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University of Wisconsin-Madison: Supplemental Essays 2023-24

September 6, 2023

UW university of Wisconsin Madison supplemental essays

The University of Wisconsin—Madison has joined the ranks of other premier flagship universities that high-achieving teens from all around the country/world now line up for a chance to attend. Like  UVA,   UNC—Chapel Hill , and the  University of Michigan , UW-Madison requires its in-state residents to sport excellent grades and test scores. Further, it has an even higher bar for out-of-state hopefuls. This makes the University of Wisconsin – Madison supplemental essay more important than ever before.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into UW-Madison? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into the University of Wisconsin-Madison: Admissions Data and Strategies   for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

In evaluating applicants, the University of Wisconsin—Madison places a strong emphasis on the quality of one’s essays. Below are UW-Madison’s supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle along with our advice for creating a needle-moving admissions essay.

2023-2024 University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Question—Common App

The following prompt is the only supplemental essay that students will encounter when applying to UW-Madison via the Common App:

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. (650 words max)

Prospective Badgers face a two-parter here. You are tasked with presenting a compelling case as to:

1) Why you want to attend UW-Madison.

2) Why you have picked your particular academic discipline.

University of Wisconsin Madison Supplemental Essay (Continued)

As you move through the “Why Us?” and “Why this Major?” portions of this essay, consider taking some of the following steps to address why UW-Madison is the perfect fit for you  and  why you are the perfect fit for UW-Madison:

  • How did your interest in your major of choice begin and how has it matured over the years?
  • How do you pursue knowledge about your subject of interest? Talk about sources of learning (teachers, podcasts, books, news, etc.).
  • While pursuing your majors(s)/interest(s) of choice, how will you take advantage of the university’s immense resources both inside and outside of the classroom? Be sure to cite specific academic programs , professors,  research opportunities , internship/externship programs ,  study abroad programs , etc. Discuss why they pique your interest.
  • How will you be an active, contributing member of the Badger student body? What special talents and passions will you bring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison? Check out this list of nearly  1,000 student-run organizations  on campus.
  • Lastly, show evidence of how your past/current endeavors (academic and extracurricular) will carry over onto UW-Madison’s campus.

Again, if you are applying through the Common App, this essay will be the only supplement you need to worry about. However, if you elect to apply via the UW System Application (as some in-state students applying to multiple UW campuses do), you need to address the next prompt as well.

2023-2024 University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Question— UW System Application

(Only for students applying through the UW System Application)

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? (650 words)

This open-ended prompt is a platform from which you can share more about an academic or extracurricular achievement, chronicle a challenge/obstacle you overcame, or just share a meaningful event in your life.

No matter which route you choose, what truly matters here is that you use this essay as an opportunity to reveal something deep and important about yourself. Use the questions provided— 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?— to guide your content. It’s clear that UW-Madison is interested in both short- and long-term influence. Accordingly, before you start writing, do some brainstorming to make sure that the experience/event/achievement that you chose can satisfy all aspects of the prompt.

Remember, these essays will be your best chance to forge a human connection with an admissions officer since UW-Madison is too large a school to offer you an interview. In sum, be honest, vulnerable, sincere, and reflective in your essay and the result will be a compelling composition that will ultimately aid your admissions chances.

How important is the essay at the UW-Madison?

The essays are “very important” to the University of Wisconsin–Madison admissions committee. The only other factor rated this highly is the rigor of one’s secondary school record. GPA, recommendations, and state residency are rated as “important.” In other words, the University of Wisconsin is clearly very interested in the quality of your essay. Therefore, we can conclude that the admissions committee will weigh your essays heavily in their evaluation of your candidacy.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

Interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your University of Wisconsin—Madison supplement? We encourage you to get a quote  today.

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Dave Bergman

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).

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How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essays

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)..

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s supplemental essay is a great opportunity to showcase your voice to the admissions committee and convey your academic passions and knowledge of the school. When writing your UW-Madison supplement, be sure to address both parts of the prompt: explain your interest in the majors you’ve selected and discuss what draws you to UW-Madison. UW-Madison generously provides a word count of up to 650, so you have ample space to elaborate on the past experiences and values that have led you to your area of study, and also write about the school-specific resources at UW-Madison that you would like to take advantage of during your undergraduate career.

Before you begin drafting your UW-Madison supplemental essay, you’ll want to do some “why school” research. UW-Madison offers 20+ schools with many niche majors and certificates ; therefore, you’ll want to spend some time on the website to identify the specific program that is the best fit for you. If UW-Madison offers programs that can’t be found at any other universities that align with your interests, you can cite these and make an even stronger case for why UW-Madison is the best school for you! Some particular academic strengths of UW-Madison include its programs in Education, Agriculture, Communication, Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Economics. You can look through the web pages of specific departments and schools, and see if there are general resources that are well-suited to you. For instance, UW-Madison’s Integrated Liberal Studies programs, Living-Learning Communities, First Year Interest Groups, and Honors programs integrate communal life with academic pursuits in a way that may be appealing to you.

As with any “why school” essay, you’ll want to not only cite school-specific resources, but also share what you know about the school’s values and reflect upon how these values align with your own. UW-Madison often emphasizes the “Wisconsin Idea”, or the idea that a successful state university should inspire its students to seek truth and apply the resulting knowledge to benefit themselves and society. UW-Madison students are highly involved with their communities and the causes that matter to them. In your UW-Madison supplemental essay, you’ll want to explore how your academic and personal journey to date has reflected the principles of the Wisconsin Idea, and discuss which academic course of study, extracurriculars, and other opportunities at UW-Madison will put you in a position to serve others and bring positive change to society.

If you apply with the UW System Application, you will need to answer the following prompt:

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.

If you apply to UW-Madison through the UW system rather than the Common Application, this is the equivalent of the Common Application’s personal statement. Unlike the Common App, you won’t get a choice of prompts to respond to–you must answer this question, and the “why school” supplement if you are applying to UW-Madison.

For this UW essay, carefully examine the wording of the prompt before you dive into writing. UW admissions readers are looking for you to discuss something you’ve actively done rather than something that’s happened to you, so to select a strong topic, you’ll want to reflect on any memorable accomplishments, initiatives you started, intellectual interests you’ve pursued, or risks you’ve taken in the past four years. These can be in the context of your academics, extracurriculars, or personal life. Then, it’d be best to gravitate towards a specific moment–rather than a story that covers a long span of time–and select one that was highly influential in determining your academic path, personal values, or worldview.

This is a multi-part prompt, so ensure that you are answering each question within the prompt. You should respond directly to all parts of the prompt, including “something you’ve done,” “what you’ve learned,” “how did this particular moment in your life influence you,” and “how will it continue to influence you [in college].” While you don’t need to answer the questions of “success or challenge” or “turning point” in language that’s as head-on (e.g. sentences like “My accomplishment was a success” or “This was a turning point for me”), it should be very clear and obvious to admissions readers whether you’re writing about a success or challenge, and how that event worked as a turning point in your life.

If you have already written a personal statement for the Common Application, you’re in luck if you’ve responded to prompt #2 (“The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?”), prompt #5 (“Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”), or potentially even prompt #3 (“Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?”). There is significant overlap between these prompts and UW’s, so it’s likely that you can recycle your Common App essay with some light modifications. In particular, make sure that you add material that addresses the final part of the prompt, discussing how the moment you selected will influence your approach to your journey as an undergraduate. That being said, if you’ve already written an essay for the Common App, we definitely recommend applying to UW through the Common App! Best of luck with your UW-Madison essays!

uw madison supplemental essays

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Application Essays

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Apply as a First-Year Student

A first-year student includes anyone who is currently a student in high school or who has not taken college coursework since graduating from high school.

Starting on August 1 every year, you can begin applying to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

As a first-year applicant, you can apply using either the Common Application or the  Universities of Wisconsin Application . There is no preference between applications.

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First-Year Application and Materials Deadline

Applications and all required application materials must arrive in our office by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the noted deadline dates.

Please note that it may take up to 72 hours for our system to reflect that you have submitted an application; you will receive an email the next business day acknowledging its receipt.

Students who submit their application within 5 days of the deadline will not receive a reminder of materials that are missing from their application.

Early Action is non-binding. You’ll receive your admissions decision earlier but will not be required to commit until the national deadline of May 15.

Required First-Year Application Materials

We cannot begin to review your application until all required materials are received. These deadlines and requirements pertain to both domestic and international applicants.

Application requirements for admission to the university are the same for all students, regardless of the academic major/area of interest.*

*Students who wish to be considered for direct entry to a program in the areas of dance or music, will also need to complete an additional application and an audition. Learn more about our Direct Entry  process.

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1. Admissions Application

First-year applicants can apply using either the Common Application  or the Universities of Wisconsin Application

UW–Madison does not prefer one application over the other. Please choose only one application and use only that application all the way through to submission.

We strongly recommend that you apply with an email that is not affiliated with your high school and that you check often.

Please note that we do not start processing fall term applications until September 1.

Applicants will be asked to identify both a first and second choice major when completing the application for admission. If we are unable to offer you admission to your first choice major, your second choice will be considered in our application review to assess interest and preparation. Due to the competitive nature of some of our programs, admissions expectations may be different for students pursuing majors in business, engineering, dance, and music. We encourage you to visit our direct entry page to learn more.

2. Application Fee

The application fee is $70.00 US and is non-refundable.

Electronic payment is preferred. If you apply using the Universities of Wisconsin Application, the fee can be paid by check or money order, drawn on a bank located in the United States and payable to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Send the check or money order to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment . Please include the applicant’s name with payment. Do not send cash.

Application fee waivers are available for applicants with financial hardship. Eligible students can request a fee waiver as part of their application. If you did not request an application fee waiver at the time of application, but are eligible to have your fee waived, you may print the Application Fee Waiver Request Form and have your counselor/advisor submit it to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. If the College Board or ACT grant you a fee waiver, we will also accept it.

3. Two Essays

As part of our holistic review, we refer to the essays you submit to understand more about you. What you choose to share gives us an idea of who you are and what you want to accomplish as part of our community. Tell us about you and your unique story to help us know you beyond your GPA and test scores. Your essays might also be used for campus program and scholarship review.

If you apply using the Common Application, you will be asked to respond to one of the  first-year Common Application essays . If you apply with the Universities of Wisconsin Application, you will need to answer the following prompt:

  • 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?

All applicants will also need to respond to this prompt:

  • Tell us why you would like to attend 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.

Keep these tips in mind as you work on your writing:

  • Develop your thoughts before you begin the writing process, and create an outline.
  • The maximum word count for each essay is 650, but we recommend planning for 300–500 words.
  • Do not type directly into the web form. Instead, work on your draft in word processing software.
  • Allow time to develop and revisit your writing.
  • Check for spelling mistakes and ask someone to proofread your final version.
  • Be genuine and honest in your writing.

4. Course and Grade Information

We require course and grade information from all schools you attended for grades 9–12.

If you apply via the Common Application, you may meet this requirement one of two ways*:

  • Self-report your coursework within the application to meet the course and grade information requirement to complete your application for admission

– OR – 

  • Have your school submit an official transcript from your school(s).

If you apply via the Universities of Wisconsin Application, you may meet this requirement one of two ways*:

  • Submit an unofficial transcript within the Universities of Wisconsin Application at the time you complete it

       – OR – 

*If you have already graduated from high school, an official final transcript with your graduation date is needed to meet this requirement.

How to Send Official Transcripts

Students applying from outside the United States can find country-specific official transcript requirements here .

If you were or are homeschooled, we will need additional documentation to complete a full, holistic review of your application. Learn more about specific application policies and requirements and how to send your official materials.

If you earned your General Educational Development (GED) certificate or a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) , submit your official score report in addition to all high school or home school transcripts.

Note: official transcripts from all schools and colleges attended (including dual credit) will be required prior to enrollment. Incorrect reporting of courses and/or grades may result in your admission offer being revoked and scholarship awards being forfeited. Official college transcripts are also required to award college credit. Official transcripts should be sent directly from each school attended.

GPA and Class Rank:  Applicants are expected to achieve a high level of performance in the course work they pursue and an increasingly strong academic record. We ask for your GPA and class rank. We also realize that many schools consider GPA on different scales and some do not report GPA or class rank at all. We consider both GPA and rank in the context of your school. We typically see unweighted, academic GPAs between a 3.8 and a 4.0, and a class rank in the 85–97 percentile.

5. One Required Letter of Recommendation

We require you to submit one letter of recommendation written by someone who can attest to your academic ability, such as a teacher, school counselor, or faculty member. If you choose, you can also submit another letter of recommendation from an additional source, such as an employer, coach, research mentor, community leader, or clergy. Students with an interest in engineering are encouraged to obtain a letter of recommendation from a math or science teacher. Remember to have a discussion with your chosen recommender first to see if they are willing and able to provide a letter.

We encourage applicants who have been away from formal classroom teaching for an extended period to request a letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to their academic potential, such as an employer (preferably a supervisor or manager), a program or departmental trainer, or some other individual in an official instructional capacity.

Those who apply using the Common Application should request a recommendation through that system.

If you apply using the Universities of Wisconsin Application, select the link that best describes your situation:

  • Invite someone to submit a recommendation  (I have my NetID)
  • Invite someone to submit a recommendation  (no NetID)

Recommendations that are mailed to our office  Letters of recommendation must be sent directly from the school and/or recommender, in a sealed envelope. Recommendations  must include the applicant’s full name, birth date, and campus ID number (if known). Additionally, letters of recommendation from a school staff member may also be sent through Naviance. Please note that letters of recommendation expire after one year from the date it is written.

6. TOEFL, IELTS, AND DET Scores (English Language Proficiency)

First-year applicants educated in non-English speaking countries must submit an official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test (DET) score, unless English was the primary language of instruction in all four years of secondary school.

All English proficiency exams should be sent electronically, directly from the testing service.

Please note: Sending official test scores from the testing agency does have an additional costs and will add 3-6 weeks to the application completion process. Plan to send your test scores early to ensure your scores arrive before the the materials deadline.

How to Send Official Test Scores

We do not superscore any English Proficiency exam and score reports cannot be older than two years from the time you apply.

Duolingo English Test (DET)

  • Minimum accepted score: 115+.
  • When submitting your score(s): Search category should be “Undergraduate,” then select “University of Wisconsin–Madison.”
  • Please do not send to offices listed under “Other,” as we are unable to retrieve those scores.
  • The DET should be sent with sub-scores.
  • Minimum accepted score: 6.5+.
  • IELTS does not require a code.
  • Select our account name, “University of Wisconsin, Madison Undergraduate”
  • Please do not send paper copies of your IELTS scores.
  • We do accept the IELTS Indicator.
  • Minimum accepted score: 80+.
  • When submitting your score(s): TOEFL test code is 1846.
  • We do not accept “MyBest” score from TOEFL nor any English Proficiency exam.
  • For each TOEFL you submit, we will require the full score report. Wisconsin does not accept the TOEFL iTP Plus for China but we will accept the iBT Special Home Edition.

If you feel that you qualify for an English Proficiency Exam waiver based upon the requirements above, please submit all required transcripts to our office. Other test scores such as ACT, SAT, or AP (Advanced Placement) scores do not meet the requirements for a waiver. Once your transcripts are received in our office (are no longer displayed on your to-do list in your Student Center), we will determine your waiver eligibility. Waivers will not be processed prior to receipt of both the admissions application and transcripts.

Optional First-Year Application Materials

Act and sat scores (test optional through the spring 2027 term).

Including scores from either the ACT or the SAT with your application is optional for students applying for admission through the spring 2027 term, with an application deadline of October 1, 2026.

You will not be disadvantaged in our evaluation process if you do not include these scores for consideration in your application.

More information on our test optional policy can be found by viewing our  ACT/SAT Test Optional FAQs .

You will indicate your choice regarding including test scores at the time of application. The choice that you indicate on your application is final.

If choosing to include ACT or SAT test scores with your application, submit your official scores directly from the testing site.

Please note sending official test scores from the testing agency does have an additional costs and will add 2–4 weeks to the application completion process.  Our test code is 4656 for the ACT and 1846 for the SAT. Do not send your results rush (SAT) or priority (ACT); we receive all scores electronically on a daily basis so there is not an advantage to rush or priority delivery.

Statement on Score Choice:  Students choosing to include test scores with their application are encouraged to submit all exam scores. It can be a benefit to see your complete testing history as part of our comprehensive review, and since we will only consider your highest score (by test date), there is nothing to be gained by suppressing scores through Score Choice. However, applicants are free to use the College Board’s Score Choice option for the SAT and/or the similar option offered by ACT. Superscores are not considered in our review.

The Wisconsin Guarantee

Beginning in the fall 2025 semester, first-year applicants from Wisconsin high schools who are in the top 5% of their class at the end of 11th grade, or Wisconsin residents who are homeschooled and receive an ACT score in the top 98th percentile of the nation,  or are a National Merit Scholarship finalist will be guaranteed admission to the University of Wisconsin–Madison through the Wisconsin Guarantee .

Academic Requirements

Required coursework.

An applicant’s high school record should demonstrate both rigor and breadth in the types of course work they pursue. Applicants must meet the minimum course requirements listed below to be eligible for admission to UW–Madison. Competitive applicants often take additional credits in the core subject areas, including the most challenging advanced-level work offered at or through their school in as many areas as possible, while maintaining a strong GPA.

Note: For trimester schools, two trimesters is considered one year/credit. One trimester is considered 0.5 years/credits.

*Math requirement includes at least one year each of algebra, geometry, and advanced math with algebra or geometry prerequisites. If an applicant takes any of these courses in middle school, that will count toward the requirement. Courses that will not fulfill this requirement include statistics, business math, and computer classes.

** Taking two years of the same world language in high school is highly recommended, as this can fulfill the world language requirement as a student at UW–Madison.

Students who do not fulfill the university world language requirement with high school work will be required to do so as a student at UW–Madison.

To meet the requirement in high school, world language credit must be on the student’s high school transcript as credit earned at an accredited institution. Online language programs or applications such as Rosetta Stone will not be accepted.

American Sign Language (ASL) may be accepted to meet the world language requirement for admission if it is taken through the student’s school and is reflected on an official transcript.

Students who are not native English language speakers can satisfy the world language requirement with an official transcript verifying their education in that language. If they were educated in their native language through grade seven, they will receive two units of world language. Non-native English language speakers who were educated in their native language through grade eight will be awarded four units.

English Language Proficiency

First-year applicants educated in non-English speaking countries must  submit an official  TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test (DET) score, unless English was the primary language of instruction in all four years of secondary school. Applicants must meet the minimum required score for admission consideration.

Integrity in Applying

Academic integrity is valued in our community and in the admission process. By signing your application, you certify that it is complete and accurate. We hold you accountable to ensure the authenticity and honesty of your application; essays; self-reported grades, courses, and test scores; and additional materials subsequently submitted.

Senior Course Changes

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment does not “approve” or “deny” senior-year course schedule changes. You should consult with your high school counselor and other advisors and consider the pros, cons, and repercussions of a course change. Once you have made course changes, please submit the Senior Year Course Change Webform to notify us of the change. Please note that you may only submit this form once.

Be aware that a change that results in a drastically less academically rigorous course of study may jeopardize your admissibility or offer of admission. Admission to UW–Madison is based on our evaluation of a number of factors, including reported senior-year (or college) course work and your predicted continued academic success. Any changes in curriculum or declining grades may be cause for revoking admission prior to the start of the term.

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uw madison supplemental essays

How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Application Essays 2017-2018

uw madison supplemental essays

The University of Wisconsin–Madison (the official state university of Wisconsin) is a public university that was founded in 1848, directly following Wisconsin’s acquisition of statehood. Wisconsin is well known not only for its excellent academics, but also for its hugely successful NCAA athletic teams. The 936-acre campus is located right next to downtown Madison, which is consistently ranked as one of the best college towns in the country.

With nearly 5,000 unique courses and over 200 distinct majors, it’s no wonder that the University of Wisconsin–Madison attracted 32,887 applicants to the Class of 2016. The 52.6% acceptance rate necessitates strong supplemental essays, and we at CollegeVine are here to help you break them down step by step!

Students can apply online, using either the Common Application or the University of Wisconsin Application System. Both application options require two supplemental pieces of writing: a short prompt and a long prompt. Below, you’ll find the two prompts along with our take on the best way to tackle the essays, as well as some tips on what you should (and shouldn’t) include in your supplements.

Want to learn what University of Wisconsin Madison will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take?  Here’s what every student considering University of Wisconsin Madison needs to know.

University of Wisconsin Application Essay Prompts

Short essay prompt, briefly explain which activity you entered in the common app activities section is the most important to you. (50-100 words).

This prompt shouldn’t be too difficult — with a limit of 100 words, you’re going to be writing no more than a few sentences. While you should use this short essay as an opportunity to elaborate on the activity that portrays you in the best light, make sure that the selected activity is actually “important to you.” If the extracurricular that you select appears impressive (think three-time section leader in your all-state band, or coordinator of a peer tutoring program that works with nearly one hundred kids), but you’re not able to articulate why it’s relevant to your life and your journey through high school, the admissions committee won’t be impressed.

Don’t feel like the activity you write about needs to be one in which you held leadership; while leadership in the activity is of course looked highly upon, the genuine story you tell about its importance to you is key.

Take this scenario: You were elected student body president as a junior and presided over all student council meetings. While you enjoyed the position, you’re planning on majoring in biology and not government. Last summer, you were one of the few interns at a local research hospital, where you helped discover a previously unknown bacterium. Even though you’ll likely put “student body president” as the first item on your activity list, you may want to write the short essay about your experience at the hospital, which led you to decide on a biology major.

If you participated in any type of volunteer work, at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, and feel that those experiences had a profound impact on you, you could write about the volunteer work. That being said, you don’t necessarily need to write about volunteer/community service activities! If you were the president of your high school’s school store, or the captain of your town’s travel soccer team, and that significantly defined your past few years, you can absolutely choose it as your activity. The key is just to make sure admissions officers get a more in-depth look at who you are through the lens of the activity.

Whichever activity you choose, be sure that your writing is clear, concise, and effective. There’s no need for complex metaphors, nor overly intense descriptions. As long as it’s evident to the reader that your activity had a meaningful impact on your development as an individual, you’ve done your job!

uw madison supplemental essays

Long Essay Prompt

Tell us why you decided to apply to the university of wisconsin–madison. in addition, share with us the academic, extracurricular, or research opportunities you would take advantage of as a student. if applicable, provide details of any circumstance that could have had an impact on your academic performance and/or extracurricular involvement. (80-650 words).

In the long essay prompt, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for a modified version of the “why us” supplement. Even if Wisconsin isn’t your top choice, for the purposes of this essay, you should put yourself in the shoes of a student that’s wanted to attend Wisconsin for the past few years. If you have family ties to the university, or live in Wisconsin and have grown up rooting for the Badgers in sporting events, don’t hesitate to mention it! The admissions committee wants to see commitment and genuine interest in the school—they should instantly feel your passion for Wisconsin as they read through your essay.

While the prompt appears to pose two questions: “Why Us?,” and “What opportunities would you take advantage of as a student?” you should be blending the two questions together throughout your supplement. Show your passion by mentioning specific courses, clubs, or programs that you are interested in. The university website will be your greatest resource for this — there’s a wealth of information available!

Explain how your experiences throughout high school qualify you for admission to the University of Wisconsin. Articulate how those experiences demonstrate, in the words of the admissions website, “leadership, concern for others and the community, and achievement in the arts, athletics, and other areas.”

Try to provide an example of each of those three areas (or, better yet, find an activity that combines multiple). Serving as the captain of a school athletic team demonstrates both leadership and athletic achievement while selling handmade crafts at charity auctions demonstrates concern for community and artistic achievement. Don’t try to make the entire essay just about these three facets of your personality, but do make sure that you adequately explain how your activities exemplify each character trait.

Also, don’t be afraid to talk about experiences unrelated to your major: If you’re applying to the School of Education, you can absolutely bring up an organization in the School of Business that focuses on entrepreneurship, like the WAVE or WEB program, or a research opportunity, like the Grainger Institute in the School of Engineering — the more well-rounded your interests are at Wisconsin, the more likely you are to be accepted.

The last, and optional, component of the prompt asks you to explain any “circumstance that could have had an impact on your academic performance and/or extracurricular involvement.” Be very careful with what you write here, and remember that it’s completely optional. If you choose not to include it, there’s really no harm done (and, if anything, it eliminates the possibility of writing something that could decrease your chances of admission). If there was a situation throughout high school that was thrust upon you (think family/personal medical emergency or moving schools), you can absolutely write about that, as it will help to establish sympathy with the reader.

If you’ve had any experiences that could reflect negatively on you, including them in the essay may not be wise. Writing about depression, drug/alcohol use, or criminal activity could raise red flags and prevent you from being accepted. If you feel strongly about including one of these topics (or something similar), definitely reach out to a guidance counselor, teacher, or trusted adult to ensure that you’re crafting your message in the best possible way.

We hope our analysis of the two supplemental essay prompts has helped you to fine-tune your plans for your Wisconsin-Madison application!

Best of luck with your application, and GO BADGERS!

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Prepare Your Essay

You are more than facts and figures.

It doesn’t get said enough, but your UWs are literally looking for reasons to admit you. That’s why they ask for an essay. They simply want to hear about you. Take your time. Give it some thought, share it with a few people you trust, and revise.

In the end, it’ll be worth it.

All Universities of Wisconsin ask the following question of freshmen and transfer applicants:

All UWs 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?

If you apply to UW-La Crosse or UW-Madison, you’ll need to answer a second question, as well:

UW-Madison Tell us why you would like to attend 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.
UW-La Crosse Please respond to ONE of the following: (1) How will your life experiences or commitments enrich the UW-La Crosse campus community? OR (2) Tell us why you are interested in attending UW-La Crosse and what aspects of the campus are especially important to you.

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

uw madison supplemental essays

Varonika Ware is a content writer at Scholarships360. Varonika earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. During her time at LSU, she worked with the Center of Academic Success to create the weekly Success Sunday newsletter. Varonika also interned at the Louisiana Department of Insurance in the Public Affairs office with some of her graphics appearing in local news articles.

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Cari Schultz is an Educational Review Board Advisor at Scholarships360, where she reviews content featured on the site. For over 20 years, Cari has worked in college admissions (Baldwin Wallace University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky) and as a college counselor (Columbus School for Girls).

uw madison supplemental essays

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.

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!

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:

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?
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.

  • 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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How to write the university of wisconsin-madison essays 2020-2021: the complete guide.

Wisconsin may not be home to New York City, but if your heart desires a sprawling campus with countless ways to enjoy the outdoors, look no further than the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

It has an acceptance rate that hovers around 51%.

The university sits on 936 acres – that’s not a typo, folks – it’s really that huge. The campus is located between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona.

Beyond a range of academic programs, the university offers extensive opportunities to play sports, join clubs, and participate in on-campus and community activities. Applying to the University of Wisconsin-Madison can be done either through the Common App or directly through the UW website .

What are the University of Wisconsin-Madison supplemental essay requirements?

Two essays are required for admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

University of Wisconsin - Madison Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them!

Click above to watch a video on Wisconsin Madison Supplemental Essays.

If you apply through the Common App, you will have to answer question #2 below, in addition to the first question.

If you apply through the UW System Application, you will need to respond to both of the following:

1 ) 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? 2) Tell us why you would like to attend 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.

In the UW System Application, the maximum word count allowed is 650 words. However, according to the “Application Tips” page on the UW website, admissions prefers for you to plan for 300-500 words.

Note: If a university publishes an application tips page, follow it precisely. Not only will your application be stronger, but admissions will be able to tell you did your research.

Wisconsin – Madison Supplemental Essay 1: Academic & Personal Achievements

1 ) 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?

Before writing this essay, it’s important to note that UW isn’t looking for a resume or laundry list. Don’t get trapped into writing a list of achievements.

It’s important to the admissions committee to understand the story of your achievements. In order to tell that story, you must begin to analyze what you’ve accomplished and learned from those achievements.

Therefore, we must identify the two separate pieces to this prompt.

  • Your academic and personal accomplishments.
  • Lessons learned from those achievements and challenges.

As you begin to break down your accomplishments, think about the communities, projects, academic pursuits, extracurricular activities, and teams to which you’ve contributed. UW suggests developing your thoughts with an outline before you begin writing.

Don’t limit yourself to academic or official accomplishments. Also consider your contributions to:

  • Religious institution (ex. church, mosque, synagogue)
  • Volunteer organization (ex. Meals on Wheels)
  • Neighborhood/city/county/state

For each of these communities, brainstorm people/places/ideas/events you believe often go unnoticed and are important to you. 

Don’t get hung up on language. “Achievements” and “accomplishments” are subjective. You can also write about small personal victories and contributions that led to a greater result. All told, you don’t need to have won a ribbon or trophy to justify your action as an achievement.

When brainstorming achievements, consider creating a bubble map for a visual representation of your ideas. If you’re digitally savvy, you could use a tool like Bubbl.us to create your map.

Once you have a detailed list , start narrowing down your choices by considering what is most important to you.

  • The more you care about a pursuit, the more you will be able to write about it and convey your passion.
  • Again, don’t shy away from topics that are strictly personal to you – that’s what this essay is all about!

Your goal is to find an accomplishment or string of achievements that are closely related.

  • Did you take care of a sick sibling while mom worked to pay the bills?
  • Were you a founder or leader of an extracurricular activity that grew by 15% during your high school career?
  • Did you raise $200 for a political campaign or charity that worked on issues you care about?

Now that you’ve identified achievement(s), it’s time to start drafting an essay. Context is always important when you are writing to strangers.

  • Start your essay by providing some background information, a cold hook, or a quote.

While context is important, do keep it short. You want to save the majority of your word count for explaining why the achievement is important to you.

The second part of the essay is critical:

  • UW – Madison wants to know how you’re a better person for having achieved or struggled?
  • And how will you bring that change to their campus?

Don’t be afraid to talk about your challenges—in life, failure and struggle are often the best teachers.

You spent the first part of your essay introducing and describing your achievement. This includes the actions you took to succeed (20- 25% of your essay).

Now, spend close to 30-40% of the essay explaining what you learned from those accomplishments. If you’re having trouble thinking of how you changed, brainstorm these questions:

  • What qualities did I need to display to accomplish this goal?
  • How am I a better person for having gone through this challenge?
  • What qualities of mine can I improve?
  • Were there qualities that I did improve?

Once you’re done with this part, it’s time to move to the last part of your essay: explaining how you’ll implement your lessons learned into your education. Spend the rest of your essay on:

  • Describing how your learning pattern has changed
  • Your newfound appreciation for teamwork
  • Developing a conceptual understanding of a field
  • A budding curiosity of a teaching style
  • Affirmed passion for an educational vector

Whatever you choose, make sure you’re telling UW – Madison that you’re a developing student who is looking forward to implementing your lessons learned on campus.

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Wisconsin – madison supplemental essay 2: why this school.

2) Tell us why you would like to attend 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.

In the second essay, you will have to address why you applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and what you hope to get out of the academic experience.

The first part of this prompt is fairly standard and, if you’re applying to multiple universities, it should start to sound familiar.

However, your response to the question shouldn’t sound familiar to UW’s admissions committee. Instead, your answer must be tailored to you and the University of Wisconsin-Madison specifically.

  • The litmus test for this requirement is to read through your final draft and ask: Could this essay be submitted to any other university other than the University of Wisconsin?
  • If you answered “yes,” you need to revise .

The best way to prepare for this essay is to perform research. This, by the way, is not only beneficial for your essay but will also help you to get an idea whether this school is the right fit for you.

  • First, browse through the University of Wisconsin-Madison website.
  • Don’t stop at the admissions page. Explore the plethora of information on academics, research opportunities, sports, clubs, daily living, and so on.
  • Search for more information about UW on college review websites, which often feature testimonials from current students.
  • If possible, go to the campus for a tour to see in person what the university has to offer.
  • Most important: Research the academic program you’re interested in. Explore professors, projects, fellowships, internships, career counseling, grants, and public-private partnerships.

All of the above research will fuel your essay and give you concrete reasons to help you describe why you are applying to the school. When writing your essay, try to focus on one significant reason or a few reasons instead of just a single superficial idea, such as “academics” or “because I’m receiving a swim scholarship.”

As a rule, never write about one of the following topics:

  • Social life

Then, think about what you want to get out of your college experience and how your future goals are related to obtaining a degree.

When describing your reasons for applying, use detail, and then link those details back to your professional or academic goals.

Admissions officers want to see that their university is an important channel that will help you achieve your college and career goals.

Even if you have yet to decide on a major, you should address this question through the lens of your academic interest(s). Consider both your research and academic/extracurricular history.

  • What majors or academic programs are you interested in pursuing? What you write about now isn’t final, so don’t worry if you waver between different subjects. Choose a subject.
  • Are there research programs or co-ops for which you are interested in applying?

Perhaps you are really interested in medicine and engineering, leaning toward pursuing biomedical engineering. You could take a look at the senior design courses where you work in a team with a clinician or industry professional to create a product.

When writing your essay, link back to previous ideas and your big-picture goals.

Let the university know that they’re the perfect fit, and you are passionate and enthusiastic about their program offerings.

  • Don’t write about what you think they want to hear.
  • Instead, be honest and allow the admissions committee to see your interests and values through your response.
  • Ultimately, what UW – Madison has to offer needs to relate to you.
  • Don’t spend too much time complimenting their academic offerings. Trust me, they know they’re a great school. They want to know why you think you’re a good fit.

We strongly recommend that you include the following elements in your essay:

  • A short introductory story or hook that explains your interest in the field, major, or program.
  • Toward the end of your essay, explain your professional ambitions and how you’d use your UW education to contribute to your community, country, or the world.

Here’s an outline of a “Why UW – Madison” essay that effectively answers this prompt:

  • Your parents were never interested in community politics and barely ever voted. A few years ago, a local politician approved the building of a large chain store near your home, which lead to increased pollution and traffic in your community.
  • You canvassed to stop the construction, but it wasn’t enough. You didn’t get enough signatures. Still, this process sparked your love for politics. You realize that your parents were mistaken.
  • You want to study in UW – Madison’s political science program because you’re interested in increasing voter turnout. UW has a fellowship and multiple research programs in this vector.
  • After explaining how you’d take advantage of a fellowship and research opportunity, you want to become a community organizer. UW will help you do that.

Conclusion: Writing the University of Wisconsin – Madison Supplemental Essays

Before submitting your essays, you should definitely check out the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s page of Application Tips . There you’ll learn more about the university’s vision and advice for applying.

In regards to essays, here’s a short list of the university’s advice:

  • Plan for 300-500 words, although the maximum is 650
  • Revise, proofread, and share your writing with a peer/trusted adult
  • Be honest and authentic in your writing

If you have questions that are particular to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s requirements, they welcome you to contact them directly.

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UW–Madison Admission Essays

Understanding the intricacies of university application essays is crucial for aspiring students. The University of Wisconsin–Madison, renowned for its rigorous academic environment, demands essays that reflect a student's intellectual capabilities and personal growth. In fact, analyzing UW Madison essay examples can offer significant insights into the level of depth and articulation expected by such prestigious institutions. These essays are a vital component of the application process, offering a unique opportunity for students to showcase their individuality, experiences, and aspirations. In this guide, we'll explore various aspects of the University of Wisconsin–Madison essay requirements, providing insights and examples, including those akin to UW Madison essay examples, to help students navigate this critical aspect of their university applications.

Key Features of UW–Madison Essays

The University of Wisconsin–Madison's essay requirements are strategically designed to assess a candidate's alignment with the university's educational ethos and academic vigor. These essays, transcending mere writing tasks, provide a window into an applicant's personality, intellectual curiosity, and potential impact on the university's dynamic community. In this context, UW Madison application essay examples can serve as invaluable guides, illustrating how to effectively engage with the essay prompts. These prompts encourage deep reflection on personal growth, academic objectives, and societal responsibilities, allowing students to demonstrate their suitability for the rigorous academic environment of UW–Madison. Engaging with the essence of these essays and crafting responses that resonate with the admissions committee are crucial for enhancing admission chances, underlining their significance in UW–Madison's holistic application process.

  • Essays emphasize personal development, academic aspirations, and community involvement.
  • Annually updated prompts reflect current topics and values.
  • They provide a platform for students to express their individual viewpoints.

University of Wisconsin–Madison Admission Requirements

Securing admission to the esteemed University of Wisconsin–Madison involves fulfilling a range of stringent criteria. The university selects students who exhibit academic excellence, well-rounded personalities, leadership skills, and alignment with its core principles and culture. These criteria aim to identify not only academically adept students but also those ready to positively contribute to the campus community. Every application aspect, from scholastic achievements to extracurricular involvement and personal essays, undergoes thorough evaluation to ensure the selected candidates are ideally suited for UW–Madison's diverse and dynamic environment.

  • High academic performance, evidenced in GPA and standardized tests.
  • Diverse extracurricular engagement demonstrating leadership and initiative.
  • Impactful personal statement and supplemental essays.
  • Recommendation letters from academic or professional mentors.
  • Proof of adherence to the university's values and ethos.

Role of UW-Madison Supplemental Essay Examples in Applications

UW-Madison supplemental essay examples in the application process is instrumental for prospective students. These examples serve as a vital guide, illustrating the depth of analysis, personal reflection, and writing quality expected by the University of Wisconsin–Madison. By studying these examples, applicants gain crucial insights into crafting essays that go beyond academic metrics, highlighting their unique personalities and experiences. Effective UW Madison supplemental essay examples showcase critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of the university's core values, such as community engagement and academic excellence. They teach the art of storytelling and the importance of specific details for impactful narratives. While these examples are valuable resources, it's essential for applicants to maintain authenticity and originality in their essays. The examples should inspire, not be replicated, guiding students to produce essays that are true to their experiences and resonate with UW-Madison's ethos.

UW-Madison Supplemental Essay Examples: Prompts for 2023

Committed to a comprehensive and all-encompassing review process, UW–Madison has introduced several thought-provoking supplemental essay prompts for the 2023 cycle. These prompts aim to allow applicants to display various facets of their personalities, experiences, and future plans. The prompts are crafted to elicit responses that showcase the applicant's self-reflection abilities, challenges they've overcome, and their vision for the future. They also provide a glimpse into how applicants envision their contributions to the university community. Collectively, these prompts are vital in the application, offering a stage for applicants to persuasively argue why they are an excellent match for UW–Madison.

  • Challenge and Growth: Applicants share a significant challenge they've overcome and the lessons learned, demonstrating resilience and personal growth.
  • Academic and Career Aspirations: This prompt asks students to detail their goals and how UW–Madison can aid in achieving them, focusing on the alignment of the applicant's plans with the university's resources.
  • Community Contribution: Applicants discuss how they plan to contribute to the UW–Madison community, showcasing their understanding of community values and social responsibility.

These prompts encourage applicants to provide thoughtful, personal responses, illustrating their readiness for university life and their potential to enrich the UW–Madison community. Effective responses range from narratives about overcoming personal adversities and articulating clear academic and career pathways to well-planned community engagement and leadership roles within the university.

Guidelines for Writing UW–Madison Supplemental Essays

Writing compelling supplemental essays for UW–Madison is a vital part of the application process. These essays offer an opportunity to stand out and show the admissions committee your unique identity beyond academic metrics. To gain a clearer perspective, reviewing University of Wisconsin Madison supplemental essay examples can be extremely beneficial. These examples provide practical insights into effective storytelling and structuring, helping you understand how to convey your experiences and aspirations authentically. Here are essential tips to help craft impactful and memorable essays, inspired by the strategies evident in University of Wisconsin Madison supplemental essay examples:

  • Interpreting the Prompts: Carefully read and understand each essay prompt. Reflect on how your experiences and aspirations align with the questions posed.
  • Self-Reflection: Engage in introspection about your experiences, challenges, and accomplishments. Authentic, self-aware essays often leave a lasting impression.
  • Authentic Voice: Write in a manner that's true to your personality. Authenticity is crucial for connecting with the admissions officers.
  • Specific Examples: Use detailed examples and stories to bring your essays to life. Specific experiences add depth and relatability to your narrative.
  • Structured Approach: A well-organized essay with a clear beginning, middle, and end enhances readability and impact. Ensure your essay flows logically.

Remember, UW–Madison's supplemental essays are your chance to provide the admissions committee with a deeper understanding of your character, values, and ambitions. A well-crafted essay can significantly impact your application.

Leveraging UW–Madison Essay Examples for Success

UW–Madison essay examples are invaluable resources for understanding what the admissions committee seeks. These examples often showcase creativity, depth, and a strong connection with the university's values. Utilizing these essays as models can aid in developing your own narratives, while emphasizing the importance of maintaining originality and authenticity in your writing:

  • Reflecting on Challenges and Growth at UW–Madison
  • Learning from Failures: A Journey to Success
  • Charting a Path in Environmental Advocacy
  • Community Service: Lessons in Leadership
  • The Influence of Personal Research on Academic Choices
  • Promoting Educational Inclusivity: A Personal Mission
  • Harmonizing Music with Academic and Career Goals
  • Resilience: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities
  • Embracing Multilingualism and Global Perspectives
  • Envisioning Sustainable Practices at UW–Madison

Maximizing Impact with UW–Madison Essay Examples

In conclusion, UW–Madison essays are an integral part of the application, offering a platform for students to express their individuality and suitability for the university. To effectively navigate this crucial aspect, examining University of Wisconsin Madison essay examples can be incredibly instructive. These examples provide a clearer understanding of the expected caliber and style, aiding students in crafting their narratives. Understanding and adhering to the essay requirements, drawing inspiration from such examples, and infusing personal experiences and insights into your writing can significantly enhance your chances of admission. Remember, well-written essays, much like the University of Wisconsin Madison essay examples, can profoundly influence the admissions committee's decision, emphasizing the importance of dedicating time and effort to develop compelling, authentic stories.

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uw madison supplemental essays

How to Get Into the University of Wisconsin – Madison Guide

How to get into uw–madison – general information.

When thinking about how to get into UW–Madison, you want to consider all parts of the UW–Madison application, especially the UW–Madison application deadline. So, to boost your chances of admission, be sure to maintain a high GPA, explore your interests through extracurricular activities, and use statistics like the UW–Madison GPA requirements to see how you compare to admitted students.

Figuring out how to get into UW–Madison takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdivsor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes graduates from some of the country’s top schools. Want to maximize your admission odds? Create your account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

How to get into the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Wondering how to get into UW–Madison? There are many elements to consider as you begin your “how to get into UW–Madison” research. This guide will help you plan and execute the strongest UW–Madison application possible. Make sure you start preparing well before the UW–Madison Early Action deadline or RD UW–Madison application deadline. 

UW–Madison is one of the more selective universities in the country. So, as you build your how to get into UW–Madison strategy, keep the UW–Madison acceptance rate in mind. To maximize your UW–Madison admissions odds, start preparing early. In other words, set yourself up for success by striving for a high GPA, participating in meaningful extracurricular activities, and studying for standardized tests well in advance of the UW–Madison application deadline. 

In this guide, we will discuss UW–Madison admissions statistics, including UW–Madison GPA requirements and the UW–Madison acceptance rate. We will also review the components of the UW–Madison application, including the UW–Madison supplemental essays and UW–Madison Early Action deadline and regular UW–Madison application deadline. 

Check out our UW–Madison overview here . 

Is it hard to get into the University of Wisconsin–Madison?

UW–Madison admissions is moderately competitive. Almost 54,000 students submitted a UW–Madison application last year, up 17% from the previous year.

Remember these numbers as you think about how to get into UW–Madison. Because this year’s freshman class is the largest in the history of UW–Madison admissions, it is important to prepare your UW–Madison application well in advance of the UW–Madison Early Action or regular UW–Madison application deadline. 

What is the acceptance rate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison? 

The UW–Madison acceptance rate is a key consideration in your “how to get into UW–Madison” research. For example, the UW–Madison acceptance rate for the class of 2025 was 60.3% . 

UW–Madison admissions received a record 53,829 applicants for the class of 2025. Approximately 8,465 freshmen enrolled for the fall semester. The total enrollment for UW–Madison is 47,936 students. 

However, the UW–Madison acceptance rate can change each year as it is influenced by a variety of factors, including the total number of applicants and the available space in the freshman class. 

Although UW–Madison has a test-optional policy through the spring of 2025, we encourage you to take standardized tests if you can do so. It is important to make your UW–Madison application stand out, especially because the UW–Madison acceptance rate is competitive.

You should plan to take your first standardized test during your junior year, so that you have plenty of time to retake the test if necessary. Be sure to study for the test well in advance of the UW–Madison Early Action deadline or regular UW–Madison application deadline. Doing so can help you earn scores that align with the average UW–Madison SAT or ACT scores. 

Want to learn more about acceptance rates? Check out our expert  guide .

What GPA do you need to get into the University of Wisconsin–Madison? 

As you begin to shape your “how to get into UW–Madison” strategy, you might be wondering how your GPA compares to the UW–Madison GPA requirements. The UW–Madison GPA requirements do not include a minimum GPA necessary for admission. However, the average UW–Madison GPA for the freshman currently enrolled is 3.392 .

So, you can assume that there are unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements for applicants of around 3.4. When you are applying, you want your record to demonstrate that you can succeed in a rigorous academic college environment. 

Matching the unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements will maximize your UW–Madison admissions odds. It is important to always strive for a high GPA, as the unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements can change each year based on the academic profile of the incoming class. With UW–Madison admissions becoming more competitive each year, it is likely that the unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements will continue to rise. 

Junior year grades

UW–Madison will use your junior year GPA to evaluate your admission odds. Consequently, it is crucial that you do well in your high school classes, and that starts with choosing the right courses for you. In truth, you will have a better chance of matching the unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements if you take advantage of all the resources available to you. 

UW–Madison admissions is looking for students who are incredibly bright, engaged, and passionate. So, if your GPA is lower than the unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements, don’t worry. There are other aspects of your UW–Madison application that you can work to improve to be considered a strong applicant. 

Wondering how to get into UW–Madison if you do not meet the UW–Madison GPA requirements? Check out our article here . You’ll find helpful tips to make your application stand out, even if your academic profile doesn’t line up with the UW–Madison GPA requirements. 

What does the University of Wisconsin–Madison application require? 

A strong and well-crafted UW–Madison application is fundamental to your “how to get into UW–Madison” plan. There are multiple pieces to the UW–Madison application, and we will review the requirements below. Applicants are encouraged to submit the UW–Madison supplemental essays and optional test scores, well in advance of either the UW–Madison Early Action or regular UW–Madison application deadline. 

First thing to remember is there are two dates to remember for the UW–Madison application. The UW–Madison Early Action deadline is November 1 st . The regular UW–Madison application deadline is February 1 st . 

Applicants must submit : 

  • The Common Application or UW System Application
  • UW–Madison supplemental essays
  • Official high school transcript
  • One letter of recommendation
  • English language proficiency (when necessary)

Optional application materials include: 

  • SAT or ACT scores

Demystifying the UW-Madison supplemental essays

Your responses to the UW–Madison supplemental essays , which are a required element of your application, will depend on which application you submit.

In addition to the main essay prompts found in the 2022-2023 Common App , there is one required UW–Madison supplemental essay. This essay asks you to describe why you chose to apply to UW–Madison, and why you are interested in studying the major you selected. In other words, this is UW–Madison’s version of the “Why This School” essay prompt. 

The first of the UW–Madison supplemental essays you will respond to has a 650-word limit. Considering its length, you should be prepared to offer specific examples of why you belong at UW–Madison and why you are interested in your chosen major. Be sure to respond to both parts of the question. If you are submitting a UW–Madison application as an undecided major, you should address your academic interests and why attending UW–Madison would benefit you. 

Now let’s look at the second of the UW–Madison supplemental essays. If you are submitting a UW–Madison application through the UW System Application, you will also respond to this prompt. The question asks you to share something you have done, what you learned from it, how it influenced you, and how it will continue to influence you in college. Again, be sure to respond to all parts of this essay question. 

Both of these UW–Madison supplemental essays have a 650-word limit. The more detailed you are in your UW–Madison supplemental essays, the more likely it is that the UW–Madison admissions committee will feel a personal connection to you. 

Use your essays to stand out

If your academic profile is below the unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements, the UW–Madison supplemental essays could be your opportunity to make your application stand out. We suggest writing the UW–Madison supplemental essays well in advance of the UW–Madison Early Action deadline or regular UW–Madison application deadline. 

Now let’s move on to the optional components of the UW–Madison application. UW–Madison admissions has adopted a test-optional policy for all applicants through spring 2025. You must decide for yourself whether to include standardized test scores in your UW–Madison application. However, if your test scores are strong, it makes sense to submit them. 

To learn more about UW–Madison admissions requirements, visit their website . 

What extracurriculars does the University of Wisconsin–Madison look for? 

Want to know how to get into UW–Madison? Start by identifying your passions and interests. 

Aside from the UW–Madison GPA requirements, UW–Madison admissions wants to see that you have participated in extracurriculars that have had a positive impact on you. So, be sure to list any of these activities, involvement, leadership, service, employment, talents, or interests on your UW–Madison application. In short, if the extracurricular is meaningful to you, it will be meaningful to UW–Madison admissions as well! 

Because the UW–Madison acceptance rate is competitive, it is important to emphasize your interests and passions through your extracurricular involvements. In conclusion, as you select your extracurriculars in high school, think about the quality of your involvements rather than the quantity. 

In addition to your academics, your extracurricular activities make up your candidate profile . Your candidate profile is a 1-2 sentence description of who you are, what you do, and why colleges should admit you. An essential part of your “how to get into UW–Madison” plan is a strong candidate profile that will set you apart from other applicants. 

Wondering which extracurriculars to include on your UW–Madison application? Check out our guide on how to ace the Common App. 

How does the University of Wisconsin–Madison review applications? 

Now that we have examined the UW–Madison GPA requirements, UW–Madison acceptance rate, UW–Madison admissions criteria, UW–Madison supplemental essays, and UW–Madison application deadline, it is time to move on to the next step of your “how to get into UW–Madison” strategy. 

Once the UW–Madison Early Action deadline and regular UW–Madison application deadline have passed, UW–Madison admissions officers will begin their holistic review process . Each application is read thoroughly, as UW–Madison admissions is looking to admit students who will add to the legacy of UW–Madison. 

Here are some things that UW–Madison looks for in your application: 

  • Academic excellence and preparation 
  • Leadership qualities
  • Contributions to your community
  • Achievement in the arts, athletics, and other areas
  • Diversity in personal background and experience
  • Potential for positive contribution to the UW–Madison community

UW–Madison is looking for students who are intellectually curious and dedicated to making a difference. So, be sure to highlight these qualities in your responses to the UW–Madison supplemental essays and in your overall UW–Madison application. 

Want to hear from current students about how to get into UW–Madison? Check out the UW–Madison Admissions website. 

Will the University of Wisconsin–Madison consider my social media? 

As you explore how to get into UW–Madison, you might wonder if your social media presence will affect your application. Rest assured – an applicant’s social media profile is not considered during the application review process. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can or should post offensive content on your social media accounts. While these kinds of posts might not directly affect your UW–Madison admissions odds, they could have a major impact in other areas of your life. For example, many employers will review a potential applicant’s social media accounts when they submit a job application. 

Above all, we recommend using social media responsibly . Although it isn’t likely that UW–Madison admissions officers will check your Facebook or Instagram accounts, there is always a possibility. 

Is the University of Wisconsin–Madison a good school for me? 

As you reflect on how to get into UW–Madison, it is important to ask yourself whether UW–Madison is the right school for you. Yes, the UW–Madison acceptance rate is competitive, and students who attend UW–Madison will benefit from the 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. However, this doesn’t mean that UW–Madison is the right place for everyone.

When you think about how to get into UW–Madison, you might wonder if it is easy to get involved on campus. It is! UW–Madison offers nearly 900 student organizations along with sports, intramurals, arts, and cultural opportunities. So, there are lots of ways to get involved, meet new people, and try new things. 

Another factor to consider as you finalize your “how to get into UW–Madison” research is financial aid. UW–Madison offers both need-based and merit-based aid. They also offer special financial aid programs, like the Bucky’s Tuition Promise and Badger Promise , to Wisconsin residents. 

As the number of college applicants increases each year, it is important to solidify your “how to get into UW–Madison” strategy early. If UW–Madison is your dream school, consider applying by the UW–Madison Early Action deadline. 

As you think about how to get into UW–Madison, ask yourself the following: 

  • Am I interested in attending a public university dedicated to research and public service?
  • Does UW–Madison offer the major I want to study? 
  • How can UW–Madison help me achieve my future goals? 

If you decide that UW–Madison is the right university for you, be sure to submit all required materials well before the UW–Madison Early Action or regular UW–Madison application deadline. 

Click here to take a virtual tour of the UW–Madison campus. 

Additional tips to get into the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Build your candidate profile.

As you craft your “how to get into UW–Madison” approach, keep in mind that UW–Madison is looking for applicants who are bright, engaged, and passionate. Pursue your academic interests and seek out experiences that will strengthen your candidate profile. This will make your UW–Madison application stand out. 

Write compelling UW–Madison supplemental essays

Be sure to write genuine, thoughtful responses to the UW–Madison supplemental essays. Remember, the prompts for the UW–Madison supplemental essays will depend on which application you submit. Use the UW–Madison supplemental essays to share additional information about your passions, background, or interests. 

Apply early

Because the UW–Madison acceptance rate is competitive, you should consider applying by the UW–Madison Early Action deadline to maximize your admission odds. You want to build the strongest application possible, so give yourself plenty of time to do so. 

Don’t let the unofficial UW–Madison GPA requirements or UW–Madison acceptance rate stop you from applying! Although there is no guarantee that you will be admitted to UW–Madison, following the tips and advice in our “How to get into UW–Madison” guide will help you prepare the most competitive application possible. Good luck!

This guide was written by Claire Babbs , UT Austin ’12. If you want to know how to get into UW-Madison, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes graduates from some of the country’s top schools. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Early Action: Nov 1

Regular Decision Deadline: Jan 15

You Have: 

University of Wisconsin-Madison 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanation

The Requirements: 1 essay of 650 words (or less)

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why

Tell us why you would like 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 sneaky prompt is a twofer, though both parts cover 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!  

The goal is to show admissions that you’ve done your homework. 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. 

But, wait, there’s more! The second part of the prompt gives you the opportunity to include information about specific academic programs at Madison that appeal to you. So just as before, utilize the school’s website, but this time pay careful attention to the specific majors and academic offerings that catch your eye. What do you love about your chosen major and/or minor? If you’re interested in UW’s Gender & Women’s Studies pr ogram, can you describe what you will take away from this program and how it relates to your long-term ambitions ? How did you become interested in this field, and what resources does Madison provide that will help you achieve your goals? Finally, if you’re undecided, think about what makes Madison the ideal environment for your academic exploration. How do you plan to hone in on the perfect major as you attend? Remember, the more details you include, the better.

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  1. Why Madison Essay

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  2. Op-Ed Prompt

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  3. lecturenotes2012_06

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  4. #Transizion University of Wisconsin

    uw madison supplemental essays

  5. Reading my Why University of Wisconsin Madison (UW Madison) Essay // Why us College essay

    uw madison supplemental essays

  6. UW Madison Application Essay #1

    uw madison supplemental essays

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write the University of Wisconsin Madison Essays 2023-2024

    1. Highlight your authentic reasons for wanting to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison. 2. Highlight your authentic reasons for wanting to study your major of choice. The word "authentic" above is very important—one of the biggest mistakes students make in this type of essay prompt is writing a generic essay that could just as ...

  2. How to Write the University of Wisconsin Madison Supplemental Essays

    University of Wisconsin Madison Supplemental Essay Prompt #2. 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. (650 words max)

  3. UW-Madison Essay Example from an Accepted Student

    The University of Wisconsin Madison is considered one of the best 50 schools in the nation, thus making gaining admission a difficult task. You'll need more than good grades to get into this school—your essays will have to shine as well. In this post, we will share a real essay an accepted UW Madison student submitted.

  4. Required Application Materials and Documents

    Required Application Materials and Documents. In order for your application to be reviewed for admission, it must be submitted with the non-refundable application fee or fee waiver, and all supporting documents must arrive in our office by our deadline. We highly recommend allowing ample time for materials to arrive.

  5. University of Wisconsin-Madison: Supplemental Essays 2023-24

    2023-2024 University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Question—Common App. The following prompt is the only supplemental essay that students will encounter when applying to UW-Madison via the Common App: Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in ...

  6. 2023-24 U of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    University of Wisconsin-Madison 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanation. The Requirements: 1 essay of 650 words (or less) Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why. Tell us why you would like to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected.

  7. How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essays

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison's supplemental essay is a great opportunity to showcase your voice to the admissions committee and convey your academic passions and knowledge of the school. When writing your UW-Madison supplement, be sure to address both parts of the prompt: explain your interest in the majors you've selected and ...

  8. Application Essays

    Contact Us. Writing Center 6171 Helen C White Hall 600 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; Email: [email protected] Phone: 608-263-1992

  9. Apply as a First-Year Student

    Application Fee. The application fee is $70.00 US and is non-refundable. Electronic payment is preferred. If you apply using the Universities of Wisconsin Application, the fee can be paid by check or money order, drawn on a bank located in the United States and payable to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  10. How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Application Essays

    This prompt shouldn't be too difficult — with a limit of 100 words, you're going to be writing no more than a few sentences. While you should use this short essay as an opportunity to elaborate on the activity that portrays you in the best light, make sure that the selected activity is actually "important to you.".

  11. Prepare Your Essay

    Prepare Your Essay. Your application is a lot like a resume, with dry lists of dates, grades, and achievements. But the essay is different. It's your opportunity to shine through. Your UWs want to hear about the whole you — from the little victories, stumbles, and lessons learned to what makes you excited for college and life after high school.

  12. Guide to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Supplemental Essay

    Admissions wants to know just what appeals to you about the University of Wisconsin-Madison. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to lend tips and tricks for writing a winning supplemental essay for your Wisconsin-Madison application. About Kat StubingView all posts by Kat Stubing »

  13. How to Write The University of Wisconsin--Madison Supplement 2021 ...

    The acceptance rate to UWM hovered around 53% for non-residents and 73% for residents last year. The 2020-2021 supplement for the University of Wisconsin-Madison technically has 2 questions but it really only has one if you do it right. UWM allows students to apply through the common app or through the University's portal directly.

  14. How to Respond to the 2023/2024 University of Wisconsin Supplemental

    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!

  15. CEA's Guide to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Supplemental Essay

    Admissions wants to know just what appeals to you about the University of Wisconsin-Madison. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to lend t...

  16. #Transizion University of Wisconsin

    University of Wisconsin - Madison Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them! by Jason Patel of Transizion.comGet organized for college applications. Never miss ...

  17. How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplement 2022-2023

    How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplement 2022-2023. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a public land-grant research university. It was founded when Wisconsin became a state. They do a lot of research and have a ton of undergrad majors. With 33,506 undergraduate students, Madison is on the large side.

  18. College Essay Guides

    The UW-Madison supplemental essays are a great opportunity to introduce yourself to UW-Madison admissions officers. With the lower UW-Madison acceptance rate, these UW-Madison essay prompts can boost your application if you have a lower-than-average GPA or SAT score.

  19. How to Write The University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay

    You need to remind me why you are amazing, in a way that connects directly back to UW-Madison. If you have a supplemental essay you've already worked on with a great hook sentence or opening paragraph, you can even use it to start this essay. ... Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, please ...

  20. How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Essays ...

    What are the University of Wisconsin-Madison supplemental essay requirements? Two essays are required for admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Click above to watch a video on Wisconsin Madison Supplemental Essays. If you apply through the Common App, you will have to answer question #2 below, in addition to the first question. ...

  21. UW-Madison Admission Essays

    UW-Madison Supplemental Essay Examples: Prompts for 2023. Committed to a comprehensive and all-encompassing review process, UW-Madison has introduced several thought-provoking supplemental essay prompts for the 2023 cycle. These prompts aim to allow applicants to display various facets of their personalities, experiences, and future plans.

  22. How to Get Into UW-Madison Guide

    We suggest writing the UW-Madison supplemental essays well in advance of the UW-Madison Early Action deadline or regular UW-Madison application deadline. Now let's move on to the optional components of the UW-Madison application. UW-Madison admissions has adopted a test-optional policy for all applicants through spring 2025.

  23. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects. Teachers and trainers may use this material for in-class and out ...

  24. University of Wisconsin-Madison 2017-18 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    Find detailed breakdowns for the 2017-2018 University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Prompts and get started on drafting! At College Essay Advisors, we provide one-on-one tutoring as well as on-demand video courses to help you craft amazing school-specific essays.