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Imagine this: you’ve just finished putting the final touches on your Common App essay. Those 650 words put you through the ringer, but you emerged victorious. You’re so relieved that all of your supplemental essays will be shorter than this monster… but wait. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is asking for another mega personal statement of 650 words! Before you hyperventilate, look again. Admissions has done you a huge favor by outlining exactly what they want from you in your essay. Your biggest challenge will be fitting everything into one cohesive structure, and luckily, we’re here to help.
The Requirements: 1 essay of 650 words (or less)
This sneaky prompt is a twofer. The first part covers classic why essay territory: admissions wants to know just what appeals to you about the University of Wisconsin-Madison. So, take a moment to look inside: what exactly do you want out of your college experience? Research opportunities? Weekend football games? To dip your toe into city life? Now, if you were to imagine a Venn diagram of your expectations and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s offerings, what would land in the overlap? The only way to know for sure is to do your research! As you dig through the school website, you’ll naturally uncover “academic, extracurricular, or research opportunities” to describe how you’ll turn your vision into a reality in Madison.
The goal is to show admissions that you’ve done your homework. Pick out classes, majors, professors, research projects, internships, sports leagues, clubs, events, and residences that appeal to you. Make sure Admissions Officers know that you’ve already thought about what you want to do when you get there and that you’re ready to act on those hopes and dreams and so forth. Bonus points if you can honestly say that the pizza in their dining hall is not abysmal.
But there’s more! The final sentence of the prompt gives you the opportunity to include information that many schools tend to relegate to a separate “additional info” essay. If there’s a blip on your transcript or school record that you need to explain – a slip in grades due to a misunderstood learning disability or a long absence as the result of an injury – take the opportunity to explain what happened. The challenge here is to find the appropriate transition between your past scholastic struggles and future goals; there’s a reason these two essay types are usually separated. That said, there’s also potential for you to turn this essay into a powerful personal story of resilience and hope. We’d recommend starting out by describing any personal issues that affected you in high school, how you dealt with them, and how your journey to Madison will provide a natural continuation for your personal growth!