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Essay Promps for Common App and UW System Schools

2024-25 CommonApp Essay Prompts

The word limit on the essay is 650.

All applicants, regardless of background or access to counseling, can see themselves and their stories within the prompts. The questions are designed to invite unencumbered discussions of character and community, identity, and aspiration. The Common Application website has educational resources to help students both understand and approach the opportunities the essay presents for them.

  1. 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.
  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?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. 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?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

2023-24 University of Wisconsin System Essay Prompts

All UW System campuses share one common essay question:

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?

Two campuses require an additional essay:

UW-La Crosse (new!): Please respond to ONE of the following: How will your life experiences, commitments, and/or characteristics advance these values and enrich the UW-La Crosse campus community? OR Tell us why you are interested in attending UW-La Crosse and what aspects of the campus are especially important to you.

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.

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