Give College Essay Academy a try.
The Requirements: 1-4 essays of 250 words
Lucky you! Outside of the prompts for students applying to the Honors’ College or students who don’t want to submit their test scores as part of their application, the University of Delaware’s only supplemental essay prompt is — wait for it — truly optional. Unless you have an unusually low grade to explain, you can skip this prompt. If you do have something to explain, however, then read on.
Admissions wants to give you the opportunity to explain any unusual dips or low points in your academic career. For some applicants, answering this prompt could mean recounting the details of some extenuating circumstances (an injury or family emergency) that resulted in some grades dropping. Others may need to explain how getting a D in 10th grade geometry was a wake-up call, and describe the steps they took to turn their grades around. Whatever your story, focus on your personal growth and triumphs. By featuring this prompt so prominently on the application, admissions is showing you that Delaware values your perspective.
The key to hitting this prompt out of the park is to spend at least an hour on University of Delaware’s website. Although this doesn’t appear like the usual Why essay, it’s asking for the same thing from you: research and details about what you’re going to do when you get there. So fire up your device of choice and find out what UD has to offer. Maybe you’d like to join the Anime & Manga Club so you can meet other fans and artists. Perhaps you’d like to step out of your comfort zone and learn more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the BJJ club. Maybe you’ll be right at home in Trig class, but look forward to trying your hand in a Creative Writing class (see what I did there?). No matter your interests or the circumference of your comfort zone, make sure UD knows you have thought about how you will get involved, which classes you will take, where you will spend time, and that you plan to grow on campus. Use specific details to paint a picture, but conserve some of your enthusiasm for the follow-up question that will appear further down.
When answering this question, make sure you don’t invite admissions to your pity party. Shed your tears on your own time (we all need to from time to time) and then focus on answering this prompt in an essay that reflects your integrity, problem solving skills, and composure. Do not dwell on the part of the story where you were treated unfairly, but focus on how you went about resolving the issue. You don’t want to seem salty, but like a well-adjusted young adult who can stand up for him or herself when necessary. And don’t forget to answer the second question, about what you would do if you were to encounter a similar situation again. This is the perfect opportunity to show (and not tell) what you learned and even improve on a response that you regret. While injustices exist on a spectrum, try to dig past the trivial (mom wouldn’t let me go to the concert) to experiences that have affected you more deeply (my teacher accused me of cheating and would not allow me to defend myself). But be gentle with yourself. If there’s a story you’re afraid to tell or not ready to share, don’t force yourself just for the sake of a college essay.
Although superficially different from Q2, this prompt gets at a very similar set of qualities. How do you respond to challenges? What motivates you to persevere? Given the parallel themes, it’s important that you relay a very different story in this essay. So, start here: what do you love? Did your passion for poetry inspire you to memorize a plethora of uncommon words and enter a local spelling bee? Or perhaps your culinary curiosity ultimately led you to work as a line cook at a local restaurant, the hardest job you’ve ever had! While both Q2 and Q3 are about struggle, this question is also fundamentally about what brings you joy. Which struggles have really been worth it for you? But before you think about writing about a major academic struggle, check the “self-appraisal” question below. It could be a better fit if you want to write about bouncing back from a bad grade.