University of Washington

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University of Washington Entrance Essays and Admission Process

Different rankings place the University of Washington at different positions — from No.14 in the world (2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities) to No 64. in the 2020 National Universities List — it has always had a flawless reputation, entering the public Ivy League, the highest rating for public schools with profound academic achievements.

The University of Washington becomes the alma mater for students from all over the country each year. Its campus welcomes over 54 000 people annually. The UW site boasts of their ever-present optimism and their belief in human skills and ambitions. The 49% acceptance rate supports this optimism because the applicants have decent chances to become the new UW freshmen.

One of the peculiarities of University of Washington supplemental essays is that you don’t need the standard Coalition Application essay. The university even states it separately at the site, redirecting the applicants to its own admission page. But it doesn’t mean that the enrollment process will become any easier for college applicants. Instead of the standard “Why UW” essay prompt at Coalition App, you need to write the essay on one of the custom University of Washington prompts. You will also need to complete one shorter, community and diversity-related essay. For those who want to say something more, there are 200 extra words of free writing. The aspiring students who want to enter the two Interdisciplinary Honors Program should write yet again an additional UW essay, using one of the two prompts. Now a single Coalition App essay may look way better, but the UW reputation is worth it.

Let’s look closer at each of these essay types and understand what exactly the admission committee wants to see in them.

Types of UW Admission Essays

As we said before, the Coalition essay isn’t mandatory, moreover, it won’t be scored by the admission officers. But if the University of Washington isn’t the only one you are going to apply to, you may still write this essay to send it to the other universities later. The Coalition Application essay has one of the biggest word limits: 650 words, so you may use it to combine everything you’d like to say in all the UW essays.

The main University of Washington supplementary essay should consist of 300-400 words. The UW site states that they expect it to be more personal storytelling than just a bunch of facts. It goes along well with the declared principles of attention to every individual student, not only their scores and grades. Keep in mind that you should submit your University of Washington admission essay instead of the standard Coalition one in the Coalition App form.

The short response should be also added to your Coalition App profile. If the first part is about you and your perspectives, vision, and principles, this one shows your ability to work in a community and respect the diversity in it. You don’t have to search for the “right” answers, the WU team isn’t very fond of standardized responses. You may have a look at our list of UW short response examples and see dozens of ways to express your attitude to diversity without being boring and too good to be true.

Additional 200 words are, well, exactly what is said on the tin. You may use it as you please or not use them at all. Don’t try to write something extra if you have nothing to say. This space is reserved for something very important for you that doesn’t fit into the first two prompts. Maybe, you want to share a brilliant idea, maybe you want to express gratitude, or say something else that you want the university to know. They won’t affect your enrollment chances that much, so think of them as bonuses.

The Interdisciplinary Honors program responses are the most understandable of all. You just have to write why you are interested in them and what you are going to do with the knowledge gained. The style of these University of Washington supplement papers is similar to the first essay, just shorter and more specific.

All the essays have similar format requirements and the ones stated separately at the UW site:

They evaluate both the content and grammar, punctuation, and spelling, so consider spell-checking and proofreading your essay first.

To avoid losing the formatting, the UW team advises you to compose the essay separately and then paste it into the application form. The wrong formatting won’t influence the total grade, but the text will simply look better with it.

They ask the students to use formal English, both for the main essay and short responses. Any of the papers you submit are expected to be in the same style, suitable for the application essays.

Statement Essay for Students who Apply after High School

This prompt usually looks a lot like the standard application portal essays, even more general and vague. You have to talk about yourself, your background, personal story, and experience that made you who you are. But there is one major difference: this essay is much shorter than the Common App’s notorious 650-words one. Maybe, it’s better to choose a single aspect of your life, be it family, friends or study. A single powerful event that changed your life and made you inclined towards this university and this major.

Think about the best speeches in history. Often, the speakers start from something small, personal, seemingly irrelevant. But it unwinds slightly, but steadily, and you see a bigger picture that started from that very story. You might be surprised, but a great short speech takes just enough words to fit into an essay word limit.

The broad UW essay topics allow you to choose any experience you want to share, but try to choose the one that the rest of the audience can relate. Something may have a deeply symbolic meaning for you personally but is difficult to understand outside the context. But if you have the time, words, and passion to explain this context, your essay may become a truly outstanding gem in a pile of similar ones. Remember that University of Washington admission essays are all about personality (or so they say at their site).

You may use a great plot twist and start from the negative experience. Sometimes the challenges shape us in a much more prominent way than good times. If you show what great lemonade you can make from life’s lemons, what endurance and integrity you’ve got after the tough times, it may become a very powerful story. You’ll present yourself as a strong and mature personality able to rise and go further towards your goal no matter what. But to achieve this effect you need to focus on the positive sides and lessons learned. The negative experience is just a premise here, not the main reason you need to be accepted into the UW campus family.

UW Diversity Essay

This is a type of a community essay that shows your attitude and relations to the society. The most common approach to it in many schools is to get the “correct” answer about ponies, rainbow, celebrating diversity and being absolutely tolerant to anything. The University of Washington application essay isn’t about that at all.

The UW site gives you a tip: its goal is a diverse students’ community with a rich cultural background and all the range of opinions. So, you can’t just get a wrong answer here. They just want to know what you may add to this metaphorical “cultural soup” and — what is equally important — what are you “allergic”, too.

It’s okay to have a strong personality and be intolerant to something: you may not be involved in social activities and it’s okay. You may not be eager to learn about other cultures and it’s also okay while you still respect them. Respecting others in any aspect doesn’t mean having no borders and accepting everything they give to you. Don’t focus on your borders and issues, but it’s okay to outline them. Remember, each organization chooses its members, but the members also have the right to choose.

On the positive side you may tell the admission committee about your extracurricular activities, your hobbies, your way of finding friends, activities and interests. It isn’t just a waste of your time and keyboard: the UW management wants to know what they can do to make the campus life fancier. Maybe your ideas may contribute to something cool that will happen: students organizations, clubs, parties or other ways to have a good time. With your UW Diversity essay you invest into the university’s life, and these investments may soon pay back.

The Interdisciplinary Honors Program

This part is the most obvious of all. The UW admission officers want to know why they should enroll you in this program. You should briefly (actually as briefly as possible) let them know about your plans and projects. The Interdisciplinary Honors programs aren’t the thing people want to do just for fun: it’s a serious piece of work and research and great time investment from both sides. So it’s fair that the University of Washington wants to know how the effort of its teachers will later pay off to the society, and what are you going to do with the new knowledge gathered during the program.

The advice here is simple: be laconic and honest. Even if you don’t have the explicit draft of your project, give them the idea, outline your plan of making this idea true and show how the university and society would benefit from it. Don’t worry: only a few people have a solid project idea before application. Show them all the cards you have and we’re sure it will be more than enough.

Cover Letter and Additional Information

The additional 200 words are called additional for a reason. They don’t have a great impact on the application process and they will be considered the last. But still, you may use them to explain something that may look odd in the other documents. For example, if you have an unusually low grade on the list that looks good in any other way, there might be a reason for it. Possibly you were ill, or had issues with that particular teacher, or had to focus on any other subject. You are not trying to talk it out of it, the low grade stays low grade. But you may at least show that you are motivated to learn this subject better and will do so when the conditions will be suitable.

A calm and adult explanation may make you a bit more sympathetic and the admission committee may give you an extra chance despite your grade. But be ready to show them the proof if your story looks very unusual. We don’t have to say the obvious things, but telling the truth, without exaggeration and hiding the uncomfortable details is the best strategy here.

Another way to use these 200 words is to talk about your big dream. Not your project with a palpable plan and milestones to achieve, but something bigger. Something you are ready to dedicate your life to. Maybe it’s helping people in a particular way, maybe it’s discovering new worlds in our galaxy — anything you truly believe in. It won’t necessarily get you enrolled, but it will help the admission committee to see your true colors, and, possibly, some of the equally passionate professors will notice you and offer you a project to work together.

But remember: using these 200 words to extend your main essay is a big no. They are left for something very different. Think of them as a cover letter, while the rest of your application is your CV. Your awards, your mindset, everything that can matter for the university — that’s what the extra space is for.

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