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Uminn Graduate Application Essay

If you’re interested in applying sustainable strategies at the interface of science, technology, business, and public policy, the University of Minnesota may be the place for you. A number of student groups with a sustainability focus already exist on campus; these provide opportunities for learning and to be involved in the campus community. A number of University organizations carry out research into sustainability practices and make students a part of their team. One of the participating organizations, the Water Resources Center, educates both students and the community by funding research, partnering with local farmers, and providing opportunities for students to work directly with professionals in the water resources field. The University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment offers a sustainability minor, one of the first sustainability minors in the country. The institute sponsors Frontiers in the Environment, a professional lecture series, offers opportunities for research, and sponsors the Acara Challenge courses which awards funding to student-led social ventures that aim to improve global water, food, transportation, and other quality of life issues. Lectures and seminars hosted by the Institute in the Environment are often free and open to students and the public and speakers have included major figures in academia, business leaders, and environmental activists. Other programs include: River Life, The University of Minnesota’s Recycling Program, the “It All Adds Up” campaign to reduce emissions, and Helmets and Headlights, which provides bicycle equipment to the campus community for an affordable price. The university is also a member of the Founding Circle for the “Billion Dollar Green Challenge, ” which encourages participating colleges and universities to collectively invest a total of $1 billion in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements.

School Has Formal Sustainability Committee

Sustainability-focused degree available

School employs a sustainability officer

Public GHG inventory plan

% food budget spent on local/organic food

Carpool/Vanpool Matching Program

Condensed Work Week Option For Employees

Free Or Reduced Price Transit Passes And/Or Free Campus Shuttle

Available Transportation Alternatives

In approaching this prompt, try to think of it as straightforwardly as possible; the university wants to briefly know what your reasoning behind studying your major is, and whether you are considering other fields as well. You only have 150 words, so keep your answer succinct.


That being said, steer away from generic answers, such as “I like biology.” Write about why you enjoy a certain subject: Why do you have a personal connection to it? For instance, if an applicant were to write about biology, he or she could explain that biology is a way of understanding how the world works and functions, from an amoeba moving using pseudopods to a friend devouring a hamburger.


Explain why the subject is significant to you personally. Does it allow you to have a clearer understanding of your environment? Is it a way of expressing yourself and your thoughts? Does it allow you to understand others and yourself more fully? There are countless ways of thinking of why the topic is important to you and your life, as well as your surroundings. Avoid at all costs speaking about money or prestige — the admissions officers want to see that you are genuinely passionate about what you do or want to pursue.


If you have another major you are considering, split the 150 words to devote enough time to both subjects. Explain why both subjects are interesting to you, and if you have any space left, you may want to write about how the subjects relate to each other, and why studying one gives you a deeper understanding of the other. This will tie the essay together, and give a clearer picture to admissions officers as to why you would like to pursue both.


For instance, a student could first write about studying mathematics, then follow-up with writing about art as a second interest, and end with how mathematics influences art in symmetry, space, and perspective, and how the study of mathematics is necessary for creating art.


Remember, answer the question honestly and with what you genuinely want to study. There are no loopholes in the essay prompt — be direct, concise, and specific.