A. Essay (Required)
At the University of Washington, we consider the college essay as our opportunity to see the person behind the transcripts and the numbers. Some of the best statements are written as personal stories. In general, concise, straightforward writing is best, and that good essays are often 300 to 400 words in length.
Maximum length: 500 words
The UW will accept any of the five Coalition prompts.
Choose from the options listed below.
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
- What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give younger siblings or friends (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
B. Short Response (Required)
Maximum length: 300 words
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.
Keep in mind that the University of Washington strives to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values, and viewpoints.
C. Additional Information About Yourself or Your Circumstances (Optional)
Maximum length: 200 words
You are not required to write anything in this section, but you may include additional information if something has particular significance to you. For example, you may use this space if:
- You are hoping to be placed in a specific major soon
- A personal or professional goal is particularly important to you
- You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education
- Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations
- You have experienced unusual limitations or opportunities unique to the schools you attended
D. Additional Space (Optional)
You may use this space if you need to further explain or clarify answers you have given elsewhere in this application, or if you wish to share information that may assist the Office of Admissions. If appropriate, include the application question number to which your comment(s) refer.
Format for the essays
- Content is important, but spelling, grammar, and punctuation are also considered.
- We recommend composing in advance, then copy and paste into the application. Double-spacing, italics, and other formatting will be lost, but this will not affect the evaluation of your application.
- We’ve observed that most students write a polished formal essay yet submit a more casual Short Response. Give every part of the writing responses your very best effort, presenting yourself in standard, formal English.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread!
- Write like it matters, not like you’re texting. This is an application for college, not a message to your BFF. Writing i instead of I, cant for cannot, u r for you are: not so kewl.
The main essay is the biggest, and usually most important, component of the University of Washington’s application. But before you begin to consider how to tackle the specific prompt on which you choose to write the main essay, it’s important to consider how to approach this essay in general, regardless of the prompt.
It’s important to note that since you don’t apply to UW through the Common Application, it’s helpful to consider the main essay as, essentially, a Common Application essay. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that this essay should accomplish the same things as a typical Common Application essay — that is, after reading it, the reader should feel like they just became friends with you and know you in a authentic, genuine way.
So, for example, if you are a prospective engineering major, this essay is not the place for you to list off all of the extracurriculars you’ve done that would make you a perfect fit for the engineering school. But it is an excellent time to talk about your intellectual curiosity and your knack for coming up with innovative solutions to problems.
To brainstorm ideas for this essay, you should follow the exact same strategy you would use to brainstorm for a Common Application essay. Make sure that when choosing the prompt you’re going to write about for the main essay, you select one that allows you to highlight the things about your story that you feel are most important.
If you are a very analytical thinker, choose the prompt that asks about a time that your opinion has changed, or if you’re very involved in your community, choose the prompt that asks you to discuss the meaningful contributions you’ve made. The only difference is that since this essay is slightly shorter than a regular Common Application essay (500 words instead of 650), the organization of this essay should be more compact.
Refrain from overly long introductions and conclusions, make your sentences concise and to the point, and make sure that your story flows coherently from paragraph to paragraph.