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University of Oklahoma 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide 

Regular Decision: 

University of Oklahoma 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: Community 

Supplemental Essay Type(s): 2 optional essays of 650 words

The University of Oklahoma supplemental essays are only for students interested in scholarships. If that isn’t you, move along. If that is you, however, welcome! Make yourself comfortable–we’re going in.

The following optional questions will be used to determine your eligibility for supplemental scholarships (leadership, community involvement, and departmental scholarships) at the University of Oklahoma:


1. The University of Oklahoma believes strongly in educating leaders of communities in Oklahoma, as well as across the country and the world. Please share your leadership experiences and why they are important to you. (Please answer in 650 words or less.)

When answering this question, resist the urge to rewrite your resume. The University of Oklahoma isn’t asking you for a list! Remember: it’s your job, as an applicant, to use every essay as an opportunity to reveal something new about yourself. Think of a moment when you were in a position where you worked really hard to help a group of friends or loved ones. Maybe you are always the one helping your younger siblings with school projects and you’ve found ways to attain and keep your little brother’s attention (to your mother’s welcomed surprise). Maybe, as a volunteer, you were in charge of teaching new staff the proper policies for walking dogs at the local shelter. Perhaps, during a group project at school, you organized and planned all of your meetings and drove home classmates who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to attend group sessions outside of school hours. Try to isolate a single leadership moment, so you can tell a story to admissions (after all, you have 650 words!). Describe where you were, what was happening around you, and what you were feeling. Discuss what challenges you faced and what you ultimately learned from the experience. Don’t shy away from challenges, or even failures, since these are exactly the kinds of character-building experiences that can demonstrate resilience and quick thinking (a.k.a. awesome leadership skills!).

2. The University of Oklahoma is home to a vibrant, diverse and compassionate University community that is often referred to as “the OU family.” Please describe your cultural and community service activities and why you chose to participate in them. (Please answer in 650 words or fewer)

Chances are, you’ve done some community service at some point in your life, and this prompt asks you to reflect on that experience. The prompt is clear about what it wants you to cover and you have up to 650 words, so this is not the kind of essay you want to leave ‘til the last minute (though what kind of essay is?!). In some ways, this is a glorified resume entry, but you can bring it to life by devoting more of your word count to concrete, personal details than to a verbatim recitation of the organization you volunteered for’s mission and vision (or worse, a bloated list of clichés related to the value of service). Why do you care so deeply about a particular cause, culture, or community? What change do you hope to see (or even create!) in the world? Remember that, fundamentally, community service is not about personal glory or achievement, it’s about doing what you can to help others. Reflect on why being part of a community is important to you and, for bonus points, touch on how you would like to contribute to “the OU family.”

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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