UIUC Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts and Advice

September 13, 2023

uiuc supplemental essays

The University of Illinois — Urbana Champaign is one of the top public universities in the entire United States. Top-ranked computer science, engineering, and business programs, in particular, attract an endless stream of high-caliber applicants from around the globe. Great grades and test scores will put aspiring members of the Fighting Illini on strong footing. However, you are also required to address 2-3 UIUC supplemental essay prompts.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into UIUC? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Let’s dive right in and begin examining the 2023-24 UIUC supplemental essays. Two important notes:

  • You will be addressing 2-3 of these essays, depending on which category you fall into.
  • Each response is a max of 150 words.

UIUC Supplemental Essays: If You’re Applying to a Major:

1) 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.

UIUC is not necessarily asking you to write about the in-class or extracurricular experience which led to you earning the most prestigious awards or holding the highest position of leadership. The university is going to see all of your accomplishments in the Honors and Activities sections of the Common App. As such, you want to ask yourself two main questions:

1) Which experience best illustrates my passion and commitment to my first choice major?

2) Which experience is closest to my heart and most representative of my unique passions?

Pick the option that will allow you to deliver additional detail that may be memorable to the admissions reader. Start this process by asking yourself, “What is the most interesting and consequential moment that I have experienced in a classroom setting or in my extracurricular activities?” If you can identify one clear-cut moment, that is likely the activity worth sharing with the UIUC admissions staff.

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

This prompt shares some of the same elements of a traditional “Why Us?” essay, but UIUC is particularly interested in hearing about why the curriculum in your desired academic department is attractive to you—not so much about your love for the football team or the beautiful campus. Below are some quick tips for writing an essay that will help your admissions cause:

In summary, you’ll want to dedicate time to researching more about your prospective college/department and what makes it truly world-class. The more specific you can get here, the better your UIUC essays will be!

UIUC Supplemental Essays: If You’re Applying to Our Undeclared Program in the Division of General Studies:

1) What are your academic interests? Please include 2-3 majors you’re considering at Illinois and why.

Your strengths will likely be evident from other data points (AP scores, classroom grades, SAT/ACT results, etc.). Therefore we recommend focusing the bulk of your response on your specific academic interests that relate to your major of choice.

Whether it’s a general love for math/science or literature or a specific interest in aerospace engineering or 19th century French novels, use this opportunity to share what makes you tick, the ideas that keep you up at night, and what subject inspires you to dream big. What topic makes you read books and online content until your eyes bleed? Share the manner in which you relentlessly pursue knowledge. Whether it’s falling down a Wikipedia rabbit hole about the nature of time or consuming thousands of hours of podcasts on game theory, this is a chance to illustrate the ways in which you are an obsessive learner with an endless thirst for information. The admissions reader should emerge from reading this essay with the sense that you are a sincerely curious young person with a strong intellectual drive.

Finally, be sure to connect these interests to 2-3 majors at Illinois and support your reasoning with school-specific offerings and resources, like academic departments, courses, research initiatives, etc.

2) What are your future career or academic goals? You may include courses you took in high school and how these impacted your goals.

Note that this question is a bit different than the one asked of students with a firm first-choice major. We recommend providing a straightforward answer here. If you are Undeclared, you may not have a firm idea of your academic goals, but you can use your current academic interests (the ones explored in the question above) as well as past academic experiences to guide your answer. Similarly, your career intentions may be relatively unformed. Use this space to share academic/career areas that may be of interest. Don’t sweat it if your plans are still in a nascent stage. This is normal for a 17 or 18-year-old, and UIUC will understand.

UIUC Supplemental Essays: If You’ve Selected a Second-Choice Major (Including Undeclared):

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

See answer #1 for those selecting a major. You are essentially repeating this process for a different field. However, you probably don’t want to have two completely unrelated majors/career goals. For example, if your first choice was business and your second choice was economics, it’s easy to explain the relationship. If the fields are more disparate (e.g. Dance & Chemical Engineering, be sure to provide a thorough explanation.

How important are the essays at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign?

UIUC only labels two factors as being “very important” to the admissions process. Those factors are: the rigor of your high school coursework and your GPA. The essays are “important” to the application review. In fact, the essays are rated as being of equal importance to test scores, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your UIUC supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.