Personal Statement Guidelines

Evaluations of personal statements are subjective.  Since each application is read by at least three committee members before the admissions meeting, we can rarely provide specific feedback on an applicant's personal statement. However, we provide below an overview of what we ask you to discuss in the personal statement:

  • We are most interested in hearing why you have chosen computing and CSE, what most interests you about this field, and what your long-term goals are at this point. Please discuss how you think a CS or CE degree will help you reach your goals.

  • We would also like to know what interests you have outside of CSE. Although a strong academic background is important, we are also committed to maintaining a rich, diverse student population. We would like to hear about your activities both in and outside of school. These may include involvement in student organizations, volunteer work, hobbies, employment, etc.

  • If you have applied previously to our department, please point out what has improved since your previous application.

  • If you had to overcome significant obstacles, difficulties, or challenges to reach where you are now, please discuss them and how they have affected the person you are today. Keep in mind that hardship itself is not a positive factor; overcoming hardship to demonstrate academic success can be.

  • If special circumstances have negatively affected your performance in a course or academic quarter, you may include a brief explanation. We don't need many details; disclose only information that feels relevant and comfortable to you. Information about a difficult personal circumstance can provide context for a grade or academic term that seems uncharacteristic of your overall record.

  • If you wish to transfer from another four-year institution, tell us why you wish to transfer to UW.
  • If you plan to pursue more than one major, explain why both majors are important to your goals. If admitted, advisors in your other major will need to approve of your plan to declare a double-major or double-degree.

  • The UW’s Standard Satisfactory Progress policy requires graduation by the time you earn 210 credits. If you expect to earn more than 210 credits, please tell us why and briefly discuss your plan for graduating. If admitted, you will need to discuss your plan with a CSE advisor (and your other departmental advisor, if you pursue more than one major).

A good essay conveys important information clearly, but is still concise. Expect that writing your personal statement will take time: start thinking about your essay and writing drafts well before the application deadline.  Plan to have your essay reviewed by a mentor/teacher, parent or friend.

Here are some resources to consult to ensure you submit a statement of the highest quality.