The essay should not be the most dreaded part of the application process for any university. Maybe these tips will help you find that you can do this writing task with ease.
1. Tell Your Story In Your Own Voice.
Now is the time to market yourself to the best of your ability. Your college essay gives our admissions officers an insight into what makes you unique beyond your high school grades, test scores and extracurriculars. Your essay tells us how you will add something to UF’s freshman class, what you can bring to our community of leaders, learners and thinkers, and what sets you apart. This is the story of YOU!
2. Does the Essay Matter?
UF will receive more than 30,000 applications for the approximate 6,500 seats in the freshman class. There will be many outstanding students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. Your essay helps us learn what makes you unique from other equally talented students.
3. Who Reads ‘Em?
Various officers throughout the UF Division of Enrollment Management are trained to read essays, and each essay will be read at least twice by randomly assigned readers. Keep in mind that these individuals may read more than a thousand essays, so it is important to try to catch the readers’ attention quickly with the most interesting example or point at the beginning of the essay. Here’s an example:
When I was in high school, I played the violin in the high school band. It was my favorite activity, and I never missed a practice or a performance. But one day, to my horror, I left my thousand-dollar violin on the school bus…
(from the book, Heavenly Essays)
4. Make the Story Unique to You
If you believe 10 or 20 or 100 students could write your exact essay, then it’s time to rethink your topic. Work on being distinctive. Here are some overused topics that essay readers have seen many (many) times:
- Winning or losing the big game
- Loss of friendships or relationships
- Critiques of others (classmates, parents)
- Pet deaths
- Summer vacations
Think about what you would say in three to five minutes to a total stranger to impress or inform them about your terrific qualities or unusual experiences.
5. Show and Tell—Be Vivid with Your Words
If you recall show and tell at school, your essay should follow the same principle. Remember when the student went to the front of the class with something of interest inside the plastic sack? You hear the story. You see the object. With essays, you need to draw the reader out beyond the straight text and use words that trigger imagery and the senses.
6. Big Words Are Just Big Words.
Impress us with your content and who you are; not your ability to use a thesaurus. Most of our readers would prefer if you wrote, “I hung out with a group of friends” instead of, “we congregated as a conglomerate of like-minded individuals”.
7. Don’t Repeat.
Don’t repeat what you’ve already supplied in your application—grades, test scores, etc. Your essay serves to fill in the blanks beyond what you have supplied.
8. This is your essay, not your English class.
We will be reading your essay more for your words and information and less for your grammar. We know you’ve learned to limit use of contractions, eliminate sentence fragments and not to split your infinitives. However, no text-lingo, such as “lol” “ttyl” “kk” etc. We won’t judge you heavily on grammar, but we ask that you keep it appropriately professional. Pick up a best-selling book, and you’ll find that many authors no longer write by the rules. It’s your story that counts!
9. Have Someone Else Read It.
It’s always wise to have someone else read your draft before you submit your essay. You’ll be much more relieved knowing you submitted your very best work.
10. Now, go fine tune your drafts, tell us your story and be confident in your submission.
If you follow these tips, they will take you far on the UF application.
University of Florida’s Current Essay Topics
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
- What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
In the summer of 1931, three young idealists, Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg, were inspired by a passionate dream of transforming the American theater. They recruited 28 actors to form a permanent ensemble dedicated to dramatizing the life of their times. They conceived The Group Theatre as a response to what they saw as the old-fashioned light entertainment that dominated the theater of the late 1920’s. Their vision was of a new theater that would mount original American plays to mirror — even change — the life of their troubled times. Over its ten years and twenty productions, they not only met these goals, but altered the course of American theater forever.
The Group Theatre was a company based on an ensemble approach to acting. First seen in the work of the Moscow Art Theater, the ensemble approach proposed a highly personal and cooperative method. That individual actors played individual parts was no longer important. The focus was on a cast that was familiar and believable as a whole. If the actors had relationships off-stage, then the relationships on stage would not only seem, but be more “real.” As the members of the ensemble grew to know each other, this familiarity was successfully reflected in their work.
Based on the innovative techniques of the Russian master Constantin Stanislavsky, Lee Strasberg came up with “the method.” The method, or “method acting”, as it has come to be known, proposed a series of physical and psychological exercises. It held, for example, that if a part called for fear, the actor must remember fear and bring this honest emotion to the stage. These exercises were meant to break down the actor’s barrier between life on and off the stage. By the time the curtain came down on their first production, “The House of Connelly”, the Group Theater knew they had succeeded. What was important was not simply the enthusiastic response, but that the audience and reviewers had recognized that this one performance signaled a shift in American theater.
The Group Theatre believed what they were doing to be of great political significance. While disregarding the calls for individual fame in an embrace of cooperation. It was not, however, until Clifford Odets, then an actor in the group, wrote “Awake and Sing!” that they found their full voice. His highly charged plays, which were often expressed in the language and circumstances of working-class characters, mirrored the essence of what the group wanted to be and do, fulfilling the dream of a theater speaking to and for its audience. Both audience and critics responded enthusiastically, and such works as “Awake and Sing!,” “Waiting for Lefty, ” and “Paradise Lost” were among the most memorable productions of the decade.
By the late 1930’s however, the cohesiveness of the group began to crumble. The chronic financial problems and long-simmering disputes about “the method” began to chip away at their solidarity. An attempt to solve their financial problems that sent many of the actors to Hollywood (where some stayed) ended in the resignation of both Lee Strasberg and Cheryl Crawford. As a last resort, Harold Clurman decided to take on Hollywood stars in an attempt to enhance box office appeal. To many long-time members this seemed a compromise of the fundamental ideals of the group. Even the financial success of Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy” in 1937 was not enough to halt the decline, and in 1941 the group dissolved.
Despite its relatively short life span, The Group Theatre has been called the bravest and single most significant experiment in the history of American theater, and its impact continues to be felt. Many of the group’s members went on to become leading acting teachers and directors, passing on to subsequent generations the spirit and principles that motivated them. Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, and Robert Lewis have counted among their students actors, directors, and playwrights such as Marlon Brando, James Dean, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Gregory Peck, and David Mamet. To this day institutions such as the Actors Studio, founded by Cheryl Crawford, Elia Kazan, and Robert Lewis continue the tradition of The Group Theatre.