WashU supplemental essay

WashU Supplemental Essays 2023-24

Are you thinking of applying to Washington University? If so, you’ll need to focus on creating the strongest WashU supplemental essays you can in order to impress Washington University admissions. The Washington University supplemental essays form a key part of any impressive application. 

Washington University is a mid-size research university in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s one of the best colleges in the Midwest, just behind renowned universities like UChicago and Northwestern. Founded in 1853, WashU prides itself on academic excellence. In addition to excellent undergraduate programs, WashU also offers exceptional graduate programs.

What we’ll cover

In this guide, we’ll go over some quick facts about the Washington University essay. Then, we’ll answer some common questions about the Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays and give you some tips on how to write Washington University essays that stand out. 

Applying to college can be a daunting process. However, don’t let the WashU supplemental essays scare you. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Washington University supplemental essays. 

First, let’s go over some quick facts about Washington University and the Washington University essay. 

Washington University Essay: Quick Facts

  • Washington University Acceptance Rate: 13%, according to U.S. News. U.S. News ranks WashU a most selective school. The Washington University ranking is #15, nationally. 
  • Understanding the Washington University Essay requirements: 
    • One 200-word essay
  • Washington University Application: You can apply to WashU using either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Make sure you have all of your required materials prepared before you submit your application. 
  • Washington University Application Deadlines: Make sure you keep careful track of your application deadlines when applying to WashU.
    • Early Decision I: November 1
    • Early Decision II: January 3
    • Regular Decision: January 3
  • Washington University Essay tip: Successful WashU supplemental essays will be authentic. The Washington University essay is a “Why Major” essay. Students should carefully consider their study interests and reasons behind them when crafting their WashU supplemental essays.

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website. 

Does Washington University require an essay?

WashU supplemental essay

First, let’s go over the basics: are there any required WashU supplemental essays?

The short answer is yes! There is one required Washington University essay. Keep in mind that the WashU supplemental essays might change slightly from year to year. Additionally, as a good practice when applying to any school, always check the admissions site for the latest information.  

When you hear people talking about WashU supplemental essays this year, they’re only talking about the “why major” essay. This means that all Washington University supplemental essays will focus on applicants’ future study interests. 

The WashU supplemental essays are an essential part of your application. To learn more about this year’s requirements for your Washington University supplemental essays, keep reading.

How many essays do you have to write for WashU?

WashU supplemental essay

If you’re working on your WashU supplemental essays this year, you’re in luck: there is only one required supplemental essay. However, this doesn’t mean that you should put less thought or effort into your Washington University supplemental essay. On the contrary, since you only have one chance to impress the Washington University admissions team, you need to make it count.

But how can students make their WashU supplemental essays stand out? Overall, there is no one set way of writing successful WashU supplemental essays. However, strong WashU supplemental essays will be honest, concise, and share something new about the applicant. 

Since there’s only one Washington University essay this year, you can put all of your focus into making this one essay the best it can be. This year’s WashU essay prompts are fairly straightforward: they ask you about your intended intellectual pursuits at WashU. 

After reading WashU supplemental essays, admissions officers will have a good idea of what applicants want to study and why. Additionally, they’ll know why students want to pursue their intended majors at WashU specifically. 

Washington University Supplemental Essay

As we’ve mentioned, your Washington University essay will discuss what you plan on studying at WashU and why. 

Here’s the prompt for the WashU supplemental essays:

WashU Supplemental Essay Prompt

Please tell us what you are interested in studying at college and why. (200 words)

Seems pretty straightforward, right? In fact, you may have seen similar prompts in other schools’ essay requirements. Why Major essays are a favorite among admissions teams. So, it’s likely not unique to your Washington University application. In fact, you might even be able to reuse some parts of your answer for other essays—or use writing for other schools for your Washington University supplemental essays.

Understanding the prompts

This year’s prompt for the WashU supplemental essays essentially asks: why do you plan on pursuing your intended major? We call this type of essay a Why Major essay. Many universities want to learn more about your academic interests—namely, what course of study you will pursue. After all, attending college is first and foremost about learning. So, your WashU supplemental essays should explain what you want to study—but most importantly, why you want to study it. Successful WashU supplemental essays will also highlight a student’s specific interest in WashU. 

However, just because this prompt is common doesn’t mean that it calls for a common answer. In fact, great WashU supplemental essays will dive much deeper than simply stating facts and answering the prompt on a surface level. 

Keep in mind that students only have 200 words for their Washington University supplemental essays. So, every sentence counts. This doesn’t mean that students should frantically cram as much information as possible about themselves into their WashU supplemental essays. However, they should strategically use every word to tell a compelling story about themselves and their passions. 

How can you craft a successful why major essay in so few words? While there’s no one rule for writing successful WashU supplemental essays, there are some key tips you can keep in mind throughout the writing process.

Tips for approaching this why major essay

WashU supplemental essay

As you write your WashU supplemental essays, you might wonder how you can write something that stands out, especially with WashU essay prompts as straightforward as this one. How can you write something unique?

5 tips to get you started with your WashU supplemental essays: 

1. Tell a story

One way to make an essay as seemingly simple as the why major essay stand out is through a solid structure. With only 200 words, you can still include structural components that take the reader on a journey. Start with a hook that lets your reader know this essay will be different from the hundreds of other WashU supplemental essays that they’ve read that day. 

This hook could be an anecdote: a brief story about a moment that inspired your academic passions. Maybe you are motivated to study medicine because a family member was in and out of the hospital when you were growing up. Or, maybe you plan on majoring in psychology because you joined a peer counseling club in high school and realized how many people are struggling with mental health concerns. You don’t have to use dialogue (though many do!), but your hook should place the reader right in the heart of the action. 

Your hook could also be a quote. Is there something a teacher said to you along the way that inspired you personally or academically? Did you watch a documentary about a prominent thinker in your field where they mentioned something that stuck with you? Is there a line from one of your favorite writers that informs how you approach the world? The quote could even be a line from a poem or a song. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative: that’s what will grab your reader’s attention and make your WashU supplemental essays stand out. 

2. Be unique or original

Many students get tripped up by advice like this when writing their WashU supplemental essays. However, being unique really just means being yourself. So, in your WashU supplemental essays, simply write something specific to you and your experience. No one is like you, and therefore your own life experiences are inherently unique! 

For this why major essay, the more specifically you can convey your passions, the more your essay will stand out. The WashU supplemental essays ask what you plan to study at WashU. However, remember that the operative word here isn’t actually study, but you. What do you want to study, and why? Everyone has different reasons for pursuing a field. So, dive into your reasons for pursuing this intellectual path.

Getting specific

Let’s look at a sample scenario so you can get a feel for how successful WashU supplemental essays work. Many students, for instance, want to study computer science. If you write your Washington University supplemental essays around this topic, you might find it hard to stand out. Instead of saying “I’m interested in computer science because I want to learn how to build an app,” think about how your interest in CS is unique. Maybe you grew up gaming, and from the first moment you played Mario Kart you were awed by the world created within the game. So, you decided you just had to learn how it was built. Or, maybe you want to create an app that will solve a real problem—what problem is it? Why do you care about this specific issue? Or maybe you’ve already dabbled in coding—what did you make, and why? 

No matter the area of study, the one thing that will make your story stand out is that it’s your story. Don’t be afraid to tell it! 

3. Do your research

Remember, regardless of the question, successful WashU supplemental essays will show why you want to go WashU—not just why you want to go to college or what you want to study in general. One way to demonstrate this point is to do your research on WashU. Then, incorporate your findings into your WashU supplemental essays. 

Since this year’s Washington University supplemental essays are why major essays, take some time to look into the WashU majors. Sure, many schools have similar majors: English, history, math, psychology, and even a pre-med track. However, your Washington University supplemental essays let you showcase your interest in the majors that WashU has to offer. Additionally, 80% of all undergraduates at WashU pursue multiple majors or minors, so don’t be afraid to dive into multiple interests. 

An example

Let’s say you want to major in history. But, because of your many years playing the saxophone, you’re also interested in pursuing a minor or double major in Jazz Studies. You might explore the connection between the two areas. For example, you might write about your fascination with how the Great Migration affected jazz in the north and the south. 

Or perhaps you’re thinking of studying chemistry to prepare you for a career in medicine but are equally fascinated by the history of medicine. Well, you might write about your interest in a minor in Medical Humanities. You’d emerge a better candidate for medical school and a lucky recipient of a well-rounded education. And, by specifying this in your WashU supplemental essays, you’ll immediately stand out from other pre-med applicants. 

4. Focus on your passions

Even though these WashU essay prompts focus on majors specifically, not everyone knows what they want to major in. So, what do you do if you’re undecided?

Use your Washington University supplemental essays as a way to explore your interests. Yes, you should probably list a specific major, but the major itself doesn’t need to be the focus of the essay. If you are applying to a prestigious university like WashU, you are probably intellectually curious and care about academics. Let this passion shine through! What do you genuinely care about? During your college experience, what do you want to learn? What experiences have sparked these interests? 

Pursuing multiple fields

Many students get stumped because they have multiple areas of interest. That’s perfectly fine! In fact, it makes you a dynamic candidate. However, when you’re writing your Washington University supplemental essays, think about how you could draw a thread between your areas of interest. Maybe you’re a dancer who adored AP Physics. It’s okay if you don’t know which of these passions you’ll follow—you can talk about both! 

Moreover, to write even more thoughtful Washington University supplemental essays, think about how your passions could intersect. Is there anything about you that you think primes you to be passionate about both dance and physics? Or, is there something that they have in common? 

Or perhaps you’d simply like to minor in dance and major in physics. You might look up where those buildings are on the WashU campus. Tell Washington University admissions a story of what your typical day would look like as a student, walking back and forth between the two buildings with the calculations for the perfect arc of a grand jeté lingering in your mind. 

5. Use impeccable grammar and spelling

This tip for writing strong Washington University supplemental essays should go without saying, but we’re saying it: your WashU supplemental essays should have perfect spelling and grammar. 

If you know that you struggle with these areas, you can always use an online spelling or grammar checker. Most documents will tell you if you spell something wrong, and some even intervene when your sentences run on or you miss a punctuation mark. 

Another tip for writing a grammatically coherent essay is to read the essay out loud. You can read it to yourself, or to a parent or friend. Reading the essay out loud will help you catch run-on sentences or clunky language. It will also help you catch any typos: words that you’ve repeated or a rogue word leftover from a previous draft. 

The last thing you want is for admissions to be distracted from your wonderful narrative because of careless mistakes. So, your Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays need to be perfectly written. And, since you only have one Washington University essay of 200 words to write, there’s no excuse for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Double and triple check your essay, and enlist help when proofreading. 

Preparing to write WashU supplemental essays

Overall, this year’s WashU essay prompts ask you to write about what you plan to study at WashU and why. Now that you’ve read these tips on how to write your Washington University supplemental essays, we hope that you feel more confident about writing your why major essay. For more tips on how to write the best Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays, and how to write great college essays in general, check out this guide

Before we conclude our guide on how to write the strongest Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays, let’s explore why writing strong Washington University supplemental essays matters.

Does Washington University in St. Louis care about essays?

WashU supplemental essay

We’ve discussed how to write the best Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays. Next, let’s talk about how the admissions team will review your essays. 

The Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays are a significant part of the application. As such, they can make a key difference in the admissions committee’s decision. Washington University is a prestigious university with many applicants each year. The Washington University acceptance rate is 13%, and the Washington University ranking is #15 in National Universities. Additionally, it’s considered one of the best colleges in the midwest. All of these factors make WashU a most selective school. Therefore, every part of your application counts. 

Understanding the review process

WashU approaches applications holistically. This means that they look at every part of your application, not just your grades or class rank. WashU will, of course, still take your academic standing into consideration. But, the admissions officers will also look at your Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurriculars. 

Similar to many other colleges, Washington University is currently test-optional. This means that you do not have to submit SAT or ACT scores as these metrics are not required. WashU will assess every application equally, regardless of whether or not you choose to submit test scores. If you are able to take the SAT or ACT and you score at or above the average for WashU, we recommend submitting your scores. If you do not take these tests, or if your scores would not help your application, you do not need to submit.

An important piece of the puzzle

Overall, the Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays are a significant part of the application. Though these essays are no more important than any other requirement, they are another piece of the puzzle that helps admissions officers get to know you. 

Your Washington University essay and the Common App essay are the only places in your application where you can express yourself in your own voice. With their Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays, students can speak directly to the admissions team. So, give them an idea of what kind of student you would be at WashU.

Looking for more advice on how to get into WashU? Check out our guide to give yourself the best odds of gaining admission. 

WashU Supplemental Essays – 5 Takeaways

WashU supplemental essay

We hope that after reading this guide on the Washington University in St Louis supplemental essays, you feel ready to tackle your Washington University essay. 

Here are five takeaways to remember when writing your Washington University essay:

  1. The Washington University acceptance rate is 13%, and the Washington University ranking is #15 in U.S. News’ Best National Universities list. This makes WashU a most selective school. So, you’ll need to write a strong essay in order to distinguish yourself from a competitive applicant pool. 
  2. There is one 200-word required Washington University essay. Make sure each word of your essay plays an important role in telling your story. 
  3. The WashU essay prompt for this year is a Why Major essay. So, carefully consider your academic interests. Research program offerings only available at WashU and, most importantly, expand on why they interest you.
  4. When writing your essay, remember these tips: tell a story, be original, do your research, focus on your passions, and always check your grammar. If you’ve done all these things, chances are you’ve written a solid WashU essay.
  5. Make sure that you prepare all of your materials before you apply and are mindful of the application deadlines: Early Decision, Regular Decision, and Early Decision II. Don’t wait until the last moment to get all of your application requirements together, especially the essay.

We believe that you can master the college process—and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.  We’ll help you gain acceptance into WashU, just like one of our favorite students

Now, go forth and write your WashU essay!

washu supplemental essays

This essay guide was written by advisor, Rachel Kahn. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.