Writing Prompts for First-Year Applicants

Following are our writing prompts for first-year students applying for fall 2022 admission.

Short Answers

You'll answer two to three short-answer 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 short-answer response should be no more than 150 words.

If You're Applying to a Major:

  1. In the past 3 to 4 years, what experience(s) have you had (inside or outside of the classroom) related to your selected first-choice major or academic interest?
  2. How does your selected first-choice major relate to your future career goals?

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

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

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

  1. Please explain your interest in your second-choice major or your overall academic or career goals.
high school student writing their essay


You'll also answer one essay prompt as part of your application. Your options will depend on which application you use to apply. Essays can be anywhere from 250 to 650 words total.

If You're Applying Through myIllini:

Select and answer one prompt of your choice from the following list:

  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. 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?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

If You're Applying Through Coalition:

Select and answer the Coalition prompt of your choice. You can view the full list on their website.

If You're Applying Through the Common App:

Select and answer the Common App prompt of your choice. You can view the full list on their website.