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UW Personal Statement

I have completed a first draft of my personal statement for my University of Washington Application. Please read it and comment on any ways I can make it better:

I have always been a Husky. It simply took my mind three years to catch up with what my heart always knew. The essence of Husky is in my blood; after all, my mother and both of my sisters are UW graduates. In 1991, long before I thought about where I might attend college myself, we got our first TV � ostensibly to watch news on the first Iraq war. In hindsight, it seems that the purchase of that TV had a longer-term effect than that war did, for in the early 90s, my Saturday afternoons were consumed watching Washington�s perennial march to the Rose Bowl. After watching Mario Bailey make a few awe-inspiring catches, I was hooked.

Not all things go as they are meant to, however, and somewhere along my perennial march towards high school graduation, I lost track of my heart. When the time came to choose a University, I became a Cougar instead of a Husky. Not those Cougars, mind you. I would never stoop to the level of WSU. Nevertheless, I suppose it was a related species of the cat, the kind found at BYU in Provo, Utah. And for some time BYU seemed like the right match for me. I delved into my studies and loved it. That first year, the Cougars even won every football game I went to and every game I watched.

When 17 credits weren�t enough my first semester, I upped the load to the max of 18 and enjoyed school even more. The entire time, I took only the most rigorous classes in each field. While I was declared as a Computer Science major, I took the major-track chemistry and physics courses along with honors mathematics, history, and writing. While helping friends taking more mainstream classes, I discovered how much deeper my knowledge of the subjects was as a result of taking the more rigorous classes. Where my friends in more general courses had to memorize equations to pass tests, I didn�t because I could derive the equations from basic principals. Whereas my friends could tackles problems similar to ones encountered in class work, I was able to apply what I learned in one class in a meaningful way outside of that particular class. As an example, in a particularly grueling physics test I took, I was able to use an obscure trigonometric identity I had learned in my calculus class that semester as a shortcut to a tediously long derivation. Sure, I had to explain what exactly I had done to the grader, but the answer was just as correct as solving the problem in the manner prescribed in class. Experiences of this nature made the learning I was doing even more exhilarating. Alongside these scholastic feats, I was in peak physical condition with daily 6:00 am runs, the nearby Wasatch Mountains for a weekday hike, and chances to sharpen my Frisbee and football skills several times a week.

Yet amid the flurry of activities – or perhaps because of it � I didn�t notice that I was lost. I would return to my room every night, but it never became home. The Wasatch Front has its own beauty, but it cannot favorably compare to a cool, crisp, cloudless day hiking among the evergreens of the Evergreen State. While I managed to find a place at BYU, my heart knew I didn�t belong. When I attempted to stay through the summer, I burned out � a subconscious self-defense mechanism. Things didn�t go as smoothly as they had before when I returned to BYU the next school � and it was then that I discovered I needed to take some time off to find myself.

In the past year, as I worked and saved money for a return to school, the need for me to attend the University of Washington crystallized in my mind. More importantly, it feels right for so many reasons. For one, the UW has a FIRST Robotics Team, whereas there are none in all of Utah State. FIRST Robotics is a cause that I am very devoted to personally. I founded the Titan Robotics Club at my high school in my senior year, and for the past two years I have mentored the students of the Titan Robotics Club to help them develop self-esteem and technical, professional, and interpersonal skills. For these reasons, I will be proud to study � and to graduate � as a Husky. I won�t mind going to the football games either.

Here are the guidelines that I was supposed to follow.

Personal Statement: All applicants must write a personal statement and submit it with their application for admission.

Your Personal Statement plays a critical role in the admission decision. This is an opportunity for you to create a compelling context for the rest of your application file – to make the transcripts and numbers come alive. When you write your Personal Statement, we encourage you to share those aspects of your life that are not apparent from information provided in the rest of your application file. Tell us about the experiences that don’t show up on your transcripts: your passions and commitments, your hopes, a personal challenge faced, a hardship overcome, or the cultural awareness you’ve gained through unique experiences or through the cultural environment in which you were raised. Your Personal Statement is the best means we have of getting to know you, so tell us who you are.

You should feel free to write about the topics in whatever format or approach seems most appropriate. Your statement should be approximately two pages, but if you find the topics in Section 2 relevant to your life experience, you are encouraged to write an additional page or two. To aid you in identifying the types of information that will be relevant to your application, please use the following guidelines:

Section 1. Please address the following topics as they pertain to you:
� Why do you want to attend the University of Washington? Do you intend to complete a bachelor’s degree here? How will the UW help you attain academic, career, or personal goals? What can this university offer you that others can’t? Do you have a compelling need to attend this institution?
� Discuss your college career to date. Which courses have you taken that are relevant to your intended field of study? Why have you selected these courses? Do you think that your grades accurately reflect your ability? If not, include an explanation of your past performance and include evidence as to why you expect to do better at the UW.
� If you’ve attended more than one college or university, explain your reasons for changing schools. If you’ve left school and returned after a significant absence from education, or attended part-time in order to meet other responsibilities or obligations, describe the reasons underlying those decisions.
Section 2. You are also strongly encouraged to include discussion of the following additional topics if relevant and significant to your life experiences:
� Describe your understanding of cultural differences, how this awareness was gained (for example, through unique experiences or through the cultural environment in which you were raised), and how it has affected you.
� Describe any personal hardships or obstacles you’ve overcome in attending college, and explain how they have affected your education.
o Examples: balancing work, family, and school; leaving college at age 19 because of financial hardship but returning “older and wiser”; adjusting to a new educational system after moving to the U.S. from another country; confronting a life-threatening illness.
� Discuss significant achievements such as academic awards, artistic achievements or awards, or work-related experiences, that complement your academic or career goals.

3 Responses to “UW Personal Statement”

  1. Shai Says:

    paragraph 4, last sentence.

    Things didn�t go as smoothly as they had before when I returned to BYU the next school � and it was then that I discovered I needed to take some time off to find myself.

    You are missing the word ‘year’ after school before the hyphen. That is all…

  2. Jim and Julie McElroy Says:

    Suggest you delete the words "I would never stoop to the level of WSU. Nevertheless," since they seem unkind even thought the schools are rivals.

    Also, in the phrase "Whereas my friends could tackles problems similar", the word "tackles" should be "tackle", I think.

    Otherwise, very nice!

  3. Opinionated Cougar Nanny Says:

    I enjoyed reading your essay. I have a few ideas to make it tighter–but take them for what they’re worth. In Paragraph 3-by comparing and contrasting your abilities with those of intellectually less gifted classmates–it shifts the emphasis off of you–and sounds a bit, er, snooty. Of course, you realized you had a better handle on the material through tutoring them, and that’s great. However–if you were to use "instead of memorizing equations…I could apply what I learned…" it would put the emphasis on your ability to apply principles learned to a wide variety of outside situations and other courses–an asset to you and their student body. Also, how about editing the 1st paragraph down a bit to make it sharper? Cut out sentence 3 (mention your pedigree in a different spot-it’s important) and the phrase "in hindsight it seems that" so you cut right to the chase.
    I love the cougar/husky anology– But the emphasis needs to stay on your real passions (robotics/academics) and a bit of editing will achieve that. Some concise sentence explaining how loving to watch Husky football makes you a Husky might be appropriate–after all, you enjoyed watching Cougs too! What was it (other than a few great catches) that turned you into a Husky? BTW, I know the general rule is "er with one syllable adjectives–more or most with 2 or 3 syllable adjectives", but you might want to look up current usage for "longer term" my gut says "more long term" sounds more appropriate–but I have lived in the sticks for a long time now…
    I’m not sure if any of this makes a difference to you because we both know you’ll be accepted. I just can’t help myself. BTW–you closing sentence was right on the money I thought–good wrap up!
    OT–I watched "Springsteen live in Barcelona" last night with Tim and loved it (Bruce even speaks in Catalan!) and I thought seeing "the Boss" live at the Palau San Jordi would be the absolute pop culture zenith. Then I saw your pix and read your blog and I realized while I wasn’t looking the music world has moved on and you’ve grown up. I wish you the best.
    Excuse any errors–it’s hard to edit in this little box!

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