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People often ask for advice on their personal statement when applying to their desired major at University of Washington. I post my essay below to show students the personal statement I wrote for my application to the computer science and engineering department at UW.
When I was twelve years old, I fell in love with teaching myself musical instruments. Using the Internet, I was able to teach myself how to play guitar, piano, and drums; the hobby evolved into learning software that would allow me to take my craft to the next level. I spent hours on end producing hundreds of songs, making music videos, and continuing to educate myself via my computer. I began to see computers as a tool that allowed people to accomplish tasks efficiently. Learning to develop software would allow me to produce applications that people could use to enrich their lives—similar to how software has enriched mine. Throughout my personal and academic journey, I have learned to be adaptable, collaborative, and an effective communicator. Studying Computer Engineering at the University of Washington would allow me to build upon my strengths and develop the skills necessary to create, understand, and deploy meaningful software solutions.
I believe that being a computer engineer requires being adaptable to constantly changing environments. After high school, I moved out of my mom’s house in Atlanta to live on my own for the first time in New Orleans. There I met my girlfriend, a Seattle native, as she was finishing up college. After she graduated, we moved to Washington together where I went on to become the caretaker on her family’s farm. Moving to a farm required that I quickly learn how to care for goats, horses, and chickens, as well as muck stalls, build paddocks, and maintain pastures. I had to be able to adapt quickly in order to be successful in this new role. My time on the farm was an invaluable learning experience for understanding the importance of adaptability, and the experience allowed me to feel confident in my ability to succeed in new and ambiguous situations I may face in my future career.
I have also found that communication and teamwork skills are paramount in order to effectively solve problems and improve on inefficiencies. While I was attending Everett Community College, I was surprised when I found out the student fitness center lacked rowing machines. Being a rower myself, and recognizing the prevalence of rowers in Washington, I thought students could benefit from having access to indoor rowing machines. I took the initiative to team up with a member of student government to create a proposal that would argue for the purchase of the machines. We gave our presentation to the student council and received a nearly unanimous vote in favor of purchasing two indoor rowers for the college’s fitness center. Being able to work on teams and communicate ideas are indispensable skills for an engineer, and this experience deepened my understanding of their importance.
After moving to the city of Seattle, I transferred to Seattle Central where I took my first computer science class. I found myself going above and beyond on assignments. I was having a blast creating and turning my own design ideas into something tangible. To me, computer programming feels like the intersection of creative writing and logical reasoning. By programming a computer I am able to put an idea into action, putting pieces of a puzzle together until I can bring the idea to fruition. Furthermore, it is immensely satisfying to solve a difficult programming problem or to discover a more elegant solution. I see programming as an art, and everyday I strive to improve my craft by learning ways to write more efficient, robust, and intelligible code.
Being at the University of Washington will allow me to engage in a community of some of the brightest students and faculty in the field. Building relationships with passionate, like-minded individuals will play an integral role in my development as an engineer. During my time at the UW, I will emphasize my studies in systems development in order to learn how to think critically when developing software from the ground up. Further, the curriculum at UW offers a well-rounded set of requirements while still giving me the flexibility to explore all the topics I aim to learn as an undergrad. By Autumn 2018, I will have completed 90 credits of graduation requirements and will be fully prepared to enter the Computer Engineering major as a Junior. I am certain the UW would make a lasting impact on my life as an engineer and as an individual. My sincerest hope is to have the opportunity to maximize my strengths and reach my potential developing software people could use to enrich their lives for many years to come.
I recommend taking a lot of care when writing your personal statement. I did a complete rewrite before settling on the essay I used. I had people look over my essay and give me feedback. I listened to narrations of my essay using an online reader to get a sense of how sentences flowed. All of this may be overkill and your mileage may vary. Just make sure you convey to the reader that you really want to study in that major.