Prompt 1: Virginia Tech’s motto is “Ut Prosim” which means ‘That I May Serve’. Share how you contribute to a community that is important to you. How long have you been involved? What have you learned and how would you like to share that with others at Virginia Tech? (120 words)

The term “community” can have many meanings. In this instance, it could be an ethnic, religious, or neighborhood community or a group of individuals who gather for a club, sport, or service project. Pretty much everyone applying to Virginia Tech is deeply involved in some semblance of a “community”. Perhaps you are the captain of a team, the editor-in-chief of your school paper, or the president of a club. On the other hand, you may simply be a valuable contributing member. Regardless of whether you are a leading man/woman or a still-essential bit player, make sure that you use your writing ability to show the admissions officer what type of community member you are rather than merely telling them.

You can also discuss how you have engaged with your high school local/community and what you have learned from interacting with people of a different ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc. Draw on past evidence of your commitment to being a positive force in your community and speculate how that is likely to manifest on Virginia Tech’s campus. Research and cite Virginia Tech student-run organizations or local nonprofit groups. The admissions committee wants to understand precisely how you will contribute to their campus community of 30,000+ undergrads. Drawing the link between your past efforts and future aims is critical here.

For example, if you’ve done work with Habitat for Humanity throughout your teens, it will be most impactful if you express your commitment to joining Tech’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity in the future.

Schuyler considers his community as the following:

Family is first and foremost.  Being there for your family and friends is very important to him

Within his school walls, classmates and teachers and neighborhood. 

He respects the military community and the military members within his community.  His father is a retired and Veteran Liutenant Colonel in the Army Nurse Corps and he was brought up to always respect and served those in needs.  Through his father’s stories, he grew up knowing the struggles of veterans with PTSD and have volunteered for the wounded soldier events.

Schuyler’s parents are both Registered nurses and he has participated in putting together personal protection care kits for the nurses during the shutdown for the hospital where his mother works.  He cooked and baked with his Grandmother for the healthcare workers in the hospital.

As the first generation Filipino-American to attend college in the United States, Schuyler supports the Filipino club in his school to learn about the culture and share interests with other Filipino Americans.

Prompt 2: Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt and learn from a difficulty. Reflect on a time that you have exhibited resilience. What growth did you see in yourself after this experience? (120 words)

Colleges like students who demonstrate grit, perseverance, and resilience as these qualities typically lead to success in a postsecondary environment. No matter what type of example you offer, demonstrating these admirable traits can do wonders for your admissions prospects. Challenges can be anything from disabilities, depression, anxiety, or attentional to a tumultuous event like: you moved in the middle of junior year, the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with your activities, your parents got divorced, a grandparent passed away, or any number of other personal/family traumas one can name.

Remember that the problem/roadblock itself is just a prelude to a recounting of your resilient actions. Even with a fairly tight 120-word count, be sure to answer the final part of the question. Sum up how you grew as a result of this experience. Be as emotionally honest and nuanced as possible. Trust us—the admissions reader will appreciate your honest thoughts (even if they are a bit scary to share) more than clichés and platitudes.

Schuyler’s Input below:

Spent one half of highschool freshman year on lockdown.  Learning through the virtual environment was challenging at first but it definitely put my resiliency to the test.  I felt very isolated, suffocated, and bored.  I learned to entertain my day through interactions with my family in the house and virtually with my friends.  I knew I did not have a choice and made the best of my situation. In the end or at the end of the shutdown, I reflected and valued the time I spent with my family knowing that someday I will move out of the house and will miss them.

Another time I experienced resiliency is my journey in achieving my 2nd Degree Blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do.  I learned to be patient and take my time by honing on strengths and recognized my weaknesses where I need to practice the skills to pass the tests of first and second degree blackbelts.  I valued the time my father spent with me to coach and practice my skills.

Prompt 3: Share a time when you were most proud of yourself either as a role model or when you displayed your leadership. What specific skills did you contribute to the experience? How did others rely on you for guidance? What did you learn about yourself during this time? (120 words)

Leadership is an admirable quality, but it can manifest in many different forms. This essay is not only for those who captained a varsity team to a state title, started a charitable organization, or made sweeping changes as student body president. Teamwork and collaboration are also valued leadership skills both in academia and in the workplace, and students with strong interpersonal skills and a high EQ can be an asset to any university. Think beyond the title that you may have held and more about the action(s) of which you are most proud.

To sum up, this essay is about leadership, broadly defined. You can chronicle anything from mentoring others on your debate team to a simple instance of conflict resolution within your peer group. Along the way, just make sure that you provide answers to each question embedded in the prompt. This includes what you learned about yourself through this role modeling/leadership moment.

Schuyler’s Input below:

I have played Lacrosse since I was 6 years old and I have learned the art of teamwork, leadership and role modeling throughout this experience.  As a player, I have taught younger players skills during practice.  In the summer, I would help my lacrosse club summer camp to teach the younger players during my middle school years.  Teaching younger kids have taught me patience and I have improved my communication skills.  I also learned that being kind is an effective way earn trusts and increase teamwork. During lacrosse games, I encourage my teams to do well and offered my support to those who were struggling.  I was fortunate to have my parents support with the sport that I love and gave me the confidence to push my limits in every game and support my team members and coaches.  

Prompt 4: Describe a goal that you have set and the steps you will take to achieve it. What made you set this goal for yourself? What is your timeline to achieve this goal? Who do you seek encouragement or guidance from as you work on this goal? (120 words)

Through this prompt, Virginia Tech wants to know more about your goal-setting, work ethic, and level of executive functioning. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that becoming a master or expert at anything takes 10,000 hours of practice. Consider talking about the grind and sacrifice it will take you to become great at a given skill. Further, explain how you see that skill becoming even more finely-tuned/developed over time. If this goal fits into your future academic/career plans, all the better—share that too! As with the other three prompts, #4 packs in a lot of questions into a single prompt.

Ultimately, you’ll need to produce a well-edited, concise piece of writing that chronicles not only your goal, the steps you will take to achieve it, the timeline of the steps, but also who will help you along the way. Answering the last question is key in showing that you are a mature learner who understands that you will need mentorship, assistance, and other resources along the path toward achieving your dreams.

Schuyler’s Input

My goal is to do my best academically in my senior year in high school and be accepted at VA Tech.  I felt a strong connection with the VA Tech campus/atmosphere and people.  I would like to focus in Political Science and History to serve as the foundation in my aspiration to serve the United States government.  I am motivated and eager to learn in order to set up the infrastructure necessary as I build my career in the government sector after college.  Growing up in the Washington, DC area, I am inspired on what our nation stands for and how it makes this world a better place for people around the world.  I have a dream to explore the world and represent the United States of America.

How important are the Virginia Tech supplemental essays?

The essays are “very important” to the Virginia Tech admissions committee. This places them the same tier of importance as the rigor of your coursework, GPA, first-generation status, geographical residence, state residency, and race/ethnicity.

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