Robertson Scholarship Essay Prompts 2015 Best

This is a pretty standard “Why medicine?” prompt, which means that you should use many of the same tactics as you would for that type of essay (see our overview to 7-year med programs). To provide a brief rehash, in order to convey why a guaranteed-admissions program is a good “fit” for your goals, there are few different things you need to discuss.


First, you need to discuss why you are qualified for medicine; namely what sort of extracurricular activities did you do in high school that were related to medicine, whether tangentially or directly. More specifically, you want to convey your abilities in two key areas: the scientific side of medicine (i.e., the ability to understand and cure diseases), and the humanistic side of medicine (the ability to connect with patients and care for them).


To address both of these aspects, you will need to weave a narrative that connects your technical scientific training to your capacity for empathy and care. You might begin talking about your fascination with physiology, the thrill of cutting open a frog, seeing the obscure jumble of organs, and learning how to sort out the parts that the text book identifies with neat colored markers.


Maybe what interests you about the human body is how it often deviates from the norms that appear in textbooks. Transitioning from an interest in the technical aspects of physiology, you might switch to the more humanistic side of talking about how, as a medical practitioner, you look forward to working with patients who have limited mobility.


More than just a technical understanding of how one human physiognomy might differ from another, you might talk about how the time you have spent working in a restaurant where you were responsible for serving all kinds of different bodies, with all kinds of different mobility restrictions. What did you learn from having people in wheelchairs tell you what they needed in order to comfortably enjoy their meal? How did you open up the space in order to make them comfortable asking you for accommodations? Your patients, after all, are not just frogs on a dissecting table.


Patient care experience is a big plus for this part of the essay, and experiences such as volunteering at a nursing home or shadowing a physician are great enhancers. In the process of outlining your qualifications, be sure to discuss why you enjoy each of those two facets of medicine. But, as I’ve suggested above, especially when you are talking about the humanistic side of medicine, your experience doing any kind of caring or service work can offer a useful perspective.


After all, when you are treating patients, most of them don’t want to be treated like “people who are in a hospital” — they want to feel like they are in a place where they have some measure of agency, where they can ask questions and reflect on their experience.


One thing worth mentioning: There is a particular clichéd version of this essay that talks about how your grandmother suffered from some kind of disease and died. You felt awful about losing her and hope to become a medical professional because you want to cure that disease.


While it is true that a compelling essay about the death of one’s grandmother can be written, it is also the sad truth that everyone’s grandmother dies. If you tell a story like this, you will want to address not just your desire to provide healthcare, but the specific aspects of your training and experience that have prepared you to pursue a career in medicine.


Moreover, it is also worth thinking carefully about how you talk about what the practice of doing medicine entails. The desire to “heal” people and return them to a “normal” life is certainly admirable. But there are some kinds of necessary healthcare work that do not result in a healthy ending where the hidden ailment is eradicated; sometimes healthcare is the persistent and empathetic management of suffering.


The final thing you want to address is why specifically you want to join an accelerated program. Simply saying that you want to save time (the real reason for many applicants) can backfire. Instead, if you have an application with lots of medical and science extracurricular activities, you can speak about why those activities solidified your desire to do medicine.


Otherwise, if your resume is more balanced, you can resort to saying that you are committed to medicine because you already spent high school exploring other fields and have ruled out other possibilities. In the end, probably your most compelling argument for entering the accelerated program will be the level of maturity and thoughtfulness that you demonstrate in your essay as a whole.

The University of Virginia awards around 30-35 students every year the merit-based UVA Jefferson Scholarship. Students cannot apply directly for the scholarship. Instead, the students must be nominated by eligible high schools in VA.

The Award

The UVA Jefferson Scholarship will cover your entire 4 years at UVA, including coverage of the supplemental enrichment programs that Jefferson Scholars will be offered.

Total value of the scholarship exceeds:

  • $280,000 for non-Virginian students

  • $150,000 for Virginian students

Enrichment Programs

Being a Jefferson Scholar doesn’t just mean getting a full ride to UVA, they also have access to enrichment programs that are designed to support and nurture these students passions and skills. The opportunities include:

  • Team Challenge Program

  • Institute for Leadership and Citizenship

  • Foreign Travel Studies

  • Alumni Connections Program

  • Career Counseling

  • Public Service Fellows

  • Enrichment Dinners and Receptions

Nomination & Selection

There are over 4,500 secondary school that are eligible to nominate students for the regional competition for the Jefferson Scholarship. Each school may nominate one or two student per year from the graduating class.

Once nominated, students are required to go through a selection process. Student nominees will first be placed into regional competitions, and 120 finalists from regionals will be invited to Charlottesville for the Jefferson Scholarship Selection Weekend in late March.

In 2016-2017, 36 Jefferson Scholars emerged from the pool of 2,005 nominees. Click here to learn more about the Jefferson Scholarship. 

Student Insight


University of Virginia ‘20

Small exterior scholarships are always a good idea but many people don’t realize much-larger opportunities available. One of the main reasons (perhaps THE main reason) I chose to attend UVA is because of the Jefferson Scholarship. It not only pays all my college expenses, but also opens up an extremely strong and close-knit group of alumni connections and forges and instant community among the scholars (~35 per year). At my school, we had to apply to be nominated by our counselors for the scholarship. Many students at my school weren’t even aware of this. Other similar scholarships include the Morehead-Cain at UNC and the Robertson, which I believe entails dual-enrollment at UNC and Duke. View the full University of Virginia application file. 


University of Virginia ‘18

Personal Statement Excerpt: 

“If your childhood was anything like mine, you remember endlessly asking your parents “why?” to unravel fundamental truths. You remember transforming your Tyson chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes into a Continental Army troop (nuggets) crossing the icy Delaware River (mashers). If you think back hard enough, your recall chopping up your older sister’s CDs for ducted fans in your latest quadrotor helicopter.” Read his full UVA personal statement.


Interested in reading successful essay examples that got students accepted into University of Virginia? Unlock all of them in one go with our curated package.

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About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

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