With a 100 words maximum, concision is going to be your friend. There’s not enough space for a full-blown introduction, so it’s best to just dive right in. You will likely want to structure this as two miniature paragraphs — one about your high school endeavors, the other about your plans for UIUC.
Regarding the specific word count breakdown, you will likely want to spend more time discussing your high school experience. This is perfectly fine, especially if you have a lot to touch on.
When you talk about making a difference in high school, don’t exclusively discuss organizations or officer positions, but instead focus on specific actions you engaged in. It’s okay to lead into it with something like “As class president, I…” but your specific duties are the primary focus of this section.
Here are some good examples:
- “I fundraised over $3,000 to end world hunger.”
- “I mentored special needs students after school.”
- “I organized a group to protest a school policy that would’ve cut arts funding.”
- “I tutored middle schoolers in math and science.”
- “I started an initiative dedicated to giving people anonymous compliments.”
You might need to offer a short explanation (no more than a sentence) for more obscure undertakings, but most of your actions should speak for themselves.
As for the section on contributing to life at UIUC, you might spend more time discussing this if you weren’t as heavily involved in community service during high school. If you plan on pursuing something similar at UIUC, now is a great opportunity to express that. For instance, if you started an initiative giving people anonymous compliments, you could briefly discuss your goal of alleviating stress on campus by simply spreading joy to your peers. Ideally, your past experiences relate to you future goals, which lends itself to a nice transition between the two sections.
This part of the response is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of UIUC-specific programs. Do some research on their website about the different types of initiatives and service groups on campus.
Some Final Words
It’s already been mentioned, but it’s important enough to mention again: These are the only essays UIUC will see. That means you have a huge responsibility to be personable and unique while also demonstrating competent writing style and academic focus.
While we at CollegeVine sometimes encourage riskier supplemental essays, you should avoid that for UIUC. This is because you aren’t coupling these with your Common App essay, which tends to be more grounded and central to your identity.
Most importantly, make sure your essays are truly a reflection of you. Don’t try to use overly elevated language if that isn’t how you normally write. If you’re unsure whether your voice is coming across, ask a family member or friend to read over your essays; they often have invaluable advice.
Want help on your University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign essays? Learn about our College Apps Program and Essay Editing Program.
If you want us to quickly edit your college essay, submit it to our Rapid Review Program, and we’ll get it back to you quickly with comments from our expert team.
Plagiarism is the most common and most misunderstood form of violation.
Some examples include…
- Using direct quotes without quotation marks
- Misrepresenting the author’s ideas or main points
- Using someone else’s ideas without citing them as such
- Using another person to write, re-write, or edit your work
- Using one piece of work from one course for another course without instructor permission
- Failing to attach all group members’ names to an assignment
- Misquoting of sources
Using a direct quotation without quotation marks or a citation
- Example: Historian Jane Doe argues that most Americans believed the war would end quickly.
- In this example, the writer has not quoted or cited the historian’s words. Instead, consider this revision: Historian Jane Doe argues that, “most Americans believed the war would end quickly” (23).
Paraphrasing or changing an author’s words or style without citation
- Example: President Lincoln reminded the nation that 87 years ago the founding fathers created a new country, rooted in the concept of freedom for all men.
- In this example, the writer has changed President Lincoln’s words and they have not provided a citation. Instead, consider this revision: President Lincoln reminded the nation that 87 years ago the founding fathers created a new country, rooted in the concept of freedom for all men (Wikipedia). Or, you may simply provide the quote: President Lincoln reminded the nation that, “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” (Wikipedia).
Insufficiently acknowledging sources or providing a partial citation
- Example: An historian argues that, most Americans believed the war would end quickly.
- In this example, the writer has failed to provide the author’s name or where the quote is located. Instead, consider this revision: Historian Jane Doe argues that, “most Americans believed the war would end quickly” (23).
- This type of plagiarism also includes failure to list all references on a references or works cited page.
Using the pattern, structure or organization of an author’s argument or ideas without proper citation
Failing to cite sources for information considered non-common
- Example: Napoleon died when he was 51 years old.
- In this example, the writer has failed to provide a citation for Napoleon’s age at death, a fact that may not be common knowledge. Instead, consider this revision: Napoleon died when he was 51 years old (Wikipedia).
Determining what constitutes common knowledge may be difficult. For example, most Americans know that Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S., therefore, a citation is not necessary. If you are unsure what constitutes common knowledge, be safe and cite the source.
Using an essay from course for another without instructor permission
- Example: If you are re-taking a course and you use the final essay from the first course for the second without permission from your instructor, you are plagiarizing. If you submit the same essay to two separate professors (either in the same semester or at a later semester) without both professors’ approval, you are plagiarizing.
Failing to attach all group members’ names to a group project
- Example: If you are working on any group project or assignment and you leave even one group member’s name off the project or assignment when you hand it in to your instructor, you are plagiarizing.
Using someone else to heavily edit or re-write your essay
- Example: If you purchase an essay from the internet, a writer (including a TA or GA), or another student, you are plagiarizing.
- If you pay your roommate, friend, brother, sister, mom, TA/GA, or anyone else to write your paper, you are plagiarizing.
- If you ask someone to edit your essay or re-write you essay in a manner that drastically alters the essay, you are plagiarizing.