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University of Vermont 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

University of Vermont 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 500 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Community, Oddball

If you would like an opportunity to further present yourself to the Admissions Committee, you may submit a response to ONE of the following prompts.

The instructions may start with the word “If,” but in our opinion there are no ifs, ands, or buts about this supplement: you have to write it. UVM has come up with five very different prompts to help you show admissions a little bit more about who you are and what matters to you. So pick whichever question suits you and take this unique opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice!

1) Why UVM?

When all else fails, there’s always the classic Why essay. And we say this with praise! The why essay is not a fallback option, but it is a great choice for applicants who don’t feel inspired by the other prompts, or who just feel more inclined to plead their case in a more straightforward way. The secret to a successful why essay is research, so take some time to explore the school website or even visit campus and get to know all that UVM and Burlington have to offer. Jot down everything that excites you! When you have a solid list in hand, consider how it connects to your own interests and goals. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to find a way to lower your carbon footprint, and you see a lot of potential in studying Environmental Sciences at UVM and shopping at the Burlington Farmers Market. Just remember that the goal is to share something new about yourself, not to rattle off a list of facts about the school! Talk about your interests, goals, and dreams so admissions can understand what a UVM education will mean to you.

2) Established in 1978 in a renovated gas station in Burlington, VT, Ben and Jerry’s is synonymous with the ice cream business. The company’s success and unique brand identity are due in part to their one-of-a-kind flavors. Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined) best describes you?

Who doesn’t love ice cream? Our mouths started watering just reading this prompt. Like with all Oddball prompts, admissions just wants to give you the opportunity to get creative and think outside the box. Use Ben & Jerry’s flavors as a launching pad, and go with your gut. Maybe you identify most with plain old vanilla, because you have always gotten along with all kinds of people, and you feel that you’re the perfect base (company) for all kinds of toppings (personalities). Perhaps you feel Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz!® best describes you, because you are proudly Type A and full of energy from morning to night. Maybe you want to make up your own ice cream flavor, one with a cherry base (because of your beloved memories making cherry pie with your grandma every Thanksgiving), M&Ms (your favorite movie snack), and rainbow sprinkles (to celebrate your pansexuality)! There’s really no wrong way to answer this prompt, so long as you are being creative and true to yourself.

3) Whether they are constructing a robot, a stronger sense of community or an identity, UVM students are builders. What would you like to build?

This is a fancy way of asking what you will contribute to the UVM community. First, consider the facets of your personal identity and background and ask yourself: What could I teach my new friends about over breakfast in the dining hall? More than likely, you’ll come up with an aspect of your identity that you want to share with the world. Maybe you’d like to help build a strong LGBTQIA+ presence on campus, or create room for an indigenous student community. Perhaps you want to think about building more literally, and write about the nondenominational place of worship you’d like to construct. Ultimately, admissions wants to make sure that you will not only benefit from UVM’s diverse community, but that the UVM community will benefit from having you attend as well.

4) At UVM, learning extends far beyond the walls of our classrooms. From student-led organizations, to internships and study abroad experiences, UVM students are encouraged to pursue knowledge in all environments. Describe a time when you’ve learned in a non-traditional setting.

UVM knows that the classroom is but one place to learn new information, skills, and/or tools. When have you pursued knowledge in a non-traditional setting? Maybe you learned about botany, survival skills, and cooking at summer camp last July. How were you taught and what did you take away from the experience? You can also feel free to write about learning from a different lens. Did you learn about different cultures and perspectives when you visited your cousins in a different country? Were you enthusiastic about trying their favorite foods and visiting their favorite places? What you choose to highlight can run the gamut. You can write about learning about art during a trip to MOMA, or you can address learning how to be mindful, vulnerable, and assertive through your weekly yoga practice. Knowledge can be absorbed anywhere. Show admissions that you’ll be just as eager to absorb wisdom outside of the classroom as you will when a professor is present.

5) Communities and organizations are stronger when they value diversity of thought. How do you create meaningful connections or conversations with others when they express opinions that differ from your own?

Engaging others in meaningful conversations about important issues can be incredibly intimidating and challenging, and the UVM admissions department knows this. That is, in part, why they are curious to learn about your experiences engaging with others when they express opinions that differ from your own. Think back to identify a time when you had a conversation with friends, family, or even mere acquaintances about a difficult topic. Maybe you talked to your grandparents about healthcare disparities across the globe. Were you able to clearly communicate your perspective? If you were to engage them in the conversation again, what would you do or say differently? You don’t need to have changed someone’s mind to impress admissions here. You just need to show that you’re not afraid to speak up about important issues and communicate with those who may have different opinions than your own. College will present you with a plethora of opportunities to meet and engage with people who are very different from you; Show UVM that you’re game to learn, listen, share, and grow.

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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