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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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3 University of Washington Essay Examples by Accepted Students

 

The University of Washington is a selective school, so it’s important to write strong essays to help your application stand out. In this post, we’ll share essays real students have submitted to the University of Washington. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).

 

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

 

Want to know your chances at the University of Washington? Calculate your chances for free!

 

Example 1

 

Prompt: 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 University of Washington (300 words).

 

The first time I looked up the term cripplepunk I was in ninth grade, almost bedbound with severe hip pain. It took half a second for the page to load, and another half a second for me to process what I was seeing. There before me, against the muted grey of my phone’s dark mode, is the community I thought I would never have. I could have scrolled for hours, absorbing the images of models in powerchairs wearing ornate gowns, snarky patches on guide dog vests, and decorated canes. I kept coming back to the page, enchanted with the movement. Although the term cripplepunk wasn’t used until 2014, the spirit of the movement is present in most disabled people, from Frida Kahlo to the participants in the Capitol Crawl. The cripplepunk movement is intentionally subversive, fighting against the ableism and pity that disabled people encounter at every turn. Cripplepunks take a “so what if I am?” approach to ableism, refusing to be ashamed of symptoms, accommodations, or mobility aids. It’s a diverse movement too, where a 60-something veteran dealing with decades-old injuries can guide me through the process of buying and decorating my first cane. In cripplepunk circles, a deafblind Black woman can teach the world that disabled people can have dreams for their futures. The cripplepunk movement is a movement where I can offer sympathy, advice, and support to the same people who helped me through otherwise isolating moments and new cripples alike. That work doesn’t just happen online though. My work as a cripplepunk happens everywhere, classrooms and grocery stores alike, by being visibly and unashamedly disabled, vocally confronting ableists, and campaigning for greater accessibility.

 

What the Essay Does Well

 

One of the primary strengths of this essay is its writer. Through their enthusiasm about the cripplepunk movement and their writing style, readers feel connected to them. At the very beginning of this response, we are introduced to the term ‘cripplepunk,’ but just like the student, we are not exactly sure what it means. We go through the process of learning about the movement with the student as they bring to our minds “images of models in powerchairs wearing ornate gowns, snarky patches on guide dog vests, and decorated canes.” By bringing us along to their first introduction to cripplepunk, this student forms a connection between themself and the reader. We get “enchanted” alongside them.

 

At the same time, we get enchanted by the student, who positions themself as mature and insightful. As they describe how the cripplepunk movement wasn’t labeled until 2014 but “the spirit of the movement” existed long before, they address the ways that community doesn’t need to have a name to exist. They position community as anything that makes individuals not feel alone, then follow that description up with a definition of community as “people who help others through otherwise isolating moments.” This deeper reflection displays this student’s insightful-nature and maturity.

 

Finally, this essay’s structure works very nicely. It is simultaneously anecdotal and reflective, and, to top it all off, the student provides an image of them in “classrooms and grocery stores alike” showing off their diversity and their pride. The anecdote draws the reader in, while the reflection reveals this student’s personality and perspectives. Combined, the reader gets a good idea of who this student is and how they would fit into the campus community.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

The one thing this essay didn’t address was how this student will add to the diversity of the University of Washington. Although we get a good sense of the unique community this student came from and how it shaped them, we still want to know how they will contribute to their campus community. This student could have easily revised the last few sentences to say something along the lines of this: “I intend to bring the cripplepunk movement with me to the University of Washington. I’ll proudly display myself on campus so I can teach my fellow classmates about disabilities and encourage other disabled students to be unashamed of who they are.”

 

Reworking the conclusion to discuss how they will take the lessons they have learned from being part of the cripplepunk community and share those lessons with a new community would show admissions officers exactly what this student would bring to campus. It doesn’t have to be an extensive response, but the essay should include some reference of University of Washington. 

 

Example 2

 

Prompt: 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 University of Washington (300 words).

 

In my youth, I found solace in communities of my peers who shared portions of my identity; from speaking the same second languages to sharing similar tastes, I was quick to bond with those I was similar to. 

 

When I moved to Oregon, I found myself miles away from these connections. My fragmented identity found little to attach to my peers. Inkling connections uprooted as I attended three different middle schools throughout my years. “Community” felt like a bubble I was floating upon, inherently a part of yet never fully immersed. 

 

At the end of math class towards the middle of eighth grade, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A tall girl with glasses and a tooth gap stood behind.

 

“Do you want to sit with us at lunch today?”

 

Stemming from this small invitation, I found myself part of a community of peers with whom I never thought I could relate. Our interests diverged and collided in all regards; we were of different gender identities, sexual orientations, and ethnic backgrounds. While I was the only person of color in our friend group, I cherished the different experiences we brought to the table. I recounted my struggles accepting my culture while I heard the stories of my friends who were dealing with gender dysphoria. 

 

In the following years, I wholeheartedly applied this multifaceted outlook to my sense of community. I engaged with peers both different and similar to me; I found community at Indian festivals with my fellow South Asian peers and community with my closest friends with whom I can form strong emotional connections, despite our dissimilar backgrounds. 

 

This ever-growing sense of community has helped me thrive and will better help me engage within the student body at the University of Washington

 

What the Essay Does Well

 

As this student explores the struggle of finding community, their essay not only reads like a Diversity essay but also like an Overcoming Challenges essay

 

The main strength of this essay is the arc it presents. We learn about their background (moving around a lot) and we learn that community didn’t always come easy for them. The sentence “‘Community’ felt like a bubble I was floating upon, inherently a part of yet never fully immersed” articulates their isolation particularly well. At the same time, this sentence shows their profound awareness of the true meaning of community. They understand that being a part of a formal group like a school organization, an ethnic group, or a sport does not necessarily mean one feels community.

 

As the essay progresses, the student comes to understand that community does not have to exist within any formal bounds at all. You can find community with people completely different from you. Through their reflection, this student clearly shows an understanding of the importance of diversity. Not only is this essay able to demonstrate the meaning of community to this student, but it also displays how diversity is an integral part of community, which is exactly what admissions officers want to see.  

 

What Could Be Improved

 

The beginning of this essay is a little slow, so the whole essay would benefit from reordering it and changing the structure a bit. Essays tend to start off with an anecdote to hook the reader and then go into more elaboration. However, it takes a few sentences before this student gets to their anecdote. We learn about this student’s experience feeling part of (or isolated from) a community prior to middle school, but the essay isn’t overly engaging before the anecdote.

 

The anecdote livens up the essay and brings a renewed sense of excitement and engagement to the reader, so opening the essay with the story of getting invited to lunch would spur that interest from the beginning. After the quick anecdote, the student could explain why it was so meaningful to be invited to lunch and find a community at that table because they had felt that they were missing a community throughout middle school. Restructuring the essay like this would mean it wouldn’t be told chronologically, but a deeper emotional connection with the student, and interest in their story, would be established off the bat.

 

Example 3

 

Prompt: Consider two very different subjects you have previously studied; tell us how you imagine bringing those together at UW to engage with a pressing societal concern. This could be a local, national, or global concern.

 

In my youth, my mother helped instill a curiosity about the natural world in me. Her work in consulting regarding climate change and environmental systems made me question my direct and indirect impact. I delved into these interests further in high school by taking broad coursework in the sciences. In AP Biology, I was baffled by the reactions and transformation that occurred with simple manipulation. In AP Environmental Science, I was able to apply these biological processes to environmental concepts I noticed on the daily.

 

In my junior year, I took AP Economics, a class on the polar opposite spectrum from biological and environmental sciences. However, while studying economics, I was able to establish connections between economic and environmental concepts. My father, who has a grounded education in economics, helped me understand the links between these seemingly disparate subjects. The subjects were foundationally interlinked; simple ideas coincided, such as the tragedy of the commons and its relation to marginal analysis. 

 

As I noticed these intersectional ties, I saw that addressing the impending climate crisis through an economic lens was necessary for implementable, impactful change. There were opportunities for the government to impact climate action— these included economic incentives and regulations to influence the market price, changing producer and consumer behavior to be environmentally friendly. These policies helped protect the welfare of not only the environment but also of individuals who are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. 

 

My interest in communication studies links to this; I hope to thoroughly understand these subjects in an interdisciplinary context to provide the means for others to do the same.

 

 At UW, particularly in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, I hope to conjoin my interests in economic policy, science, and communications to gain the leverage and sound academic foundation necessary to address these concerns.

 

What the Essay Does Well

 

One of the best things this essay did was make use of a simple structure. This prompt asks for a lot from students: discuss two interests, identify the relationship between the two interests, show that the relationship relates to a pressing societal concern, and describe how you will engage with that concern at UW. While it is possible to answer all of these questions with a creative structure, this student’s use of a simple structure helped keep all of the parts of the essay organized. The essay followed the same format as the prompt: two paragraphs about their interests and relationship between them, a paragraph on a societal concern, and two final paragraphs on how they will tie everything together at UW.

 

Utilizing this structure allowed the student to fully establish both of their interests as unique entities before combining them. Going into detail on what excited them about environmental science and economics in the first place made their genuine love for the topics shine through. Also, including specific concepts like biological reactions and tragedy of the commons shows this student’s knowledge in these respective fields, in addition to their passion.

 

This student also does a good job of explaining the relationship they see between environmental sciences and economics. Explaining how they were “foundationally interlinked; simple ideas coincided” gives some insight into how this student thinks. We learn that they used logic to connect seemingly different topics that share common ideas. Establishing this logic-based link helps us understand how they devised solutions to address the pressing issue of the climate crisis in the third paragraph. The reader is left with the impression this student is genuinely fascinated by these two topics and has an interest in continuing to combine them in the future.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

This student struggles with the transition to discussing their future goals. Since they devoted a large portion of their allotted word count to their interests in science and economics, they were left with very few words to discuss their interest in communication and how all three fields can be tied together. This leaves the essay feeling rushed and less genuine at the end.  

 

If they cut down on some words earlier in the essay—perhaps only mention their interest sparked from their coursework or their parents, rather than delving into detail on both—they could devote more space to their interest in communication studies later on. Then, this student could add more depth to the sentence “My interest in communication studies links to this,” by replacing it with something like:

 

“As I have seen the importance of science and economics for saving our planet, I have realized that interdisciplinarity is what will save the world. Disparate fields must join together for change to occur. I plan to join the inherently interdisciplinary communication studies program to show the world the importance of communication between disciplines.”

 

More Free Essay Resources

 

How to Write the University of Washington Essays: See our in-depth guide of each supplemental essay prompt for the University of Washington. 

 

All of Our Essay Guides: Don’t miss our essay guides for all of the top schools.

 

How to Write the Common App Essays: Learn how to write a strong Common App essay for each of the prompts, with examples.

 

Free CollegeVine Peer Essay Review: Submit your essay and get feedback from another student. Editing other students’ essays will also help you improve your own writing skills!

 

 


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