Freshman Admissions Writing Sample Tips
Personal Statement Tips
This page contains advice from the office of Multicultural Outreach & Recruitment. For the most up-to-date prompt information, please view the Admissions Office’s Writing Section.
Choose either A or B. Maximum length: 600 words.
A) Discuss how your family’s experience or cultural history enriched you or presented you with opportunities or challenges in pursuing your educational goals.
B) Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
Think about your family, your culture and life experience. We want to know what makes you distinctive. There are a large number of applicants who have academic records similar to yours. But no one has lived your life. Your personal statement must strengthen and enhance the review of your application. The UW seeks students who will contribute variety of life experiences and backgrounds to the campus. Sharing a part of yourself in your personal statement tells the UW about the unique perspectives and experiences you will bring to the student body. It should be your goal to showcase your best attributes and leave the reader with the impression that you are ready for a collegiate community.
- Some of the best statements are written as personal stories. We welcome your imaginative interpretation.
- You may define experience broadly. For example, in option B, experience could be a meeting with an influential person, a news story that spurred you to action, a family event, or something that might be insignificant to someone else that had particular meaning for you. If you don’t think that any one experience shaped your character, don’t worry. Simply choose an experience that tells us something about you.
Personal Statement Do’s
- Think of your statement as a private individual communication with UW admissions.
- Strive for depth, not breadth.
- Write about things that you have experienced.
- Relate to the reader the full scope of an experience– sights, sounds, etc.
- Write about yourself, not someone else.
- Check carefully for grammatical errors.
- Contact us with your questions.
Personal Statement Don’ts
- Say you’ve always wanted to be a Husky or bleed purple and gold.
- Sound like a thesaurus in an effort to impress.
- Assume that your statement will not be read.
- Spend a lot of time writing about someone else.
- Brag about your sibling, parent, cousin or auntie who graduated from the UW.
- Wait until the last minute.
- Turn in an essay that has not been edited by someone who has experience editing personal statements.
Short Response: Cultural Awareness Tips
Choose one of the following two topics and write a short essay. Maximum length: 300 words.
- The University of Washington seeks to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. How would you contribute to this community?
- Describe an experience of cultural difference or insensitivity you have had or observed. What did you learn from it?
- You may define culture broadly in Topic #2. For example, it may include ethnicity, customs, values, and ideas, all of which contribute to experiences that students can share with others in college. As you reply to this question, reflect on what you have learned — about yourself and society — from an experience of cultural difference.
- Your race alone does not demonstrate cultural awareness. However, your ethnic background can provide context to help the reviewer understand your culture. Use the following working definition of culture to write your short response. Culture: the attitudes, beliefs, values, behavior, dress, arts, and customs associated with a particular group of people. We encourage you to write about your own culture because it is the culture that you know best. This can be challenging because your culture is so deeply rooted that it can appear to be instinctive. However, culture is taught and learned. For a simple demonstration think about all of the cultural choices you made when you chose the outfit you are currently wearing. When you begin to write your cultural response dig deep and don’t be afraid to consult family members, books, or websites to help you better understand and articulate your culture.
Journal of Activity and Achievements Tips
Directions: Identify and describe up to five of your most significant activities and achievements during grades 9-12. Write a paragraph about why this activity or achievement had meaning for you. Tell us about your highest level of achievement or honor you attained, any responsibilities you had, and the contribution you believe you made to your school, community, or organization. Don’t just describe the activity or achievement: tell us what it says about you.
Remember, detail offers the reader a better glimpse into your experience and can make a world of difference in your review.
It is not enough to describe the activity! Tell us how your involvement in this activity/award helped you develop skills or awareness as a result of your participation. Write a complete paragraph about each activity.
In most instances, you will have multiple activities or awards to choose from, and cannot list them all. If there are activities/awards that you can combine under a general category, then you may be able to include more content! For example: Drama would be the general category, and then you could describe the following activities/achievements (directed a play, received outstanding stage production award, acted in the school play, served as the stage crew manager).
Select activities that demonstrate an assortment of talents and abilities (scholastic, athletic, community involvement, participant/leadership). It is equally important to talk about your participation in UW college preparatory programs and events such as GEAR UP, MESA, Math Academy, Upward Bound, UDOC, ACAP, UW Admit, etc.
Directions: Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
Use this section for anything you wish to express that doesn’t seem to fit in any of the required writing areas. For example, if you have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education, if your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations, or if you want us to know how important something really is to you, tell us here if you haven’t thoroughly covered this in your personal statement.
This is a place to write about any personal hardships or challenges you have experienced that have had an impact on your education. It is highly suggested that you answer this question and the positive changes you made to address the challenges. Challenges could have hampered your educational performance for one class, one quarter, one year, all throughout high school, SAT/ACT score, or your ability to participate in after school activities.
When responding to this question it is very important that you articulate your hardship or challenge, making sure that you express how the situation(s) affected your education. You need to let the admission office know if there are blemishes in your application that do not fully demonstrate your potential or if you have succeeded in spite of the hardship.
Examples include: having to work to support your family, someone close to you dying, having a learning disability, missing school due to a sickness, peer pressure, parents divorce, struggles with the English language, test day disaster, depression, family strife, etc.