The University of Florida Application for Summer/Fall 2015 Admission is available and includes a NEW essay topic:
We often hear the phrase “the good life.” In fact, the University of Florida’s common course required of all undergraduate students is titled “What is the Good Life?”. The concept of “the good life” can be interpreted in many different ways depending upon the experiences, values and aspirations of each individual.
In a concise narrative, describe your notion of “the good life.” How will your undergraduate experience at the University of Florida prepare you to live “the good life”?
Remember to keep within the 500-word maximum length. (The counter on the page counts down from the 3885-CHARACTER limit, which is approx. 450 words with room for spacing between paragraphs.)
I recommend to my college admissions consulting clients that they draft the writing sections (e.g. Resume Questions and Personal Essay) of the UF application in GoogleDocs or Word and then use a text editor (e.g. TextEdit) to remove any formatting prior to copying the text into the UF application.
Basic information about the UF “Good Life” course, copied from the UF website, can be found below.
BEFORE drafting your essay, I suggest that you (1) learn about the UF course (Google search); (2) reflect on your experiences, values and goals; (3) outline your personal interpretation of a “good life” and (4) research/consider how your potential UF experience could help you prepare for a “good life”.
HUM 2305: What is the Good Life? (from the UF website)
Through a close examination of relevant works of art, music, literature, history, religion, and philosophy, students in this class will consider the basic question, “What is the Good Life?” The course will serve as an invitation to the Humanities and to a lifetime of reflection on the human condition through the unique opportunities available to the students at the University of Florida.
The Humanities, a cluster of disciplines that inquire into the very nature and experience of being human, provide many approaches to the question ‘What is a good life,’ as well as a multiform treasury of responses that comprises the cultural and intellectual legacy of world humanity.
The question is especially relevant for a detailed examination as you become more and more involved in making the decisions that will shape your future and the future of others. In order to make reasonable, ethical, well-informed life choices, it is useful to reflect upon how one might aspire to live both as an individual, and a member of local and global communities.
The course is interdisciplinary and draws on the considerable humanities resources at UF. It is also cross-cultural and draws on the full range of human experience across the world and through time in trying to answer the question: “What is the good life?” It contains elements such as the gateway readings, museum exhibits, and performances that are common to the several sections being taught this semester. The lectures, discussion sections, and other readings are specific to your section of this course.
Author: Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.
Categories: Activity Essays, Featured | Tags:
CLEARWATER — Milan Patel is a high school senior who plays guitar for the terminally ill. He teaches cancer patients how to meditate. His grades and test scores are staggering. He fences and snowboards, skis and reads great works of literature — for fun. If he told you that he glows in the dark, you might believe him.
But when the Palm Harbor University High School student sat down to write a short essay for admission to the University of Florida's exclusive honors program, Milan drew on none of this gold. Instead he wrote a poem about soiling himself.
It begins: "The first day of kindergarten, I knew so few / I was but a young boy, so fragile and true / Little did I know in my pants I would poo."
The full poem is 13 lines and was in the hands of the University of Florida Honors Program before last weekend's deadline. It landed on a Washington Post blog, stirring online debate over the merits of wacky college essays — and whether this one would work.
"It kind of just came to me," says the Clearwater teen, who estimates he spent "maybe 15 minutes" on the task of telling UF about his ruined underwear.
Creative as he may have been, 17-year-old Milan, who is in the International Baccalaureate program, was simply answering UF's essay prompt: "Describe your most embarrassing moment in the form of a poem."
Three years ago, the honors program joined the ranks of a few other selective universities that ask prospective students to write on unusual topics.
University of Florida officials say the offbeat prompts help them learn more about students and ensure a diverse group of thinkers in the honors program.
But some question the tactic. On top of overloaded resumes and eye-popping test scores, they ask: Should you have to be funny to get into college, too?
• • •
The University of Florida Honors Program is an exclusive community at the state's flagship school. To get in, first you have to be admitted to the university itself, a hurdle Milan has vaulted. Then, your grades, test scores, extracurriculars and two essays are reviewed by a committee of staff and students. About half the applicants get in.
The longer essay is fairly standard, asking students what kind of charity or business they would like to open and how they'd get it going. Some answer in entertaining ways. Rafael Vaello, a football player at Tampa's Jesuit High School, dreamed up a men's nail salon he'd call "Tough as Nails."
But standard questions usually beget standard answers. So in 2010, program director Kevin Knudson added another essay.
Last year's applicants could either "tell the story of Chester C. Cluckington, the first chicken to cross the road"; decide whether Napoleon or Attila the Hun was the better tree climber; or answer, simply, "Are we alone?"
In opting for the poem this year, Milan turned down "Which historical figure would you want to go out with on a Friday night?" and "Tell the story of how Peanut Butter met Jelly."
Gabriel Otheguy, another Jesuit High senior, spun a West Side Pantry-esque tale of forbidden love. "Countless times he felt her sweet stare upon him from across the shelf," he wrote. "But she was a sweet, and he a salt. What could he do?"
With such unusual prompts, "You're going to learn something,'' Knudson said. "We're asking them to think."
And UF is asking for something more.
"I'll be honest, if something makes me laugh, I tend to score it a little higher," Knudson says.
What if you're not funny?
UF senior and Hillsborough High School graduate Blake Tomlin belongs to the last honors class before the unusual essay prompts were introduced, and says he's thankful for that.
"You spend all of high school working to look good with academics and extracurriculars and then they put you on the spot," Blake says. "They ask you to be a comedian. Not everyone's funny and not everyone has to be."
Michele Hernandez, a Vermont-based consultant who coaches students to help them get into UF honors as well as the Ivy League, says Knudson's staff is asking for little more than a stunt.
"They're not going to find anything out about you," she says.
• • •
But the quirky streak that characterizes the essays also shows up on campus.
Earlier this year, a group of UF honors students ate sundaes on a Sunday while watching a movie about dreams within dreams, Inception. Another time they filled panty hose with flour and had a mock snowball fight.
"They're not your typical bookworms," says Leslie Gaynor, a sophomore and graduate of Freedom High School in Tampa. "They're way beyond that."
Whether rewarding humor is fair game or not, as high school students apply to more and more colleges, analysts say specialized essay prompts will become more popular to help sift through the applicant pool. The University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania are well-known for such essays.
The UF honors program's offbeat essay is worth half as much as the longer, more typical essay. In most cases, it won't be the deciding admissions factor.
Yet it does matter. A personality-packed poem can compensate for a resume lacking volunteer hours or club presidencies, Knudson says. The program wants well-rounded students, and humor can make a student seem round.
Milan also wrote an essay about meditation and fencing, but despite his wealth of extracurriculars, says he was glad for the chance to write the odder essay. "I hope it conveys that I'm more easygoing than a typical honors applicant," he says.
The University of Florida has promised its honors decisions by April 1. Until then, Milan has the waiting game, some new notoriety, and the sticking memory of a kindergarten teacher asking him, "Does this happen often?"
Lisa Gartner can be reached at [email protected]