How to Write the WashU Supplemental Essays

In addition to your main college essay, WashU requires students to respond to the following prompt in 300 words or less. The WashU supplement is a great opportunity to share more about yourself that wasn’t evident in other parts of your application.


Tell us about something that really sparks your intellectual interest and curiosity and compels you to explore more in the program/area of study that you indicated. It could be an idea, book, project, cultural activity, work of art, start-up, music, movie, research, innovation, question, or other pursuits.

When you apply to WashU, you will indicate an intended major. When reviewing a student’s application, the WashU admissions office considers preparation for their intended major, cultural fit, and how the student might contribute to the classroom and overall campus culture. That doesn’t mean you’re locked into that major for the next four years if you get in, but you should choose a program that “sparks your intellectual interest.” You should choose an area of study you can see yourself enjoying and excelling at, and ideally which you have some experience with. If you’re interested in molecular and cellular biology, you don’t necessarily have to have worked in a lab, but you should have read books by prominent biologists, watched Youtube videos that explore the microscopic cells that affect every aspect of our lives, or joined a science club at school.

Just as these activities and experiences will help you decide on a major, they will help you approach this essay. Reflect on what experiences, activities or ideas sparked your interest in a subject and how you’ve cultivated those interests throughout high school. Feel free to write about both academic and extracurricular experiences and connect them to the opportunities you plan to take advantage of in college; maybe a biology class you took left you excited to take specialized classes in college, or a research opportunity or club you were a part of in high school excites you to take advantage of a research opportunity on campus. Feel free to really nerd out here, but don’t alienate your reader. If you’re really obsessed with Old English, maybe include your favorite line from Beowulf from the original text and gush over the beauty of it, but don’t waste your word count showing off your translation or literary analysis skills. The key in this essay is to connect your academic past and future with the thread of your intellectual curiosity. Don’t hold back on enthusiasm, and give the admissions officers a preview of what type of student you would be on campus.