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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Wisconsin Supplemental Essay Prompts

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, also known as UW Madison, is a public land-grant research university located in Madison, Wisconsin. It has a 88% graduation rate, so you know that students are thriving there. Writing stellar UW Madison supplemental essays is the first step toward admission, so let’s get started!

The University of Wisconsin-Madison supplemental essay prompts

UW Madison requires two supplemental essay prompts for applicants, and both need to be answered if you apply through the UW System Application. If you’re applying through the Common Application, you will only need to respond to Prompt #1 (you will also have to choose one of the general Common App essays as well). Learn more about the UW Madison supplemental essay prompts below!

Prompt #1

Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided please describe your areas of possible academic interest. (You may enter up to 650 words, but 300-500 is recommended).

This is a common question for college applications: why do you want to go here? UW Madison is asking you to display your interest in not only their campus in your essay, but also in their course offerings and the experiences you could have there.

Use your essay to highlight the values at UW Madison that you support, or an activity they offer that you want to get involved in. It’s all about what makes this university stand out to you. Do your UW Madison research and take notes for when you start writing. 

UW Madison also offers a wide variety of majors in different industries. When discussing your academic interest, explain how a specific program or major might help you to achieve your goals. 

Some of the categories you could choose from for your major include:

Business & Entrepreneurship Engineering & Related Sciences Media & Communications
Creative Arts Health & Wellness  Plants & Animals

If you’re still trying to figure out your major, don’t stress! Your supplemental essay can still help you stand out to the admissions office. Try to focus on how you hope to grow at UW Madison. Are you undecided because you want to experience different types of classes? Or maybe you want to take some courses on a subject before declaring your major. 

No matter what your story is, make UW Madison a part of it. Colleges want to know that they’re instrumental in your academic journey.

Questions to consider:

  • What’s unique about UW Madison that makes me want to apply?
  • What do I want to do after college?
  • How would UW Madison help me toward my goals?

Prompt #2

This part is all about you. Tell us about something you’ve done–academically or personally–and what you’ve learned from it. Was it a success or a challenge? Did it represent a turning point in your life? How did this particular moment in your life influence you, and how will it continue to influence you as you pursue your college education? (You may enter up to 650 words, but 300-500 is recommended).

UW Madison uses this prompt to get to know you, the potential next generation of their university. They also indirectly emphasize the Wisconsin Idea, and you should try to mention it in your supplemental essay. 

The Wisconsin Idea is a tradition that follows the principle that education should continue to impact people long after they step outside of the classroom. UW Madison wants to know how a specific event has formed you because now you carry that knowledge with you to the doorsteps of their university. 

Your essay should highlight the impact of the event you choose to write about and how it relates to the ideals that UW Madison upholds. The Wisconsin Idea can be reflected in different ways, and suggesting new ones in your essay could make your application really stand out.

Questions to consider:

  • What life lesson did I learn from this activity or event?
  • How can I incorporate the Wisconsin Idea in my own essay?
  • What do I hope to gain while at UW Madison?

Final thoughts for applicants

Now that you’re finishing up your UW Madison supplemental essay, there are still a couple of things to keep in mind. For example, there is some leeway with the word count, but it’s ideal to stay within the recommended word limit unless other details are vital to your essay. When you’re done writing, try to read your essays out loud or peer review with some friends. You might’ve missed some errors along the way and going through one more time will help you fix them.

Read up on what UW Madison is looking for in their applicants on their website. This can give you insight on what to include in your essay and help make sure UW Madison is a perfect fit for you. 

Additional resources

Now that you’ve finished up with the University of Wisconsin supplemental essays, give yourself a pat on the back. Congratulations on finishing up your application! Here are a couple extra resources to get you started on your journey toward college:

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