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How to Write the UIUC Supplemental Essays

Major Specific Writing Prompts

Each response should be approximately 150 words.

Explain, in detail, an experience you’ve had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you’ve taken, or through something else.

First and foremost, reiterate your first-choice major at UIUC and specify the concentration you intend to pursue within your major choice, if any. Consider the ways in which your life experiences have shaped you and your interests, and how the impact of those experiences helped develop your interest in a particular field of study. How did you develop your academic goals and interests? What influenced or inspired you to pursue your chosen academic subject? By asking this question, the admissions officers want to understand how your intended major will be a good fit for you. If you are in need of inspiration, look at the Activities List you completed for the Common Application to see if any of those listed had a significant impact on your decision to choose this major. You can also mention something not included on the Activities List, such as an interaction or relationship with a teacher, a personal endeavor or conversation you had with your parents, or an interest developed through a camp or special workshop. Think about how your interest started—what was it that prompted your desire to learn more about this specific field? How did you further pursue this subject? Give specific details about your experience learning about the subject and how this experience translates to the UIUC major you have chosen.

Each college has its own specific application “review goals and criteria,” so we encourage you to review the criteria for your intended major as you craft your answer here.

Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them.

By giving this prompt, the admissions committee asks you to connect your UIUC major to your future. If writing about career goals, be explicit about your intended career and your goals within that career. Be as specific as possible—what job or position are trying to achieve, and in which department, industry, or company? If you don’t know the answer to this question, do not worry! Most high school students don’t. For now, just pick a field or career goal that currently interests you that can be attained through your intended course of study. It’s also okay if your answer changes in the future (in fact, it probably will!)

UIUC values impact and innovation for all people, so having goals that align with equity, inclusion, community, social change, and helping others is key. If applicable, we encourage you to emphasize these values in your goals. Next, consider the qualities about the UIUC major/program that will help you achieve these goals. Research the program and its resources so that you can be precise in your description about what the UIUC opportunities you plan to pursue – is it the research opportunities, the renowned faculty, or the unique structure of the program itself?

If you’re applying to an undeclared major in the Division of General Studies:

What are your academic interests and strengths?
You may also include any majors you are considering.

Because you’re not applying to a specific major, the admissions officers want to know more about your interest in their school. Why do you want to be an ‘Illini’? It is important to show them you are confident in who you are and most importantly, confident in your interest in UIUC. You only have 150 words, so use them wisely to focus on 1-2 interests and strengths. You can show these through your activities, experiences, honors, and awards, so look back to your Activities List again for some inspiration. Some exemplary characteristics and skills that admissions notes when looking at applications include leadership ability, perseverance, creativity, generosity, determination, motivation, concern, and intellectual curiosity.

We also strongly encourage you to include 1-2 UIUC majors you may be interested in. This not only shows the admissions officers you are looking into specific programs at UIUC and may be a future good fit, but also demonstrates that you are actively working towards creating a meaningful career path for yourself. Connect how your mentioned interests and strengths relate to the majors you are considering at UIUC, and how they will help you excel at UIUC.

What are your future academic or career goals?

To answer this question, first clearly state your goals for your academic and professional future—where do you see yourself in five years and what do you hope to accomplish as a student at UIUC in order to arrive at that professional destination? Keep these goals as specific as possible—these may change over time as you learn and grow, but the admissions committee wants to know what is motivating you as you pursue your area of study. Mention specific details about UIUC that will help you achieve those academic or career goals—the research opportunities, the emphasis on innovation or equity, or a specific school or program you find interesting. The admissions officers are looking for students who will positively contribute to the Illinois campus and who will be deeply invested in their course of study. Focus on the impact you want to make and how you’d like to create change and help others.

If you’re selected a second choice major (including undeclared):

Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals.

Admissions recommends that prospective students select a second choice major, in case they do not get selected to their first choice. We encourage you to write this answer in a similar way you answered the first choice major question. Be specific in why you’re interested in this major and include experiences—academic, extracurricular, volunteer—that relate to the major or its field.