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Essay & Activities

Writing the application essay

Grades and test scores are an important part of applying to colleges, but it takes a lot more than "the numbers" to tell your story. The application essay is a chance to give us a snapshot of who you are—your voice, your path, your goals. Here are some tips for telling us who you really are in your essay and activities list.

Essay questions & activities list - make yourself come alive!
  • Spend time reflecting before you start your essay. Your college essay is your chance to "speak" to the Admissions Committee, so make yourself come alive! Our essay questions are listed below so you can start composing a well-written essay that reflects you and your potential before you apply. The best college essays are those that make the reader feel like they know you, so write with sincerity.
  • Demonstrate sustained involvement. Committing to—and staying in—a particular activity that you're passionate about or your experience in an academic course is more interesting than occasional or one-time participation. Tell us how those experiences affected you as a student or as a person.
  • Express your pride and appreciation for cultural diversity. Enthusiasm for and experience within culturally diverse environments will be key to your success here at Western and beyond.
  • Don't be shy. Applying to college is great practice for eventually applying for jobs in the "real world," where you are expected to "sell" yourself. Have you made a positive difference in the lives of others, whether in your family, community or school? Let your talent shine by telling us about your accomplishments in your activities list or by submitting additional information with your application. Letters of recommendation aren't required, but if a teacher or counselor has written one for you, feel free to submit it as well.
  • Proofread! The content of your essay is important, but so is the written quality. Ask a teacher, parent or friend to read through your essay; they can catch errors or help you strengthen your message.
  • Do your research. If you are interested in pursuing a specific major, learn more about the course offerings and program structure here at Western. You might even find a discipline you never would have considered before! Tell us what you're interested in studying here, and why. Check out the Course Catalog for complete course descriptions.
Freshmen Essay Questions for Admission and New Student Scholarships (2015)

We are eager to learn more about you!

Help us learn about you beyond what we can see in your transcript, test scores and activity list by expanding on one of the below prompts. Your essay helps our Admissions Committee learn about your potential for success at Western, as well as understand important past experiences and future goals. Your response will be reviewed for both admission and scholarship purposes.

Please select one of the essay prompts below and provide your response:

  • Share a meaningful experience and how this has helped shape you in your preparation for college – this could be related to your passions, commitments, leadership experience, family, or cultural background.
  • Describe any activities you have been involved in related to diversity or multiculturalism and explain how you will actively contribute to a diverse campus community at Western.
  • Admissions essay – topic of your choice. If you have written another essay that captures what you want the Admissions Committee to know about you, feel free to share it here.

Most essays are about 500 words, but this is only a recommendation, not a firm limit. Feel free to take what space is necessary for you to tell your story.

Our Scholarship Committee awards more than $3 million in scholarships annually to new freshman applicants. Selection for most scholarships is based on information provided within your application for admission and does not require an additional scholarship application. Students are encouraged to also submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to the February 15 priority deadline, as some scholarship criteria includes financial need. A comprehensive list of new student scholarships is available at

Freshmen Activities List (2015)

We believe that ability and potential are measured by more than grades and test scores. Help us learn how you spend your time by providing a list of your most meaningful activities and achievements in grades 9-12. This could include areas like: community involvement, volunteer experience, employment, athletics, extracurricular clubs, arts, family responsibilities, or special awards and recognition. Make sure to:

  • List your activities, in order of importance to you
  • Include the name of the organization or involvement
  • Include your position or role
  • Include how long you have participated
  • Share a short description about the activities that are most significant to you. You do not need to describe all activities.

If you submit your application online, you can either upload your activities list to your application or type the list directly within the online form. If you apply using the paper application, please attach your activities list to your application.

Transfer Essay Questions (2015)

We believe that ability, potential and success are not measured exclusively by grades. Western values the diverse experiences and perspectives that make you unique. Your essay response will help the Admissions Committee learn what is important to you and what qualities you would bring to Western's community. A response to Question #1 is required, but you may respond to more than one if applicable. We want to reassure you that there are no "right" or "wrong" responses and the number of questions to which you respond is up to you. We recommend 300-500 words per question (this is not a firm limit but a recommended range).


  • Tell us about your educational and/or professional goals, including academic preparation, life experiences, enrichment activities, future plans, etc. In addition, feel free to address what makes Western Washington University a good match for your interests.


  • Western benefits from a student body whose energy and interests extend beyond the classroom. What interests or significant activities enrich your life?
  • Describe any special circumstances or hurdles that have challenged you personally or academically, and steps you have taken to move beyond those challenges.
Postbaccalaureate Statement of Purpose (2015)

All postbaccalaureate students are required to submit a statement of purpose with their application that addresses the following items:

  1. Why are you pursuing further studies? What are your long-term academic and professional goals? Describe your related experience or preparation—either academic or experiential. Be as specific as possible.
  2. After reviewing the requirements for admission to your intended academic program, including course prerequisites, how prepared are you to begin your program? If you need additional prerequisite courses or otherwise do not meet admissions requirements, what specifically are you lacking? Indicate which courses you plan to take as well as how many academic quarters you plan to enroll.
  3. Why is it necessary for you to enroll at Western? Do other four-year universities or community colleges offer what you need at this time? Can you meet your goals as a non-matriculated student, attending classes on a space available basis?
  4. If you are seeking admission to an undergraduate program with selective admission criteria, are you assured departmental admission? Because capacity is an important consideration, please detail any information or advising you have received from the department.

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