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The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words, 1 optional essay of 100 words, 1 essay of 250 words for applicants to the School of Nursing only
Odds are that this isn’t the first “diversity” essay prompt you’ve come across this year—even if the prompt doesn’t explicitly use that word. If it is, however, please read on. UVA wants to accept students from a range of backgrounds who will contribute to an inclusive community. The prompt uses the phrase “source of strength” twice; this tells us that they want to hear about not only what makes you you, but also how these characteristics will support you and those around you. What you focus on here can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or specific to you and only you. Is there anything you can teach your classmates about your hometown, traditions, culture, orientation, identity, race, or ethnicity that they might not already know? Maybe you began practicing meditation and discovered Buddhism during your sophomore year and you hope to spread some wisdom and mindfulness on campus next fall. Perhaps you were raised on a farm and have a very special relationship to all living things (plants, animals, people, etc.) around you. How will you incorporate this element of your identity into your college experience? Show admissions that you’re eager to make your mark in their community.
This prompt asks applicants to detail a specific experience to prove their interest in their chosen field of study, nursing. It is a bit closer to a traditional why essay in that students should make sure not just to discuss the experience that led them to pursue nursing, but also to connect that experience to their larger goals for the future. Perhaps you were diagnosed with diabetes as a child and the nursing care you received inspired you to go into the field yourself. Maybe your grandfather was a nurse and you were awed by his skills when your grandmother fell off a ladder. If there are elements of the UVA program that support your particular interest or connect to the experience you choose to highlight, definitely build those bridges to show admissions you are familiar with the programs UVA has to offer, and have already considered how your experiences will help you achieve future academic success.
Now that UVA is no longer explicitly considering legacy in their admissions process, admissions has added this question to identify not only those whose parents went to UVA, but also those whose ancestors labored at UVA. This reflects the university’s ongoing reckoning with its own founding, which included the use of enslaved labor. Here, anyone with personal or historic ties to the university, including students who attended summer programs there, can describe their unique connection. If you don’t have a connection, that’s okay! Most people won’t. If you do, however, read on.
This question doesn’t just ask you to state your tie, it asks you to explore how that connection has primed you to contribute to the community. Maybe your mom was an RA and has shared all the steam tunnel routes with you, so you can initiate your roommates into this UVA tradition. Perhaps one of your ancestors built the iconic Rotunda, and you look forward to educating your classmates about their legacy. Maybe you attended a summer program and fell in love with the Jeffersonian architecture, inspiring your passion for historic preservation. Remember, your job here is to explore how your personal connection to UVA will make you a contributor to campus life.