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!
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.