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The New Texas A&M Essay Prompts

Texas A&M has added three new essay prompts for students applying this fall, which is three more essays than they required last year. This change has made many students nervous, as this seems like a major shift, and may impact their chances of admission. We believe this change has come due to the decreased importance of standardized tests during the Coronavirus pandemic.

While we already created a guide to Texas A&M, we thought it would be helpful for students if we also provided analysis of the essays the school required. In this article, we’ll go over the three new essay questions, give examples of how they can be answered, and discuss what Texas A&M is looking for.

Diversity Essay Example

Texas A&M University believes that diversity is an important part of academic excellence and that it is essential to living our core values. Describe the benefits of diversity and inclusion for you and for the Texas A&M campus community. Please share any personal experiences that have shaped your views. (300 words)

An emphasis on diversity prevents a community from collapsing into dull uniformity and close-mindedness. I am deeply aware of the upshot of diversity in this respect, but making sure an abstract ideal becomes more than a mere catchphrase or empty aspiration can be tricky. Diversity has to be cultivated; it doesn’t necessarily arise by itself when a bunch of very different people are brought together. Factionalism can set in even in those places where, on paper, a diverse set of people are working together, attending school, or playing sports on a team. I think that for diversity to become a reality, there needs to be those who take it upon themselves to establish communication between separate groups. I see myself at Texas A&M – which already has a vibrant sense of community – working as a moderator between friends and classmates to effect constructive dialogue. I have experience navigating the dicey waters of diversity.

The past two elections were obviously some of the most divisive periods in our nation’s history and my school community was not spared the fallout. With friends belonging to different camps, I would frequently find myself in the midst of one of those soul-crushing shouting matches where everyone seems to be talking past each other. I have always had a strong moral compass, and, although I’m no expert when it comes to politics, I am willing to call out hypocrisy when I see it. When one day a difference of aesthetic preference regarding Trump Tower quickly degenerated into a conflict that nearly approached fisticuffs, I knew I had to do something. I decided that I should avoid partisanship and expose the hypocrisies and quandaries of both sides of the political spectrum. My intervention was effective, and, as the emotions simmered, actual constructive dialogue began.

Diversity Essay Analysis

This prompt is fairly explicit in what it is asking for, and what position it takes. It is, however, looking for two separate things in the same essay. The first is an explanation of what you believe the benefits of diversity are, both for yourself and for Texas A&M. The second is an exploration of how your personal experiences shaped your beliefs on diversity.

In answering the first part of this question, you should focus on your personal reasons for embracing diversity. You should try to create a response which is not cliched, and which does not read like a Hallmark card. In the example above, the author discusses how diversity is not a state of existence, but a process, one which must be worked at in order to be maintained.

In doing this, the author shows a deep understanding of how diversity works at an institution like Texas A&M, and demonstrates a willingness to contribute to that diversity. Colleges want to admit students who will actively participate in their communities, and contribute to the culture they have worked to build. The second half of this essay is where you can provide an example of this capability. By showing how you personally encountered diversity, you demonstrate to the university how you are able to contribute to it in the future.

In the example above, the author discusses diversity of political opinions. This can be a controversial topic, but is quite relevant in our current times. While the author does not take a political stance in this essay, that does not mean you cannot. We do, however, recommend being cautious when taking a contentious political stance. Admissions officers are people too, and if your essay comes across as combative, they may think poorly of your application.

This is a good example of how diversity can cover many different traits. You can write about race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, socio-economic status, politics, or even lighter fare. Being a female wrestler or a male ballet dancer both count as diversity, and can lead to interesting essays. Whatever you write about, you should demonstrate how you will contribute to the school’s community if you are admitted. Again, many of these topics can be quite sensitive, and we urge you to use tact and cautious editing when writing this essay.

Personal Impact Essay Example

Tell us about the person who has most impacted your life and why. (300 words)

The lessons that my dad drilled into me can be condensed into the following aphorism: it isn’t how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. When serving his community and church, he has had his fair share of dealings with disgruntled or troubled people who were going through a lot. Sometimes those people would lash out at him, but my dad is unperturbable. He maintains zen-like equanimity and never lets unpleasant behavior compromise his empathy.

Life includes many frustrations and unforeseen anxieties. Keeping a level head is perhaps the most crucial skill to have nowadays. When my family was driving to Colorado during an unbelievably fierce blizzard, we suddenly realized we were low on gas. Then snow, somehow, got even worse. It looked like downy blankets of white were being thrown on the windshield. Everyone in the car was in full panic mode, except my dad. If he felt the same terror that gripped me, he didn’t show it. Rather than being annoyed at my mom’s anxiety-ridden but essentially useless vocalizations, he somehow managed to comfort her and us with reassuring words and timely humor. All the while, without being able to see two feet in front of the car, he managed to get us to a gas station.

It’s that kind of experience that has really cemented my admiration for my dad. The guy is enormously compassionate in situations where there simply isn’t time for empathy. Many people with his level of toughness tend to be rough around the edges. Not so with my dad; he never lets clouds, tantrums, mistakes, breakdowns, personal conflicts, disgruntled folks, or general bad luck, darken his heart of gold.

Personal Impact Essay Analysis

In contrast to the first prompt, this essay is far more open in regards to subject matter. While you can write about most anyone, family members are likely to be a common choice, as we see in the essay above. This is completely reasonable; it makes sense that the person who has raised you since birth would have a major impact on who you are as a person. This essay, however, merely asks about impact on you, which means there are several directions you can take this essay.

It is important to consider what the university is looking for when they ask this question. As with all other essay prompts, what Texas A&M wants to know with this is some of who you are as a person, and what your values are. The person who impacted you most, and the values they instilled, says something important about what your values are, and how you will impact others once you reach college.

In the example above, the author discusses his father, and the virtue of equanimity. The ability to face problems calmly, and deal with them in an adult manner, regardless of the challenges life presents.

This is a good value to demonstrate for colleges, and has the advantage of being uncommon. The less common a value is, the more likely your essay is to stand out, and the more likely admissions officers are to take note of what you say. You can talk about more common values, but these should be discussed in uncommon ways. For example, discussing strength in vulnerability, or patience through an uncommon past-time.

In the example above, the author uses driving through a snow storm to demonstrate calm under pressure, and show the impact of equanimity. The ability to remain calm and collected under pressure, and to spread that calm to others, is quite helpful at college, which is notoriously stressful.

Whatever you decide to write about, you should show how the person impacted you, and how those impacts have turned you into the person you are today, and how that person will be a positive impact on campus. This person can be a family member, a teacher, or even a stranger, though you would need some very persuasive writing to make the latter option make sense.

Life Event Essay Example

Describe a life event which you feel has prepared you to be successful in college. (300 words)

Back before climate change habituated us to 100+ degree days as a matter of course, 95 degrees was sufficient to earn a day the label of “scorcher”. My teammates and I were preparing to run our district race for cross country, and were already dripping with sweat. When the gun went off, we rushed to the top of the pack and hoped to cement that early lead. We had put some distance between ourselves and the rest of the competitors when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my coach, arms akimbo, flailing like a madman to get our attention. We had taken a wrong turn – a 200 meter wrong turn. Not good.

At that catastrophic moment, there were two options. #1: quit in the face of a seemingly insurmountable mistake. #2: turn around and finish the race.

When we halted, seconds ticked by in indecision. I broke our paralysis with a barbaric yawp of “let’s go!” and charged in the other direction.

Once we got back on the course, we were in the back of the pack. Naturally, I was horrifically discouraged about having led my teammates the wrong way. The idea that I had potentially squandered our one chance to win our first-ever district race was devastating. But I didn’t crumble. Instead, I pushed my teammates up the last mile, catching one runner after another. The distance between us and the rest of the runners seemed to shrink. Before we knew it, I was in third place with my teammates tracking behind me, with a half a mile to go. Once we got to the final kick, I was able to push through and finished first, with my best friend and former teammate getting second. We got lucky that day; in other circumstances we might have finished last, failing to reach our goal. But it’s one thing to fail and another thing entirely to give up. I prefer the former.

Life Event Essay Analysis

This essay can be about almost anything, and we recommend you cross apply another essay you have written which fits within the prompt. This is also a good place to explore one of your extracurricular activities you have not had an opportunity to discuss yet. Whatever you write about, it should demonstrate how you are prepared for the rigors of collegiate life.

In the example above, the author discusses adversity and perseverance during a race. While this topic is a bit cliched, that does not mean you can’t write about it, merely that you have to approach such topics with care. Cliches are used so often because they are so widely applicable; they are tools like any other.

The main value expressed by the author is perseverance, especially in the face of their own mistakes. Mistakes happen; that’s a part of life. What matters is how you react to them, and what you do next. In this essay, the author shows their willingness to work to rectify their own mistakes, and to accept the responsibility for their errors.

These are both traits which colleges like to see, as this attitude indicates maturity, and a willingness to self-evaluate honestly. Perseverance in the face of adversity is also important for college, where the classes will likely be far more challenging than what you had to deal with in high school.

When you answer this prompt, you can choose any of your values to focus on. We recommend discussing values that did not get covered in your other essays, so that you give admissions officers the most complete picture of who you are possible. You should also talk about an event or experience that your other essays did not cover, for the same reason. Admissions officers only know what you tell them, so you should try to tell them as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

While the new essay requirements from Texas A&M feel jarring, they are not altogether surprising. College admissions have been changed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and now colleges are beginning to respond and react. Texas A&M is no longer able to rely as heavily on standardized test scores, and so now they have introduced mandatory essays as a metric by which to evaluate students.

Preparing for tests and writing essays are different demands, but it is entirely possible to succeed at both. If you feel overwhelmed, or want advice on writing your own Texas A&M essays, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation. We have a depth of experience helping students with every aspect of college admissions, and are always happy to hear from you.

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