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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.

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

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wisconsin madison supplemental essays 2022

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

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

The University of Wisconsin-Madison supplemental essay prompts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions to consider:

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

wisconsin madison supplemental essays 2022

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wisconsin madison supplemental essays 2022

University of Wisconsin-Madison | Wisconsin

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University of Wisconsin-Madison | Wisconsin’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Why this college essay.

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.

Life Experience Essay

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. (UW Application Only)

Diversity Short Response

Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. (UW Application Only)

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

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?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

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wisconsin madison supplemental essays 2022

UW-Madison Essay Example from an Accepted Student

With over 30,000 undergraduates, the flagship university of the Wisconsin public system is known for its top-tier academics, high-achieving sports teams, party life. 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. We will also go over what this essay did well, and where there is room for improvement.

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 

Read our UW Madison essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.

Essay Example – Why UW Madison, and Why This Major? 

As a student from Wisconsin, I have grown up with a high degree of exposure to discussions surrounding the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a result of the assortment of compliments I frequently heard describing its academics, I have always held the university in high regard.

Additionally, I have heard of the stellar location and value that comes along with the university being in the state capital. Through the combination of the two previous factors, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has become the center of my search for my ideal college experience. While exploring further, however, I have found that there is more about the university that causes my desire to attend. From the array of libraries and study spaces, a large student body in which I can find like-minded people, to the excellent campus I saw during a visit, there are countless aspects about the university that I find alluring. However, one element of the university stands out from the rest— the Wisconsin Idea.

I would describe myself as curious due to my constant attempts to learn new information; the more knowledge about current or former events I can achieve, the better. When a person has consistent access to accurate, unbiased information, I believe they can grow as a person, academically or socially. As new information is gathered and shared, new ideas can develop.

These novel ideas can lead to innovation and problem-solving. Unbiased and unpersuasive reports allow for thinking for oneself, forcing originality. I am interested in entering the field of journalism because of its capacity to prompt these thoughts. Beyond any encouragement of self- reliance, journalism can be an agent of change. Through reporting on issues afflicting society, widespread awareness is created. A society’s recognition of its problems enables attempts to fix them through methods such as civic engagement. Through these characteristics of journalism, better people and communities develop, showing its connection to the Wisconsin Idea. A bettering of society is something meaningful to me, and I believe journalism is the pathway to do so. The University of Wisconsin-Madison will allow me to explore all my interests involving journalism.

Growing up, I appreciated the coverage of sportswriters, from national writers such as ESPN’s Jeff Passan to local writers such as University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus Curt Hogg with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The work of these sportswriters is also valuable to society, helping provide moments of respite from the stresses of life. Through the sports communication certificate program, I will be able to discover if this branch of journalism is the niche meant for me.

Additionally, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has the resources that will allow me to succeed in journalism. Being in the journalism program with a focus on reporting and multimedia journalism, I will be able to strengthen my ability to inform the public in conjunction with the Wisconsin Idea. Education on how to vet sources and how to properly engage with audiences will allow for the merging of reporting with the mentioned principles and values. Through the university, I am confident that I will be able to leave a positive mark on the world.

I know that the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be able to cultivate my interests and help me grow as a person. Through the totality of its resources and classes, I will be well-prepared for my career as a journalist and ready to contribute positively to society.

What the Essay Did Well

Since this essay combines the “ Why School? ” and “ Why Major? ” supplements, it’s important to answer both questions while still ensuring the essay feels like one cohesive unit. This student has done exactly that, by highlighting the Wisconsin Idea and using that thread to tie his ideas together throughout the essay. That anchor also allows for a smooth transition between the student’s interest in the school and their interest in the major.

In addition to doing an excellent job crafting a unified essay, the student gives a lot of background on their decision to major in journalism, which shows that they are a thoughtful, dedicated student who is prepared to get the most out of a Wisconsin education. They start off by telling us why they see journalism as important in the big picture: “ Through these characteristics of journalism, better people and communities develop, showing its connection to the Wisconsin Idea. ” 

But in the next paragraph, they zoom in from the abstract ideals of journalism, to their personal interest in sports journalism specifically. By mentioning particular sportswriters they find inspiring, plus the “ focus on reporting and multimedia journalism ” they aspire towards, we get a more detailed picture of how they will contribute to the world of journalism, which is further evidence that this is a motivated student who is prepared to hit the ground running in college.

Although this essay is more detailed when answering the “Why Major?” question than the “Why School?” one, that isn’t a huge issue because they bring in school-specific programs while discussing their major. That, in effect, answers the “Why School?” question, because this student would not be able to get the same education in journalism at a different school. As highlighted at the beginning of this section, this essay’s biggest strength is that seamless blend of school opportunities and the student’s interest in journalism as a major.

What Could Be Improved

There are two weaknesses to this essay: the response to the “Why School?” half of the prompt, and the lack of personal details.

As noted above, the student does a good job of addressing “Why School?” in the part of their essay that focuses on “Why Major?” but the essay would be even stronger if they took some time to answer “Why School?” directly.

The first two paragraphs are in theory doing that, but they are wildly vague and provide few substantive examples of why UW Madison is a good fit for this student. As a rule of thumb, the school’s reputation and location, generic resources like libraries, and general campus aesthetic are not valid answers for why you want to attend, because lots of other schools have strong reputations, good locations, beautiful libraries, etc.

Instead, when answering this prompt you want to hone in on opportunities that can only be found at that school and explain how they connect to your current interests or will help you accomplish your goals. That shows admissions officers that you want to attend their school specifically, rather than that you’d be happy at any college in a state capital.

A better response would have looked something like this: “I look forward to sitting in on panel discussions hosted by UW’s Center for Journalism Ethics and working under Professor Culver to broaden my perspectives when I report on difficult topics like racial injustice, a topic which has particularly contentious in Wisconsin since the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. ”

This version shows that the student already has a clear, concrete vision of how they would fit into UW Madison’s campus community, which in turn gives admissions officers a more detailed sense of what this student would bring to their school. 

This version also shows how the student being from Wisconsin makes them a stronger applicant than someone from another state, as they have a personal understanding of the same issues that have affected UW Madison. The original essay, in contrast, only showed that being from Wisconsin has helped the student know the school better, not how them being from Wisconsin would benefit UW Madison.

The other issue with this essay is that the reader learns very little about the student’s background and personality. Broad statements like “ A bettering of society is something meaningful to me, ” and “ Growing up, I appreciated the coverage of sportswriters, ” don’t have enough detail for the reader to understand this student, as these two statements could be true of thousands of other applicants. Remember, the whole point of the essay is to distinguish yourself from students whose more objective metrics, like grades and extracurriculars, are similar to yours.

A stronger essay would accomplish that by providing insight into the emotional connection this student has to journalism. Rather than vaguely stating that sports journalism “help[s] provide moments of respite from the stresses of life,” it would describe how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s riveting coverage of the Milwaukee Bucks’ championship season gave the student something joyful to think about even as their grandfather’s dementia was worsening. 

Without that personal connection, even if admissions officers know what the student is interested in and even some of their beliefs about the world, they won’t know who the student truly is at their core. That deeper layer of understanding is what would take this essay from good to great.

Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay

Do you want feedback on your University of Wisconsin essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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wisconsin madison supplemental essays 2022

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

Not sure how to approach the UW-Madison essay prompts? With tips from an Ivy League graduate, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the UW-Madison essay prompts will show you exactly how to write engaging essays for your UW-Madison application and maximize your chances against the UW-Madison acceptance rate.

Want help crafting your UW-Madison essay prompts? Create your free  account  or  schedule a free consultation  by calling (844) 343-6272.

UW-Madison  Supplemental Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • The UW-Madison acceptance rate is 57%— U.S. News  ranks UW-Madison as a  competitive  school.
  • We recommend answering all UW-Madison supplemental essays comprehensively and thoughtfully.

What is the acceptance rate for the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

According to U.S. News, the UW-Madison acceptance rate is 57%. Last year, over 53,000 students applied to the school, which was a  17% increase  over the previous year. While the UW-Madison acceptance rate increased temporarily to about 60%, the normal rate falls near 57%. Like most schools, UW-Madison was  test-optional  last year in response to COVID. This year, they’ve continued the test-optional policy. Admissions experts believe that changes in testing requirements have caused the spike in applications that most schools have experienced.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, it does indicate that the UW-Madison supplemental essays will be an important part of your application. Without mandatory test scores and given the rise in applications, admissions officers will pay more attention to other aspects of your application.

In other words, for your best chance against the UW-Madison acceptance rate, we recommend that you take time to make sure that your responses to the UW-Madison essay prompts reflect your strengths.

Additionally, remember that the UW-Madison acceptance rate is not the only factor to consider when building your school list. Make sure that you’re looking at schools holistically. For more information on how to evaluate the UW-Madison acceptance rate (and more details on the data behind acceptance rates), read  our article .

What is the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s ranking?

The UW-Madison ranking is #42 in  National Universities , according to U.S. News.

Other U.S. News UW-Madison rankings: the UW-Madison ranking in  Best Undergraduate Teaching  is #71; UW-Madison ranking in  Best Value Schools  is #81; and the UW-Madison ranking in  Top Public Schools  is #14.

In terms of specific programs, the UW-Madison ranking is #15 in  Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs , and the US Madison ranking is #19 in  Nursing .

Finally, the UW-Madison ranking is #64 in  First-Year Experiences .

These are just some of the UW-Madison rankings. However, a school’s rankings should not be the only thing you take into consideration when compiling your college list. You should also consider other factors—including the school’s location, programs available, and size—when you look at schools. The UW-Madison rankings are not the only important factor in deciding to apply.

Keep in mind that the best college for you may not be the one you expected! There are a lot of different resources available when it comes to researching colleges; be sure to consult a few to ensure you create a comprehensive list.

Need help creating a college list? Check out our resources on the college list process  here .

Does the University of Wisconsin-Madison require essays?

Yes. In addition to the  Common App   personal essay, there are specific UW-Madison essay prompts. The UW-Madison supplemental essays differ depending on how you submit your application. The Common Application and  UW System Application  are available for all applicants. You will be required to write a “Why UW-Madison” essay no matter how you submit your application.

Need tips on writing your Common App essay? Check out our  blog article .

How many essays does the University of Wisconsin-Madison require?

In addition to the Common Application Personal Statement, there is one required UW-Madison essay that all applicants must complete: the “Why UW-Madison” essay.

However, if you apply through the UW application portal rather than the Common App, you will have to submit a second UW-Madison essay. This second essay functions as a replacement for the Common App essay. If you apply via the UW application portal, give yourself ample to complete both UW-Madison essay prompts.

Does the University of Wisconsin-Madison care about essays?

Yes, all colleges care about your essays, UW-Madison included. The UW-Madison essay prompts are a great chance to show admissions officers something new about yourself. When responding to the UW-Madison essay prompts, you will want to demonstrate that you would be a great fit for their UW-Madison. This is especially true when writing the “Why UW-Madison” essay. This is referred to as demonstrated interest (DI). DI is a tool the admissions officers use to determine how interested a student is in attending their particular school. By writing specific “Why UW-Madison” essays, students can show their DI in attending UW-Madison and increase their admissions odds.

The high UW-Madison ranking indicates that students may apply just because of UW-Madison’s prestige. In response to this, admissions officers will be on the lookout for students whose interest in the school runs deeper than its reputation. For more information on DI and how to use it to your advantage, check out this article from  Forbes .

Finally, in light of the UW-Madison acceptance rate, well-crafted responses to the UW-Madison essay prompts will strengthen your application. Don’t underestimate the UW-Madison essays and their impact.

Does the University of Wisconsin-Madison have a “Why UW-Madison” essay?

Yes. This is the classic supplemental essay question, and the UW-Madison essay prompts are no exception—all colleges want to know what makes them special to you. The “Why UW-Madison” essay is your chance to showcase any research you have done about UW-Madison while you’ve been writing your UW-Madison supplemental essay or as you’ve been completing the rest of the application.

Given the UW-Madison acceptance rate, your research will be an important part of acing the why UW-Madison essay. Why? When it comes down to two candidates with similar GPAs and extracurriculars, a strong “Why UW-Madison” essay can be the determining factor in who is admitted.

UW-Madison Essay Prompts – Question 1 (required)

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 maximum).

How do I write a good essay for UW-Madison?

The rest of this guide will show you how to write engaging UW-Madison supplemental essays.

Let’s start with the first UW-Madison essay, which is required of all applicants. You have 650 words to respond to this why UW-Madison essay, which is the same length as the Common Application’s personal statement. You should be prepared to spend a fair bit of time both researching and writing this UW-Madison essay, considering its length.

For this UW-Madison essay, avoid over-generalizing with statements like “The campus is beautiful” or “I just feel like I belong there.” Instead, offer concrete examples of why you belong there. You should do research into specific aspects of the UW-Madison community that appeal to you.

This UW-Madison essay prompt has two parts. First, the prompt asks why you decided to apply to UW-Madison. Then, it asks why you are interested in your chosen academic field. You’ll want to ensure you respond to both parts of the question. If you are undecided in your major, you will still want to address your academic interests and explain how attending UW-Madison would help you to hone these interests and discover a major that excites you.

Do your research

Before answering the first part of this UW-Madison essay prompt, do some reading. For example, you can look into  extracurricular activities , research, or  travel opportunities  that only UW-Madison offers to its students. You might also review the  calendar  of student events. The  list of student organizations  on their website can be a great resource to find campus organizations you’d like to join.

If you want to get your finger on the pulse of student life, check out UW-Madison’s student publications. Additionally, leverage the alumni network to ask questions about previous students’ experiences. This can help you learn about student-specific traditions and events that you can’t read about on the website.

Start free-writing

If all of these options seem overwhelming, try starting with a structured free-write session. Take about 15-20 minutes and create two lists. Under one, list every reason why you want to attend UW-Madison. Under the second list, list every reason why you selected your major. If you’re unsure of your major, list every area of academic interest that you may want to pursue. Then, take an additional 15 minutes and draw connections between the two. Perhaps you listed that you want to participate in UW-Madison’s  DSE Mentorship Program  for undergraduate engineers. If you also engineering as a possible major, that’s a great connection to highlight in your essay.

The second part of this UW-Madison essay prompt is a great way to demonstrate your academic and intellectual goals. Take a look at their list of 9,192 courses and 288 undergraduate majors and certificates. Pick three courses that look interesting and explain why each of those courses appeals to you. How would you benefit from taking these courses? How do your previous academic experiences set you up for success?

Avoid statistics

You want to avoid listing out numbers and statistics that admissions officers already know. For instance, instead of spending words talking about how the average class size is 31, explain specifically which professors you would be excited to learn from in such a personal teaching environment. If you are interested in two contrasting majors, you should support both of them with anecdotes about your academic experiences.

This is the space to show off your expert investigation skills and name-drop courses, clubs, professors, and research opportunities only available at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Colleges can tell when you swap out their name for another University and submit the same “Why here?” answer. Your application will be stronger if your answer to this “why UW-Madison” essay could not be swapped with any other schools’ applications.

UW-Madison Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you prove that you’ve done research on the school?
  • Do you explain what unique opportunities UW-Madison would provide you that you could not get anywhere else?
  • Does your draft provide specific details about what you hope to do while on UW-Madison’s campus?

UW-Madison Essay Prompts – Question 2

If you apply using the Common Application, you will be asked to respond to one of the freshman Common Application essays. If you apply within 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 your education? (650 words maximum).

Who completes this prompt?

Not everyone applying to UW-Madison will complete this UW-Madison essay. If you are applying to UW-Madison through the Common App, you will  not need  to respond to this UW-Madison essay prompt. If you are applying through the UW Systems Admissions Application then this UW-Madison essay will be the substitute for your Common App personal essay. This means you will want to spend a fair amount of time drafting your response to this UW-Madison essay prompt, since UW-Madison will not read your Common App personal essay if you apply through their college-specific portal.

There are several different parts to this UW-Madison essay prompt. At first glance, it may seem quite general. “Something you’ve done” is a pretty broad topic. However, the follow-up questions might qualify your chosen topic a bit more. You’ll need to describe how you learned from the situation. Was it something you succeeded in or was it a challenge you overcame? Did you find it to be a turning point that pushed you into a new phase of your life? You should be sure to address the final part of this UW-Madison essay prompt—about the event’s influence—and discuss how it will influence your education moving forward.

Avoid cliches

For this UW-Madison essay prompt, you could expand on something that is already present in your application. However, make sure that your topic is proportional to the length of this UW-Madison supplemental essay. For example, if you decide to write about an extracurricular, you will want to select something that you have a large role in. You should then discuss an anecdote that really challenged you, and as a result, prompted you to grow. Topics such as scoring an A on a big exam or winning an important sports game can be a little clichéd. Try to think of a unique situation that you overcame and the skills that you gained from that experience.

One of the most important parts of this UW-Madison essay is how your topic will impact your education. Make sure you discuss how you will contribute to academic life at UW-Madison. However, don’t repeat anything you already said in your “Why UW-Madison” essay. Overall, you want to make sure this UW-Madison supplemental essay shows who you are as a person and how you have grown. Given the relatively low UW-Madison acceptance rate, you should present detailed, well-written answers to the UW-Madison essay prompts.

UW-Madison Essay Prompts: Final Thoughts

Completing the UW-Madison essay prompts can seem daunting in light of the UW-Madison acceptance rate and high UW-Madison rankings. However, you shouldn’t let that discourage you from applying. 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 .

Use this guide as a step-by-step aid when approaching the UW-Madison supplemental essays, and start earlier than you think you should. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions from someone; it’s helpful to have another set of eyes checking your UW-Madison supplemental essays for grammatical errors, tone, and clarity. Good luck!

This 2021-2022 essay guide on UW-Madison was written by  Laura Frustaci , Harvard ‘21. For your best chance against the UW-Madison acceptance rate, and more CollegeAdvisor.com resources, click  here . Want help crafting your UW-Madison supplemental essays? Create your free  account  or  schedule a free consultation  by calling (844) 343-6272.

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wisconsin madison supplemental essays 2022

ACT/SAT scores are optional through the spring 2027 term - Bucky Badger hold a scantron sheet reading "Update"

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.

Any outstanding materials will be noted under “Tasks” on your “To Do List” in your Student Center .

  • Academics More
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  • How to Apply More
  • Finance Your Education More
  • Student Life More
  • Plan Your Visit More

First-Year Applicants

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.

First-Year Application and Materials Deadlines

Decision Plan Application Deadline Materials Deadline Decision
Spring Regular Decision October 1 October 15 On or before December 31
Fall Early Action November 1 November 8 On or before January 31
Fall Regular Decision January 15 January 22 On or before March 31

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.

Transfer Applicants

A transfer student is anyone who has attended another college or university after graduating from high school and wishes to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at UW–Madison.

In order to be eligible for transfer admission, you must have completed or be in the process of completing at least 24 transferable semester hours of college-level work after high school graduation. AP, A-Level, IB, and CLEP cannot be used toward the 24 transferable credit requirement. We do not admit freshman-level transfer students.

Transfer Application and Materials Deadlines

Decision Plan Application Deadline Materials Deadline Decision
Spring Regular Decision October 1 October 15 On or before December 31
Fall Priority Decision February 1 February 17 On or before March 31
Fall Regular Decision March 1 March 17 On or before April 30

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.

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 .

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.

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

How to Send Official Test Scores

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
  • We do 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

7. 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.

Required Transfer Application Materials

Transfer students can apply using the  Universities of Wisconsin Application .

You will be asked to identify both a first and second choice major when completing the application for admission. If selecting a major in the School of Business or College of Engineering as your first choice major, you must select a second choice major outside of the School of Business or the College of Engineering. If we are unable to offer you admission to your first choice major, your second choice will be considered in our application review. Due to the competitive nature of some of our programs, admission 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.

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.

The application fee is not required if your last school attended is a UW System institution and it is within one year of enrollment as a degree seeking student at that institution.

You will need to answer the following prompts:

If you are applying to transfer from another Universities of Wisconsin institution, you will only be required to submit the second essay.

College Transcripts:

We require course and grade information from your enrollment in any and all colleges and universities. This should include all college-level coursework completed to date, including your current term in progress, and (if applicable) college classes taken while in high school.

You must submit an official transcript from all institutions(s) in which you were enrolled to meet the course and grade information requirement to complete your application for admission.

Official transcripts should be sent directly from each school attended.

Applicants that are currently or were previously enrolled at a UW College, a UW System branch campus, or UW Colleges Online must submit their transcripts according to the UW System guidelines .

High School Transcripts:

We require official high school transcript(s), sent to us by your school. We review your high school record to check for proof of graduation, the completion of core preparation requirements, and to learn more about your educational background. High school grades will play a more important role in the admission review for applicants who have completed fewer transferable college credits. 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. 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 .

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. 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. *

* While we would prefer to receive a letter from the most recent year/semester, many students are taking courses virtually due to COVID-19 and making connections virtually may be challenging for some students. If you think a letter from a past high school teacher, high school counselor, college teacher, or academic advisor can speak to your current strengths as a student, we will accept those letters to make admission decisions.

Transfer applicants educated in non-English speaking countries must submit a official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test (DET) score, unless English was the primary language of instruction in all four years of secondary school or a college level English composition course was successfully completed at an accredited US institution. This requirement will not be waived for English composition taken at U.S. branch campuses abroad.

We do not superscore any English Proficiency exam and score reports cannot be older than 2 years from the time you apply.

Optional Transfer Application Materials

7. act and sat scores (optional).

Scores from either the ACT or the SAT are not required of transfer applicants. However, you are welcome to provide us your scores. Your results will be considered as supplemental academic information and may help strengthen your application. Test scores can be sent directly from the testing service. 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.

Additional Required Materials for International Students

Application materials and process for reentry students, application materials and process for second degree students.

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.

Tips & Recommendations

We’ve collected some of the best tips and recommendations for writing a great essay.

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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.

Get personalized advice!

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.

Learn how we can help you with college and career guidance! Check out our YouTube channel!

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Supplemental Essay Guide 2024-25

What do the 2024-25 supplemental essay prompts really mean, and how should you approach them? CEA's experts are here to break them all down.

Acceptance Rate

Undergrad population.

  • Liberal Arts (52)

* Tuition filtering is based on out-of-state fees

Agnes Scott College 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

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Alvernia University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide  

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Supplement Essay To University of Wisconsin - Madison

Here is my supplement essay to University of Wisoncson - Madison with the 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. (650 words)

Here is my essay:

“American dream” is a popular term among international school students in Vietnam. Like most of the others at my school, I desire to reap countless learning opportunities and meaningful experience there, and University of Wisconsin - Madison adapt more than my expectations. I would not only be able to apply my knowledge acquired from the textbooks into hands-on projects in the laboratories and internship programs but also have a chance to compete in engineering team projects and develop my passionate hobby of board gaming. Industrialism and environmentalism are two contradicting trends in the world: either with prosperous companies yet polluted environment or with mediocre companies yet healthy environment. Unfortunately, nowadays their desire for improving standard of living drives them toward industrialism, consequently causing the issue of climate change that have lasted for several decades. Thoughtful scientists and engineers have strengthened renewable energy, a clean but yet effective method, to change people’s direction toward environmentalism. Since then, I was inspired to follow the scientists and engineers’ side to diminish global pollution and strengthen carbon sequestration process. Through my past experience of Regional Math Championship and World Scholar’s Cup during the last three years, my competitiveness with surrounding opponents have grown stronger. What makes me feel even more ambitious is WisWind, a team competition established with the aim of designing an optimal wind turbine system in technical, economical and social aspects. In 2016, University of Wisconsin - Madison also sent a team of 15 students to compete in Collegiate Wind Competition offered by US Department of Energy. This will not only allow me to participate in an engineering project for the first time of my life but also magnify my willingness of making a greener community here and winning against the threats of climate change. People often say: “Do what you love”. Except for my desire to protect the environment, my love of playing and designing board games is also satisfied with Madison Board Gamers. I have developed my passion of board games for one year through spreading the world of board games to my friends and nearby people and playtesting my own game with a group of local game designers to publish it in the future. There was even some days when I spent three hours designing the game mechanics and printing the game components to try with my friends or I dreamt about a new board games ideas and wrote that into my notebook right after I woke up. With my passion and experience in board gaming, Joining Madison Board Gamers would allow me to expand this immense world within the community and inspire some members to follow the aspiration of designing a board game the way my local designers strengthened my desire of developing and publishing my own game. Along with rigorous undergraduate curriculum, Co-operative internship program and several meaningful activities and organizations, University of Wisconsin - Madison would surely make a long-term companion on my academic and career pathways in the future. (491 words)

Feel free to give me some feedbacks to improve my essay. Thank you very much! :)

IMAGES

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

    He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). The 2022-23 University of Wisconsin-Madison supplemental essay offers applicants a chance to improve their admissions chances at UW-Madison.

  3. 2023-24 U of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    As soon as the 2024-25 prompts beomce available, we will be updating this guide -- stay tuned! 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.

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

    Mistake #1: Writing about the school's size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking. Mistake #2: Simply using emotional language to demonstrate fit (i.e., "It just felt right"). Mistake #3: Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors, or names of any important people or places on campus.

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

    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 ...

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

    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. ... The 2022-23 Coalition Application essay prompts have been announced, which means you can start writing your personal statement right away! CEA Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook ...

  7. How to Write The University of Wisconsin--Madison Supplement 2021-2022

    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.

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

    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 ...

  9. University of Wisconsin-Madison

    650 Words. 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. Read our essay guide to get started. Submit your essay for free peer review to ...

  10. 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...

  11. 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.

  12. UW-Madison Essay Example from an Accepted Student

    UW-Madison Essay Example from an Accepted Student. With over 30,000 undergraduates, the flagship university of the Wisconsin public system is known for its top-tier academics, high-achieving sports teams, party life. The University of Wisconsin Madison is considered one of the best 50 schools in the nation, thus making gaining admission a ...

  13. 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.

  14. College Essay Guides

    This 2021-2022 essay guide on UW-Madison was written by Laura Frustaci, Harvard '21. For your best chance against the UW-Madison acceptance rate, and more CollegeAdvisor.com resources, click here. Want help crafting your UW-Madison supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a free consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

  15. Required Application Materials and Documents

    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.

  16. 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.

  17. How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplement 2023-2024

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a prestigious public state school known equally for its academics and its culture (go Badgers!). Located in Madison, Wisconsin, the school is set in a mid-sized city that isn't completely taken over by the university but is heavily dominated by it. This isn't surprising, given that that total student body of nearly 50,000 accounts for nearly 20% of ...

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

    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: Outline. 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.

  19. Supplemental Essay Guide 2024-25

    What do the 2024-25 supplemental essay prompts really mean, and how should you approach them? CEA's experts are here to break them all down. State ... University of Wisconsin-Madison 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide.

  20. Here's where you should be now with your supplemental essays... and a

    You no longer "need to write 37 supplemental essays" --> now you need to "write five main essay types and adapt them." Step 2 (tomorrow night). ... 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. ... Top posts of October 6 ...

  21. How to Write the University of Wisconsin—Madison Supplement Essays 2020

    The University of Wisconsin—Madison is a public research university located in, well, Madison. The oldest and largest public school in the state, Wisconsin is known for its exceptional athletics. A proud member of the Big Ten, the school also offers a plethora of activities and clubs, including a robust Greek Life.

  22. Wisconsin Madison Supplemental essay : r/ApplyingToCollege

    Wisconsin Madison Supplemental essay. I have my supplemental essay written out but i'm not sure if I follow the prompt enough. I talk about why my major at the beginning of the essay, but the rest of the essay talks about the opportunities the college offers with my major and other activities and i sprinkle in some sentences that say why I ...

  23. Supplement Essay To University of Wisconsin

    Along with rigorous undergraduate curriculum, Co-operative internship program and several meaningful activities and organizations, University of Wisconsin - Madison would surely make a long-term companion on my academic and career pathways in the future. (491 words) Feel free to give me some feedbacks to improve my essay. Thank you very much!

  24. PDF CURRICULUM VITAE

    de oMorale, n 113 (2022/num. 1): 3-19. [29ja] "The indefinite in the Descartes-More correspondence." ... "Review Essay: Descartes on Forms and Mechanisms, by Helen Hattab, and Descartes's ... Philosophical, Scientific, and Art Historical Perspectives," University of Wisconsin, Madison WI, April 2016. "French Cartesian Physics ...