UIUC Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts and Advice

September 13, 2023

uiuc supplemental essays

The University of Illinois — Urbana Champaign is one of the top public universities in the entire United States. Top-ranked computer science, engineering, and business programs, in particular, attract an endless stream of high-caliber applicants from around the globe. Great grades and test scores will put aspiring members of the Fighting Illini on strong footing. However, you are also required to address 2-3 UIUC supplemental essay prompts.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into UIUC? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign: Admissions Data and Strategies  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Let’s dive right in and begin examining the 2023-24 UIUC supplemental essays. Two important notes:

  • You will be addressing 2-3 of these essays, depending on which category you fall into.
  • Each response is a max of 150 words.

UIUC Supplemental Essays: If You’re Applying to a Major:

1) explain, in detail, an experience you’ve had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. this can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you’ve taken, or through something else..

UIUC is not necessarily asking you to write about the in-class or extracurricular experience which led to you earning the most prestigious awards or holding the highest position of leadership. The university is going to see all of your accomplishments in the Honors and Activities sections of the Common App. As such, you want to ask yourself two main questions:

1) Which experience best illustrates my passion and commitment to my first choice major?

2) Which experience is closest to my heart and most representative of my unique passions?

Pick the option that will allow you to deliver additional detail that may be memorable to the admissions reader. Start this process by asking yourself, “What is the most interesting and consequential moment that I have experienced in a classroom setting or in my extracurricular activities?” If you can identify one clear-cut moment, that is likely the activity worth sharing with the UIUC admissions staff.

2) Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them.

This prompt shares some of the same elements of a traditional “Why Us?” essay, but UIUC is particularly interested in hearing about why the curriculum in your desired academic department is attractive to you—not so much about your love for the football team or the beautiful campus. Below are some quick tips for writing an essay that will help your admissions cause:

  • Cite specific academic programs , professors ,  research opportunities , internship/externship programs ,  study abroad programs ,  student-run organizations , etc.
  • State why your chosen program is the perfect fit for you  and why you are the perfect fit for it.
  • Offer insight into your future personal/academic/career goals. It’s okay if you’re not 100% sure what you want to do at age 25 (most teens are not). Feel free to speculate based on your current mindset and interests.

In summary, you’ll want to dedicate time to researching more about your prospective college/department and what makes it truly world-class. The more specific you can get here, the better your UIUC essays will be!

UIUC Supplemental Essays: If You’re Applying to Our Undeclared Program in the Division of General Studies:

1) what are your academic interests please include 2-3 majors you’re considering at illinois and why..

Your strengths will likely be evident from other data points (AP scores, classroom grades, SAT/ACT results, etc.). Therefore we recommend focusing the bulk of your response on your specific academic interests that relate to your major of choice.

Whether it’s a general love for math/science or literature or a specific interest in aerospace engineering or 19th century French novels, use this opportunity to share what makes you tick, the ideas that keep you up at night, and what subject inspires you to dream big. What topic makes you read books and online content until your eyes bleed? Share the manner in which you relentlessly pursue knowledge. Whether it’s falling down a Wikipedia rabbit hole about the nature of time or consuming thousands of hours of podcasts on game theory, this is a chance to illustrate the ways in which you are an obsessive learner with an endless thirst for information. The admissions reader should emerge from reading this essay with the sense that you are a sincerely curious young person with a strong intellectual drive.

Finally, be sure to connect these interests to 2-3 majors at Illinois and support your reasoning with school-specific offerings and resources, like academic departments , courses , research initiatives , etc.

2) What are your future career or academic goals? You may include courses you took in high school and how these impacted your goals.

Note that this question is a bit different than the one asked of students with a firm first-choice major. We recommend providing a straightforward answer here. If you are Undeclared, you may not have a firm idea of your academic goals, but you can use your current academic interests (the ones explored in the question above) as well as past academic experiences to guide your answer. Similarly, your career intentions may be relatively unformed. Use this space to share academic/career areas that may be of interest. Don’t sweat it if your plans are still in a nascent stage. This is normal for a 17 or 18-year-old, and UIUC will understand.

UIUC Supplemental Essays: If You’ve Selected a Second-Choice Major (Including Undeclared):

Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals..

See answer #1 for those selecting a major. You are essentially repeating this process for a different field. However, you probably don’t want to have two completely unrelated majors/career goals. For example, if your first choice was business and your second choice was economics, it’s easy to explain the relationship. If the fields are more disparate (e.g. Dance & Chemical Engineering, be sure to provide a thorough explanation.

How important are the essays at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign?

UIUC only labels two factors as being “very important” to the admissions process. Those factors are: the rigor of your high school coursework and your GPA. The essays are “important” to the application review. In fact, the essays are rated as being of equal importance to test scores, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your UIUC supplemental essays, we encourage you to  get a quote  today.

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College Info , College Essays


Thinking of attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign? Then you've come to the right place. For this highly-ranked public school, you'll need to submit a personal statement with your application. But what should you include in your UIUC essay to make you stand out?

Read on to learn what the current UIUC essay prompt is and how to write a great UIUC essay. We also show you a real UIUC essay example to give you an idea of what a great statement looks like.

Feature Image: Adam Jones /Flickr

What Is the UIUC Essay?

All applicants must answer two to three UIUC prompts and one Common Application prompt as part of their application for admission.

Your UIUC prompt will change based on whether you 1) are applying to a major, 2) are applying to UIUC's Undeclared Program, or 3) have selected a second-choice major (including Undeclared). Each response should be about 150 words. 

Here are this year's UIUC prompts:

If you're applying to a major:

  • Explain, in detail, an experience you've had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you’ve taken, or through something else.

Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them.

If you're applying to UIUC's Undeclared Program:

  • What are your academic interests and strengths? You may also include any majors you are considering.
  • What are your future academic or career goals?

If you've selected a second-choice major (including Undeclared): 

  • Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals.

Students are also required to select one Common application essay prompt from a range of choices and write a response. 

You can view the full list of Coalition application essay prompts here and all of the Common Application essay prompts here. 

How to Write the UIUC Essay: Topics and Tips

The University of Illinois essay is an important part of your application since it's the only personal essay you'll write for the school. This makes it the only area on the UIUC application in which you can show off your personality, academic passion, and storytelling skills.

The overall point of this statement is for UIUC to learn more about you as a person and what qualities you'll bring to the school if you enroll.

In addition, UIUC has a YouTube series on admissions counseling that includes some useful videos with tips on how you can write an effective UIUC essay:

Now that you have a general sense of what UIUC will be looking for in your application essay, let’s break down each UIUC application essay prompt one by one. 

Myllini Major-Specific Prompt #1

Explain, in detail, an experience you've had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you've taken, or through something else.

Here's your chance to show your passion for your first-choice major! You have a lot of leeway here: maybe you took a class that lit a fire inside you, maybe you joined a club related to the subject, or maybe you participated in a related activity. Be careful, though. You only have 150 words, and UIUC is asking for an experience related to your major, not why you selected it in the first place. This is a time for you to show that you're already taking steps toward engaging with your chosen major!

Choose a story that is meaningful to you, and remember to be as detailed as you can within the constraints. Show the UIUC admissions counselors that you care about your chosen major, and you're already engaging with it.

Myllini Major-Specific Prompt #2

Unlike the first essay, which asks you about your past experience, this is where you get to dream big and show UIUC what you want to do with your degree. Remember to write this as if you've already been accepted to UIUC—they want to know how you'll represent them in the world! You only have 150 words, but you can do a lot in that space. If, for example, you want to be an aerospace engineer, you should check out UIUC's Aerospace Engineering website and connect their specific courses, professors, and extracurriculars to your post-degree goals. Maybe you want to work for NASA, and the UIUC robotics team will aid you in successfully applying. Be as specific as you can! And show UIUC that they are the best school for you to achieve your goals.

Myllini Undeclared Prompt #1

What are your academic interests and strengths? You may also include any majors you are considering. Much like the Major-Specific Prompt #1, this prompt asks you to share what you're passionate about, and where you excel academically. Be specific! Rather than saying "I've always been good at English and I like it," go into detail: perhaps you won an essay contest, or your op-ed was featured in the school paper. Maybe writing poetry is the best way you can connect your outer and inner worlds. If you have a few majors in mind, definitely mention them here! It's always good to show that you have a specific plan for your college career , even if you're not 100% sure what you want to major in yet. 

Myllini Undeclared Prompt #2

What are your future academic or career goals? This question mirrors Major-Specific Prompt #2, and asks you to talk about your ideal future. Maybe you know you want to get a graduate degree in sociology, or you're certain that you want to spend a few years with the Peace Corps before working with the U.S. Department of State. The key here is to remember that undeclared doesn't mean unplanned. Many students have specific career goals, but they see multiple paths to achieve them. This is your chance to show the future self you want to be, and how UIUC will get you to your goal.

Myllini Second-Choice Major Prompt #1

Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals. You'll only need to answer this question if you've applied to a second-choice major! This prompt should look pretty familiar: you can choose to answer either the Major-Specific Prompt #1 or the Major-Specific Prompt #2. The trick here is to show that your second-choice major is deliberate and useful for your future goals. You're not just picking a second-choice major because you really, really want to get into UIUC in any way, shape, or form. If you have a secondary interest that's almost as strong as your first-choice major, consider answering the first prompt. If you have a very strong career goal that multiple majors could feed into, consider answering the second.

Whichever choice you make, remember to clearly state why UIUC is the best schoo l for your major or career path!


A Real UIUC Essay Example + Analysis

To help give you a better idea of what your own UIUC essay could look like, here is one real UIUC essay example we found online, written by an admitted student.

Keep in mind that this essay was written for an old prompt that's no longer on the MyIllini application. However, this essay is still a great example of how college counselors want to see students talk about their interests and passions. 

Here is the prompt:

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? (250 to 650 words)

And here is the essay:

The chicken, or the egg? The hours I’ve spent pondering this question are countless. People frequently debate the seemingly simple idea of which came first. To me, it is more than just a question, but an example of how human beings think. The question of “Which came first?” captivates me because it is a question without an answer. It has been asked for centuries and no progress has been made, but it still continues to be brought up. I think this is because humans prefer clear-cut answers. Like in any kind of competition, ending with a tie between teams or individuals isn’t a satisfying conclusion. People would rather the competition continue for extra time than admit there’s no real winner, or in this case, no real answer. So even though it’s obvious there will be no agreement, the debate over chickens and eggs continues. When people label something a “chicken-egg” situation, it means there is no way to establish the order of cause and effect, again leaving a feeling of uncertainty. But human nature is to seek an answer. The chicken-egg question shows humanity’s inability to accept unfinished business, and this fascinates me most. People want closure in all aspects of life, and big questions like this are no exception. I think the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” is so interesting because people will always try to answer it knowing they will never find a solution. It shows that humans desire understanding above all else. When I want to learn more about this concept, I turn to my grandfather. He doesn’t have a degree in philosophy or psychology, yet he’s a reliable source on almost any subject given his extensive years spent at the University of Life. With so many experiences under his belt, he understands unanswerable questions much better than I do. “The only truth is uncertainty,” he tells me when I once again dive deep into the possibility of eggs without chickens or chickens without eggs. In his words, the most beautiful parts of life are the questions we can’t answer but spend out whole life trying to. My own desire for answers keeps me thinking about this question for hours on end. I think there’s good points to grandpa’s perspective, but as an eighteen-year-old entering college, I don’t know if I can accept that the only answer is no answer just yet. Until I can, I’ll gather my own evidence and continue to spend my days wondering whether Aristotle was eating chicken and waffles or omelettes for breakfast.

What Makes This UIUC Essay Work?

  • It’s got a great hook. The applicant starts the essay with a familiar philosophical question: “The chicken, or the egg?”. This pulls the admissions committee into the essay by making them ponder the question too. The applicant then analyzes the question and provides their own unique interpretation of what it’s really getting at. As the applicant says at the end of the first paragraph, “To me, it’s more than just a question, but an example of how human beings think.” By stating their unique take on the chicken vs egg dilemma, the applicant shows the admissions committee that they can interpret complex ideas and analyze tough questions. These are qualities that UIUC wants their incoming class of students to have!
  • It’s clear, focused, and easy to follow: A topic like this one could easily go off the rails, but the applicant keeps the essay focused by responding to exactly what the prompt is asking in the correct order. The first paragraph states the idea that the applicant finds engaging. The next two paragraphs explain why the applicant finds this idea “captivating” and connects their engagement with the idea to deeper meanings about human nature, which also demonstrates why this topic causes the applicant to “lose all track of time.” The fourth paragraph states who the applicant turns to when they want to learn more about this question, and explains what they have gained from exploring this question with their grandpa. The applicant wraps up the essay with a conclusion that describes how their approach to the chicken vs egg question relates to the kind of student they will be at UIUC. The clear structure, clean prose, and adept analysis all make this essay easy to understand and exciting to read

How Could This UIUC Essay Be Even Better?

  • It could be more specific about why the idea is captivating: Although this UIUC essay is well written and tightly focused, it isn't super specific about why the applicant personally relates to the question about the chicken and the egg. The applicant does a great job explaining what they feel this debate reveals about human nature, but doesn’t say much about why that debate is meaningful to them.
  • It could have a stronger conclusion : Although the applicant makes a great attempt at tying their essay response into why they will be a great fit for UIUC, the conclusion could do a bit more to show how this is the case. Reframing the last paragraph so it explains how the applicant’s approach to uncertainty makes them the perfect UIUC candidate could make this essay even stronger.


3 Essential Tips for Writing a Great UIUC Essay

To wrap up, here are four essential tips to keep in mind as you write your U of I application essay.

#1: Don't Just List Your Accomplishments

At first glance, some of the UIUC essay prompts may seem like an invitation to list all of your amazing accomplishments. But none of these prompts actually want you to do that! Instead, you need to use expertly crafted stories to convey everything you have to offer as an applicant to UIUC.

The point of the UIUC essay is to give the admissions committee more detailed and personal commentary on why you've chosen their school and why you would be a great addition to their student community. Leave the list of accomplishments for your resume. Telling a genuine story is the best way to show how your life experiences have shaped you into the perfect candidate for admission to UIUC.

#2: Highlight Your Passion

While the essay prompts all have a different focus, the main goal of each one is to draw out what you’re passionate about and why. With each prompt, what you're really trying to do is demonstrate your passion to the UIUC admissions committee.

In other words, what motivates you to learn? What drives you more than anything else? And why are you so enthusiastic about bringing your ideas, experiences, and character to UIUC?

By highlighting your passions and interests, you're also showing the UIUC admissions committee who you are and what's important to you, both academically and more broadly.

To really make your passion stand out in your University of Illinois essay, take the following steps:

  • Be as specific as possible —give us real names and use visceral descriptions to make us feel as though we're there experiencing and feeling everything with you
  • Be honest —the admissions committee wants to get to know the real you, and it can only do this if you're writing in an authentic voice that's true to who you are

#3: Polish and Proofread

My final tip is to give yourself plenty of time to polish and proofread your UIUC essay.

In your rough draft, keep an eye out for obvious typos and technical mistakes, such as errors in punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Also, look for any areas that are awkward, incomplete, out of place, or unclear.

Once you've edited your essay on your own, give it to someone else to read, such as a parent, teacher, or tutor. Ask them to make technical corrections as needed and to offer you advice on what you might be able to improve in terms of story, cogency, and overall effectiveness.

What's Next?

Applying to other colleges in the midwest? Check out our expert guides to how to write the UChicago essays , the Notre Dame essays , and the Michigan State essay .

If you're using the Common App to submit your college applications, you'll need to figure out which essay prompt is the best one for you .

Learn more about how to get into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by visiting our UIUC admission requirements page .

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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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Apply Like a Pro to UIUC: Examples of Major-Specific College Application Questions

UIUC Admissions

If you’ve made it here, chances are you’ve reached one of the more daunting parts of college applications: the written questions.

There are two ways you can apply to UIUC: the Common App and UIUC’s own application, myIllini. In this blog, we’ll instead focus on something they both have in common: the major-specific questions .

As part of your application, you’ll have to respond to two to three major-specific prompts about why you picked your intended major(s) , each with a word limit of 150. Sound difficult? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Disclaimer: Does something seem funny about the “majors” we’ve chosen to write about? Listening to Music is a great hobby, and while you may learn about DNA Analysis in some of your classes, the majors we’ve written about are imaginary! We did this so we could show you how to best structure your responses and have a little bit of fun. Okay, okay, fun might be somewhat of a subjective term in this case. Hey, at least we’re trying.

Prompt 1: Explain, in detail, an experience you’ve had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you’ve taken, or through something else.

Student playing the guitar

Example 1: Music Listening Major

I played the triangle for four years in my high school band, and through that was exposed to genres of music I would’ve otherwise never heard. Playing the triangle was fulfilling, but I wanted to create a space specifically for listening to music. During my sophomore year, I formed a club for music listeners called “Hear There Everywhere” and have served as the president ever since. As president, I organized meetings, held outreach events to engage new members, and implemented a Playlist Friday program, where teachers play personalized playlists created by the club on Friday afternoons. I’ve always had a passion for listening to music and “Hear There Everywhere” has given me a platform to share the benefits with others. From my experiences in high school, I know the Music Listening major at UIUC is the perfect fit for me.

Example 2: DNA Analysis Major

My high school biology teacher taught me the importance of curiosity, creativity, and integrity in scientific endeavors. She inspired me to continue taking science classes throughout high school to learn as much as I could. By the start of senior year, I knew I wanted to work in a science field, but it was a trip to a forensics lab last summer that helped me decide I want to specialize in DNA Analysis. On the trip, the first place we visited was the DNA lab, where I was able to speak to the lab technician about different techniques for analyzing DNA samples. He showed me the equipment and explained how proper analysis is vital in crime investigations. After witnessing biology used in this manner, I am certain I want to pursue a career in forensics, starting with studying DNA Analysis at UIUC.

Prompt 2: Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them.

Listening to music has been a passion of mine since I was very young, and I want to share that passion with others. Through the Music Listening major, I hope to build a foundation of knowledge that will support me as I pursue a career as a professional music listener. As a professional listener, I want to become a strong voice within the field that not only pushes the boundaries of what types of music are listened to, but also advocates for the inclusion of listening as an important part of the music industry. Listening is a severely underrepresented piece of the music community, and my main career goal is to bring more recognition to music listeners everywhere. Not many Music Listening programs exist, so by taking part in this major I hope to establish my voice in the movement of change sweeping the music industry.

biology student in lab running an experiment

DNA Analysis is one of the most important branches of forensics science. By choosing this major, I will learn hands-on skills that will help me find a job in a DNA lab. My ultimate career goal is to use the power of biology to help other people, and I want to do that by engaging in research and analysis to improve DNA handling in crime investigations. With this major, not only will I learn the physical techniques being used, I will also gain knowledge of the ethics behind DNA analysis and storage. Learning about the moral debate occurring in the field from professors engaging in everyday research will make me a well-rounded scientist. I want to make forensics a more equitable field, and I believe the combination of hard science and ethics taught through the DNA Analysis major will help me accomplish this goal.

See, that wasn’t so bad! We hope these major-specific college application questions seem a little bit clearer now, and you have a better idea of what to write when you sit down to craft your own responses.

Overall, the key to effective major-specific college application questions is to be clear, be concise, and to always be yourself. Happy writing!

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Haha I can’t say I wouldn’t have at least considered ‘Music Listening’ as my major if it wasn’t an imaginary one.

Thanks for the tips and examples. It helped write the first few words of my essay…which is always the most difficult part.

Us too! You’re very welcome, and we’re glad our examples helped. Hope you have a great year, Ashvin!

I think you have a typo lol “My ultimate career goal is to us the power of biology to help other people,” I’m pretty sure “us” should be “use”

I still think this was very helpful though. 🙂

Oops! Great catch, Violet, and thanks for letting us know so we could fix it. We’re glad the information was helpful to you, typo notwithstanding!

Extremely helpful blog, especially provoking more thought into the ‘why’ and ‘so what’ aspects of choosing a particular area of study….thanks for posting these examples.

Thanks, Jahnavi; we’re so glad you found it helpful!

the guides were pretty helpful. Hope to be in UIUC next year 🙂

We’re glad that you found the info helpful, Syed, and we’re excited that you’re interested in UIUC! If you have any questions throughout the application process, don’t hesitate to contact us .

Those examples quite help me a lot. These days, I have been unable to get a handle on the essays of majors when applying for the ea of uiuc. After reading these examples, I feel I have found the inspiration. Thank you very much!

This was helpful! But for me personally, there wasn’t a singular event that led me to choose my major but rather multiple experiences over a long period of time. Is it acceptable to write about multiple experiences instead of just one?

Really appreciate the samples as they provide us with some foundation and expectation as to what information we should include within the short word limit!

That music listening major is reaaaaaaly inspiring, and DNA analysis one is helpful too, lol. Thanks a lot, I was surprised when I saw this, you college instruct us to answer!

We’re glad they helped, Kylin! Any questions as you work on your application, don’t hesitate to reach out .

Hi Allison! No, we don’t want a list of things that led to your interest in the major. Even if you’ve had multiple experiences over a long period of time, we’re looking for a more in-depth, detailed description of one of those experiences that helped draw you to that area of study. We hope this helps! Any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office .

Thanks Eshwar, we’re glad they help! And if you have any questions as you work on your application, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office .

We’re glad you found the examples helpful, Haoyu, thank you!

HI! Your examples are cool! I just wonder whether two questions shall better be related or not?

Thanks for the examples! I have a question: are you looking for experiences that explain why we decided to choose the area of study and major we chose, or is it more towards an experience that demonstrates the steps we’ve taken in our area of study? Both?

Hi Jeremy, and thanks for reaching out! Your major-specific responses help us understand why you’ve chosen that specific major and also allow us to ensure that the major will be a good foundation to achieving your goals after graduation. We hope this helps! If you have additional questions as you work, don’t hesitate to contact us directly .

Thanks, Haoyu! Your major-specific responses help us understand why you’ve chosen that specific major and also allow us to ensure that the major will be a good foundation to achieving your goals after graduation. We hope this helps! If you have more questions as you work, don’t hesitate to contact us directly .

Great examples!! I finally have an idea of what information to add in such a limited space 🙂

Thank you for the tips and examples.

Thanks, Prithvi! We’re so glad you found them helpful.

Hello, thanks for your nice and clear answers. I am using Common App (not myIllini) and I have 2 questions(I am EA applicant). The prompts #1 and #2 above are not in the Commpn App, and I see there are 2 other questions as shown below instead.

So my questions are: (1) to where and by when do we have to submit the essays for the 2 prompts above? (2) The following 2 questions look like optional but I want to write an essay for #1. I do not think I am relevant to #2 though (I have a good GPA and no drop record) so I am wondering if it is ok to enter briefly like: Not Available (for the #2 below)

2 UIUC Questions on Common App:

#1. Academic Challenges Explain any challenges (outside of COVID-related) you have faced throughout your academic career, including the dates or timeline below.

#2. If you have a low grade or a drop in grades that you have not already explained, do so below.

Thanks for reaching out, Tom! The academic challenges questions are optional. Once you click “Continue” on that page of the application, you’ll move to the academics section, where you’ll select your intended major and possible second choice. After that section, the two major-specific writing prompts will display for you to write your response. We hope this helps! If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact us directly .

Thank you so much for writing this blog. I was stuck on where to begin but these example essays made it very clear how to craft my essays and show my goals.

Hope I can be there at UIUC next year:)

Thank you for this information. I hope I get into UIUC next year!!

Thank you so much for this information! I feel a lot more prepared for writing my supplemental after this!

Thanks for the essay examples, it was extremely helpful. Looking forward to finishing my application 🙂

These examples are super helpful! Thank you so much.

I noticed that both of the academic challenge and grade drop explanation questions are optional. I don’t have a lot to fill out because I already used the Common App additional info sections for that.

If I leave these blank or shallow for UIUC, will it impact my application and admissions consideration at all? Or, is it truly just an area to express extra info if necessary?

Hi Ethan, yes, in not fully answering the major-specific questions, it could negatively impact your consideration. You’re welcome to use the same or similar information that you included in your Common App essay or additional information sections. We hope this helps. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us directly .

Thanks for the example!

I think you have a couple of typos in your examples.

“share the benefits with other” I think it should be “others” instead.

“my main career goal is to bring more recognition to musics listeners” I think it should be “music” instead.

Indeed we did, so we’ve made some edits. Thank you for catching them, Pranav!

Thank you so much for the great examples! It really helps provide me with a solid start and understanding of how to approach essays! Much less daunting than expected!

This is really helpful .Thank you!

Thanks so much, Advaith; we’re glad the examples helped!

Thanks, Aayush; we’re so glad you found the examples helpful!

Thank you for these examples! My mind was scrambled while thinking of what to write!

I wanted to say that this blog and the comments are both very helpful. I was going to contact the admissions office regarding these questions (like how specific the responses they need to be, how many things we could talk about, etc.), but this blog cleared most of my doubts. Thank you for posting these examples!!

This was a very great helpful blog. I am a senior in high school and just submitting my apps and this gave me an idea of how to do the essays for UIUC Thanks so much.

Thank you! I have an idea of what it should sound like now. What would you suggest if I’ve already covered the information a question asks for in the personal statement?

Thank you so much for this guide, it made the writing process significantly easier!

Is the second prompt more of a “Why UIUC” prompt? As in, do we write details about why we want to attend UIUC or details about why we want to do CS?

Thanks so much for the examples, super helpful with starting off the supplemental essays!

These are some great examples and they helped me a lot with writing my own which was pretty intimidating at first! Y’all were also funny with the music listening major— I wish!!

HI Arnav! For the second prompt, it’s more about you and less bout UIUC; we’re more interested in what you want to do with a degree in CS. We hope this helps!

Hi Shrujana, we’re glad the examples helped! If you’ve already covered the information a question asks for within your personal statement, some options could be to provide a different experience in your major-specific answer, elaborate more fully in the personal statement, or choose a different question for your personal statement. Whatever makes the most sense to you and will give our admissions counselors the most helpful information!

Hi UIUC Admissions, I am planning on listing “undeclared” on my major because I am interested in a few different areas such as Business and Psychology. Can you provide an example for someone who is not sure what they want to major in?

Thanks for the suggestion, Melissa. Although we won’t be able to do this in time for this year, we’ll see what’s possible for future years!

you the goat fr

Hey UIUC, I am so thankful for this content put out! This got me through my drafting sessions and now I am ready to submit my application. Looking forward to become a fighting Illini next year :))

AHH you do amazing work UIUC admissions blog! Thank you!

Hahahaha. Very creative! I like the example of music learning as a major. This was very helpful and look forward to applying to UIUC🙂👍

Very helpful information thank you

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Deadline Update: We want to ensure anyone applying for federal financial aid has enough time to make an informed decision regarding their college choice! For this reason, we're extending our enrollment decision deadline to May 15.

Writing Prompts for First-Year Applicants

Following are our writing prompts for first-year students applying for fall 2024 admission. Writing prompts for fall 2024 will be announced in August.

Major-Specific Prompts

You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program , and if you've selected a second choice . Each response should be approximately 150 words . If you're applying through Common App, you'll find our major-specific writing prompts in the "Writing" tab of our supplemental questions after adding us as one of your colleges.

If You're Applying to a Major :

  • Explain, in detail, an experience you've had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you've taken, or through something else.
  • Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them.

If You're Applying to Our Undeclared Program in the Division of General Studies:

  • What are your academic interests? Please include 2-3 majors you're considering at Illinois and why.
  • What are your future career or academic goals? You may include courses you took in high school and how these impacted your goals.

If You've Selected a Second-Choice Major (Including Undeclared ):

  • Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals.

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Essay Prompts

You'll also answer one essay prompt as part of your application. Prompts are the same whether you apply through myIllini or the Common App. Select and answer the prompt of your choice from the full list found on the Common App website . Your essay response can be anywhere from 250 to 650 words total.

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uiuc honors essay

How to Write the University of Illinois at Chicago Essays 2023-2024

uiuc honors essay

UIC has one required supplemental essay for all students, and two required essays for students applying to the honors college. The supplemental essay for all applicants asks about your interest in your intended major. The honors college prompts ask about your academic challenges and successes in high school, and how the honors college will help you grow personally and professionally.

To be competitive for admission at UIC, you should have strong essays that will stand out and convince admissions officers that you are a good fit for the university. In this post, we’ll discuss how you can write winning essays for UIC.

University of Illinois at Chicago Essay Prompts

All applicants, please provide an essay that explains why you chose your intended program of study. what interests you the most about this major please be specific – those evaluating these essays are highly interested in your response. if undecided, what areas of study do you look forward to studying in college (50-500 words), honors college applicants.

Prompt 1: Please describe in detail ways that you have sought out academic challenges and personal growth opportunities while in high school. Examples can include activities both inside or outside of your school. (400-500 words)

Prompt 2: How will your engagement with the Honors College foster your academic, personal, and professional growth? (400-500 words)

Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions (GPPA) Applicants

By applying to the gppa programs, you are applying for a guaranteed seat in one of uic’s graduate or professional programs earlier than students who apply in a traditional manner. the gppa program seeks to understand why you have chosen your intended profession and a guaranteed path into it. what makes you an ideal candidate for guaranteed admission rather than following a traditional path to your intended profession how would a guaranteed seat contribute to your goals as an undergraduate (400-500 words).

This essay is a traditional “ Why this Major? ” prompt that invites you to share what about your background and experiences has drawn you to want to study a given subject. A key element that will differentiate a strong response from a weaker one is the ability to draw specific connections between your experiences and specific characteristics of the major in which you are interested. 

For example, a weak response would merely say that you are interested in UIC’s B.S. in Computer Science because you grew up playing retro computer games. But a strong response would draw a specific connection between noticing glitches in the gameplay of those retro games, constantly wondering how the game programmers’ logic inadvertently created those glitches, and wanting to pursue a career in software quality assurance. As you write your essay, keep in mind the importance of drawing the linkage between experience and interest.

If you’re undecided about your major, don’t worry. You can still produce a high-quality essay by highlighting 2-3 areas of study or intellectual interest that you are drawn to, even if there isn’t a clear favorite. It would be a mistake to say that you have no idea what you may want to study. Even if you are genuinely indifferent among many areas of study, consider reflecting on which high school classes you have had the most success or interest in; those will potentially be areas on which you can write convincingly.

We recommend beginning this essay with the anecdote that you will use to demonstrate how your interest in your major developed. This anecdote might be a personal, non-academic experience , or it may be related to coursework . Of course, a strong essay likely combines these two types of experience: perhaps your interest in computer science logic was strengthened by writing your own proofs for the first time in a geometry class.

Here are some tips on building this “Why this Major” essay around such an anecdote:

Personal experience: Consider choosing a story in which you initially are unfamiliar with the intellectual or technical foundations of something that impacts or influences you, and you realize that you want to develop related expertise. For example, perhaps one day your aunt told you about how she relies on a pacemaker to regulate her heart rhythm, and your first-hand insight into how medical technology can save people’s lives has drawn you to UIC’s bioengineering major. A mistake in writing that essay would be to not elaborate on specific problems or dynamics in the field of bioengineering that you are drawn to solving. For example, perhaps there are materials-science-related barriers to advanced implants that you want to help overcome. It is critical that you demonstrate that you have spent time thinking about not just the impact a given area of study has had on you, but also the impact that you want to make on that area of study.

Coursework: Stories based on coursework lend themselves to more straightforward connections to a given area of study. A strong essay based on an anecdote about an assignment you’ve completed or a discussion you’ve had in class should not just be about your having a natural talent for the subject. Instead, you should emphasize the growth you’ve undergone over the course of the class or classes. For example, if you’re interested in the English major within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, you might talk about how the critical feedback you got on a creative writing assignment pushed you to be more deliberate about your writing technique and you eventually decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month. By showing a growth mindset, you can more easily lead into your interest in advanced, college-level study in a topic.

Regardless of the type of anecdote you choose, be conscientious about the details that you choose to include. Mention parts of the story that show your reasoning and process of developing interest, but don’t linger on elements that don’t contribute to your narrative, since you only have 500 words.

Finally, make sure that you demonstrate your specific interest in the major at UIC and not just the major generally. For example, you might talk about how you envision yourself presenting at UIC’s new annual bioengineering research symposium or how being in the vibrant Chicago arts and writing scene provides a natural platform for you to hone your craft and learn from others.

Honors College Applicants, Prompt 1 

Please describe in detail ways that you have sought out academic challenges and personal growth opportunities while in high school. examples can include activities both inside or outside of your school. (400-500 words).

For this prompt, you’ll have to think about the ways in which high school has formed your personal and academic development. Since this essay is for the Honors College, you’ll also want to make sure that your essay adequately discusses your academic history and success. 

Brainstorming Essay Topics 

Before you begin writing, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about moments throughout your life that have impacted your personal and academic growth. This might be the hardest part of this essay, as finding a topic that is both meaningful and significant can be tricky. Below are some mistakes you’ll want to avoid when picking an essay topic.

Picking a Topic That Is Cliché

There are many essay topics that have become cliché by students because they are so overdone. This includes topics related to sports injuries, personal tragedies, or getting a bad grade. Remember, you’ll want to pick an example that highlights both academic and personal growth–not just one or the other.

Picking a Topic that Isn’t Significant Enough

Topics that aren’t meaningful enough may include group project failures or interpersonal conflict unrelated to your academic history. While these experiences are certainly important in your life, you should try to pick an experience that shaped your identity.

Picking an Extremely Personal Topic

Topics such as pet deaths and breakups should be avoided as they are too personal and do not highlight any types of academic engagement which should be included in this essay.

How to Approach the Essay

Now that you’ve had a chance to think about potential topics, it is important to understand how to actually write the essay. You can do this in three steps: 

1. Describe The Situation

Set the scene for the reader by discussing the academic or personal growth challenge that you’ve faced. You’ll want to be sure to add vivid details here so that the reader fully understands and can imagine the situation.

2. The Steps You Took to Overcome the Situation

What happened next in the story, and what role did you play in your own growth or challenges? 

3. Reflect on What You Learned

Last, you’ll want to reflect on what this experience taught you, and how you changed because of it. This part of the essay is especially important as admissions officers want to know how students have positively changed through their previous life experiences. 

Do you still need help flushing out the details of the essay? Below is a list of questions that can help you brainstorm the details within your essay.

  • When you think of challenges that you’ve faced, which one has been important to you and why?
  • Was there a situation that changed your perspective on a long-standing belief that you had?
  • What was your immediate reaction to this situation, and how has that reaction changed over time?
  • What steps did you take to manage the situation, and how did you do it?
  • Were you surprised by your own growth? Did your growth impact people close to you as well?
  • If you could’ve changed anything about your reaction to the situation, what would it be and why?

Although this has already been mentioned, you’ll want to make sure that you describe a challenge that is related to both your academic and personal life. While you could describe two separate situations, it may be best to just describe one that affected both your academic and personal life since you are limited by the word count.

A hypothetical example may be a student who writes about how she always strictly followed her parents religious beliefs, but was questioned by a classmate during a seminar about her religion. In turn, this made her question her own beliefs, and led her to creating a school club which explored various religious philosophies. If the student did significant reflecting on their experience and discussed how this has changed their viewpoints, this example would be perfect as it discusses religion as an academic discipline and also a personal belief system.

A not-so-strong example for this essay would be a student who writes about how they struggled to finish a group project at school and asked their teacher for extra help. This would not show how the student went above-and-beyond, or how this changed their learning experience or perspective. 

Mistakes to Avoid

Focusing Too Much on the Challenges/Growth and Not Enough on Personal Development

At the beginning of the essay you’ll want to “set the scene” and describe the academic and personal challenges and growth you faced in high school. However, the point of this essay is to discuss how you’ve overcome those challenges and how you’ve developed into the person you are today. Your focus should be on you, not on your circumstances. 

Telling Instead of Showing

Stories are always more engaging when a reader can imagine themselves in the narrator’s shoes. Instead of simply listing the lessons you’ve learned, instead use vivid examples to describe your challenges and growth.

Honors College Applicants, Prompt 2 

How will your engagement with the honors college foster your academic, personal, and professional growth (400-500 words).

The UIC Honors College is a prestigious program in which members of the college have special access to honors courses, additional research opportunities, and faculty mentorship, along with access to Honors College-only facilities in Burnham Hall. Honors College students spend their last year at UIC developing a capstone research project. Given all the advantages of being in the Honors College, admission is competitive, so a compelling essay is a key to being invited.

Before writing this essay, look through the Honors College website and identify a few programs or opportunities that you find the most attractive. Specificity is key in this essay : you need to show why access to the additional privileges of Honors College students can make a difference for you. Here are a few approaches you can take to answering this question:

Connect UIC Honors programs to past relevant experiences.

One way to illustrate why you think the Honors College is right for you is to draw connections with previous experiences that align with some of the Honors College opportunities. For example, if you have worked closely with a professor in the past on a research project or in another capacity, you can explain how you’ve become better at distilling insights from experts in a field and making meaningful contributions. As a result, you might be more confident that you would have very productive relationships with faculty mentors as a member of the Honors College.

If you go down this path, make sure that this essay is still ultimately about how you’ll take advantage of the given opportunities in the future . The value of discussing past experiences is to demonstrate that you have a solid foundation to take full advantage of UIC’s opportunities—not merely to show what you’ve done in the past.

Emphasize the closeness among students in the program

One of the big advantages of honors colleges is that it creates a natural, smaller community at a university. This is especially important at UIC, given the immense size of the undergraduate body. UIC Honors College students are able to live on-campus in special living-learning communities, such as Commons West. Students also participate in special student organizations. You could discuss how you learn best through the exchange of ideas with your peers, and how being in a close-knit community can facilitate that process. By showing that you recognize that learning happens not just between teachers and students, but also among students, you can demonstrate your personal maturity and openness to diverse viewpoints.

Discuss how a specific research project will help you grow academically and professionally

Given that the Honors College places a large emphasis on additional research opportunities and the capstone project, you can use this essay to discuss how those opportunities will help you pursue one or two projects about which you are very passionate. For example, you might need sustained engagement with a bioengineering professor to advance your ideas on improving pacemakers. Or maybe you see the Red Shoes Review literary magazine as a great opportunity to share your writing and receive critical feedback from your peers who are also skilled writers. These projects might also help you demonstrate your capabilities to employers after school.

The advantage of taking this approach to the Honors College essay is that it gives a lot of color to what exactly you hope to do as a member. By giving your essay reader a more vivid picture of the student you will be, you make it easier for them to give you the nod.

The GPPA initiative is an invaluable opportunity to lock in your admission to one of UIC’s professional or graduate schools. If you’re admitted, you might feel more freedom to explore various academic interests as an undergraduate at UIC. Note that for many UIC programs, you are required to be a member of the Honors College as well, so you will also have to fill out the Honors College essay and submit the required letters of recommendation. GPPA is ideal for applicants who know that they have a very strong interest in attending graduate school in one of the available areas of study . While you are not required to matriculate to the graduate program, it would still be helpful to show your specific interest in UIC’s graduate schools. While in undergrad, you will need to meet the conditions of acceptance for the relevant graduate school, which may include taking certain courses and examinations.

Explain why you prefer the guarantee to a traditional path to graduate school.

UIC is interested in knowing why you are eager to have the safety of admission to a master’s or professional program as you are starting out your undergraduate education. There are a number of good reasons this may be the case, including your ability to gain early exposure to the professional school. A key advantage of knowing which graduate school you will be attending four years before matriculating is that you can engage with professors, research centers, and other opportunities at that graduate school over a longer timeframe. This can be helpful if, for example, you are a potential public health student interested in longitudinal research that takes years to complete. Instead of only being in the MPH program for two years, you’ll be able to connect with researchers for up to six years, including your time as an undergraduate. Additionally, you’ll be able to meet more professors and professionals affiliated with the graduate program.

Think carefully about your reasons, and make sure they still convey your intellectual curiosity and academic seriousness. For example, don’t convey that you just want to slack off for four years before attending a master’s program.

Demonstrate fit with the profession.

A strong GPPA essay will discuss your interest in the dynamics of the profession that you would be entering after graduate school. For example, if you want to apply to UIC’s Doctor of Dental Medicine program, you can tell a story that shows how you thrive in environments where you have to decide between snap judgments and more diligent research. Or you can discuss how helping one person at a time with their health needs is the most tangible way you can imagine making an impact on the world. Demonstrate your readiness by making it evident that you’ve thought deeply about, and are comfortable with, the tensions and complexities of the profession. Make sure to also communicate that the traits and experiences driving you toward the given area of study and profession are integral to who you are. For example, you can offer an anecdote about how your strong judgment under high pressure or your relentless drive to find the right answer shows up in the rest of your life. 

Discuss a pivotal moment in your academic, personal, or extracurricular experience.

Maybe you’ve known for a long time now that you are interested in the profession for which you’re applying to GPPA. You can talk about an experience in which you realized that your interests require an unconventional path in which guaranteed admission is valuable. For example, say you are applying for pre-admission to the UIC law school because you eventually want to be a public defender. You can tell a story about how when you were volunteering for your local legal clinic, you were always taken aback by the hostile appearance and construction of the courthouse, and so now, before practicing law, you want to get a B.S. in Architecture and help design more humane civic buildings. Bring the reader into that moment, and explain how the interconnections among different areas of study compel you to apply for GPPA.

Where to Get Your UIC Edited for Free

Are you looking for guidance and feedback on how to make your UIC essays better? It’s always a good idea to get another set of eyes — or two or three — on your essays to ensure you’re representing yourself and your interest in the school to the best of your abilities. That’s why CollegeVine offers a free essay peer-review service , where you can get a critique of your essay and feedback to help you improve.

Just create a free  CollegeVine account , and you’ll be able to use this and other resources that will benefit you during the college admissions process.

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uiuc honors essay

Campus Honors Program

Search this site:, spring 2024 honors courses, arch 199 sha: sustainability and healthy architecture, prof. mohamed boubekri.

CRN 67522 | TR | 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. | 301 Arch Bldg | 3 Hours

In this lab/discussion course, students will learn about the basic principles of the use of natural light (daylighting) and how daylight impacts visual comfort and building occupants’ health and well-being. We will use the building occupants as the primary focus in this course in terms of success or failure of an architectural design solution. To do so, the course will feature a series of lectures as well as roundtable discussions led by students focusing on daylighting strategies, and on how daylight informs the health and well-being of building users. Topics include light and circadian rhythm, sleep disorders, vitamin D, and daylighting and human performance. Another portion of the course is lab-based: students will design a small building (e.g. small office, small-town library, etc.) with a sub-focus on daylighting, using computer and scale model simulations.

*This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Social & Behavioral Sciences: Behavioral Science*

Instructor: Mohamed Boubekri earned his Ph.D. in Architecture from Texas A&M University in 1990. His work focuses on sustainable architecture and the intersection of the built environment and human health. Through numerous publications (including two recently published books), he explores the impact of the lack of daylight inside buildings on people’s health, behavior and overall well-being. More generally, his work also examines the relationship between architectural design, sustainable technologies and building energy/environmental performance.

ARTJ 301: Manga : The Art of Image and Word

Prof. lindsey stirek.

75868 | TR | 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. | 212 Honors | 3 Hours

This course offers an immersive exploration of manga (Japanese comics) and anime, delving into their significance within both Japanese and global contexts. Throughout this class, you will trace the evolution of these art forms and examine their relationship with Japan’s cultural heritage, while also observing their departures from traditional norms and how they represent the concept of “Otherness.” By collaborating with fellow classmates to collectively craft your own manga magazine, you will delve into the fundamental aspects of manga as an artistic medium and experience how manga and anime mutually influence and are influenced by individual and societal perceptions. This course will not only introduce you to the captivating realms of manga and anime but also prompt thoughtful exploration of their cultural, societal, and artistic dimensions and their profound impact on the broader global landscape.

*Campus has approved this course for Cultural Studies: Non-Western Cultures, Humanities and the Arts: Literature and the Arts gen ed credit*

**This course is now full. Chancellor’s Scholars should contact Anne Price to be added to the waitlist**

Instructor: Dr. Lindsey Stirek is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design and the Assistant Director of Academic Programming at Japan House. She began studying chadō (the Way of Tea) in 2009 and has spent several years in Japan studying Japanese language and culture. She teaches courses on manga, anime, and Japanese tea ceremony and her current research focus is on the convergence of traditional Japanese arts and contemporary and localized modalities ranging from performance to media to three-dimensional art.  

BADM 199 CHP: Creativity and Social Control

Prof. jack goncalo.

54976 | MW | 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. | 212 Honors | 3 Hours

Social influence regulates and directs behavior in groups and organizations, but the role that social control plays in the creative process has been controversial. In this course we consider a perspective in which social influence are tools that can be leveraged to facilitate creativity in teams. We will begin by identifying aspects of social control that might stifle the free expression of creative ideas (e.g. conformity; hierarchy; obedience). We will then learn about five key behaviors that support creative collaboration—the PIECE (s) of team creativity—Participation, Independence, Elaboration, Communication, and Exploration. We will also identify specific norms that can encourage the emergence of each of the five critical behaviors, the conditions that make these norms salient, and the underlying psychological and behavioral mechanisms through which norms impact creativity. We will conclude with suggestions for how to manage creative work groups.

*This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Social & Behavioral Sciences: Social Science*

Instructor: Jack Goncalo is Professor of Business Administration and the Robert and Helen P. Seass Faculty Fellow at the Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, he was Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Cornell University ILR School where he was the Proskauer Professor. He received his Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Goncalo’s research is focused on individual and team creativity, the evaluation of new ideas and more recently, the dark side of engaging in creative work. His research spanning the fields of Management and Psychology has been published in Administrative Science Quarterly, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Management Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Psychological Science. His research has been featured in numerous media outlets such as CNN, Time Magazine, The New York Times and Forbes Magazine.

LAST 180 (Previously CHP 199 ON): Immigration: A Global Phenomenon with Local Implications

Prof. gioconda guerra pérez.

76026 | MW | 12:30 – 1:50 p.m. | 140 Henry Admin | 3 Hours

The course provides a historical perspective on the issue of immigration and discusses immigration to the U.S. and its historical implications (voluntary immigration, involuntary immigration, forced immigration). We will study the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) from 1790 to 2017 and review some immigration laws and policies. Current immigration policies and how non-U.S. citizens are affected, immigration issues in the context of K-16, refugees and asylum and DACA/undocumented immigrants will also be studied.

*This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Cultural Studies: U.S. Minority Cultures*

Instructor:  Born and raised in Panama, Gioconda Guerra Pérez joined La Casa in August 2013. Before joining La Casa, she served as visiting assistant professor in the School of Education and as Socio-Cultural specialist for the New Neighbors Center at Indiana University Southeast. She has taught courses on Multicultural Education, Current Social Issues in Education, and Intercultural Relations. She has developed professional development workshops on issues related to institutional barriers affecting Latino/a college students; undocumented/DACA students: policies and practices; as well as intersectionality & identity. She has developed curricula for K-12 schools to work with Latino families and English Language Learners (ELL). She has provided professional development for K-12 teachers on issues related to ELL and Latino/a students and their cultures. She received a M.A. in Sociology and Communication and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development from the University of Louisville. She attended the Universidad de Panamá, Panama, where she studied Journalism. Her professional and personal interest has been finding ways to help Latino/a students achieve higher education.

CHP 395A: Journalists in Popular Culture

Prof. matthew ehrlich.

31307 | MW | 2:00 – 3:20 p.m. | 212 Honors | 3 Hours

Why should we care about the image of the journalist in popular culture? The main reasons are simple: First, journalism is supposed to provide us with the stories and information that we need to govern ourselves. Second, journalists have long been familiar characters in popular culture, and those characters are likely to shape people’s impressions of the news media at least as much if not more than the actual press does. Third, popular culture is a powerful tool for thinking about what journalism is and should be. This class will examine depictions of journalists in movies, TV shows, and other media over the past century – depictions that are at once repellent and romantic, villainous and heroic—and it will consider their implications for the news media, the public, and democracy. It is intended as a provocative and entertaining way of generating insight into not only journalism, but also ourselves.

Instructor:  Matthew Ehrlich is Professor Emeritus of Journalism and the Institute of Communications Research. He has won the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Illinois. He also has appeared on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students 42 different semesters, including multiple times for this Campus Honors Program class. Professor Ehrlich’s latest book is The Krebiozen Hoax: How a Mysterious Cancer Drug Shook Organized Medicine ; he also has written books on audio documentary, professional sports, and journalism and popular culture. Before becoming a professor, he worked for several years as a public radio journalist, including at Illinois Public Media. 

CHP 395C: Gender Communication

Prof. grace giorgio.

31308 | MWF | 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. | 212 Honors | 3 Hours

This course investigates how gender and sexuality are communicated. Language, our statements as well as our demeanors, both explains and defines us. It sends covert as well as overt messages about us and our culture. In a complicated and not generally symmetrical fashion, our gender and sexuality inform our language and our language informs our gender and sexuality. This course focuses on the ways in which we discuss and enact – the ways in which we verbally and physically speak – gender and sexuality. This course interrogates social and cultural notions of gender and sexuality and examines the way in which language serves to both reinforce and challenge these notions.

Students will: develop a fundamental understanding of how gender and language interface in contemporary social and political contexts; analyze and critique how gendered language shapes individual subjectivity in social, cultural, and political spheres; increase skillfulness in analysis, theory, and praxis; and apply qualitative research methods to the study of gendered communication.

*This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Social and Behavioral Sciences: Social Science*

**This course is now full. Chancellor’s Scholars should contact Anne Price to be added to the waitlist** Instructor:  Grace Giorgio has been teaching in the Department of Communication since she arrived on campus as a graduate student in 1995. In 2001, she began teaching full-time for the University, developing and teaching courses in popular media, gender communication, public policy and sustainability, and the geography of culture. Dr. Giorgio began teaching for Campus Honors in the fall of 2012, launching a course on place making entitled Communicating Public Policy: Our Cities/Ourselves (CMN 220). She also taught Gender Communication for CHP in the fall of 2015 and 2019. In 2013, Dr. Giorgio received the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Award. In the fall of 2015, she received two Provost Office grants to develop and launch  Writing Fundamentals , an online, interactive grammar program for Illinois writing courses. In concert with Engineering faculty, Dr. Giorgio received a  Strategic Innovations Instructional Program  grant to support Engineering students with public speaking. Her research interests include an experimental use of qualitative research methods to investigate the intersection of self, culture, and the public sphere. Dr. Giorgio is a recipient of the CHP’s Broadrick Allen award for outstanding faculty.

CLCV 444 : The Archaeology of Italy

Prof. brett kaufman.

75708 | TR | 2:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. POT A | 164 Noyes Lab | 3 Hours

CLCV 444 not only introduces students to the realities of the past within the specific historical context of Italy and Rome, but also connects these issues with our own societal challenges to demonstrate the fullness, and in some ways, the consistency of the human experience. This includes framing disease including pandemics within our own time as an evolving issue spanning the three epidemiological transitions, cultural appropriation, refugee crises from climatic and political situations, the integration of migrant communities, the evolution of “imperial democracy” and the Roman legacy of Euro-American empire and government, writing and literature and how these can be used for political purposes, and how religion and society were connected in the past and how they are today. Prof. Kaufman encourages the students to actively engage with the materials in a way that dovetails with their own interests. Suggested readings include primary readings from Roman political figures such as Tacitus and Caesar. Students are required to research a topic of their choosing and to create a recorded presentation. Therefore, the outcome of the class is to refine your research and writing skills and help you learn how to present research for evaluation or to a non-academic audience.

This course will meet during the first eight weeks of the Spring 2024 semester (= POT A).

* This course was petitioned and approved for General Education credit for Humanities and the Arts: Historical & Philosophical Perspectives and Cultural Studies: Western Comparative Cultures*

Instructor:  Brett Kaufman is an assistant professor in the Department of the Classics, and joined the Illinois faculty in 2018. He is an archaeologist specializing in the Mediterranean and Near East, ancient engineering and design, the formation and maintenance of sociopolitical hierarchy, and reconstructing ecological management strategies of ancient and historical societies. He has directed or supervised archaeological excavations in Tunisia, China, Italy, Israel, and New York. He received a BA from Brandeis University, and a MA and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to joining UIUC Classics, he held a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University and a faculty appointment at the University of Science and Technology Beijing where he still maintains a visiting affiliation. His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

EPSY 199A: Understanding Adolescent Development Through Literature

Prof. christopher napolitano.

46232 | TR | 12:30 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. | 376 Education Bldg | 3 Hours

Is adolescence inevitably a period of “storm and stress?” Are all adolescents bound to rebel against their parents, challenge social norms, and engage in problem behaviors? In this class, we complicate popular – and inaccurate – perceptions of adolescence. Students will complete this course with an understanding of the dynamic changes that take place during adolescence across four core developmental concepts: identity, autonomy, intimacy, and achievement.

We explore each of these concepts along three core tracks: (1) deeply debating contemporary theoretical and conceptual work; (2) unpacking contemporary empirical research; and (3) closely reading popular middle-grades fiction novels written for adolescents. This seminar also presents a unique opportunity for students to interview active middle-grades fiction writers during seminar meetings to better understand how they integrate adolescent concepts into their books. To conclude the seminar, students will link information from theories and research by selecting a middle-grades (or young adult) fiction book and leading a discussion on that book’s core adolescent developmental concepts and the contemporary research.

* This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Social & Behavioral Sciences: Behavioral Science*

Instructor: Chris Napolitano is a life-span developmental psychologist. His primary research interest is in the development of adaptive self-regulatory action across the life span, and how to best translate this research into programs that promote positive development. His work explores how people produce their development through striving for dynamic, unpredictable goals, and is now particularly focused on the self-regulatory actions that maximize gains from unexpected, positive events and the actions that often minimize losses from expected shortcomings. Chris was trained at Tufts University’s Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development. At Tufts, he worked on the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development and Project GPS, a mentoring-based intervention to promote adolescent self-regulation. In August 2017, he became an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology (Developmental and Counseling divisions) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Zurich in the Developmental Psychology: Adulthood lab.

EPSY 199B: AI and the Science of Accelerating Human Learning

Prof. h. chad lane.

62885 | TR | 10:30-11:50 a.m. | CIF 0036 | 3 Hours

This course will explore the cognitive, emotional, and motivational processes involved in human learning and review what science tells us about how we can optimize and improve teaching and learning. Students will gain a deeper appreciation for both how to structure and design their own learning (e.g., studying for an exam) and what strategies and support mechanisms are most effective for classrooms, museums, and the workplace (e.g., feedback, tutoring, collaboration). In addition, students will also gain important insights into the impact of Artificial Intelligence on education and learn about emerging research that uses AI to assess, monitor, and support learners in nuanced ways.

* This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Social & Behavioral Sciences: Behavioral Science *

Instructor: H. Chad Lane is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Computer Science and Associate Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology. Prof. Lane’s research focuses on the design, use, and impacts of intelligent and entertainment technologies for science learning. Prof. Lane is also Director of the NSF AI Institute for Inclusive and Intelligent Technologies for Education (INVITE), based at UIUC. He received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004.

FAA 110D: Exploring Arts and Creativity

Profs. j.w. morrissette and brad mehrtens.

69421 | R | 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.  | 156 English Bldg | 3 Hours

High and street art, tradition and experimentation, the familiar and unfamiliar, international and American creativity provide this course’s foundation. Students will attend performances and exhibitions, interact with artists, and examine core issues associated with the creative process in our increasingly complex global society. Faculty from the arts, sciences, humanities, and other domains will lead students through visual arts, music, dance, and theatre experiences at Krannert Center and Krannert Art Museum to spark investigation and dialogue. The class meets twice per week: once a week for discussions, and a second time to attend performances and/or exhibitions at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and/or Krannert Art Museum. Event dates will vary. Admission to all events will be provided without charge to students enrolled in the course.

*Campus has approved this course for General Education credit for Humanities and the Arts: Literature and the Arts*

Instructor:  J.W. Morrissette is Assistant Head of the Department of Theatre, where he has worked for 21 years. He has also served as the chair of the BFA Theatre Studies Program as well as the assistant program coordinator for Inner Voices Social Issues Theatre. He earned his BFA in Acting at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, and both his MFA in Acting and MA in Theatre History at the University of Illinois. J.W. has taught and directed for the past 17 years with the summer Theatre Department at Interlochen Center for the Arts, has directed and taught at Parkland College, and teaches acting, directing, and Introduction to Theatre Arts at Illinois. He has been integral in developing components for the online course offerings in the department, as well as supervising all senior Theatre Studies Thesis Projects.

Instructor:  Brad Mehrtens is Instructor and Advisor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Brad earned his bachelor’s in biology from Truman State University, and his master’s in microbiology from Illinois. His research interests include educational pedagogy, course design, and assessment; his advising interests include transitions for freshmen and transfer students, preparing for professional or graduate programs, understanding the undergraduate research experience, and acknowledging and addressing academic or personal issues. Brad also enjoys acting, theatre, movies, music, and sports.

HIST 293A: The President and the People

Prof. marsha barrett.

68644  | TR  |  3:30-4:50 p.m.  | 1068 Lincoln Hall | 3 Hours

This course is a chronological survey of the American presidency, with a focus on the changing nature of the office and Americans’ expectations for their presidents. The course pays particular attention to the ascendancy of the presidency in American political culture and the ways in which the office has been transformed by changes in party politics, campaigning, and media representations. Individual presidents are studied to assess the ways in which they shaped the office and exercised executive power. To put the office in broader cultural and historical perspective, presidents are examined within the context of their times. Additionally, the course explores the ways in which the study of presidents and political leaders has changed in the past one hundred years.

*Campus has approved this course for General Education credit for Humanities & the Arts: Historical Perspectives and Cultural Studies: Western*

**This course is now full. Chancellor’s Scholars should contact Anne Price to be added to the waitlist*

Instructor: Marsha Barrett is an Assistant Professor of History who specializes in United States politics, African American history, policy generation, and social movements. She teaches courses on U.S. political history and public policy. Her forthcoming book examines moderate Republicanism, racial politics, and the intensification of partisan politics after the modern civil rights movement.

IS 390 RGS: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Comics

Prof. carol tilley.

72304 | TR | 2:00-3:20 p.m. | 212 Honors | 3 Hours

Comics reflect and shape our understanding of who we are, much as other forms of literature and media do. In this course, we will explore a variety of US comics from the past 150 years—including editorial cartoons, comic strips, graphic novels, comic books, and webcomics—to gain insights on how these texts have affirmed and challenged social and cultural norms around race, gender, and sexuality. We will read and discuss comics that depicted the fight for women’s suffrage, early coded queerness, Black / Native American / Asian stereotypes, and more before moving to a discussion of more contemporary and intersectional depictions. You will learn to apply a variety of analytic strategies to engage with these comics in creative and critical ways.

*This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Humanities: Historical & Philosophical Perspectives and Cultural Studies: U.S. Minority Cultures*

**This course is now full. Chancellor’s Scholars should contact Anne Price to be added to the waitlist.**

Instructor: Carol Tilley is Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences. She is also an affiliate faculty member in Gender and Women’s Studies and the Center for Writing Studies. Her research focuses on US comics, libraries, and readership in the mid-20 th century. She has been a judge for two important comics awards, the Eisner and the Ringo Awards, and served as President of the Comics Studies Society. A long time ago, she was a student in the Honors program at Indiana University.

LING 199 CHP: Hittite Language and Culture

Prof. ryan shosted.

50888 | MWF | 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. | 217 Gregory Hall | 3 Hours

In this course, students explore the grammatical structure of the oldest‐attested Indo‐European language. They use clay and reeds to master the art of composing texts in cuneiform, one of the world’s oldest writing systems. They read and comment on primary texts relating to the decipherment of the language, as well as cuneiform ‘autographs’ of Hittite inscriptions. They investigate how nineteenth‐century orientalists with a thirst for empire used the re‐discovery of Hittite to promote themes of racial supremacy. They observe how the earliest predictions of modern linguistics were borne out once Hittite was dec3iphered and fully understood. They reflect on the truly ancient nature of multilingualism and multiculturalism by better understanding how Mesopotamian cultures strongly influenced the language, religion, and culture of the Hittite world. For an article with more information about this class, go to https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/804992

*This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Humanities and Arts: Historical Perspectives, Cultural Studies : Non-Western .

Instructor: Prof. Shosted studied Czech language and literature at the College of Wooster and Beloit College before transferring to Brigham Young University and graduating in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. He was a Student Fulbright Fellow at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique, where he studied Changana. He then began his post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007. He was a Visiting Professor at the State University of Campinas, Brazil in 2015 and was promoted to the rank of Professor at Illinois in 2020. He is interested in phonetics, phonology, and the development of sound-symbol correspondences, particularly in cuneiform.

LING 199 RB: English Across Cultures

Prof. rakesh bhatt.

52895| TR | 12:30 – 1:50 p.m. | 212 Honors | 3 Hours

The specific goal of this course is to invite students to appreciate (English) linguistic diversity: how this diversity comes about, its social and cultural production; what social functions do diverse linguistic forms enable; and to what extent do innovations in English language use reflect linguistic and literary creativity and expressions of solidarity and identity. This course is organized as a seminar, where readings of texts and audio-video clips will be used as starting points for discussions and interpretations of various issues introduced through the course of the semester. Furthermore, some classic works will be selected and each student will have the opportunity to pick one of them, deeply analyze it, and present the analysis to the class. The class then discusses and critiques the information presented. Finally, students will be required to write 4 response papers, one for each section (II-V), that together will highlight the value of cross-cultural study of language (English) in the understanding of the total range of human experience.

*This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Humanities & the Arts: Literature and the Arts, Cultural Studies : Non-Western .

Instructor:  Rakesh M. Bhatt is a Professor of Linguistics specializing in sociolinguistics of language contact, in particular, issues of migration, minorities and multilingualism, code-switching, language ideology, and world Englishes. The empirical focus of his work has been on South Asian languages; particularly, Kashmiri, Hindi, and Indian English. His study, Verb Movement and the Syntax of Kashmiri (1999, Kluwer Academic Press), was published in the series, Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. He has also co-authored another book, World Englishes (2008, Cambridge University Press). He is the author of essays in the Journal of Sociolinguistics, Annual Review of Anthropology, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Lingua, World Englishes, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Second Language Research, English Language and Linguistics and other venues. He is working on a book-length manuscript, under contract with Cambridge University Press, on the sociolinguistic patterns of subordination of Kashmiri language in Diaspora.

MATH 199 CHP: Conversations in Mathematics

Prof. alexander yong.

46559 | MWF | 2:00-2:50 p.m. | 164 Noyes Laboratory | 3 Hours

This course is for those who wish to experience mathematics through experimentation, reflection, intuition, and conversation. We will explore a number of provocative, interesting, and important ideas from the canon of mathematics. The goal of this course is to offer the student memorable, lifelong topics of conversations about math. Assessment will be through evaluation of student journal entries.

A number of different mathematical topics which are of broad interest will be presented and the student will experiment with the concepts and write up a journal entry that will describe what they discovered. For example, one of the topics will be the Nobel Prize-winning “marriage algorithm” which is a process for pairing two groups of people according to their stated preferences among the other group such that the pairings are “stable.” The student will have a chance to try to discover the algorithm themselves, describe failures and mistakes, and also check the reasoning of the prize-winning algorithm.

* This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for Quantitative Reasoning I*

Instructor: Alexander Yong is Professor in the Department of Mathematics. He has won awards

for both teaching and research. His particular interests include combinatorics in relation to algebra, geometry, Lie theory, probability, algorithms, and other areas of mathematics. He has been on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent every academic year he has been at Illinois, going back to 2008. He hails from Toronto, Canada.

PSYC 144A: Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

Prof. chadly stern.

70435 | MWF | 3:00 – 3:50 p.m. | 11 Psych Bldg | 3 Hours

This course is intended for undergraduate students who are broadly interested in learning about behavioral science methods and questions related to inequality. This class will introduce students to the basics of utilizing behavioral science methods, methods ca be applied to understand factors that shape societal inequality. Throughout this course, students will have opportunities to experience the inner workings of behavioral science research process through gaining information about UIUC behavioral science laboratories, discussing measures of stereotyping and bias employed in the behavioral sciences and proposing how behavioral science can be used to address questions related to inequality. A particular focus will be given to research methods that span across multiple areas of inquiry in the behavioral sciences (e.g., social, psychology, organizational behavioral). Additionally, students will learn basic skills of how to read, analyze, and critique behavioral science research, as well as how to convey their ideas in written and oral formats and provide critical feedback on others’ ideas. In doing so, student will build critical thinking skills and gain competence in communicating their ideas to others.

* Campus has approved this course for General Education credit for US Cultural Studies: U.S. Minority Cultures and Social and Behavioral Sciences: Behavioral Science*

Instructor: Dr. Stern’s research broadly examines how belief systems and motivations guide the way that people perceive and interact with the world. One central line of work concerns how political belief systems (e.g., whether a person is liberal or conservative) shape the way in which people evaluate and categorize others based on group membership (e.g., race, sex, and sexual orientation). Another line of work examines consensus in political groups, and the implications of both perceived and actual attitude consensus for individual behavior (e.g., voting) and large-scale societal outcomes (e.g., levels of societal stability).

SOCW 425A: Queer Visibility

Prof. ryan wade.

75904 | TR | 3:30 – 4:50 p.m. | Online |3 Hours

This course examines a broad scope of key LGBTQ topics from a social science perspective, and addresses such themes as identity development, critical social movements, community characteristics, sub-cultures, public policy, resilience, and health disparities within queer communities. The course applies a social justice, sex-positive, and health promotion lens to the topics addressed. This course also explores issues related to intersectional identities (i.e., the overlap of multiple [often marginalized] group membership, such as race/ethnicity, gender identity, age, ability, sexual orientation, etc.) within this population. Students will learn the ways in which the helping professions (e.g., social work, public health, etc.) engage with the LGBTQ community using both research and practice, in order to promote the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ persons.

This course will meet online in Spring 2024.

* This course was petitioned and approved by all colleges for General Education credit for US Cultural Studies: U.S. Minority Cultures*

Instructor : Dr. Wade is Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. His research includes a broad focus on social determinants of health, structural and community-level racism, the racial patterning of sexual/social networks within LGBTQ+ communities, and health disparities among sexual and gender minorities. He is particularly interested in examining the ways in which stressors (e.g., discrimination, stigma, etc.) across multiple socioecological levels contribute to poor mental health outcomes among young sexual minority men of color. Much of his research is grounded in minority stress theory, intersectionality, and ecological systems theory.

THEA 110 CHP: Broadway Musicals

Prof. j.w. morissette.

74646 | TR | 3:30 – 4:50 p.m. | 4506 KCPA| 3 Hours

This course provides cultural context for the uniquely “American” Broadway musical through an introduction to the art form, an analysis of the pertinent time period, and historical and critical placement of the work as a reflection (and development) of the identity of the United States. The course introduces the collaborative artistry of the musical, surveys specific iconic works, and explores the socio-economic impacts of the Broadway musical.

* Campus has approved this course for General Education credit for Cultural Studies: Western Cultures and Humanities and the Arts: Literature and the Arts*

Instructor: J.W. Morrissette is Assistant Head of the Department of Theatre, where he has worked for 21 years. He has also served as the chair of the BFA Theatre Studies Program as well as the assistant program coordinator for Inner Voices Social Issues Theatre. He earned his BFA in Acting at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, and both his MFA in Acting and MA in Theatre History at the University of Illinois. J.W. has taught and directed for the past 17 years with the summer Theatre Department at Interlochen Center for the Arts, has directed and taught at Parkland College, and teaches acting, directing, and Introduction to Theatre Arts at Illinois. He has been integral in developing components for the online course offerings in the department, as well as supervising all senior Theatre Studies Thesis Projects.


University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Guide

Regular Decision Deadline: Jan 5

You Have: 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 2-3 essays of 150 words each

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why

The admissions committee at the University Illinois Urbana Champaign wants to know about your academic interests and career goals. The prompts change slightly depending on whether you’re hoping to attend with a declared major or not. Regardless, you should be prepared to write concisely and authentically about your plans and goals!

If You’re Applying to a Major:

Explain, in detail, an experience you’ve had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. this can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you’ve taken, or through something else. (150 words).

For this essay, d escribe an experience you’ve had that relates to your first-choice major. Admissions is literally asking you to speak about this experience in detail, so don’t hold back. Did you work on a science experiment that taught you about the basics of organic chemistry? Maybe you watched those crazy robotics videos online and thought, “Hmm, I should understand how those work so I can protect my future family when A.I. takes over in 2050.” (I mean, honestly, have they not watched Black Mirror ?!) Throughout high school, you’ve been exposed to so many different subjects, and admissions wants to know why this one in particular has caught your eye.

Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them. (150 words)

After explaining why your major is the right choice for you, look ahead five or ten years and imagine how it will catapult you into a fulfilling career—one that you may not have access to otherwise. Maybe when you were younger, you fell in love with stargazing and memorizing constellations and knew you wanted to be involved in a space-related field when you grew up—UIUC’s Astronomy program will help you get there! Build a bridge between your past and your future for admissions so they can see your commitment and demonstrated interest in this field.

If You’re Applying to Our Undeclared Program in the Division of General Studies:

What are your academic interests please include 2-3 majors you’re considering at illinois and why. (150 words).

There’s only one trick to generating a straightforward explanation of your academic interests: be honest. Since you probably don’t know what you want to major in or are in the process of paring down your list, don’t waste time trying to think of what admissions “wants” you to say! Choosing anything other than your true interests would be a misrepresentation of who you are and a disservice to you and the admissions office. To narrow your focus, try to tell a story with your choices. How can you use your life experiences to reveal something about what you value and what excites you intellectually? 

Try to illustrate a general inclination (e.g., journalism, English, and media/cinema studies go hand-in-hand). Or if you really feel like you could go any direction, try to show a balance, picking majors across fields that link to each other in a way that makes sense (e.g., mathematics, linguistics, and music composition all use special notations). Do whatever you can do to give admissions the full picture of who you are.

What are your future career or academic goals? You may include courses you took in high school and how these impacted your goals. (150 words)

Even if you’re undecided, it’s important to remember that UIUC seeks to invite movers and shakers to campus, students with big dreams and plans to make them happen. You don’t have to use this prompt to outline your 30-page plan for eliminating world hunger—in fact, with only 150 words to work with, we definitely advise against it! Think about the areas that pique your interest and where your curiosity originated. Was it a philosophy class you took junior year? Or, perhaps what spurred your interest wasn’t a class at all. Maybe you knew you wanted to be at the forefront of the fight against climate change and global warming after watching a poignant documentary with your family that hit close to home. How do you plan to contribute to this effort and how will your time at UIUC set you up for carbon neutral success? (Maybe their Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences major is a good place to start?) Whatever way you decide to answer this prompt, be sure to show admissions that you have an actionable, long-term goal in mind.

If You’ve Selected a Second-Choice Major (Including Undeclared):

You have selected a second-choice major. please explain your interest in that major or your overall academic or career goals. (150 words).

For this essay, admissions understands that you haven’t got it all figured out yet. And that’s okay! A lot of very successful people have leapt in and out of various disciplines or have even found common ground where they overlap (think philosophy and economics or agriculture and business). You’re allowed (encouraged, even!) to have many interests, and admissions wants to know where your strengths lie. 

Why does this secondary area of education appeal to you? What applications can you see blossoming from studying in this field? We recommend doing another dive into UIUC’s course offerings to show that this isn’t just an afterthought; additionally, feel free to share any previous experiences (in or out of the classroom) that have led you to this choice. Once you’ve succinctly demonstrated your interest, look to the future and explain how UIUC’s offerings will help you achieve your end-goals when it comes to your selected second-choice area of study.

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10 unique options to help you find where you belong..

One of the benefits of living in our residence halls is the opportunity to find where you belong. Our living-learning communities (LLC) connect you instantly to a group of peers with similar interests and help to optimize your Illinois experience.

How to Apply

In your Housing contract, you will indicate your preference to live in an LLC and complete the LLC essay.

Business LLC

Designed to serve you if you wish to pursue business as a field of study, seek to enhance their interest in business, or want to develop a foundational understanding of how business interacts with other fields.

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A community for you to explore your interests and abilities and how they translate into academic goals. Program staff include housing advisors as well as academic and career counselors to aid you in your career preparations.

Global Crossroads LLC

A community if you are interested in world events, planning a future that includes international work/service or want to learn from different cultures.

Designed specifically for James Scholars and Campus Honors Program students, this community offers special interdisciplinary courses, allowing you greater interaction with Honors faculty. Curricular and co-curricular aspects are designed around the LLC’s three pillars: Inquiry, Civic Engagement and Leadership.

Innovation LLC

This community welcomes you if you thrive on innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity. Innovation features The Garage, a dedicated workspace that you will use as you develop your new businesses and projects. On-site staff members are available to assist as you navigate the ample entrepreneurial and creative resources on campus and in the surrounding areas.

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A close-knit community where you can find deeper ways to talk about race and culture, more fully understand different life experiences and points of view and learn to live in a diverse community.

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The LEADS program fosters and supports your innate leadership in the community. Programming is focused on building self-development, communication skills, and group dynamics, as well as exploring service opportunities both on campus and in the local Champaign-Urbana community.

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Live and learn about diverse aspects of sustainability in a variety of ways: academically, organically and experientially. Come together with students – and professors - of different backgrounds to explore your interest in and commitment to sustainable living.

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Unit One is a living-learning community made up of all Allen Hall residents. The Unit One program provides you with a creative and intellectually stimulating atmosphere in a lively and engaging community.

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The WIMSE community provides a supportive environment if you are an undergraduate female student in a mathematics, science or engineering curriculum. WIMSE provides an active academic and social network designed to ease student transition to the university and facilitate student academic success.

54-unit apartment complex planned for vacant downtown Rockford hotel

uiuc honors essay

The Wisconsin development company responsible for converting the Ziock Building into the downtown Embassy Suites is planning to turn a former hotel into an apartment complex a few blocks away.

"We are slated to close on April 15 and start construction by May 1," said Ron Clewer, Illinois market president for Gorman & Co., speaking of the company's purchase of The Lafayette Hotel at 411 Mulberry St., in downtown Rockford.

When finished, the four-story building will boast a total of 54 residential units. There will be studio and one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors and three live-work spaces on the ground floor along Mulberry Street.

Clewer said the vacant bar that faces North Church Street will be turned into community space. The building will be a mixture of market-rate and affordable housing.

"It’s really an honor to restore this historic building," he said.

More: Illinois backs redevelopment of historic downtown Rockford theater

The Lafayette Hotel held its grand opening on June 2, 1927, and was initially used to house vaudevillian actors who performed in Rockford's theaters.

"There were some impressive people who stayed there over the years," Clewer said.

The Lafayette was recently owned by LeRoy Jones, who ran it with his wife, Lisa. The building was put up for sale after LeRoy died in 2019.

Jim Hagerty writes about business, growth and development and other news topics for the Rockford Register Star. Email him at [email protected].

2 Bettendorf employees receive state honors

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Clean up is set to continue at partially collapsed building in Clinton

A house in Galesburg is considered a total loss after a fire on Thursday.

Galesburg Fire: House should be demolished because of structural damage

Barkin’ Beans Coffee Co. is located at 1251 Avenue of the Cities.

Small business, dog-friendly coffee shop posts to Facebook to announce closure amid struggles

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Caitlin Clark wears her emotions on her sleeve

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Research and Honors, April 2024

  • Author By University Staff
  • March 29, 2024

Research and Honors is a monthly column of the Illinois State Report newsletter, celebrating recent Honors, Publications, and Presentations of faculty and staff.

Susan Chen , ECO, was selected as Second Vice President of the Midwest Economics Association (2024-2025).

Nobuko Adachi , ANT, was selected as a member of Japan Foundation American Advisory Committee, which recently met in New York with other notable Japanese studies scholars from the United States, Japan, Europe, and members of the Japanese government.

Linda Clemmons , HIS, received the Western Writers of America 2024 Spur Award for Best Western Biography for her book, Unrepentant Dakota Woman: Angelique Renville and the Struggle for Indigenous Identity, 1845-1876 .


Ali Riaz , POL, published Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2024: Another indictment of Bangladesh’s state of governance in The Daily Star , in March 2024, and a book titled, The Charade: Bangladesh’s 2024 Election , Publisher: Prothoma (Dhaka: Bangladesh).

Michael Hendricks , POL, Jordan Arellanes , PSY, and Chang Su-Russell , FCS, co-authored “ Cultivating a Collectivist Community on a College Campus for Latinx Students ,” in the Journal of Latinos and Education .

Michael Sublett , GEO, has self-published a referenced, illustrated, and indexed book titled, An Outstate Missouri Family Connects with Canada’s Capital: A Memoir of 1953 .


Dan Lannin, Dan Ispas , and Alex Ilie , PSY, delivered a presentation titled, “Are open-book online exams actually assessments or just gifts to students? An analysis of validity,” at the National Institute on the Psychology of Teaching in Bonita Springs, Fla., in January 2024.

Katie Jasper , HIS, presented a paper at the Medieval Academy of America meeting at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Kate Driscoll , ANT, presented a poster at the American Association of Biological Anthropologists (AABA) meetings in Los Angeles, Calif., in March.

For questions, please contact Valerie Welsh in Media Relations, [email protected] , or [email protected] .

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A Murderer in the Family

In his unsparing novel “Wolf at the Table,” Adam Rapp observes a household in denial about the dark force growing up in its midst.

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An illustration in subdued shades of brown, beige, aqua and yellow depicts what looks to be an old-fashioned family snapshot, with a mother, father and five children standing in front of their bucolic home, with the back of an old car half in the frame. One of the children, a young boy, stands out, as he is shaded in red and black.

By Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is the author of the novel “The Daughters of Erietown.” Her new children’s book is “Lola and the Troll.”

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It is not uncommon for novelists to deal with speculation about how much of their own lives makes its way into their fiction. The typical response is to deflect, with some version of how we are in all our books, and leave it at that.

Adam Rapp doesn’t play that game. In a two-page introduction provided to readers in advance copies of his new novel, “Wolf at the Table,” he wanted us to know a few things about his mother, Mary Lee Rapp, who died from cancer in 1997, at 55.

Fourteen years after her death, one of Rapp’s aunts gave him a shoe box of his mother’s belongings, in which he found her laminated nurse’s ID from Stateville Correctional, a maximum-security prison in Illinois.

Rapp grew up in nearby Joliet, and lived there when the serial killer John Wayne Gacy was arrested in 1978 and later convicted of the murders of 33 young men and boys. Rapp writes that his research led him to believe his mother was “likely the nurse who performed [Gacy’s] last physical before his execution ” at Stateville on May 9, 1994.

This discovery gave Rapp the idea for the novel. “I wanted to honor my mother’s life,” he writes, “and I wanted to examine how a seemingly normal family — a good, hardworking, lower-middle-class family — can be in relationship to this very scary part of America.”

Consider this fair warning: With the story of the fictional Larkin family, Rapp spares nothing in his attempt to explain what most of us want to believe is the inexplicable. For that reason, it is not a book for those weary of attempts to cast the monsters among us as merely misunderstood.

How does a boy from a seemingly normal family become a mass murderer? Rapp takes us there, step by step, from 1951 to 2010. Each chapter is from the perspective of a family member. Along the way, we get to know Ava and Donald Larkin and their children, Myra Lee, Joan, Alec, Fiona and Lexy.

The characters are predictable until they are not, the plot boring until we can barely keep up, as Rapp delivers a narrative that, even at its most shocking, is all too realistic.

Myra Lee, a fictional version of Rapp’s mother, is the oldest daughter and beating heart of this story. She is smart and capable, the emergency contact person for everyone. Except for a happy interlude in young adulthood, her life is relentlessly hard. Six years into her marriage, on a snowy night in April, her husband, Denny, abandons her and their son, Ronan, without so much as a goodbye.

Years later she tracks him down and finds out why he left, and it is Rapp’s style to leave readers feeling relieved that Denny bailed. After their brief visit, Myra imagines what it would be like if she, too, started a new life. “She could disappear, just as Denny did,” he writes. “She could start writing. Or take up watercolor painting. She could work in a used bookstore and speak with a strange accent. She could become promiscuous.”

She does none of these things, of course. Still, we cheer her on, perhaps in part because it offers a reprieve from the uneasiness her brother, Alec, inspires on virtually every page in which he appears.

“Myra feels Alec’s eyes on her like a pair of stag beetles boring into the back of her neck,” Rapp writes. “Vengeful. Judging her. She’s always wondered where his dark eyes came from. Their mother’s eyes are blue. Their father’s, gray. … But Alec’s eyes are so dark they’re almost black. It’s as if he came from somewhere else. Like they found him in a forest.”

This is 13-year-old Myra appraising 10-year-old Alec, who she believes “possesses a cruel streak that has yet to be fully realized.” At the time of this observation, they are standing outside a crime scene a few houses from their own, where the police have just discovered a family of three butchered in their sleep. This novel gets dark fast.

Year after year, family members — including the matriarch, Ava — pretend not to see what their hearts know to be true, as the increasingly troubled Alec becomes a cruel and dangerous man.

Ignoring alarming signs may sound indefensible, but Rapp — a prolific writer of plays ( “The Sound Inside” ), novels and young adult fiction, much of it dark — knows most families are more complicated than that. He trusts his readers to know that, too.

Never is Rapp more convincing than when he shows how, slowly and over time, the most devoutly Catholic members of this family shift from following a faith that tells them what to believe to corrupting it beyond recognition. “God might give you one good thing,” Myra declares toward the end of her too-short life, “but seems hellbent on blighting the rest of you.”

This is her belief, and the terms of her surrender.

WOLF AT THE TABLE | By Adam Rapp | Little, Brown | 464 pp. | $30

Explore More in Books

Want to know about the best books to read and the latest news start here..

James McBride’s novel sold a million copies, and he isn’t sure how he feels about that, as he considers the critical and commercial success  of “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store.”

How did gender become a scary word? Judith Butler, the theorist who got us talking about the subject , has answers.

You never know what’s going to go wrong in these graphic novels, where Circus tigers, giant spiders, shifting borders and motherhood all threaten to end life as we know it .

When the author Tommy Orange received an impassioned email from a teacher in the Bronx, he dropped everything to visit the students  who inspired it.

Do you want to be a better reader?   Here’s some helpful advice to show you how to get the most out of your literary endeavor .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .


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  1. Honors

    1. Campus Honors. Whatever college you choose, you have a chance to become a Chancellor's Scholar through our Campus Honors Program. Around 125 first-year students are chosen for this prestigious honor each year. 2. College Honors. Every college at UIUC has its own honors program. Students admitted to these programs are called James Scholars.

  2. Selection to the Campus Honors Program

    The Campus Honors Program primarily invites incoming freshmen to become Chancellor's Scholars. Current freshmen also have the opportunity to apply to the program immediately after their first semester. ... complete the offcycle application form if you are a current freshman and began attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in ...

  3. FAQ

    Approximately 125 freshmen are admitted to the Campus Honors Program (CHP) each year. Incoming freshmen do not need to apply; the UIUC Undergraduate Admissions application serves as the application to all honors programs on campus, including the CHP. ... University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 1205 West Oregon Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217 ...

  4. UIUC Supplemental Essays 2023-24

    He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). We examine the UIUC supplemental essays for 2022-23. The five UIUC essay prompts are accompanied by brainstorming/writing tips.

  5. How to Write the UIUC Essays 2022-2023

    How to Write the UIUC Essays 2022-2023. Located in the vast cornfields of east-central Illinois, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is widely renowned as one of the country's most influential public research universities. In fact, it has ranked first in National Science Foundation award funding for six consecutive years.

  6. Scholarships and Grants

    Merit Scholarships. Thanks to the campus commitment to excellence, the Campus Honors Program (CHP) awards Chancellor's Scholars $1,000 per year, split into $500 of support each semester, for up to eight semesters, with the following requirements and restrictions: Students must be in good academic standing with the CHP.

  7. How to Write the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Essays 2020

    UIUC was one of the founding members of the Big Ten Conference, a tradition that has remained strong, as evidenced by its 21 NCAA teams. When it comes to the student body, UIUC's average ACT scores range from 27-33, while average SAT scores range from 1280-1490. With an acceptance rate of about 60%, UIUC is a fairly selective school.

  8. Admissions Information

    The UIUC Undergraduate Admissions Application Form serves as your application to all campus-level honors programs. Please complete the Campus Honors Program Supplemental Application Form only if you would like to provide additional information to the Campus Honors Program beyond what is provided on the UIUC Undergraduate Admissions Application.

  9. Frequently Asked Questions

    Access to the Honors House which includes an atmosphere conducive to study and relaxation, as well as free printing for CHP classwork What are the criteria for admission to CHP? Acceptance is based upon standardized test scores, high school class rank, grade-point average, leadership, extracurricular involvement and essays.

  10. How to Write the UIUC Essays 2023-2024

    Prompt 1 (Required): Explain, in detail, an experience you've had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you've taken, or through something else. (150 words) Prompt 2 (Required): Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC ...

  11. UIUC Essay Example: Analysis + Breakdown

    Breaking Down This UIUC Essay Example. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a metropolis among the corn crops, is home to 50,000 students, 92 majors, over 1200 student clubs, and innumerable opportunities. This twin city town has consistently been ranked one of the top ten best college towns because of its active nightlife, award ...

  12. Applying to College at UIUC: A Complete Guide

    Activities, Honors, & Distinctions. Finally, we'll ask you to provide a certain number of activities, honors, and distinctions. ... How to Write a College Application Essay, UIUC Essay Example, and UIUC Major-Specific Examples. We hope these help as you begin to work on yours! UIUC Admissions says: July 29, 2022 at 2:03 pm. Thanks for ...

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    Myllini Major-Specific Prompt #1. Explain, in detail, an experience you've had in the past 3 to 4 years related to your first-choice major. This can be an experience from an extracurricular activity, in a class you've taken, or through something else. Here's your chance to show your passion for your first-choice major!

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    3. Be concise. You might think you need to use a lot of words to say what you need to say (just ask John Mayer), but often less is really more. Too many words can confuse the reader and actually detract from the point of your essay. A good way to ensure you're being concise is to put your paper through a hardcore spring cleaning.

  15. UIUC College Essay Example Prompts

    For your application, you only need to choose one prompt to complete (along with two major-specific responses). Your essay should be between 250 and 650 words. In this blog, we've provided an example response for one of our college essay prompts. The concept we wrote about may seem a little silly, but we hope this example gives you an idea of ...

  16. How to Write the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Supplemental

    Here's another great UIUC-specific essay (again, for when UIUC's prompts had a longer word count). Example: Perhaps the academic opportunity I've valued most at Phillips Academy has been Astronomy, especially spending evenings this past fall in the Science Center's Observatory and using the Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector telescope.

  17. Apply Like a Pro to UIUC: Examples of Major-Specific College

    (2) The following 2 questions look like optional but I want to write an essay for #1. I do not think I am relevant to #2 though (I have a good GPA and no drop record) so I am wondering if it is ok to enter briefly like: Not Available (for the #2 below) 2 UIUC Questions on Common App: #1. Academic Challenges

  18. Writing Prompts for First-Year Applicants

    Essay Prompts. You'll also answer one essay prompt as part of your application. Prompts are the same whether you apply through myIllini or the Common App. Select and answer the prompt of your choice from the full list found on the Common App website. Your essay response can be anywhere from 250 to 650 words total.

  19. How to Write the University of Illinois at Chicago Essays 2023-2024

    How to Approach the Essay. Now that you've had a chance to think about potential topics, it is important to understand how to actually write the essay. You can do this in three steps: 1. Describe The Situation. Set the scene for the reader by discussing the academic or personal growth challenge that you've faced.

  20. Spring 2024 Honors Courses

    CRN 67522 | TR | 11:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. | 301 Arch Bldg | 3 Hours. In this lab/discussion course, students will learn about the basic principles of the use of natural light (daylighting) and how daylight impacts visual comfort and building occupants' health and well-being. We will use the building occupants as the primary focus in this ...

  21. 2023-24 U of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Supplemental Essay Guide

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  22. Living-Learning Communities

    Honors LLC. Designed specifically for James Scholars and Campus Honors Program students, this community offers special interdisciplinary courses, allowing you greater interaction with Honors faculty. Curricular and co-curricular aspects are designed around the LLC's three pillars: Inquiry, Civic Engagement and Leadership. Innovation LLC

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