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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

The Essay Prompts for Fall 2015 Applicants

All essays, scores and documents that are submitted to the University of Texas Undergraduate Admissions via mail or electronically submitted via BeALonghorn (which is the preferred method of submission) will be visible to all honors programs and colleges to which the applicant has applied. 

Essay C (required of all UT Austin applicants):

  • Considering your lifetime goals, discuss how your current and future academic and extra-curricular activities might help you achieve your goals.

Essay of Choice:

Application to Plan II Honors requires submission of Essay C and either Essay A, B or D.  Plan II will review the same two essays the applicant submits to complete application to the University of Texas at Austin.  There are brief additional writing requirements that are part of the honors application, but there is not another essay required. The applicant does not submit multiple versions of Essay C and Essay A, B or D.  Plan II Honors and the University of Texas Office of Admissions review the same essays.

  • Essay A: Describe a setting in which you have collaborated or interacted with people whose experiences and/or beliefs differ from yours. Address your initial feelings and how those feelings were or were not changed by this experience.
  • Essay B:  Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? If so, how?
  • Essay D:  Submit this essay if you are applying to architecture, art history, design, studio art, or visual art studies/art education.  Plan II will accept Essay D, along with Essay C, as one of the two required essays. 
    Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area? 

Please be sure to read what Plan II says about essays.  That information CAN make a difference to your Plan II evaluation.

Special Circumstances Essay Topic:  Essay S:  There may be personal information that you want considered as part of your admissions application. Write an essay describing that information. You might include exceptional hardships, challenges, or opportunities that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, personal responsibilities, exceptional achievements or talents, educational goals, or ways in which you might contribute to an institution committed to creating a diverse learning environment.

*Special Note on Essay S:  Essay S should NOT be used simply as another opportunity to submit a third writing sample, to emphasize interest in the program or to demonstrate motivation to be part of Plan II.

Letters of recommendation, as well as the optional "Essay S" are NOT required by Plan II and really should only be submitted if the circumstances warrant submission.  We actually prefer that applicants do NOT write a third essay or submit letters of recommendation unless there is a compelling reason to do so.  If the applicant has to ask if he or she has special circumstances, then the answer is no.  The same is true with letters of recommendation.

In most, although not all, special circumstances that would indicated that the applicant should submit an "Essay S" or obtain a letter of recommendation would include some kind of challenging situation in the family, personal life, health, family financial or personal experiences—circumstances that are out of the ordinary high school student's experience (which might include, but certainly are not limited to the loss of a family member, major family crises/upheaval and/or family financial issues; immigration issues; an applicant's or an applicant's family member's health issue that affected the family; moving multiple times throughout the student's lifetime, especially multiple times during high school; a parent deployed in the services, etc.). 

Special circumstances that warrant an "Essay S" submission or a letter of recommendation could certainly also include special beneficial circumstances such as educational travel experiences, a special school experience (charter school, home school, performing arts school, health professions high school, etc.) research experiences, work or internship experiences that give the applicant a different perspective, qualification, maturity etc. 

Requirements on the Honors Application:

The Plan II Honors writing requirements on the on-line honors application include the 5 sentences we consider your Personal Statement.

If an applicant is applying to more than one honors program, all the requirements for each honors program will be contained in the single honors application.  The application will NOT submit multiple honors application, even if applying to multiple honors programs.

The Plan II Personal Statement

The applicant completes the following short answer prompt in the required on-line honors application.  The on-line honors application is accessible once the applicant has completed and submitted the ApplyTexas application and it has uploaded into the system.  The applicant will receive a confirmation email from the university when ApplyTexas has uploaded successfully.

  • Please write five sentences describing yourself, your life, and your experiences that taken together form an accurate view of who you are.  Be creative!

Do not list information provided in your résumé or in your essays.  This is not a rehash.

These five sentences should be little nuggets of information that give us insight into who you are.  It's information that you couldn't work/sneak into an essay or onto your résumé, but information you feel is really important in showing us just who you are, "where you come from" and how you are "Plan II-ey."  The sentences should not simply reiterate information from your résumé, but they may enhance information mentioned on your résumé.  Smart applicants will make good use of this little "application gift," and make each of the five sentences about something different. 

Think of these sentences as showing us "FACETS" of who you are, including what you do, what you love, your favorite things, your deepest desires, your most grandiose dreams…..  These are snapshots, not short stories, that give us a view of you and your unique perspective.  What five important things would you want to make sure you were able to include if you were in an interview for Plan II.  (Since we do not offer interviews as part of the admissions process, this is your big chance.)

  • Please number the sentences 1 through 5. 
  • The personal statement has a maximum 1000 characters total.  Spaces DO count as characters in the 1000 limit.  But our honors application pages are very flexible when it comes to character limit. We don't have a very strict character count system so if the applicant goes over the limit, our system will retain a good quantity of characters past the 1000 limit, to a certain point. If the applicant is worried about the limit, we advise the applicant to type as many characters as he/she needs and press the "save" button before submitting. If the applicant goes over the limit, our system will cut off the extra characters and the applicant will know it.  On the other hand, if after pressing the "save" button all the characters appear, then he/she knows that all the characters will be transmitted.
  • From the Plan II Honors admissions point of view, these should not be long and wordy.  These are NOT meant to be "short paragraph" sentences. 
  • If you use more than 1000 characters, you are probably going on too long.  You do not have to be especially pithy or clipped.  But if you drag these sentences out, you are not helping yourself.  We have already seen many applicants who have made wonderful use of this opportunity in well-under 1000 characters.
Questions concerning Plan II admission?  Please email Plan II Admissions Director,  Kerry Pasquale.
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