Prompt 1: In an essay of 300 words or less, explain your motivation to transfer from your current/previous institution to Illinois and how your academic interests and/or professional goals will be fulfilled in your intended program of study.
Having grown up watching documentaries like "The 11th Hour" and "An Inconvenient Truth", I became sensitized to the effects of climate change and worsening environmental conditions in my country. I wanted to do my part in limiting the adverse effects and improving the condition. As an incoming college freshman, I decided to study Environmental Engineering at Middle Eastern Technical University as it seemed to offer academic excellence in this area.
This was my first interaction with the developed world and I soon started observing the difference in infrastructure of the country I was in and my home country, and became conscious of the role it played in the development of an economy. After consulting professors and taking courses, I realized that I had become more interested in the design aspect than the public health aspect of the Environmental Engineering program. So, I decided to change my major to Civil Engineering.
Over the past couple of years, energy and water crises across Pakistan have become increasingly common. I want to do my part by conducting research in areas regarding water management and clean energy solutions at an undergraduate level, an opportunity not available at METU.
With this new found clarity, I decided to join a leading civil engineering school, which led me to UIUC. The more I researched, the better it looked. It not only offers an environment where I will be able to excel academically but also be able to improve my skills and further develop my ideas by participating in activities with like-minded people and joining student clubs.
METU was a great stepping-stone for me but UIUC is where I believe I will be able to flourish. With the amazing faculty and countless resources available to me at UIUC, I will be able to become not only a leading civil engineer but also a contributing member of society.
I don't think it's a strong start when you begin by mentioning the documentaries. Watching a documentary is the most superficial way to learn about something. It's great that you saw them, and documentaries are powerful, but they represent the least amount of effort. If you cited some very recent scientific research findings, that would show that you are motivated enough to be looking at the most recent advancements.
The last sentence of the first paragraph is important in any essay. It's where the reader pauses to form an impression of the essay. If there is one sentence you want the reader to remember, put it at the end of that first paragraph. If you really want them to remember it, make it as short as possible. What's your best sentence? : )
To find that sentence, reflect on your plan. You are switching to a new focus in your studies, because you plan to use your degree to make specific contributions in your career. What is the most important reason why the professional you are to become should take his education from this school to which you are transferring? That should be what you express at the end of the first paragraph.
You mention something like that at the end, but you don't specify what resources and faculty members are most important. Maybe one faculty member has written about a concept important to you, or maybe one of the resources this school has is not available at other schools. Maybe it's just the location of the school that is important. That's okay, too, as long as you mentions specifically how this fits into your plan. The secret of writing great essays for admission/transfer is to prove you're one of those rare students who actually have a clear, detailed plan for the future. You don't even need to stick to the plan, and in fact if the plan doesn't change over the years that means you are not learning. But the essay should reflect a detailed, albeit tentative, plan.