Let’s start off by talking about what you shouldn’t do. Simply put, don’t be boring! If either your word or its explanation isn’t memorable, you won’t be memorable either. For example, words like “happy” and “hope” are as generic as it gets. You might think Google is your friend here, but the “Top 10 Favorite Words” listicle you find will also be found by hundreds of other applicants.
What would a successful UVA applicant do here? Find a word that allows you to convey a story, to connect a broader narrative to the prompt. In many writing supplements, the chosen topic matters less than how you convey your answer; this is the perfect example of such a situation.
A great answer could center around your multilingualism; if your second language was English, you could pick a word you struggled pronouncing as you grew up. This would be a launchpad to write about the unique struggles and benefits of growing up in a culturally diverse household. Alternatively, if you love math, you can pick a funny or multi-faceted math term like “non-abelian” and tie it into your overarching story about this passion. Either way, the essay should focus on your personal experience with the word — it’s not necessarily an etymological study of the word itself!
Now, we should also discuss how to actually write this essay. First off, don’t wait too long to show the reader what your favorite word is. Start with a hook — a quote of the first time you heard the word, for example, or a brief anecdote to provide context. You could set the stage with an exposition for the story to follow. Try not to say “my favorite word is ____” as your first sentence; nothing screams “stale” more than that!
Then you can follow the introduction with a pivot to the specific word. Make sure you explore both aspects of its “meaning.” That is, reference the dictionary definition of the word, but also dive into its real meaning to you. If your favorite word is “begin,” you could first define it as “to start something” and then explain that it was your grandfather’s perennial advice.
A powerful conclusion will stick in the readers’ heads, so try to write one! Tie the threads together: The word and story might still be disjoint. Continuing our example from before, you might say how, whenever you have a seemingly impossible task in front of you, you can see your late grandfather telling you “begin!” Even though your grandfather is no longer with you, he is still the greatest motivator in your life. Now, you look forward to new beginnings in college and beyond.
I am just looking for help to proofread and imporve!
I will edit your essay in return!
Describe the world you come from and how that world shaped who you are.
There was no end in sight. The sun shone with an intensity I had never felt before, as I made my way up the loose gravel of the mountain side. The air was thin at 12,000 feet and left me gasping for breath. The perspiration stung as it rolled into my tear ducts. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as pushed by body to limits it had never gone before. My resolute was unwavering; I would not quit. It was exhilarating to step out of my comfort zone and be challenged in ways which I would have thought were once impossible. This is why I was here.
The mountains of New Mexico are a far cry from the city of Springfield. I may live in a suburban setting, but it is not the world I come from. I come from a world which has a deep love for nature and a desire to push myself to my limits. The world of backpacking has given me an outlet to experience the nature often absent in suburban lifestyles. When I first went to put on a pack, I struggled to put it on. The weight was immense. This burden I carried on my shoulders was not dissimilar from the ones I carried in my day-to-day life. However, backpacking has given me the confidence and courage to overcome the obstacles life has thrown at me.
Backpacking is so much more than a physical endeavor, it has fostered virtues such as leadership, confidence, and determination; qualities which I believe will help me to achieve success in later life.
The second essay is part of the engineering supplement, The problem I am having is that I wrote an essay which I like however the project I describe does not really sound like something an engineer would design!
If I were given funding for a small engineering project I would design and build more sustainable housing in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Living conditions in the reservation are similar to those found in third world countries. Many families living in Pine Ridge do not have running water, electricity, or heating.
Housing that is cheaper, more durable, and more efficient would be beneficial to the lives of many people living on the reservation. I would build a single home as a proof of concept. The design of the house would be centered on a single solar panel. The solar panel would convert the sun's energy to electricity. I would have to a design a method which could efficiently store electricity. The walls of the home would be constructed from straw bales. This renewable resource is found in abundance across the mid-west making it the ideal building material. Straw is a great insulator and is much more efficient in retaining heat than traditional reservation style housing.
South Dakota is known for its harsh winters. While my grandmother lived on the reservation she contracted pneumonia which permanently scarred the tissue of her lungs. Like many of the inhabitants of the pine ridge reservation, her home did not have heating or insulation. I believe the design that I have proposed has the potential to not only improve the quality of life, but also save lives.