Examples of the First Choice Major Short Answer

A few of my books, Berlin, Germany

A few of my books, Berlin, Germany

I’ve selected eight examples of UT’s first-choice major short answer, “Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?”

I’m showcasing a variety of majors, styles, and approaches to answering the question regarding your future academic goals. What they all have in common is development of specific examples from their past and present that inform their future goals. They also include a few examples why UT uniquely will help them achieve their academic and professional goals.

There are no right or wrong ways to answer your college prompts. I’ve selected short answers from Business, Aerospace Engineering, Economics, RTF, Psychology, and Mathematics. My hope is that by sharing, you can find examples that resonate with you more strongly as you seek your own voice and method of expression in your college applications.

Science and Technology Management (STM), McCombs School of Business

“Hook’em Horns!” Wearing our ‘UT Women in Engineering’ burnt orange T-shirts, I cheered alongside my fellow program attendees this past summer at our favorite event: Luncheon with alumnae engineers. One alumna’s career story struck me. With a double major in Business and Chemical Engineering, she now works at Exxon Mobile in Washington DC as a senior technical consultant where she combines her technology knowledge with business expertise to bring value to her projects.

I dream of becoming a technology executive and change agent among STEM professionals. Since fourth grade, I’ve participated in STEM research and competed in regional and state science fairs. My journey started from tinkering in my home kitchen and progressed to the prestigious labs of UT Southwestern and the University of North Texas. Scientific inquiry fascinates me. I especially enjoyed speaking with my mentors and science competition judges about the potential real-world application of our discoveries. I have grown to learn that value is measured by impact. What I truly yearn to do is make these cutting-edge devices and breakthroughs available to people who may not have had the means to afford them otherwise. However, this task would not be possible without knowledge concerning supply chains and marketing.

I would love to major in Science and Technology Management (STM) in the McComb’s School of Business. STM offers a unique combination of business and engineering, which isn’t common at other top business schools. I look forward to building foundational business skills in Supply Chain and Operation Management, as well as taking classes in Cockrell School of Engineering. I hope to study with Professor Edward Anderson in innovation in healthcare concerning topics like “From Business Plan into Revenue Generating Companies.” I’m confident that STM will prepare me for a career in coupling innovation with commercialization and ultimately the science of today with people’s needs of tomorrow.

Commentary

I appreciate this short answer because it checks all of the boxes why one may want to study any given major: introducing with an anecdote to capture the reader’s attention; citation of specific related experiences from their past; reference to a person of influence who has taken a similar journey; a clear connection between technology and research; demonstrating making an informed decision by referencing a UT professor and related programs outside of McCombs that fit their interests.

Even though all students apply to McCombs Undeclared, it’s advisable to identify the specific major that interests you at this time understanding that you don’t have to decide until transitioning to your UT sophomore year. This essay is well balanced between their previous experiences, current mind frame, and how a UT education can help them meet their short- and long-term goals.

Interested in working together? Complete my questionnaire for a free admissions consultation.

Economics, College of Liberal Arts

The subject that fascinated me to most during my internship was behavioral economics. Behavioral economics questions the classical economic model that consumers are rational. Psychological errors and biases play as much of or a greater role in decision making and even macroeconomic analysis than previous generations of economics realized. Exposure to an entirely different way of economic thinking inspired my AP Capstone Research Paper, which applies behavioral economics concepts to explore why video game players spend money on virtual items that have no true value.

I learned about capital markets, behavioral finance, and asset allocations while interning under Craig Massey at Merrill Lynch. I grasped the concepts quite easily, a seed planted by my father’s teachings. Mr. Massey encouraged me to compete in Merrill Lynch’s Annual Asset Allocation Competition. Finishing second-place confirmed my desire to pursue a career in economics.

At UT, I would love to study behavioral economics at the macroeconomic level. Economic institutions like the Federal Reserve need to incorporate aggregate irrational consumer behaviors to create monetary policy effectively. Unfortunately, most macroeconomists do not study behavioral economics, and large bureaucracies are slow to adjust their methods.

I would love to serve as an economic consultant for the US Department of Energy. Transitioning American power supply away from coal and gas to renewable resources is possible without economic sacrifices. Forward-thinking economic policies that consider how real people make decisions is necessary to encourage the adoption of green technologies and to reduce consumer waste. After meeting with the Chairman of the Economics Department Dr. Jason Abrevaya who emphasized the curriculum’s practical analytical and research skills, I’ve determined that UT is the best place to receive my education and achieve my long-term professional goals.  

Commentary

This short answer doesn’t waste any time getting directly to the point. Their opening sentence has two key pieces of information: 1) reference to an internship that 2) motivates their specific interest in an economics subfield. The remainder of their response continues to elaborate on both points.

There are no surprises or flair. They develop their ideas as thoroughly as possible using the least amount of words. I also appreciate that they begin with a brief, simple definition of behavioral economics and why it is a critical field in the 21st century.

Later on, they identify flaws with classical macroeconomic thinking, demonstrating both nuance and evidence that they’re making an informed decision. The reader certainly won’t get the impression that they’re a McCombs wanna-be applying to Economics because they don’t think they’re competitive enough for Business.

They reference two specific experiences from their past that influence their current ambitions and future goals: an AP Capstone Research Project and their internship at Merrill Lynch. Undoubtedly, this context connects to their resume and elaboration of their academic record and high school opportunities.

They conclude with a discussion why UT Economics is their best fit with reference to the curriculum and a professor who shares similar interests. They argue convincingly that they are deserving of a space in UT classrooms.

Aerospace Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to view the world from the sky. Air travel and aircraft design invoke feelings of awe, progress, discovery, and adventure unlike anything else I’ve experienced. I remember my tour of the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington vividly. The impressive machines, enormous aircraft, and the brilliant minds bustling around created an infectious atmosphere. Ever since it’s been my purpose to explore as much as I can about aviation.

I’ve taken rigorous courses at school, pursued independent studies, and became a certified pilot. I scored a 4 on AP Physics I, and I am registered for AP Physics II, AP Physics C, and Calculus BC. I especially love applying science to solving problems, which is why I’ve spent hundreds of hours studying for my pilot’s license, learning aerodynamics, and training in flight simulators. Aerospace engineering is the perfect balance for my interests in problem-solving, applied science, and aviation.

The Cockrell School of Engineering and specifically the Aerospace Department will help me further my aviation goals and provide me with the technical competencies for building an engineering career. During my on-campus visit in July, I learned about the flexibility of their two degree-track options – Atmospheric and Space Flight.

I want to join other UT students who compete in national aerospace competitions including Design/Build/Fly. It also impressed me how Cockrell alumni earn positions at prominent firms nationwide and how career resources help place current students in interesting internships. My favorite part was visiting the Center for Aeromechanics Research.

I also want to be part of research and industry teams who are pushing forward the next generation of aircraft. These academic and professional resources learning alongside enthusiastic classmates create an environment that will promote my growth and long-term advancement in the field of aerospace engineering.

Commentary

Unlike the previous essay, this response takes a slightly more creative and meandering direction in their opening sentences. I like the daydream quality to it because it invokes images of flight. They bring their response solidly back to Earth with a specific reference to a visit to the Boeing factory that brings clarity to their childhood dreams. It’s an excellent paragraph because it’s balanced with subjective feelings and more objective references to memory and experience.

The second paragraph is solid and covers a lot of territory to further their argument that they’re a fit for aerospace engineering. Identifying specific courses and their experiences flying actual planes provides a bridge between their current experiences and future goals.

The bottom half of this first-choice major short answer develops further why UT Aerospace is a great fit for them by referencing Aerospace’s two streams - air and space. They’ve identified research opportunities and student programs that match their interests. They make a convincing case how UT Engineering will help them achieve their academic and professional goals.

Interested in working together? Complete my questionnaire for a free admissions consultation.

Computational Engineering and Mathematics

It wasn’t until sophomore year that I acknowledged math’s beauty and harmony. Like my classmates, I went through the motions in Algebra II and complained about quadratic equations, questioning how we would ever use it in the real world. Over time, I’ve opened my mind to the elegance of numbers: the rhythm of solving problems, the melody that forms when one concept flows seamlessly into the next, and the occasional unison of understanding myself with knowledge of the world.

I love calculus because it brings order to our chaotic world. Underneath the surface and outside of our perceptual abilities are mathematical structures that reveal order and calm. Math allows us to understand fundamental aspects of chemistry, biology, and physics, and it offers a quantitative perspective on various subjects while also revealing an interconnectedness. Math creates a common bond and invites everyone to communicate and find meaning regardless of culture, language, age, or religion. Therefore, I find that engineering is the best way to pursue my passion for mathematics and contributing to the improvement of the world.

Taking calculus helps me realize that there are solutions to unpredictable and seemingly unsolvable problems. Studying change is an essential part of calculus and computational engineering, and UT is one of the first universities to combine engineering, computer science, and applied mathematics to create a degree that equips students with statistical analysis and data processing skills.

Computational science holds the power to create meaningful change and contribute to the betterment of humanity. Predicting climate change requires models and simulations that process large amounts of variables and data. By combining conservation efforts with calculus, computational engineers supply environmental scientists and policymakers with the data required to mitigate continued environmental degradation.

Studying computational engineering would allow me to tie my care for the environment to my love of math and problem solving while also giving me the abilities to use my passion for the greater good of humanity. It’s up to my generation to address pressing issues like climate change.

Commentary

I really love this short answer. It’s distinctly different from the first three examples because it utilizes a strategy I usually caution against - it tends to be abstract and thin on specific details. Their style works wonderfully here, however, because they deploy literary techniques to bring clarify to often abstract or esoteric-seeming themes in advanced mathematics.

It’s clear the applicant loves math and it’s connection to applied science. They round out the second half of their essay well with specific references to UT resources and issues they hope to address like climate change and conservation. They make explicitly the link between math and computational methods to approaching social problems quantitatively.

I’m not a math or science person, and it’s unlikely your admissions reviewer will be, either. They do a great job tracing their own journey through math and science and how their views have evolved over time. It’s certainly one of the most mature short answers I’ve come across on any topic. I love this essay because their enthusiasm makes me excited about the possibilities for math.

Finance, McCombs School of Business

My mother was laid off at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t her first layoff, but I was too young to remember the others. She was our family’s breadwinner, and her eight months of unemployment strained us greatly. I often heard my parents arguing over paying bills and trimming our budget. I realize now that I don’t want to be another number on a large company’s employment list. I eventually want to be my own boss, make my own decisions, and not have to be dependent on anyone else.

McCombs appeals to me because I can spend my first year exploring my interests before declaring a major. Currently, I’m most interested in pursuing Finance. Math has always been my favorite subject because of my love for both problem solving and working with numbers.

Taking Principles of Business my junior year exposed me to the financial side of business. I would like to combine my Finance degree with a minor in Economics and the Elements of Computing Certificate. I’ve enjoyed my Economics and Computer Science courses, which I feel are the skills necessary for finding my place in the professional world. Eventually, I want to master in one of these disciplines.

Upon graduating, I hope to establish myself within a major company, such as Google or Apple, to gain experience and build a network of contacts. Then, I want to use those skills to start my own consulting business, helping individuals and businesses manage their finances.

Austin is a technological and business hub that offers a multitude of opportunities to UT students. It appeals to me because of the abundance of internships available in major corporations such as Dell and IBM alongside boutique consulting firms like Lilly & Company. Earning a degree from McCombs would provide me the connections and experience to succeed in my long-term professional goals.

Commentary

This applicant takes a different approach from the McCombs student at the top of this post. Their reasons for applying to business are related to their family, but not necessarily in the usual way of following in a parent’s corporate footsteps. I can imagine it being a jarring and disruptive experience to have a parent laid off and to change radically the family budget and your future goals.

They make a nice connection between the uncertainty of salaried employment with the potential freedom that comes with self-employment and being your own boss. This is a path I have chosen personally, after all.

They also do an adequate job of citing high school courses that have allowed them to explore and refine their interests. All first-choice major essays need to include a few Why UT statements. They link their current interests and future long-term goals by citing opportunities and resources available in the City of Austin in addition to UT itself.

Interested in working together? Complete my questionnaire for a free admissions consultation.

Radio, Television, and Film (RTF), Moody College of Communications

I love making movies. From jotting ideas down on napkins to presenting the final cut, I love every step of the way. My cast and crew like to tease that I’m a perfectionist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called “action” to reshoot a scene. I sit in the editing chair and move a cut back and forth, driving myself to exhaustion, before I sit back and press “play.” I write outlines whenever I can.

I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a film, and immediately start writing a logline. When watching a movie, I think about how the script would look on paper. Same goes for the shot-list, which considers even the smallest details to a film’s direction and flow.

I’ve written on so many napkins, Post-it notes, backs of receipts – you name it. I want to write. I want to be on set. Whether it’s Detention 2038, a 1984 inspired action dystopia, or Max’s Candy Crush, a Freaks and Geeks style high school dance drama; I seek to capture scenes that scare, scenes that intrigue, and scenes that captivate.

The University of Texas at Austin offers world-class professors and industry standard studios where I can learn, work, and thrive. I spent my past two summers at The Moody RTF film camp, and Austin already feels like home. I want to someday travel the world making blockbuster pictures that break into the IMDB top 250.

I can see myself one day sitting in a dimly-lit Los Angeles studio apartment typing away the last four lines of a 150-some-odd page screenplay. I want to be a writer. I want to be a director. But most importantly, I want to tell stories.

Commentary

From top to bottom, this applicant submitted some of my favorite Essay A and short answers of all-time. They were a below average academically and applied as an out-of-stae student to Moody. They gained admission early no doubt on the strength of their resume and clever, nuanced, entertaining essays.

Similar to the short answer elaborating on their love for math and ecology, this applicant brings to life their dream of screenwriting and video production. Although lyrically, they develop specific examples of their influences and how they’re putting in the work and practice now to prepare themselves for their future studies.

They have specific reasons applying to UT from New Jersey because they attended two summers of RTF Film Camp. That positions UT uniquely in their list and signals to reviewers they are serious about attending. This student is a dreamer, and I think the world needs more of them. They’ll be a fantastic addition to UT’s Class of 2023.

Radio, Television, and Film (RTF), Moody College of Communications

Since a very young age, I’ve loved everything Disney, especially the storytelling.  My two favorite Disney movies are Alice in Wonderland and The Nightmare Before Christmas. English is my favorite subject and, combined with my passion for cinema, I want to pursue a career screenwriting and directing.

Kathryn Bigelow has proven to me that you can make it as a female director in the industry. Directing Hurt Locker, she is still the only woman to win an Academy Award. With up and coming directors and screenwriters like Greta Gerwig and Dee Rees, I have many women to look up to.

Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird was one of my favorite movies of the past year. I love how it doesn’t depend on a big budget to tell a great story. Dee Rees has also made a recent film that I absolutely loved, Mudbound. My love for history was why this movie stood out for me.

One of the most appealing qualities of UT’s RTF Department is their commitment to diversity and recruiting outstanding women professors like Professor Kathryn Fuller-Seeley and associate professors Felicia D. Henderson and Cindy McCreery. I fell in love instantly with the Moody College after my recent UT visit. One of the biggest things that won me over was Dean Rocha’s presentation. Other universities I’ve visited come nowhere close to being as informative and personable as Moody and Dean Rocha.

Another huge draw is UT in LA, something unique among the universities I have researched. I love that I can live and intern in Los Angeles and build my professional network, critical to success in the industry. UTLA faculty Phil Nemy, Mac Torluccio, and Bruce Hendricks have worked on and have heavy ties with Disney, my dream company.

Commentary

I’ve placed these two RTF essays back-to-back to showcase the different ways one can approach applying to the same program. This response is also at times whimsical, which I appreciate. They trace a childhood love of film with the development of more serious interests later on. Linking their advocacy for women’s issues with citing their own influences and female industry pioneers strengthens their argument that they belong in the next generation of female filmmakers.

Their theme continues with referencing Why UT has professor mentors that can help them build their portfolios and achieve their goals. It’s clear their reasons for applying to UT RTF go beyond the rankings and reputation of the Moody College. Dean Rocha is also a legendary ambassador for the program and known by all, so they further demonstrate serious interest in enrolling. Finally, they cite UT’s flagship UT in Los Angeles program.

Although less lyrical and idealistic than the previous version, I feel their approach and style works equally well. There are limitless ways to approach any given prompt, and these two examples showcase two possibilities.

Psychology, College of Liberal Arts

In my free time, I love watching documentaries and reading articles that capture my interests with topics ranging from sharks to how cars function. I make an effort to explore my curiosities outside of the classroom. I’ve taken a particular interest in the sources of my anxiety that began in middle school, and I eventually stumbled upon discussions about anxiety’s neurological origins.

I learned that it is a neurological disorder, not just a feeling. Anxiety is closely related to OCD, which I was eventually diagnosed as well. The brain interests me unlike anything else. I’m registered for my first psychology class next semester, and I’m looking forward to it more than any I’ve taken. It won’t just be about making good grades but learning more about who I am.

 Along with my struggles, I see my how classmates and friends have difficulties living healthy lives. My close friend shared her experiences of her anxiety relating to abusive relationships. She started Students Tackle Abusive Relationships (STAR). With STAR we host school-wide assemblies to identify signs of abuse, how to leave abusers, and resources for managing healthy relationships.

Teenage mental health is an important issue. I’ve been to many different psychologist and therapists. I find what they do so interesting. One of my therapists, Dr. Gardner, told me more about her profession and how much she enjoys helping teenagers live happier lives. She majored in psychology influencing my future studies.

I also had an opportunity to intern at Inpatient Personal Physicians where I learned more about the daily lives of healthcare professionals. I enjoyed spending time with the physicians and learning about different specialties and career options. I want to become a psychologist aimed to help teenagers with their mental health.

Commentary

This is a neat essay for a number of reasons. I appreciate their being candid with their struggles with mental illness. Depression and anxiety are epidemics on high school and college campuses. Having the courage to share your story will undoubtedly impress reviewers who likely experienced their own struggles academically, professionally, and personally.

More than merely citing their own struggles, they take the next step by advocating for students who may not have the courage to reach out for help. Making her and her friend available as a resource for others demonstrates how they are doing their part to bring sanity and humanity to the stresses of living as an American teenager.

They also cite specific influences and examples that further demonstrate their fit for first-choice major like their therapist and interning with healthcare professionals. Their response is thoughtful, mature, nuanced, and develops well their argument that they are deserving of a space in UT’s communities.

Interested in working together? Complete my questionnaire for a free admissions consultation.

Kevin MartinEssays