The University of Virginia has always provided some of my favorite supplemental essay prompts (and not just because it’s where I went to grad school). They are short (250 words max) and they are personal. Both of these mean that a student is forced to get to their point quickly, something I find students struggle with when they have a longer word count, and they are forced to really think about what makes them tick.
If you look at all the available prompts offered in the first section of the UVa supplement, the theme would be this: What do you value? All four options essentially ask a student to address this larger question. Even the seemingly breezy, “what is your favorite word and why?” is essentially asking a student to give the reader a little insight into what they think is important. Because the four prompts focus on the same core question, let’s look more deeply at just one.