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Not sure how to start your University of Washington essays? CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the University of Washington supplemental essays will show you how to approach the UW essay prompts. We’ll give you exclusive tips on how to write engaging UW application essays that will maximize your admissions odds.If you need help on your University of Washington supplemental essays, create your free account or schedule a complimentary advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

UW Essay Prompts Quick Facts:

  • The University of Washington has an acceptance rate of 56.0%—U.S. News ranks the University of Washington as a more selective school.
  • There are three University of Washington supplemental essays; two are required and one is optional. You must submit your UW essays as part of your Coalition Application.

Does the University of Washington require essays?

Yes, UW requires you to answer several University of Washington essay prompts. UW is part of the Coalition for College, so you must use the Coalition Application to submit your UW application essays. Take a look at UW’s How to Apply page for step-by-step instructions on UW’s application process. This includes information on the UW essay prompts and tips for writing the UW essays.Some University of Washington supplemental essays are required, while others are optional. The Coalition Essay Personal Statement is not required by UW. Instead, UW has provided several school-specific University of Washington essay prompts. There are two required University of Washington essays: one longer essay and one short response. There is one optional UW essay that asks for any additional information you want to include in your application.

Does the University of Washington care about essays?

Yes! The UW application essays are UW Admissions’ way of learning who you are as a person. UW Admissions uses a holistic review process, meaning they consider your UW essays and extracurriculars alongside your academics. Specifically, UW breaks down their review into two categories: Preparation & Performance and Personal Achievements & Characteristics. While the first depends on your grades and courses, your University of Washington supplemental essays are the perfect place to emphasize the second.UW looks for students who will both succeed academically and contribute to campus life. Your UW application essays should capture who you are and how you will shine at UW. Each of the University of Washington essay prompts lets you share different aspects of what matters to you.

How do I write my University of Washington essays?

To make your University of Washington supplemental essays count, remember to consider your audience. Your UW essays should convey who you are, how you’d succeed at UW, and what you might bring to UW’s campus.Take time with the University of Washington essay prompts, and give the same amount of consideration to each. While one of the UW essay prompts is shorter than the other, that doesn’t mean it will be easier to write.Your University of Washington essays should be clear, concise, captivating, and completely answer the UW essay prompts. Here are some steps to follow:

UW Essay Prompts Checklist:

1. Brainstorm

Before you begin writing, create a list of topics related to the University of Washington essay prompts. In the next section of this guide, we’ll break down each of the UW essay prompts to help you get started.

2. Draft

Once you’ve chosen a topic, it is time to get writing. Don’t worry about making your first draft perfect—it doesn’t need to be! Just focus on getting your story down on paper.

3. Revise

Ask yourself: does my essay specifically answer the UW essay prompts? Am I telling a story? Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end? Does my essay show who I am? Because each of the UW essay prompts has a specific word limit, it’s important to make every word count.

4. Proofread

Read through your essay for any spelling or grammatical errors. The admissions team will review thousands of UW essays, and we want your University of Washington essays to stand out for the right reasons. Make sure your responses to the UW essay prompts are as clear and easy to read so your personality can shine.

5. Get a second opinion

Have someone else—a family member, mentor, even a peer—read your essay . A second pair of eyes will notice how your UW essays read, whether your story flows, and how well you’ve addressed the UW essay prompts.

6. Repeat steps 3-4 until you are satisfied with your UW essay prompts

Remember, the writing process is a process. Give yourself enough time ahead of the deadline to think about the UW essay prompts. Draft your UW essays, take a step away, and come back to them with fresh eyes.

Keep reworking your UW application essays until the following statements are true:

  • My UW essays tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Each of my essays answers the UW essay prompt.
  • All of my UW essays emphasize who I am and what is important to me.
  • My UW essays have no spelling or grammatical errors.

What are the University of Washington essays?

Let’s break down each of the University of Washington essay prompts so you can begin writing your UW application essays! There are three UW essay prompts. Two are required and one is optional.We have provided all three UW essay prompts for the 2021-2022 University of Washington supplemental essays below. You’ll find a breakdown of how to approach each of the University of Washington essay prompts as well as tips for writing UW essays that will stand out.

UW Essay Prompts – Question 1 (Required)

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it (650 words or less).

Of all the University of Washington essay prompts, this one is the longest and the most open-ended. This essay should focus on some part of your character: the qualities that determine how you move through the world. This will be the underlying message of your essay.

Identify your values

To begin your brainstorm, write out your values. List any qualities you care about— honesty, compassion, curiosity, etc. For each characteristic, think of a moment that taught you something about this quality and a moment it was tested. For example, if your characteristic was honesty, you might think about a time you lied and the consequences of your actions. Or, maybe you think of a moment where you had to choose between lying and being honest.If you’re not sure which characteristic to highlight, start by brainstorming potential stories. Try to think of a time when you were proud of yourself, when you were challenged, or when you learned a lesson.

You can also check out UW Admissions’ list of Personal achievements and Characteristics for ideas of what to discuss in your UW application essays.

Whatever story you tell, make sure your experience involves you making a decision or taking action. A story with a conflict and resolution will make your essay more engaging. Once you have settled on your topic, without second-guessing yourself, write out what happened and, more importantly, what you got out of the situation.A great way to make sure you’ve answered the UW essay prompts is to have another person read your essay without reading the prompt. Then, ask what they learned about you from your essay. If they learned something about your character, then chances are you’ve successfully responded to the question and you can move onto the other UW essay prompts.

UW Essay Prompts – Question 2 (Required)

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 UW (300 words or less).

The second of the required University of Washington essay prompts revolves around community and how it creates unique perspectives. Because the UW essay prompts are quite general, brainstorm before you pick a topic. You’re likely part of many intersecting communities, so start by listing all the communities you belong to. Communities can be as big as a globally practiced religion or as small as a friendship based on Dungeons and Dragons, so don’t leave anything out.

Focus on impact

Once you have your list, think about how these communities impact your life. Remember, diversity is not just based on categories of identity; it also comes from differences in how we view and experience the world. For each community, do two free-writes: one detailing the important characteristics, beliefs, and events shared within that community and one detailing how that community impacts how you move through the world.The prompt then asks you to imagine how you might add to the diversity of UW. Maybe you want to join a specific student group or even start a new one! Maybe you want to bring your point of view into a field of study where it’s not typically included. For each community on your list, brainstorm how it would impact your time at UW.

Once you’ve done your brainstorm, string your ideas together. If you’re having trouble organizing your thoughts, stick to the outline provided by the UW essay prompts. Use the questions “what is your world,” “how are you a product of it,” and “how will you add to the diversity of UW” as guiding questions for the beginning, middle, and end of your essay.

UW Essay Prompts – Question 3 (Optional)

Additional information about yourself or your circumstances (200 words or less).

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 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

Of all the University of Washington essay prompts, this one lets you fill in potential gaps in your application due to various circumstances. If you have had to overcome challenges to get where you are today, UW wants to hear about it. Although this is the shortest of the UW essay prompts, it is important you still craft a story and directly connect your experiences to your application. For example, if you had to start working at a young age to support your family, be sure to include why it is important for the admissions team to know. Maybe you didn’t have time for extracurriculars, or maybe you had to make extra efforts to stay on top of your homework.

You should also make sure you include what the experience means to you. For instance, maybe your hardships taught you to be more responsible, or maybe you learned how to ask for help when you need it. If you choose to respond to this last of the UW essay prompts, make sure your reader knows why you chose to include it. As with your other two University of Washington essays, remember to be brief, specific, and honest.

Additional Tips for the University of Washington Essays

In addition to the UW essay prompts, below is a video from UW Admissions with Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement. To save you time as you begin working on your UW essays, we’ve provided their top ten tips for writing the UW essays below. We’ve also included tips on how to apply them to your University of Washington supplemental essays.

“Write to the prompt.”

Your University of Washington essays will only be successful if they completely answer the UW essay prompts. Be sure to use our breakdowns of the University of Washington essay prompts, and keep the UW essay prompts in mind when editing your drafts.

“Avoid overused topics.”

Be thorough as you brainstorm topics for each of the UW essay prompts. If you read the UW essay prompts and choose to write about a common experience, use specific details in your UW application essays that show what makes your experience unique.

“Use language you can manage.”

When in doubt, always lean towards simple and straightforward language in your University of Washington essays. Your UW application essays should be written in your voice. Don’t try to sound more intelligent as you respond to the UW essay prompts.

“Keep it simple and real.”

Often, the little things in life have the biggest impact. As you brainstorm topics for your UW application essays, don’t feel pressured to construct the most complicated story. Remember, Admissions wants to be impressed by you! Just be yourself and show them exactly who you are.

“Use humor, honesty, and humility.”

Respond to the UW essay prompts in your own voice. If you have a humorous voice, let that shine through, but only use humor if it feels natural. No matter your writing style, all of your University of Washington essays should be honest and authentic. If you choose to write about your accomplishments, try to do so without bragging or showing off.

“Make it memorable.”

Your University of Washington supplemental essays will be memorable if you are passionate about the story you are telling. Don’t worry about if Admissions will find your story interesting—if your UW application essays are honest, specific, and exciting to you, they’ll be exciting to read.

“Find the sweet spot.”

Each of the University of Washington essay prompts has a specific word count. While your UW application essays should not be over the word count, it isn’t a bad thing if they are under. For example, if you can tell your story in 400 words, don’t add fluff to reach the 650-word limit. Just be sure your UW essays are specific and detailed enough to paint a complete picture for your reader.

“Proofread.”

The last thing you want Admissions thinking about as they finish reading your UW application essays is a typo. Make sure to double-check your UW essays for spelling and grammar. Try to complete your University of Washington essays ahead of the deadline so you can give yourself a few days away from your UW essays before your final proofread.

“Punctuate properly.”

Punctuation can change the entire meaning of a sentence, so it’s important you punctuate your University of Washington essays correctly. Try highlighting all your commas, periods, etc., and reading your essay out loud. If someone is helping you edit your UW essays, ask them to do a read-through specifically looking at punctuation.

Write a punchy first line.”

While it is important your University of Washington essays have a strong opening, don’t let this tip trap you into trying to be overly funny or clever. Your UW application essays thrive on specificity, so write an opening line suited to your specific story and voice.

UW Essay Prompts: Final Thoughts

Remember, the University of Washington essay prompts are your chance to introduce yourself to Admissions. Although your academic history is an important part of your application, your UW application essays let UW see who you are beyond numbers and statistics. If you feel your transcript or test scores doesn’t reflect the kind of student you are or hope to become, your University of Washington essays are the place to showcase your best self.While the University of Washington essay prompts may seem like a challenge, remember you have complete control over your UW application essays. The strength of your UW essays relies entirely on how much time, effort, and care you put into them. Start thinking about the UW essay prompts early so you can make your University of Washington supplemental essays the best they can be.


This 2021-2022 essay guide on UW was written by Stefanie Tedards. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources, click here. Want help crafting your University of Washington supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a complimentary advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.