you are.”
Submit a short essay discussing your interest in dance as a practice and/or a form of scholarship. What roles have dance and movement played in your life thus far? What insights and connections have you made in your day-to-day and academic life through the practice and study of movement? What do you hope to explore further by participating in dance program courses upon entry to UVA? (275 words)
Essentially, UVA wants to understand how your participation in dance has impacted your life. How has it benefited, strengthened, and/or challenged you as a person? Moreover, they’d like to understand the connections you’ve made between dance and other academic subjects, if any—what interdisciplinary connections have you observed? How has your academic life been made richer by dance? Finally, in addition to how dance has already impacted you, UVA is looking for a brief discussion of what the future holds in regard to dance, and how you plan to pursue that future at UVA.
How important are the UVA supplemental essays?
The essays (both the Common App essay and the supplemental response(s)) are “important” to the UVA admissions committee. This places them in the same tier of importance as extracurricular activities and talent/ability. Standardized test scores are rated a notch below as “considered.” Read more about the importance of the UVA supplemental essays in the fabulous Notes from Peabody blog.
At UVA, the rigor of your coursework, class rank, GPA, recommendations, character/personal qualities, and state residency status are the most important factors in the admissions process. However, application components like the supplemental essay can serve as a critical tie-breaker between similarly-credentialed applicants.
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