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    How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Essay Prompts

    By Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: February 7th, 2024
    How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Essay Prompts

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is mainly located in Champaign, Illinois. Technically, UIUC is located in the “twin cities” of Champaign and Urbana, so you may not always be in Champaign if you decide to attend! Founded in 1867, UIUC is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system. The UIUC supplemental essays are split up based on whether you are applying to a specific major or their undeclared program. Therefore, it is important to have an idea of what you want to study before you begin filling out the UIUC application. 

    Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

    Before answering the UIUC supplemental essay questions

    The UIUC supplemental essay questions are divided based on whether applicants are applying to a specific major, undeclared program or have a second-choice major. 

    Therefore, it is important to do your research on UIUC and the academic programs available. Figure out what drives you and what you picture yourself doing in the future. If your future is not clear, do not worry! You still have plenty of time to explore and figure out what you are interested in by becoming an undeclared major. 

    You will have to answer two-three short-answer questions depending on whether you’re applying to a major or undeclared program and if you have selected a second choice major.

    Each short answer response should not exceed 150 words. This is not a lot of space for creative freedom, so be sure to be clear and concise. Do not drag on! Make sure you simply just answer the question and put your personality on the page. 

    Don’t miss: Tips for a successful college application

    If you’re applying to a major

    If you are applying to a major, there are two UIUC supplemental essays you will need to complete (150 words each).

    First essay

    “Explain, in detail, an experience you’ve had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you’ve taken, or through something else.”

    To begin answering this prompt, you should first describe what exactly your first-choice major is. You can give some background into how you discovered your passion for this subject. For example, maybe you want to study biology because you were obsessed with a particular lab you completed in high school. 

    After giving a brief description of your major, talk about some meaningful experiences you have had that have added to your desire to study this topic. For example, you can choose to write about a particular “aha” experience in your biology class or a mandatory book for English class that changed your perspective on life. You can also choose to write about an outside the classroom experience such as a club or volunteer work you have done. You can even talk about a figure in your life that has inspired you. The limits are endless! 

    Ensure that whatever experiences you choose to write about that they connect back to your first-choice major. 

    Second essay

    “Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them.” 

    The second supplemental essay question for applicants who have selected a first-choice major is pretty straightforward. What do you envision yourself doing after college? What is the career you are working towards with this major? 

    This question will allow admissions officers to see that you are working towards something bigger than yourself. They want to see that you have a plan ready for your future. 

    So, describe exactly what you intend to do with your degree from UIUC. Be sure to mention why this particular path is the right one for you. 

    If you’re applying to UIUC’s undeclared program

    If you’re applying to the undeclared program, there are two UIUC supplemental essays you will have to write (150 words each). 

    Essay #1

    “What are your academic interests? Please include 2-3 majors you’re considering at Illinois and why.” 

    Having your future aspirations figured out is not something that is required to attend university. Therefore, do not stress if you are not exactly sure what you want to major in at UIUC. 

    Luckily, their undeclared program is a popular option for incoming freshmen. In this program, you are able to explore different majors while still remaining on track for graduation. 

    Therefore, this prompt wants to get you thinking about where your academic strengths and interests lie. Are you a book lover and cannot wait to go to English class every day? Do you love learning new languages? Is calculus your jam? Wherever your strengths and interests lie, be sure to write about all of them. Include some background information on why you love these particular subjects. Maybe your mom read to you every night when you were younger, and your love of reading continues to this day. Or, maybe you always were the banker while playing Monopoly so math is now your favorite subject 

    Just remember not to exceed 150 words in your response! 

    Also see: An insider’s view of what goes on inside a college admissions office

    Essay #2

    “What are your future career or academic goals? You may include courses you took in high school and how these impacted your goals.” 

    As mentioned above, you do not need to have your life figured out! Therefore, your answer to this question does not need to be extremely specific. Rather, it can be quite broad. 

    For example, if you do not know what you want to do, but you enjoy reading and working as a camp counselor for first graders over the summer, you can talk about your love for this and how it may open a door to teaching in your future career. You can even be more broad and say that you picture yourself helping others in your future career because that is what makes you feel good. 

    UIUC does not want you to have your future figured out and does not expect you to! They just want to see that their undeclared applicants are thinking about their futures and potential career paths. 

    If you’ve selected a second-choice major (including undeclared) 

    If you’re applying to a second-choice major you will need to answer one supplemental essay question (150 words). 

    “Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals.” 

    A second-choice major is essentially a “backup” major. It means if you are not admitted to your first-choice major, you will then be considered for your second-choice major. 

    Essentially, like the other UIUC supplemental essays, this question wants to get to the bottom of the “why?” Why do you want to study this as your second choice? Why is this option not your first choice? 

    Be sure to include how studying this major will still help you reach your career goals despite not being your first choice major. Why does this secondary area of study appeal to you? 

    Next steps after applying to UIUC 

    Once you have completed your UIUC supplemental essays – congratulations! Be sure to read over your responses or ask a trusted friend to read them over for you. Remember, you want to submit a flawless essay, not one filled with silly mistakes that make you seem careless.

    Make sure you do not repeat any information throughout your responses, despite the questions being similar. Be sure to reveal new information throughout your application so admissions officers get a well-rounded idea of “you.” 

    Now that you have beautiful and flawless UIUC supplemental essay answers written, it is officially time to submit your application! 

    Once your application is submitted, be sure to check your UIUC portal and email for updates on your application status.

    In addition, show demonstrated interest in UIUC by following them on social media or scheduling an in-person tour. This will give you an opportunity to get to know UIUC a little better, and give UIUC the chance to get to know you as well. 

    Best of luck in the rest of your college admissions journey! 

    Additional resources

    If UIUC is the first school you have applied to or the last or somewhere in the middle, we know you need some help along the way! Luckily, we have an abundance of resources at your fingertips. 

    Not sure if UIUC should be the only school you apply to? Check out our guide on how many schools to apply to. Make sure to read up after about how to find safety, reach, and match schools

    If financing and affordability is a main concern when it comes to a higher education, make sure that you apply for all the scholarships you qualify for! 

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    Frequently asked questions about the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Essay Prompts

    How important are the UIUC supplemental essays?

      The UIUC supplemental essays are an important part of the admissions process! It allows UIUC to see your personality, academic passion and storytelling skills. So be sure you are submitting the best possible essays!

    When are the application deadlines for UIUC?

    Application deadlines for UNC can vary depending on whether you’re applying for Early Decision or Regular Decision. Make sure to check the university’s official website for the most up-to-date information! 

    Can I get creative with my UIUC supplemental essay answers?

    Yes! Creativity can make your essay memorable, but it’s also important to not overshadow your content with excessive flair. Rather, make sure your creativity enhances the substance of your response.

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