Not sure how to approach the UIUC essay prompts? With tips from an Ivy League graduate, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the UIUC essay prompts will show you exactly how to write engaging essays for your UIUC application and maximize your chances of admission.

For help navigating the lower-than-average UIUC acceptance rate and more CollegeAdvisor.com resources, click here. Want help crafting your UIUC supplement essays? Create your free account or schedule your free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.


UIUC Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • The UIUC acceptance rate is 63%—U.S. News ranks UIUC as a competitive school.
  • We recommend answering all UIUC essay prompts comprehensively and thoughtfully.

What is UIUC known for?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is known for providing an excellent public education, as evinced by the impressive UIUC ranking. According to US News, UIUC is one of the top fifty universities in the country.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign website provides more detailed information on who they are as a university. When completing the UIUC essay prompts, it can be very helpful to read the website beforehand. This will help you familiarize yourself with the type of language they use when they discuss their programs and what they look for in applicants.

Their website explains that UIUC prides itself on “pioneer[ing] innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience.” They also write that their “transformative learning experiences, in and out of the classroom, are designed to produce alumni who desire to make a significant societal impact.”

Faculty

UIUC has 29 Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni and faculty. The UIUC community includes over 51,000 students from all fifty states and over 100 countries. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s mission is as follows: “The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is charged by our state to enhance the lives of citizens in Illinois, across the nation and around the world through our leadership in learning, discovery, engagement, and economic development.” Their vision statement confirms that UIUC strives to be “the preeminent public research university with a land-grant mission and global impact.”

You can read each of the detailed blurbs on their faculty, academic resources, research, the arts, and their undergraduate education experience on the UIUC website. Regarding their undergraduate experience, UIUC states, “the fundamental promise at Illinois for nearly 150 years has been to provide our undergraduate students with truly transformative educational experiences. Whether these experiences take place in the classroom, in the surrounding community, or around the globe, our students leave this campus with the skills, knowledge, and drive to become leaders in their fields and to lead lives of impact in the world.”

What is the acceptance rate at UIUC?

The UIUC acceptance rate is 63%, according to U.S. News. Compared to the UIUC acceptance rate, the national average for college acceptance rates is 68%. The UIUC acceptance rate, therefore, signals that UIUC is a relatively competitive school.

What does the UIUC acceptance rate mean? Well, a few things. First, when you’re building your college list, you’ll want to keep the UIUC acceptance rate in mind. It’s important to apply to a combination of “reach,” “target,” and “safety” schools. UIUC would likely fall in either the “target” or “safety” category, based on the UIUC acceptance rate.

Want to learn more about how to use data like the UIUC acceptance rate in building a college list? Check out our blog articles on acceptance ratescollege rankings, and building a college list.

Wondering how else you can use the UIUC acceptance rate? Think of it as an incentive to write the best essays possible. Given the UIUC acceptance rate, you should respond comprehensively to the UIUC supplement essays to submit the strongest application you can. The UIUC application process is competitive, and while the UIUC acceptance rate is lower than the national average, it shouldn’t discourage you from applying.

What is the ranking for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?

The UIUC ranking is #47 in National Universities and is ranked #15 in Top Public Schools, according to U.S. News.

In terms of specific programs, the UIUC ranking is #6 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs, and the UIUC ranking is #3 in Best Undergraduate Accounting Programs.

These are just some of the UIUC rankings to keep in mind as you approach writing your UIUC essay prompts. However, a school’s rankings should not be the only thing you take into consideration when compiling your college list. Don’t take the UIUC ranking too seriously! As you build your college list, consider other factors beyond the UIUC acceptance rate. This includes the school’s location, programs, campus culture. The UIUC rankings should not be the only important factor in your decision to apply to UIUC.

Keep in mind that the best college for you may not be the one you expected! There are a lot of different resources available when it comes to researching colleges; be sure to consult a few to ensure you create a comprehensive list. At the end of the day, the UIUC rankings mentioned above—like all college rankings—are simply a tool. Don’t get hung up on the UIUC rankings; instead, just focus on finding the best school for you.

Need help creating a college list? Check out our resources on the college list process.

Does the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have essays?

Yes. Depending on which platform you use to apply to UIUC (Common AppCoalition App, and myIllini), you’ll have to complete a personal statement, as well as several UIUC essay prompts. The questions that you answer depend on whether you’re applying to a major or an undeclared program. Given the relatively low UIUC acceptance rate, we recommend that you answer the UIUC essay prompts thoughtfully and authentically. This will help your application stand out. Strong responses to the UIUC essay prompts will maximize your chances of admission.

Need tips on writing your Common App essay? Check out our blog article.

How many essays does the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign require?

The UIUC application includes two optional UIUC essay prompts. Although the UIUC essay prompts are both optional, we recommend you respond to all UIUC essay prompts that apply to your situation in order to strengthen your UIUC application.

With the competitive UIUC acceptance rate, your responses to the UIUC essay prompts can make a major difference in your admissions results. Remember, your UIUC supplement essays are your chance to show the admissions team what makes you unique. By completing the UIUC essay prompts, you can maximize every opportunity the UIUC admissions team gives you.

UCIC Essay Prompts – Question 1 (Optional)

Explain any challenges (outside of COVID-related) you have faced throughout your academic career, including the dates or timeline below. (300 words maximum)

How to write the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign essays

Of all of the UIUC essays prompts, this one is a great opportunity to discuss an obstacle you have faced during your academic career and how you overcame it. You should address how this obstacle helped you grow as both a person and a student. You also want to avoid centering this UIUC application essay on COVID, as the prompt specifically asks you to avoid writing about that.

Since the UIUC essay prompts allows you to include specific dates, you might choose to discuss an event, situation, or challenge which affected you over an extended period of time. You might write about a months-long battle with a serious illness that either you or a family member went through. Your essay may describe that have been unhoused for a period of time during your academic career. You may have had to take over for your parent or guardian as being the primary caretaker for your home, or you might have had to work a full-time after-school job which took away time from your academics.

Add detail

When writing this UIUC application essay, you want to explain the circumstance in detail. Then, turn to what you learned from this circumstance, how you grew from it, or what has changed with regard to this obstacle. If it is a long-term situation you have been experiencing, you will want to address how you have learned to manage or balance this situation and how you will continue to manage it when you arrive at UIUC.

This UIUC supplement essay is optional. If you truly don’t have a significant challenge that has influenced your academic career, you shouldn’t feel pressured to complete this UIUC application essay. However, if you have an important experience to share, this UIUC supplement essay gives you a great chance to share more about your background with the admissions team.

UIUC Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Does your UIUC application essay avoid COVID and COVID-related circumstances?
  • Do you describe the experience and then address your actions to change the situation?
  • Does your UIUC application essay demonstrate personal growth in response to your chosen obstacle?

UCIC Essay Prompts – Question 2 (Optional)

If you have a low grade or a drop in grades that you have not already explained, do so below. (300 words maximum)

Although we typically recommend that you complete all optional supplemental essays, the second of the UIUC essay prompts presents an exception to that rule. If your application is academically strong without a low grade or a drop in grades to explain in this UIUC application essay, then you do not necessarily need to respond to this prompt. Use your best judgment to decide if you can justify writing this optional UIUC supplement essay.

For example, if you got an A- in a class for your overall grade, and all of your other grades are A’s, you might be tempted to explain your A- using this UIUC essay. However, admissions officers may consider this an unnecessary addition to your UIUC application. This question is designed to explain drastic or surprising discrepancies or changes in your academic record.

Different Topics

Your response to this UIUC application essay should also address a distinctly different topic than your previous UIUC supplement essay, as noted in the prompt. If your drop in grades was already explained by answering previous UIUC essay prompts about a significant challenge you faced, then you do not have to rewrite that response with slightly different wording for this UIUC application essay.

If, however, the academic challenge you wrote about in the first UIUC supplement essay does not relate to a low grade you received, you should complete this UIUC application essay. You could talk about losing a loved one or a personal struggle your family faced socially or economically. Again, many of these topics could be responses to the previous UIUC application essay as well, so you should make sure you do not write the same essay for both UIUC essay prompts.

UIUC Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you use straightforward language to explain your situation?
  • Do you address a different topic than your previous UIUC application essay?
  • Does your essay teach admissions officers something important about yourself and complement the rest of your UIUC application?

UIUC Supplement Essay Guide — Final Thoughts

Completing these UIUC essay prompts can seem daunting, especially in light of the UIUC acceptance rate. However, don’t let that discourage you from applying. The UIUC supplement essays are a great opportunity to show the admissions team who you are and what your circumstances have been.

Given the lower than average UIUC acceptance rate, these essays can boost your application if you have a lower than average GPA or SAT score. Use this guide as a step-by-step aid when approaching the UIUC essay prompts, and start earlier than you think you should. Each of the UIUC essay prompts can make a major difference in admissions.

Want more tips from UIUC’s undergraduate admissions team on how to approach the UIUC essay prompts? Check out this video from two admissions counselors below.

Remember to complete the “optional” UIUC essay prompts if you feel they apply to your situation. Completing the optional UIUC application essays can strengthen your UIUC application and contend with the UIUC acceptance rate. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions from someone; it’s helpful to have another set of eyes checking your UIUC supplement essays for grammatical errors, tone, and clarity. Good luck!


This 2021-2022 essay guide on UIUC was written by Laura Frustaci, Harvard ‘21. It shows you exactly how to write engaging essays and maximize your chances against the UIUC acceptance rate. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on UIUC and the admissions process, click here.

Want help crafting your UIUC supplement essays? Create your free account or schedule a free advising assessment by calling (844) 343-6272.