Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of WashU campus

Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

If you’re aiming for admission to the prestigious Washington University in St. Louis for the 2023-2024 academic year, you’ve likely heard about the importance of supplemental essays. These essays are not your ordinary application components; they serve as your golden opportunity to showcase to WashU what numbers and transcripts cannot—your unique personality, thoughts, and the potential contributions you can make to their vibrant academic community.

Consider these essays as a friendly conversation with the admissions committee. They are genuinely interested in getting to know you, the individual behind the application. What drives you? How do you perceive the world? Most importantly, what distinctive qualities and perspectives do you bring to the diverse WashU community?

In this comprehensive guide, we will methodically explore the Washington University Supplemental Essay prompts one by one. Our aim is to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to tackle each question authentically and effectively. Whether you’re pondering which fresh perspective to share, reflecting on the community you hold dear, or recounting the life experiences that have shaped you, rest assured, we’ve got your back.

So, grab your favorite cup of brew, get comfortable, and let’s kickstart those creative juices. It’s time to craft essays that are as exceptional as you are—essays that will undoubtedly capture the attention of WashU’s admissions committee.

walkway lined with trees at both side at the Washington University in St. Louis

How Many Supplemental Essays Does Washington University in St. Louis Have?

Washington University in St. Louis has unveiled the supplemental essay questions for the upcoming 2023-2024 admissions season. Prospective students aiming to join WashU’s Class of 2028 will encounter one mandatory essay prompt, an additional optional prompt, and the choice to submit an optional video. It’s time to take a closer look at what these prompts entail and consider how to approach them!

What are the Supplemental Essays for Washington University in St. Louis?

The Required Essay (up to 200 words)

Please tell us what you are interested in studying at college and why. Undecided about your academic interest(s)? Don’t worry—tell us what excites you about the academic division you selected. Remember that all of our first-year students enter officially “undeclared” and work closely with their team of academic advisors to discover their academic passions. You can explore all of our majors and programs on our website.

The Optional Essay (up to 250 words)

This optional question allows you to add another dimension to your application – something that the admissions committee might not learn by reading your transcript or your personal statement.

If you prefer, you may focus your optional 90-second video submitted through the WashU Pathway on addressing one of these three questions. (Students who choose to submit a written response to one of these questions may still opt-in to sharing an optional video).

WashU is a place that values diversity of perspectives. We believe those perspectives come from a variety of experiences and identities. Respond to one of the following prompts to help us understand “Who are you?”:

Please choose one of the following:

  1. Describe a fresh perspective or opinion you brought to a collaborative setting or project.
  2. Describe a community you’re a part of and your place within it.
  3. Tell us how your life experiences have impacted the way you view or interact with your community.

How to Write the Supplemental Essays for Washington University in St. Louis

Alright, friends, let’s talk strategy. You’ve got your prompts in front of you, and you’re ready to start writing. But before you do, let’s go over some tried-and-true tips to make sure your Washington University supplemental essays hit the mark and truly reflect who you are.

Question One:

Please tell us what you are interested in studying at college and why. Undecided about your academic interest(s)? Don’t worry—tell us what excites you about the academic division you selected. Remember that all of our first-year students enter officially “undeclared” and work closely with their team of academic advisors to discover their academic passions. You can explore all of our majors and programs on our website.

This prompt is essentially asking students to reflect on their academic interests and passions. It’s designed to gauge their curiosity, intellectual engagement, and how they connect their interests to the university’s academic offerings. Here are four key points a student should consider when answering this prompt, along with detailed explanations for each:

1. Identify and Articulate Interests or Passion: Students should start by identifying specific subjects, fields, or academic areas that genuinely interest them. They don’t need to have a declared major, but should express what excites them academically. This could be anything from a love for languages to a fascination with environmental science. They should articulate why these areas interest them – perhaps through a personal anecdote, a particular book that captivated them, or a problem in the world they’re passionate about solving.

2. Connect Interests to Washington University’s Offerings: It’s crucial to link personal interests to what Washington University offers. Students should research the university’s majors, courses, professors, research opportunities, and extracurriculars. They should mention specific aspects of the university’s academic programs that align with their interests, such as unique courses, specific faculty members whose work they admire, or particular research facilities.

3. Demonstrate Intellectual Curiosity and Openness to Exploration: Since the prompt highlights the “undeclared” status of first-year students, students should convey a willingness to explore and discover new academic areas. This can be illustrated by discussing a broad range of interests or showing enthusiasm for interdisciplinary learning. They might mention how they look forward to taking advantage of the liberal arts education to explore various subjects before settling on a major.

4. Reflect on Personal Growth and Future Goals: Students should reflect on how their academic interests have shaped them and how they see these interests evolving in college. They should also discuss how studying these subjects at Washington University can help them achieve their future goals, whether these are career aspirations, personal development goals, or contributions they hope to make to society.

The response should be a blend of personal passion, a clear connection to what Washington University offers, an openness to academic exploration, and a thoughtful consideration of how this academic journey fits into their broader personal and professional aspirations.

Student writing college or university application.

Optional Question 1:

Describe a fresh perspective or opinion you brought to a collaborative setting or project.

The prompt is essentially asking the applicant to showcase their ability to contribute unique ideas and viewpoints in a group setting. This question aims to gauge the applicant’s creativity, teamwork skills, and ability to positively influence a group dynamic. Here are four key points to consider when brainstorming a response:

1. Identify a Specific Collaborative Experience: The student should reflect on a particular instance where they worked in a team – this could be in an academic project, a sports team, a club, a volunteer group, or even an informal group project. It’s important to choose an experience where their input had a noticeable impact. For example, they could discuss a time when they were working on a group project in school and suggested an unconventional approach to solving a problem.

2. Explain the Fresh Perspective or Opinion: The student needs to clearly articulate what their unique idea or perspective was. This might involve describing how their idea differed from the norm, how it challenged the status quo, or introduced a novel approach to a common problem. For instance, if they suggested using a digital tool to streamline a process in a student club, they should explain why they thought of it and how it was different from usual methods.

3. Detail the Implementation and Challenges: Discussing how the idea was put into action is crucial. The student should describe how they communicated their idea to the group, how they convinced others to embrace it, and any challenges they faced in its implementation. This part of the response will demonstrate their communication skills, persuasiveness, and problem-solving abilities.

4. Reflect on the Outcome and Personal Growth: Finally, it’s important to reflect on what happened after implementing the idea. Did it lead to success? Were there unexpected outcomes or learning experiences? How did this experience contribute to their personal or academic growth? For example, they could talk about how their idea led to a more efficient project completion, or how overcoming skepticism from team members boosted their confidence in their innovative capabilities.

By thoroughly addressing these points, the student can effectively convey their ability to bring fresh perspectives to collaborative settings, a quality that is highly valued in academic and professional environments.

Optional Question 2:

Describe a community you’re a part of and your place within it.

The prompt asks applicants to reflect on their involvement in a specific group or community and to articulate their role or contribution within that community. Here are four key points for students to consider when brainstorming and elaborating their responses:

1. Defining the Community: The student should begin by clearly identifying the community they’re discussing. This could be any group where they feel a sense of belonging, such as a school club, sports team, religious group, volunteer organization, or even an online community. The description should provide context about what this community is, its purpose, and why it’s significant to the student.

2. Personal Involvement and Role: After defining the community, the student should focus on their specific role or involvement. This part should detail what they do or contribute to the community. It could include leadership positions held, initiatives started, or any active participation that adds value to the group. The aim is to show the student’s engagement level and the impact of their actions within the community.

3. Growth and Learning: The essay should also reflect on how being a part of this community has influenced the student’s personal growth or learning. This could involve developing new skills, gaining insights into a particular field, understanding diverse perspectives, or fostering personal qualities like empathy, teamwork, and leadership. The idea is to illustrate how the student’s involvement in the community has been a two-way street, benefiting both the community and their own development.

4. Connection to Future Goals: Lastly, it’s beneficial to connect this experience with the student’s future aspirations or how it aligns with their goals at Washington University in St. Louis. This could be in terms of continuing to engage in similar communities, applying learned skills in their chosen field of study, or how it shapes their long-term career or personal objectives. This connection shows the admissions committee the student’s forward-thinking mindset and how their past experiences are stepping stones to their future plans.

Students walking towards the Washington University

Optional Question 3:

Tell us how your life experiences have impacted the way you view or interact with your community.

The prompt is designed to understand a student’s perspective on community involvement and how their personal experiences have shaped their understanding and actions within a community. Here are four key points for brainstorming ideas and their detailed explanations:

1. Identifying Formative Experiences: Students should reflect on significant life events or experiences that have influenced their perception of community. This could include volunteering experiences, family traditions, cultural events, or personal challenges. For example, if a student grew up in a multicultural environment, they might discuss how this diversity has fostered a deep appreciation for different cultures and inspired them to engage in cultural exchange programs within their community.

2. Personal Growth and Insights: Focus on how these experiences contributed to personal growth or led to insights about the community. Students could explore themes like empathy, responsibility, or the importance of collaboration. For instance, overcoming a personal challenge, like dealing with a learning disability, might have taught them the value of accessibility and inclusivity, leading them to advocate for these in their community.

3. Active Community Engagement: Describe specific ways in which these life experiences have translated into active participation or initiatives within the community. This could be starting a community project, participating in local events, or even small acts like helping neighbors. If a student was impacted by an environmental issue, they might have been motivated to organize local clean-up drives or environmental awareness campaigns.

4. Future Goals and Aspirations: Students should connect these experiences and learnings to their future goals, particularly how they intend to apply these insights in the university setting and beyond. This could involve plans to join specific clubs, engage in community service, or pursue studies in fields that allow them to contribute positively to society. For example, a student inspired by community health initiatives might express a desire to study public health and implement health awareness programs in university communities.

In answering this prompt, students should strive for authenticity, showing how their unique experiences have genuinely shaped their understanding and interaction with their community. The aim is to provide a holistic view of their character, values, and aspirations, demonstrating their potential contribution to the university’s community.

a close up picture of a camera lens

Optional Video Submission

The Optional Video Submission prompt for Washington University in St. Louis offers an innovative and personal way for applicants to convey their individuality, interests, and fit for the university. This multimedia approach allows students to showcase aspects of themselves that might not be as evident in written essays. Here are four key points to consider when brainstorming and creating the video:

1. Showcasing Personality and Interests: Unlike written essays, a video submission allows students to demonstrate their personality, passion, and enthusiasm visually and audibly. Applicants should think about what makes them unique – it could be a particular hobby, talent, or a distinctive perspective on a subject they’re passionate about. The video can include demonstrations of their talents (like playing a musical instrument or showing off art pieces) or a narration of their experiences that highlight their interests.

2. Demonstrating Fit with the University’s Culture: Students should research and understand the values, mission, and culture of Washington University. The video can then be tailored to reflect how their own values and goals align with the university. For instance, if the university values community service, students might include clips or discussions of their volunteer work and how it shaped their perspectives and ambitions.

3. Highlighting Academic and Career Aspirations: This is a chance to articulate academic interests and career goals more dynamically. Students can talk about why they are drawn to their chosen field, how their past experiences have prepared them for this path, and how Washington University, in particular, will help them achieve their goals. Using visual aids like pictures or short clips from their academic projects or internships can be impactful.

4. Creativity and Authenticity: Encourage students to be creative but authentic. The video doesn’t have to be professionally made; its charm lies in its authenticity and personal touch. They could use a simple, well-lit setup with good audio quality. The focus should be on the content and how effectively they communicate their story. It’s about showing the admissions committee who they are beyond grades and test scores.

In each of these areas, students should aim to be concise yet detailed, focusing on showing their genuine selves and how they would be an excellent fit for Washington University. The key is to balance creativity with sincerity, ensuring that the video reflects their true character and aspirations.

applying in schools

How to Structure Your Supplemental Essays

The structure of supplemental essays is crucial in conveying a coherent, impactful message to the admissions committee. For the Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024, a well-structured essay can make a significant difference in how an applicant’s narrative is received. Here are three key points on structuring these essays:

1. Introduction – Setting the Stage: The opening of the essay should immediately engage the reader. Applicants can start with an intriguing hook – a compelling question, a vivid description, or a brief anecdote that directly ties into the essay’s main theme. This section should introduce the central idea or experience the essay will explore, setting a clear tone for what follows. For example, if the essay is about a particular challenge or achievement, starting with a moment that epitomizes that experience can draw the reader in effectively.

2. Body – Developing the Story and Insights: The body of the essay is where the applicant delves into details. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect or incident, ensuring a logical flow of ideas. In the case of Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024, this could mean detailing how a particular experience influenced the applicant’s decision to pursue a certain field of study, or how their personal values align with the university’s ethos. It’s important to balance storytelling with reflection, providing not just a narrative but also insights into how these experiences shaped their perspectives or aspirations.

3. Conclusion – Tying it All Together: The conclusion should not simply restate the introduction but instead bring a sense of closure and reflection to the essay. This is the chance to underscore the key takeaways from the story and to explicitly relate back to how these experiences or qualities make the applicant a great fit for Washington University in St. Louis. A strong conclusion might revisit the initial hook or anecdote from the introduction, providing a satisfying full-circle moment that reinforces the essay’s central theme.

Throughout the essay, clarity and coherence are paramount. Applicants should aim for a natural yet polished narrative flow, ensuring each part of the essay contributes to an overarching message. This structured approach not only makes the essay more readable and engaging but also allows applicants to effectively communicate their unique story and qualifications for Washington University in St. Louis.

Why Choose Washington University in St. Louis

At its heart, WashU is more than just a rigorous academic institution; it’s a caring community dedicated to the growth and success of each student. Here, your educational journey intertwines with personal development, supported by faculty and staff who are committed to your success.

WashU stands out for its academic excellence, offering a challenging and diverse range of programs, whether your interest lies in neuroscience, law, or art history. The university prides itself on its dynamic teaching and research opportunities, where you’re not just a passive learner but an active participant in groundbreaking research. This environment is not just about preparing you for your first job; it’s a launchpad for a meaningful and fulfilling career, supported by a strong network of alumni and industry connections.

Diversity and inclusion are more than just ideals at WashU; they’re a reality. The university’s community is a rich tapestry of different cultures and backgrounds, providing a broad spectrum of perspectives that enhance your educational experience. Beyond the classroom, WashU’s vibrant campus life, with over 300 student organizations, complements your academic pursuits. And let’s not forget the city of St. Louis itself, offering a plethora of cultural and recreational activities.

Your journey to becoming part of this exceptional community begins with the WashU supplemental essay. This is your opportunity to showcase not just your academic achievements but also your personal vision, values, and unique voice. With increasing competition for admission, exemplified by the Class of 2027’s acceptance rate of just 12%, standing out is crucial. High SAT scores and top-class rankings are the norms here, but to truly shine, you’ll need to bring something more to the table. The WashU supplemental essays are your chance to do just that, to show why you are a perfect fit for this remarkable institution.

How Important are Supplemental Essays in the College Admissions Process?

Supplemental essays, particularly for the 2023-2024 admission cycle at Washington University in St. Louis, play a pivotal role in the college admissions process. Here’s a detailed exploration of their significance:

1. Personalizing the Application: The Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024 provide a platform for students to present a more holistic and personalized picture of themselves. While transcripts and test scores offer quantitative insights, these essays enable applicants to narrate their unique stories, experiences, and aspirations. For instance, an essay discussing a significant personal challenge or a unique family tradition can give the admissions committee a vivid understanding of the student’s background, character, and resilience.

2. Demonstrating Fit and Interest: Through these supplemental essays, students have the opportunity to show their specific interest in Washington University in St. Louis. This could be through discussing particular programs, faculty, research opportunities, or campus initiatives that align with their goals and values. By effectively communicating why they are drawn to Washington University and how they envision contributing to its community, applicants can strengthen their case as an ideal candidate for the institution.

3. Showcasing Writing Skills and Critical Thinking: The ability to communicate effectively and think critically is essential in college. The supplemental essays allow students to demonstrate these skills beyond what standardized test scores and GPAs might reflect. A well-constructed essay that presents a compelling narrative, showcases intellectual curiosity, and displays a command of language can significantly impact the admissions decision.

4. Differentiating from Other Applicants: In a pool of equally qualified candidates, the Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024 offer a chance for students to stand out. They can highlight unique aspects of their personality, experiences, or perspectives that may not be evident elsewhere in their application. For example, a student might write about a distinctive hobby, a volunteer experience that shaped their worldview, or how a particular event ignited their passion for a field of study.

In summary, the supplemental essays are not just an add-on to the application; they are a crucial component that can significantly sway the admissions decision. By effectively utilizing this space to convey their unique story, demonstrate their fit for the university, exhibit strong communication skills, and differentiate themselves from other applicants, students can significantly enhance their chances of admission to Washington University in St. Louis.

How Do Washington University’s Supplemental Essays Compare to Other Universities?

The Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle present a unique blend of opportunities for applicants to express themselves, distinguishable in several ways when compared to supplemental essays from other top universities.

Unlike some institutions like Harvard or Stanford, which often pose abstract or intellectually challenging prompts, Washington University tends to focus more on the personal and practical aspects of the applicant’s life and interests. For example, while Stanford might ask about an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development, Washington University’s prompts are more likely to explore the applicant’s specific interests in their chosen field of study or their understanding of the university’s community and culture.

Another distinct feature of Washington University’s supplemental essays is their emphasis on practical engagement and real-world experiences. Whereas a school like the University of Chicago is renowned for its creatively challenging and often unconventional essay prompts that encourage whimsical and theoretical responses, Washington University’s essays tend to ground the applicant in more concrete, personal narratives. This approach allows students to showcase not just their intellectual capabilities, but also their personal growth, community involvement, and practical skills relevant to their prospective field of study.

Furthermore, compared to schools like MIT or Caltech, where the supplemental essays often skew heavily towards technical and scientific interests, Washington University offers a broader spectrum, inviting narratives from a wide range of academic and personal backgrounds. This inclusivity makes their supplemental essays more accessible to students with diverse interests and experiences, unlike the more specialized focus of some tech-oriented institutions.

Overall, the Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays for 2023-2024 offer a balanced mix of personal narrative, academic interest, and community engagement, differing from other top universities by leaning less towards the abstract, whimsical, or highly technical, and more towards holistic, practical, and personally meaningful expressions of the applicant’s experiences and aspirations. This approach not only provides a comprehensive platform for students to present themselves but also aligns well with the university’s emphasis on well-rounded, engaged, and practically-oriented individuals.

Apply college.

How to Effectively Revise and Proofread

Effectively revising and proofreading Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024 is crucial for crafting a polished and impactful application. Here are four detailed strategies to guide applicants through this process:

1. Comprehensive Content Review: Begin by re-evaluating the essay’s content. Ask critical questions: Does the essay answer the prompt completely? Are there clear connections between the applicant’s experiences, interests, and aspirations, and what Washington University in St. Louis offers? This step is about ensuring that the content is not just grammatically correct but also meaningful and relevant. Applicants should check for any missing details that could add depth to their narrative or remove redundant parts that do not contribute to the overarching message.

2. Structure and Flow Analysis: Examine the essay’s structure for logical flow and coherence. Each paragraph should seamlessly lead to the next, with clear transitions and a well-organized progression of ideas. For the Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024, it’s vital to maintain a balance between personal anecdotes, academic interests, and reflections on how they align with the university’s offerings. Reordering or refining paragraphs might be necessary to ensure the essay reads smoothly and logically.

3. Feedback from Trusted Sources: Obtaining feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers can provide invaluable insights. Sometimes, an external perspective can catch inconsistencies, unclear passages, or missed opportunities in the narrative that the writer might overlook. Encourage applicants to seek feedback from individuals who understand the nuances of college admissions and can provide constructive, honest critiques.

4. Final Proofreading for Precision and Polish: The last step involves meticulous proofreading to catch any grammatical errors, typos, or awkward phrasings. Reading the essay out loud can be particularly effective in identifying areas that might need fine-tuning. This stage is not just about correcting mistakes but also about refining the language to ensure it’s engaging, clear, and reflective of the applicant’s voice. Tools like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor can assist in this process, but they should complement, not replace, a thorough manual review.

Throughout these steps, applicants should remember that the goal is to create a compelling, clear, and authentic representation of themselves. The revision and proofreading process for the Washington University in St. Louis Supplemental Essays 2023-2024 is an opportunity to refine their stories, ensuring they are presented in the most effective and polished manner possible.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, folks! We’ve journeyed through the ins and outs of nailing those Washington University supplemental essays. Remember, these essays are your chance to let your personality shine through the black-and-white stats of your application. They’re your voice in a room full of paper.

Think of these prompts as a friendly chat with the admissions team. They’re genuinely interested in what makes you, well, you. So, when you’re sharing that fresh perspective you’re proud of, or the community that feels like home, or those life experiences that have shaped your world, just picture you telling your story to a new friend.

Don’t stress about using big, fancy words. Just be you. That’s who they want to meet, after all. And if you decide to go for that optional video, have fun with it! It’s like sending a hello through your screen. 

Once you hit that submit button, take a deep breath. You’ve done your part in sharing your story. Now, it’s time for the WashU team to read and appreciate the unique mix of qualities you bring to the table. WashU is just one of many amazing possibilities that await you. No matter where you end up, you’re on the path to great things.

So, go ahead and give those essays your best shot. And remember, whether it’s on paper or on screen, your story is worth telling. Good luck!

It is important to have all the necessary information before making any decision. AdmissionSight is always here to help you with any questions or concerns. We have over ten years of experience helping students successfully navigate the challenging admissions process.

Consult with AdmissionSight and find out how we can help you get into the school of your choice by ensuring that you are fully informed and prepared for the application process. We will work with you to develop a personalized plan that meets your specific needs and goals. We will also provide you with access to our team of experts who can help you with everything from choosing the right schools to writing your essays.

Don’t let the admissions process overwhelm you. Contact AdmissionSight today and let us help you achieve your dreams.

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