David Graves      July 1st, 2021 in Blog

For the Fall 2022 class, UGA will be keeping the same essay questions as have had for the past few years. UGA will require two essays, a longer personal essay (250-650 words) and a shorter essay (200-300 words). The Common App has changed one essay in their list, and it is reflected here and on their prompts page. In addition, the Fall 2022 application will open up on August 1 in order to align our opening with other institutions using the Common Application. This is a change to the traditional September 1 opening, and it is due in part to having a large number of prospective students asking why they could not see UGA on the Common Application when it opened on August 1.

  • The longer Personal essay will use the Common Application prompts or Coalition Application prompts for 2021. I have listed the Common Application prompts for the Personal Essay below for your knowledge.
    • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
    • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
    • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
    • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
    • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
    • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
    • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
  • The shorter essay prompt will continue to be the following – “The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application.”

As I have done in the past, I am including an essay from an enrolling freshman for Fall 2021 that our office believes is an extremely strong writing sample.

Blades of Grass

“Five hundred sixty-one. Five hundred sixty-two.” I muttered to myself. I sat in a crouched position with a brown dress draped between my thighs. I held an opened marble composition book in one hand and a fat yellow Ticonderoga pencil in the other. Darkened tally marks engulfed the wide-ruled pages. I looked above and saw my teacher looming over me. 

 “Ciara, honey, it’s recess. You can go play. What are you counting?”

Her question intruded and derailed my concentration. I balled my fists and buried my nails into the center of my palms.        

“I just lost my space. I don’t know which piece of grass I left off at.”       

“So, I see you are counting grass.”      

“Yes ma’am, because no one could answer my question today in math.”       

Earlier that morning, Ms. Reynolds taught a lesson about counting everyday objects using tally marks. I raised my hand and asked how many blades of grass were on the playground. She looked startled when she realized I was expecting a precise number.       

She responded, “Well, I don’t actually know that Ciara. We don’t really need to know that.”       

“How come?”      

“Because I said so!”       

My grin disintegrated as I lowered my hand. How come no one knows this stuff? I thought teachers were supposed to know everything. Since no one could give me an answer, I did the only thing I knew how: figure it out myself. I made a declaration that I would find out how many blades of grass were on the playground. I would count one by one, and there would be no room for estimations or errors.     

I have always been one to ask astronomical questions like “how was the sun created” or “how much does the sky weigh”. But I have always been greeted with the typical uniform response of blank stares and shrugged shoulders. The world is so complex, yet it seemed like no one around me cared about how it worked. I learned quickly that I was expected to fall in line and accept all of the information that was presented to me. My “outlandish” questions were not permitted in the classroom. The lack of exploration of the intricacies and anomalies of the world has created an education system where identical thought processes are imposed upon students. But I aimed to abolish the rules that kept me contained within these walls, and my elementary school playground became the headquarters to do so. Eight months, six tally mark covered composition books, and17,238,782 blades of grass later, my project was complete. That playground was the birthplace of my analytical thoughts, where no question was off-limits. I was allowed to explore the whys, the how manys, and the hows of the world. It was the location of my first scientific investigation and the place that harvested my curiosity.

Because my inquisitiveness stems from my rejection of superficial explanations, the majority of my learning has taken place outside of school. I constantly challenge myself to push beyond the classroom walls and investigate topics I am interested in on a deeper level. For example, after taking AP Environmental Science and AP Biology, I became intrigued by the textile manufacturing industry and its detrimental effects on the environment. In class, I proposed the question “how can more sustainable textiles be created utilizing biological agents?” But I was not afforded an answer. For the past two years, I have been conducting an independent study to answer this question. I have developed a biodegradable textile, out of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, that is more environmentally friendly than traditional ones.      

Every question deserves an adequate answer. I reside in my boldness to not only ask unconventional questions but also in my courage to find the answers. I am setting out to conquer the unknowns and replace the words “I don’t know” with “I’ll find out”.   Ciara M., Brookwood HS class of 2021.


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