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Writing your personal statement

Current UW students and prospective transfer students apply to majors via the capacity constrained application process. The personal statement that you submit as part of your capacity constrained application is your opportunity to present a richer characterization of yourself than what your transcripts can capture.

If you are an ENGRUD student, check out the placement page for more information.

Department-specific questions

Each department that you apply to has provided a prompt (on the application form) that you should respond to with your personal statement. Be sure to address the topics in the prompt but also consider ways in which you can set yourself apart from other candidates.

Writing a well-crafted statement

As you write your personal statement, Ask yourself this important question: “What evidence can I provide to the admissions committee that I will be successful as an engineering student in their department?” To answer that question, you must also answer the more basic question, “What do the faculty believe are the qualities of a successful engineering student?” There is certainly a long list of attributes that would answer this question. Your personal statement should highlight the characteristics on that list that you most closely identify with, and that your experience can support.

We encourage you to take the time to write a well crafted personal statement. Such a statement demonstrates proper grammar, a logical organization, college-level language and vocabulary, and even a touch of creativity.

  • Start early.
  • Write an outline, then write your first draft.
  • Read your drafts out loud to yourself. Or ask your friends to read them.
  • Visit a writing center on campus.

All of these activities take time, which is a scarce resource in the middle of the quarter when you are busy with your courses. But the effort you invest could make a crucial difference in the impact of your application.

Avoid “cute” or “cliché” descriptions of your motivation and interests

Every year the faculty on the admissions committee read about Legos in the personal statements of several applicants. Many students who pursue engineering enjoyed playing with Lego bricks as children (and maybe even still do). Perhaps you look back at your enjoyment of Legos as an early indicator that you were “meant to be an engineer” but the faculty likely do not believe that a student's attraction to playing with plastic blocks has any correlation with their potential success as engineers.