Virginia Tech “essay” prompts

I’ve been monitoring VT’s admission department stumbles for the last couple of years. Tech is on the short list for one of my sons. As I watch the turmoil of high stat students being deferred, and then waitlisted this cycle, the specter of exceptional essays and their potentially disproportionate value are now forefront in my mind.

What were the essay prompts from this year’s application?

The link to the “essays”:

Limit of 120 words per essay.

Essay Question 1
Virginia Tech’s motto is “Ut Prosim” which means ‘That I May Serve’. We are interested in learning more about your interests and how you have been involved and/or served. Briefly describe a group, organization, or community that you have been involved with. Is this a special area of interest for you, and why? How long have you been involved? What role did you play? What contributions have you made to this group? Were you able to influence others and/or influence decisions for the good of the group?

Essay Question 2
Describe a situation where you were involved or witness to an act of discrimination. How, or did, you respond? Do you wish you would have responded differently? Did this situation cause any change to happen based on this event and did you have a role in that change? What did you learn from this experience?

Essay Question 3
Describe an example of a situation where you have significantly influenced others, took on a leadership role, helped resolve a dispute, or contributed to a group’s goals. What was your role, what responsibilities did you take on? Did you encounter any obstacles, and if so how did you respond, were you able to overcome them? What would you do differently?

Essay Question 4
Briefly describe a personal goal you have set for yourself. Why this goal, what is your timeline to achieve this goal, what precipitated this goal? Have you turned to anyone for advice or help, what was their role, what did you learn about yourself, are you still working toward this goal?

1 Like

There’s something slightly unfair about an answer limited to 120 words for a question that has 89 words.

Answering these in 120 words is even harder then it looks at first glance. You need to answer all parts of the question and consider what else they are asking. Each one has a deeper meaning or question to it.

I would truly love to see an example of a good essay for each prompt. The more I think about these essays the madder I get. 89 word questions and 120 word answers for what could be really broad questions. And tell me these questions may have kept hard working deserving kids out of VT…SAD

Essays can’t be the be all end all - just another item in a long data set. It does sound like they may have been a little more of a factor this year but definately not a majority factor. Just lots of good kids sending in good stuff! I would hate being the decider.

I see a common thread to the first 3 prompts - leadership. The 4th looks like perserverance to me, and setting of tangible, measurable goals (no “I’m going to be better person this year” blather). Not sure if I would consider the limit on response to be unfair, but certainly challenging. IMO, they are rightly trying to measure how an applicant can distill their response into a concise, pursuasive package. Think elevator speech, or consider current research on what email correspondence actually gets read. It’s pre-prep in a way for how communication works in the business world in the 2020’s.

I would love for everyone to pick the essay prompt they feel most comfortable with. The collective forum can then grade their 120 word response.

I’m willing to share a couple of my responses to these essays if anyone would like to see them. You can message me or, depending on the prompt, I could share it on here.

@drewh02 I don’t think you should share yours publicly, but thanks for offering.

I would love to read, if you share privately, and give feedback because I have read my friends essays who did get in.

did you think your friends essays were anything special?

They were not special but they were very well written. So I could do an comparison if needed and tell if it was really the essay that mattered.

It’s the poor grammar in some of the prompts that drives me nuts. I really hope they revise the prompts in the future, if only to make Virginia Tech look better.

I’ve read my daughters essays (accepted). I wouldn’t say they were super stellar. They were honest, they answered the questions and I suppose to a trained eye they might give some insight into her character. But I wouldn’t say they were so superb it would’ve put her over the top.
My opinion is the essays were just one factor. An important factor to be sure but they were only one part of the bigger picture. And that bigger picture includes more than just test scores and GPA.

FWIW - Those appear to be the same prompts that S19 answered. I don’t know how often they change them because S16s were different. I don’t remember all of them, but they were cheesier. I do remember “list your top 5 reasons you want to be a Hokie.”

I’ve been reading these with interest. As an alum who got married on campus, I remember being turned off by their whole admission process. And both of mine were accepted.

I believe prompts this year were identical to last year … from what I remember.

Yes, this is only the second year with the new prompts. Prior to that they had 4 essay topics to choose from and they were more traditional (that’s what I remember anyway). The changes to the admissions process corresponded to a shake up in admissions staff. I really hope they keep tweaking the process, and the mini-essays would be a good place to start imho.

Could you please share it with me?