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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

How to Write an Admissions Essay for FSU

FSU (Florida state university) is a public university which ranks in the top 40 public schools in the country. It has just over 40,000 students on campus and boasts a wide range of programs (over 351, out of which 107 are undergraduate majors) across multiple disciplines.

In addition to such a wide range of programs, Florida State is well known for its fiery social life as well as for its athletic programs. If you are of competitive spirit, you will surely enjoy the Sunshine Showdown between the “Seminoles” and “Gators” which occurs once every year. Even if you are not much for competition, you will most certainly get swiped up by the hype which generates during the whole year as the entire student body participates in it.

If you decide to go to FSU, which is located just west of Tallahassee, you will need to need to complete FSU’s application online, on their website. FSU does not accept Common Applications nor do they allow Universal College Applications. Specific statistics show that FSU has an admission rate of 56% and that there were nearly 43,000 applications during the previous application cycle.

As part of the application process, you will need to write a 550-word long admission essay, and you will be able to choose one out of five prompts contained on the FSU’s website.


First, the essay is “optional.” At least, it is officially optional and is described only as “highly recommended.” Don’t let this fool you. If you are serious about being admitted, you will need to write one.

The reason why an essay is required of you is so that the admissions department can better assess you. Both as a person and as a potential student of their prestigious university. After all, you will be representing their university, which is why writing a 550-word essay is the least you can do.

Whichever prompt you choose, write it in a manner that shows just why you should be accepted, why you can represent this establishment, how you can benefit the most out of admission, and why you are unique and deserving of being accepted. Creativity is the best way to achieve all of the before mentioned. And, of course, you cannot submit a short story you wrote the night before. Specific rules must be observed if you are to be successful.


Prompt 1

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

This prompt requires of you to share an impactful memory of yours. It can be a story, a situation or even just a random strain of thoughts you had. The important thing is that it affected you in some meaningful way. This is because the idea behind it is to assess both your storytelling abilities and to understand you as a person. In other words, describe what you value about yourself and your character through a concrete example.

Common mistake students make here is focusing solely on the narrative of the story, and spending the whole 550 words on it. That is a mistake. You need to connect the story to show how it affected you as a person. The purpose of the story is to explain how and why you progressed as a person.

The core of the story does not need to be something extremely bad or good. It does not need to be an extraordinarily physical or mental experience that you write about. It can just as easily be the sum of small experiences over a prolonged period of time. It’s about how you analyze the situation, not what the specific situation was.

For example, you could write about how you reacted once you interacted with someone who is terminally ill for the first time. How your emotions changed, how you came to terms with the inevitability of the situation, and how your feelings changed. Maybe you decided to raise awareness regarding that particular illness and participated in certain campaigns. You should show how it changed you and your view of the world.

You can choose to write about something that happened to somebody else, as long as it changed you and affected you much. The first 150-250 words should be about the event itself. Be concise and don’t stray off topic but make sure that you paint a clear picture at the same time. The rest of the essay can be devoted to how the situation impacted you.

A good idea is to write a more extended version, 700 or more words. You can always edit it and remove the non-essential parts and keep the flow smooth at the same time.

Prompt 2

Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

This question will allow you to give a more comprehensive answer but is also more challenging. The focus of your essay should be a selfless act or a sacrifice with the emphasis on your motivations.

It is important to realize that “greater good” does not necessarily have to be great. It does not mean that your actions affected thousands upon thousands of people. Greater stands for something of value and is not limited to a high number of people. This “greater good” act needs to be voluntary and not something you had to do (like a class assignment).

The trick behind writing an excellent essay here is to explain your motivations in a positive light and show how your feelings are unique.

Students often write about any voluntary work they had previously engaged in. If you opt to do the same, you need to make sure that you focus on your motivation (which should be unique) and on the emotions you felt during this time. Don’t just describe the activity and write about how it made you feel, connect them in a transparent way.

For example, you can write about how you went on a humanitarian mission to another, probably a 3rd world country. These missions are plentiful, and students usually go on them during their sophomore year. Don’t focus on the trip, sightseeing, new culture and such. Describe a particular situation or problems you encountered and the emotions you felt during this time.

You could write about how you participated in building homes for the impoverished. Talk less about the work you did and focus more on the people you helped. The grateful parents, the wonder in the children’s eyes as they gaze upon their new home for the first time. Focus on those moments and on how they changed you for the better and helped your consciousness expand. This approach should help you stand out, giving you an edge over the other applicants.

You can focus on answering these questions.

How did this experience change you? How would you have been a different person if you had not done this? How did this make you feel and how did it make the ones you were helping feel? What did you learn from the experience as a whole?

Highlighting your personal growth brought on by this experience is the trick to making this essay stand out.

Prompt 3

Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished belief changed? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?

Here, the FSU wants to see how your mind works, just as in the previous Prompt. It can be a philosophical debate you had with anybody, one that focuses on a “meaningful contribution.” The difference between this prompt and the previous one is that this one focuses on an “ideological struggle,” while the previous one was more focused on actions and their effects.

Let’s assume that you were religious your whole life up to a certain point. Something changed, and your beliefs were shaken to their core. Maybe it was the culmination of all of your experiences up until that point that made you question your belief. Perhaps it was a professor or an academic paper. The point is that something or someone made you question something which you thought of as undisputable until that point.

Here, you should not focus on you changing your belief or keeping it. That is not the point of the essay. It should be about you re-evaluating something and challenging yourself. It should highlight your inner struggle and all the difficulties that come with it. It's hard to admit that they were wrong for most people, and changing one’s viewpoint is even harder. The essay should reflect that.

Do not focus on the questioning part too much. Focus on describing your inner thought process and all the intricacies which come with it.

Prompt 4

What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming that they would listen to you)?

This prompt will allow you to show just how creative you are. You can even make it into a “fun” essay that also speaks volumes about you. The goal here is to evaluate how you can pass on your experiences, to see what you value the most and to see if you can be a good role model one day.

Don’t be fooled, though. This prompt just might be the most difficult of them all. It requires a lot of planning and creativity as well as an analytical mind to write an excellent essay. It must be intriguing and fun as well as positive. Luckily, there are a lot of challenges for a teenager. Finding one’s place in the world, being understood, troubles with friends and parents, etc. Don’t worry about finding the most suitable problem. Focus more on how it can be resolved and be creative in explaining your solution.

You can let your creative side shine here, and you can write a humorous and engaging essay. If you are keen on writing, this one should be perfect for you. Don’t forget that you are required to answer two questions here. What is the “hardest part” and what is the “best part.” Answering both in 550 words can be quite difficult. Try to find a story that relates to both problems.

For example, you can write about how taking extra credit classes was the best as well as the hardest part. It required you to learn more, but it also gave you a chance to connect with other like-minded individuals.

Prompt 5

Submit an essay on a topic of your choice

This prompt is the Jack of all trades.

Here you can discuss anything and everything, and many students chose this one precisely because of this. Still, the choice only seems simple. The previous prompts have guidelines that can help you while you write, whereas this one does not.

Whatever you chose to write about needs to be creative, original and intriguing. At the same time, you need to connect it with yourself and how it affected you without losing form.

If you chose this prompt, make sure that you don’t lose sight of what is important. Selling yourself. Find a way to present yourself in the best light and make admission officers interested in you. Don’t overgeneralize. Make it deeply personal.


After you have finished your essay, there are a couple more things you need to do.

First, accurately proofread your essay. Grammatical mistakes can easily be a deal breaker so make sure that there are none. So, don't rush in proofreading right after you finish the paper - some typos may be hard to spot.

You also need to edit your essay to make it flow. This means that it grips the reader from its start to its end.

In the end, it also a good idea to have another pair of eyes read it. You might be subjective.