Application Essays

Hello all! Now that the new application cycle is underway, we thought it would be a good idea to shed some light on the essay portion of your myIllini application. At first, the idea of writing more than one essay may seem like a rather daunting task. Sometimes the process can feel somewhat unnerving if you do not know exactly how your academic interests relate to your future career goals. Other times it may feel a little overwhelming if you have too many experiences that you cannot seem to fit succinctly into a 300-word response.

Rest assured, your essays are the perfect opportunity to showcase your talents and creativity while effectively communicating who you are, what interests you, and why. The information submitted in your essays is an important factor in our evaluation to determine your admissions decision.

The essay prompts for incoming freshmen applying for Fall 2014 are as follows:

Essay 1

Explain your interest in the major you selected. You may describe a related experience you’ve had to that area of study and/or your future career goals. Please limit your response to approximately 300 words.


Please note that if you selected the Division of General Studies (Undeclared) in the previous section of the application titled “Major,” you will have the following prompt for Essay 1:

Explain your academic interests and strengths or your future career goals. You may include any majors or areas of study you are currently considering. Please limit your response to approximately 300 words.

Essay 2

Tell us about one interest or experience of yours that allows us to get to know you better as an individual. Please limit your response to approximately 300 words.


Important factors considered by the admissions review committee when evaluating essays are:

  • How the applicant ties his or her academic interest to the desired major or, if applying to the Division of General Studies, how the applicant explains his or her varied interests and need for exploration
  • How the applicant showcases his or her passion through chosen activities, work experience, research, or course selection in high school
  • How the essay reveals maturity and growth through past experiences, evidence of character development, cultural insight, community awareness, and/or leadership (strength of writing is carefully considered throughout all the application essays)

I wish you the best of luck as you complete your application essays! When you are finished, definitely ask a teacher, counselor, or parent to proofread and provide feedback. Remember, they should not write for you, but help catch misspellings and give suggestions. For additional help writing your essays, you may find these tips from national admissions officers helpful.


Please note that comments close after 90 days.


September 2, 2013, 2:24 pm

Thanks for the advice!



September 29, 2013, 2:03 pm

Hey is it ok if we have 320 words. I understand its almost 20 words above the suggested limit, but seriously, it’s hard to write in 300 words. I hope they won’t count it against me!



October 1, 2013, 1:21 pm


It will be fine if you have slightly over 300 words, since you are limited to “approximately” 300 words. However, please be sure to revise and make it as clear and concise as possible.