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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Colorado Boulder Supplemental Essays

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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Colorado Boulder Supplemental Essays

The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research institution that focuses on aerospace, biosciences, energy, environmental sciences, and other major areas. If you are interested in becoming a Colorado Buffalo, it’s time to get to work on your University of Colorado Boulder supplemental essay! Writing stellar essays will help you stand out among all the applicants, so keep reading to learn how! 

The University of Colorado Boulder requires the Common App Personal Essay (250–650 words). Students should choose one of the seven essay prompts offered. In addition, students must submit one supplemental essay which we will go over below!

The UC-Boulder supplemental essay prompt

Research and innovation are a huge part of the University of Colorado’s identity. Before you begin writing, read Colorado Boulder’s strategic plan to learn more about them. This will help you tie your future plans with theirs. They want to know how you will fit in and push the University forward. Let’s take a look at the prompt:

“Please share a bit more about your academic interests. What do you hope to study, and why, at CU Boulder? Or if you don’t know quite yet, think about your studies so far, extracurricular/after-school activities, jobs, volunteering, future goals, or anything else that has shaped your interests.” (250 words)

Think of this prompt as a two-part question. Why did you choose your major? Why did you choose their college? As the prompt states, if you are unsure of a major, focus on what you do when you are not in school. If those activities  happen to relate to a possible major, by all means share! The goal is to connect back to UC-Boulder in a way that shows you belong there. 

Questions to consider:

  • What inspired your interest in the major?
  • How will Colorado Boulder tie into your future career plans?
  • What will you bring to the table? 

Why your major?

Write about what you’ve done thus far that relates to your major of interest. Include clubs, classes, summer programs, etc. If someone special  inspired you, write about conversations you’ve had with them or speeches you’ve attended. 

Dig deep into how you will contribute to this career field. Write about the area you’d like to concentrate in and how you envision your future work. Lastly, write about how the University will further your specific interests to begin merging the two questions for this essay prompt. 

Why Colorado Boulder University?

Imagine you are already enrolled. Visualize what your experience would look like attending their college. Include ways you will attribute to Colorado Boulder. Write about how you would better their community. 

Spend some time researching Colorado Boulder to learn more about how you would fit in. Include their specific programs, classes, and learning techniques in your essay that tie your future career plan to your journey to get your degree. 

Think of ways you have contributed to your high school or outside programs and write how you will continue to show these attributions on campus. Don’t only tell them, show them through examples.

See also : College essay primer: Show, don’t tell

Writing tips:

  • Use specific examples of experiences that show your role in the community. At what point did you look around and feel you belong? How has this role shaped you? Get personal. Write about how your role there made a difference. What conflict did you encounter and how was it resolved? You want to make the essay as visual as possible. 
  • Try not to repeat what you wrote on other statements in the application process. You want to share as many qualities as you can with the reader.
  • Sit down and just write. Don’t worry about the word limit on your first draft. Write everything that comes to mind involving your portrayed community. Then, choose your favorite details and re-write a shorter draft. 
  • Connect the skills and values you are writing of with those of  the university. Do they have a similar community that you’d like to join?
  • Be direct. Use powerful sentences that show confidence in yourself throughout the essay. 

Additional resources

  • How to write a 250 or 500 word essay
  • How to write an essay about yourself
  • Guide to writing a great supplemental essay
  • What looks good on college applications?

Final thoughts for students

When all is said and done, the University of Colorado Boulder supplemental essays are relatively straightforward. Try not to overthink when you begin writing. Your best bet is to write a rough draft without a  word limit. Show your best qualities and skills through examples and write of how you will continue to use them at college. These tips will help you write essays that stand out to Colorado Boulder University. While on your college admissions journey, make sure you apply for all the scholarships you are eligible for as well!

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Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, cu boulder supplemental essay.

Hey all, I'm applying to CU Boulder and I've heard there's a supplemental essay involved. Can anyone share their experience with this essay and some examples that worked for them? Please and thank you!

Hi there! CU Boulder does have a supplemental essay as part of their application process. This essay is intended to provide more insights into your personality, interests, and goals beyond what's covered in your main personal statement. It's an opportunity for you to stand out and show the admissions committee who you are as a person, as well as a student.

The prompt typically asks why you're interested in attending CU Boulder and how you plan to contribute to their campus community. While the specific wording may change slightly from year to year, the core idea remains the same—demonstrate your interest in the school, your alignment with its values, and your plans to make a positive impact once you're on campus.

To approach this essay, consider the following:

1. Research CU Boulder and identify aspects that appeal to you - academic programs, research opportunities, extracurricular activities, clubs, etc. Be specific in your essay and show genuine interest in the school.

2. Think about how your experiences, values, and goals align with CU Boulder's mission and culture. Reflect on your own strengths and how you can contribute to the community or particular campus initiatives.

3. Share a unique aspect of your story, passion, or plan that demonstrates your fit for the university. This is where you can make your essay stand out and showcase something that isn't covered in the main personal statement.

For example, if you're interested in environmental sustainability, you could discuss CU Boulder's commitment to eco-conscious initiatives, mentioning specific programs you wish to join, like the Environmental Center or the Zero Waste Ambassador Program. You could share your own experiences with sustainability efforts and how you plan to contribute to the university's environmentally-oriented community. Remember to be authentic and true to yourself, as this will help your essay resonate with the admissions committee.

If you want even more specific guidance on how to tackle this essay, consider checking out CollegeVine's blog post breaking down how to write a successful response: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-university-of-colorado-boulder-essays. Remember that CollegeVine also offers both a free peer essay review service and paid reviews by expert college admissions advisors - sometimes, a second set of eyes is just the thing your essay needs to go from good to great!

Good luck with your application!

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.

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Undergraduate admissions process, how cu boulder evaluates your application, final steps.

Are you interested in attending the University of Colorado Boulder ? As part of the illustrious University of Colorado system, CU Boulder is the state’s flagship university, home to a host of academic programs and a vibrant community.

If you’re applying to CU Boulder as a first-year undergraduate student, your first step is to complete the Common Application , available online via commonapp.org. Transfer students should use the transfer application at colorado.edu. Both applications open on August 1st.

After completing the application, you will submit it, along with your required documents and your application fee. This includes the application itself, one essay, two short answer questions, and a $65 application fee ($70 for international students).

Your high school should also send any official high school transcripts, along with college transcripts, if applicable. SAT and ACT scores are optional — it’s completely up to you whether you choose to submit them. You will also need to submit one academic letter of recommendation and a resume or activities list.

The first deadline is November 15, which is the Summer and Fall early action deadline. Then, January 15 is the Summer and Fall regular decision deadline for first-year students.

You can view the transfer deadlines, which differ slightly from first-year deadlines, on the school’s official website.

CU Boulder performs a holistic review of your application. The factors it assesses include the difficulty of your classes, your course load, your cumulative GPA — a positive, upward grade trend is helpful — any test scores that you choose to submit, and the strength of your current schedule. 

In terms of extracurriculars, they will look for any volunteer and work experiences that you’ve had, any leadership positions you’ve held, and unique talents in your background. 

They will also pay attention to any extenuating circumstances that you choose to share on your application. 

To see the status of your application, check your email for instructions on how to access the application status page. It’s important for you to put down an email that you have access to because of all of the important updates you’ll receive. Even your admission decision is going to be sent to the email that you have registered with your Common Application.

Remember there are many rewards to attending CU Boulder. The opportunities aren’t just limited to your years on campus — they extend far beyond graduation. 

Being a part of the community means joining a group of bold people doing bold things. Eighty-nine percent of CU Boulder graduates were employed or in grad school within six months of graduation, and 80% of graduates are accepted into their first-choice grad school. It’s an exciting place to be and grow!

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University of Colorado Boulder 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

University of Colorado Boulder 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Personal statement

At the University of Colorado Boulder, no two Buffs are alike. We value difference and support equity and inclusion of all students and their many intersecting identities. Pick one of your unique identities and describe its significance.

The unique identity you choose should come with a couple anecdotes and examples of how this facet of you comes out in real life. What brings these qualities out in you? Can you control this part of you, or do you go on auto-pilot? Go beyond the classic “I’m a daughter/I’m a student/I’m a soccer player,” and mine your life for the other roles you play. Are you like a second mother to your little sisters? Are you the Pied Piper of your friend group, deciding which movie to go see or which restaurant to get late night food at? Whatever your identity, get specific and explain what it means to you and those around you.

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Local news | “deeper understanding of the universe”: cu boulder celebrates 75 years of space exploration.

A model of the New Horizons spacecraft  is seen at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics on Tuesday. The spacecraft was sent on a mission to the Pluto-Kuiper Belt and contained the Student Dust Counter instrument that was designed, built and tested by students at LASP. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

The University of Colorado Boulder is home to the only academic research institute worldwide that’s sent space instruments to every planet in the solar system.

It’s also sent multiple instruments to the sun and a variety of moons through NASA missions. The institute, called the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, is CU Boulder’s oldest and highest-budget research institute and is rounding out its 75th year of space exploration.

“It’s the many individual accomplishments that piling on together really are a truly incomparable kind of achievement,” LASP Director Daniel Baker said.

LASP was founded in April 1948 as the Upper Air Laboratory, when a U.S. Air Force research lab contracted with the CU Boulder physics department to study the sun by launching instruments mounted on surplus World War II rockets. The Upper Air Laboratory was renamed LASP in 1963 and conducted its first interplanetary missions in the 1960s. In the 1980s, CU Boulder students began operating on NASA missions, a tradition that continues today.

Alex Doner is a CU Boulder graduate student leading work on the Student Dust Counter instrument on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond. The instrument was designed and built by students at CU Boulder and has been collecting data billions of miles from Earth for 18 years. Doner is the eighth student to lead the project.

Doner has also worked on three different flight instruments that are in space or going to space soon. He’s had hands-on experience building space instruments and learning from expert scientists along the way.

“It is a dream job for an undergraduate or graduate student,” Doner said, adding, “That is just an unbelievably unique and rare opportunity that I got to have here at LASP.”

Models of spacecraft with connections to the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics are seen in the lobby of the LASP at the University of Colorado Boulder on Feb. 27. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

‘The next generation in space’

Senior research scientist Fran Bagenal joined LASP in 1992. She said the Student Dust Counter is an “amazing” instrument and a “phenomenal achievement” for LASP and its students.

“The most important thing I think LASP has done for the United States Space program is to train the next generation of scientists and engineers,” Bagenal said.

Training the next generation of students and early career scientists and engineers is a strength of LASP, said Shannon Curry, principal investigator on the MAVEN mission to Mars.

“That’s something that I think LASP does a really phenomenal job with, is thinking about the next generation in space,” Curry said.

MAVEN is the first mission dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere and the spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since 2014. It’s studying the loss of Mars’ atmospheric gases to space, providing insight into the history of the planet’s climate and water.

MAVEN is one of many NASA missions LASP is involved in that attempt to understand the solar system and answer questions about life-sustaining conditions on other planets.

“It’s a really, really exciting time and in some ways an inflection point to see how far we’ve come and what growth will look like for the next 75 years,” Curry said.

The Europa Clipper will go to Europa, Jupiter’s moon, in October of 2024. Europa is covered in ice, and beneath the ice, scientists believe are vast oceans of water. The goal is to determine whether Jupiter’s moon is suitable for life. The LASP-built Surface Dust Analyzer will be on board the Europa Clipper and will analyze dust ejected from the surface to provide insight into the oceans of water.

“This is one of the most exciting potential habitable areas in the universe. Europa, unlike a lot of places, it gets warmer as you go farther down into the ocean,” Curry said. “So the Europa Clipper will be one of hopefully many steps to start to investigate these icy worlds and think about what kinds of other habitable places in the solar system there may be.”

A model of the Hubble Space Telescope is seen at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, LASP, at the University of Colorado Boulder on Feb. 27 (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

‘We’re going to continue to explore’

Curry said LASP will play an important role in answering big science questions about understanding Earth and humanity’s origins.

“Why is Earth habitable? Why did Earth form the way it did, and could other planets have turned out the same way? Could they still turn out the same way?” Curry said, adding, “All of these questions really get at where did all of this start and why.”

Space weather will be another critical area of study for future exploration, Bagenal said. The material that comes from the sun and creates space weather has a big effect on satellites, communications and any humans or spacecraft that go out into space.

“Trying to understand the planets, the sun, the influence of the sun on the planets and the space environment around the planets is both intellectually interesting — why is Jupiter so different from Pluto or different from the Earth — but also practical in application,” Bagenal said.

LASP is beginning to explore exoplanetary systems, planets outside Earth’s solar system, and using knowledge from Earth’s solar system to learn how others work. Baker said he sees LASP playing a role in understanding the role of human activity in changing the planet, causing climate change.

“I think we’re going to continue to explore the cosmos to develop a deeper understanding of the universe in which we live,” Baker said.

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Pressing energy challenges and potential solutions at the center of CU Boulder’s Renewable Energy and Storage Solutions Summit

Photo: Chunmei Ban, associate professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science ( Paul M. Rady Mechanical Engineering ), presents her research on next-generation electrochemical materials, specifically sodium and magnesium, that feed a need to improve renewable energy storage systems.

Venture Partners at CU Boulder and the university’s Industry and Foundation Relations (IFR) team brought together dozens of stakeholders in the renewable energy and storage ecosystem to discuss innovations, issues and opportunities in the vibrant sector.

CU Boulder researchers, venture capitalists, companies and entrepreneurs, federal lab researchers and local government leaders took part in a day of networking and discussions to inform impactful, commercially-relevant energy research at CU Boulder, introduce external partners to innovative university efforts, and partnering CU startups and principal investigators with potential funders. 

“We’re putting the right people in the right place at the right time to foster important relationships that actually solve problems,” said Kate Havey , event organizer and assistant director of licensing at Venture Partners, the commercialization arm of CU Boulder. She said the ultimate goal was to translate innovations into products and services that address the world’s most pressing energy challenges. 

CU Boulder strives to be the nation's top university for innovation with positive global impact, and it does that by bringing “translational research into ventures, products, applications that really positively impact society,” Massimo Ruzzene, vice chancellor for research and innovation and dean of the institutes, told summit attendees. The university has nearly doubled its research funding in the past 10 years while experiencing “incredible growth on the commercialization and tech transfer side,” he said.

'I feel it's the right time'

Several CU Boulder researchers working in the renewable energy and storage sectors spoke at the summit, including Seth Marder, director of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) , a joint institute between CU Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). RASEI is at the center of energy research at CU Boulder and is, said Marder, “uniquely positioned to holistically address issues of sustainability in energy in a just and scalable fashion.” RASEI researchers work on solar, wind and hydrogen energy production and storage, bio-energy and batteries.

“There are many issues to be solved in the renewable energy and energy storage space, some of which are technological [such as] improving performance, reliability, circularity, addressing supply chain issues,” said Marder. “But others are sociological, [like] ensuring that solutions are developed and deployed in a socially just and equitable manner that is respectful of the diversity of cultures of stakeholders.”

Chunmei Ban, associate professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science ( Paul M. Rady Mechanical Engineering ), is another researcher doing groundbreaking work. At the summit, she presented her research on next-generation electrochemical materials, specifically sodium and magnesium, that feed a need to improve renewable energy storage systems. 

Mana Battery Inc., a spinout from Ban’s lab, is developing sodium-ion batteries that are cheaper, safer and longer lasting than standard lithium-ion ones. “The U.S. has one of the largest sources of soda ash. The reserve is huge, so we have the resources to do something, and I feel it’s the right time,” she said. “We feel confident about our technology, a gigantic market for batteries is already here, and I have a great team.” Mana Battery was a top winner of the 2023 Lab Venture Challenge (LVC), a Venture Partners program in which early-stage companies compete for startup funding grants. Ban said that her team will use the funding to demonstrate a large battery cell to potential investors.

Another summit presenter and a winner of the 2023 LVC, is Longji Cui, assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, ( Paul M. Rady Mechanical Engineering ). Research in his lab focuses on challenges including the thermal management of high power electronics and creating highly-efficient and economical clean energy. His spinout (with Mohammad Habibi), ZeroGap Energy aims to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy grid with thermovoltaic cells for high-efficiency thermal energy conversion.

Working together to spur innovations and solutions

Nearly every speaker at the summit touched on the human element of research, innovation and investment and the importance of partnerships in spurring meaningful advances in renewable energy and storage. 

Lu Córdova, advisor to Governor Jared Polis and director of the Global Energy Park in Golden which she described as a “Class A lab space wrapped in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, made for commercialization,” emphasized the importance of events like the summit in bringing together a coalition of stakeholders. “Collaboration is often the key to commercialization because—sorry for the cliché—the market does not want products, it wants solutions,” she said. “Most inventors and scientists have a part of the solution, but they need each other to form the solution, as well as to get it to market.” Córdova added that so-called ‘Inventor’s Syndrome’ (the idea that ‘if you build it, they will come’) is an impediment that collaboration can overcome.

Ruzzene agreed that bringing together different entities was essential to solve problems. “We want to focus on interdisciplinary work because innovation really flourishes at the intersection of ideas and backgrounds and goals. That’s a really key principle in what we do,” he said. Bryn Rees , associate vice chancellor for research and innovation and managing director of Venture Partners, also anticipates that solutions to current issues in renewable energy and storage will be found at the crossroads of their various expertise—including innovation and investment. “Advances in renewable energy and energy storage require collaborative innovation. This summit will build on CU Boulder’s leadership in clean energy, and catalyze a new wave of partnerships and entrepreneurial ventures.”

Sally Hatcher, general partner of Buff Gold Ventures —a venture capital fund dedicated to supporting and investing in great new startups out of the University of Colorado—moderated a panel of entrepreneurs and investors. She said she was there to connect with researchers with specific problems to solve and to learn about technologies currently in the lab. 

Hatcher said the summit was an invaluable opportunity to build relationships around renewable energy and storage. “This convergence often leads to new ideas, new opportunities to collaborate, better focus on the specific storage need, and connections to funders and entrepreneurs.  Ultimately, we hope to take great tech out of the lab and pass the baton to an entrepreneurial team who will de-risk the tech and bring it to widespread use.”

Although it was the first-of-its kind, the concept for the summit was met with enthusiasm and Havey believes this will be the first of a series of similar events. “We received an overwhelming response,” she said. “That speaks to a need in this sector for connecting people in a very intentional way, to create the kinds of partnerships that are actually going to resolve the needs we have in energy right now.”

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