The University of Wisconsin—Madison has joined the ranks of other premier flagship universities that high-achieving teens from all around the country/world now line up for a chance to attend. Like UVA, UNC—Chapel Hill, and the University of Michigan, UW-Madison requires its in-state residents to sport excellent grades and test scores, but has an even higher bar for out-of-state hopefuls. This makes the University of Wisconsin – Madison supplemental essay more important than ever before.

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

In evaluating applicants, the University of Wisconsin—Madison places a strong emphasis on the quality of one’s essays. Below are UW-Madison’s supplemental prompts for the 2022-23 admissions cycle along with our advice for creating a needle-moving admissions essay.

2022-2023 University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Question—Common App

The following prompt is the only supplemental essay that students will encounter when applying to UW-Madison via the Common App:

Tell us why you decided to apply to 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. (650 words max)

Prospective Badgers face a two-parter here. You are tasked with presenting a compelling case as to:

1) Why you want to attend UW-Madison.

2) Why you have picked your particular academic discipline.

As you move through the “Why Us?” and “Why this Major?” portions of this essay, consider taking some of the following steps:

  • Firstly, be sure to cite specific academic programs, professors, research opportunities, internship/externship programs, study abroad programs, student-run organizations, etc.
  • How will you be an active, contributing member of the Badger student body? Check out this list of nearly 1,000 student-run organizations on campus.
  • Additionally, show evidence of how your past/current endeavors will carry over onto UW-Madison’s campus.
  • How did you interest in your major of choice begin and how has it matured over the years?
  • How do you pursue knowledge about your subject of interest? Talk about sources of learning (teachers, podcasts, books, news, etc.).
  • What special talents and passions will you bring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison?
  • How will you take advantage of the university’s immense resources both inside and outside of the classroom?
  • Lastly, make sure to address why UW-Madison is the perfect fit for you and why you are the perfect fit for UW-Madison.

Again, if you are applying through the Common App, this essay will be the only supplement you need to worry about. However, if you elect to apply via the UW System Application (as some in-state students applying to multiple UW campuses do), you need to address the next prompt as well.

2022-2023 University of Wisconsin-Madison Supplemental Essay Question—UW System Application

(Only for students applying through the UW System Application)
This part is all about you. Tell us about something you’ve done — academically or personally — and what you’ve learned from it (approx. 1 page). 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?

This open-ended prompt is a platform from which you can brag about an academic or extracurricular achievement, chronicle a challenge/obstacle you overcame, or just share a meaningful event in your life.

No matter which route you choose, what truly matters here is that you show off your excellent writing ability by producing a coherent and polished essay. Secondly, you’ll want to use this as an opportunity to reveal something deep and important about yourself. Remember, these essays will be your best chance to forge a human connection with an admissions officer since UW-Madison is too large a school to offer you an interview. In sum, be honest, vulnerable, sincere, and reflective in your essay and the result will be a compelling composition that will ultimately aid your admissions chances.

How important is the essay at the UW-Madison?

The essays are “very important” to the University of Wisconsin–Madison admissions committee. The only other factor rated this highly is the rigor of one’s secondary school record. GPA, recommendations, and state residency are rated as “important.” In other words, the University of Wisconsin is clearly very interested in the quality of your essay. Therefore, we can conclude that the admissions committee will weigh your essays heavily in their evaluation of your candidacy.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your University of Wisconsin—Madison supplement, we encourage you to get a quote today.

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).