University of Washington 2017-2018 Application Essay Question Explanations
The Requirements: One 300 word essay (required), one 200 word essay (optional).
Supplemental Essay Type (s): Oddball, Community
Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the University of Washington. (300 max)
Ah, the infamous “community” essay. Many schools ask students about their communities because they want to know how applicants relate to the people around them, forge connections, and commune with their peers. In this particular instance, the question calls attention to family as well, so consider how the people who you are related to (or those who you consider family even if they’re not bound to you by blood) have influenced your life and worldview. Maybe you’re very involved in your local synagogue, polka dancing club, or environmental organization. University of Washington wants to know about your life beyond the classroom and how you will continue those activities and interests on their campus. Why do you invest in the people you invest in?
Additional Information About Yourself or Your Circumstances (Optional, 200 word max)
This prompt is an opportunity for you to explain anything else from your life that is not addressed elsewhere on the application, and that you think would be a valuable contribution to the package you’re presenting. This can be the explanation of a complication, like an illness that caused you to miss school and impacted your grades. It can also be a place for you to talk about how you’ve taught yourself piano in your spare time — something that might not show up in your official activities list. What else might admissions officers want or need to know about you? You have an additional 200 words at your disposal to speak to them in your own voice, so use them as long as what you’re writing isn’t simply filler — if that’s the case, it’s better just to leave this blank. That said, we’re confident you can find something to highlight here!
While grades and test scores are important, the University of Washington makes it clear to applicants that UW wants to get to know you and what you can contribute to their campus. Here are a few of the tips we give to our Collegewise students that can help you make the most of that opportunity.
1. Spend the time to show UW you are more than just your numbers.
The UW application has two required essays, an optional third essay, and an activities log. Successful applicants see this not as a burden, but an opportunity to show sides of themselves that grades and test scores can’t convey. So set aside enough time to reflect on and write the stories you want to share. The time and attention you give to their application will be an indication of just how interested you really are in UW, so make sure you’re proud of what your application says about you.
2. Before you write the essays, read all the directions, including the tips.
We know that “Read the directions” isn’t exactly groundbreaking advice. But the essay section of the UW application includes not only the essay prompts, but also tips to help you choose appropriate stories. Don’t ignore these! The admissions office is coming right out and telling you what they’re interested in learning more about. You’re getting guidance from the officers themselves. So listen to their advice. Before you dive in and start writing, take the time to read and think about the prompts and the accompanying tips.
3. When writing the short essay, the key is to think about your appreciation of differences.
The short-answer questions about how you’ll contribute to the campus diversity, or to relate a personal experience with cultural differences, are really asking you to think more about UW’s diverse environment. The UW student body comes from all different backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints. Students who are happiest at UW enroll hoping to meet and learn from people who are different from them. They look for ways to share their own backgrounds and viewpoints with other members of the campus community. Are you excited to do those things? What life experiences have you had that make you want UW’s diverse environment for your college experience? What could you contribute to, and learn from, your fellow UW students? Express your appreciation for those potential opportunities in your short-answer responses.
4. Make the most of your activity summary paragraphs.
UW invites you to write “a substantial paragraph” about up to five of your most significant activities. This is a huge opportunity for you to share insight into the activity that you could never reveal in a simple resume. For example, one of our former Collegewise students who went on to be a Husky wrote about how she was painfully shy until she got a job at the drive-through window at a fast food restaurant, and that taking customers’ orders actually made her a much more outgoing, sociable person. That never would have been evident to an admissions officer had she just listed the basic facts about her job. Share more. UW wants to know!
5. Share legitimate hardship, but don’t create it.
Buying into a misguided notion that hardship equals some sort of admissions advantage, many students manufacture hardship when applying to a college, taking a circumstance that might not have been so challenging, but presenting it as if it were. This is always a mistake. If you’ve experienced a hardship or other life challenge that has impacted your education, UW wants to know about it—they’ll consider your application in light of your circumstances. But if you’re manufacturing hardship, UW will probably know it. It’s not worth the risk. Share another part of your life that will likely be much more interesting and effective.
Note: Before you follow our tips, we recommend you read our “How to” guide here: Download HowToUse30Guides
And if you have other questions about essays, applications, interviews or financial aid, visit our online store. We’ve got books, videos and downloadable guides to help you. Or you could speak with one of our online college counselors.
Filed Under: Advice for specific colleges