Delaware Honors Program Essay

Prepare Your Honors Essay

On the Common Application, you will be asked to write a 250 to 500 word essay answering one of these three questions. We’ve provided the questions here in the event you would like to prepare your answer before creating your application.


Question 1: The University of Delaware Strategic Plan emphasizes the role of the University in addressing the grand challenges of our time. Identify one or two grand challenges that you believe are most significant for your generation. What recommendations do you have for addressing these challenges and what outcomes do you hope to see? In what ways will your college experience be relevant?


Question 2: Wallace Bacon, an eminent literary scholar, wrote that the liberal arts and humanities “are concerned with the question of what makes life worth living.” Tell us what you think makes life worth living. Include a brief discussion of any particularly meaningful experiences, works of literature, art, music, etc. that have influenced your perspective and tell us how you intend to explore this question as a UD Honors student.


Question 3: What are you optimistic about. Why?

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I have started getting emails from parents who are disappointed that their teenagers’ financial aid packages are so meager. I wanted to share one story today from a mom, whose daughter is a stellar student and who was hoping for the University of Delaware’s top scholarship.

A Mom’s Email

My daughter just received her acceptance today from the University of Delaware into their Honors program and  Chemical Engineering dept.  She was awarded $11,000 in merit as well.  We are Pennsylvania residents and the COA is estimated to be around $40,000.

Ilana is a straight A student with all APs and Honors.  She scored a 2250 on her SATs and has had significant involvement in extracurricular activities and community service  (though she never held an officer position).

I, of course, feel that she is deserving of a more significant scholarship and was disappointed that she wasn’t invited to compete for their Distinguished Scholars award.  I emailed the head of financial aid 2 weeks ago curious as to why she wasn’t considered for that award and never received a response back from her.

I’m very interested in knowing what your opinion is as to whether I should continue to pursue a larger award or be very appreciative that she was given $11,000 per year.

She did receive $12,000 to University of Maryland, and $22,000 to Drexel and most likely will receive $15,000 to RPI.  Do I mention these awards in a letter to UD’s financial aid dept?

My Thoughts….

Congratulations on having such a bright daughter! Unfortunately, being a stellar student isn’t going to guarantee that your daughter will have a shot at a university’s top award.

When I looked at the University of Delaware’s website it mentioned that only 10 to 12 students receive its Distinguished Scholars award, which provides a full ride. University of Delaware has more than 3,900 freshman and while the vast majority wouldn’t realistically have a chance at getting a full-ride, this award has to be extremely competitive.

Out-of-State University Realities

One of the hazards of applying to an out-of-state public university is that the costs will typically be far higher than if a student remained in her home state. Here is the cost of tuition from the University of Delaware for residents versus nonresidents that I pulled from the College Board.

University of Delaware

Across the country, nonresident tuition is typically two to three times what residents pay. Here is an even more extreme example from the University of California, Berkeley. The UC campuses are the most expensive schools in the nation for students who aren’t California residents.

University of California, Berkeley

Why Public Universities Loves Outsiders

State universities are more eager than ever to attract smart outsiders to their campuses because the schools need the money. As support from state governments has dwindled over the years, public universities are trying to entice more nonresidents to their campuses.

The schools’ chief goal is to attract smart, affluent students who can afford to pay far more for their education than residents. So it’s not unusual that a state school would offer a scholarship to an extremely bright student like this mom’s daughter, but even with the scholarship the price will be stiff.

I have a chapter in the upcoming second edition of my book, The College Solution, devoted to out-of-state universities and I’m sharing with you a partial list of flagships that includes their percentage of nonresidents. I bet you will be surprised at the percentages.

Percentage of Outsiders Attending State Flagships

Answering the Question

As for the mom’s question, I don’t think it would hurt to contact the school again. I think the mom — actually the daughter — should call the admission office, not the financial aid department. The admission office would be in charge of  selecting candidates for the top award. Good luck!

More Reading

Here are other posts that I’ve written about state universities recruiting nonresidents:

Should You Apply to an Out-0f-State Public University?

Flagship Universities Going  Rogue

10 Most Expensive State Universities for Outsiders

Order a copy of The College Solution

You can now pre-order the second edition of The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price. The second edition contains about 90% new content including chapters on evaluating schools financially and academically.

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