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Uw madison essay

Answering the Common App Questions for the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Who doesn’t want to attend a school where you can dress like a candy cane all year? Or attend classes surrounded by a neat downtown with lots of options and a gorgeous lake? Where when the weather is just right, it seems you’re bound to have your best day? Exactly. These are just a few of the reasons why people have been flocking to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in droves.

Long known by folks in the Midwest as a strong public university with lots of options, as more from outside the region discovered it, UW-Madison is now a solid player alongside other well-known and respected public universities. As is bound to happen in College-Admissions-Land, once the cat’s out of the bag, said cat will find it harder to get back in three years later. Enter, “How to write effective supplemental responses to the UW-Madison Common App questions.”

UW-Madison’s first essay prompt is, “Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it’s important to you.”

I know…You see this prompt and make yourself crazy thinking, “I’m not different or unique. Why didn’t I collect international Coke bottles so I would have something to write about?!” Nope, don’t go down that dark path of, “I’m boring.” Everyone has something to share and here’s the space to do it. Considering that this is a companion piece to the Common Application’s main essay, feel free to address that subject you didn’t have the room to explore elsewhere. Does your passion for doughnuts fly under the radar? Or you’re a huge reader but haven’t found the opportunity to talk about it as a hobby? The point is, don’t feel obligated to share some big secret. I have found that the “goes unnoticed” part can lead people to think this is secret-sharing time. It’s not. Just write about something in your life that has meaning to you and expand. Also, you don’t have to tie this answer to the University, so please don’t use this space to talk about your interest in UW-Madison as the thing that goes unnoticed. You’ll have that chance in the next prompt. And the tone can be serious or playful so have fun and write! That’s it: easy-peasy.

The next prompt is, “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.”

When students see this prompt, they typically get inspired and go all “Big 10” on it. Think: Badgers! On, Wisconsin! Madison is so cool! Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah! But, take another look at the prompt and you’ll notice it’s asking you for deliberate information. Sure, college is about making memories, but let’s talk about those academic ones, too. One of my biggest frustrations with my students is when they forget that they’re going to college to learn! I can’t stress this enough—and since a college education costs an extraordinary amount, let’s make it count. If you don’t know what you want to study, talk about the academic interests you do have. Don’t just look at a major; delve into the catalog, check out special certificates or interdisciplinary options and make the University of Wisconsin feel like you didn’t confuse them with the University of Michigan. Based on the prompt, you should probably aim for 65% in classroom and 35% out of classroom/extra-curricular stuff.

And remember: No points given for discussing research in a way that says, “I would like to take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities and am confident that I can do so at Wisconsin.” Good for you, but really? Why? In what capacity? Rookie pitfalls in answering this prompt this way are: Believing research only happens in the STEM fields and talking about working in a research environment that is only for Post-Docs, Fellows or professional researchers…Don’t be that person!

Now that you’ve made it through your academic answer, feel free to mention the baby Badger onesie you still sleep with, or how Madison has been your dream school since you were four and saw a hockey game there. These should be like dessert or in UW’s case, cheese curds—not where the real nutritional value lies but fine in measured doses.

“When you say Wisconsin, you’ve said it all”!

Application essays and personal statements

Use the links below to learn about writing application essays and personal statements.

These pages will give you some general guidelines and an opportunity to start writing.

There is no substitute, however, for talking to people in the program to which you’re applying and to admissions committee members if possible.

The most effective essays develop from a good understanding of what is required for each particular program.

When possible, have others read your essay, especially people who have some familiarity with this type of essay.

Last updated: Monday, March 5, 2018

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Application Tips

Your application will receive a thorough review from more than one admissions professional. Admission to our university is competitive and selective, and we review applications using a holistic process. We consider your performance in rigorous course work, essays, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and one required letter of recommendation from an academic source. Our counselors are also looking for sustained involvement in activities in or out of school, leadership, community involvements, research, or any special gifts or talents that you would bring to our university.

Here are a few tips to help you get started, but contact our office if you have questions along the way.

Join our mailing list

Join our mailing list to receive reminders about our application deadlines, information about visiting campus, and to get the latest announcements from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Provide a current email address

We need to have an accurate email address on file for you to share important reminders. We also deliver you a notification by email when your admission decision is available. Our office prefers to communicate directly with applicants throughout the admissions process, so we ask parents and family members to sign up with the Parent Program to get information about the university.

Know your deadlines

Keep track of admission deadlines and make sure required materials arrive in a timely manner. Any application submitted by the deadline and completed in a timely manner will be reviewed, so be sure to plan accordingly using the dates posted for freshmen and transfer students. If all required materials are not received in a timely manner, your application may not be reviewed.

Develop strong 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.

On the application for admission, you will be asked to respond to one of the freshman Common Application essays or answer the following prompt:

  • Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it’s important to you.

All applicants will also need to respond to this 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.

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.

Request transcripts early

When you apply, we require official transcripts for all high school and college-level work you completed. Students applying for fall will be reminded in spring about submitting midyear or trimester grades. See what we need to receive for transfer students, homeschooled students, and reentry students.

Request test scores to be sent

Freshman applicants must submit test scores from the ACT or SAT. Our test code is 4656 for the ACT and 1846 for the SAT. We receive all scores electronically on a daily basis so there is not an advantage to rush or priority delivery.

To assure consideration in our Early Action competition, freshmen are encouraged to take the ACT or SAT no later than the end of September. For consideration in our Regular Decision competition, freshmen are encouraged to take their test no later than the end of December.

Transfer students are not required to submit ACT or SAT scores, but they will be considered if submitted.

International applicants should review our requirements for submitting either a TOEFL or IELTS score.

Ask for a 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, faculty member, school counselor, or advisor. 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.

If you apply using the UW System Application, your recommender can use our online recommendation form. This system allows you to request letters from each of your chosen contacts. By creating a log in and entering your information, your recommender will receive an email with a link to upload a letter to our office. Those who apply using the Common Application should request a recommendation through that system.

Check your application status

Once we receive your application for admission, we will send you an application acknowledgment email with instructions on how to monitor the status of your application. This online system will allow you to:

  • Check that we have received all of your application materials
  • Update your mailing address, phone number, and email address
  • View your admission decision
  • Monitor the status of your financial aid application
  • Accept or decline an offer of admission

If you do not submit an email address, you will receive the acknowledgement letter in the mail. This acknowledgement will include your campus ID number, which can then be used to activate your UW NetID and ultimately check your application status.

Ask questions and stay informed

Our office is available to help you through the process, and we welcome you to call or email. If you have a general question, reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Remember: never post your Student ID number, birth date, or government ID number online when asking your question.

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Contact Us

Office of Admissions and Recruitment

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Madison, WI 53715-1007

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University of Wisconsin – Madison Undergraduate College Application Essays

These University of Wisconsin – Madison college application essays were written by students accepted at University of Wisconsin – Madison. All of our sample college essays include the question prompt and the year written. Please use these sample admission essays responsibly.

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College Application Essays accepted by University of Wisconsin – Madison

The Total Package Lawrence Schlossman

University of Wisconsin – Madison

I know University of Wisconsin- Madison is right for me. At a school like University of Wisconsin I can not only succeed and flourish as a student, but even help contribute. Wisconsin can also offer me everything that a serious yet excited student.

My First Flight Robin Bates

University of Wisconsin – Madison

“Northwest, this is La Crosse Tower. Hold-short runway three-one for Cessna on final.”

Knowing that I had personally delayed a plane full of commercial passengers on my sixteenth birthday was not what I had in mind for my first solo flight.

Hindsight is 20/20 Robin Bates

University of Wisconsin – Madison

“Hindsight is 20/20.” This common saying, while a comforting way to console someone who can not accept a past decision, is far from accurate. The problem with changing history – even just one little fact – is that the consequences of the.

Hidden Interests Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

The question was “1. Having a diverse and exciting community of students is an important component in determining a great university. How can I contribute to that population?”

As I sat at my desk pondering this question, I grabbed my 7-year-old.

The Chemical Reaction That Is Nicholas A. Harris Nicholas Andrew Harris

University of Wisconsin – Madison

In one hand you have a beaker filled with a diluted solution of hydrochloric acid, which is one of the strongest acids you can concoct. In the other, you have another beaker filled with one of the strongest bases, sodium hydroxide. If anyone would.

A Week of Discovery Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

While most of my friends were deciding how to spend their first Saturday of summer vacation, I was packing up my belongings for a week of hard work that seemed to have little reward. I was headed to Ripon College for the 66th annual Badger Boys.

Value of Diversity Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

There simply was no solution. With tears of frustration in my eyes I went through the options for the hundredth time. I had come face to face with one of life’s many brutal truths: no one can build a sand-castle by herself. About to give up in.

Perfect Fit Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Growing up in a family of doctors, I have always been fascinated by the medical field. This fascination has prompted me to involve myself in many science related areas, from taking numerous science classes to participating in the many scientific.

Music Man Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Music has been an especially important activity for me. Although I have chosen to be involved in a variety of activities, the one that has been most rewarding for me is performing in a band. In junior high school, I organized a band that has since.

Cultural Persistence Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

I was three years old when my parents chose to emigrate from China to Canada in order for my father to pursue his medical career. It was a difficult journey for my parents because of cultural and language differences and for me, as a small child.

How I Can Contribute to the University of Wisconsin Hyun Jung Ham

University of Wisconsin – Madison

“It is your turn to speak, Hyun Jung.” This was the moment that I had feared the most when I was first accepted to an international school. My English skills were terribly poor, which often led me to avoid difficult interactions like this one. In.

More Than A Number Arkajit Mandal

University of Wisconsin – Madison

GPA. SAT. ACT. AP. In our society these acronyms essentially define a student. I wish to go beyond these objective criteria in evaluating who I really am. Far too often, students focus merely on the grade; nonetheless, this grade is worth.

Getting Involved Arkajit Mandal

University of Wisconsin – Madison

The medical field has always fascinated me. This curiosity stemmed from my interest in watching medical dramas. One such drama which keenly appealed to me was the television show House. A typical episode consists of Dr. House solving a mysterious.

Another Ingredient Into the Melting Pot Tina T Zhu

University of Wisconsin – Madison

College brings together a melting pot of students and a buffet table of classes, internships, study abroad programs, and clubs. Yet students must give back to their schools, or else who’d be attending classes or playing in the orchestra?

I Am Me Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

I will never forget the look of the freshly fallen, pure-white snow that blanketed the streets just outside the car when my mother said, “I don’t even consider you my son anymore.” The white snow was suddenly blinding, glaring at me with its.

The Windy City Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

I come from a place where the Sears Tower dominates the glitter of the skyline, the glorious silver Bean lives, and the notorious winters leave us all to witness weather that would even have Demeter herself question the decision of her revenge.

Presidential Scholarship Essay Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

“Chance, if you pull my hair one more time you’re going to be in big trouble!” I threatened. The boy in front of me sat in his wheelchair, grinning wide with a devilish look on his face. “Chance, no one will want to be your friend if you hurt.

The Stigma of Mental Illness in Asian Cultures Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Asian people do not discuss mental illness. While “Asian” is a broad term that cannot possibly encompass all the nationalities and ethnicities of the Asian continent, this is a solid fact in the most prominent cultures: China, Japan, Korea.

Tofu Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

The off-white, slimy cube looked back at me with a concentrated gaze that matched my own. I tentatively picked up my fork, poked its side, and watched it jiggle and sway under my fork’s careful teasing. “The time has come,” I thought to myself. “.

The DNA of Life Anonymous

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Vigorously shaking the two milliliter eppendorf tube, the bubbles sprawled out from the bottom, captivating the threads into a structure that engulfed me in a trance. Then the trance was broken. I looked at the scratch left on my hand when I.

Rising Importance Katelynn Samuelsen

University of Wisconsin – Madison

The first time I truly appreciated the sunset was when I was 11 years old. My family decided to take a day trip to Devil’s Lake State Park where we spent the day swimming, hiking and lazing in the sun. Towards the end of the day my mom and I snuck.

The Importance of Being Nice Isabel S. Hanes

University of Wisconsin – Madison

In my life I find myself practicing a certain sort of attitude that is subtle but impactful in its own way. While I do tend to look at life with positivity and a sense of adventure, I would be lying if I said I was always chipper—or even always.

Tenacious, Dauntless Chloe Christiaansen

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Here, on top of this duvet there exists a sun-soaked, silent universe. I pick up the object in my lap, lazily stretch out my legs and fill my world with the sound of its cracking spine. A gentle shhhhh, smoothing the page beneath my hand. The.

Common App Essay About Polar Bears Eleanor Smeallie

University of Wisconsin – Madison

I stood there, nose squished against the thick glass wall unmoved by my eager hands. After a “quick” hour and a half drive to the Baltimore Zoo, a secret trip my dad and I made more often than I would like to admit, I had finally reached the.

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Recent Questions about University of Wisconsin – Madison

The Question and Answer section for University of Wisconsin – Madison is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Sorry, this is a short-nswer forum for literary questions.

I’m sorry, this is a short-answer literature based forum. Gradesaver has an entire department designed to help students with their college application essays, simply follow the direct link provided below.

Do you mean a book and a play in general? Or are you referring to a specific title? If the former, then a book can be any variety of works, so long as it's collected into one volume. A play is specifically a work created for stage performance.

How to Write the University of Wisconsin-Madison Essays 2016-2017

Check out the University of Wisconsin Application Essays for 2017-2018

Sporting an expansive campus, diverse and energetic student population, and overall strong academic programs, it’s no wonder the University of Wisconsin-Madison prides itself as a top-tier public institution. The campus is bordered by two lakes, surrounded by over 1200 acres of nature, and connected to the comfortable, lively Midwest college town of Madison by State Street.

Despite the well-known parking problem on campus, Badgers have a lot to pride themselves on. Madison is viewed as the #1 college football town in America, and there is a great amount of badger pride for the D1 Big Ten athletics, especially football and basketball.

On the academic side, Wisconsin is considered one of the “Public Ivies” — there are over 230 majors to choose from, 20 schools and colleges to apply to, and an average class size of 29 students. Emphasis is placed on academic growth and research, and the school boasts exceptional programs in nuclear engineering and risk management business.

The Wisconsin Idea guides the school: “I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every home in the state.” Students aim to solve real-world problems and have a broad-reaching impact on all people through the work done at the university.

Despite the school’s size (which makes it easy to get lost in the massive lecture halls), professors and TAs are very accessible. Students’ issues with diversity and on-campus food have been strongly addressed and corrected in the past few years. No matter where you are from, there are always options, especially with student organizations.

Wisconsin boasts an enrollment of around 43,000 and acceptance rate of 47.5% as of 2014. To be competitive in this large applicant pool, it’s important to understand what makes the University of Wisconsin unique.

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Sign up below and we’ll let you know when our Essay Breakdowns for the 2017-2018 cycle are out. We’ll have how-to guides for the top 100 schools, and possibly more!

Focus on Being Specific and Personal

Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it’s important to you. (650 words)

When answering this prompt, students may default to thinking about the “unnoticed marginalized people of this world” or “of the climate change that is going unnoticed.” While those are important issues, they are global topics that, contrary to the prompt, are indeed noticed, and thus probably won’t make for a good response here.

There’s a reason why the question asks for “something in your life” and “why it’s important to you .” Rather than talking about something of global relevance, take this opportunity to get personal and write about something that is of particular importance to you, even if it may appear irrelevant to the reader at first glance.

This is your chance to bring the reader into your world, using your perspective and feelings to convey what is important to you. A cliché to avoid, however, is talking about how your parents care for you, i.e., talking about how your mom’s care for you often goes unnoticed and is important to you. Since that is such a commonly used trope, unless you take an extremely unique approach, it will be difficult to stand out.

Two Ways to Work Through this Essay

There are two ways to approach this supplement: things that go unnoticed to you that you are now reflecting on (e.g., you never noticed how beautiful the parks near your house were because you would always drive by, busy with errands and life, instead of walking through and enjoying the sites), or things in your life that you either do or happen that generally go unnoticed by others (e.g., you always clean up after your younger sibling at the dinner table, even if he doesn’t seem to appreciate it, so that your parents don’t get angry).

It could be how the garbage man takes extra effort for your block in the mornings, but no one is awake to notice until one morning you did. It could be how the cat that visits your house every evening unknowingly helps you de-stress from homework. Or maybe the two-hour commute your coach takes to come and train you every day, but never mentions or complains about.

When writing, in order to take a unique approach, try starting with an anecdote or narrative that subtly introduces your topics, rather than immediately stating to the reader that X or Y is going unnoticed. Follow the thematic concept of “show” over “tell.”

Tonal variety is also important. Reveal your thought processes and perspective, using descriptive language and connotation to put the reader in your shoes. In this, avoid using passive language, and instead write a narrative that transports the reader into the present before zooming out, looking at the big picture, and highlighting how the story of this unnoticed thing is important and vital to your development as a human being.

Be Detailed about Your College Choice

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)

This is a standard “Why this school?” essay mixed in with a little “Why this major?” This is your time to reveal why you believe you are qualified for that school and why you’re applying. Do your research: talk about specific academic, extracurricular, public service, and research opportunities you will take advantage of (such as WISCIENCE and SROP or Badger Volunteers); why you want to pursue those opportunities; the names of professors and classes you’re interested in; and how you will benefit from these and contribute to them, etc.

It goes without saying that you should delve into the details and talk about the opportunities at Wisconsin in your response. However, often times students forget to be specific and generalize, referring to “the tennis club team” and “the universities renowned labs” — statements that can be applied to almost any other university and don’t show that you’ve done your research on Wisconsin in particular. In order to get their attention, you want to show that you know about this school and are applying with a purpose.

For the second part of the prompt that asks about any personal circumstances, don’t feel compelled to write something. Use more space to write about the first part of the prompt.

However, if there are any circumstances that could impact your involvement, i.e., a physical impediment or inability to participate in a certain activity, do mention that. Be humble and honest in why it may hamper you, how you plan on working around it, and how the resources that Wisconsin provides may even help you overcome that challenge. This is a subtle opportunity to reveal what is unique about you and how you are able to handle whatever Wisconsin might throw your way.

Bring Out What Makes Your Activity Unique

Briefly explain (in 50-100 words) which activity you entered in the Common App Activities section is the most important to you.

This is a simple question, so you can just use a brief narrative and explanation to explain an activity. This could be a sport you’ve done for years, an instrument you play, participation in theater, etc.

Note that the prompt asks which activity is “the most important to you,” not “most impressive;” this way, you have a chance to personalize your response. Talk about the activity that you have the greatest personal connection to and investment in, and why it’s that important to you.

It could be tied into your major, the career you have planned, etc. No matter what activity you choose to write about, focus on giving some background and personal information and demonstrating why this activity in particular is worth highlighting. Additionally, keep the word count in mind as you write, and strive to be concise.

For more on the University of Wisconsin and other universities, check out our excellent essay editing and application mentorship services. Good luck, and go Badgers!

CollegeVine College Essay Team

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