The University of Virginia, known commonly as UVA, is a top public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in 1819 by President Thomas Jefferson and as such as a great history.
UVA is a moderately selective college, and in 2018 UVA received over 37,000 applications for the Class of 2022. Only 26.4% of those applications were accepted. This was the lowest acceptance rate in the college's history.
As admission into UVA becomes increasingly competitive, it is even more important that your essays help you stand out among the thousands of other applicants. Below are some accepted Common App essays and supplemental essays written by real students who got into UVA. Let's jump right into the essays!
Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in the essays and supplements have been replaced to keep the authors' privacy.
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University of Virginia Essays
Common App Essays ()
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. (250-650 words)
The most beautiful part of my day is when I walk.
Every morning before school, I put on my grandmother’s plush red coat, tie my white Keds, and begin on a fifteen minute journey. The rhythmic motion of my limbs, the caress of the sunlight upon my skin, this is what guides my mind to achieve clarity. My mental acuity allows me to conceive fascinating ideas, to spill through the infinitudes of philosophical reflection, and experience captivating intrigue.
Growing up, walking was used as a means of attaining peace in a time of instability. When it became painful to hear my mother fight with men I was supposed to love, my outdoor solace distracted the pain from amplifying. While gazing upon some classic Virginia evergreens, I questioned. Why do some stars end up as black holes? What makes my eyes dark blue? How do owls turn their heads all the way back? I dared to find explanations, letting my tiny fingers tear through pages of astrophysics books and biology encyclopedias. I drowned in documentaries about the stars and studied YouTube videos of violinists playing Paganini. And when my grandparents came to visit me during times of hardship, I asked them about ballet and music and DNA, thirsting to discover my breathtaking world.
As a result of my flourishing inquisitiveness, I inevitably developed a fascination with my family that encouraged me to learn about my family’s walks. These were not walks in the purely literal sense, but rather walks generated by journeying life itself. My mother and grandmother’s encounter with oppression and assault while living in Iran aroused in me a fierce fervor for combating evil. Yet my adoptive father and grandfather’s encounters with plummeting aircrafts and chemical weapon attacks instilled an intense wonder about the psychological and moral implications of war. Moreover, these experiences intensified my thirst for learning and a desire to become a positive contributor to our ever-competitive global society. To quench this thirst, I submerged myself in my own ocean of intellectually invigorating walks.
These walks have provided me invaluable experiences: I have toured the streets of Nuremberg with Hegel, idolizing his ideas on human consciousness. But I have glided across the glossy tiles of Hwa Chong Institute with my Singaporean research partners, latching onto the scientific complexity that drips from their lips. I have trudged past the mud-brick houses of Tehran with my great-uncle, marvelling at the blossoming political intellectualism within Iranian artists. Yet I have shrunk my frame into the dimensions of my pHEMA-VP hydrogel nanoparticles, exploring its polymeric networks with excitement and awe. My movement has fueled my hunger to learn more about biology, my desire for my cosmetic business to excel, my romance with learning political philosophy. This movement, this is what defines me. Indeed, my walks have also taught me how my intellectual endeavors satiate my love for the journey more than for the destination. For it is the pursuit of knowledge, with all its undulations, which electrifies the lover of wisdom more than the knowledge itself.
In fact, arriving at my destinations have often provided my spirit a sharp, bittersweet sting. Like the stub end of a cucumber, I have tasted the unpleasantness of departing the people who have taught me and the experiences which have coached me: time has grinned at me with a gleam of schadenfreude. But I have also savored the sweet, ironic enlightenment that destinations provide: there is no end to my experiments in life. I will never cease to develop inwardly. My life is one that has converted the pursuit of intellectual endeavors from the machine of my destiny into the servant of my will. Walks have taught me to be patient, but to also live passionately and authentically. With my plush red coat and white Keds, I walk onward, for the wisdom of life is gained by walking through life itself.
Supplemental Essays ()
We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer this question, which corresponds to the school/program you selected above, in a half page or roughly 250 words.
College of Arts and Sciences - What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
For my thirteenth birthday, I received a book. This was a common occurrence in my household- from a young age, my birthdays have consisted of carefully-wrapped books, ranging from popular works, like Harry Potter, to more obscure yet poignant reads such as Flowers for Algernon. However, I could not conceal the disappointment on my face when I opened this year’s book: What the World Eats, a nonfiction work about the dietary and cultural differences between countries around the world. Little did I know that i would spend the rest of the day learning what one week’s worth of food amounted to in Bhutan, Chad, Egypt, and twenty others. As I flipped through the book, I saw pictures of typical families in different countries standing next to their groceries from the past week. What startled me was the lack of what I considered an essential ingredient: meat. Throughout my life, every meal I ate had been centered around meat, but seeing the colorful vegetarian options created in countries like Bhutan, where meat is only available once or twice a month, challenged my conformity to typical American culture. I realized that just as culture is reflected in religion and traditions, it is also reflected in food, and there is not a singular “right” way to eat. Realizing a vegetarian lifestyle is possible and even common in other cultures prompted me to research the benefits of a vegetarian diet and to eventually give up meat for good after realizing the profound ecological and humanitarian benefits vegetarianism has on society. What the World Eats changed my dietary lifestyle, but also challenged me to try new things, explore unknown possibilities, and keep my mind open to other cultures.
College of Arts and Sciences - What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (300 max)
I was named after my great-grandmother, Robab. Robab was an exceptionally poised Persian woman, one who defied the traditions imposed on her sex by obtaining an education. She taught herself how to read, eventually graduating with a high-school diploma-- something unheard of for her time.
As a young girl, I was moved by her desire to learn. But her death from lung cancer deeply saddened me. Had she received an inexpensive form of cancer therapy, would she still be alive? Equipped with my lab notebook and ScienceDirect, I began to diagram the chemical romance between pHEMA-VP nanoparticles and cancer drugs. Suddenly, towering amounts of research on aspirin as a potential cancer therapy landed upon my desk, drowning at the mercy of my neon highlighter. I let my imagination run wild and untamed, ready to invent a therapy that could prevent deaths worldwide.
I figured that developing aspirin-loaded pHEMA-VP hydrogel nanoparticles as a novel cancer therapeutic would be uncomplicated research. While trying to create my nanoparticles, however, my visions were not as romantic. Obstacles came by the minute. Because there were few publications on my area of research, I had to invent my own polymerization methods, most of which failed miserably. When I began internationally collaborating with two Singaporean research partners, I felt they were outperforming me in my own research. Finally, after months of destroyed flasks and hair-pulling despair, our nanoparticles were successfully created. They cost $8.60/gram. Doxil, a famous cancer-therapy nanoparticle alternative, costs $246.80/milligram.
Though the obstacles were immensely challenging, my research has allowed me to experience a spiritual transformation. Like Robab, I no longer relinquish in the face of failures. For it is failure which renders growth and success. Instead, I wholeheartedly embrace the paradigm of obstacles, transcending with knowledge, with courage, with power.
What’s your favorite word and why? (300 max)
Entelechy is a beautiful question. With it, your soul unfolds, surrendering itself to the infinite jewels of knowledge. Your inquiry creates an interlude in time, an interlude which exposes your core beliefs to adversity. Sometimes you receive a reply to your inquiry. Often in instances like these, your soul feels satisfied. But sometimes, there is no answer. Thus, in an effort to fill the unsettling vacuity within, your spirit adventures on a long and winding journey, tearing through the finitudes and infinitudes of research and discovery. And your spirit, upon reaching your own answer, recognizes the potential within.
Entelechy is an enchanting piece of artwork. In the split second you gaze upon it, you find yourself puzzled; you can’t grasp it’s meaning. The forward rush of life falls flat. But upon further examination, you realize all of it’s fine intricacies: the light, curvilinear brushstrokes, the hint of anachronistic paraphernalia, the subtlety of the monochromatic colors. And then, like a comet pouring through the sky, meanings spill into your mind and suddenly you realize your ability to observe the world past the opaque lens. The artwork is no longer merely paint on a canvas, no, not anymore —it’s entelechy.
Entelechy is loving your education. It’s holding a book close to your heart and feeling an exhilaration. It’s talking to teachers and students and immersing yourself in their knowledge and experiences. It’s letting the pages of that fascinating essay you’ve been reading spill through your fingers like silk. It’s feeling ready to conquer the world.
For Aristotle, entelechy is the vital force which accomplishes self-fulfillment. By always endeavoring to achieve entelechy, I am emerging from my cave of limitations, exploding outward to attain enlightenment, and glowing as strong as the glittering morning sun that emerges behind the mountains.
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