How to Write the UT Austin Essays + Examples

UT Austin tower
August 28, 2023
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 8/14/23

Writing the UT Austin essays requires introspection, creativity, and time! To learn how to ace this application component, read on!

If you’re planning on applying to the University of Texas and are making your way down your application checklist, you may hit a roadblock when it comes to the supplemental essays

These essays often prove to be the most demanding aspect of college applications, as they call for transforming your thoughts into captivating words and leaving a lasting impression on the admissions committee. But fear not! This guide has got you covered! In it, we’ll break down each of the UT Austin essays.

UT Austin Essay Prompts

Student writing UT Austin essay

Before we delve into how to write the UT Austin supplemental essays, let’s go over the prompts. You’ll be required to answer one essay prompt and a few short answers:

Essay Topic

Here’s the essay topic you’ll be asked to respond to:

"Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?"

Your response to this should be around 500-750 words, typically two to three paragraphs.

Short Answers

You’ll also be required to answer these three short answer prompts:

1. “Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?”
2. “Describe how your experiences, perspectives, talents, and/or your involvement in leadership activities (at your school, job, community, or within your family) will help you to make an impact both in and out of the classroom while enrolled at UT.”
3. “The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin is ‘To Transform Lives for the Benefit of Society.’ Please share how you believe your experience at UT Austin will prepare you to ‘Change the World’ after you graduate.”

Your responses to these questions should be no more than 40 lines or 250-300 words. 

Optional Short Answer

Students may also answer the following short answer if it applies to them:

“Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance.”

How to Write the UT Austin Essays

Now we’ll delve into how to answer each of these prompts to ensure your responses are original, insightful, and interesting! We’ll also provide successful UT Austin essay examples to begin your creative process!

The Essay

To answer the UT Austin essay, consider following these steps:

Step One: Dig into Your High School Memories

Time for a little throwback session! Sit down with a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever else floats your boat, and start digging up all those unique experiences you had during high school. For most of you, you’re likely in your senior year, so this shouldn’t be too hard!

Remember those times when life threw something special at you or maybe even knocked you off your feet? Jot all of these memories down so you can go through them and pick the most meaningful ones to talk about. 

Step Two: Find the Common Thread

Now that you've got a bunch of high school memories in front of you, see if there's a common theme or a big idea that ties them together. It could be a passion, a challenge you faced head-on or a turning point that changed the game for you.

Step Three: Be Descriptive!

Get creative with your writing! Paint a picture with your words. Make your essay engaging and fun to read. You want those admissions officers to be hooked from start to finish.

Step Four: Get Real and Vulnerable

No need to put on a show here to worry about what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Be yourself! 

Share your stories and feelings with authenticity. The admissions committee wants to see the genuine you, not some perfectly polished version. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, share your feelings and emotions, and demonstrate your growth.

Step Five: Talk About Unique Opportunities

Share those opportunities that set you apart from the crowd. Maybe it was an internship, a special extracurricular, a passion project, or a chance to travel. 

Show them how these experiences opened up new doors and helped you grow.

Step Six: Face the Challenges, No Holding Back

Life's not always rainbows and sunshine. The admissions committee wants to hear about your struggles and your ability to overcome them. So, discuss those tough moments that you thought you’d never get through, how you pushed on, and what you learned along the way.

Show the committee how all these experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly—shaped the awesome person you are today. 

Step Seven: End On a High Note

End your essay with a forward-looking approach. You’ve spent most of your essay reminiscing about high school and the lessons you learned from it. Now think about what’s next! 

Offer the admissions committee some insight into your academic and career aspirations. Talk about how your plan on fulfilling these goals at UT Austin and what you plan on contributing to this school!

UT Austin Essay Examples

Your UT Austin essays need to be concise, captivating, and creative, just like the following example:

"Gone but never forgotten"---the solemn inscription on the plaque dedicated to my best friend, displayed prominently in our high school. A phrase intended to offer comfort, but one that will always ring hollow for me. The reality remains stark; gone is still gone. No matter how many times I replay his infectious smile or reminisce about our sunlit summers spent surfing until sundown, he remains forever confined to the realm of memories.

Losing my best friend to cancer was a heart-wrenching blow that shattered my world. We had shared dreams, laughter, and endless plans for our future. His untimely departure left an emptiness in my heart and a void in my life that seemed impossible to fill. Grief consumed me, and the once vibrant light of my high school years dimmed significantly. Coping with the loss of such a young, budding life was a challenge unlike any other, and it tested my emotional strength to its limits.

But, In the face of this overwhelming and seemingly unending pain, I found solace in the support of my family and friends. Their unwavering presence and understanding helped me navigate through the darkest times. I realized that I was not alone in my grief and that reaching out for support was not a sign of weakness but an act of bravery. This experience taught me the power of empathy and the significance of connection, shaping my understanding of the value of relationships in life.

While the loss of my best friend left a permanent scar, it also sparked an awakening within me. I became acutely aware of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of cherishing every moment. As I struggled to regain my sense of purpose, I sought solace in volunteer work at a local cancer support center. Being able to offer comfort and empathy to patients and their families on their own journeys was a cathartic experience that helped me heal and provided me with a newfound sense of direction.

Amidst the challenges, high school also offered unique opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. I found inspiration in the arts, particularly through music and painting. These creative outlets became my refuge, allowing me to express emotions that words could not convey. Art became a powerful medium through which I could heal and explore my own emotions, and it ignited a passion that continues to fuel my aspirations.

As I delved deeper into my artistic pursuits, I discovered my ability to inspire others through storytelling. I started sharing my experiences through writing and public speaking, aiming to bring hope and awareness to those facing similar struggles. This newfound purpose motivated me to excel academically and to embrace every opportunity for growth that high school offered.

With newfound resilience, I became an active member of various clubs and organizations that focused on cancer awareness and support. I initiated fundraisers and awareness campaigns, determined to make a difference in the lives of those affected by this dreadful disease. In doing so, I found strength in unity, as we came together as a community to support a common cause.

Through the highs and lows of high school, I have evolved into a compassionate, determined, and empathetic individual. The loss of my best friend has taught me that life is fragile and unpredictable, urging me to make the most of every opportunity and to embrace challenges with unwavering resolve.

As I prepare to embark on the next chapter of my journey at UT Austin, I am filled with a sense of purpose and determination. I aspire to study medicine, combining my love for the arts with my passion for healthcare to bring comfort and healing to those in need. The experiences of my high school years have shaped me into a resilient individual who values empathy, compassion, and the power of connection. I am confident that my journey through grief and self-discovery will not only enable me to excel academically but will also empower me to change lives and make a lasting impact both in and out of the classroom. So, while my best friend may be gone forever, his legacy will live on; through me, the sunsets I now surf through alone, the patients I will heal, and the grieving families I will support when all they have left to hold are intangible memories."

Why It Works

This essay stands out because of its deeply personal exploration of the writer's journey from grief to resilience, fueled by a passion for cancer awareness and healing. 

The unique fusion of art, medicine, and storytelling highlights the writer's distinct personality, aspirations, and well-roundedness. Their commitment to community engagement, coupled with a clear academic focus on medicine, also aligns well with the university's values. 

Short Answer One

The first short answer is relatively straightforward. There’s a reason you chose your intended major, and now’s your time to demonstrate your passion and explain why your selected program interests you! Keep these tips in mind to ensure you nail this short answer:

  • Showcase your passion and genuine interest: Ensure your sincere passion for the major you've selected is evident throughout your essay. Explain why it excites you and what specific aspects of the subject matter resonate with you.
  • Connect to your background: Reflect on any relevant events, challenges, or opportunities that influenced your decision. Share one or two brief anecdotes or stories that demonstrate how your experiences have shaped your aspirations and academic path. This will make your essay personal and engaging. 
  • Highlight your skills and alignment with UT Austin: Explain how your skills, strengths, and natural abilities align with the chosen major. Describe specific talents or aptitudes that you possess and how they complement the demands of your academic program and profession.
  • Emphasise UT Austin's program and opportunities: Demonstrate your knowledge and interest in UT Austin's program. Research its offerings, faculty members, research opportunities, and distinctive features related to your chosen major. Explain how these aspects appeal to you and align with your goals.
  • Discuss your future aspirations: Share your long-term aspirations and how pursuing this major will enable you to make a positive impact in your chosen field and beyond. Discuss how you envision using the knowledge and skills gained from this program to contribute to society or address real-world challenges. 

UT Austin is dedicated to making a real difference in the world, so it’s essential you take your essay beyond the realms of your immediate college career! Think about what you’ll do with your education and how you’ll impact those around you!

Short Answer One Example

Here’s an example essay to draw inspiration from:

"In 'The Alchemist,' Paulo Coelho writes, 'And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.' This profound sentiment resonates deeply with my decision to pursue an English major at UT Austin. For me, the study of English is a transformative journey of self-discovery and a pursuit of understanding the interconnectedness of humanity through the written word.

Like Santiago, the protagonist in 'The Alchemist,' I believe that our desires and dreams can shape our destinies. In the enchanting world of literature, I find myself constantly drawn to the power of storytelling, where words become vessels for ideas, emotions, and shared experiences. 

Choosing UT Austin as the home for my academic pursuits was an easy decision. The English program's reputation for fostering intellectual curiosity and nurturing creativity aligns perfectly with my academic goals. The diverse range of courses, from classic literature to contemporary poetry, promises to provide a comprehensive understanding of literary traditions, nurturing my ability to critically analyze and interpret texts.

Beyond the curriculum, I am excited about the vibrant literary community at UT Austin. Engaging with like-minded peers in literary clubs, workshops, and events will undoubtedly enrich my perspective and encourage meaningful discussions on the intricacies of literature. Moreover, I envision utilizing my passion for writing to contribute to UT Austin's literary publications and participate in creative writing workshops. Embracing opportunities to share my voice, whether through poetry or prose, is essential to my growth as a writer and communicator.

Ultimately, my decision to pursue an English major at UT Austin is driven by a deep-rooted passion for storytelling, a desire to understand the complexities of human existence, and a conviction that words possess the power to change lives."

Why It Works

This essay begins with an interesting quote that intrigues the reader from the very first line. Then they artfully connect this quote to their personal and academic aspirations, which reflects a thoughtful consideration of the applicant's choice of major and resonates with the transformative power of education.

The alignment of their academic interests with UT Austin's English program also showcases a well-researched understanding of the university's offerings. 

Short Answer Two

Implement these tips into your second short answer response:

  • Highlight your key qualities and experiences: Provide an overview of the experiences, perspectives, talents, and leadership activities that define you as an individual but avoid listing them without adding context and depth. Explain how they contribute to your overall character and worldview.
  • Emphasize leadership skills and potential: Discuss your involvement in leadership activities. Illustrate how you have taken initiative, influenced others, or demonstrated a commitment to creating positive change. All of these traits are highly valued by UT Austin!
  • Talk about your future: Demonstrate how your specific attributes and experiences will allow you to make a positive impact both in and out of the classroom at UT Austin. Explain how your perspectives and background have shaped your understanding of different issues and will enrich class discussions.
  • Connect back to UT Austin: Show that you have done your research on UT Austin's values, culture, and community. Explain how your experiences, perspectives, and talents align with the university's mission and how you plan to contribute to the campus’ environment. 
  • Be genuine and specific: Throughout your essay, be authentic and avoid any vagueness. Share specific anecdotes and examples to illustrate your points, and be descriptive! Show, don't tell, and immerse your readers into your experiences so they connect to them better.

By demonstrating your potential to have a positive impact both in and out of the classroom, you can present yourself as a well-rounded candidate that will make great contributions to the UT community!

Short Answer Two Example 

You can use the following UT Austin essay to guide you in your brainstorming process:

"My journey leading up to UT has been shaped by a tapestry of experiences: my responsibilities at home, my passion for basketball, and my commitment to community service. Balancing two part-time jobs throughout high school to ease the financial burdens at home has instilled in me a strong work ethic and a determination to excel both academically and personally.

As a devoted basketball enthusiast, the court has become my sanctuary, teaching me invaluable lessons in teamwork, perseverance, and leadership. The discipline and dedication required in sports have translated into my academic pursuits, where I strive for excellence with the same fervor I bring to the game.

My commitment to community service is deeply rooted in my family's legacy of veterans, who have instilled in me the importance of giving back. Volunteering at local animal shelters, soup kitchens, and hospitals and organizing charity events has allowed me to witness the transformative power of service firsthand. As such, I am driven by a desire to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others, both in and out of the classroom.

At UT, these experiences and perspectives will serve as my compass for engagement and leadership. As a student-athlete, I intend to contribute my skills to the campus basketball team, fostering a sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship. On the academic front, my diverse background will enrich classroom discussions, bringing unique perspectives to the table.

Outside the classroom, I aspire to collaborate with service-oriented organizations, amplifying their impact on the community. Moreover, my leadership experience, gained from organizing charity events and coordinating community initiatives, will be instrumental in rallying fellow students to join forces for common causes. I am eager to embrace the enriching opportunities that UT has to offer, using my talents to foster a nurturing environment where empathy, determination, and teamwork thrive."

Why It Works

The essay effectively highlights how all of this student’s experiences have shaped their character, instilling qualities like a strong work ethic, determination, teamwork, and leadership. 

Their commitment to community service reflects a genuine desire to give back, and their intention to bring this commitment to UT's campus showcases their dedication to making a positive difference in the university community. 

Short Answer Three

This short answer is one of the more challenging UT Austin essays. It requires students to look ahead past their college career and think critically about how they plan on bettering the world. Here’s how to approach this question:

Be Realistic

The admissions committee isn’t looking for any sappy or exaggerated goals. They aren’t expecting you to cure cancer or find life on Mars. 

Think about what realistic impact you want to have on the world. Whether it be changing the lives of your patients as a healthcare worker, helping address social issues, or simply being a strong advocate for the environment, any effort to better the lives of others counts!

Be Specific

Don’t make vague statements about your passion to change the world, healthcare, poverty, or any other broad topic. Be specific and clearly state your long-term aspirations and the specific ways you envision changing the world after graduation. 

Think about who exactly you want to help, what issue you aim to address, and the tools you’ll use to do so. 

Connect UT Austin's Offerings to Your Goals

Showcase your understanding of UT Austin's unique offerings and how they align with your ambitions. Discuss specific academic programs, research opportunities, clubs, or organizations that UT Austin offers and explain how they will support your personal and professional growth towards your goal of changing the world.

Discuss Your Commitment to Impact

Emphasize your dedication and commitment to creating a positive impact. Demonstrate that you are not just interested in pursuing your career for personal gain, but that you genuinely care about making a difference in the lives of others and improving society.

Be Ambitious

Be ambitious in your goals, but also be realistic about the steps you'll take to achieve them. Demonstrate that you have a clear plan for how your experience at UT Austin will serve as a stepping stone to creating a lasting impact on a broader scale. Demonstrate you have direction and know what it’ll take to reach your goals.

Wrap Up with Confidence and Gratitude

Conclude your essay with a strong and confident statement that reinforces your commitment to changing the world and your gratitude for the opportunity to do so at UT Austin. Leave a lasting impression on the reader that highlights your passion and determination.

Show Answer Essay Three Example

Below is a sample essay to help you craft your own detailed and concise response: 

"Aspiring to become a nurse, I am driven by a profound sense of compassion and a genuine desire to make a positive impact on people's lives. The core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin resonates deeply with my aspirations, and I believe my experience at UT Austin will empower me to change the world through the profession of nursing.

UT Austin's esteemed nursing program will provide me with a comprehensive and cutting-edge education, equipping me with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver high-quality care to diverse populations. The renowned faculty and state-of-the-art facilities will cultivate my clinical expertise, enabling me to make a tangible difference in patients' lives.

Through hands-on experiences and clinical rotations, UT Austin will offer me invaluable opportunities to work with real patients and understand their unique needs and challenges. These experiences will shape me into a compassionate and empathetic caregiver, dedicated to advocating for the well-being of each individual.

Additionally, UT Austin's commitment to community engagement and service aligns perfectly with my vision of making a difference in society. Participating in health outreach programs and volunteering at local clinics will provide me with a broader perspective on healthcare disparities and strengthen my commitment to serving underserved communities. The diverse and inclusive environment at UT Austin will enhance my cultural competence and foster my ability to provide patient-centered care to individuals from different backgrounds.

My experience at UT Austin as a nursing student will be transformative, preparing me to be a compassionate and skilled healthcare professional. Rooted in the university's core purpose of transforming lives for the benefit of society, I am confident that I will graduate as a competent nurse ready to embrace the challenges of the healthcare field and positively impact the lives of those I serve."

Why It Works

The student grounds their aspiration to become a nurse in a genuine compassion for others and a desire to create a positive impact, which resonates well with the university's core purpose. 

The essay also effectively outlines how UT Austin's nursing program is a perfect fit for the applicant, highlighting the comprehensive education, renowned faculty, and state-of-the-art facilities that will prepare them to deliver high-quality care. 

These points present a strong case for how UT Austin’s program will empower this student and how she will contribute to the university’s community. 

Optional Essay

Answering the optional essay is simple; stick to the facts and be honest. There is no need to be overly descriptive or create a compelling narrative out of your circumstances. 

This essay should only help the admissions committee learn more about the extent of your circumstances, how they prevented you from achieving your best, and how you attempted to overcome them. As such, you’ll want this essay to be relatively short. It should not exceed one to two paragraphs. 

Optional Essay Example

For your reference, here’s a sample essay explaining the circumstances that prevented a student from achieving the GPA they intended to:

"During my high school years, I encountered a unique set of circumstances that significantly impacted my academic performance. After my single mother was unexpectedly fired from her job and faced challenges finding another, our family's financial stability became uncertain. In order to support my mother and contribute to household expenses, I took on multiple part-time jobs, which demanded a substantial portion of my time and energy. As I juggled work commitments alongside my academic responsibilities, I found it increasingly challenging to maintain the GPA I had envisioned, a 3.8. While my determination to succeed academically remained steadfast, the added responsibilities and time constraints hindered my ability to dedicate as much time to my studies as I desired.

Despite these challenges, I persevered, ensuring that I gave my best effort in every aspect of my life. Balancing work and studies taught me invaluable time management and prioritization skills, but it also meant sacrificing some extracurricular opportunities that could have enriched my high school experience further. While my academic performance may not have reflected the 3.8 GPA I initially aimed for, I am proud of the resilience I demonstrated in the face of adversity. The experiences I gained from shouldering responsibilities beyond academics have shaped me into a diligent and empathetic individual. I believe these life lessons will undoubtedly serve me well as I embrace new challenges and opportunities in the future."

Why It Works

This answer sticks to the facts and clearly articulates the circumstances the student faced, how they tried to improve their situation, and what they learned from it. The student keeps a positive tone throughout and does not place blame or try to evoke pity from the admissions committee!

FAQs: UT Austin Essays

Below, you’ll find the answers to any remaining questions about the UT Austin essays!

1. How Many Essays Does UT Austin Need?

UT Austin requires all of its applicants to answer one long essay and three short essays. There is an additional optional essay for students that faced circumstances that negatively affected their high school experience. 

2. Does UT Look At the Common App Essay?

Yes, the Common App essay will be considered in the admissions committee’s evaluations. 

3. Does UT Look At Coalition Essays?

No, UT Austin only uses the Common Application or the Apply Texas application.

Final Thoughts

Overall, your UT Austin essays are not just about showcasing your achievements, but also about how your unique journey has shaped you into the person you are today. Embrace the challenges you've faced and the lessons you've learned along the way. 

Be confident in your abilities and potential. Show them how you can make a positive impact both inside and outside the classroom at UT Austin. UT Austin is looking for a diverse array of individuals, so let your personality and potential shine brightly in your essays!

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