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Building Your Foster Application

With Foster applications fast approaching in the spring (and later again in the fall), ABSA held a WSA and Foster Applications workshop last Monday. With the help of Foster advisors Noe Valdovinos and Zach McKinlay, here are some general tips and tricks to create a strong application for the Foster School of Business!

Understand the Application Grading

When applying, the Foster admissions board looks at your WSA score, your pre-application GPA, and your overall, cumulative GPA. That said, each aspect is considered differently. When considering your application, here is how each aspect is weighed:

Application Breakdown

  • WSA: 35% of application (In past years, the average score floats around a 4)

  • Pre-application GPA: 25% of application (Average score floats around a 3.7-3.8 GPA)

  • Cumulative GPA: 40% of application (Average score floats around a 3.7 GPA)

Notice how the WSA and your cumulative GPA make up 75% of your application. Prioritize these before your pre-application GPA, and make sure to never do an entire quarter full of pre-app or pre-admission course work. Spread the prerequisite courses out leading up to your application. Take easy, low-commitment classes to balance out your workload when taking these pre-reqs!

Complete the Prerequisite Courses at Foster

While grades are important, many people take Foster’s lower division core classes (like ACCTG 215) at community colleges in order to get higher pre-application grades. While this can help with your GPA, these core classes will be taught differently than they are at Foster. As such, it is highly recommended to complete these lower division classes at Foster instead of a community college as it will help in the long run when taking Foster’s upper-level courses.

These lower-division classes can be extremely daunting (and sadly, yes they are meant to “weed-out” students from the business major). If you are having trouble with any of these pre-app and pre-admission courses, consider using Foster’s resource centers!

  • FIT - FIT, the Foster Instructional Tutoring Center, is a free resource for students of all majors. FIT focuses on tutoring students taking ACCTG 215, ACCTG 225, MGMT 200, and QMETH 201.

  • CLUE - While not Foster-specific, CLUE is another UW tutoring center that focuses on helping undergraduates in many core classes across campus. If you are taking ECON 200 or ECON 201, consider dropping by. CLUE has ECON 200 focused tutoring sessions, but general ECON tutoring is also available.

  • Other resources--while not specific to pre-req courses--are definitely open so you can get the help and support you need. Try looking into:

Prepare for the WSA

A common mistake many applicants make is not prepping for the WSA. The WSA is an extremely important aspect to your application, and should never be left to be completed last-minute, or taken without any prior practice. While the WSA can be taken twice per year (once per application cycle), it costs $35 per exam. No matter how many times you take the WSA, Foster will only take the highest average score completed in one sitting, rather than a complete superscore like the SAT.

The WSA is a hand-written exam taken on only 3 sheets of paper, and no dictionaries or calculators are allowed. Applicants must register for the WSA at least 3 days prior to the exam, and the overall WSA score is an average between the two essays you write. Each essay, the persuasion paper and position paper, is scored out of 6 points. All these considered, let's move onto the essays themselves:

The Persuasion Essay

The persuasion task asks you to persuade the reader to take an action based on a workplace scenario. Your essay should:

  • Interpret the dilemma presented in the scenario

  • Analyze numeric and verbal data from the prompt to back your recommended action

  • Properly address the audience stated in the prompt

The persuasion essay focuses on your ability to use and comprehend the evidence given inside the prompt. Additional outside data can be used, but focus on the scenario at hand.

The Position Essay

The position task is much more open-ended and asks you to explain and defend your position on a given statement. Your essay should:

  • Assert your position on one of the given statements

  • Demonstrate critical thinking using your own examples to defend your position

  • Address a general audience

For this essay, use as much outside evidence as you can

  • You are essentially persuading your audience but this time using your own viewpoints and experiences

(One big tip Zach suggested during our meeting was to start reading business articles in order to get a feel for how your essays should be structured. Poets and Quants is a great resource for this!)

While applications can be extremely stressful we hope these tips make your time building your application much more organized. As always, stay safe and healthy, and we hope to see you soon. (And good luck with finals! It’s a tough time out here!)


To see the full slides and resources presented during our workshop, please refer to these links:

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