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College Essays

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Did you think you were all done pouring out your blood, sweat, and tears in written form for your personal statement , only to be faced with the "why this college?" supplemental essay? This question might seem simple but is in fact a crucial and potentially tricky part of many college applications. What exactly is the "why us?" essay trying to understand about you? And how do you answer this question without falling into its many pitfalls or making any rookie mistakes?

In this article, I'll explain why colleges want you to be able to explain why you are applying. I'll also discuss how to generate and brainstorm topics for this question and how to make yourself sound sincere and committed. Finally, we'll go over some "why this school?" essay do s and don't s.

This article is pretty detailed, so here's a brief overview of what we'll be covering:

Why Do Colleges Want You to Write a "Why Us?" Essay?

Two types of "why this college" essay prompts, step 1: research the school, step 2: brainstorm potential essay topics, step 3: nail the execution, example of a great "why this college" essay.

College admissions officers have to read an incredible amount of student work to put together a winning class, so trust me when I say that everything they ask you to write is meaningful and important .

The purpose of the "why us?" essay goes two ways. On one hand, seeing how you answer this question gives admissions officers a sense of whether you know and value their school .

On the other hand, having to verbalize why you are applying gives you the chance to think about what you want to get out of your college experience  and whether your target schools fit your goals and aspirations.

What Colleges Get Out Of Reading Your "Why This College?" Essay

Colleges want to check three things when they read this essay.

First, they want to see that you have a sense of what makes this college different and special.

  • Do you know something about the school's mission, history, or values?
  • Have you thought about the school's specific approach to learning?
  • Are you comfortable with the school's traditions and the overall feel of student life here?

Second, they want proof that you will be a good fit for the school.

  • Where do your interests lie? Do they correspond to this school's strengths?
  • Is there something about you that meshes well with some aspect of the school?
  • How will you contribute to college life? How will you make your mark on campus?

And third, they want to see that this school will, in turn, be a good fit for you.

  • What do you want to get out of college? Will this college be able to provide that? Will this school contribute to your future success?
  • What will you take advantage of on campus (e.g., academic programs, volunteer or travel opportunities, internships, or student organizations)?
  • Will you succeed academically? Does this school provide the right rigor and pace for your ideal learning environment?

What You Get Out Of Writing Your "Why This College?" Essay

Throughout this process of articulating your answers to the questions above, you will also benefit in a couple of key ways:

It Lets You Build Excitement about the School

Finding specific programs and opportunities at schools you are already happy about will give you a grounded sense of direction for when you start school . At the same time, by describing what is great about schools that are low on your list, you'll likely boost your enthusiasm for these colleges and keep yourself from feeling that they're nothing more than lackluster fallbacks.

It Helps You Ensure That You're Making the Right Choice

Writing the "why us?" essay can act as a moment of clarity. It's possible that you won't be able to come up with any reasons for applying to a particular school. If further research fails to reveal any appealing characteristics that fit with your goals and interests, this school is likely not for you.

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At the end of your four years, you want to feel like this, so take your "Why This College?" essay to heart.

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The "why this college?" essay is best thought of as a back-and-forth between you and the college . This means that your essay will really be answering two separate, albeit related, questions:

  • "Why us?": This is where you explain what makes the school special in your eyes, what attracted you to it, and what you think you'll get out of your experience there.
  • "Why you?": This is the part where you talk about why you'll fit in at the school; what qualities, skills, talents, or abilities you'll contribute to student life; and how your future will be impacted by the school and its opportunities.

Colleges usually use one of these approaches to frame this essay , meaning that your essay will lean heavier toward whichever question is favored in the prompt. For example, if the prompt is all about "why us?" you'll want to put your main focus on praising the school. If the prompt instead is mostly configured as "why you?" you'll want to dwell at length on your fit and potential.

It's good to remember that these two prompts are simply two sides of the same coin. Your reasons for wanting to apply to a particular school can be made to fit either of these questions.

For instance, say you really want the chance to learn from the world-famous Professor X. A "why us?" essay might dwell on how amazing an opportunity studying with him would be for you, and how he anchors the Telepathy department.

Meanwhile, a "why you?" essay would point out that your own academic telepathy credentials and future career goals make you an ideal student to learn from Professor X, a renowned master of the field.

Next up, I'll show you some real-life examples of what these two different approaches to the same prompt look like.

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Clarifying why you want to study with a particular professor in a specific department can demonstrate to college admissions staff that you've done your research on the school.

"Why Us?" Prompts

  • Why [this college]?
  • Why are you interested in [this college]?
  • Why is [this college] a good choice for you?
  • What do you like best about [this college]?
  • Why do you want to attend [this college]?

Below are some examples of actual "why us?" college essay prompts:

  • Colorado College : "Describe how your personal experiences with a particular community make you a student who would benefit from Colorado College’s Block Plan."
  • Tufts University : " I am applying to Tufts because… "
  • Tulane University : "Describe why you are interested in joining the Tulane community. Consider your experiences, talents, and values to illustrate what you would contribute to the Tulane community if admitted." (via the Common App )
  • University of Michigan : "Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?"
  • Wellesley College : " When choosing a college, you are choosing an intellectual community and a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but it's a good place to start. Visit the Wellesley 100 and select two items that attract, inspire, or celebrate what you would bring to our community. Have fun! Use this opportunity to reflect personally on what items appeal to you most and why. "

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In a "why us?" essay, focus on the specific aspects of the school that appeal to you and how you will flourish because of those offerings.

"Why You?" Prompts

  • Why are you a good match or fit for us?
  • What are your interests, and how will you pursue them at [this college]?
  • What do you want to study, and how will that correspond to our program?
  • What or how will you contribute?
  • Why you at [this college]?
  • Why are you applying to [this college]?

Here are some examples of the "why you?" version of the college essay:

  • Babson College : " A defining element of the Babson experience is learning and thriving in an equitable and inclusive community with a wide range of perspectives and interests. Please share something about your background, lived experiences, or viewpoint(s) that speaks to how you will contribute to and learn from Babson's collaborative community. "
  • Bowdoin College : "Generations of students have found connection and meaning in Bowdoin's 'The Offer of the College.' ... Which line from the Offer resonates most with you? Optional: The Offer represents Bowdoin's values. Please reflect on the line you selected and how it has meaning to you." (via the Common App )

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In a "why you?" essay, focus on how your values, interests, and motivations align with the school's offerings and how you'll contribute to campus life.

No matter how the prompt is worded, this essay is a give-and-take of what you and the college have to offer each other. Your job is to quickly zoom in on your main points and use both precision and detail to sound sincere, excited, and authentic.

How do you effectively explain the benefits you see this particular school providing for you and the contributions you will bring to the table as a student there? And how can you do this best using the small amount of space that you have (usually just one to two paragraphs)?

In this section, we'll go through the process of writing the "Why This College?" essay, step-by-step. First, I'll talk about the prep work you'll need to do. Next, we'll go through how to brainstorm good topics (and touch on what topics to avoid). I'll give you some tips on transforming your ideas and research into an actual essay. Finally, I'll take apart an actual "why us?" essay to show you why and how it works.

Before you can write about a school, you'll need to know specific things that make it stand out and appeal to you and your interests . So where do you look for these? And how do you find the details that will speak to you? Here are some ways you can learn more about a school.

In-Person Campus Visits

If you're going on college tours , you've got the perfect opportunity to gather information about the school. Bring a notepad and write down the following:

  • Your tour guide's name
  • One to two funny, surprising, or enthusiastic things your guide said about the school
  • Any unusual features of the campus, such as buildings, sculptures, layout, history, or traditions

Try to also connect with students or faculty while you're there. If you visit a class, note which class it is and who teaches it. See whether you can briefly chat with a student (e.g., in the class you visit, around campus, or in a dining hall), and ask what they like most about the school or what has been most surprising about being there.

Don't forget to write down the answer! Trust me, you'll forget it otherwise—especially if you do this on multiple college visits.

Virtual Campus Visits

If you can't visit a campus in person, the next best thing is an online tour , either from the school's own website or from other websites, such as YOUniversityTV , CampusTours , or YouTube (search "[School Name] + tour").

You can also connect with students without visiting the campus in person . Some admissions websites list contact information for currently enrolled students you can email to ask one or two questions about what their experience of the school has been like.

Or if you know what department, sport, or activity you're interested in, you can ask the admissions office to put you in touch with a student who is involved with that particular interest.

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If you can't visit a campus in person, request a video chat with admissions staff, a current student, or a faculty member to get a better sense of specific topics you might write about in your essay.

Alumni Interview

If you have an interview , ask your interviewer questions about their experience at the school and about what going to that school has done for them since graduation. As always, take notes!

College Fairs

If you have a chance to go to a college fair where your ideal college has representatives, don't just attend and pick up a brochure. Instead, e ngage the representatives in conversation, and ask them about what they think makes the school unique .  Jot down notes on any interesting details they tell you.

The College's Own Materials

Colleges publish lots and lots of different admissions materials—and all of these will be useful for your research. Here are some suggestions for what you can use. (You should be able to find all of the following resources online.)

Brochures and Course Catalogs

Read the mission statement of the school; does its educational philosophy align with yours? You should also read through its catalogs. Are there any programs, classes, departments, or activities that seem tailor-made for you in some way?

Pro Tip: These interesting features you find should be unusual in some way or different from what other schools offer. For example, being fascinated with the English department isn't going to cut it unless you can discuss its unusual focus, its world-renowned professors, or the different way it structures the major that appeals to you specifically.

Alumni Magazine

Are any professors highlighted? Does their research speak to you or connect with a project you did in high school or for an extracurricular?

Sometimes alumni magazines will highlight a college's new focus or new expansion. Does the construction of a new engineering school relate to your intended major? There might also be some columns or letters written by alumni who talk about what going to this particular school has meant to them. What stands out about their experiences?

School or Campus Newspaper

Students write about the hot issues of the day, which means that the articles will be about the best and worst things on campus . It'll also give you insight into student life, opportunities that are available to students, activities you can do off campus, and so on.

The College's Social Media

Your ideal school is most likely on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, TikTok, and other social media. Follow the school to see what it's posting about.  Are there any exciting new campus developments? Professors in the news? Interesting events, clubs, or activities?

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The Internet

Wikipedia is a great resource for learning basic details about a college's history, traditions, and values. I also recommend looking for forums on College Confidential that specifically deal with the school you're researching.

Another option is to search on Google for interesting phrases, such as "What students really think about [School Name]" or "[School Name] student forum." This will help you get detailed points of view, comments about specific programs or courses, and insight into real student life.

So what should you do now that you've completed a bunch of research? Answer: use it to develop connection points between you and your dream school. These connections will be the skeleton of your "why this college?" essay.

Find the Gems in Your Research

You have on hand all kinds of information, from your own personal experiences on campus and your conversations with people affiliated with your ideal school to what you've learned from campus publications and tidbits gleaned from the web.

Now, it's time to sift through all of your notes to find the three to five things that really speak to you. Link what you've learned about the school to how you can plug into this school's life, approach, and environment. That way, no matter whether your school's prompt is more heavily focused on the "why us?" or "why you?" part of the give-and-take, you'll have an entry point into the essay.

But what should these three to five things be? What should you keep in mind when you're looking for the gem that will become your topic?

Here are some words of wisdom from Calvin Wise , director of recruitment and former associate director of admissions at Johns Hopkins University (emphasis mine):

" Focus on what makes us unique and why that interests you. Do your research, and articulate a multidimensional connection to the specific college or university. We do not want broad statements (the brick pathways and historic buildings are beautiful) or a rehash of the information on our website (College X offers a strong liberal arts curriculum). All institutions have similarities. We want you to talk about our differences. "

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Time to find that diamond, amethyst, opal, tourmaline, or amber in the rough.

Check Your Gems for Color and Clarity

When I say "check your gems," I mean make sure that each of the three to five things you've found is something your ideal school has that other schools don't have.

This something should be seen from your own perspective. The point isn't to generically praise the school but instead to go into detail about why it's so great for you that they have this thing.

This something you find should be meaningful to the school and specific to you. For example, if you focus on academics (e.g., courses, instructors, opportunities, or educational philosophy), find a way to link them either to your previous work or to your future aspirations.

This something should not be shallow and nonspecific. Want to live in a city? Every city has more than one college in it. Find a way to explain why this specific college in this specific city calls to you. Like pretty architecture? Many schools are beautiful, so dwell on why this particular place feels unlike any other. Like good weather, beach, skiing, or some other geographical attribute? There are many schools located near these places, and they know that people enjoy sunbathing. Either build a deeper connection or skip these as reasons.

Convert Your Gems into Essay Topics

Every "why this college?" essay is going to answer both the "why us?" and the "why you?" parts of the back-and-forth equation. But depending on which way your target school has worded its prompt, you'll lean more heavily on that part . This is why I'm going to split this brainstorming into two parts—to go with the "why us?" and "why you?" types of questions.

Of course, since they are both sides of the same coin, you can always easily flip each of these ideas around to have it work well for the other type of prompt . For example, a "why us?" essay might talk about how interesting the XYZ interdisciplinary project is and how it fits well with your senior project.

By contrast, a "why you?" essay would take the same idea but flip it to say that you've learned through your senior project how you deeply value an interdisciplinary approach to academics, making you a great fit for this school and its commitment to such work, as evidenced by project XYZ.

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Describing how project XYZ demonstrates your investment in a particular course of study that then happens to align with a specific program at the university is an effective approach to the "why you?" essay.

Possible "Why Us?" Topics

  • How a particular program of study, internship requirement, or volunteer connection will help further your specific career goals .
  • The school's interesting approach to your future major (if you know what that will be) or a major that combines several disciplines that appeal to you and fit with your current academic work and interests.
  • How the school handles financial aid and the infrastructure setup for low-income students and what that means for you in terms of opening doors.
  • A story about how you became interested in the school (if you learned about it in an interesting way). For example, did the institution host a high school contest you took part in? Did you attend an art exhibit or stage performance there that you enjoyed and that your own artistic work aligns with?
  • How you overcame an initial disinterest in the school (be sure to minimize this first negative impression). Did you do more research? Interact with someone on campus? Learn about the school's commitment to the community? Learn about interesting research being done there?
  • A positive interaction you had with current students, faculty, or staff, as long as this is more than just, "Everyone I met was really nice."
  • An experience you had while on a campus tour. Was there a super-passionate tour guide? Any information that surprised you? Did something happen to transform your idea about the school or campus life (in a good way)?
  • Interesting interdisciplinary work going on at the university and how that connects with your academic interests, career goals, or previous high school work.
  • The history of the school —but only if it's meaningful to you in some way. Has the school always been committed to fostering minority, first-generation, or immigrant students? Was it founded by someone you admire? Did it take an unpopular (but, to you, morally correct) stance at some crucial moment in history?
  • An amazing professor you can't wait to learn from. Is there a chemistry professor whose current research meshes with a science fair project you did? A professor who's a renowned scholar on your favorite literary or artistic period or genre? A professor whose book on economics finally made you understand the most recent financial crisis?
  • A class that sounds fascinating , especially if it's in a field you want to major in.
  • A facility or piece of equipment you can't wait to work in or with  and that doesn't exist in many other places. Is there a specialty library with rare medieval manuscripts? Is there an observatory?
  • A required curriculum that appeals to you because it provides a solid grounding in the classics, shakes up the traditional canon, connects all the students on campus in one intellectual project, or is taught in a unique way.

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If the school can boast a cutting-edge laboratory where you dream of conducting research, that would be a strong focus for a "Why Us?" essay.

Possible "Why You?" Topics

  • Do you want to continue a project you worked on in high school? Talk about how or where in the current course, club, and program offerings this work would fit in. Why will you be a good addition to the team?
  • Have you always been involved in a community service project that's already being done on campus? Write about integrating life on campus with events in the surrounding community.
  • Do you plan to keep performing in the arts, playing music, working on the newspaper, or engaging in something else you were seriously committed to in high school? Discuss how excited you are to join that existing organization.
  • Are you the perfect person to take advantage of an internship program (e.g., because you have already worked in this field, were exposed to it through your parents, or have completed academic work that gives you some experience with it)?
  • Are you the ideal candidate for a study abroad opportunity (e.g., because you can speak the language of the country, it's a place where you've worked or studied before, or your career goals are international in some respect)?
  • Are you a stand-out match for an undergraduate research project (e.g., because you'll major in this field, you've always wanted to work with this professor, or you want to pursue research as a career option)?
  • Is there something you were deeply involved with that doesn't currently exist on campus? Offer to start a club for it. And I mean a club; you aren't going to magically create a new academic department or even a new academic course, so don't try offering that. If you do write about this, make double (and even triple) sure that the school doesn't already have a club, course, or program for this interest.
  • What are some of the programs or activities you plan to get involved with on campus , and what unique qualities will you bring to them?
  • Make this a mini version of a personal statement you never wrote.  Use this essay as another chance to show a few more of the skills, talents, or passions that don't appear in your actual college essay. What's the runner-up interest that you didn't write about? What opportunity, program, or offering at the school lines up with it?

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One way to impress admissions staff in a "Why You?" essay is to discuss your fascination with a particular topic in a specific discipline, such as kinetic sculpture, and how you want to pursue that passion (e.g., as a studio art major).

Possible Topics for a College That's Not Your First Choice

  • If you're writing about a school you're not completely psyched about, one way to sidestep the issue is to focus on what getting this degree will do for you in the future . How do you see yourself changing existing systems, helping others, or otherwise succeeding?
  • Alternatively, discuss what the school values academically, socially, environmentally, or philosophically and how this connects with what you also care about . Does it have a vegan, organic, and cruelty-free cafeteria? A relationship with a local farm or garden? De-emphasized fraternity involvement? Strong commitment to environmental issues? Lots of opportunities to contribute to the community surrounding the school? Active inclusion and a sense of belonging for various underrepresented groups?
  • Try to find at least one or two features you're excited about for each of the schools on your list. If you can't think of a single reason why this would be a good place for you to go, maybe you shouldn't be applying there!

Topics to Avoid in Your Essay

  • Don't write about general characteristics, such as a school's location (or the weather in that location), reputation, or student body size. For example, anyone applying to the Webb Institute , which has just about 100 students , should by all means talk about having a preference for tiny, close-knit communities. By contrast, schools in sunny climates know that people enjoy good weather, but if you can't connect the outdoors with the college itself, think of something else to say.
  • Don't talk about your sports fandom. Saying, "I can see myself in crimson and white/blue and orange/[some color] and [some other color]" is both overused and not a persuasive reason for wanting to go to a particular college. After all, you could cheer for a team without going to the school! Unless you're an athlete, you're an aspiring mascot performer, or you have a truly one-of-a-kind story to tell about your link to the team, opt for a different track.
  • Don't copy descriptions from the college's website to tell admissions officers how great their institution is. They don't want to hear praise; they want to hear how you connect with their school. So if something on the college brochure speaks to you, explain why this specific detail matters to you and how your past experiences, academic work, extracurricular interests, or hobbies relate to that detail.
  • Don't use college rankings as a reason you want to go to a school. Of course prestige matters, but schools that are ranked right next to each other on the list are at about the same level of prestige. What makes you choose one over the other?
  • If you decide to write about a future major, don't just talk about what you want to study and why . Make sure that you also explain why you want to study this thing at this particular school . What do they do differently from other colleges?
  • Don't wax poetic about the school's pretty campus. "From the moment I stepped on your campus, I knew it was the place for me" is another cliché—and another way to say basically nothing about why you actually want to go to this particular school. Lots of schools are pretty, and many are pretty in the exact same way.

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Pop quiz: This pretty gothic building is on what college campus? Yes, that's right—it could be anywhere.

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When you've put together the ideas that will make up your answer to the "why us?" question, it's time to build them into a memorable essay. Here are some tips for doing that successfully:

  • Jump right in. The essay is short, so there's no need for an introduction or conclusion. Spend the first paragraph delving into your best one or two reasons for applying. Then, use the second paragraph to go into slightly less detail about reasons 2 (or 3) through 5.
  • To thine own self be true. Write in your own voice, and be sincere about what you're saying. Believe me—the reader can tell when you mean it and when you're just blathering!
  • Details, details, details. Show the school that you've done your research. Are there any classes, professors, clubs, or activities you're excited about at the school? Be specific (e.g., "I'm fascinated by the work Dr. Jenny Johnson has done with interactive sound installations").
  • If you plan on attending if admitted, say so. Colleges care about the numbers of acceptances deeply, so it might help to know you're a sure thing. But don't write this if you don't mean it!
  • Don't cut and paste the same essay for every school. At least once, you'll most likely forget to change the school name or some other telling detail. You also don't want to have too much vague, cookie-cutter reasoning, or else you'll start to sound bland and forgettable.

For more tips, check out our step-by-step essay-writing advice .

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Avoid cookie-cutter responses to "why this college?" essay prompts. Instead, provide an essay that's personalized to that particular institution.

At this point, it'll be helpful to take a look at a "why us?" essay that works and figure out what the author did to create a meaningful answer to this challenging question.

Here is a "Why Tufts?" essay from James Gregoire '19 for Tufts University :

It was on my official visit with the cross country team that I realized Tufts was the perfect school for me. Our topics of conversation ranged from Asian geography to efficient movement patterns, and everyone spoke enthusiastically about what they were involved in on campus. I really related with the guys I met, and I think they represent the passion that Tufts' students have. I can pursue my dream of being a successful entrepreneur by joining the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society, pursuing an Entrepreneurial Leadership minor, and taking part in an up-and-coming computer science program.

Here are some of the main reasons this essay is so effective:

  • Interaction with current students. James writes about hanging out with the cross-country team and sounds excited about meeting them.
  • "I'm a great fit." He uses the conversation with the cross-country team members to talk about his own good fit here ("I really related with the guys I met").
  • Why the school is special. James also uses the conversation as a way to show that he enjoys the variety of opportunities Tufts offers (their fun conversation covers Asian geography, movement patterns, and other things they "were involved with on campus").
  • Taking advantage of this specialness. James doesn't just list things Tufts offers but also explains which of them are of specific value to him. He's interested in being an entrepreneur, so the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society and the Entrepreneurial Leadership courses appeal to him.
  • Awareness of what the school is up to. Finally, James shows that he's aware of the latest Tufts developments when he mentions the new computer science program.

The Bottom Line: Writing a Great "Why This College?" Essay

  • Proof that you understand what makes this college different and special
  • Evidence that you'll be a good fit at this school
  • Evidence that this college will, in turn, be a good fit for you

The prompt may be phrased in one of two ways: "Why us?" or "Why you?" But these are sides of the same coin and will be addressed in your essay regardless of the prompt style.

Writing the perfect "why this school?" essay requires you to first research the specific qualities and characteristics of this school that appeal to you. You can find this information by doing any or all of the following:

  • Visiting campuses in person or virtually to interact with current students and faculty
  • Posing questions to your college interviewer or to representatives at college fairs
  • Reading the college's own materials , such as its brochures, official website, alumni magazine, campus newspaper, and social media
  • Looking at other websites that talk about the school

To find a topic to write about for your essay, find the three to five things that really speak to you about the school , and then link each of them to yourself, your interests, your goals, or your strengths.

Avoid using clichés that could be true for any school, such as architecture, geography, weather, or sports fandom. Instead, focus on the details that differentiate your intended school from all the others .

What's Next?

Are you also working on your personal statement? If you're using the Common App, check out our complete breakdown of the Common App prompts and learn how to pick the best prompt for you .

If you're applying to a University of California school, we've got an in-depth article on how to write effective UC personal statements .

And if you're submitting ApplyTexas applications, read our helpful guide on how to approach the many different ApplyTexas essay prompts .

Struggling with the college application process as a whole? Our expert guides teach you how to ask for recommendations , how to write about extracurriculars , and how to research colleges .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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How to Write the “Why This College” Essay (With an Example!)

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Varonika Ware is a content writer at Scholarships360. Varonika earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. During her time at LSU, she worked with the Center of Academic Success to create the weekly Success Sunday newsletter. Varonika also interned at the Louisiana Department of Insurance in the Public Affairs office with some of her graphics appearing in local news articles.

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Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Write the “Why This College” Essay (With an Example!)

Applying to college is a big decision that brings a lot of excitement and stress. This is especially true when it comes to answering the “why this college” prompt asked by so many colleges. However daunting these prompts might seem, you got this. Keep reading to learn tips and tricks to write your “why this college” essay, and take a look at an example essay!

“Why this college?” essay prompts 

The “Why this college?” essay is probably one of the most common essays you’ll come across during your application process. This is partially because admissions committees want students that’re as interested and passionate about their institution. Some popular colleges that offer “why this college?” prompts include:

  • Columbia University : “Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (150 words or fewer)
  • Duke University : “What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you? If there is something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well. (max. 250 words)”
  • University of Michigan : “Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?” (Minimum: 100 words/Maximum: 550 words)

As you can see, all three of the prompts are a variation of the basic “why this college” question. Let’s take a look at a sample response essay written for Columbia University. 

“Why this college?” sample essay

Dear Columbia University, 

This is probably the hundredth essay you’ve read in the sea of applicants, and as you’re likely expecting, I could tell you that I’m different from them all. Though in some ways, I’m the same. Like them, I want to stand on the corner of Broadway and 116th St. and know I chose the perfect school to study literary arts with a focus on fiction writing. 

Even more so, I strive to be one of the Columbia Greats that inspired me to pick up a pen. Though, you shouldn’t want me because I might be the next Allen Ginsberg, but because I plan on being a writer that captures the virtue found in the rye of J.D. Salinger, the watchful gaze of Zora Neale Hurston, and the freshness of my own style. Amongst your walls and tutelage, these literary greats blossomed, as I hope to.

Applicant Name

Why this essay works:

  • Starts with a compelling statement to interest the audience
  • Answers the “why this college?” question by discussing notable alumni and the arts program
  • Uses a unique approach to the prompt question that reflects interest in the major of choice
  • Explains why the admissions committee should choose this applicant
  • Stays within the word count limit

Also see: How to respond to this year’s Common App essay prompts

Mistakes to avoid when writing a “why this college” essay

Generalizing.

When writing any essay, generalizing usually isn’t the way to go. Readers want to get invested in the story or argument you’re presenting, and the admissions office is no different. Details are a key component of making your essay stand out. 

The admissions committee wants to get to know you and assess how you’ll fit into their institution. No two applicants are the same, and you should strive to prove that through your unique essay. 

Placating the admissions office

It can be easy to fall back on simply telling your college’s admissions committee what they want to hear. However, you shouldn’t just pull facts and figures from the website or quote the college’s brochure. Individualize your essay not only to capture the attention of your reader, but to display interest in your college of choice.

Anyone can put general information in their application, but it takes effort to explain why you want to attend a particular school, how admission would affect your life, and what the school has to gain from your attendance. Think of it as a persuasive essay where you have to back up your argument with details. 

Also see: An insider’s perspective into what goes on in college admissions offices

Tips for writing your essay

Find a connection.

Even before you start writing your essay, figure out the connection between you and your college of choice. 

Is there a particular professor you want to study under? Are you a legacy applicant? Is it the campus of your dreams? Are you excited for a particular program? 

Asking yourself questions like this can help pinpoint what’s motivating you to apply to a university and why they should admit you. Explaining your connection to your school of choice can show the admissions committee that you belong on their campus. 

It will strengthen your application and help you individualize your application. Create an interesting or anecdotal story out of your connection in order to set yourself apart.

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

Outline and edit

College essays usually range from around 200 – 500 words, which can go by much quicker than you might think. This is why it’s ideal to outline your essay once you’ve decided what to write about. It can be easy to get distracted by the little details, but emphasize the main points that are essential to the story you’re trying to tell the admissions office. 

It’s also a good idea to thoroughly read and edit your essay multiple times. You’ll want to submit the complete and final version of your essay, not something that reads like a rough draft. 

Remember, your parents, advisors, teachers, and peers can be helpful resources during revision. Feedback is an important aspect of the editing process.

Additional resources

Congratulations on starting your applications to college and working so diligently on them! Fortunately, Scholarships360 has even more resources to offer that can help propel your college journey in the right direction. 

  • Start choosing your major
  • Find the supplemental essay guide for your college
  • Learn what “demonstrated interest” means for your application

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Why This College Essay Sample

Why this college essay sample – introduction.

Not sure how to start a “why this college” essay? Looking for a why this college essay sample? You’re in luck. We’ve compiled a collection of standout why school essay examples from a variety of schools to help you prepare to write your own why this college essay.

Throughout the admissions process, you’ll likely write “why this college” essays for many schools on your list. These prompts ask you to cite specific reasons why you’d like to attend a given school. As you start writing these essays, it can be tough to know where to start.

In this guide, we’ve included a variety of “why school” essay examples. Our why school essay examples come from many different schools—ten, to be exact. We hope these essay examples can help you prepare to write your own why this college essay.

We’ll review a “why this college” essay sample from each of the following schools and explain what made it effective.

We’ll look at why school essay examples from:

  • University of Chicago
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Wake Forest University
  • Tufts University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Duke University
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • University of Florida
  • Lafayette College

What are examples of Why School essay prompts?

Before we take a look at our why this college essay examples, let’s start with the prompts. You’ll notice that our why this college essay examples have a lot in common. Namely, each why this college essay sample discusses specific details why a student belongs at a given school.

Still, you should note that each why this college essay sample is different. Each essay responds to their own why this college essay sample prompt. While these prompts have a lot in common, you’ll notice some key differences.

Essay prompts change

As you read our why college essay examples, you may notice that the prompts are slightly different from those below. That is because some schools change their prompts in different years.

At times, colleges will also eliminate prompts entirely. Certain schools, like Franklin & Marshall and Lewis & Clark , no longer require a why this college essay. However, we have still included why college essay examples for these schools. By reading these why this college essay samples, you can learn more about how to approach this type of prompt.

Now, let’s look at some prompts in the table of why this college essay examples below. 

As you can see from our why school essay examples prompts, not every prompt is as open-ended as “why this school.” So, compare each school’s why this college essay examples and prompt. Then, you’ll notice certain similarities and differences. You can apply this knowledge as you draft your own essays.

By reading through our “why college” essay examples, you’ll also familiarize yourself with the different prompts you might encounter. You can approach any prompt that references a school itself, either generally or specifically ( academics , curriculum, culture, etc.). You can see this in our why college essay examples prompts.

Different schools, different prompts

Some of the prompts are quite straightforward. They simply ask the question you’ll see answered in our why college essay examples: “Why this school?”

Other prompts, however, are a bit more leading. These might ask students about their chosen majors and how they align with a school’s values. They may also ask why a specific school will help them achieve their goals.

In all of our “why college” essay examples, you’ll notice that the prompts discuss each school by name. You’ll find questions like “why are you applying” and “how did you learn about us?” in these prompts. However, each of these boil down to the same essential question: why are you a good fit for our school?

Next, we’ll look at how our why college essay examples answer this question. But first, let’s take a look at a handful of schools and their essay prompts. This will help you understand how your why this college essay sample fits into your application strategy.

Which schools require a Why This College essay?

As you’ll see from our why school essay examples, many schools require a why this college essay sample. Our why this college essay examples include many schools, but this list isn’t exhaustive. So, do your own research to see if each school on your list requires a why this college essay.

The good news is many of our why school essay examples prompts are very similar. So, wherever you apply , our why college essay examples are great resources to reference as you write your own why school essay.

To get you started, here are some of the schools that require a why this college essay. You’ll find some why this college essay examples for these schools below. Others, you can check out in our school-specific essay guides :

Top Universities with a Why School Essay

  • Northwestern
  • American Unviersity

Why college essay examples for some of these schools didn’t make it into our list of college essays that worked. However, we still wanted to mention a few more schools that require a why this college essay.

More Why School Essay Examples Guides to Explore

Why northwestern.

Northwestern University has a two-part “why this college” essay sample prompt. They want to know what resources, opportunities, and/or communities you plan to engage with on campus. They also want to know how these offerings may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

Why Barnard

The why this college essay sample prompt for Barnard College is a little more open-ended. Similar to other schools, Barnard asks what factors led you to apply at Barnard. They also ask you to share why you think Barnard will be a good match for you.

Yale University’s why this college essay sample prompt is similar to Barnard’s: “What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?” This is your opportunity to get specific about why Yale excites you. It also lets you share what you hope to take advantage of on campus.

Why Dartmouth

Dartmouth College’s why this college essay sample prompt asks students “Why Dartmouth?”—a classic why school prompt. Similar to Northwestern’s prompt, Dartmouth’s specifically asks what aspects of their academic program, community, or campus environment attract you.

Brown University asks students to describe their academic interests and how they might use Brown’s Open Curriculum to pursue them. In this instance, since the curriculum is specific to Brown, you can think of this prompt in two parts. First, what do you want to study, and second, why do you want to study it at Brown? In this way, this essay is a why this college essay, so should also be our list.

Why This College Essay Examples

You can use our why school essay examples to help you begin to write your why school essays. Each of our college essays that worked was chosen because it is a strong and compelling “why this college” essay sample.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read a why this college essay sample, you’re in luck. Take some time to read some below from over ten schools. These include our UF supplemental essay examples, Tufts essays that worked, Georgia Tech essay examples, why Duke essay examples, and more.

Why this college essay sample #1- UChicago

The University of Chicago is well-known for its quirky supplemental essay requirements. Among those you can expect to find some kind of Why This College essay. Below is an example of how one student crafted their response.

Why UChicago Essay Examples

How does the university of chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to uchicago. (1-2 pages).

The best thing about the University of Chicago is its subtle inconspicuousness. The ivy leagues and big select schools all have a stereotype/reputation it holds in the public eye that is difficult to live up to. Go to Harvard? Oh, you must be the smartest person ever! Go to UC Berkeley, MIT?  You must be the greatest genius the world has ever seen. But when U Chicago is mentioned, most people find it difficult to generalize the institution as anything outside of “top university” or “prestigious school.” This is because while universities at the forefront of media attention are some of the best in the United States, such overexposure lends itself to negative connotations that cannot be escaped.

I myself knew little about U Chicago, but soon came to realize how great knowing little could actually be in the grand scheme of things.

Everything starts with the amazing education system U Chicago prides itself on. Core Curriculum allows for students to really engage in critical thinking with an expanded view of the world and how it works. Students at U Chicago are not there for the perceived prestige or bonus points you get from attending a top university, they’re there to learn, and not just learn for the final exam and forget. They are there to learn and continue to use their gained knowledge as they expound upon it throughout their journey through schooling and life.

In high school and in my time taking community college courses, I haven’t been exposed to these types of students. People take courses just to put a check mark on the list, and I have been doing the same because it’s what required and it’s all I’ve ever known. There was never an opportunity to take specialized courses and as a result, my classmates’ zeal for knowledge acquisition has never been awakened. Though I try to satisfy my curiosities through articles and books, there was never anyone to discuss it with in depth without one of us leaving frustrated.

Though I plan to major in a Neuroscience-related program as a pre-medical student, I want to be able to learn new languages, Norwegian mythology, the situation of public health; anything that has piqued my interests for multiple years but remained untouched due to circumstances. I like that U Chicago forbids students from taking courses solely for their major and requires them to spend a large portion of their time in the Core Curriculum in order to make this happen.

Instead of dealing with constant pressure from society, students at U Chicago are free to pursue their passions without fear of judgment or stereotype. With the focus on education where it belongs, the overall atmosphere at the institution is laid-back and does not add stress to the rigorous course load.

A secret utopia of sorts, U Chicago sets an invincible foundation that will exponentially increase the vitality of a person in any field of work or practice and I want to be a part of that.

Explaining why this essay worked

This is one of our Why UChicago essay examples and one of our first college essays that worked. In it, the author reflects on UChicago’s academic values and culture. This “why this college” essay sample highlights the type of student that thrives at UChicago. It also shows how this student’s values align with UChicago’s.

As you’ll see in our other why school essay examples, this writer mentions specific qualities about UChicago’s Core Curriculum. They foreground how it will allow them to pursue all of their academic interests. In doing so, this student makes a strong case for why they belong at UChicago.

If you want to read another why this college essay sample, check out our guide . There, you’ll find more UChicago why school essay examples.

Why this college essay sample #2 – Georgia Tech

The second why this college essay sample we are sharing is Why School essay from Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech only requires one supplemental essay and it is a Why This College essay. Let’s look at how one student responded to the prompt below.

Georgia Tech Essay Examples

Why do you want to study your chosen major at georgia tech, and what opportunities at georgia tech will prepare you in that field after graduation (300 words).

March 29, 2019. 11 AM EST. GT Shadow Day. I remember it all so clearly: Descending the red-brick steps of the Old Civil Engineering Building. My friend and I, chatting up a storm, our minds blown by our newfound perspectives. 

We had just walked out of ECON-4060: Money & Capital Markets. To say that it changed my life would be no exaggeration; within an hour, The professor had upended my perception of society and defined my future aspirations. 

We had been asked to consider a popular commodity, diamonds. Hardly rare, fast-decaying, and intrinsically worthless. So why do we buy them? The professor had then illuminated the factors in our economic behavior that cause us to gift a ring in marriage rather than something with real value, say a treasury bond. These realizations were enough to rock me back on my heels, for I had never before noticed the large degree to which our everyday economic decision-making is irrational.

Craving more than that one splendid hour, I knew where and what I wanted to study for the next four years. I saw myself strolling through Bobby Dodd Way, bumping into old friends as I made my way to Midtown Atlanta. I saw myself exploring the realm of economics, probing questions ranging from price formation to income disparity. I saw myself at a place that felt familiar enough to call “home,” learning in a way that felt genuine enough to call “discovery.”

Educating myself on the mechanics of economics is just a glimpse of my great desires. Through the senior research project, I seek the one-on-one guidance of faculty in yielding a publishable journal paper. Someday, with the support of the program’s alumni network, I plan to pursue career and internship opportunities in the great company headquarters of Atlanta.

Why did this Georgia Tech essay work?

This is one of our favorite Georgia Tech essay examples because the writer drops us into a story that defines their interest in attending Georgia Tech. This “why this college” essay sample has a delightful and passionate tone. It communicates the writer’s interest in economics, passion for learning, and desire to explore these ideas at Georgia Tech.

Once again specificity is key (something you’ll continue to see in our other why school essay examples). This writer mentions Bobby Dodd Way, which is a street on campus. They also discuss opportunities for a senior research project and the specific professor and class that inspired them.

Why this college essay sample #3 – Wake Forest

Our next college essay that worked is from Wake Forest University.

Why Wake Forest Essay Examples

How did you become interested in wake forest university and why are you applying (150 words) .

Each time I return to campus, I see a true fit between myself and Wake Forest. I will dedicate myself to furthering the university motto, pro humanitate, by actively working with the Volunteer Service Corps and continuing my community service of providing for the basic needs of others. In addition, I will engage in the world around me and pursue a minor in Spanish while studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain; since I am currently taking AP Spanish, the language and cultural immersion would advance my fluency and expand my exposure to other cultures. In the diverse and intellectual community of Wake Forest, I will continue to pursue my goals with natural curiosity while growing as a leader in the service of others. Wake Forest is the window into the endless possibilities of my future.

Why this Wake Forest essay worked

This why this college essay sample shows how to successfully and succinctly write a why this college essay. Just like in our longer why school essay examples, this writer combines values, academics, and specificity. In doing so, they show how Wake Forest will impact their continued growth and future goals.

College essays that worked #4 – Tufts

Why tufts essay examples, “why tufts” (150 words).

I fell in love with Tufts immediately upon entering the Granoff Music Center. Standing in the lofty, sunlit atrium, I imagined being there with my enormous ekantha-veena gathered in my arms. Catching sight of the World Music Room, the glistening Indonesian gamelan housed inside—I knew that both my instrument and I would feel right at home at Tufts.

After all, Tufts is the type of school that embraces women who play instruments twice their size and, moreover, actually listens to their music.

Tufts provides women like me ample space in the music center, as well as on ground-breaking research teams such as the Sandler International Research Program; or access to intimate classroom settings with faculty such as one key professor whose dissertations are lauded by the American Sociological Association.

Tufts is a place where both the young woman and her ekantha-veena, her music and her ideas, will be heard.

This why this college essay sample prompt from Tufts admissions is extremely simple. In fact, this essay is one of our Tufts essays that worked because of its simplicity. We imagine Tufts admissions gravitated towards this essay because it reveals the writer’s passion for music. It also highlights the type of research and culture they’d like to engage with at Tufts.

Check out Tufts admissions page for more why Tufts essay examples and advice on Tufts essays that worked.

Why this college essay sample #5- Lewis and Clark

Lewis & clark supplemental essay example, lewis & clark college is a private college with a public conscience and a global reach. we celebrate our strengths in collaborative scholarship, international engagement, environmental understanding and entrepreneurial thinking. as we evaluate applications, we look for students who understand what we offer and are eager to contribute to our community. in one paragraph, please tell us why you are interested in attending lewis & clark and how you will impact our campus..

For the last eighteen years, my dad has repeated the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” at least once a week, attempting to satisfy my unrelenting curiosity. In response, I’ve adopted the mantra “but knowledge brought him back.” At Lewis and Clark College, I seek to fulfill my intense interest about the workings of society by conducting sociology research on issues in urban areas under one professor at Lewis and Clark. This research will also support my plans to perform an independent study on the aspects of criminal justice in urban environments, as the unique tensions in cities often affect the role of criminal justice.

I’ve read countless books on America’s legal system and wish to use sociology to analyze the factors that influence how justice is carried out. My unwavering curiosity also extends to my adoration of architecture, so the chance to explore my fascination with urban design through a self-designed major at Lewis and Clark deeply excites me. I know that creating my own course of study will enable me to explore my curiosity about urban history and planning. Furthermore, the chance to double major will allow me to combine architecture and social perspective and explore the connections between my majors.

The freedom to study both sociology and urban architecture at Lewis and Clark will give me a distinctive perspective on the artistic and social issues that are present in Portland and other major cities. Another opportunity that excites me is the chance to study abroad in Seville, Spain.

I am particularly enthusiastic about the ability to use my sociology and architecture education to explore a unique geographical area. Classes such as Art History of Spain will supplement my concentration on urban architecture, while Contemporary Issues of Spain will allow me to study the sociological aspects of a different culture. I also plan to study Spanish in college, so living with a host family gives me the unique ability to practice Spanish around the clock.

I believe that studying abroad in Seville, Spain through Lewis and Clark will enable me to engage in many unforgettable learning experiences. Finally, Lewis and Clark is bursting with non-traditional learning opportunities outside of the classroom. I can’t wait to learn a new skill by joining the sailing team and debating moral theories with the philosophy club.

I believe that there is no better place for me to study sociology and architecture because Lewis and Clark’s emphasis on diversity and international study are values that align perfectly with my interests.

Exploring the strengths of this essay

The Lewis and Clark College acceptance rate is higher than that of some other top schools. Still, you can tell how much thought and care this writer put into their “why this college” essay sample. Since the Lewis and Clark College acceptance rate is 79% , you might think crafting a strong supplemental essay would be easy. However, you can tell the writer of this “why this college” essay sample took their time time. In their essay, they weave a clear and compelling story about their interests and how Lewis & Clark will allow them to pursue those interests.

No matter a school’s acceptance rate, whether it is lower or higher than the Lewis and Clark College acceptance rate, make sure you take the time with every essay you write to make it the best it can be.

Why this college essay sample #6 – Loyola Marymount

Loyola marymount essay example, please briefly state your reason for wishing to attend lmu and/or how you came to select your major. (500 words).

Whether I’m bustling through people in the Metro station, taking a leisurely stroll on the beach, or studying at my local cafe, I embrace the sights, sounds, and people of Los Angeles. Though I was born in New York, I am a true L.A. native: the sunset is my muse, and my dreams are ambitious (I want to cure cancer, win a Pulitzer-Prize, and walk the red carpet, simultaneously).

Even if I don’t accomplish all of these things, I am encouraged by the fact that they are all possibilities at LMU. With a unique fusion of academic excellence, strong communal identity, and a faith-based education, LMU would prepare me to be an innovative and compassionate leader in the real world.

Reflective of L.A.’s rich cultural diversity, LMU offers students a wide array of resources. For one thing, the student to teacher ratio is 10:1, which enhances learning by fostering personal relationships with professors and peers. Furthermore, it creates a collaborative group environment, something I consider integral to my education. Secondly, as someone who is passionate about both Chicano/Latino studies and Biology, I was excited to discover that with LMU’s major and minor policy, I would be able to study both, even if they are located in different colleges.

Ultimately, I want to become a doctor, possibly a neurologist, hence my desire to major in biology. With a broad course list–encompassing everything from Immunology to Animal Behavior– and intensive, faculty-mentored research, LMU’s biology program will enable me to pursue my passion for science. At the same time, I wish to apply my medical studies to serving a greater purpose.

This is why I’ve chosen to minor in Chicano Studies. I have always taken great pride in my ethnicity, so being able to examine the Latino identity through political, historical, and cultural lenses would enrich how I understand myself and the entire Latino/a community.

The final and most important reason why I want to attend LMU is its emphasis on serving the community and the world at large. Being a practicing Catholic myself, it is important to me that faith be integrated in my education, not only because it is a part of my own identity, but because it nurtures both spiritual and personal growth. At my current high school, I have encountered and conversed with students of different faiths, or even no faith, who fully embrace the spirit of community service that characterizes Christianity.

This is what I admire most about LMU; regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or religion, LMU embraces everyone and teaches students to do the same. In short, LMU would not only augment my love of service, it would propel me forward in my mission: to be a woman of great heart and right conscience for others.

With a higher word count, this is one of our longer why school essay examples. This writer likely captured the attention of Loyola Marymount admissions with their eloquence and ambition.

While there’s no one right way to impress Loyola Marymount admissions, showcasing the school’s unique programs will help show them why attending Loyola is vital to your future. This why this college essay sample touches on LMU’s faith-based curriculum, and biology and chicano studies programs, and why they are important to this writer.

Why this college essay sample #7 – Duke

Duke University is another school that asks students Why This College as part of their supplemental essay requirements. Take a look at the essay that worked below for some ideas about how to write your Why Duke essay.

Why Duke Essay Examples

What is your sense of duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you  if there’s something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well. (250 words).

At Duke University, I would get the opportunity to immerse myself in interests that I harbored but never had the opportunity to explore due to circumstances. With incredible resources from world-renowned professors, I would learn directly from the best in any subject, and be able to use this advantage to further myself in my future career plans and goals.

The quality of my education, though attributed to the institution, would be the most highly enriched from the students. Although from diverse backgrounds, all the students share the same thirst for knowledge and a drive to make a difference. With the focus on education where it belongs, the overall atmosphere at the institution is collaborative and does not add stress to the rigorous course load.

A secret utopia of sorts, Duke sets an invincible foundation that will exponentially increase the vitality of a person in any field of work or practice.

Why this essay worked

This is one of our favorite why Duke essay examples because it highlights the people this writer plans to learn from at Duke: their professors and their fellow students. Surprisingly, this is probably one of the least specific why school essay examples. However, this writer still successfully manages to capture their passion for learning and how excited they are to pursue these goals on Duke’s campus.

Want more why Duke essay examples and tips on how to approach this “why this college” essay sample prompt? Check out our Duke University Essay Guide .

Why this college essay sample #8 – University of Florida

Uf supplemental essay examples, the university of florida honors program is a “community of scholars” bound together by a shared interest in maximizing the undergraduate experience. why are you drawn to this type of community at uf, and how do you plan to contribute to it in and out of the classroom.

Anyone who’s ever played a high school sport can attest to the fact that every coach has his or her own catchphrase. For some coaches, it might be “always give 110%”. Others say, “You miss every shot you don’t take.”

My 10th grade basketball coach? His catchphrase was more like a repeated lecture. It would start off as “This team is made up of different personalities.” Pause. “80% of you are pulled either up or down by your teammates. 10% of you have negative energy and bring everyone down.” Pause and sigh. “And then there’s the last 10%. You guys are the ones who carry this team with positive energy. So what percent do you want to be tonight?”

His rhetorical questions seemed like another pep talk to the rest of my team but would always strike a chord within me. From that basketball season and on, I strived to be the 10% pulling everyone positively. 

My reformed attitude taught me many things. I learned how productive and influential a positive force on a team can be. I learned something about myself too: wherever I went to college, I wanted to be in a team-like environment. A close-knit group of scholars full of diverse perspectives, but all striving towards the same common goal: gaining knowledge. 

This is what I see in the UF Honors Program. The opportunity to be surrounded by like minded people. People who are all part of that 10% who pull you up. People who are genuinely interested in learning, research, and discussion. To be able to walk into a room with overlapping conversations about an intellectual topic like the current economic status of Dubai or the psychosocial issues in the United States is something I crave in my college experience.

Not only do I envision myself in a place like this, but I also see a platform which will give me great opportunities, beginning with peers who share the same academic drive as me and smaller class sizes, which result in profound discussions. I hope to be given an opportunity to walk onto this platform and show everyone just how high I can raise it.

Why this UF Honors Program essay worked

It’s important to note that a why this college essay sample is not necessarily a required portion of your UF application. You only need to submit a why this college essay with your UF application if you apply to the UF Honors Program.

However, we still included this “why this college” essay sample as part of our why school essay examples because this writer beautifully described the kind of student and community member they hope to be at UF. They highlight a personal story—a moment where they grew and learned a valuable lesson. Then, they combine it with what they hope to find in UF’s honors community. 

Why this college essay sample #9 – Franklin & Marshall

Franklin & marshall essays.

A Franklin and Marshall education is in line with my commitment to stimulate and chronicle a more just world through health, justice, and activism for marginalized people locally and internationally in a way that giving a check never could. 

I would be able to synthesize my fascination with medicine and people by seeking out experiences in biomedical research and patient care through the Quick Response Service organization as an EMT responder for the Lancaster community. Most importantly, I can investigate a breadth of topics to a much fuller extent than I can at any other institution.

With a Franklin and Marshall acceptance rate of 38% , this is considered a more selective school. However, the Franklin and Marshall acceptance rate should not affect your why this college essay. Also, as you craft your Franklin and Marshall application, note that the university no longer requires a Why School essay. Still, this essay provides a useful blueprint for other why school essay samples.

Rather than focusing on the Franklin and Marshall acceptance rate, you’ll want to review the supplemental essay requirements . Then, use the prompt to articulate the benefits of receiving an education from Franklin and Marshall. In order to gain acceptance to Franklin and Marshall, you should focus on what attending this particular college means to you.

Why this college essay sample #10- Lafayette College

Our final why this college essay sample, is from Lafayette College. A Why School essay is the cornerstone of Lafayette College’s supplemental essay requirements. Let’s take a look at an example from a student accepted to Lafayette.

Why Lafayette College Essay Examples

Students identify lafayette as an excellent fit for countless reasons. in your response, be deliberate and specific about your motivation for applying to lafayette. why do you see yourself at lafayette (200 words).

“If you were to be accepted to every college in the country, which one would you choose above all others?” An admissions officer prompted the room with this question early in my college search. Back then, I didn’t know the answer, but now it’s a obvious choice: Lafayette.

When I visited Lafayette, I’d already seen 15 colleges. However, when I toured campus, I instantly felt a difference in the school and the students themselves. Everyone looked truly happy to be there, especially considering the people I saw were remaining at school during break while their peers returned home.

When I looked around, I saw people I could imagine myself befriending and spending time with, something I struggled to find at other institutions. I later connected with my tour guide, who also happened to be a Civil Engineering major. I’m interested in pursuing an architecture minor, and she told me about a project in her Architectural Engineering class in which students design bus stops with features like charging stations or mini libraries. I appreciated that she took time to email me, and her genuine enthusiasm about her classes was infectious. With that email, I cemented my decision to apply.

There’s a difference between being busy and being engaged. Lafayette comes alive each day with the energy of students who are deeply engaged in their academic, co-curricular and extracurricular explorations.

Of all of our why school essay examples, this why this college essay sample discusses an actual experience the student had on campus. In truth, this is a great strategy. Using this topic, admissions gets to hear about how they connected with a student. They also learn how this student already sees themself as part of the student community.

Like many of our other why school essay examples, this writer follows a strong structure. They started with a personal story, sprinkled in specific and valuable details, and ended with a big-picture summary of “Why this school.”

How To Write A Why This College Essay

We’ve read some outstanding why school essay examples, including Why Duke essay examples, Tufts essays that worked, and more. Next, let’s talk about how to write your own why this college essay.

At times, you’ll find a “why this college” essay sample or two with a longer word count. However, most of our why school essay examples prompts have a smaller word limit. So, you generally need to be succinct when writing a why this college essay. For some students, this may mean writing your initial draft without worrying about the word count, then editing your draft down to the most important parts.

Do your research

Before you get into writing your why this college essay sample, we recommend getting to know more about the school you are applying to. One of the most important things you can do to prepare to write your why this college essay sample is to spend time researching specific aspects of the school that align with your candidate profile.

For example, let’s say you’re a student who wants to study engineering , you want a big school, and you’re also passionate about doing your own research. As you begin your college search , you’d want to look for schools that meet all of your needs. Once you have a list of potential schools , do some research into each school and their requirements. Watch webinars , read guides about meeting application requirements, like what is a good SAT score and test-optional colleges , and guides about approaching your college application essays . 

How to Start a Why This College Essay

Next, let’s go over how to start a “why this college” essay. The beginning of your essay is always the most important because it can draw your reader in and make them want to read more. We have tons of guides to help you through every step of the writing process. So, after reading through our why school essay examples, take a look at exercises to help determine a college essay topic and what admissions officers think of 3 common college essay topics.

Once you have a topic for your why this college essay sample, take a look at our 39 essay tips . These helpful tips are from our admissions experts. We also have a resource with tips on how to craft your college essay . Then, when you’re ready to start editing your essay, check out our advice on making your essays shine .

Use these examples to help brainstorm

We’ve reviewed a variety of why this college essay examples. By reading these examples, we hope you got some insight into how to write a why this college essay. These why school essay examples are college essays that worked. That is, they used specific details to show why an applicant was a perfect fit for a given school. Each why this college essay sample is slightly different—and every student is, too. So, use our why school essay examples as a jumping-off point.

We can’t include a why this college essay sample from every school in our college essays that worked roundup. But, keep reading to the end of the guide for more CollegeAdvisor.com resources full of why school essay examples. These resources include: why Northwestern essay examples and why Yale essay examples. They also include why NYU essay examples and a why Barnard essay example.

Other CollegeAdvisor Resources on Why This College Essays

If you’re looking for a why this college essay sample for a school we haven’t touched on, you’re in luck! We have “why school” essay examples for a ton of top schools that are sure to be on your college list. These why this college essay examples will be just as helpful as the ones we’ve already covered, like our Tufts essays that worked, Georgia Tech essay examples, and why Duke essay examples.

First, we have our why Northwestern essay examples. This guide offers two why Northwestern essay examples and a breakdown of what made each essay so impactful.

Why Northwestern Essay Examples

Then, check out our why Barnard essay example page. In addition to a why Barnard essay example, you can get some application tips. The article also covers information about Barnard’s acceptance rate and essay requirements.

Barnard Essay Examples

Next, stop by our Why Yale essay examples guide. The why Yale essay examples cover all three Yale supplemental essay requirements. These include the essays about your potential majors and a topic or idea that excites you.

Why Yale Essay Examples

Finally , read some Why NYU essay examples (and why they worked). Each of our why NYU essay examples is accompanied by feedback from an ex-admissions officer on why the essay worked.

NYU Essay Examples (And Why They Worked)

Why This College Essay Sample – Final Thoughts

After reading our why school essay examples, we hope you have a better sense of what a “why this college” essay sample should include. We also hope it can help you go about writing your own. While there is no perfect formula for writing your supplemental essays , don’t forget to take advantage of all of the resources available to you. 

If you’re nervous to begin writing your why this college essay sample, don’t worry! Each of our “why school” essay examples was written by a student just like you that managed to gain a college acceptance letter from their dream school. All it takes is time, patience, and dedication to making your college essays the best they can be. To find more examples of college essays that worked, check out our personal statement examples .

This essay guide was written by Stefanie Tedards. Looking for more admissions support? Click  here  to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. I n fact, d uring your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how  CollegeAdvisor.com  can support you in the college application process.

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“Why This College?” Essay Examples

May 17, 2024

As you apply for college, you’ll notice that there are several different essay writing genres you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. There’s the Common App Essay , of course, along with many specific supplemental essays like the Community Essay and the Diversity Essay that will be required by particular schools. In particular, there is the “Why This College?” Essay. The “Why This College?” Essay can be an important component in your college application, as it’s an opportunity for you to describe why you specifically would be a good fit for a particular school. It’s a popular requirement for many colleges and universities and in this article, we’re going to show you a few “Why This College?” Essay examples, and share some tips and tricks for how to write a “Why This College?” Essay.

As you peruse these examples and tips, remember that there’s no one perfect way to write a “Why This College?” Essay. Rather, there are important generic conventions you can work with and build upon to craft an essay that is unique to you as a specific college candidate. Think of a novel. You can expect a novel to have a title and chapters and contain a fictional story. At the same time, novels are written across a plethora of genres, have characters that are as different as Vladomir Harkonnen and Elizabeth Bennet, and can be short reads or thousands of pages long. It’s the same in this case. As you learn how to write a “Why This College?” Essay, you’ll see that some elements of the essay will be fixed, while others will be entirely up to you to create!

What Kind of Prompts Are There for the “Why This College?” Essay?

Many schools require some form of the “Why This College?” Essay for their supplemental application materials, and the prompts can be general or specific.  Take these extra general ones from Yale and Dartmouth , for instance:

  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?
  • In short, why Dartmouth?

These open-ended prompts can feel like both a blessing and a curse. Without particular guidelines, you might feel freer to describe your particular fit within a university and it might be easier to brainstorm about the content you’d like to highlight in this essay; however, beware of open prompts: they can make it tempting to veer into generality!

In other instances, the “Why This College?” Essay prompt will be specifically tailored for many schools, and this specificity can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Take, for instance, these two examples from Northwestern :

  • Community and belonging matter at Northwestern. Tell us about one or more communities, networks, or student groups you see yourself connecting with on campus.
  • Northwestern’s location is special: on the shore of Lake Michigan, steps from downtown Evanston, just a few miles from Chicago. What aspects of our location are most compelling to you, and why? [i]

“Why This College?” Essay Examples (Continued)

The positive side to specific prompts like these is that they’ve given potential applicants a couple of springboards to begin diving from as you write – you can immediately begin detailing your specific interests and likes about Northwestern that make you an ideal candidate for the school. A potential downside is that you’ll honestly need to do research here before you can even begin brainstorming about either of these questions authentically! Specific prompts may also mean that you’ll need to totally start from scratch with each “Why This College?” Essay (for these Northwestern prompts, you certainly couldn’t plug in a different “Why This College?” Essay where you’ve written about your dream of editing for the Harvard Crimson or your hope to network in nearby New York City!).

So, with prompts like these, how to even begin writing a “Why This College?” Essay? Check out our tips and “Why This College?” Essay examples next!

Also, check out our list of college application essay topics to avoid .

Tips on How to Write a “Why This College?” Essay

Regardless of the prompt, your response needs to be specific. This is possibly the most important thing to remember as you learn how to write a “Why This College?” Essay.

First and most importantly of all, focus on fit. Remember that this is your opportunity to showcase why you’re specifically a good match for a college – not why a college is a great general choice for anybody. Ultimately, this is an essay about your potential relationship with a school. If you were writing an epic love poem, you might obsess over your beloved’s hair, eyes, etc. – but obsession isn’t a relationship! On the other hand, if you were asking someone out, you might want to focus, instead, on why you’d have a great time together because it’s more persuasive (and that’s ultimately what you’re trying to do: persuade this school’s admissions committee that you belong there!).

Here are a few tips on specificity that we’ll review below as we analyze a few “Why This College?” Essay examples:

  • Before writing your “Why This College?” Essay, do your research on each school to which you’ll apply. This means finding particular programs of study you’ll pursue, looking up course titles you’d like to take and even professors you’d like to study under. It means researching clubs and extracurriculars you’ll partake in, internship programs you’ll apply for, and details about the school that will further your goals as a student there.

At the beginning of your “Why This College?” Essay, you can include a brief anecdote or bit of personal information that will make your essay stand out. As with any college application essay, this is an opportunity to brag about yourself! For instance, if you’re going to mention a particular club or extracurricular you’d like to join at a university, you can use this anecdote to briefly remind your reader that you were the president of that extracurricular at your high school (especially if that detail doesn’t appear elsewhere in your application materials). NOTE: Including a personal anecdote like this is sometimes dependent upon word length. For longer “Why This College?” Essays, it’s a great choice. For shorter ones, this hook may be a feature you’ll have to reduce or skip altogether.

Don’t linger on the general features of the school, or on school qualities that apply to everyone. Don’t focus on the school’s reputation, rankings, or student-to-professor ratios. The school knows this stuff already! Everybody paints the rock at Northwestern and paints the fence at Carnegie Mellon and these schools’ admissions counselors have read about these sorts of traditions approximately a billion times. Avoid general features and focus, rather, on detailed aspects of the school community that are particularly compelling to you .

Details about campus culture or school location are okay to write about, but remember that you’re not trying to be John Keats here. Don’t just talk about the beauty of the leaves changing in the fall or the way the palm trees sway on the school’s tropical campus. Rather, focus on what the school’s location can do for you as a scholar . Is there something particular about the school’s locale that can further your scholastic goals? Perhaps it’s situated in a region known for a particular area of study, with the best professors in the field nearby (e.g. Silicon Valley for computer science). Or maybe its setting can provide ample internship opportunities for a student with your major (e.g. Washington, D.C. for political science majors).

Edit for details. As you write your thousandth college application essay, it can be so tempting to simply copy-paste and go through the motions of writing unique drafts. While it’s okay to have a little carry-over between essays, it’s essential that you don’t have any major bloopers (like getting the school’s colors or motto wrong) in a “Why This College?” Essay.

Honesty is the best policy! It’s better to write something authentic to you than something you think the school wants to hear. After all, no matter how prestigious a school or program might be, if you can’t think of why you’d fit in there, you may want to reconsider whether a school is meant for you!

“Why This College?” Essay Examples

Below, we’ve included three fictional “Why This College Essay?” examples. The first two are good examples, along with commentary on what makes them strong and what these authors might improve upon to make them even better. The third essay is an exceptionally poor one, designed to help you see common pitfalls within this essay genre so you can think about how to avoid them yourself (or even how to correct mistakes you’ve already made in drafts!). Think of this third, poor essay as a way to test how well you’ve familiarized yourself within the genre.

Good “Why This College?” Essay Example 1:

As current Editor-in-Chief of my school magazine The Clarion , I’d like to pursue a Journalism major at the College of Northeastern Ohio, where I will deepen my experience in writing and design through classes such as “Reporting with Visual Journalism” and “International Writing.” Additionally, CNO’s Amanpour Journalism Project will give me hands-on experience as a journalist working in a newsroom. There, I’ll explore aspects of journalism such as digital storytelling and broadcasting, along with elective courses like “Feature Interviews” and “Documentary Television.”

My love for writing and communication stems from my multilingual upbringing. In high school, I explored Latin America on a study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic, where I relied on my Guatemalan heritage to further my Spanish-speaking skills. Through CNO’s International Language Studies program, I hope to attain a Spanish minor and explore Spanish-speaking countries in their study abroad program while immersing myself in international media.

With the interdisciplinary emphasis at CNO, I’ll additionally have the flexibility to study politics through a Political Science double major. I’ve written many articles on global communication for The Clarion , and I hope to further my writing on political communication with the Amanpour Project’s “Writing in Conflict Zones” class and other interdisciplinary classes with Professor Joan Walters. CNO’s robust communications offerings give me the opportunity to specifically study my interests in writing, politics, and Spanish simultaneously with the resources of multiple departments.

This essay does a great job of both showcasing the writer’s unique experiences and exploring how the college will specifically help her pursue her major and career goals. Additionally, the author has done a dynamite job researching particular classes and programs within the university that she’d like to take, listing several by name and course/program details.

How we might fix it up:

This essay primarily focuses on academics. Since academics are usually the most important reason why you’d want to attend a particular university, this definitely isn’t a major problem! However, the writer could potentially explore other extracurriculars or campus offerings that might make her a great fit for this university.

Good “Why This College?” Essay Example 2:

Data. From our politics to what we binge on Netflix, data collection and information systems have become part of the fabric of our lives. But when we think about sports, we don’t always think about numbers – and I want to do just that. The Massachusetts Institute of Stanford Mellon offers a top-ranked Data Science and Information Systems major, which will provide me with transferable skills that can be applied to my dream career path: sports marketing and data analytics.

I would like to go to a university where I can immediately participate in research. In high school, I created an algorithm that helps me predict how much fans will spend on team gear, based on their previous purchases and levels of engagement with games, betting, and online searching. The MISM Data and Numbers Lab allows undergraduates to access their databases and start conducting research right away (without having to wait until grad school!) and courses like “Analysis of Algorithms” and “Marketing and Numbers” provide the tools to conduct research on issues like sports marketing. At MISM, I hope to study with mentors like Professor Bill Jobs, whose work on information systems and regional spending might facilitate my own independent research. Additionally, MISM has alumni networks that facilitate internship and job placement in both Silicon Valley and with major sporting equipment stores like Rick’s Sporting Depot.

Finally, MISM offers a variety of extracurriculars that I would love to join, particularly the Little Pucks program, which provides community outreach to aspiring hockey players with physical disabilities. Since my sophomore year, I’ve volunteered at our local rec center, volunteering with kids who have special needs and helping them learn about and play sports. As I pursue a career in sports marketing and data analytics, I want to make a positive impact on companies and consumers alike. I’d love to live up to MISM’s motto: “Knowledge for service.”

Again, this writer does a fantastic job showcasing his own strengths and specifically demonstrating how this university has particular offerings (courses, labs, professors, extracurriculars, etc.) that will help him in his chosen major and career path. The generalities of this essay (like the school motto) are also used for a purpose: to illustrate how the writer hopes to use his education to give back to the community.

This is a great draft. To make it even better, we might consider how this essay focuses a lot on what the school can do for the writer. The writer might want to consider: how will I, in turn, contribute more to the campus community?

Poor “Why This College? Essay” Example:

When I took a campus visit at Princevard University last year, I was sure to stop at the Wishing Fountain in the middle of the quad. There, I threw in a penny and recited Princevard’s motto, “Veritas in vota” – “truth in wishes” and made my wish: that I will get accepted into Princevard this fall. I’ve known that I wanted to attend Princevard ever since I was a little boy and found out that my Great Uncle Howie graduated from there in 1965. At Princevard, I would study in their English program so that I could pursue my dream of becoming a novelist and a teacher when I graduate.

Ranked at #7 in the nation, Princevard’s reputation is another reason why I would like to attend; a degree from Princevard will open up doors to jobs and internships that many other schools could never open. Finally, I hope to join one of Princevard’s fraternities because the school offers more Greek organizations than any other university on the East Coast.

Well, it’s a start. If you’ve written a similar draft to this one, which breaks many of our “Why This College?” Essay writing rules, don’t despair! Instead, use this draft as a springboard for your next one.

How we might fix up this essay:

You’re probably familiar enough now with the genre conventions of the “Why This College?” Essay to think of a few reasons why this essay is a poor one. Now, let’s see how we can take even a poor first pass and turn it into a viable essay:

Our main goal with a draft like this is to turn all of this generality into an essay that specifically tells the school why this student would be a good fit there. Hint: avoid the sentiments about ranking and general location!

While this essay begins with a personal anecdote, it doesn’t tell us anything about this particular student. Instead, it focuses on a vague campus tradition. Remember that personal anecdotes serve as an opportunity to hook your reader and tell them something unique and positive about yourself.

There’s not much need to mention that a family member attended a university unless a) you are such a strong legacy there that your name is literally on a building (in which case, you should probably have a donating family member make a call on your behalf to the admissions department) or, b) your family history is somehow relevant to your future career and attendance at that school (e.g. your mother went to law school there and you want to become a lawyer and join her firm). If the latter, be sure you’re using this detail as a vehicle to demonstrate why this university is right for you.

While it’s great to talk about your major and career aspirations, be specific! Most schools have English departments so it’s not super useful to point this generality out. Writing that “Princevard University offers a unique dual English program with concentrations in both Creative Writing and Literary Theory, which would enable to me to pursue an ultimate graduate degree in literary and cultural studies while honing my craft as a novelist,” on the other hand, is a much more useful and detailed statement that demonstrates fit and brags a little about the applicant’s writing aspirations!

Similarly, many universities have Greek life organizations. If you’re going to mention an extracurricular, name which ones and why. Perhaps a particular Greek organization on this campus is affiliated with your major; maybe a chapter is politically motivated with a cause you’ve previously championed; maybe a fraternity is historically associated with your ethnicity or race and you’d love to take part in that community.

Closing Thoughts on the “Why This College?” Essay

As you write a “Why This College?” Essay, remember that this essay is perhaps the first conversation you’ll have about your relationship with a university – a relationship that, if you’re accepted, will be a formative one for the rest of your life. Good luck!

[i] “Completing Your Northwestern Application,” Application Materials: Undergraduate Admissions – Northwestern University, 2024. https://admissions.northwestern.edu/apply/requirements.html

  • College Essay

Jamie Smith

For the past decade, Jamie has taught writing and English literature at several universities, including Boston College, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Carnegie Mellon, where she currently teaches courses and conducts research on composition, public writing, and British literature.

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essay on why i want to go to a certain college

How to Write a “Why This College” Essay: Examples Included

Why this how-to college essay header image with Quad education logo

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

Worried about writing your “why this college” essay? Unsure of how to make it stand out? Read on to learn how to write a "why this college” essay that’s sure to impress the admissions committee!

With thousands of students applying for limited spots in competitive colleges, admissions committees want to know why you’ve chosen them and, by extension, why they should choose you! 

The name of this essay can be a little deceiving. While the admissions committee will want to know the specific reasons you want to attend their college, they will also expect your essay to reflect on how you would make a good fit in their community and why they should accept you into it over their other candidates!

Balancing both aspects can be difficult, but with the right guidance, you should be able to write a winning essay that will blow the judges away! 

How to Write a “Why This College” Essay: Step-By-Step

A person thinking

We’ve all been there, staring at a blank page with a mix of frustration and dread, hoping a masterpiece will somehow just appear out of thin air. And as we struggle to navigate the maze of words and ideas in our head that we just can’t articulate into words, an overwhelming sense of gloom creeps up.

The good news is it’s not all gloom and doom. You can conquer your writer’s block and turn those elusive thoughts into compelling words to write a stellar “why this college” essay by following these steps:

Step One: Do Your Research

This first step is self-explanatory. If you’re writing an essay explaining why you want to attend Harvard , you should know exactly what draws you to the school. 

This means going beyond recounting Harvard’s rankings and prestige and how it can open endless doors of opportunity for you. Dig deeper! Look further than the school’s homepage and reflect on what excites you most about the college you’re applying to.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What program are you applying to? What makes this program unique?
  • What courses are you looking forward to joining?
  • What makes this college different from the other colleges you’re applying to?
  • What is their campus culture like? 
  • What have they accomplished outside of their rankings?
  • What research efforts are they involved in that you would like to join?
  • What are their principles and values?
  • What is their mission?
  • What is their motto or mantra, and how does it resonate with you?
  • Do they have distinguished faculty you’re excited to learn from?

Not all “why this college” essay prompts will be the same; some will be more specific depending on the program you’re applying to. For instance, Cornell asks its aspiring engineering majors to concentrate on one or two aspects that draw them to the program.

Ensure you tailor the scope of your research based on the essay prompt.

Step Two: Reflect On Your Own Interests

As we stated, this essay will explain why you think the college you’re applying to is a right fit for you and how you’re a right fit for it. As such, you need to reflect on your interests and goals before you begin writing your essay. 

You’ll want to come up with genuine reasons that you’re interested in attending the college that reflect your personal interests. This will help ensure your essay is unique and shows off your personality!

Step Three: Make the Connections

Once you’ve researched the college and considered your own interests, you should be able to make connections between the two. See where your interests overlap with your college’s offerings. Find aspects of your college that truly resonate with your interests.

Perhaps you’re a passionate women’s rights activist and are excited by a couple of unique courses offered by your school's Women’s Studies department. Or, you enjoy being intellectually challenged and appreciate the rigor of your college’s programs. Whatever it may be, find these connections and use them to guide your essay.

Step Four: Keep It Simple

"Keep it simple"

Once you’ve found your connections, zone in on the few that stand out the most to you and can create the most compelling essay. You don’t want your essay to be a laundry list of all of the reasons you decided to apply to college. 

Realistically, even if you choose unique courses or faculty members to discuss, chances are there are at least a dozen other applicants who have had similar ideas. The part of your essay that will make you stand out is how you develop these interests and tie them to your own aspirations and passions!

As such, you’ll want to only choose a few interests to focus on so that you can thoroughly explain them.

Step Five: Highlight Your Fit

As you share your reasons for applying to the specific college, explain how you can contribute to its community and how you see yourself and others benefiting from what the college has to offer. 

You don’t have to make any promises about how you’ll be a stellar student, join dozens of school clubs, or make significant changes on the student council. Discuss how your skills, experiences, and values align with the college's values and how you plan on using their resources to benefit your field or others.

Step Six: Revise and Rework

Once you’ve completed your first draft of your “why this college” essay, you can take a breather. Give your eyes and brain a break, and then get ready to revise your work.

It will likely take several drafts, frustrating editing sessions, and even complete rewrites until you’re completely satisfied with your work. This is all part of the writing process and will ensure you confidently submit work you’re proud of! 

Step Seven: Get Feedback

Once you’re happy with your essay, ask someone to look it over before submission. They may catch awkward phrases, misused words, or areas that require further explanation. Sometimes, when you look at your own work for too long, it can be difficult to consider how your reader will receive your writing.

“Why Us” Essay Structure

It’s important to follow a solid essay structure when writing. Let’s take a closer look at what makes a good outline for a “Why This College” essay. 

How To Start A “Why Us” Essay

Learning how to begin your “why us” essay isn’t as hard as it seems! You’ll want to engage your readers from your first word, so begin your essay with an intriguing hook. Many students choose one experience that explains their motivation to pursue a particular passion. 

Then, they explain how the college they’re applying to will allow them to further develop this passion through its specific offerings. Here are some common hooks students use:

  • The description : The essay starts with a vivid description of what the reader saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and/or felt during the experience they’re centering their narrative around.
  • The climax : The essay starts in medias res at the climax of the experience they’ll share more context about later on.
  • The quote : This one can be tricky, as we don’t mean to quote Gandhi or another famous leader. We mean a quote said by you, someone close to you, or perhaps a character from your favorite book or TV show that isn’t generic.
  • The once upon a time : You can begin your essay as you would a story, explaining your anecdote from beginning to end in chronological order.

Any of these hooks will work, but ensure you seamlessly connect it back to what interests you about the college! Do not simply share an anecdote because it’ll catch the reader’s attention. Choose the experience you share wisely and ensure it is meaningful not only to you but also to the context of the “why us” essay.

What to Write in Body Paragraph(s)

Your body paragraphs should all relate back to the thesis of your essay, which is essentially the “point.” If you’re writing a “why this college” essay, your thesis statement should concisely summarize why you want to attend a certain college. Then, the rest of your essay will expand on that point. 

Here is where you can use the research you did earlier. Be specific about the aspects of the college that resonate with you. Remember to keep it concise--don’t just list reason after reason. Narrow your focus and tell one cohesive story with your essay. 

Also, pay close attention to the word count of your essay and don’t go over it. Make sure each word matters and carries weight. 

How To Finish a “Why Us” Essay

Since you want your readers to be hooked up until the last word, it’s essential you put equal effort into your conclusion as the rest of your essay. Do not overlook these final few sentences! Use your conclusion to leave a lasting impression on the admissions committee.

Talk about the lessons you learned through the experience you shared in your essay, circle back to your hook, address the college you’re applying to and recap your reasons for joining it, and highlight what’s next for you. 

Here are a few common endings for college essays: 

  • The full circle: This essay ties the ending back to the beginning in a simple, straightforward way. Avoid overexplaining or summarizing; simply recall how you began the story.
  • The lesson learned: You can use your conclusion to reflect on what your experiences have taught you and how you have grown and changed. This shows self-awareness, humility, and a desire to learn.
  • In-the-action: You can go out with a bang by ending your essay in a moment of action. This could be a piece of dialogue or an action sentence that leaves the reader intrigued about what may have happened next.

Remember to keep your conclusion energetic and impactful. Don’t re-state what you’ve already said. Instead, find a way to nod at the future and keep your reader engaged.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing “Why This College” Essays

A frustrated person

Now that we’ve gone over how to write a “why this college” essay, let’s go over what to avoid !

  • Being generic : Avoid using generic statements that could apply to any college. Instead, focus on specific aspects of the college that genuinely resonate with you and ensure you do your research. 
  • Being cliche : Do not use overused quotes or sayings in your essay, and do not make bold and vague claims such as “I want to change the world,” or “I want to revolutionize medicine;” have clear, specific, and attainable goals.
  • Not being authentic : Be genuine; avoid exaggerating or fabricating your interest in the college. Admissions officers can often sense insincerity, so remain true to yourself!
  • Focusing on prestige : While you can appreciate a college's reputation, avoid solely focusing on its prestige or ranking. Instead, highlight the specific qualities of the college that attract you and how they align with your aspirations.
  • Guilt tripping the committee : Do not share an anecdote about adversity you faced to evoke pity in your readers in hopes it will push them to accept you into their school—it won’t work and will call your sincerity into question.
  • Not editing your work : An otherwise excellent essay can be reduced to a mediocre one if it’s riddled with grammar mistakes or typos.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can craft a compelling "why this college" essay that showcases your genuine interest, research, and fit with the institution!

“Why This College” Essay Examples

Learning how to write a “why this college” essay step-by-step is certainly helpful and can get you started on the right foot, but seeing real “why this college” essay examples will enhance your understanding of what a great essay looks like!

Cornell “Why Us” Example Essay 1

“Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s “any person…any study” founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College.” (650 words)
"It was a warm and sunny summer day as I made my way across the bustling Thurston Avenue Bridge towards the Martin Y. Tang Welcome Center. I stopped for a moment to gaze at the nearby Triphammer Falls, and I heard the marching band as they walked past. Throughout my campus tour, I was impressed with all the opportunities the College of Arts & Sciences can offer, and I was stunned by Cornell’s beautiful campus. Overall, Cornell will provide me with the resources and opportunities to pursue my interest in science.
In recent years, I have heard of more bizarre weather events as a result of climate change and global warming, such as snowstorms in Texas, wildfires in California, and more severe hurricanes. I have always been invested in our planet and environment; observing these events, my interest has peaked with learning about several smaller issues that may contribute to climate change overall, as well as potential solutions or alternatives. For instance, I have recently become fascinated by the negative impact of carbon emissions from cars. Drawing from my previous experiences in other countries such as China and Italy, I have investigated alternate modes of transportation such as buses or high-speed rail, which could reduce the amount of cars on the road and therefore the amount of emissions per person.
However, while researching these topics, I have become aware that not everyone has equal access to these solutions or alternatives due to various factors and aspects of one’s life. For example, some areas may not have many developed alternatives to driving a car, and not everyone can afford access to cleaner energy sources or products made of more environmentally friendly materials. Additionally, some people may be restricted in living and housing options, whether due to circumstance or by policy, and these people could be more negatively affected by natural disasters that arise as a result of climate change. 
These issues are all extremely relevant today and I feel obligated to help find solutions to them in the future. To solve these environmental and social issues, I was not only drawn towards the natural sciences but also the humanities and social sciences. The College of Arts & Sciences’ commitment to a liberal arts education would allow me to explore all of my academic passions while taking part in interdisciplinary studies, gaining new perspectives from peers that have various academic interests and come from many different backgrounds, while learning how I can apply my knowledge to solve crucial problems. Courses in the Environment and Sustainability program such as ENVS 4443 Global Climate Science and Policy and ENVS 4444 Climate Smart Communities: State and Local Climate Change Science, could lend me the chance to learn and discuss many issues that are relevant at this moment, particularly climate change and global warming, as well as potential solutions to these problems.
Other than environmental science, I am also invested in several other science-related subjects such as physics and biology, allowing me to learn the fundamental concepts of how the world works. The College of Arts & Sciences’ Biological Physics program is particularly intriguing, as it offers interdisciplinary flexibility, allowing me to study physics and biology simultaneously while exploring possible ways to apply my newfound knowledge to solve environmental issues. Additionally, the college provides research opportunities around the nation and the world, and I could dive deeper into specific subjects by participating in research programs such as Professor Michelle Wang’s LASSP’s Single Molecule Biophysics Lab.
With additional interdisciplinary programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, I could gain knowledge on a variety of topics and then apply it to help others and the environment. The myriad of academic programs, resources, and opportunities that the Cornell College of Arts & Sciences offers would be a valuable component in my college pursuits."

Why It Works

This is an impressive “why us” essay for the following reasons:

  • The hook : From the beginning of the essay, readers are intrigued to learn more
  • Personal connection : The vivid and engaging description of the author’s surroundings and emotional response adds a personal touch and allows the reader to step into their shoes to connect with them better.
  • Demonstrates they did their research : The essay showcases the author's thorough research about the college and highlights specific academic programs, such as the Environment and Sustainability program and the Biological Physics program, to demonstrate their genuine interest in Cornell.
  • Keeps it simple : The author only chooses a few main interests to highlight but effectively expands on them to discuss their importance.
  • Demonstrated fit : The essay clearly articulates how the resources, research opportunities, and academic programs at the College of Arts & Sciences align with the student’s passions and goals. 
  • Commitment to making a difference : The essay highlights the author's commitment to addressing environmental and social issues and how they believe the College of Arts & Sciences can provide them with the knowledge and skills to contribute to finding solutions—an admiral aspiration that any college would value.

Overall, this essay effectively combines the student’s personal experiences, research, and demonstrated fit with the college's offerings to convey their enthusiasm and potential contributions to the academic community! 

Cornell “Why Us” Example Essay 2

Here’s a similar prompt that Cornell’s engineering majors must respond to:

“How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about.” (250 word limit)
"As the sun emerges from behind the mountains, my grandfather and I remain fixated on the onigiri atop the dining table. We aren’t engrossed in the onigiri, per se, but rather their wrappers–the canvas where we sketch gadget designs.
Grandpa inspires me to follow his footsteps by designing contraptions to benefit humanity. We both place a large emphasis on the importance of transportation to the environment’s well-being. His patent for a [PRODUCT] was the biggest project I’ve contributed to. Consequently, I aspire to work with Dr. Francis M. Vanek, whose research interests involve the environmental impact of transportation systems. I imagine working together on a shared passion, alternative energy-powered cars (and maybe even convincing my family to buy them in the process).
Cornell’s engineering program places a significant emphasis on building a conscious future. Understanding the intricacies of societies and the demands of global warming is a key component of becoming an environmental engineer. Professor Zinda’s Environmental Sociology course educates students to engineer solutions with an astute understanding of the communities involved, not just knowledge of principles. When reflecting on two communities I’ve experienced intimately–[COUNTRY] and [STATE]–I understand the nuanced scenarios brought upon by different environmental concerns. I always seek to be sensitive and aware in my approach to projects.
My grandfather’s humanitarian mindset defines my own engineering process. Learning from Cornell faculty with aligned ideologies would be a dream come true. At Cornell, I believe I can carry on my grandfather’s legacy with a holistic engineering viewpoint."

Right off the bat, there’s no denying this prompt is short but sweet. Despite only being 250 words, it hits the mark in multiple ways:

  • It tells a compelling personal story : The essay begins with an intriguing scene involving the applicant and their grandfather, which adds depth and emotional resonance to the essay to capture the reader’s attention.
  • It makes connections : The student clearly articulates their passion for alternative energy-powered cars and connects it to their interest in working with a specific professor, Dr. Francis M. Vanek, whose research aligns with these interests.
  • Effectively incorporates their research : The student highlights how Cornell's emphasis on building a conscious future and their interdisciplinary approach aligns with their own values and aspirations. Mentioning Professor Zinda's course also showcases their understanding of the program's curriculum.
  • Demonstrates global perspective : This student showcases their awareness of environmental concerns in different communities and their desire to approach engineering with sensitivity and a holistic viewpoint.
  • Shows their ambition : By emphasizing their desire to design environmentally-conscious transportation, this student portrays their maturity, critical thinking skills, and readiness to contribute meaningfully to the field.
  • Has a powerful ending : The student comes full circle to their grandfather's legacy and their desire to carry it on while also addressing Cornell’s role in this goal. This adds a personal element and reinforces the applicant's genuine passion for engineering and their commitment to making a positive impact. 

This is an excellent essay to use to draw inspiration to write your own persuasive narrative! You can write a similar one by thinking about whose legacy you want to carry on or who has had a similar, profound impact on your life and career path. 

Columbia “Why Us” Example Essay 1

" Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (200 words or fewer) "
"I tend to view the brain in the same way one would do any other muscle, and the fact that I choose to do so explains how I’ve recently gone about challenging myself intellectually. Simply put, I take my brain to the gym; I analyze its power through its capability to ‘lift’ (fully comprehend) intellectual weights of varying mass, and attempt to broaden the reach of its abilities by repeatedly pushing it just past its limits until it's capable of handling the load of even heavier weights. And, if the brain can be treated like a muscle, then it's only logical to view attending university as the process undertaken to make said muscle as strong as possible.
The desire I feel to brain-train with maximum intensity in higher education has led me to apply to Columbia – the academic equivalent of an Olympic-level gymnasium. How exactly I plan on using the resources such a ‘gym’ would offer is something I’ve spent months pondering: courses such as “Gender and Applied Economics” taught by Professor Lena Edlund, for instance, would expand my limits of intellectual agility, as would the diversity of NYC’s melting pot mentality, which closely parallels my own upbringing and education."

Here’s why this “Why Columbia” essay works:

  • It uses a unique analogy : The essay begins with a unique analogy that compares the brain to a muscle and the process of intellectual growth to going to the gym. It is very creative and immediately captures the reader’s attention.
  • It makes good use of the “show, don’t tell” rule : Instead of simply saying Columbia is known for its challenging curriculum that pushes students to their academic brinks, they liken Columbia to an Olympic-level gymnasium, which shows their understanding of Columbia’s academic excellence in a unique way.
  • It makes specific references : The essay mentions a specific course, "Gender and Applied Economics,” as an example of how they plan to utilize the resources at Columbia. This shows they conducted thorough research on the university and identified specific academic opportunities that align with their interests.
  • Alignment with the environment : The essay highlights the applicant's appreciation for the diversity and multicultural mentality of New York City, which closely parallels their own upbringing. This illustrates a strong sense of fit with Columbia's diverse community and indicates that the applicant would thrive in it.
  • Demonstrates their well-thought-out approach : The essay shares that the applicant spent months pondering how to maximize their intellectual growth at Columbia, which proves their dedication and proactive approach to education.

This essay just goes to show how creative you can get with your writing! Don't be afraid to think outside the box, as it can result in a fantastic, unique, and unforgettable essay!

Columbia “Why Us” Example Essay 2

"Please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you noted in the application.” (200 words or fewer)
"It wasn’t until I arrived at [NAME OF TRAIN STATION] on a cold November morning for my first ‘shift’ with [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] that I truly grasped the significance and breadth of economics’ human impact. 
For context, [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] is a non-profit organization whose volunteers take to [CITY] streets and distribute essential supplies to the city's homeless population – or, as we called it, ‘giving a shift.’ I don’t recall exactly how many ‘shifts’ I gave with [NAME OF ORGANIZATION], but the 7-month period I spent working with the organization proved to have a profound impact on my life, character, and perspective. 
What stuck with me most from the experience was coming to admire the sheer grit and unwavering perseverance of those I met during my ‘shifts’; never before had I experienced such fulfilling and uplifting interactions with complete strangers, whose gleaming personalities and senses of humor contrasted starkly with the dire nature of their socioeconomic situations. 
It’s from these selfsame interactions that my inspiration to study economics grew; more specifically, by my pragmatic application of knowledge regarding policy studies and poverty economics that I aspire to gain through higher education, I hope to ‘give an even bigger shift’ for the world of tomorrow."

The majority of this essay is spent explaining how the student’s interest in economics began. They thoroughly explain their experience and demonstrate some key traits, such as a strong sense of social responsibility, a commitment to helping others, empathy, and understanding, without explicitly stating them. 

This student showcases traits that they know Columbia appreciates and ends by stating their specific reason for choosing their major, which is what the prompt asks. This is why it’s important to fully understand each prompt before you answer it, as it does not ask the student to list their interests in attending Columbia.

Instead, it asks about their interest in the areas of study they noted in their application. As such, they do not necessarily have to spend valuable time listing the professors or courses they’re interested in! This prompt calls for a more broad response about the major they chose.

Columbia “Why This College” Example Essay 3

"Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia.” (200 words or fewer)
"Watching Spider-Man fighting bad guys in New York made me want to do the same. I can be a superhero through my work as an architect by designing spaces that improve communities and the well-being of others. Opportunities to research the connection between systemic issues and architecture compels me to Columbia.
I am drawn to Professor Galán's lecture "Architecture and Migration in New York" with his focus on politics, nationalism, and colonialism corresponding to architecture. Growing up with grandparents who lived through British occupation, I developed an appreciation for how design affects relationships and communities. 
In particular, I was most proud of my resilient grandparents who fought to keep their traditional [ETHNICITY] homes against colonialism. Realizing architecture has a transformative power and historical significance, I aim to incorporate a thoughtful approach to my design philosophy. I would also join Columbia's Urban Experience to expand my perspectives by learning about the community of New York and experiencing how Columbia creates initiatives for students to improve the surrounding neighborhoods. 
Although I can not climb walls or shoot webs, Columbia offers endless opportunities for me to grow and make a positive impact - like everyone's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!"

Why This Works

This "why this college" essay effectively highlights the applicant's passion for architecture and their desire to make a positive impact on communities. Here's why it works well:

  • It offers a personal connection : The essay starts with a personal anecdote about watching Spider-Man in New York, which captures the reader's attention and demonstrates the applicant's inspiration to become a "superhero" architect, a unique way to explain their career goal.
  • Demonstrates clear motivation : The applicant explains how their work as an architect can improve communities and the well-being of others, showing a strong sense of purpose and commitment.
  • Clear desire to contribute to their field : The essay mentions the applicant's interest in researching the connection between systemic issues and architecture, indicating a desire to delve deeper into the field and contribute to it.
  • Includes faculty interests : The mention of Professor Galán's lecture on "Architecture and Migration in New York" demonstrates the applicant's specific interest in a particular area of study and their alignment with the program’s focus.
  • Personal touches : The essay highlights the applicant's personal background, particularly their grandparents' resilience against colonialism, and how it has shaped their perspective on design and community relationships, which evokes more emotion and allows readers to connect with the student deeper.
  • It takes a thoughtful approach : The applicant emphasizes the transformative power and historical significance of architecture, which may offer a unique perspective on this field that the committee does not see often. 
  • Clear eagerness to contribute to the campus : The student explains their intention to join Columbia's Urban Experience, showcasing their eagerness to actively participate in the community and fit in.
  • Impactful ending : The ending is humorous, relates back to their anecdote, and reiterates the applicant’s desire to make a positive impact in their field.

This applicant chose an anecdote that, at first glance, seems unrelated to the topic at hand. However, they tactfully relate it to their career aspirations, and you can do the same! 

Yale “Why This College” Example Essay 1

“What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?” (125 words or fewer)
"As someone who takes an immediate interest in new experiences, hearing about Yale’s “AND” approach to education was like hearing the Cubs won the World Series: shocking! 
The powerful research opportunities and resources found at the Jackson School of Global Affairs combined with Yale’s cozy but free liberal arts atmosphere make it an exhilarating place for me to explore the inner workings of US foreign policy. However, the flexibility of Yale’s curriculum will also allow me to continue my work with young children and pursue my interest in theater by taking a course like “Creating Theater for Young Audiences”.
With its modern 21st-century philosophy and 300+ years of experience, Yale’s curriculum invites me to immerse myself and thrive in ventures both familiar and novel alike."

This essay prompt is very short, so it would be difficult to include a narrative in it. For these kinds of answers, it’s best to just stick to the prompt and share your interests straight away, as this student has. Pay attention to the following features of this essay:

  • Its opening : While the essay does not start with an anecdote like the others, it still provides its readers with an interesting introduction by comparing Yale’s AND approach with the Cubs winning the World Series, adding some personality to their essay.
  • Its use of space : The student doesn’t dwell on one interest for too long. They mention several different interests, including Yale’s research opportunities, atmosphere, flexible curriculum, theater course, and more. They’re able to keep these ideas simple and connect them so it doesn’t feel overkill. 
  • Its conclusion : Despite the limited space, this student writes a quick conclusion to give their final thoughts on Yale in a succinct yet effective way that also mentions their ability to immerse themselves in the community and thrive in it!

This essay is able to accomplish what other 250+ word ones have in only 125 words, and the admissions committee was just as impressed as you!

Yale “Why Us” Example Essay 2

"Coming from [COUNTRY] and having traveled globally, I recognize the resource disparity in different parts of the world, particularly in the STEM fields. That’s why I also recognize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity attending Yale affords: to work in labs and with resources to which not even [ETHNICITY] professionals have access. 
This opportunity, alongside the possibility to dive further into my academic interests that lay outside my major, specifically the classics, is an incredible chance that I cannot chase in many universities in my country. The ability to intertwine several areas of study in an institution where I can meet and learn from even more unique people from even more eclectic places with diverse and adverse backgrounds alike sounds like the best possible education I could fathom."

Like the previous example, this “why us” essay packs a punch despite its short word count! Here’s how:

  • Demonstrates global perspective : The essay begins by acknowledging the applicant's experience of resource disparity in different parts of the world, demonstrating their awareness of global challenges and the importance of access to resources, particularly in the STEM fields.
  • Highlights Yale's unique opportunities : The student discusses Yale’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work in well-equipped labs and access resources that may be unavailable even to professionals in the applicant's home country, highlighting the value of Yale's academic environment and facilities.
  • Mentions interdisciplinary interest : Yale is big on its interdisciplinary educational approach, which is why it was a smart move for this student to mention their interests beyond their major. This also showcases their intellectual curiosity and desire to take full advantage of all of Yale's offerings.
  • Emphasizes cultural diversity : The applicant highlights their desire to interact with unique individuals from diverse backgrounds at Yale. This speaks to the applicant's appreciation for diversity and ability to fit in at Yale and benefit from its diverse community.

In summary, this essay effectively communicates the applicant's appreciation for Yale's resources, interdisciplinary opportunities, and diverse community while demonstrating a strong motivation to make the most of their educational experience at Yale!

Dartmouth “Why This College” Example Essay 

“Dartmouth celebrates the ways in which its profound sense of place informs its profound sense of purpose. As you seek admission to Dartmouth’s Class of 2027, what aspects of the College’s academic program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? In short, Why Dartmouth?” (max 100 words) 
"If I had to place my purpose, I’d tuck it right into my power suit on the way into the first day of my new internship that I would’ve obtained through the Entrepreneurial Internship Program or Tuck Business Bridge Program. 
Aside from attempting the black diamond at Dartmouth Skiway and hiking through the Appalachian Trail, I’ll spend most of my time on campus serving the Upper Valley community through Social Impact Non-Profit Consulting (SINC) and Social Impact Practicums (SIP), using my zest for entrepreneurship to support local non-profits that are fostering dynamic social change throughout the Upper Valley and beyond." 

This Dartmouth prompt has the shortest word count yet, but the student still manages to write a compelling “why this college” essay due to the following aspects:

  • It has clear career goals : The essay highlights the applicant's ambition to pursue an internship through the Entrepreneurial Internship Program or Tuck Business Bridge Program, demonstrating a focused career path and knowledge of Dartmouth’s programs.
  • It demonstrates community engagement : The applicant expresses their desire to actively contribute to the Upper Valley community through Social Impact Non-Profit Consulting and Social Impact Practicums. This showcases their ability to contribute to not only Dartmouth but the entire region as well.
  • Their voice is present : the student still lets their personality shine through as they mention their favorite outdoor activities like skiing and hiking.
  • It connects to the college’s values : By expressing their interest in community service, the essay aligns with Dartmouth’s values of civic engagement and making a difference in society, demonstrating a good fit between the applicant's personal goals and the college's mission.

It’s clear this student has put time and effort into their response and researched Dartmouth and all it has to offer! They are able to add personal touches, describe their career goals, and demonstrate how they’ll fit into the Dartmouth community and beyond in only 100 words!

Princeton “Why This College” Example Essay

“As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests?” (Please respond in 250 words or fewer)
"Political science is the academic area that piques my curiosity most, especially with the history of how past power structures shape inequality today. I’m fascinated with the intersection and apparent contradictions of the egalitarian ideals upon which America was built; in the same decade that the Declaration of Independence was written, declaring all men equal, Native Americans were treated as brutes and black indentured servants were shackled into servitude. 
Most of all, I’m intensely curious to learn about the lives of the invisible; currently, I’m reading A Black Woman’s History of the United States, which chronicles black women’s experiences at a time when both legal and societal systems disenfranchised them completely. At Princeton, I’d like to continue this civil rights-based political science work by conducting research with Professor Tali Mendelberg, who focuses on the institutional nuances that invisibly prevent women from holding positions of power. This research is especially important to me because I’ll be running for political office one day and am dedicated to electing more women to political office as a volunteer with [NAME OF ORGANIZATION] and She [NAME OF ORGANIZATION], organizations that support electing young progressive women to political power.
Extracurricularly, I spend my time trying to solve America’s problems through entrepreneurship. Last year, I co-founded [COMPANY], a startup working to make financial literacy available to all Americans. At Princeton, I’d immerse in the eLab startup incubator, the entrepreneurship minor’s workshops, and the Princeton Startup Immersion Program to further explore my entrepreneurial interests and scale [COMPANY]."

Here’s why this essay works:

  • Connection to personal experiences : The essay references the applicant's current reading of "A Black Woman's History of the United States" and their dedication to understanding the experiences of marginalized groups. This personal connection adds depth and authenticity to the essay.
  • Shares their future goals and impact : The student reveals their long-term goal of running for political office and their dedication to electing more women to positions of power. This demonstrates a sense of purpose and a desire to create meaningful change in the political landscape.
  • Integration of personal and academic interests : The essay effectively intertwines the applicant's passion for political science with their entrepreneurial endeavors. It showcases how they seek to apply their knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship to address societal issues. 
  • Fit with Princeton's values : The essay aligns the applicant's values and interests with Princeton's emphasis on academic excellence, research, social justice, and entrepreneurship. By proving their goals resonate with the college's values, the essay highlights a strong fit between the applicant and the institution.
  • Connection to extracurricular opportunities : The essay highlights the applicant's interest in participating in Princeton's eLab startup incubator, entrepreneurship workshops, and the Princeton Startup Immersion Program to their desire to fully immerse themselves in the college community.

Overall, this essay stands out by showcasing the applicant's intellectual curiosity, commitment to social justice, entrepreneurial spirit, emphasis on diversity, and alignment with Princeton's academic programs and values. It even mentions extracurriculars, which students often overlook!

NYU “Why Us” Example Essay 

“We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have applied or expressed interest in a particular school, college, program, and/or area of study? We would like to understand why NYU?” (2500 character maximum)
"Though the brain, in all actuality, is not like any other muscle in the human body, the fact that I tend to view my brain as one would view any other muscle is something that must be acknowledged before analogizing how I’ve recently gone about challenging myself intellectually. 
Simply put, I take my brain to the gym; I analyze its power through its capability to ‘lift’ (fully comprehend) intellectual weights of varying mass and attempt to broaden the reach of its abilities by consistently exercising it, repeatedly pushing it just past its limits until it grows stronger and is thus ready to load on even heavier weights. While I’m by no means claiming here to be some sort of bodybuilding guru – in fact, I weigh roughly the same as most large dogs – this particular process of meticulous brain-training is something I’ve found myself doing in an endless quest to satisfy my insatiable thirst for an understanding of the bigger picture. 
Although attending my current institution has provided me with a stimulating academic experience, and one where I’ve jumped at the opportunity to more deeply explore my interests in both familiar and unfamiliar subjects alike, I find myself at a level of intellectual strength and vitality today where I’m confident in my capacity to take another step forwards – or better yet, a quantum leap into the academic equivalent of an Olympic-level gymnasium that is NYU.
How exactly I plan to utilize the variety of resources such a 'gym’ would provide is a question I’ve spent years eagerly pondering: for one, continuing on my path of pursuing degrees in economics and philosophy at a school ranked 11th and 1st in those subjects respectively would be an absolute honor, as would the experience of studying beneath Professor Alberto Bisin, whose HCEO lecture on Cultural Inequality I’ve now watched countless times. 
Tantamount to my commitment towards fully exhausting NYU’s academic resources is the level to which I aim to immerse myself in the school’s diverse community, whether it be by driving Tandon’s Formula SAE racecar in competition or volunteering for the noble Change the Imbalance Initiative, I want to ensure that my character undergoes as much development as my intellect in being an NYU student. What stands above all, though, is my desire to give back to the Violet garden of intellectual growth by putting my voice into play within NYU’s academic arena, both inside and outside the classroom."

This essay may sound familiar, as it follows a similar analogy to one of the Columbia essay examples. This is bound to happen, and it’s okay if your great essay idea is similar to one you find online, so long as you make it your own. Here are some key takeaways to note in this essay:

  • It uses a personalized analogy : Although the analogy of the brain as a muscle may have been used before, the applicant adds a personal touch by describing their own intellectual journey and the specific ways in which they seek to challenge themselves and grow to add individuality to the essay.
  • It adds tasteful humor : Humor can be risky when it comes to essays because you don’t know how well your jokes will be received. However, this student uses what we consider “safe humor” to add personality to their essay (their joke about weighing as much as large dogs).
  • It tactfully mentions prestige : As previously mentioned, you should not focus on prestige in your essay, but you can mention it, which is what this student does by briefly discussing NYU’s ranking but not dwelling on it.
  • It Integrates extracurricular interests : The essay goes beyond academic pursuits and highlights the applicant's interest in extracurricular activities at NYU. This demonstrates a well-rounded approach to college life and a commitment to making a positive impact beyond the classroom.
  • It mentions their desire to contribute to NYU’s academic arena : The essay ends by expressing the applicant's eagerness to contribute their voice to NYU's academic environment, which demonstrates their eagerness to engage in meaningful discussions and enrich the intellectual community at NYU.

So, while we’ve seen the analogy before, this essay effectively conveys the applicant's intellectual curiosity, ambition, and fit with NYU's academic resources and community in a distinct way!

Duke “Why This College” Example Essay 1

“Why Duke?”
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and I volunteered at the [NAME OF HOSPITAL] in [CITY] to make cotton masks for those experiencing the mask shortage. I want to continue combatting similar medical crises in the future. I am confident Duke has the opportunities available to help me achieve my goal of providing and ensuring health care to improve the quality of life for people in my community.
While combining my Biochemistry major with a Health Policy Certificate, I also wish to contribute to the Duke community through research in Dr. Lorena Sue Beese’s lab. I want to analyze biological structures to create new therapeutic agents and diagnostics for a variety of diseases. By pairing my interest in research and participating in initiatives like Duke One Health, or with the Duke Center for Community and Population Health Improvement, I will receive a foundation in how to create and advance a unifying system of population health.
Aside from academic interest at Duke, I will seek community with individuals who share part of my common history to create a family away from [CITY]. By joining the [NAME OF GROUP], I will delve deeper into amplifying minority voices on health disparities specific to the [RACE] America, [ETHNICITY], and [ETHNICITY] communities. By participating in the Duke University Chorale, I will continue to pursue my love for beautiful and meaningful music in a community just as enchanted by it as I am."

If you’re planning on applying to Duke , consider drawing inspiration from this compelling “why this college” essay, and make note of the following parts that make it stand out:

  • Opens with a meaningful experience : The essay begins by highlighting the applicant's volunteer work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows their commitment to public health and their desire to address medical crises.
  • Makes specific reference to Duke’s opportunities : The essay makes reference to the student’s interest in conducting research in Dr. Lorena Sue Beese's lab. Their mention of initiatives like Duke One Health also shows their awareness of the university's resources.
  • Mentions their appreciation for diversity : diversity is an important value at Duke. This student showcases their desire to work with diverse communities and express their interest in joining a group that amplifies minority voices on health disparities, proving their commitment to inclusivity.
  • Has clear academic and career goals : The student shares their passion for combating medical crises and improving people's quality of life. They express their intention to pursue a Biochemistry major and a Health Policy Certificate at Duke, displaying a well-defined academic path.

If you want to write a laser-focused essay like this, it’s important you know what you want! Have clear, defined goals and a plan to get you there. Know which resources Duke offers will help you the most and incorporate them into your essay. 

Duke “Why This College” Example Essay 2

“What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you? If there's something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well.” (250-word limit)
"At Duke, college is a verb whose definition is a collage of countless experiences and endeavors prospective students aim to undertake as Blue Devils. Though 250 words isn’t enough to encapsulate the whole collage comprehensively, I can at least venture to provide snapshots of what my own collage would look like… in other words, what it’d look like for me “to Duke.” 
For me, “to Duke” means living beyond the confines of one’s comfort zone. I’ve already started “to Duke” via high school DECA and aim to continue duking it out in different arenas - intellectually, entrepreneurially, and otherwise - as I hone my accrued high school skills on the collegiate chopping block. One way to really test myself when it comes to my dreams of becoming an entrepreneurial hotelier is by pursuing Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Undergrad Certificate, because “to Duke” also means following one’s dreams and building credibility the right way en route. 
In other words, “to Duke” means taking no shortcuts and measuring twice but cutting once, as the age-old contractor’s adage goes. Thus, it’s with the best intent and utmost intention that I apply to Duke because my research has confirmed what I already felt to be true: “to Duke” is to be me, and also to be you, in a place where we can both be helping each other, too. “To Duke” is to collaborate, so it’s truly this collaboration at the core of teaching and learning at Duke that ultimately does it for me."

This final “why this college” essay works for the following reasons:

  • It uses repetition well : Throughout the essay, the student repeats the phrase “to Duke” and gives various definitions of what this means and how they’ve already done it, and what they plan on doing in the future “to Duke,” which adds cohesion to the essay and demonstrates their commitment to the college.
  • It’s specific : The essay makes specific reference to the certificate this student would like to pursue at Duke and the numerous ways they plan on stepping out of their comfort zone using Duke’s resources.
  • They quote Duke : Sometimes quoting the school’s mission can be cliche, but this student has chosen unique quotes and seamlessly integrated them into her essay while explaining what these words mean to her. This demonstrates she’s done her research and truly resonates with Duke’s motto.
  • It’s focused : This response is all about Duke; it doesn’t use anecdotes but still includes a powerful and personal message about this student’s aspirations, experiences, interests, and values.

This essay effectively communicates the writer’s passion, ambition, and alignment with Duke's values. You can feel their enthusiasm and excitement to attend Duke throughout, and it’s clear they plan on contributing to its community!

While we’ve provided you with some excellent examples to help you start your “why this college” essay, there are over 175 more essay examples you can look through before you feel confident enough to start step one of the process!

FAQs: “Why This College” Essays

In case you still have questions about how to write a “why this college” essay, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about this application material:

1. What Is the Purpose of a “Why This College” Essay?

With limited spots in each program, colleges want to know you’re dedicated to their school and its values. The purpose of a "why this college" statement is to convince the admissions committee that you have carefully considered your college choice and that you’re genuinely excited about the prospect of attending that particular institution.

2. How Do You Write a “Why This College” Essay?

To write a “why this college” essay, follow the comprehensive steps listed above. Here’s a brief summary of them:

  • Step one : Do your research on the college you’re writing your essay for
  • Step two : Reflect on your own interests and goals
  • Step three : Connect the dots between your interests and goals and the college’s offerings
  • Step four : Keep it simple by only mentioning a few of these connections
  • Step five : Explain how you’ll fit in and how your values align with the college’s values
  • Step six : Revise and rework your essay until it’s perfect
  • Step seven : Have someone look your essay over for additional feedback before submitting it

By following these steps, you should be able to write an authentic, focused, and compelling “why this college” essay!

3. Which Colleges Require a “Why Us” Essay?

Here are some colleges that typically require a “why us” essay or a variation of it: 

  • Harvard University
  • Yale University
  • Princeton University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • New York University (NYU)
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • California Institute of Technology 
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Bowdoin College
  • Brown University
  • Northwestern University
  • Swarthmore College
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Virginia
  • University of California
  • University of Pennsylvania

It's best to check the admission requirements of the colleges you’re interested in during your intended application cycle to get the most updated information on the required supplemental essays .

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to write about a life-changing experience that influenced you to become a nurse and join Duke’s renowned nursing program, or you simply want to explore various disciplines through Harvard’s interdisciplinary curriculums, you can write a captivating “why this college” essay that will help get you into your dream college.

Regardless of the direction you take, so long as you follow the steps above, avoid the mistakes discussed, and use the examples in this guide for inspiration, you should be golden!

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February 7, 2023

How to Write a ’Why Do You Want to Go to This College’ Essay

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Sometimes the prompt is as short as two words: “ Why Tufts? ” Other times, the prompt, like that of Cornell’s , is rather wordy: “Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s ’any person…any study’ founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College.”

Yet both of these prompts — and so many other college essay prompts — pose the same question: Why do you want to go to this college?

The Top Colleges That Ask “Why College” Essay Prompts

The following top 25 national universities in the 2023  US News & World Report ranking pose “Why College” essays:

  • Princeton University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • Yale University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Duke University
  • Northwestern University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Brown University
  • Rice University
  • Cornell University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • University of Southern California

The following top 25 liberal arts colleges in the 2023  US News & World Report ranking pose “Why College” essays:

  • Swarthmore College
  • Wellesley College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Washington and Lee University
  • Davidson College
  • Hamilton College
  • Barnard College
  • Colgate University (for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, essay prompts only appeared after students submitted applications — it was very sneaky of Colgate!)
  • Haverford College

The Specific “Why College” Essay Prompts for the Top Colleges

Of the top 25 national universities in the 2023  US News & World Report ranking, the following is a breakdown of the specific wording of their “ Why College ” essays, along with the respective word counts:

Of the top 25 liberal arts colleges in the 2023  US News & World Report  ranking, the following is a breakdown of the specific wording of their “Why College” essays, along with the respective word counts:

What Colleges Want to See in “Why College” Essay Responses

Admissions officers at America’s elite universities want to see that students have done their homework on the institution they’re applying to. They want to see that the student isn’t just submitting another application for the sake of submitting another application. In fact, so many universities ask “Why College” essay questions because admissions officers seek to admit students who they believe will matriculate. After all, their yield, or the percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll, matters to them.

The Importance of Demonstrated Interest

A great way to shape the yield is by admitting students they think are likely to enroll — or quantifying a student’s Demonstrated Interest . And what’s a good indicator of a student’s Demonstrated Interest? An applicant who cites specific after specific in their “Why College” essay. Likewise, a good indicator that a student has no intention of enrolling or that the college is a backup for the student is a “Why College” essay devoid of specifics.

How to Find Specifics for “Why College” Essays

Students searching for specifics to include in “Why College” essays should zero in on the school’s student newspaper (especially if the newspaper has archives dating back many years), Facebook, Instagram, Google Earth, and more.

If there’s a lecture series a student wishes to write about, chances are there are photos of the talk available on Facebook or Instagram. Students should comb through those photos as well as the captions. By doing so, they’ll be able to include small details, like the fact that it took place in Lowell Lecture Hall.

How to Write a “Why College” Essay

Some students worry that painting a portrait of themselves on the school’s campus is presumptuous since they may not earn admission. But admissions officers know the drill. They know students are painting a portrait of their dream, and admissions officers need to be able to envision you at their school, getting involved in the college’s community.

In addition to citing specific after specific, it’s also important that students write this essay in a conversational tone. College essays should not be formal — they’ll read as too dry. As such, students should aim to avoid beginning sentences with words like “however,” “nevertheless,” and “thus” as much as possible. It’s all about writing colloquially!

The “Why College” essay exercise is ultimately all about showing rather than telling. Telling a college that it’s a student’s first choice isn’t credible since that college knows the student can write that sentence for every school they apply to. But by including specific after specific, by showing rather than telling, they have a better chance of convincing admissions officers of their message.

5 Things Applicants Must Do in “Why College” Essays

  • Tailor most sentences to the school they’re applying to.  If a student can read the sentence aloud and replace the school’s name with another school, and the sentence still works, the student should delete it!
  • Write about themselves actively engaged on the school’s campus.  It’s not an essay just about the student. And it’s not an essay just about the school. It’s the student plus the school.
  • Cite enduring specifics about a school , like programs, institutes, the school’s culture, traditions, and so much more.
  • Write only about the school in question.  While it may seem obvious, many students compare the school to other institutions. Yikes!
  • Double-check the accuracy of the specifics cited.  Programs end. Activities get eliminated. Make sure all of the specifics mentioned remain timely.

5 Most Common Mistakes in “Why College” Essays

  • Students cut and paste their “Why College” essays for multiple universities.  It’s transparent to admissions officers when students are not tailoring their “Why College” essay to the school they’re applying to. For instance, when a student writes that they want to attend a school because of it’s beautiful campus and engaged student body, admissions officers know full well that they likely used this same sentence for the other schools to which they applied. Instead, every sentence should contain a specific reference that applies only to the school. In a “Why Columbia” essay, if one can replace Columbia with Harvard and the sentence still works, delete it!
  • Students name-drop professors and classes , thinking those count as specifics. Admissions officers are unlikely to believe a student wishes to attend a university because a specific person works there. Besides, no one likes a name-dropper. And they know students can easily cut and paste class names from one university’s course catalog to the next. In any case, classes change from year to year. Instead, students should endeavor to capture enduring specifics about a university.
  • Students write about only themselves  for vast chunks of “Why College” essays, forgetting to write about the college. The “Why College” essay should be considered a date. If someone speaks about themselves endlessly on a date without asking about the other person, it’s unlikely to end well.
  • Students cite incorrect specifics  about a university. Maybe it’s a leftover from another school’s “Why College” essay, or the student didn’t do their homework. Either way, writing about the D-Plan for Duke or the gorges for Penn will not bode well for a student’s candidacy at these schools.
  • Students cite specifics in laundry lists.  While “Why College” essays should be brimming with specific after specific, it’s important not to include these specifics in a laundry list. Instead of naming one activity after another that a student hopes to participate in, applicants should let each activity breathe. They can do so by citing more minor specifics about the individual activity they’re referencing. In short, don’t just name the activity, but go into detail about that activity.

FAQs About the “Why This College?” Essay

Do applicants need to consult with students at a school to find specifics.

It’s not necessary. All the information you’ll need to find the specifics is available online. You just have to know where to look. For example, if you’re researching the Cornell Speech & Debate Society , go on the group’s Facebook page. Do you see how they recently competed at the Hell Froze Over Tournament in Austin? It’s these very kinds of specifics that showcase a student has done their homework.

Should applicants take extensive notes on college tours and information sessions to use this information in “Why College” essays?

No, because those aren’t the kinds of specifics worthy of including in “Why College” essays. That’s general information about universities offered on tours and info sessions. Instead, students should endeavor to teach admissions officers things they don’t know about their school — not regurgitate the school’s already-existing marketing material.

Is it impossible to find genuine specifics for “Why College” essays?

No, it’s pretty easy. Students simply need to know where to look. Did you know the archives for  The Cornell Daily Sun   date back to 1880? The stuff one can find out about Cornell in such articles — and the search function makes it relatively easy to navigate!

Does every university care about Demonstrated Interest?

Some universities claim not to care about Demonstrated Interest. For example, Emory University writes on its website, “Demonstrated interest” is  not  a factor in our application review process. Things have no impact on the evaluation of your application.”

But Emory is the university that  created  Demonstrated Interest. No matter how loudly or how vociferously Emory tries to argue that they don’t care about Demonstrated Interest, we urge students and parents not to believe Emory’s marketing material . Emory, like all highly selective universities, wants students to apply. As such, they don’t want to do anything to discourage students from applying — like creating barriers such as making it seem like students need to visit the campus to improve their case for admission.

So when a college tells applicants they don’t measure Demonstrated Interest, we urge that message to go in one ear and out the other. Arguably, the only school that doesn’t care about Demonstrated Interest is Harvard College — because Harvard knows students want to go there over just about every other school. Most other universities are insecure, and, as such, they want students to prove they want to go there.

Ivy Coach Helps Students Craft Compelling “Why College” Essays

Helping students craft powerful “Why College” essays that not only wow admissions officers but teach them intel they don’t even know about their school is a big part of what we do. If you’re interested in Ivy Coach ’s assistance, fill out our free consultation form , and we’ll be in touch.

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Ask Admissions Mom: I'm Not Sure What to Say In My "Why College" Essay

i don't have anything to say in my Why College essay (1)

"I have to write several essays explaining why I have chosen particular colleges on my list, even the ones that I haven’t been able to visit. I can't think of anything to say that would sound genuine and show that I clearly have a specific reason for wanting to go to those schools! Even after thinking long and hard, I haven't been able to come up with any decent reason for wanting to go to specific colleges. I don't want my essays to sound as if they came straight from the website or brochure. I really hate writing these essays and need some suggestions on how to approach them." –Anonymous H.S. Senior

As if writing the personal essay for college apps wasn't enough, many colleges also like to see supplemental essays! You might be asking yourself: what’s the point of all these supplements? It’s a valid question. Colleges aren’t trying to torture you though. The point of the “Why this College” essay is to paint a picture of you on their college campus .

These essays can be short, but they are really important! This is your opportunity to reflect on what’s important to you, dig deeper into your research for each school, and then explain exactly why you want to attend a particular school and what you specifically will bring to the community.

Colleges want to see who you are, what you’ve done and how you are going to bring that youness to their specific campus. Each of these essays involves digging in and learning more about yourself and what’s important to you and then how that you-who-you-are fits with what they offer on their campus. These essays help the admissions committee get to know you better, but they’re also a great way for you to make sure you’re clear on why you choose the schools you’re applying to.

Often, “Why College Essays” (and other supplements) are more important than the Personal Essay. Colleges ask these questions for a reason – and it’s usually to make sure they learn more about you as a HUMAN (not a test-taking, grade-making, EC-doing machine) and how you will bring that human (you) to THEIR specific campus. Many colleges also want you to show them some love and demonstrate that you’ve done the work (the research!) to know why you want to be there.

The most important thing to remember about a “Why College” essay is that it’s really a “Why You on our College Campus Essay.” This essay is just as much about you as the college. Why do they need you on their campus? What will you bring? So, in essence this should be an essay that only you could write about only this school. If any sentence could apply to any other school or applicant, scratch it. Make sure you include SPECIFICS in your essay. Do your research, and make sure the admissions committee can tell that you have.

Here’s what Trenton Manns, Undergraduate Admissions Counselor at Tufts said in an Instagram post last fall,

“If you ever feel like what you are learning [about colleges] is starting to blend together, carve out some time to browse through college publications and channels. Often times, these platforms help to illustrate the experiences of students and faculty who make the school truly unique.”

In another Instagram post from Tufts , Todd Denning, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions shares:

“The Why Tufts supplemental essay question, may seem pretty straightforward, but be sure to put plenty of thought into it. A “good” answer to this question will, of course, depend on you and what draws you to Tufts. A quick piece of advice: avoid the “features” trap. Yes, it’s ok and perfectly normal to be drawn to the amenities of a college or university, but we (The Admissions Committee) want to better understand why you think Tufts is a good fit for you. Rather than focusing on the features (residence halls, bucolic campus, professors), point to some of the “feels” (an eye-opening conversation you had with a current student, the university’s Liberal Arts identity, the deep civic and political engagement on campus, and so on.) A university is more than just a collection of buildings, clubs, and classes, so get creative and be thoughtful with our Why Tufts!”

Here’s an idea I really like from College Essay Guy : take a sheet of paper and divide it down the middle. On one side list all the awesome stuff about you. On the other side list all the amazing stuff about the college. Where do you see overlaps? That’s the substance of your essay.

Still stuck? I suggest that you make a chart about each school that includes:

  • School mission statement
  • Favorite point on website or from school visit
  • Classes that look interesting
  • Research you’d like to be involved in
  • A news article or social media post that catches your interest

When researching colleges, be sure to:

  • Take notes after your campus tour or virtual visit. Jot down a few things you saw and liked and why they appeal to you.
  • Follow the admissions department on social media.Take note of upcoming events for prospective students, and save posts with interesting news or announcements to refer to when writing your essay.
  • Read the student newspaper online and save interesting articles. When you’re writing your essay, mention something they’ve profiled recently and why it’s specifically interesting to you.
  • Read the website, especially the admissions website, carefully. Most college websites tell you exactly what they’re looking for. Are you that person? If so, demonstrate to them why. If not, well, maybe this school isn’t a great fit for you.
  • Read the college’s mission statement. Does their mission mesh with your personal mission? Explain how.
  • Research campus traditions and culture. Do you find them exciting and interesting and see yourself taking part?
  • Look at course lists and descriptions on the website. Do you find classes that you can see yourself attending? Tell them why this would be a great class for you. What will you get out of it? What can you contribute?
  • Find professors who appeal to you. Maybe even reach out to them and learn about their programs or research.
  • Again, devour college websites. Are there any clubs and activities that you’re currently involved in that are also offered on campus? Or, are there new-to-you activities that you’re excited to try? How do you see yourself getting involved on campus?

A note here: colleges don’t want just a rundown of clubs offered or classes in your major–they know why these appeal to you. It’s important to draw the connection between what they offer and what you’re seeking — so mention a specific class or activity if it meshes with your interests or values.

I love this example from u/Ninotchka :

"Look closely at the school website and find an aspect - a club, a particular course, a slogan, a tradition perhaps - that fits into your personality and write about that particular thing. i.e. “I was really excited when I saw that you had a course on the Roman conquest of Britain - I dressed up as Boudicca one year for Halloween and I look forward to arguing about Roman imperialism."

Once you’ve finished your research, you should have a lot of material to work with to write your essay. But remember, “Why This College” essays don’t have to be long. The strongest essays focus on a few well-chosen, specific and relevant reasons that show you’ve done your research and can really picture yourself as a student there. Every word counts.

If you’re still struggling to answer the "Why College" essay question after you’ve done your research, you may want to pause and ask yourself: why ARE you applying to this school? Even safety schools are only safeties if you’d actually be happy to attend. There are thousands of colleges and universities out there. Instead of spending your time struggling to find reasons why you want to go to a college, consider casting a wider net and looking for a few more schools that make it fun and easy to explain why you see yourself there.

Watch the webinar below for more great advice on the "Why College" essay and other supplemental essays.

More College Essay Questions?

Visit the CC College Essay Hub and connect with our community about all things college essay s.

Ask Admissions Mom

Email your most pressing college admissions questions to [email protected] and you may receive a personal response from an admissions professional on College Confidential.

Carolyn Allison Caplan (she/her)

Carolyn Allison Caplan (aka AdmissionsMom) is an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) focused on using mindfulness in the college admissions journey. She is also a mother of three college graduates ( Vanderbilt , Harvard , and Tufts ) and a sought-after voice on topics related to the college admissions process. She earned a College Counseling Certificate (w/Distinction) from UCLA and is a member of HECA | IECA | TACAC | NACAC.

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How to write the “ why this college ” essay: the ultimate guide.

If you apply to Yale University , you’ll be asked, “What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?”

Similarly, Caltech wants to know, “How do you believe Caltech will best fuel your intellectual curiosity and help you meet your goals?”

And if you’re interested in attending Notre Dame , you’ll need to respond to the following: “What excites you about the University of Notre Dame that makes it stand out from other institutions?”

Okay, you get the idea:

These are just a few variations on what we like to call the “Why This College” essay.

  • Most colleges and universities require applicants to answer some form of this question, and it’s one of the most important essays you’ll write.

In this article, we’ll tell you how to rock the “Why This College” essay and increase your chances of acceptance.

Why Do Colleges Ask This Question?

We mentioned above that this is one of the most important essays you’ll write—and that almost every college wants you to write it.

But why? What’s the significance of this question?

In reading your response, colleges are hoping to determine:

  • Whether you truly know and have interest in their school
  • Whether you’ll be a good fit for the school
  • Whether the school is a good fit for you

Are You Interested?

Sure, the fact that you’re filling out the application indicates some level of interest in the school.

  • But many students apply to schools simply because they recognize the name, know the school has a great reputation, or even have been pushed in that direction by friends or family members.

Colleges only accept a limited number of students , and they want to admit students who have a genuine interest in and commitment to their school.

  • Do you know what makes this college stand out from others?
  • Do you know about the opportunities and experiences this school can offer?
  • Are you aware of the school’s values, culture, and traditions?
  • Have you already spent time picturing yourself here? Are you excited about this possibility?

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Click above to watch a video on how to write the Why This College Essay.

As you write this essay, aim to demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for the school in question.

Are You a Good Fit for the School?

As they read your essays, college admissions officers try to picture you on their campus.

  • Will you fit in and thrive there?
  • What contributions will you make to their college and community?
  • Do your interests mesh well with the school’s strengths?
  • Is your personality a good fit for the school’s culture and values?

Help the admissions team imagine you as someone who would happily thrive at their school, making positive contributions to campus.

Is the School a Good Fit for You?

Not only do you need to be a good fit for the school, but the school needs to be a good fit for you as well.

  • What are your academic and career goals? Can this school help you achieve them?
  • Will you be successful at this school? Is the rigor and approach to learning a good fit for you?
  • What academic programs, research or internship opportunities, classes, extracurricular activities, and so on will you take advantage of and participate in?

Show that the school you’re applying to has the resources to help you achieve academic and career success.

How to Recognize the “Why This College” Question

Of course, this essay won’t be labeled “Why This College” on applications. You’ll have to be able to recognize it in a variety of forms.

There are two different angles colleges might use to approach this question: “Why us?” and “Why you?”

  • Why us? Here, you’ll express enthusiasm for the school and its opportunities and culture. What will you get out of attending this school?
  • Why you? In this case, the focus is on the contributions you’ll make to campus and the skills, background, and talents that make you a good fit.

Although these approaches are slightly different, you can include similar information in your answers to both prompt types.

For instance, let’s say you’re really excited about a particular program offered by the university.

  • If the university’s asking, “Why us?” you might focus on what an amazing opportunity participating in this program would be, and why you’re so excited about it. You could explain how the program would help you achieve your future goals.
  • For a “Why you?” essay, you might describe how your background, experiences, and abilities make you a perfect fit for the program. You could also discuss how your future goals make you someone who would benefit from and take advantage of this program.

Let’s take a look at what these two different approaches look like.

Examples of “Why This College?” Prompts

In some cases, the college will literally ask you, “Why [college name here]?” making this prompt very easy to identify.

Alternatively, they might ask you:

  • What do you like best about our university?
  • Why are you interested in our school?
  • Why do you want to go to our college?
  • What aspects of our college most excite you?

Some examples:

  • “Why Brown?” – Brown University
  • “Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.” – Columbia University
  • “What are the top five reasons you want to be a Hokie?” – Virginia Tech
  • “Please submit a one page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen Carnegie Mellon and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s).” – Carnegie Mellon

Examples of “Why You?” Prompts

These prompts focus more on you, asking questions like:

  • What are your interests or goals and how will you pursue them here?
  • What will you contribute to our school?
  • Why are you a good match/good fit for us?
  • What do you want to study and how does this fit well with our programs?
  • “Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why?” – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • “How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania?” – University of Pennsylvania
  • “Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC.” – University of Southern California
  • “Please relate your interest in studying at Georgetown University to your goals. How do these thoughts relate to your chosen course of study?” – Georgetown University

No matter how they word it, these schools are asking the classic “Why This College” question.

How to Write an Impressive “Why This College” Essay

The key to a stellar “Why This College” essay is to give specific, precise details about what you and the university can offer to one another.

You also need to convey your enthusiasm and excitement about the college and the unique opportunities available there.

Here’s how:

Do Your Research

First, you need to gather information about your college(s) of choice.

And we’re not talking about the generic info yielded by a two-minute Google search.

This type of research will take some time, but earning an acceptance letter from your dream school will make it worth the effort.

You’re looking for precise details about:

  • Courses and programs
  • Extracurricular and internship opportunities
  • Events and activities
  • Campus culture
  • The latest news about your college and its achievements

How can you find this information?

Use a variety of resources, including:

  • The school’s website and other materials
  • College fairs
  • Campus tours
  • Conversations with current students

Let’s take a closer look at how to take advantage of these sources.

The School’s Website and Other Materials

You can find great information on the university’s website, but try not to pull info from the overview you’ll find on the front page.

Many students might use this technique, so you could end up sounding just like other applicants (which you want to avoid).

Instead, take a deeper dive.

  • Look through the course catalog, go to specific professor’s websites, review the particular programs you’re interested in, and so on.
  • As you do so, be sure to take notes!
  • Also, record your reactions to the information you’re finding—are you especially excited about a certain course? Why?

You can find similar info in the school’s newspaper, alumni magazines, brochures, social media, and more.

Gather as much material published by the school as you can, and take your time combing through it for opportunities that you find particularly exciting.

College Fairs

Visiting college fairs is another effective way to gather information about schools.

In addition to getting brochures and other materials, you can talk to the college reps.

Ask them questions about their university and what makes it unique, then jot down notes so you can include these details in your essay later!

Campus Tours

Mentioning a campus tour you’ve taken demonstrates your genuine interest in the school.

You and your family have made the effort to travel to campus and take a tour—that’s a good sign!

You can also find tons of unique details about the college by visiting campus and taking a tour. As always, be sure to take notes.

  • Are there any buildings that stand out to you? Sculptures?
  • Do you see students doing anything that makes you want to be part of this campus community?
  • Try to sit in on some classes if possible. Write down the course name, the professor’s name, and anything intriguing that you hear or see during the lecture.
  • Talk to students if you can, asking them what they like best about the school or what makes their school different from others.
  • If you go on a tour, write down the name of your tour guide, along with anything surprising or funny that your tour guide says about the school.

Note your overall impressions and anything you see that you especially like, no matter how small. These seemingly insignificant details are what make your essay!

And if you can’t go on a physical tour, try to take a virtual one. Many schools offer virtual tours on their website, or you can search sites like Youtube.

Current Students

As mentioned above, talking to students can give you a perspective you won’t necessarily find online.

  • Is there anyone from your high school that now attends this college?
  • Try contacting them through social media, or see if anyone knows their phone number.
  • College students are often happy to discuss their university with prospective students.

Visiting campus is another way to find students to talk to, and some admissions websites list contact information for students you can email with questions about life at the university.

Get personalized advice!

How to brainstorm the essay.

Once you’ve gathered enough information about your college or university, it’s time to brainstorm !

Sift through all of your research and notes to find 3-5 aspects of the school that appeal to you the most. Make sure these are specific details!

  • Don’t choose broad statements like, “The historic brick buildings on campus are beautiful,” or regurgitate info from the school’s front page, like, “This school is known for its strong engineering curriculum.”
  • Try to focus on what interests you and fits well with your goals and background, as well as on what makes the school stand out from others.
  • Are you excited that your school is near a beach, or that it’s located in Chicago? Lots of schools are located near beaches, and there’s more than one university in Chicago. Dig deeper. What makes this school unlike any other?

Here’s the bottom line:

You need to choose 3-5 details that:

  • Are specific to you (Don’t just praise this school, but explain why this quality is great for you , or how it connects to your background and future goals.)
  • Are specific to the school
  • Make you eager to attend this university (Your interest and enthusiasm should shine through in this essay.)

Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk about how a specific program or opportunity can help you realize your career goals.
  • Does the school have facilities or equipment that you can’t find at many other schools, and that you’re excited to work with? This could include a specialized laboratory, an observatory, a library with rare manuscripts or first editions, etc.
  • Mention a class you find fascinating and can’t wait to take. This is especially effective if you were able to sit in on the class or have spoken to a current student who loves it.
  • Is there a professor you can’t wait to learn from? Maybe his research is related to a science fair project you did in high school, or you’ve already learned a lot just from reading one of his books.
  • Describe an experience you had on the campus tour, or an impactful interaction you had with students or staff.
  • Do you have a unique story about how you became interested in the school? Maybe your family had time to spare on a vacation in the area, and you stopped by and fell in love. Or perhaps your high school attended a competition hosted there.
  • Are you planning to continue work, research, or involvement with an organization from high school? How will you be able to do so at this university?
  • What programs or activities do you plan to get involved with, and what qualities or experiences will you bring them?
  • Are you the perfect match for a research or internship opportunity? Why? Maybe you’ve done relevant academic work, have already worked in this field, have been exposed to it via your parents or another relative, etc.

However, you should avoid focusing on:

  • Sports . Unless you have a unique story about your passion for the sports teams, or you’re planning to be an athlete yourself, try to avoid discussing that you’re a fan of the school’s teams. There’s nothing wrong with this—it’s just an overused topic!
  • Generic praise . Although praise is nice, it’s not what admissions officers want to hear. They want to know how you personally connect with the school.
  • College rankings . Sure, this college might be ranked #3 for happiest students. But it’s probably pretty similar to other schools ranked in the top 10. What makes it different?
  • The beautiful campus . If there’s something specific about the campus that spoke to you, feel free to talk about it. But many, many students write about the gorgeous campus or say, “The moment I stepped on your campus, I knew I was home.” You want to avoid clichés, and the truth is that most college campuses are pretty.
  • Your major . Talk about your major, by all means. But don’t merely focus on why you want to study this major. Focus on why you want to study it at this college .

Try to choose 3-5 details that are unique to this college, specific to you, and super exciting!

Writing the “Why This College” Essay: Do’s and Don’ts

Now that you’ve honed in on 3-5 details, it’s time to write. Be sure to follow the do’s and don’ts below.

  • Be authentic . Mean what you’re saying, and write in your own voice. Believe it or not, insincerity will come through in your essay. When the admissions team reads your essay, they should feel real passion and enthusiasm for their school.
  • Be specific . You’ve probably seen the word “specific,” a lot in this article, and that’s because it’s super important! Specificity shows that you’ve taken the time to do your research and envision yourself at this school, and it’ll ensure that your essay is not like any other. Mention professors, courses, clubs, and other opportunities by name.
  • Mention it if you plan on attending here if admitted . If this is your first choice school and you absolutely plan on attending if admitted, say so. Colleges want to accept students who will accept them in return. But if the school isn’t your first choice, don’t lie.
  • Revise and edit . Check over your spelling, grammar, and word usage. Ask a trusted friend, family member, or teacher to look over your work as well. But keep in mind that no matter how many times you revise your essay or how much advice you get, it still needs to sound like you !
  • Waste space on an introduction and conclusion . You’ll likely have a limited number of words, so don’t bother with an introduction or conclusion. Just jump right into your reasons. Your first paragraph should focus on your main 1-2 reasons, while the next paragraph should go into slightly less detail about the remaining reasons you’ve selected.
  • Recycle the same essay . This essay requires a specific response that is tailored to the college you’ve selected. If you use the same essay for multiple colleges, it will sound generic, boring, and forgettable. Even worse, you might forget to change the school name!
  • Misspell the college’s name . This seems obvious, but many admissions officers have mentioned students misspelling the college’s name in their applications. Double and triple check to ensure all mentions of the school are spelled correctly. The same goes for names of programs, professors, and courses.

Excellent “Why This College?” Examples

Let’s look at a few examples of stellar “Why This College” essays that worked.

These examples come from students who were accepted to Tufts University.

Depending on the word limit for the colleges you’re applying to, yours may be a bit longer.

I spent my Tufts campus visit in a “Sociology of War and Peace” class. The discussion was rich as ideas were tossed back and forth, comparing and contrasting modern warfare in different regions and cultures. The dialogue instantly excited me, but when the students I was sitting with invited me to come to lunch with them, to continue talking about the Middle Eastern conflict, I knew that Tufts was the kind of environment I was looking for: an open community that values dialogue, and a campus with a strong intellectual pulse, even outside of the classroom.

-Jesse Ryan ‘21

Here, Jesse mentions a specific course that he was able to visit during a tour of Tufts. He details the discussion he observed in the class, as well as an interaction that followed with Tufts students.

He then explains why this experience was significant to him personally .

As an artist, I believe that one’s work should reflect the world beyond it. Thus, I’m most attracted to Tufts SMFA’s combination of rigorous artistic study with a challenging liberal arts curriculum at the School of Arts and Sciences. I want to inform my art-making with in-depth exploration of sociology, justice, and international relations, creating works that comment on global issues–a prospect uniquely possible at Tufts SMFA. With numerous opportunities for combining art and community work on campus and in Boston, the SMFA program shows art isn’t only meant for the classroom; it’s meant for the world.

-Isaac Joon-hyuk Choi ‘21

Isaac’s essay starts by explaining his own personal philosophy as an artist.

Next, he reflects on how a specific program at Tufts perfectly complements this philosophy.

His response shows a deep knowledge of the program he’s interested in, and he even discusses how he will use the skills he acquires in this program in his future art-making.

I vividly remember stepping onto the roof of Tisch Library and seeing a group of kids sitting in hammocks, overlooking the Boston skyline. I briefly tuned out my tour guide’s presentation and began to eavesdrop. The students covered everything from physics to what they had for lunch that day. When they spoke about physics, they did not speak with pretension; instead they spoke with passion. Likewise, when they spoke about something as simple as lunch, they did so with witty intrigue. Tufts students are as interesting as they are interested. This description not only resonates with me, it defines me.

-Christopher Sprunt ‘21

Notice that Christopher mentions a school facility by name in his first sentence, also providing a vivid description of a Tufts memory that resonated with him.

In his final sentence, he explains why this experience was personally significant.

Christopher is not only pleased by what he’s seen and heard from Tufts students, but he also feels that his personality is a great fit.

More “Why This College” Essay Examples!

Written by Stanford student:

Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 word limit) Hikes to the Dish. I imagine I’ll need an occasional break from the rigor of CS221, and I can see this tranquil exercise evolving into a haven for startup nomenclature, debates about Lebron James’s legacy, and convoluted stories involving the giant radio telescope and its potential otherworldly applications.

From an MIT applicant:

Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer) From the first “Hello World!” to recent work with artificial intelligence, I have developed an insatiable appetite for turning lines of code into computer programs with real-world applications. When developing, I often ponder: can machine learning solve all of the world’s problems — technical and humanitarian? Are cryptocurrencies just a fad that will be gone in five years? As the field offers up as many questions as it does answers, I am drawn to  MIT’s Computer Science, Economics and Data Science program, which would enable me to decipher both computer science’s inner workings and its ramifications on the world at large.

Written by a Purdue student:

How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (100 words) I can easily picture myself as a Boilermaker: after spending office hours talking to Dr. Bareinboim about the future of machine learning and causal Bayesian networks, the hoops aficionado in me hurriedly makes his way across Stadium Avenue over to Mackey Complex to partake in the tradition that is Indiana vs. Purdue basketball (where I remind others that we have historically had the better record). All the time, I cannot stop thinking about the BlueSky Pitch Competition, which makes me wonder if I should take a quick Uber over to Discovery Park just to practice one last time…

From a Purdue Honors student:

Explain your vision, ideas, or goals for how you hope to shape your honors experience while at Purdue. Please put this in the context of the four pillars which are the foundation of the Honors College. (300 word maximum) If I had to describe the effect of high school on my personal outlook in one word, it would be open-mindedness. In fact, this transformation can be attributed to the four pillars of the Honors College extending into my high school tenure. At McVay High, I made sure to step out of my comfort zone and take an assortment of humanities classes which piqued my interest in economics. Furthermore, my time at the National Cancer Institute has shown me that computer science and the sciences are not mutually exclusive; in fact, intersections of computer science with other disciplines are the foundation of the next medical breakthrough. Simply being in my diverse community and taking part in various service activities through honor societies has opened my eyes to the disparities that exist within my community, prompting me to become a leader not only to direct projects but also to envision and build new ideas never before implemented. Due to my experiences in high school, I became more open-minded, which meant welcoming new ideas, subjects, and individual perspectives. Thus, as much as I intend to explore the realms of computer science and work primarily for private corporations, I believe that Purdue will once again be another step in my journey that will open my eyes to new avenues. Whether I decide to pursue undergraduate research rather than an internship at a big tech company; start an interdisciplinary academic class that combines computer science and economics; study abroad to build my community and global experiences; or even develop my leadership skills by becoming an executive member of the Association of Multicultural Computer Scientists, I know that because of the four pillars at Purdue — pillars that have guided me my entire life — I will lead a life that is more fulfilling.

A Why Tufts essay by a now-Tufts student:

Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompted your application? In short, ‘Why Tufts?’ (100-150 words) The undergraduate experience at Tufts is my ideal ice-cream sundae.  With an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, I can mesh scoops of political science, community health, and biology, combining disparate perspectives to explore complex healthcare issues. Over this, I will pour indulgent caramel in the form of an internship in Washington, D.C., allowing me to immerse myself in a health policy research project. Next, comes the countless brownie bits of activities, like Tufts’ prestigious Mock Trial Team, the Sarabande Repertory Dance Ensemble, and Hillel.  No sundae is complete without a cherry on top. When I toured Tufts, I was amazed by my guide’s friendly interactions with every individual he encountered. Surrounded by passionate, supportive, and motivated individuals, I know Tufts is the manifestation of my perfect collaborative environment. This positive atmosphere embodies the maraschino cherry on the already overflowing ice-cream heap, ensuring my undergraduate experience satisfies the sweetest of cravings. 

A Why Michigan essay from a now-Wolverine:

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants – 550 words) During my 3rd-grade class’s wax museum, I dressed up like Mark Zuckerberg, wearing just his typical gray shirt and blue jeans. On long car rides, I listened attentively to my father describe moments from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs , retelling captivating tales of Jobs’ innovation and self-reflection. Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to start my own tech company. Today, you can catch me watching either the hysterical antics of Silicon Valley or soaking in the insightful remarks made by guests on Guy Raz’s How I Built This podcast. At the University of Michigan, I’ll be the kid you see scarfing down a slice of South U’s BBQ Chicken Pizza (or what I like to call the future fuel of my entrepreneurial spirit), loudly chanting “Go Blue!” when we play the Spartans, and taking part in the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. However, behind the scenes, I’ll be feeding my obsession with building the next unicorn through the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship. You’ll find me propelling technological innovation by starting a venture at the TechArb Student Venture Accelerator or helping build companies through the Entrepreneurs Leadership Program. The University of Michigan’s intimate environment of innovation and Italian food is the perfect next step for me. In fact, the University of Michigan’s strong focus on entrepreneurship would enable me to make my technology startup, Big Time Tech, bigger and better. Wolverines place a large emphasis on social entrepreneurship through the Business+Impact program. Given the program’s diverse group of mentors, including the non-profit Board Fellow Program, I would be able to get sound advice crucial to extending the reach of my social venture. In addition, through the Detroit Engagement initiative, I would be able to deploy my product in an area thirsty for the types of opportunities on my platform. Having the ability to minor in entrepreneurship would mean that I could apply the knowledge I learned in classes about venture capital and digital product design to raise money and develop beautiful landing pages for my company, not just finish homework. Finally, on the nights when I will inevitably stay up late, you’ll find me growing my venture in the Innovate Blue Innovation Space. Becoming a Wolverine would allow me the opportunity to better understand the intersections of technology with other academic disciplines. Whether I’m drawing upon my work at the National Cancer Institute to aid in Dr. Honglak Lee’s research on high fidelity video prediction with large neural networks, funding student startups as a partner at Wolverine Venture Fund, or listening to a tech talk at Shapiro Library, the diversity of opportunities will provide a road map of the avenues I can take with technology. Only at the University of Michigan can someone sell a platform as a digital student loan advisor (LoanSense) or turn dorm room ideas and simple news headlines into applications that help researchers find employment (Perch) and detect counterfeit antimalarial medications (Neo Health). I cannot wait to become a Wolverine and join a community that cultivates my entrepreneurial and technological ardor.

An example of Why Columbia?

Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why. After an hour and a half commute and a quick glance at Tom’s from Seinfeld, we finally made it onto campus. Following our tradition of taking panoramas and making a quick stop at the bookstore, we walked up the steps to Low Library and checked in for our campus tour. A booklet in a newspaper rack caught my eye   The title read “Connecting the Dots – Using Data to Engineer Smarter Urban Spaces.” Throughout high school, I committed myself to find ways to use technology to lessen the disparity that exists among my community’s members, especially as it relates to finding opportunities best suited for their futures. Whether it be through helping others find jobs, internships, or volunteer positions through my app, Rainy Day, or providing a platform to find reliable, free, tutoring help, high school taught me that creating technology could be utilized to help others find and connect with opportunities. As I perused this dense booklet, I began to discover Columbia’s strongest intangible — how the intersection of technology and social good was at the heart of all of its engineering. I had been on numerous college visits before, but while other institutions lined the pages of their advertising materials with “machine learning” and “entrepreneurship,” Columbia’s pamphlet focused on sustainability, secureness, and connectedness. From the  cover story — which discussed how Columbia engineers used data science to map dangerous intersections and other obstacles to traffic flow — to the section on Dion Khodagholy’s work — which outlined how a new class of noninvasive, biocompatible devices could interface with the brain to heal neurological disorders — it was evident that Columbia is a place where technology is used to change the world for good.

Advice From an Outside Expert

Sweet Briar College is a great liberal arts school known for its personalized academics and diverse study opportunities.

The college asks applicants to pen an essay (or similar deliverable) about why they want to attend SBC.

Amy Ostroth, director of communications at Sweet Briar College, gave this advice to students who want to attend the school. You can use her advice for any “Why This College” essay you write:

The best answer is one that is specific to Sweet Briar College. Don’t craft an answer that could be sent to any school on your list, but tell us why Sweet Briar is special. For example, you might describe an interaction you had with a faculty member that stuck with you. Maybe you had a meaningful conversation with a student or attended an interesting class during a campus visit. Perhaps you met an alumna at a college fair who stood out to you. Maybe a member of your family has told you stories about their time at Sweet Briar. In short, describe what was happening when you first thought, “This is the place for me.” Tell us a story that emphasizes what is special about Sweet Briar and what will be most important to you about your college experience.

Conclusion: Writing the “Why This College” Essay

The “Why This College” essay is important because schools want to ensure that you understand what makes their school unique and that you and the school are a great fit for each other.

Although the prompt may be phrased as either “Why you?” or “Why us?” these questions are essentially the same.

  • Either way, you’ll talk about both what the college can offer you and what you can offer the college in your essay.

To really nail this essay, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time researching the school.

  • Once you’ve compiled notes and research, choose 3-5 details that you personally connect with and that are unique to the university or college.

Finally, you’re ready to write the essay! Jump right in, with no introduction or conclusion, and be authentic and enthusiastic. Revise and edit , and absolutely don’t misspell the name of the college!

Follow these tips, and your “Why This College” essay can help you stand out from the crowd—and earn that acceptance letter you’ve been dreaming of!

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10 Strategies for Writing a College Application Essay

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Strategies How to Write a College Application Essay

Your college essay, frequently asked questions about writing a college application essay.

Writing a college application essay can have an incredible influence on the college admissions committees . The essay is designed to give students a chance to really show colleges who they are and what they aspire to be. This is why it’s important to compose something that makes your personal statement stand out amongst the hundreds of other students.

You want to write something captivating and impactful without overwhelming the reader yet staying true to you. But between knowing where to start and what to write about, the essay itself seems almost impossible to conquer. And this is where I come in.

Today’s article focuses on my carefully crafted 10-step strategy for writing the perfect college application essay . With some colleges no longer considering factors like high school grades and standardized test scores (i.e., SAT and ACT scores ), the pressure to create a college application essay can be fierce but stress no more. With the help of these ten strategies, you will be on your way to writing the strong college application essay that just might get you a seat at your dream college. Let’s get right into it!

Visit our Scholarship blog for more insight on college-related topics, plus access to hundreds of exclusive scholarships . So, don’t wait. Start applying today !

Start Early:

Because the whole application process is tedious from beginning to end, you want to give yourself plenty of time to work on your essay. Be sure to start brainstorming ideas early and create and outline your essay. Not only will this give you an idea of how you want to structure your essay, but it will also provide an ample amount of time to work on the essay. If you start early, you will also have more than enough time to edit and go through multiple drafts until your final draft is complete.

Understand the Prompt:

Before you begin writing anything, make sure you fully understand the essay prompt. The last thing you want to do is write an essay that has nothing to do with the theme/prompt the school has given prospective students. Look into the essay’s guidelines beforehand to have a clear understanding of what your topic is. That way, you don’t waste words and time.

Show, Don’t Tell:

It’s easy to put words on a paper and call it an essay, but that’s boring (and lazy)! Show your readers what you want them to see; don’t just tell them. Use specific examples to illustrate your points and qualities. Try adding some humor in there to give them an even clearer sense of your personality, as well.

Whatever theme or prompts you are focusing on in your essay, just make sure you show who you truly are. Bring your readers on your journey through any experience you’re highlighting rather than just telling them you were there. Use your achievements and moments of clarity to draw them in. An admissions officer will want to see your colors, not just hear about them.

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Be Authentic:

This is the key and probably the most important part of your essay. Be authentic and unapologetically you. Write in your own voice, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Share your experiences, passions, and aspirations, but focus on how who you truly are, your values, and your goals. It’s easy to tell when something is forced, so stray away from generic tones and cliché jargon. Be fun, use humor, and showcase your natural tone. College admissions committees respect transparency and honesty as these characteristics usually line up with their institution’s values, so be authentically you.

Focus on a Specific Topic:

When you’re working on something like a college application essay where your goal is to stand out, it’s easy to ramble on about yourself, and that’s okay! But it’s important to know what is necessary and what overflow is. Choose a specific topic/theme that gives your story a way to showcase your personality and stick to it. You want to focus on key details and not details about the details. Stick to what you want to convey and use supporting information and/or characteristics.  

Structure Your Essay:

The key to a well-thought-out, formed essay is a strong outline. Organizing your thoughts will help you more than you know, so make sure you start your outline with a clear introduction that leads to strong body paragraphs that support your main points. And when all is said and done, you will wrap up your essay with an impressionable conclusion. You might go through a few outlines before you get to your final one, but that’s okay! Whatever works for you will shine through your essay.

writing an essay for college applications

Edit and Revise:

Editing is going to be your best friend. The first draft is always going to be a little messy, so make sure you go back and proofread your work for any grammar and spelling errors. The editing and writing process can also help you gain some clarity on what you are trying to convey to the college admissions committee. Because we’re the ones writing it, our thoughts make sense as soon they spill onto the paper, so proofreading your work will give you a chance to realign those thoughts and make it more coherent and smoother to read.

And since you’re the one writing it, it’s easy to overlook typos and missed punctuation, so I suggest taking breaks. And this can go any way! You can complete the first few paragraphs and then take a break; you can do one paragraph at a time or even the entire essay and then take a break. Whichever way you choose to go when it comes to writing essays, stepping back from your words can help you regain that sharp eye that will catch the errors.

Seek Feedback:

If you’re anything like me, you don’t like to bother people or ask for help, but for your college application essay, you have to put that aside. Don’t be afraid to ask teachers, counselors, your parents, peers, and friends to read your essay and provide constructive feedback in areas that need improvement. A second, third, and even fourth set of eyes will be able to catch things you can’t. Just be sure the people you know will set time aside to help you.

Also, request that your readers tell you what they gained from the essay. Did you perceive yourself well, did you miss anything, should you include a detail you don’t think it relevant to personal essay, but they do? You want to make sure your essay represents you academically, professionally, and personally, so listen closely to what they have to say and revise until it’s ready to go.

Be Positive:

Though I know it’s important to share your experiences and stories in your applications essay, I want to make sure you don’t focus on the negative aspects of your experiences (if any!). Colleges want to see their prospective student’s personalities and how they get through even the happiest of life experiences, and not just the challenging ones. Focus on your strengths, achievements, and growth while maintaining a positive and optimistic tone throughout your essay.

Leave them wanting more:

The goal point of your application’s essay is to stand out, so ending your essay with a strong closing sentence will amplify the reader’s interest that much more. Not only will these strategies inspire a well-written and authentic essay, but they can also increase your chances of making a strong, lasting impression on college admissions committees. Make sure your closing statement is witty and powerful and ties it all together.

Your college essay should show your personality, special qualities, experiences, and aspirations to the college admissions officers and committee. You don’t want to do too much, but you also don’t want to leave anything out . So, in case you get stuck, here are some elements to include in your college application essay:

  • Personal Story : Share your story and experiences that have shaped your identity and/or influenced your passions.
  • Academic Achievements : This is not the time to be modest about academic achievements, so highlight any awards or honors that demonstrate your dedication to education.
  • Goals and Aspirations : Clearly state your goals and aspirations and explain how attending the college you are applying to support those dreams.
  • Unique Perspective : Offer the unique perspectives or insights that set you apart from other applicants. This will showcase your individuality.
  • Writing Style : You want your essay to demonstrate strong writing skills, creativity, and clarity. Provide vivid language, clear storytelling, and proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Relevance : Make sure your essay directly addresses the college’s prompts or questions and aligns with the values and mission of the institution.
  • Reflection : Reflect on your experiences, challenges, and growth, and show how they have shaped your character and prepared you for college.
  • Be Yourself : But most importantly, be You. Stay true to your authenticity, as it is the one thing that will make you stand out the most!

In truth, your college application essay doesn’t have to drag . Include some of these elements into your work, and you might even (dare I say) have fun showing every college board member who you are and what you have to offer the world of academia. Good luck, and happy writing your admissions essays .

college essay writing

What should I write about in my college application essay?

When it comes to topics for your college application essay, choose a subject that boasts your unique personality, experiences, and personal values. Consider sharing a personal story that shines a light on your strengths, or write about any challenges you’ve overcome gracefully or a significant moment that helped shape your identity. The goal of college essays is to provide admissions officers with insight into who you are beyond your academic achievements, not just that you can put together an essay.

How long should my college application essay be?

Most colleges have specific guidelines regarding the length of the application essay, typically ranging from 250 to 650 words. It is important to adhere to the word count limit provided by the college to ensure that your essay is concise and focused. Be sure to carefully review the college application process and instructions to determine the appropriate length for your essay.

How can I make my college application essay stand out?

To make your college application essay stand out, focus on your authentic voice and perspective. Avoid clichés and generic statements, and instead, strive to convey your unique personality and experiences. Use bold language, descriptive details, and storytelling techniques to captivate the reader’s attention. Don’t be afraid to get feedback from teachers, counselors, or peers to ensure that your college essay topic is well-written and effectively communicates your message.

Interested in learning more from Bold.org ? Visit our Scholarship Blog to stay up to date on everything you need to know about college topics and apply for scholarships today.

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How To Answer The “Why This College” Essay Prompt

How To Answer The “Why This College” Essay Prompt

The “Why This College” essay question and its variations are a popular supplemental essay prompt in college admissions. How should you approach this question? When asking “Why This College”, colleges want to know why you, specifically, are a great fit for their school. Read this blog post to learn how the “Why This College” essay prompt fits into the broader application, how to avoid a generic “Why This College” essay, and how to structure and write your essay. You’ll come away knowing exactly how to write an essay that stands out to admissions officers!  

To successfully answer the “Why This College?” supplemental essay, you must first understand the purpose of this question. You see, going to college is like entering a committed, long-term, and potentially expensive relationship. For your part, you have to decide where to live and work for the next 4 years. And the college has to decide whether you deserve a precious spot on campus. A spot that thousands of others are fighting for, too.

In the “Why This College” supplemental essay question, colleges want to know why you, specifically, are a great fit for this particular college.

This question seems straightforward at first glance. But despite its directness, it can be difficult to answer. Lots of answers are overdone, and many students miss the point entirely. In this blog post, we’ll show you a foolproof process for defining and conveying why a college is the *perfect *place for you.

Keep reading to find out how you can create an amazing “Why This College” essay!

What Do Colleges Look for in a “Why This College” Essay?

Going back to the relationship analogy: Imagine your partner asks you “Why do you like me?” You wouldn’t make them feel special if you answered, “Because you’re famous” or, “Because you live near the beach.” You’d make them feel special if you talked about how your unique personalities combine to form the ultimate dream team.

In the “Why This College” or “Why Us” prompt, colleges are looking to see that you know (1) what the school offers and (2) how it aligns with your interests, passions, and values. Your goal with this essay is to sincerely, authentically, and excitedly tell admissions committees:

  • What you will get out of going to their school in particular.
  • What you will contribute to their school as a student there.
  • Which specific opportunities you’ll take advantage of.
  • How you’ll bring your skills and past experiences to bear as a leader and collaborator on their campus.

Think of this essay as a bridge between you and the college. It’s your chance to express why you're drawn to it.

Examples of “Why This College” Essay Prompts

The prompts for the “Why This College” essay might differ from school to school. Here are a few examples of different prompts you might encounter.

Yale & Columbia

  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
  • Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (200 words or fewer)

Some schools, like Yale and Columbia , keep their prompts brief and open ended, often with a short word count. While the limited space can be a challenge, it also gives you an opportunity to focus on the most important reasons why you want to attend the school.

  • We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand – Why NYU? (400 word maximum)

Other schools like NYU give a bit more detail in their prompts, helping to identify the categories they would like you to discuss: a specific campus, school, area of study, or academic and extracurricular programs. Because you have an expanded word count, make sure to discuss each of the points they ask for in as much detail as possible.

  • How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

UChicago’s prompt is unique in that it has an open word count. While this may give you the freedom to talk about many topics, your essay should still be concise, cohesive, and well organized to maximize its effectiveness. Notice that this prompt also specifically asks you to focus on your own desires and goals. The admissions officers want to know how attending UChicago will help you achieve these goals — not just what you find interesting about UChicago.

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How the “Why This College?” Essay Fits into the Holistic Application Review

Admissions officers use a holistic approach when evaluating applicants. This means they don’t make decisions based on just one factor. Instead, they consider multiple aspects of your application: academic performance, standardized test scores, recommendation letters, and extracurricular activities.

The "Why This College?" essay plays a unique role in this process. While grades and test scores provide valuable quantitative data, this essay serves as qualitative information that can't be distilled into numbers. It's your chance to breathe life into your application by showcasing your personality, ambitions, and potential contributions to the college community.

Think of this essay as the human touch, where you can share your narrative and explain why you're not just another student — you’re a valuable addition to their campus.

The Admissions Committee's Perspective on the “Why This College?” Essay

To truly master the art of writing the "Why This College?" essay, put yourself in the shoes of the admissions committee. These dedicated professionals aren't just sifting through a stack of papers. They're curating a diverse and vibrant class for their college. They’re looking for students who will not only thrive academically but also contribute to the campus culture

This perspective shift reminds you that this essay isn't just about what you can gain from the college; it's also about what you can give back. Imagine you're sitting at the table with the admissions committee, and your goal is to convince them that you’re an excellent fit for their institution.

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The Equation for a Perfect “Why This College” Essay

If you take away only one thing from this article, let it be this: This essay answer isn’t meant to be a song of praise about the school OR an additional list of your achievements. Rather, it’s meant to show how aspects of you complement aspects of the school in mutually beneficial ways.

Your Values and Goals + This College’s Offerings = a Successful “Why This College” Essay

Research: The Key to Avoiding a Generic “Why This College?” Essay that Flops

Sorry to say this, but admissions officers can spot a generic essay from a mile away. ChatGPT can’t write it for you. And nothing signals disinterest more than vague, recycled information.

To craft a compelling essay, you must immerse yourself in the college's culture, values, and offerings.

But before you crawl down the research rabbit hole, let’s give you two questions to guide your focus.

Question 1: “What does this school do that nobody else does?”

Every university has its distinct identity and strengths. It's your job to identify and showcase these unique aspects that resonate with your academic and personal goals.

Highlight what makes this institution stand out for you personally. Is it their groundbreaking research opportunities, renowned faculty, or commitment to community service? Maybe it's the vibrant campus culture, specific majors, or innovative programs. These unique qualities will form the core of your essay, making it authentic and memorable.

“Finding opportunities that you can’t find elsewhere is a great way to tackle [the Why This College] question,” says Eileen Dougherty, a Former Admissions Officer from UPenn. “You don’t want to say, “I’m excited for internships and studying abroad.” You can find those anywhere, so you’re not making a strong case for fit in those responses.”

Once you answer this question, move on to the second question.

Question 2: “How does that particular thing help me become who I want to be?”

More so than any other school, tell them why this thing is the springboard for the rest of your life. To answer this question, you’ll need to tie in aspects of your own personality and goals. This will help admissions officers see how you fit into the life legacy of the college.

Example: A Successful “Why Yale” Essay

Let’s take a look at the way one student addressed both of the above questions in her “Why Yale” Essay:

“My challenges are what fuel my identity and at Yale I would be able to challenge myself further through research. Within the computer science department, I want to expand my knowledge on the creation of various artificial intelligence models, and learn more about how they can be utilized for other pressing classification purposes. I believe under the right mentorship at Yale through their STARS (Science, Technology and Research Scholars) research experience, I can improve not only my skills, but potentially gain insight on how they can be applied to solve other major global issues. As a home to discovery, I would live up to Yale's next generation of innovators in order to continue its mission to improve the world.”

This student refers to the computer science department. She signals she’s aware of the strong reputation of its opportunities to learn about artificial intelligence. She also mentions a specific research program, STARS. At the end, she nods to Yale’s mission to foster innovation and have a positive impact on the world.

The first 7 words of the essay immediately give the reader a glimpse into who this student is. This student doesn’t shy away from challenges — in fact, they live for challenges. Which is great, because studying computer science at Yale will be challenging!

The student expresses their personal interest in artificial intelligence and shows they’re already thinking about how to apply what they’ll learn ( “other classification purposes” ). They finish strong by expressing their desire to solve problems and impact the world, which aligns with Yale’s mission.

Thorough research is the cornerstone of writing an effective "Why This College?" essay. Let these two questions guide you in conducting laser-focused research on your chosen school.

Top 3 "Why This School?" Essay Tips

Tips for Finding Relevant Information

Level 1: Novice Tips

1. College Website: Start with the official college website. You’ll find detailed information about academic programs, faculty, campus facilities, mission statements, and core values. Take notes on what resonates with you. Certainly don’t regurgitate this information word-for-word in your essay — but it can be a good starting point.

2. Tours and Webinars: It’s ideal if you can get to a school to see it in person. If not, take advantage of virtual tours to get insights into campus life, student experiences, and the college's philosophy. Check out:

  • A Day in the Life at top colleges Youtube series
  • CampusTours
  • Tours on your chosen school’s website

3. Speaking with Current Students and Alumni: Reach out to current students or alumni if possible. Colleges often have a network of representatives who are happy to talk to prospective students. Check their website or give them a call to ask about these opportunities.

4. Reading Student Reviews: Websites like Niche and College Confidential feature student reviews and discussions. Read these to gauge the sentiment of at least some students. They are opinions, so take them with a grain of salt!

Level 2: Expert Tips

  • Google “unique courses at [university name]”. If you fancy yourself a Wordle champ, you might be itching to join Princeton’s “Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble.” Or perhaps you excel at procrastinating — then UPenn’s “Wasting time on the Internet” might be your time to shine.
  • Google “[university name] traditions”. You know, like Georgetown’s Healy Howl or Cornell’s Dragon Day. Not that you should write your essay about this tradition — it’s likely overdone. But it could give you inspiration and help you capture the school’s character in your essay.
  • Call the admissions office. Seriously, you can just do that. You’ll be able to talk to a rep who can answer your questions. And they might even be the one who eventually reads your application! As a general rule, don’t ask them anything that you could just Google. Ask thoughtful questions tailored to your situation. You may get some great inspiration for your essay.
  • Find a syllabus. If you dig around long enough, you should be able to find a syllabus for a course taught at the school. Mention a detail from it in your essay.

Organizing Your Research

As you gather information, organize your research. Create a system that allows you to access key details quickly when you're ready to start writing. Below are categories you might want to note for each school.

Research Categories

  • Majors and Minors Offered
  • Unique Academic Programs
  • Notable Faculty
  • Research Opportunities
  • Class Sizes and Teaching Styles
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Clubs and Organizations
  • Campus Events and Traditions
  • Campus Facilities (Libraries, Labs, etc.)
  • Student Demographics
  • Geographic Location
  • Proximity to Urban Areas
  • Regional Opportunities
  • Local Culture and Attractions
  • Acceptance Rate
  • SAT/ACT Score Averages
  • Admission Requirements
  • Application Deadlines
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Special Programs (Honors, Study Abroad, etc.)
  • Notable Alumni
  • Awards and Recognitions
  • Campus Sustainability Initiatives
  • Community Engagement
  • Your Personal Observations
  • Thoughts and Feelings During Virtual Tours
  • Insights from Conversations with Students and Alumni
  • Overall Campus Vibe

Organization Tips

  • Digital Notes: Create a digital document (Word, Google Docs) with these categories and add your findings under each one as you research. Use bullet points or numbered lists for easy readability.
  • Color Coding: Assign a specific color to each category for visual organization. Highlight or tag information with the corresponding color to quickly locate details.
  • Separate Documents: If you prefer a more detailed approach, consider creating separate documents or folders for each college you're researching. Inside each folder, have subfolders corresponding to the categories listed above.
  • Spreadsheets : Use spreadsheet software (Excel, Google Sheets) to create a table with columns for each category. This allows you to input data systematically and sort information easily.
  • Note-Taking Apps: Utilize note-taking apps such as Evernote or OneNote to organize your research digitally. Create notebooks for each college, and within them, separate notes by categories.
  • Physical Binder: If you prefer a tangible approach, use a binder with dividers for each category. Print and organize physical materials like brochures and handwritten notes.

With this organized system, you'll have a clear overview of the colleges you're researching so you can easily craft a compelling "Why This College?" essay.

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Creating a Personalized List of Reasons

“Personalized” is the key word here. After conducting thorough research, hopefully you can come up with at least 3 honest reasons why you want to go to this school in particular . (If not, maybe you shouldn’t be applying there!)

List out your personalized reasons for wanting to attend this school. Now you can begin crafting your essay around them.

How to Structure Your "Why This College" Essay

One of the primary objectives of the "Why This College?" essay is to demonstrate how your academic and personal goals align with what the college has to offer. Admissions officers want to see that you can articulate precisely why you think this college is the ideal place to pursue your ambitions. Discuss specific programs, courses, or opportunities that the college provides and how they directly relate to your goals. Whether it's access to renowned professors, cutting-edge research facilities, or unique extracurricular activities, highlight the aspects of the college that make it the perfect fit for your future.

Here’s a suggestion for the general architecture of the essay:

1. Introduce your reasons for applying to this particular college.  

2. Follow this up with facts about the college that attracted you. Include a few reasons why the college is a great fit for your interests and goals. 

3. Conclude by expressing why you would be a great addition to the school. 

Make sure that your essay is well organized and concise. Provide real reasons why the school is a perfect match for your talent and aspirations. With some thoughtful planning and research, you can craft an impressive essay that will surely help your application stand out.

Tips for Writing a Compelling Introduction to the “Why This College” Essay

Admissions officers appreciate essays that engage them from the very beginning. This makes them eager to learn more about the applicant behind the words. Below are some strategies for starting the essay.

1. Anecdote or personal story: Share a brief personal story that relates to your interest in the college. It could be an experience that sparked your curiosity or a moment when you realized the college's unique offerings aligned with your goals.

Example: “One step on Dartmouth’s campus and I knew it was somewhere to be treasured. On that November day, I was far from my California home, but it felt warm, despite the snow.” 

2. A relevant quote. Sometimes, a well-chosen quotation or a surprising fact can serve as an excellent opening. Ensure that it's directly related to your reasons for choosing the college, as this sets the stage for what follows.

Example: "Feminism is not a job or a mask you can take off at the end of the day. Feminism is a lifestyle." –Alina Cebotari, Moldovan Intersectional Feminist. I keep remembering the feminists that have raised me, while I immerse myself in Barnard’s trailblazing alumnae community. 

3. A thought-provoking question. Engage your readers with a thought-provoking question. Make it relevant to the college and your aspirations. This approach encourages your audience to reflect on the question and seek answers within your essay.

Example: “Have you ever experienced a sense of awe that transcends the ordinary?” 

This student goes on to tell the story of the moment she knew she wanted to study architecture and connects with specifics of Cornell’s excellent architecture program.

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Do’s and Don’ts Your “Why This College” Essay

  • DO connect your goals and values with those of the school. Discuss the college's commitment to diversity, community engagement, or any other values that resonate with you. Share personal experiences or beliefs that demonstrate your dedication to upholding these values.
  • DO articulate your academic aspirations. Explain how your intended major or field of study aligns with the college's strengths.
  • DO showcase a commitment to personal growth. Highlight how the college's unique opportunities will contribute to your personal development. Whether it's the chance to engage in research, participate in leadership programs, or immerse yourself in a vibrant campus community, emphasize how these experiences will help you grow as an individual.
  • DO discuss specific programs, courses, or professors. Go beyond generic statements and mention specific programs, courses, or professors that have captured your interest. Whether it's an innovative research project, a renowned professor's work, or a unique interdisciplinary course, show you’re aware of what sets this college apart academically.
  • DO describe extracurricular activities and clubs. This is your chance to showcase which campus groups you're eager to join. Discuss clubs, organizations, or extracurricular activities that align with your interests or values. Describe how you envision yourself getting involved and making a meaningful impact. Admissions officers value applicants who show a clear intention to contribute to the college's vibrant campus life.
  • DO mention *specific* internship, research, or study abroad opportunities. Explain how these experiences will enrich your education and prepare you for future success. Discuss any specific projects, organizations, or destinations that have piqued your interest.
  • DO demonstrate knowledge of campus resources. Discuss how access to *specific* libraries, research centers, or academic support services will help your studies. ****
  • DON’T write about the school’s size, location, or weather. Many schools are beautiful. Plenty of schools have great weather or are near the beach. For any school you apply to, you can find at least 20 that are the exact same size. Avoid these generic features. Instead focus on why this specific school calls to you.
  • DON’T make generic or vague statements . Avoid phrases like "your esteemed institution" or "world-class faculty," which are too generic to hold any real meaning. Instead, be specific. Specificity adds authenticity and depth to your essay, demonstrating your genuine interest in the college.
  • DON’T use clichés. Admissions officers read countless essays with worn-out phrases like "dream school" or "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity". To stand out, use original language and anecdotes that reflect your personal connection to the school.
  • DON’T focus solely on prestige and rankings. Admissions officers want to see that you're genuinely excited about what the college has to offer — beyond its reputation. Instead of excessively praising the school or listing rankings, delve into specific details about its programs, values, and community that align with your goals.
  • DON’T repeat other parts of your application. Every word on your application takes up precious real estate. Avoid reusing personal experiences, achievements, or even school’s resources that you have mentioned in other essays or sections of the application.
  • DON’T forget to proofread and edit. Nothing kills an otherwise lovely essay like careless errors! After drafting your essay, take the time to proofread it carefully and have someone else review it.

Final Thoughts

The “Why This College” Essay is an important part of your application. It’s one of the best places for admissions officers to learn who you are and why you’re dying to go to their school. Although it requires a lot of research and thought, a strong “Why This College” Essay will make a compelling argument for why you would be a great addition to that specific campus.

Going through the research and writing process for this essay might even be a great opportunity for you to figure out what you’re looking for in a school!

By identifying specific resources, crafting detailed descriptions of how they align with your passions and ambitions, and using an authentic writing style, you’ll be on your way to creating a unique, personal, and effective “Why This College” Essay.

If you want to get feedback on your “Why This College” Essay and find out if it's strong enough for the school you're applying to, consider getting it reviewed by a professional using Crimson Education’s Essay Review Service .

Further Reading:

  • Free eBook: Write the Perfect Personal Essay
  • Free eBook: US Application Supplemental Essays - Everything You Need To Know
  • Blog: New Supplemental Essay Prompts 2023-24
  • Blog: Can You Answer These Bizarre (But Real) College Essay Prompts?

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How To Answer The “Why Do You Want To Go To This College?” Essay

By Steve Schwartz

The cynical reason is, bluntly, they want to accept students who will accept their offers of admissions. The higher the percent of students accepted that go there, the less they have to accept from the wait list, the lower their acceptance rate, and the better they look.

The other reason is less self-serving, and it’s more about the students. Schools are not just looking to accept the best, the brightest, and most interesting, but also to find the students who are the best matches. They want students who will thrive on campus, not transfer out (which will hurt their rankings!), and who will contribute to campus life.

The moral is, these essays are important, so spend some time on them. If the school that you’re writing about is actually your safety, don’t let it show in your essay! Here are some tips to help:

Don’t recycle the same essay for all the schools. I know it’s tempting—You’re busy and writing these essays is not a day on the beach. This essay, though, is all about showing how much you want to go to, and why you are a good match for, the SPECIFIC school. If you recycle, the essay will be broad and unspecific, and could end up hurting you.

Do talk about yourself. I can’t stress it enough: it’s an essay about why YOU will thrive at the college. They admissions committee already knows their school is great, what they want to know is why the school is great for you, and you for them. So, write about how you will contribute to campus life, how you can enrich the community, how you will take advantage of the college’s offerings, and how the college will help you to achieve your goals. If you visited the school, write about your personal reflections on the campus, students, and classes. Anecdotes and details are always the best approach. Show the admissions committee why you are the perfect match!

Don’t bash other schools. Negativity is never good, and won’t impress anyone. In fact, it’s best to mention other schools at all. Be positive, and focus exclusively on why this school is so perfect for you. Leave the comparisons out.

Do talk about clubs, sports, curriculum, departments, professors, student body diversity, size, campus community, internships, study abroad, research opportunities, campus culture, class size, and location. There are more than enough specifics you can mention to fill this short essay!

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June 3, 2010 at 10:30 am

Good tips.. thanks!

December 18, 2010 at 10:08 am

April 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm

very helpful! thank you!

May 16, 2011 at 9:52 am

Just want to say thanks for sharing some of these tips. They're so concise and straightforward. I'm a College Counselor in MA, and I'm sharing your blog with my students. Thanks!

May 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Agreed – especially the one about not recycling essays, though it definitely could be possible if the applicant is diligent enough.

November 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

These are great tips, but I used them for an essay to get into a really high-tech high-school/academy. I'll probably be using them for college in a few years, as well. So thank you!

January 3, 2013 at 9:54 am

My witch of a teacher is making us write this essay even though we are only in middle school. Thanks for the tips! However, I would like to know how I should start the essay.

January 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Thanks a lot for the tips. They really helped me.

January 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Thanks so very much for all the tips. I felt that your tips were mine. I was thinking same way but wasn't sure. One good think that I have learned from your tip that never bashes another college or institutions. I was thinking bashing other college is good and I am wrong. A bid thanks for your positive advice and good tips. Please keep the good work and add some essay sample. You are the best! Dhanno Bad!

January 23, 2013 at 4:58 pm

can you give examples of essays, I dont need tips

March 26, 2015 at 9:14 am

OMG, you're Bengali?!

March 26, 2015 at 9:17 am

These tips are amazing! Everything online says stuff that doesn't make any sense, but your blogged really helped!

December 4, 2015 at 9:59 am

Generally considered to be more important.

December 23, 2015 at 4:40 am

Thanks for this aricle.

January 2, 2016 at 9:02 pm

March 31, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Good suggestion

July 12, 2016 at 12:56 am

What are your chances of acceptance?

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essay on why i want to go to a certain college

How to Write the “Why this Major” College Essay + Examples

What’s covered:.

  • What is the “Why This Major” Essay?
  • Examples of “Why This Major?” Essay Prompts
  • Tips for Writing the “Why This Major?” Essay
  • “Why This Major?” Essay Examples

What to Do If You’re Undecided

The “Why This Major?” essay is a common prompt that nearly every college applicant will have to answer at least once. In this post, we’ll go over the purpose of this essay, examples of real prompts, sample responses, and expert tips for writing your own essay. If one of the colleges on your list asks you to respond to this prompt, you’ll be well-prepared after reading this post. 

What is the “Why This Major” Essay? 

In the college admissions process, you’ll need to submit two main types of essays: the personal statement and supplemental essays. The personal statement is your main application essay that goes to every school you apply to. The goal of this essay is to share more about who you are and your development. 

On the other hand, supplemental essays only go to specific schools, and each school requests their own essays. The goal of these essays is to showcase your fit with the school. Common prompts include “ Why This College? ”, “ Describe an Extracurricular ,” and “Why This Major?” 

The “Why This Major?” prompt in particular asks you, unsurprisingly, to explain your interest in your intended major. Colleges want to understand where you’re coming from academically, what your intellectual passions are, and what you plan to do professionally (at least roughly). If you aren’t 100% sure about what you want to study, that’s totally fine, but you do want to show that you’re an overall curious, engaged student.

It’s also meant to gauge your academic fit with the college, so you should be sure to cover school-specific resources related to your intended major that will help you achieve your goals. In other words, this prompt should actually be considered “Why This Major at This School?” 

Examples of “Why This Major?” Essay Prompts 

Before we dive in, let’s first take a look at some real-life examples of these prompts. 

For example, Yale requests that students write a 200-word supplemental essay based on the following prompt: 

Similarly, Purdue asks applicants to write 250 words in response to the below statement:

Carnegie Mellon , another top college, requires students to discuss the evolution of their proposed field of study, in 300 words or less: 

Finally, the University of Michigan asks students to craft a slightly longer essay, up to 500 words, about the qualities that attracted them to the college or school they’re applying to and how the curriculum will support their interests.

Tips for Writing the “Why This Major?” Essay 

Answering the “Why This Major?” prompt may seem like a difficult task. However, there are tips to help simplify the process and ensure your response addresses the question fully and effectively. Here are three steps for writing a standout essay about your major of choice: 

1. Share how your academic interest developed.  

The first step in crafting an effective “Why This Major?” essay is explaining your emotional resonance with the subject, and your background in it. While you might be tempted to write about your passion for the subject in flowery language, it’s better to share specific experiences that show how your interest developed. You should cover both the coursework that you’ve done in the field and any relevant extracurricular experiences. If you have space, you can also add in the specific subtopics that interest you within the major (i.e. analyzing gender relations or racism within the broader topic of sociology). 

You might also consider sharing a short anecdote related to your interest in the major. This strategy is especially effective at the beginning of the essay, as telling a story will both draw in the reader and provide context for your academic interest. For example, if you’re interested in studying English at Yale, you could start your essay by describing a childhood ritual in which you and your dad went to the library every Saturday.  

However, while anecdotes are crucial components of a college essay, students should choose what details to include with care. The most impactful essays tell a story, so you should refrain from listing all of your extracurricular activities that relate to your chosen major. This is not a resume! Instead, find ways of connecting your initial anecdote with your desire to pursue your major. For example, perhaps your early experiences at the library led you to get a job at a local bookstore and organize author readings for the community.

2. Detail your reasoning and goals.  

It’s not enough to express your passion for a particular subject. You also want to describe your goals and explain how majoring in your chosen field will help you achieve them. Perhaps your early experiences with authors inspired you to start a novel. You can further explain how majoring in English will enable you to study the great works of literature, thereby providing you with the background and foundation needed to find success as a writer.  

3. Explain your school choice.  

Finally, a “Why This Major?” essay should reveal how the college in question will help you achieve your goals. Your reasons should extend beyond “the college is highly ranked for this major,” as no matter how excellent the school’s reputation is, there are assuredly other colleges out there that are also strong in this department. Instead, dive into the curriculum, teaching methodology, specific classes, professors who are doing work in your area of interest, or other resources that can be found only at that school. 

For example, if you’re passionate about becoming a writer one day, take time to explain how Yale’s English program will set you on the road to success. Perhaps you’re interested in studying British greats through the famed Yale in London study abroad program. Or, maybe you plan on pursuing the Creative Writing Concentration as a senior to further refine your abilities to craft engaging narratives with compelling characters. 

You could also mention a desire to take a particular course, study with a certain professor, or work on the school newspaper. Just be careful not to “name-drop” professors⁠—only mention a specific faculty member if their work is highly relevant to your interests. Otherwise, your interest will look disingenuous.

“Why This Major?” Essay Examples 

To give you a better idea of what these essays should look like, below are a few example responses to the “Why This Major?” prompt.

One Christmas morning, when I was nine, I opened a snap circuit set from my grandmother. Although I had always loved math and science, I didn’t realize my passion for engineering until I spent the rest of winter break creating different circuits to power various lights, alarms, and sensors. Even after I outgrew the toy, I kept the set in my bedroom at home and knew I wanted to study engineering. Later, in a high school biology class, I learned that engineering didn’t only apply to circuits, but also to medical devices that could improve people’s quality of life. Biomedical engineering allows me to pursue my academic passions and help people at the same time.

Just as biology and engineering interact in biomedical engineering, I am fascinated by interdisciplinary research in my chosen career path. Duke offers unmatched resources, such as DUhatch and The Foundry, that will enrich my engineering education and help me practice creative problem-solving skills. The emphasis on entrepreneurship within these resources will also help me to make a helpful product. Duke’s Bass Connections program also interests me; I firmly believe that the most creative and necessary problem-solving comes by bringing people together from different backgrounds. Through this program, I can use my engineering education to solve complicated societal problems such as creating sustainable surgical tools for low-income countries. Along the way, I can learn alongside experts in the field. Duke’s openness and collaborative culture span across its academic disciplines, making Duke the best place for me to grow both as an engineer and as a social advocate. 

This student does a great job of sharing how their interest in biomedical engineering developed. They begin the essay with an anecdote, which is more engaging and personal than simply stating “I want to study X major because…” and then smoothly take us into the present, and show how their understanding of the field has become more sophisticated over time. It’s also clear this student has done their research on how Duke specifically can help them achieve their goal of being an engineer and social advocate, as they’re able to name several relevant resources at Duke, such as DUhatch, The Foundry, and the Bass Connections program. 

I woke up. The curtains filtered the sun’s rays, hitting my face directly. I got up, looked from the bathroom to the kitchen, but my dad wasn’t there. I plopped on the couch, then the door opened. My dad walked in, clutching a brown paper bag with ninety-nine cent breakfast tacos. After eating, we drove to a customer’s house. He sat me in a chair, lifted the floorboard, and crawled under the house to fix the pipes. As he emerged, he talked, but my mind drifted to the weight of the eleven-millimeter hex wrench in my hand. My interest in mechanical engineering originates from my dad, who was a plumber. When I was fifteen, my dad passed away from cancer that constricted his throat. Holding his calloused hand on his deathbed, I wanted to prevent the suffering of others from cancer. Two years later, when I was given a topic of choice for my chemistry research paper, I stumbled upon an article about gold nanoparticles used for HIV treatment. I decided to steer the topic of gold nanoparticles used for cancer treatment instead, entering the field of nanotechnology. After reading numerous articles and watching college lectures on YouTube, I was utterly captivated by topics like using minuscule devices to induce hyperthermia as a safe method of cancer treatment. Nanotechnology is multi-disciplinary, reinforcing my interest in pursuing mechanical engineering as a gateway to participate in nanoscience and nanotechnology research at the University of Texas at Austin. I have learned that nanotechnology is not limited to stories like mine, but to other issues such as sustainable energy and water development that I hope to work towards. It is important for me to continue helping others without forfeiting my interest in nanotechnology, working in collaboration with both engineering and the medical field.

The narrative style of this essay engages readers and keeps us eager to know what’s going to happen next. In terms of content, the student does a great job of sharing personal and specific details about themselves, the roots of their academic interests, and their motivation to pursue them in college. While this essay is very strong overall, it is missing the “Why nanotechnology at UT Austin?” element of this kind of prompt, and would be even more successful if the student mentioned a particular professor at UT Austin doing research in their area of interest, or a lab dedicated to work in the field of nanotechnology.

I held my breath and hit RUN. Yes! A plump white cat jumped out and began to catch the falling pizzas. Although my Fat Cat project seems simple now, it was the beginning of an enthusiastic passion for computer science. Four years and thousands of hours of programming later, that passion has grown into an intense desire to explore how computer science can serve society. Every day, surrounded by technology that can recognize my face and recommend scarily-specific ads, I’m reminded of Uncle Ben’s advice to a young Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility”. Likewise, the need to ensure digital equality has skyrocketed with AI’s far-reaching presence in society; and I believe that digital fairness starts with equality in education. 

The unique use of threads at the College of Computing perfectly matches my interests in AI and its potential use in education; the path of combined threads on Intelligence and People gives me the rare opportunity to delve deep into both areas. I’m particularly intrigued by the rich sets of both knowledge-based and data-driven intelligence courses, as I believe AI should not only show correlation of events, but also provide insight into why they occur. 

In my four years as an enthusiastic online English tutor, I’ve worked hard to help students overcome both financial and technological obstacles in hopes of bringing quality education to people from diverse backgrounds. For this reason, I’m extremely excited by the many courses in the People thread that focus on education and human-centered technology. I’d love to explore how to integrate AI technology into the teaching process to make education more available, affordable, and effective for people everywhere. And with the innumerable opportunities that Georgia Tech has to offer, I know that I will be able to go further here than anywhere else.

This essay has a great hook—it captures the reader’s attention and draws them into the story right away. Through this anecdote, the student shows their personality and interests, and then deftly transitions into talking about why Georgia Tech’s computer science program is the right match for them. The student explains how the College of Computing at Georgia Tech fits into their future by referencing “threads,” which are unique to the College of Computing’s curriculum and allow students to apply their CS coursework to particular areas. 

Just because you haven’t decided on a concentration doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to writing the “Why This Major?” essay. Ultimately, schools care less about knowing that you have your whole academic career planned out, and more about seeing that you are a genuinely curious, engaged student who does have intellectual passions, even if you’re still figuring out which one you want to pursue as a major. 

If you’re still undecided, you can opt to write about 1-3 potential majors (depending on the word count), while detailing how the school can help you choose one, as well as meet your broader academic goals. For best results, include personal anecdotes about a few academic subjects or courses that have inspired you, and share some potential career paths stemming from them. For more tips, see our post on how to write the “Why this major?” essay if you’re undecided . 

Where to Get Your “Why This Major?” Essay Edited 

Do you want feedback on your “Why This Major?” essay? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.  

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

CollegeBasics

Why I-Want-to-Go-to-This-College Essay

college-recommendations

You will find many college applications ask you to write a short essay on why you want to go to their college and it’s also a common college interview question .

The typical prompt is just that: Why do you want to attend this college?

With this specific college prompt colleges are really asking you two things :

  • first, what you like about the college and if you really know about their college
  • secondly, if you have considered why this college is good for you.

You need to answer both these questions in one short essay of 250 to 300 words.

This essay does not require a thesis statement or an introduction and conclusion. However, it does require more than the few sentences. If you find only a few spaces provided on the application, it is better that you write out three or so paragraphs and attach them to your application.

The key to this essay is both knowing yourself and knowing the college you are applying to.

4 Tips For Your Why I-Want-to-Go-to-This-College Essay

1. figure out what you want in a college.

Before you write this essay you should sit down and list at least five things you want in a college: Do you want a large or small campus, do you want an urban or rural setting, do you want small classes or large lecture?

Depending on how you learn best, does this school have a good course of study for the future you are pursuing, does it offer courses abroad, can you do independent research, are the professors known for their research in your areas of interest, will its cost fit your pocketbook, do they offer extracurricular activities you want to be involved in, are the dorms set up to your liking, what kind of student population will you feel most comfortable with, is it a long distance from your home – which you may or may not want.

I could go on.

To know what kinds of questions to ask yourself about what you do want in college, you might want to check out our article about the first steps in selecting a college that suits you .

2. Research the college

This means real research, not looking at pictures in pamphlets or online.

You should visit the school you’re applying to and TAKE NOTES. Walk around campus; go into classes and dorms; talk to professors, admissions people, and students; and check out the library, cafeterias, and student union.

Take down names of people you talk to, note quotations from people, take down the names of buildings, and the names of classes you attend.

All this will come in handy.

3. Visit the college’s website

Here you need to check out the various courses and note down the nitty-gritty things like numbers of credits needed and prerequisites. Look at departments and their faculty. Read the professors’ vitae and note their areas of strengths and accomplishments.

Read the college’s mission statement to determine if it fits your own philosophy of what you want from an education.

If copies of the campus paper’s articles are available, read them to gather the kind of atmosphere the campus has. Is it political, ho-hum about what’s going on, student-centered?

Look at the activity calendars to get a feel for how busy the campus is and what it offers students.

4. Write the essay

The best thing is to group your notes into three or four things that you like about the campus that you can describe and to which you can add why you like that from your list of what you want from a college experience.

Here are a few more tips about writing an admissions essay to help you breeze through.

Final bonus tip!

Be sure to have your essay reviewed by ta qualified expert so that you submit the best possible essay to your colleges!

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About the author.

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Content created by retired College Admissions consultants.

Guide to "Why This School" Essays

The recording will load in a moment., about this livestream.

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Learn how to write an essay responding to "Why This School" prompts. Hale Jaeger will walk through how to write college-specific essays, covering what admissions officers are looking for in this essay, techniques to research unique info about a school, and the biggest turnoffs in a "Why This School" essay.

He'll also open up the floor for a Q&A session where he'll answer any and all questions about "Why This School" essays.

Video Transcript:

Just a little context about who I am if you haven't been on any of my streams before, I'm currently a super senior at Yale University studying neuroscience. This is my fifth year working with CollegeVine now. And today, I'm going to be walking through writing the why school essay, it's a pretty common essay type that you'll run into as you're preparing your applications. So I want to give a nice thorough walkthrough of what that looks like, and where you might want to take it. But if you have specific questions, please throw those in the chat box. Throughout. I will have a q&a at the end. But I want to try to answer your questions throughout if I can. If it's not going to work out right away, I'll just save it for the Q&A. But I'll try to be checking your questions as we go through.

So without further ado, I just want to show you guys what exactly we're going to be covering today. And so we have a couple of different bullet points here. One, what does a why school question look like? What are colleges looking for in response, how to think about the why school problem, then what you all came here for how to start writing the wise or essay. And I've actually given this presentation a few times, which I say, just so that you guys know that this is being recorded, and it will be entering the archive is pretty much within hours or minutes of me finishing the presentation. So if you missed the beginning, you can always go back. And you can watch it again over and over if you want a home. But this is going to be recorded and available on the CollegeVine website in the future.

So jumping right in starting with what this question looks like, you've probably already seen it probably know what you expect it to look like. But that's why I want to go through a couple different examples. So the first one I have here is really straightforward. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply 125 words or fewer? Short and sweet, right to the point? It says Why do you want to go here and say it in 125 words, not that much. Not really, you know, too difficult to wrap your head around.

The second one here is the University of Michigan prompt and it's a little different. It says describe the unique qualities that attracted to a specific undergraduate college or school including preferred admissions and dual degree programs to which you're applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? 500 words. So this is different in a couple ways from the Yale prompt. It asks you to select a specific undergraduate college so that might be for you, the College of Letters, sciences, and the arts, may be the College of Engineering, it could be their business school, when you're really focusing in on I mean, University of Michigan as a whole institution, but rather just that one, one college within it. And that includes if there's a special program you're applying for, or if you're trying to do more than one of the colleges, you want to talk about that in specific. In addition, you're focusing in specifically on the curriculum and how the curriculum is going to support your interests. And so you actually have a lot more space as compared to the year one, it's about four times as long. And so you have a lot more space to get into the details of your interest in the University of Michigan and the programs that you're applying to.

Similarly, if you look down at the NYU question, it says "We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college program or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you're interested in these additional areas of study or campuses, we want to understand why NYU? 400 words." So this one, like the Michigan one is asking for a little more from you, they want to know about the specific college, if you want it to be in a specific place. They want to know about that. And they also want to know like your area of study. So you're interested in what you actually want to be doing when you're there. from an academic standpoint. Of course, that doesn't bar you from spending a little time talking about things that are outside of or exogamous from your academics. But that is should definitely be a focus, especially since you have so interspace 400 words for this one.

Then the last example I've pulled here is from Tufts. It says "Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your applicant. In short, why Tufts? 150 words." This one is very similar to the Yale essay, they just want to know what is making you apply here. And you don't have a lot of room to go into it.

We'll go through some examples of these questions have answers to these questions later on. But first, I just want to sort of summarize what these questions look like. Because we've seen a lot of differences here. There are the straightforward ones like Yale and Tufts just say, "Why do you want to go here?" Then there are the ones that are more like NYU or Michigan that say, "Why do you want to go here? And also why are you choosing this major? Or this campus? Or this department, etc?" So that asks for a slightly more nuanced or detailed answer to the question.

And then there are some others some other types of approaches to this question that colleges might take. That exam might be "Why do you want to go here? And how have you familiarized yourself with the college? What have you done to understand what it's like to be here?" Oh, excuse me. Friday evenings, am I right? They might also ask you about the mission of the school, they might say "This is our mission statement. How does this align with you? How does this reflect who you are?" Then they might ask something similar: "What why is it important to have X religion at the heart of your education?" and that's obviously going to come from a religious school, a Catholic school or a Baptist school, something that actually puts religion at the core of the education. A secular school is not going to ask you why is it important to have a secular education?

And the last one I've given here, as an example is "How will you explore your interests here?" So this is asking you to name some specific resources, and talk about how you're going to take advantage of the opportunities that are available on campus.

Obviously, this list this slide is by no means comprehensive, there are still questions that could take you by surprise that fall into the "Why school?" category, but this is a pretty good way to start thinking about recognizing these prompts.

And so before I move forward I want see, okay, Are you guys having trouble hearing me? Can you put a message in the chat, if you can hear me, I'm getting a little bit of feedback here that says there isn't audio, I just want to make sure that you are all able to hear me? Before I keep going, obviously. And if you can't, I will check in with my team and see what's going on. Okay, I'm seeing a bunch of likes. So I'm going to assume the issue resolved itself. Thank you guys for giving me that sort of validation here. I appreciate I am so sorry about the yawns. By the way, I don't know where they're coming from. But I will do my best to control them. I am excited to be here enthusiastic to be here, I promise.

So moving on you, we're going to talk about what colleges are actually looking for when they ask these types of questions. And so there are three main components here that I want to talk about a passion for attending, the reasons that you want to attend, and whether or not you're a good match. So they want to see that you care about going. They want to understand why you care about going that's probably the most straightforward aspect of it. And then the last one, the sort of secret question here is, why are you and the school a good match for one another. So let's get into a little more detail on this.

The passion about attending is going to come from giving really specific answers showing that you've done your research that you care. You care enough to spend the time on it. So they want to see that you're talking about things that are specific to them. And not just generic could be any college in America, any college in a specific place.

You want to make sure that you are personalizing this essay. And in addition, the familiarity it's kind of same as the other side of the same coin. Have you done your due diligence? Have you made the effort to understand what the school is like and know what's going on there? Then the thinking about the reasons that you're giving, which we'll get into in just a moment. Are they authentic? Are they genuine? Are they just things that come across as superficial? And I'll talk a little more about what that means in a moment. But this is sort of a check to see that you actually do want to attend. And then lastly depth. Are you doing more than just saying look, I did the research here. Some people here are some places here are some opportunities that this campus has? Or are you going into a little more detail? Are you telling us how those opportunities are going to apply to you why they're exciting to you, and not just cool things for a school to have?

To get a little deeper into those reasons that authenticity that I was mentioning? What are your authentic reasons here, your genuine reasons, and they can be academic, or they can be non academic, but they should be authentic, like I said. So some things that do count as authentic reasons that will really resonate with a reader are, you know, having a sense of community, with the people who are on campus, the students, the professor's, etc. Maybe there are specific programs that they have that other places don't have, that are really exciting to you, that you want to take advantage of. And that can be again, academic or non academic. And then that last bullet point is interesting and important, and how are you going to use your education at this school to achieve the goals that you've set for yourself? Now, what are your goals? And how will your education at x school help you achieve them?

In contrast, there are a couple less authentic reasons. ones that don't fly, don't go over so well to an admissions reader. And those are things that are going to be more superficial, like clout or prestige, or your post graduation salary. Colleges really see themselves as more than a stepping stone more than a rung on a ladder, they see themselves as an experience. And, honestly, they are at experience, it's four or more years of your life that you're spending that you're building relationships and growing. And so thinking ahead mean towards the future is fine. But just thinking about it in terms of getting a good job, or getting a job that pays well isn't really going to cut it if they're looking for a reason that is going to resonate with a school and their admissions committee.

And then the last thing I wanted to touch on here is whether you're a good match for the school or not. So it's not enough to just say, these are the good resources that you have. This is what makes you a good school. This is very interesting to all people. It's not about to say I should go to this school because of all these cool achievements I have, you have to really focus on the overlap that you have. With the school, you know why these resources will help you, why you're a good match for the school, not just why it is a good school. And that's a place where a lot of people get tripped up. So think about it, as if you are putting yourself into almost every sentence, if not every sentence, make sure that this essay is really about you as much as it is about the school.

So moving on to how to think about these things and how to conceive of the essay and the question. This is a lot like every other essay that you will write for any school. And that is to help you stand out to help you matter in the eye and make make you really seem really cool in the eyes of the admissions readers. Because they have so many applications to get through. They have so many qualified people, if you just look at statistics, so they want to know what makes you you. And so this should reveal something about you. And it should tell us something about who you are and what you are going to achieve.

So you want to consider yourself going to consider you know who you are and what you want and what you want from your college. And that will really help you guide the direction of this essay. Again, as I just said in the last slides, don't write essays that are just about you, and how good you are, how cool you are. You're trying to convey who you are not what you've done. So you want to write well. You want to show what your key personality traits are. And you want to show where you're going to fit within the community at this school.

Oh, so you're trying to make sure you are giving them the grounds to understand a couple things, whether you fit with the school and that means academics it means social culture, it means the values of the institution. Again, that passion showing if you are willing to do the research that you care abotu. They are also obviously always looking for writing ability. If your essay is riddled with typos, that's not going to go over so well. And it's going to be a pretty easy way to weed something out.

And you also want to demonstrate your interest and the department, the major the program, the college, the school, whatever it is that you're writing this essay about, you want to show that you actually are interested. And then finally, whether you're going to be a positive contributor, once you're on campus are you going to bring something to the school that you know is going to make it a better place is going to help your peers grow. That's what they're really hoping to find out. And so the ways to get that information to know how to talk about this and to get that good research done, are, you know, here, we have lots and lots of resources that you can go through, to try to find answers to your questions to understand what being a student out of school is like.

So some of the resources that I recommend you look through are listed here on the left, and missions websites are, you know, my number one go to, it's a great place to start. It's not shouldn't be where you end, but it should definitely be where you start. Because admissions websites are where they collect a lot of information that they think is going to be important to applicants to prospective students. So it's a good jumping off point to find things that are worth researching more. From there, you'll probably investigate the school website a little bit, I have the departmental websites open so you can see what their academic programs look like. And then a little more detail.

And once you've found a program that you're really interested in, you might check out the course catalogs which are often available online. And that'll help you find specific classes. So you can see exactly how they're supporting each major how they're teaching. And if it's going to be in a style that resonates with how you learn. Also, a campus tour is a usually a pretty good way to do some research on a school to get to know it a little better. It also gives you direct interaction with a college student.

Obviously, most places aren't doing tours right now. But a lot of places do have virtual tours, or some kind of replacement, whether it's on their social media, which is another resource down below. Or if they're doing forums and panels and events that allow you to have that same kind of interaction with current students. Which leads me right to the next one, which is reaching out to current students a lot of the time if you email and admissions office, they'll be able to forward your question to a student who can answer if a student isn't already the one working at the desk, or that emails coming through.

Which leads me to the next point admissions offices, you can talk to the admissions office, don't be afraid to call, send an email, whatever it is to get your questions answered, they might put you on the line with an admissions officer or a student, like I said, that'll help to give you a sense of what that school is like and give you specific answers to the questions that you have.

After that, I recommend checking out some blogs, some social media, often admissions pages will link you over to student blogs, and the official social media accounts. And those can actually keep you astride abreast of what's going on on campus. And that's a really good way to see what's going on what events are happening, how this campus is staying engaged, even, and especially now.

And then the last one that's listed here as an online forum, these I don't necessarily recommend being the your top choice for doing some research, there's very little way to verify where the information is coming from. And so it's not all good. It's not all helpful or truthful. But if you're just looking for something and you can't find it anywhere else, you can feel free to check out those places like college confidential. One thing that isn't on this slide, here are the CollegeVine College fair panels that we did last week. If you missed it last week, we had a whole long series of events that were just panels and fireside chats with current students at schools all over the country of all different kinds. With moderators, just asking questions live to get the answers that people were looking for about the student experience. And we recorded all of those, and we put them back in our archives on our website. So if you're looking for information, really in depth about a certain school, absolutely. Take a look at those. I think they'll be really helpful.

While you're doing all this research, it's not quite enough to just take it all in and just listen or read it. It's going to be important for you to ask note Ask questions and take notes. You know, find the things that are interesting to you. And not just the generic things, write down the specific programs, the environment, what the curriculum looks like, what the course requirements are, so you know what you're getting into that you can keep those thoughts straight. And when you have questions that don't seem to be answered by the websites, feel free to ask them reach out to the admissions office to current students to offer admissions officers, your tour guides, staff, faculty, anybody who's on campus, or has been on campus recently, is going to be more than happy to answer your questions.

One caveat to all this research is that if you do too much of it all at once, schools will start to blend together, you'll get really tired, and you're going to not like the schools that you are tired for as much as the schools that you're fresh for. So if you're feeling fatigued, give yourself a break, take a step away. And just come back to it with fresh eyes. And another time. And something that this research can really help with is writing the why school essay, but it's also important to figure out if you want to go to school at all. And a lot of people don't look at it that way because they think it's just they've come up with a list of schools, and then they just say, I'm going to apply to all these no matter what. But if you're doing the research, and you find that there aren't really things about the school that you would enjoy, then it's totally fine to modify your list based on this kind of research.

You do want to make sure you're maximizing that research, though. And that's why you take notes, ask questions. But you also should go in with, you know, some ideas of the type of information that you are trying to get out of this research. So you want to be thinking, what academic programs and opportunities do they have? Or the things that I'm interested in? Where is this college? Is it close to home? Is it far away? Is it in a big city? Is it in the middle of nowhere? If it is in the city? Is it you know, really integrated with the city? Or does it have its own separate distinct campus? Now? Is it a big school or a small school, people can feel lost in big schools and they can feel trapped in small schools is all about knowing what's right for you.

You'll also want to check out if they have anything that's unique or different, like a new residential system, or some traditions that really stand out. And so that can be something that you latch on to. And then this other thing here that I wrote, what is the college proud of? That's something that what are they advertising, what do they think are their greatest hits their coolest programs and achievements? Because that's the kind of thing that they're excited about, and that they're going to be funneling a lot of energy into. And is it something that, you know, resonates with you, I say resonate a lot for this presentation, because it's honestly, a really important word for what you're looking for that connection that resonating between you and the college and one has to offer.

Some things to avoid when you're doing this research, you can get easy to be sucked in to the statistics of it, the rankings. These are generally not helpful pieces of information, especially for writing the essays, because statistics and rankings don't actually tell you very much about the school and a specific way. Just saying that, Oh, this is the number one school doesn't really mean, it's going to be the right place for you. And in addition, those rankings take into account so many different pieces of information, including how many smoke alarms there are on campus. So you want to make sure that you are finding good specific information that isn't going to change year to year and actually shows us what your relationship to the school would be like.

And as I said before, you want to maximize what the information that you're getting is giving to you, you know, especially the questions that you ask of students. And so you want to think when they give their answers, how does their insight How did their answers reflect upon what's interesting to you? Hmm. So if they have some things that are their favorite aspects of their school or their program, are those things that also excite you, and vice versa, if they have things that they really dislike, are those things that are going to be deal breakers for you? Are they things that you might actually enjoy? So if someone says Yeah, I like this program, I thought it was going to love it. But then it turned out to be really hands on and I prefer theoretical learning. I like to sit in class and just think, but you're somebody who's really hands on and loves to do application based learning and their negatives or your positives.

So it's really about understanding how their information and their attitudes apply to what you're looking for. And that brings us obviously to the last bit of what I wanted to talk about today, which is how to start writing the essays. Now that we know how to think about them, so I'm just going to dive right in, because this is the bulkiest medius part of it. And I want to make sure that we are getting to cover that kind of information. So again, you definitely want to be focusing in on authentic reasons, genuine reasons, reasons that align with you and the school. And so some good examples are, you know, really having a connection to that place. If it's something that you've built over time, for example, a sense of community, if you really vibe with the people on campus, that's important to note, are there any specific programs, academic or non academic, that you really want to take advantage of? And then how are you going to use your education to achieve the goals that you've set for yourself?

Then again, the things to avoid, like prestige and rankings and post graduation salary. I've already talked about why that's not, you know, really an acceptable way to go about it things on the no fly list here. But then, something we haven't yet talked about, are generic reasons and superficial reasons. Generic reasons are things that don't apply to just that college don't apply to that school in specific. So location is a good example of one that people think often that they're writing a very specific essay, because they're writing about how excited they are to be in New York City, or in California, or wherever they're planning to be. In general, there are as you think about it, and there are hundreds of colleges and in around New York City, there are hundreds and thousands of colleges in the country, and their locations are not that different from one another. So it's not actually quite helpful.

Especially think of if you're thinking about a place like Yale, for example, a lot of people say I love that I'm really close to, I'm really in New Haven that's close to New York City, it's close to Boston, I can take the Amtrak either way, if I wanted to, I could take the Amtrak all the way down to Washington, DC. Sure. But that's certainly not special. There are several other colleges in New Haven, there are tons of colleges in Connecticut, and between Boston and New York, there's not a lot about being here that sets apart Yale from other college.

And similarly superficial elements don't really tell you much about what your love for a certain school. So if the buildings are really pretty like they are here, that's great. But what we're more interested in is what you're doing with them what you're doing inside of them, rather than just the aesthetic beauty. So you know, you can want to talk more about the resources than how they look. And that'll be really helpful for you, if you are struggling to think of authentic reasons, definitely avoid how pretty the architecture is, you could talk about the ways the architecture is functional and supports learning but if you only have about 100 or 125 words, you might want to economize on space, talking about a stronger reason.

And then, as I've said a couple times in this presentation already, this essay is about how you and the school match up where you guys Connect, and what ties you together. So going around this little circle here, you know, what are your specific goals? And how will you achieve them using the college's resources? How will you take advantage of the opportunities that they present you? What are you going to do about what you have in front of you? And then what do you personally feel a connection to at this school? You know, why are you tied here? And what makes a college not just a good place to study not even just the best perfect place to study. But why is it perfect for you? What is that connection? And a good rule of thumb for this is are you and the college mentioned in you know, every sentence or every other sentence.

So you'd rather write an essay that says cut x college does this really well. And that is exciting to me because this rather than writing a paragraph about why it's a good school, another paragraph about why you're good, like those resources and why you're a good student, weave it together. It's going to be a lot more effective that way. And so now we're going to go through a couple of Example essays, I'm going to read them aloud. And then I'm going to go into how they take these points and apply them. The first one is that tufts essay that we talked about all the way back at the beginning, which aspects of the tough undergraduate experience, prompt your application, in short, why tops 100 to 100 keywords. Like I said, I'm going to start by reading this response.

So it reads, someday, I hope to conduct medical research in developing countries, I'm attracted to tufts because of the wide array of majors offered and support for undergraduate research. To understand the human brain, I intend on studying biology, neuroscience, and psychology. In addition, in addition to outstanding faculty in each of these areas, Tufts organizes initiatives like the international research program, through this program, I would work with other students and professors on an international project related to brain diseases, this arbitrary, will offer a taste of my future career and help me narrow the scope of my future studies.

So that's a mouthful, but there are actually a lot of really important elements in it. So they start right off with this is my goal, this is the goal I want to achieve. And this is how Tufts is going to help me do that helped me achieve that. I said, I want to do medical research in developing countries. And then they say, top supports that because they have lots of good undergraduate research. They have strong faculty for biology, neuroscience, and psychology, which will help me in my very specific interest in brain studies, and brain disease. And then it goes on to name a specific program, the International Research Program, and how they're going to use it. So they're not just going to do research internationally, they're going to do an international project on brain disease with other students and professors. So they're engaging the community at Tufts. And they're also pursuing an academic intellectual passion through a specific resource.

And then the last sentence here, this opportunity will offer a taste of my future career and help me narrow the scope of my future studies. AI is nice, because it tells us again, where we're going in the future, how we're going to get there, and why it's important that tufts is providing this opportunity. This is a pretty good way to have, you know, a lot of strong ideas, make an appearance and trust 100 150 words. This essay, by the way, is taken directly from the CollegeVine blog. So if you are looking to read it again later, and see what makes it strong, definitely feel free to check out the blog post that this presentation, this livestream is based off of wanting to do another case study, this time of a slightly longer essay on this one is for why Penn, and it's not one we talked about, we didn't see this prompt earlier. So I'm going to read it out loud.

"How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests? And how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the undergraduate school you have selected." This one gives you 300 to 450 words. So it's very similar to the NYU essay, for example. And it's asking you about your intellectual and academic passions and interests. So that's definitely the central focus. And they want to know how you were going to use your specific undergraduate college, you know, engineering, arts and sciences, Wharton, or nursing to achieve those goals, and exploring those passions. So this person, I only posted an excerpt from their essay, this is not the whole thing. But it's what fits neatly on a slide and it's enough to get the point across so I'm going to read it out loud and talk about why this is a strong response and also maybe a ways in which you could grow and start starts off.

"Sister Simone Roche, a theorist of nursing ethics once said, caring is the human mode of being. I have long been inspired by SR roaches, five C's of caring, commitment, conscience, competence, compassion, and confidence. Pen both embraces and fosters these values through a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum and unmatched access to service and volunteer opportunities. commitment. reading through the activities to which Penn Quakers devote their time in addition to academics felt like drinking water from a firehose in the best possible way. As a prospective nursing student with interests outside of my major, I value this level of flexibility I plan to leverage Penn's liberal arts curriculum to gain an in depth understanding of the challenges faced by the LGBT community, especially regarding health care access. Through courses like inter interactional processes with LGBT individuals and volunteering at the Missouri Center for Research, I have to learn how to better support the Penn LGBT community as well as my family and friends, including my cousin who came out as trans last year."

So this essay takes a pretty interesting approach as this nice little introductory paragraph, where it sets up a value system that they identify with, they say these are my values. And then they say pattern shares these values. And its curriculum, as well as its service and volunteer opportunities are the best ways to demonstrate that. So it says, look, pet and I have the same values, we have the same mission. And this is how Penn goes about it. One thing I generally am not a fan of, in writing essays like this, and in general, is using a quotation, you only have 300 to 450 words here to make your case, you should definitely use your own words and not somebody else's. Find ways to paraphrase or apply this information without directly quoting and losing some of your own voice for somebody else's.

But then, once they've introduced what their topic is going to be, this person takes a really cool tack. And each of the following paragraph starts with one of these five C's of caring. So the first one obviously, is commitment. But then there's another paragraph each for conscious conscience, competence, compassion and confidence, as well as a conclusion. This one again, is on the CollegeVine blog if you want to read the whole thing. But this format is cool, because it stands out, it's definitely a little different. And it also partitions the essay really nicely. It's very easy to read and logical bytes. And so the person who wrote this essay gives some more specifics throughout the body.

So commitment, they talk about how they're planning to use the liberal arts curriculum, in particular, to balance out a lot of different aspects of an education that will help them approach the health care access challenges faced by the LGBT community. So you're saying, this is a specific course i'm going to use showing they've done their research. And they're saying going to save this is how I'm going to use it, I'm going to be volunteering with this pen specific center. And I'm going to be learning how to support these people, this group of people in ways that are meaningful. And then they draw a personal connection at the end of the paragraph by saying that their cousin has recently come out as trans. And that is a big part of the impetus for them to take advantage of all of the different types of education that Penn has to offer.

So moving forward, it sounds a lot like there are lots of different schools asking lots of different questions, and you have to write a brand new essay for every single one. And to a degree that is true. As I said, it definitely needs to still be specific, it needs to be school oriented, tailored for the program to which you're applying. But there are some things that won't change. So the main thing to remember here is that this is an essay about a school and about you so the school part will change. But the U part is probably going to be pretty similar from essay to essay from school to school, you are still interested in pursuing the same departments, the same topics, the same methods. And you still have the same set of values. And you still are looking for a specific college experience and having life goals that are beyond college.

So those things are all constant, that's going to be the core of what your essay is building from. Of course, this doesn't mean you can just write an essay and then swap out landmarks and program names and school names. First of all, it's super dangerous, because you might not change something and then you'll be submitting to Harvard with it. Gail, so written in your essay, and that's going to be a pretty, pretty rough it's not going to reflect well on your passion or your proofreading.

Definitely you do have to write a new essay for each school but you haven't you can also think about these things as good starting points for what you want to talk about because you are presumably the same person throughout the entire public. process. As you saw, we have some short prompts like the yellow one, and some longer ones like Penn, Michigan and my U. And so the short ones, maybe you can cover everything pretty short and sweet, not too difficult, the longer ones you might struggle with a little in terms of filling the space. And I'm not saying that you have to write every single word that they allow you to write. If they say 500 words, you don't have to write 500 words. But if you if they say 500 words, and you submit a 125 word essay, it's going to be pretty obvious why that is.

And that's going to be that you didn't try or didn't adapt an essay from one school to the other, you borrowed something you already had written for elsewhere. And so you definitely want to fill in up to about 90% of the space that you're given. And to do that, you might want to include more details about you or about the school. Really, what you'll see as I continue talking is that they are intertwined as they should be. So if you're looking to focus more on you and yourself, give us more about what your worldview is like, what are your values, what is your perspective on the world around you. Or if you've had specific experiences, like anecdotes that you can share about how you've come to find the goals, or tried to achieve your goals in your past.

And then finally, how you'll be a positive contributor to campus, what are you going to bring, and that's going to make you a special addition to campus. On the other hand, you can talk about the college a little bit more, do they have programs or research that are really exciting for you? Do they have organizations, groups, interest programs, things that are going to be very specific, and to this school and help you to differentiate yourself here. And then finally, how you'll use the resources available to you this should be pretty standard, you can't just name a resource, you have to see what you're going to with it.

So as you can see, even though I artificially split these up into things that are about you and things that are about the school, there's a lot of overlap between the two categories of things you can talk about to extend a long a longer prompt. So to summarize, everything we've talked about, this does bring me to the end of the presentation. There are some really great ideas to focus on when you're trying to write a white school essay. And there are some things to steer clear of. One is that you want to avoid is copy pasting, forgetting to change the details. Like I said, don't apply to Harvard with a Yale essay, it's not gonna fly.

Now, you also want to make sure you are fact checking all your work, don't talk about programs that don't exist. Don't talk about majors that don't exist, or things that used to exist, but no longer, make sure you are getting up to date information to include. And then avoid talking about why the school is great and avoid and not saying anything about you and avoid saying things that are all about how great you are. And I'm not talking about the school at all, you would rather be talking about things that align you with the school that make you a good match. And that also means avoiding generic aspects of the school, don't talk about location, don't talk about how pretty the buildings are, or how good the food is, those aren't gonna be helpful for understanding why the school is the right place for you. And then something I just mentioned was not using the full word count, like I said, you should get within about 90% and 10% on either side is usually my go to if they even allow you to write more than the maximum word out.

So you know, make sure you're using the space provided even if you don't use every single letter that you have.

And the last thing to avoid here is value misalignment. I touched super briefly on this earlier, but basically what I mean by value alignment is understand what the school is like. And right to that. And for example, most schools most higher institutions of learning have a fairly leftward leaning bent politically. And that's not to say there aren't conservative students on campus or conservative organizations or that conservative people are silenced or oppressed in any way. But it is definitely something that might rub our reader the wrong way if you don't talk about it with incredible grace. And so we they want people to have things in common with them. You know, this is an opportunity for you to share something that is a connection between you and a school, rather than something that would divide you or something that you have to overcome.

So definitely make sure you're not saying anything racist or homophobic or bigoted in any way that's not going to work for any school you're applying to. So make sure you're just hitting the values that are going to To endear you to the school, rather than the ones that are estranging. And I always try to end on some positives here things to actually remember and focus on. Use this as an opportunity to tell them more about who you are, what you want out of life, and how the schools education is going to help you achieve those goals. Make sure you're settling in on authentic and personal reasons for wanting to attend. And make sure you are as specific as possible. You should always be writing these with the specific school in mind, not just writing in general template essay that you can copy paste all over the town.

So those are the lessons I want to leave you with. But now I want to move into answering the questions that you have the things that are going on in your mind, I've done a lot of talking. And so it's going to be really, really helpful for you guys to have the interaction with me. And I'll try to get to everything. But if I can't answer your questions, by the time we sort of run out, that's totally where we are. I want to I someone asked what is the blog post that I'm referencing, so let me just take a moment to find it and send you guys the link.

See, let's see.

Here we go. I think this is where I've been before, and want to make sure you guys have access to that. So I'm going to send that to everyone. So you should be able to see the blog post that I'm talking about. And that can be that's one of many, many prompts that we cover on our blog. So if you want to just read about some of the possible responses that you can give and how to approach all different types of essays and school specific ones, I'd definitely give that a look.

But for now, I would love to answer the questions that you have. So please do drop those in the box. Yeah. Okay. So I'm also getting a request for the link for the Save videos for later access. So let me give that to you as well. That's pretty straightforward. If you just go to collegevine.com, slash live streams, there's a button there that shows you the recorded ones, but I'll drop it in the chat as well.

And that should give you access to everything that we've ever recorded, ever done. But you can also just go through our live streams page. And that'll also categorize them. So if you go to our live regular live streams, page collegevine.com slash live streams, you can scroll down and it'll have some playlists recommended for you. So Q&A's with current students, ideas about college essays. There's one just for college admissions as a general topic, there's also one a playlist for pre-meds. And so there are lots and lots of really good presentations by all of these great CollegeVine people. So please, please give those a look if you are interested in hearing more about some of these other things.

What other questions do you have, though, maybe about this essay type about college admissions in general. I want to make sure that we're tackling everything that is going on in your minds. all at the same time. I guess I'll ask you guys a couple questions. I have some polls for you to answer here. So I'll send a couple your way while I am waiting for your questions to roll into me. And it would be really helpful to get some of your feedback. So I have a question here is it common to write about professors. Um, and so this is something that you can definitely touch on. If there's a professor who's doing really incredible work or with whom you have a personal connection, it's totally fine to mention them. But you should also take the opportunity to explain that your job, don't just say I'd love to work with their lab. And this professors approach to something is really interesting. And I'd love to explore that further ask them questions and get involved with some research of my own. And so it might not work so well.

And those shorter essays, those 125 word essays, because just because there's not a lot of room to do something like that, but in the longer ones, you can definitely use that as an opportunity. Don't just list a ton of professors say I want to work with this person, and that person, and this person seems really cool and interesting. But it can be something if you have a genuine interest in the work that that professor is doing. It can be worthwhile to put a little effort into that. And talk more about school values. What are some school values I've seen? Where can we find them? What are value differences among the ivy schools, um, so school values, General ones that most schools will abide by tolerance, diversity, accommodation, encouragement, something that I think has been really special here at Yale is a culture of collaboration, and everybody is working together and trying to build each other up, everyone is driven but not competitive. So it's a very rewarding place to be for that reason.

And I think that sets it apart from some other schools of its caliber, that it is really truly a place where people are building each other up and create and helping each other in an environment that is healthy. And I love that. schools will often have a mission statement or a VAT vision statement. And those will encapture encapsulate some of the values and make an explicit way to make sure that you're not going against them. But mostly, it's fairly straightforward, you just have to put a little thought into am I writing something that is going to go against a school's mission here, for example, if you're planning to apply to a Catholic school, I might not recommend writing about, you know, your views on a woman's right to an abortion. And that's, you know, maybe something just to navigate away from in this particular context, definitely a conversation worth having. But maybe not in the why school essay here? How can we show not tell in these essays?

That's a great question, because it can be somewhat difficult to do it really quickly. If you have any anecdotes to share, about an experience at a school or an experience that has led you to believe the school is the right place for you that can be really meaningful and very show not totally. For example, when I applied to Yale, they asked a similar version of that question. It was a while ago, so it has changed a little. But I wrote about a specific campus tradition, or that I could really imagine myself taking part in and how that connected me to the sense of place that is really distinctive here. So anecdotes are always a good way to see to do a litmus test on whether you're showing not telling.

Should you end your essay with excited to walk by x to walk to x library and go to why building as a yearly, I mean, you absolutely can do something like that, I'm not going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do in such a specific way. But if you have something that's meaningful in that way, go for it. I mean, if I think that there are lots and lots of ways to do it, so I'm not going to tell you that you shouldn't send this way. But you can definitely work this kind of information into the essay earlier, you say, you know, I can read envision myself, you know what, I'm excited to go to this library and participate in this activity, as a gala and join a community, you know, that is really passionate about this, you know, so I don't think that's necessarily like a standard way to end this essay. But you can take it in any direction that you see fit.

I'm talking about paraphrasing the school's mission statement and applying it to how you are as a person, you can absolutely do that. I mean, it's something that I probably can't see myself doing is not the way I will approach these kinds of problems or essays. Because of the thing that I mentioned earlier, which is that I don't think you should be spending time using other people's words, I think you should spend as much time thinking about your own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and beliefs. And that'll be the basis of your essay, rather than just what they already have to say.

In addition, I think mission statements, especially for these shorter essays can be kind of narrow, and keep you from talking about the academics, the opportunities on campus, the resources that they have available that you want to take advantage of. And it can get kind of nebulous, while still keeping you away from the specifics that you definitely want to get into. So I would not necessarily recommend paraphrasing the mission statement, and then using that as the framework for your essay. But if it's something that really resonates with you, and is really what drives you're interested in the school, feel free to take that approach. But definitely make sure you're demonstrating that that is like the true passion of yours.

Um, please keep the questions coming. And in the meantime, I'm going to give you another poll to answer just so we can continue to collect a little bit of information on what you guys are getting out of this.

What did I discuss in my why Yale essay, like I said, I talked about a campus tradition that was really exciting for me that I could really see myself doing, and how I could envision myself in various places on campus and what that meant for the sense of community, the sense of place. Those sort of about the magic of the environment here at Yale, that I really loved. And it didn't necessarily talk about any specific programs, or academics, it was a very short essay, obviously. And it really narrowed in on this one tradition, and how it spoke to me. So that was where I took this essay. But for other ones, I wrote a lot about my worldview, like, for example, for my university of michigan prompt, I wrote about the like, just for my overarching perspective on life, and how I would make that manifest at the University of Michigan through the programs that were available.

I don't remember it super well, it was five years ago. Um, but that is the kind of tack I took for those longer form essays. What else do we have? What else are we? What else? Are we thinking people? I want to make sure I'm getting all the questions that you have answered. And the less you give me, the more I have to give to you. I'll miss polls. So I'm just going to keep sending them your way. Thank you for your feedback. Absolutely. But um, please give me some more. Give me some more questions to answer.

You know, I'm always going to pull out my failsafe trick, my foolproof trick for getting you guys to ask questions. And that's telling you guys that I'm about to wrap up. Since it doesn't look like there aren't any other questions to be answered. Every time I say the magic words, wrap up three more questions appear in the box. So I am going to There we go. Here it is. How would you approach a 650 word why college essay.

Again, this sort of goes back to that one slide that I had up previously approaching these longer prompts. You can talk more about your worldview and how you're going to bring that to campus. And how campus manifests that already. You can talk about anecdotes that you've had that are have led to the goals that you're trying to achieve through your college education. You can go into more detail about the opportunities and the research and the organizations, whether they're academic or non academic, anything that they have on campus that you're looking to take advantage of. So you just give it a little more detail should just try to keep yourself from being redundant is my best advice. Because that's the danger. Don't talk about the same thing over and over again.

Because that will get kind of boring. And also you have there if you think about it, there are plenty of reasons to go to a school to go to any given school. You just have to put them together into the essay. So That's what I recommend for those longer essay types.

College asked why major what why area of interest? How to Avoid restating activities, but still communicate a passion. So with this question of why major, I this is not necessarily asking you to restate all your activities. But think about what actually draws you to this. So is it you know, you just love a specific sub subheading of it. So not just biology, but you're interested in genetics, you're interested in genomics, you're interested in these, like very small areas of it?

I'll talk about that. Or is there a particular methodology that you're really interested in?

You know, do you really love working with your hands? And that's why engineering is right for you? Or do you really love connecting different fields? And that's why a philosophy or is for you, you know, so what? What is it exactly that draws you to that major? That's going to be really helpful, or communicating a passion without being redundant?

Can you give specific links for the examples used in a slide show? That should be they should be somewhere and the blog post that I typed that I gave you? If not there, it'll be a similar one. They'll just be in the bottom there.

Why school as a college fine. I googled, um, here it is writing a stellar why this college essay, plus examples? Here we go. This is this is another good link for you guys to follow.

There we go. Oops, did did that go to everybody? Yes. Okay. Great. Um, let's see, what is the most important part of the why essay? The most important part of the why essay is showing that you are a good match for the school that you guys go together, it's not just how good they are, or how good you are, but that you are going to be great together. That is the most important part, of course, doing that authentically. And doing it with specificity. That is, if I had to summarize this entire presentation into like, three seconds, that's exactly what I would say.

Um, would you mind sharing what you wrote about for your Common App essay, so Okay, my Common App essay was a little bit cheesy, and that's okay. That's something that I try to tell everybody. Being cheesy is okay, as long as you avoid being cliche. And so it was a series of four anecdotes, followed by a conclusion paragraph. So it's five paragraphs, and each one told a different story. Each story revolved around a different time that I fell over in my life, once when I was three, once when I was seven. And so I was 13, or 14, and ones when I was 17. So some of them were really light hearted and fun.

Others of them were more mature and serious, especially the last one, where I was trying to show that I had grown. And then in my conclusion, paragraph, I tied the stories together, I said, this is, you know, what I've learned from these experiences, this is who they've made me. And even though I keep falling down, I recognize that that's just a part of growth. And I'm not afraid to fall. I am excited to stand back up and keep growing and in college and beyond.

So that was the general thrust of my essay for the CommonApp. Like I said, a kind of a cheesy topic, you know, very, very straightforward metaphor falling down getting back up. But it was something that allowed me to show a lot about what mattered to me and who I was and what experiences had made me the way I am. So it was very personal in that way.

Yeah, do you read essays if we email them to you? Unfortunately, I cannot do that. That's not a service that CollegeVine offers where you just send me your essays and I read them and give feedback, something we do have, we have two resources that I do want to bring your attention to one is a peer feedback tool, where you can put your essay out there for other applicants to read. And you can read other applicants and give feedback and help each other, which is really cool. And it helps you guys fresh set of eyes on it. And we also do live essay reviews. So they're live streams like this, where we'll go through an essay that we get from you guys, and talk about its strengths, and its ways it can grow. And so you'll see some of those under our live streams page as well, if you take a look at that page, there's a whole folder, a playlist that's just live essay reviews, so you can take a look at that.

Yeah, um, one of the questions you guys have now that we have had some more time together?

Um, what does that look like?

All right, I'm gonna give you my last poll, then. I'm just, you know, question about how many colleges you guys are applying to be really cool to get some feedback on that. And I know that we are, you know, at the tail end here. So there we go. Can you give a sample anecdote, um, I, I could give some anecdotes from my life. But the whole point of an anecdote is that is a personal story that has happened to you that maybe you learn something from or that it really exemplifies your way of thinking.

So for example, one of the anecdotes I wrote about in my Common App essay, one of the times I fell down, was the first time and only time that I went ice skating, I grew up in New Jersey playing of ice skating, playing hockey is just something that my family never did until I was approaching High School. And then I was really embarrassed because all my friends and more importantly, my girlfriend at the time, were avid skaters, my girlfriend's whole family loved hockey. And I had never been on the ice before. And I fell over about a million times. And I was so embarrassed, because you know, when you're 14, you are really insecure about that kind of thing. So I spend a lot of time, you know, trying to look busy, like I was in control, and it was very difficult, and I was really stressed about it.

And I know that that was, you know, just a time that I felt really afraid to fall, and something that I had to learn from. So that's one of the anecdotes I used personally. But they should be really personal to you different. It can be literally about anything that taught you a lesson or exemplified a lesson, for example.

Any other questions before we close out the night? Well, in that case, I want to remind you guys that this is, again, a recorded session, so you can find it again in the future if you wanted to. And there are plenty of live streams going on all the time.

So we have plenty coming up this week. And in next couple weeks, so definitely give us some time to cover some more topics that are interesting to you. But since I'm not seeing to any more questions, I'm going to call it a night on this one. And I hope to see you guys next time. Thank you guys so much for all of your excellent questions and for being really participatory here. We're really excited to be able to help you and we hope that way you can do even better in the future.

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Undergrad College: Yale University '21

Work Experience: I am a senior at Yale and excited to begin my fifth admissions cycle working with CollegeVine. After four years of working directly with students, I can't wait to engage with the people and the process in new and innovative ways online.

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essay on why i want to go to a certain college

25 Genius "Why This Major" Essay Examples for Top-20 Colleges

Ryan

Here's the secret to writing your "Why This Major?" essays:

They're not really asking "Why this major?" but "Why you and this major?"

Just like with your Why This College essays, you need to show that you're a perfect match for the program you're applying to through specific examples , ideas , and connections to the school's offerings .

Even if you're applying undecided or undeclared , which is common for students to do, admissions officers ask this question because they want to know these 3 things:

  • Do you have an idea about what you want your future to look like (what you want to study, possible career, etc.), and will our school help you fulfill that vision?
  • Do you have what it takes to be a successful student within your desired major or program?
  • How genuinely interested are you in this area of study? Or are you choosing it for superficial reasons (like money)?

What if you're undecided?

Even if you're undecided, you should have some idea about possible fields you're interested in.

It's impossible for you to have lived 17 or 18 years and not picked up some sort of interest that you could study in college.

After all, why are you applying to colleges in the first place? Probably to pursue a more in-depth education in a particular area.

So if you're applying undecided, you'll need to still talk about potential areas you're interested in, even if you aren't totally committed to them yet.

What makes a great "Why This Major?" essay?

The best "Why this major" answers show a deep level of interest and knowledge about the field.

Admissions officers want to know that you're serious about what you want to study.

Tip #1. Avoid superficial or cliché reasons

I often see students write generic remarks like...

  • "Math is the language of the universe"
  • "Studying communications will help me learn how to collaborate with others better."
  • "Computer science is about problem solving"

These are OK starting points, but you need to delve deeper.

How do you go deeper? Try writing about specifics of the field.

Use some geeky or technical language . Instead of saying "biology," you could write about "molecular biology and its impact on genetic engineering."

Be specific and vivid in your writing, and show your interest in the field using specific anecdotes and moments that you haven't yet written about.

Tip #2. Ask yourself questions at the heart of the area of study.

If you're writing about math, some simple but deep question to ask yourself are things like:

  • Is math discovered or created?
  • What are the unsolved mysteries of math?
  • How do the different branches of math (e.g. algebra, geometry, etc.) relate to each other?

These types of questions will get you thinking about what the major represents, rather than just what it literally is.

Focus on ideas , which are always most interesting.

Tip #3. Think about what the most common answer would be, and then say something different.

For computer science, I see a lot of students write about things like "automation", "artificial intelligence", or "problem solving."

For engineering, I see a lot of students write things about Legos or other "building" toys that they played with growing up.

For medicine, I see students write about "wanting to help people."

These are fine starting points for reflecting, but on their own it'll come off as cliché.

Tip #4. What will this school in particular offer to help you study this field better than other schools?

All colleges offer pretty much the same selection of majors and programs, so what is unique about this school's approach?

Again, you'll need to do some thinking and research.

Tip #5. Show how you've already explored the field.

Think about your classes, but more importantly, think about the ways you've gone beyond the classroom.

Those reasons are the most compelling for why you're a great fit for the major.

How to structure your "Why This Major?" essay

Here's formula you can use to write this essay if you're struggling to get started:

  • I am passionate about subject X and here's why (offer a short story or anecdote)
  • Here's is what I want to do with that passion in the future
  • This is what this school has to offer or will do in order to help me achieve my goals and how (specific and unique reasons)

Now, let's look at some examples of students who wrote successful "Why This Major?" essays.

I've gathered 25 "Why Major?" essays from students who got into top-20 schools like Brown, Georgetown, MIT, and more.

This huge list covers a variety of majors and programs—from Computer Science to English to Bioinformatics—so you'll be able to find one that's similar to yours.

Let's dive right into it.

25 "Why This Major" Essay Examples

1. "why bioinformatics" georgetown essay example.

Prompt: Please relate your interest in studying at Georgetown University to your goals. How do these thoughts relate to your chosen course of study? (If you are applying to major in the FLL or in a Science, please specifically address those interests.) (500 words max)

Why This Essay Works:

Having specific details is key to making your essays more engaging. Whenever possible, substitute broader terms for more specific ones. In this essay, the student does this well, for example by writing "recombinant DNA into Escherichia coli" instead of saying "molecular biology."

Digging into why you're passionate about certain things is important for "Why Major" type of essays like this one. Admissions wants to know how and why that interest started. This student does a great job of telling a family story that inspired their interest in French and an academic experience that sparked their biology interest.

What They Might Improve:

This essay doesn't mention much of what Georgetown would offer them. Whenever possible, it's beneficial to reference specific aspects about the school you're applying to. This demonstrates genuine interest and makes it more convincing that your studies would flourish at the school. Although this isn't a "Why Georgetown" essay, these details can and should be incorporated, as the prompt asks you to relate your chosen area(s) of study to the school.

2. "Why Linguistics?" Brown University Essay Example

Prompt: Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about any academic interests that excite you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue them while also embracing topics with which you are unfamiliar. (200-250 words)

My primary interest is in languages and linguistics, specifically Spanish, Portuguese and the descent of these languages from Latin which I explored in my IB Extended Essay. Thus, something that excites me about the complete freedom of the Brown curriculum is the opportunity to learn about Hispanic and Lusophone culture, literature and language in an intersectional way through a concentration in Latin American studies combined with classes and undergraduate research in Linguistics. I intend to supplement my language acquisition with practical application through study abroad opportunities at PUC-Rio, Brazil and in Santiago, Chile, perhaps through the Engaged Scholars Program which will allow me to forge deeper connections with the communities and cultures I am studying. I am also attracted by the possibility of a 5-year BA/MA course in Linguistics which will permit me to conduct meaningful and extensive research on a topic I am truly passionate about.

However, I also have an interest in Biochemistry and Molecular biology. The Open Curriculum will enable me to pursue this avenue of study and research without detracting from my principal focus on languages. Therefore, perhaps what I am most excited for is interdisciplinary study at Brown and the possibility of forging unforeseen connections between disparate academic areas and weaving them together into a program of study that will engage, thrill, and inspire me towards a lifelong path of academic inquiry. For example, I am interested to explore how languages and sociolinguistics can be used to promote medical research and provision in Latin America.

Naming things unique to the school shows you have genuine interest. Listing specific programs, courses, or majors shows you've done your research.

The author's reasons for "Why Brown?" fit into their background and identity. This makes their reasons seem genuine and compelling.

The essay is divided into two parts with distinct answers. Showing how those reasons relate could make the essay more cohesive.

Ending with a sentence "For example..." leaves more to be desired and explained.

3. "Why Medicine and Surgery?" Pomona College Essay Example

Prompt: Most Pomona students enter the College undecided about a major, or they change their minds about their prospective major by the time they graduate. Certainly we aren’t going to hold you to any of the choices you’ve made above. But, in no more than 250 words, please tell us why you’ve chosen the academic programs (or undecided!) that you have listed. (250 words max)

I’m sitting backstage at my first international piano competition, anxiously awaiting my turn to perform. Unconsciously, I massage my right wrist, still recovering from a recent injury. The young man beside me feels my nervousness and starts a conversation.

As we whisper, I notice him rub his hands together uncomfortably. “What’s wrong?” I ask, quickly leaving my own wrist alone. He suppresses a nervous laugh, then quietly details the long and unsuccessful surgery that shattered his dream of becoming a professional musician. His hands were permanently damaged.

“Alessandra Fang,” the judges call. I stand up, walk to the main stage and look back to see him encourage me with a stiff, crooked thumbs-up. As my fingers dance on the keys, I observe the fragile muscles and ligaments under my skin.

I realize in that moment that it is not in a massive concert hall where I wanted to change people’s lives, but on a smaller stage: an operating room. As an artist who has had her share of painful, music-related injuries, my goal is to become a musician’s physician, and blend my greatest two passions so that I might bring relief to those around me, while understanding their musical and anatomical plight.

I wish to pursue both Biology and Music programs at Pomona College. I want to become a hand surgeon while still developing my artistry on the piano. After all, surgery also has its own cadence, complexity and composition.

4. "Why Education/Teaching?" University of Michigan Essay Example

Prompt: Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (100-550 words)

Growing up, I always pictured myself as a great teacher as an adult. With the second best secondary education program in the country and an emphasis on the liberal arts and undergraduate education, I am confident that U-M will shape me into the great educator I’ve dreamed of becoming since I was a kid.

Hallmarks of a liberal arts education include teamwork, problem-solving, clear writing, and effective communication. These are also skills that any exceptional teacher needs. U-M offers an unparalleled curriculum that prepares students to successfully run classrooms and obtain Provisional Teacher Certifications upon graduation, exposing students to diverse classes and people in Ann Arbor, and providing them with an invaluable liberal arts education along the way.

Being an effective teacher means connecting with and stimulating all students at its core. The liberal arts foundation I will receive in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts (LSA), married with the experiential education and training the School of Education (SoE) will provide, will mold me into that great teacher—a mentor and role model for any student, regardless of creed—I’ve always aspired to become.

The Teacher Education Preferred Admission (TEPA) for incoming freshmen piqued my interest because the program is the crossroad between the liberal arts and teacher education; two components I was looking for in a college. TEPA will allow me to build a strong liberal arts base in LSA my first two years on campus before entering SoE, while also gaining beneficial experiences in the education field early on.

The education-oriented programs WE READ and Students Empowering Education specifically appealed to me because they will bridge my liberal arts education with my anticipated career as a high school English teacher. Similarly, my Spanish classes will have a practical application in the Ann Arbor Language Partnership, a program that immediately interested me as a potential Spanish minor.

During my first two years as a pre-admit, I'll be supported by my TEPA peers and staff, specifically from my SoE personal adviser. TEPA will take the large campus and make it feel smaller, allowing me to form organic connections with like-minded people and groups that can cultivate my interest in education before entering SoE junior year.

I need a meaningful education to be a meaningful educator. Truthfully, I could go to almost any college to become a teacher, but only schools that synthesize in- and out-of-classroom learning like SoE produce great ones. U-M ranking sixth in the country for undergraduate teaching bolstered my interest in the university and confirmed what I already knew: I will receive an education in LSA and SoE that will change who I am as a person and not just a student, and prepare me to provide the same for others as a teacher.

The great educator I’ve always envisioned myself becoming is one that can inspire without bounds. From my time as a student, I’ve come to realize that a truly influential teacher can work with students who have little in common with themselves and still be impactful. LSA's purposeful and broad curriculum, paired with SoE's hands-on courses and fieldwork, and the additional opportunities available through TEPA, will shape me into that life-changing teacher, for any student who walks through my classroom door.

5. "Why Business?" University of Michigan Essay Example

Growing up in a community that bleeds maize and blue, the community represented by the University of Michigan has always been one that I could see myself representing as both a student and alumni. From football games at the big house to classes at Ross, each and every opportunity available at U of M represents a piece of my life that I hope to continue to incorporate into my life for the rest of my life.

The opportunity to take courses that allow for enriched experiences in developing a real business is one that I intend to be involved in as soon as possible. I will use this type of class as a way to test my skills and learn where I need to become stronger as a leader and student. Watching others equally driven as me, their tactics that are successful and not successful will imprint on how I attack problems in the future and shape my overall leadership style.

By being involved in the Multidisciplinary Action Projects down the road as a graduate student, I hope to learn firsthand what it takes to run and be involved with real businesses. Firsthand exposure is the best way to learn how to solve problems- especially surrounded by peers who are equally as driven and dedicated as I am.

Filled with students striving for nothing but the best they are capable of is a community that I am certain I will enrich and fit into. By sharing ideas and collaborating together instead of against each other, each and every one of us will contribute to the business world as leaders and innovators.

The University of Michigan is a place I can see myself learning and growing as a leader for the next four years as I intend to use all of the tools at my disposal to become a top business person. The opportunities within the school I will be involved in and the peers that I will work beside only enrich the values of what being a Wolverine mean to me.

6. "Why Math and Accounting?" University of Southern California (USC) Essay Example

Prompt: Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 words max)

All throughout my life, I always loved doing math no matter what the concept. My love for math led to me taking advanced math classes for my grade. I even had to take a bus to a high school when I was in middle school to take an advanced math class. I always knew that I would want to pursue a career dealing with mathematics, but I was not really sure until my junior year. I had not decided what I wanted to be in the future, so my uncle suggested being a CPA, and I looked into it. When I did my research, it interested me as they made a decent amount of money and they worked with numbers.

At USC, I would like to major in accounting and gain the opportunity to possibly receive an internship at one of the big accounting firms in Los Angeles through the networking of USC. If I were able to get an internship, I would be able to gain experience for when I graduate and search for a job. I would also consider going for a Masters of Business Administration as I know that USC has one of the best business programs in the country.

7. "Why Computer Science?" Columbia University Essay Example

Prompt: Describe two or three of your current intellectual interests and why they are exciting to you. Why will Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences be the right environment in which to pursue your interests? (650 words max)

8. "Why Engineering and Law?" University of Michigan Essay Example

The University of Michigan’s College of Engineering has a proactive approach to career path discovery and job search. While I do hope to aspire to a corporate attorney, an engineering degree from the University of Michigan would provide me the advantage of readiness.

U.S News and World Report published an article about challenges law school applicants with STEM degrees face. Number one was the lack of research skills. Michigan Undergraduate Engineering has research opportunities for all undergraduate students. I hope to even take advantage of The College of Engineering (CoE) International Internship Program. The chance to see the world and contribute to the world-class studies conducted by Michigan Engineering students is a unique quality. The article also reported that STEM applicants often lack job experience. Michigan Engineering hosts internship fairs, which even freshman can participate in. By utilizing the opportunity to work in a professional setting, I will be more adapt to presenting myself in a mature and respectable manor in a corporate setting.

Many people are puzzled by my aspirations to become a corporate lawyer with an engineering degree. While I enjoy learning about many areas of study, math and science have always peaked my interest. Like my attraction to law, I am drawn to the definitiveness of engineering specifically. While there is a right and wrong in methods and procedures, there is a chance to be creative; for the end goal is functionality. Law requires critical thinking, problem solving, and the questioning of presented facts and figures. These skills are also encompassed in Michigan Engineering. With a technical understanding of industry and engineering, I will be able to more accurately represent a corporation. Like the professors at Michigan Engineering, I hope to be an expert in my field. At Michigan Engineering, I will be educated by the best of the best. Professors that have been exposed to their fields in every aspect; allowing them to provide the best guidance to students. Instead of just presenting facts and figures in a courtroom, I will be able to understand and explain them.

9. "Why Psychology?" Carnegie Mellon Essay Example

Prompt: Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study? (300 words max)

When I was younger, I faced a lot of negative emotions including anxiety and low self-esteem. For a long time, I felt alone and as if no one understood how I felt. My self confidence was at an all-time low when I started taking psychology. All of a sudden the negative emotions I was feeling started making sense. I was suddenly able to understand how people were wired and why others treated me a certain way. I in fact was able to feel empathy for my aggressors after understanding that those who treated me negatively often faced struggles of their own. Most importantly, I felt as though something out there finally understood me. Because psychology offered insight into my own behavior and helped me to understand others, I was eventually able to overcome my insecurities.

In the future, I would like to help others do the same. No matter where I end up, understanding why people behave a certain way and being more considerate and empathetic for others will only help me thrive. Mental health is a growing issue in our society. The world we live in is a confusing place filled with pain, but psychology provides a way to determine the cause of this suffering and how to change it. I never want anyone to feel the isolation and sorrow I felt when I was younger. I want to help others become compassionate and unconditionally loving not just toward others, but to themselves. Even if I only make a small change in the world and affect just one person’s life, I would like to pursue that.

10. "Why Biology and Environmental Science?" University of Pennsylvania Essay Example

Prompt: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania? For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay. (300-450 words)

As a child the world fascinated me. From questioning the makeup of the dirt I played in, to doubting the existence of gravity as I flew a kite, I was always thinking. Time passed, and my consciousness opened to more, like atoms, the Big Bang Theory, the psychology behind dreams, and the list goes on. Everything fascinated me; curiosity quickly became a part of my character. Some say ignorance is bliss, but I have to disagree. Ignorance is what fuels my curiosity; ignorance is what drives me to discover, learn, and initiate change. Living in a small rural town with my grandmother and disabled father, I have been limited by geography and socioeconomics. A perfect blend of humanities and factualities, the College of Arts and Sciences is an exploratory lab for all I do not know. At Penn, courses from Neurobiology of Learning and Memory to The Sociology of Gender allow me to rid my ignorance one class at a time. The unique and specialized curriculum provides a place to explore whatever I wonder and answer whatever I question. While my grandmother did not have the money for me to attend science camps, to visit museums, or to travel more than a few hours from my home, living in the country always provided me with endless exploration. My interest in trees in particular led me to specialize in the forestry portion of our Envirothon team for four years of high school. The passion I have for biology is second to my interest in helping others. Rural areas of Pennsylvania are in desperate need for physicians, especially in the field of women’s health. My goal is to return to my community and fill that need. As a low income, first-generation student, I have had limited opportunities, but I have seized any that I could and where there were none, I created some. As a seventh grader, I pioneered the colorguard of our newly formed high school marching band. Last year, as captain of 14 twirlers, I took my first plane ride to Disney World where my band performed. This experience taught more than I could ever learn in a classroom. Similarly, there are endless opportunities at Penn, both intra- and extra-curricular, and I plan to take advantage of all that I can to feed my fire.

11. "Why Finance and Political Science?" University of Pennsylvania Essay Example

This essay does a great job of conveying a thoughtful and candid applicant. Their phrasing, although verbose in some places, comes across genuine because the author walks you through how they learned about the school, what they're looking for in a school, and why the school would offer those specific things. Phrases like "I didn't know if I could honestly see myself studying that" are conversational and natural-sounding, which help create a sincere tone.

By referencing specific programs, like "Penn in Washington" as well as various minors and concentrations, it is clear this student has done their research about the school. One of the most important aspects for a "Why Us" essay is to find specific and unique opportunities and name them in your essay. These could be things like specific professors and their work, campus and its location, interesting classes, unique internship/study-abroad/job programs, special events, and many more. The key is referencing things that are entirely unique to the school and not many other schools too. Avoid broad terms like "renowned faculty" or "interdisciplinary studies" because virtually all colleges offer things like this, and these are some of the most over-used and artificial reasons used in "Why Us" essays.

This essay has many moments of repetition that are unnecessary. In general, avoid repeating your ideas and when editing, ask yourself of each sentence: does this add something distinctly new and important to my essay? There are two common mistakes that often create repetition: prefacing your ideas and summarizing your ideas. Unlike academic writing, you don't need to "prepare" the reader for what you're going to say, and you don't need to conclude it with a summary. By doing so, you only create unnecessary repetition and take up words which could otherwise be used to include new specific details or ideas.

This essay spends nearly half of its words explaining the "interdisciplinary" opportunities at UPenn. However, this reason is quite superficial and not at all unique to Penn, as almost all colleges offer some sort of interdisciplinary study (i.e. combining your interests or studying multiple fields). Talking about "interdisciplinary study" is one of the most common reasons students use in their "Why Us" essay, and it often comes across as generic and unoriginal. Instead, look for offerings that no other (or very few other) schools provide. Narrow down your reasons "why" to make them more specific to the school, even if they are smaller scale. You can mention things like "interdisciplinary studies" or "diverse student body" briefly as a reason why, but don't make them one of your primary reasons why, unless you have something particularly unique about it.

12. "Why Engineering?" Duke University Essay Example

Prompt: If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as a first-year applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke. (150 words max)

At Duke I was equally entranced by the articulate movements of 3D printers in the Co-Lab and the stunning Gothic architecture. Instead of forming a dichotomy, these aspects of Duke blended to symbolize its emphasis on interdisciplinary education, which will offer me a nuanced perspective of the world integral to becoming a leader in engineering.

I will join the Academy for Model Aeronautics and share my passion for designing drones, while taking fascinating courses such as “Taboo Markets” and “Banality of Evil”, while simultaneously working on an engineering project that improves real people’s lives in “Engineering Design”. By joining the Duke Robotics Club, I can expand upon my love for robotics, and I hope to write for the Duke Engineering magazine, as well as join the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. By drawing from this diverse range of educational experiences, I can become a leader in creating a better future.

13. "Why Neuroscience?" University of Southern California (USC) Essay Example

I had never considered traveling across the country to pursue an education. In fact, living in Pittsburgh all of my life and growing up with people who are so adamant about staying put, forced me to believe that I too had to box myself into this small, yet evolving city. However, now I can confidently tell my friends and family that I want to travel to California for college (and ignore their odd looks).

What strikes me most about USC is its ability to maintain uniformity despite its diverse student body--in interests, ethnicity, and opinion. There are not many schools where I could be best friends with filmmakers, artists, photographers, chemists, potential CEOs, and writers. Although all of these people are spread across different schools, they still seem to maintain a cultural unity. Being surrounded by such a distinct trojan pride combined with the ambitious atmosphere would be both inspiring and propulsive.

At USC, I would not have to confine to merely one of my interests. I have always had aspirations of becoming a doctor and pursuing neuroscience, but have never felt comfortable ignoring the humanities. As a Trojan, I could pursue research at the Dana and David Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center or even take part in PIBBS, while also honing my writing skills through the intricate Writing Program.

Much like the students, my interests could somehow be molded into a diverse uniformity, and I could prove my fellow Pittsburghers that perhaps they need to move around more.

14. "Why Journalism?" Ithaca College Essay Example

Prompt: Please tell us why you selected this specific academic program and what other academic programs interest you. (10-200 words)

Recording devices have been banned from the courtroom of the Supreme Court Building since 1946. Therefore, when the Court makes a landmark decision, interns must hand-deliver paper copies of the ruling to news organizations.

The interns often pair running shoes with their business attire, for the quarter-mile sprint from the Court building to the area where networks ​await.

When I first saw photographs of “The Running of the Interns”, I wanted nothing more than to ​be​ one of those people. I wanted to feel my running shoes beating against the sidewalks, to feel sweat staining my suit.

Why did this tradition attract me to journalism? Because it reminded me that the news is a race, a constantly-changing collection of stories shaping social and political development.

The opportunity to contribute to that collection is why, beyond Ithaca’s journalism program, I’m also interested in the College’s minors in Politics and Writing.

I think all of this desire to be part of a story defines what it means to be a journalist, a writer: When I become a journalism major at Ithaca College, and, later, perhaps a running intern, I get to be a contender in the race to change the world.

15. "Why Economics and Political Science?" University of Michigan Essay Example

In my junior year microeconomics class, my teacher extensively explored the ways in which people from different socioeconomic classes were affected by our economic system. I was frustrated by the ways our country forces those living in poverty to spend the little money they have on taxable goods. I began to empathize with them. How can people pull themselves out of poverty if their government seems to be working against them? More than anything, I was frustrated that I felt powerless to help them in any way.

Those lessons inspired and motivated me. I had always looked at economics as nothing more than an analysis of business models and resource allocation. I began to see it as a way to fix fundamental problems in our society, from examining the effects of healthcare expansion on crime and poverty rates to studying how shifts in our political climate affect how our country’s financial process will change. I now see economics as a way to help those in need in my country and throughout the world.

I volunteered after school for Representative Dingell and had the opportunity to attend numerous events hosted by the Ford School. Again and again, I was impressed by the extent of the Ford School’s student involvement in critical issues. Through my work with the Congresswoman, I was able to gain a greater understanding of how different groups of people were affected by shifts in political and economic priorities. My goal is to become a civil rights attorney or study economics as a way to promote sustainable growth in developing nations.

I want to begin my studies at the University of Michigan in LSA to gain a foundation in economics and political science-related courses. After my first year, I hope to gain admission to the Ford School. The connections that LSA and Ford have to Poverty Solutions solidified by interest in the University of Michigan. If I attended these schools as an undergraduate student, I would be able to assist with research on the causes and ramifications of poverty. Professor Michael Barr’s research on policy initiatives and our financial system is fascinating from the perspective of a prospective economics major. At the University of Michigan, I would be able to join teams of renowned researchers working toward the betterment of our society and our world.

The range of schools working in connection with Poverty Solutions is evidence of the University’s devotion to civic engagement. I would be able to participate in groundbreaking research regarding issues I am interested in; I would have the ability to study poverty and ways to stunt or alleviate its effects in other countries. As someone hoping to pursue a career in public service, it is truly incredible to have the opportunity to join a research community specifically geared toward solving problems I am passionate about solving.

I want to join the University of Michigan’s legacy of innovators. I want to be part of the LSA community, studying economics and political science. I want to attend the Ford School and understand how policy in America and abroad has an effect on global poverty. I want to be involved with the Poverty Solutions Initiative, conducting groundbreaking research on the ways we can reform our financial system to better serve the lower and middle classes.

16. "Why English Major?" Rice University Essay Example

Prompt: Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 words max)

It's an understatement to label me as an English geek; I am that kid who squeals in excitement in English class when given a new essay assignment while others may groan in exasperation. I understand why some may be a bit anxious when preparing to turn in an essay for evaluation; you could bring an essay to two different English teachers and receive two different grades on it. This subjectivity is why some folks may prefer subjects such as mathematics in which the right answer is not debatable. However, its subjectivity is exactly what captivates me. I enjoy reasoning my opinions of arguments and the intentions of authors.

I was really happy when I learned I didn't have to major in Criminal Justice or Political Science to be a civil rights lawyer because I want to become a professional author as well. So, majoring in English is perfect for me.

17. "Why Political Science?" University of Michigan Essay Example

Riding the elevator to the seventh floor of Haven Hall, my heart was practically leaping out of my chest. I was meeting with Dr. Jenna Bednar of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Department of Political Science, and as I recalled her credentials- B.A. in Political Science from Michigan, M.A. and PhD in Political Science from Stanford- I felt increasingly out of place. As a junior in high school with limited political experience, I am grateful that she agreed to take time out of her day to meet with me and answer my numerous questions about LSA, Michigan, and political theory.

Upon entering her office, my eyes were drawn to bookshelves full of political literature, from the classics like De Tocqueville and Locke (which I read in a summer college program in 2017), to her own recently published work, The Robust Federation. Encouraged by her broad smile and having just completed an official campus tour, I launched into my questions. Dr. Bednar described the connections she and her students have made at Michigan, through LSA and in general.

This revealed to me that the faculty would take a personal interest in my academic career. We discussed the average class size in LSA and the Department of Political Science, her academic background, and how to survive Michigan winters. Dr. Bednar then brought my attention to the benefits that LSA Political Science gives its students.

For example, as head of the Michigan in Washington program, Dr. Bednar's passion for both political science and education was evident as she introduced me to one of Michigan's most influential academic programs. Although I hail from two miles outside the D.C. border, I aspire to participate in the Michigan in Washington program, to build on my internship of the past year with my delegate to the Maryland General Assembly.

Under his guidance, I conducted nationwide policy research, attended civic association meetings and development forums, and traveled to our state capitol to watch the legislative process unfold. Consequently, an internship at the federal level is my logical next step toward building the foundations of a political career.

Dr. Bednar, upon hearing about my internship with my delegate, suggested that I think about the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. I believe that this research program offers a unique means of building my understanding of political science. I am eager to apply to the UROP program in hopes of furthering my research skills within the complex political landscape of today. Furthermore, the variety of courses that I can explore as a political science major is remarkable: from "Sports, Politics, and Society", to "Nations and Nationalism," the scope of topics will keep me engaged.

When I sat down with Dr. Bednar, I expected a five-minute chat; I received forty-five minutes of helpful advice, political theorizing, and well wishes. Leaving her office, I felt energized and ready to dive into LSA Political Science right there. Her demeanor helped to build my confidence to boldly seek connections in my search for knowledge. I saw the Michigan difference firsthand, from various undergraduate opportunities for political science, to a universal love for the school from students and faculty alike.

18. "Why Chemistry and Biology?" MIT Essay Example

Prompt: Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words max)

I remember boiling down cabbage with my dad to make titration indicators. When I first read about the process of translation, of rendering mRNA into proteins, my eyes filled with tears; this is what I would do, apply the chemistry that had defined my childhood to my love of biology. In the past few months alone, MIT researchers have visualized a critical growth kinase and decoded the kavalactone gene. To major in both the chemistry and biology departments at MIT would be an unequaled opportunity to explore the molecular basis of life and apply that knowledge to real-world innovation.

19. "Why Neuroscience?" University of Michigan Essay Example

My favorite class in high school was also my hardest. It was World Culture/World Literature, an hour and a half each day of seeing history, art, and literature not as separate entities but as intricately connected, one incomplete without the other. I learned to see humanism in Greek sculpture, religious propaganda in the chiaroscuro of Baroque paintings, disillusionment in modern art. Although seemingly unrelated to my STEM-leaning interests, the analytical skills I learned there would prove invaluable in neuroscience research. Connecting electroencephalography results to mechanisms for chronic pain relief wasn’t all too different from drawing links between historical movements and paintings; both required an intimate knowledge of background information and a willingness to take risks, to see new relationships and forge unprecedented connections.

LSA embodies precisely this mentality, fostering interdisciplinary learning and problem-solving. With classes like “Health, Biology, and Society: What is Cancer?”, bridging humanistic and biological approaches to disease, and graduation requirements ranging from Natural Sciences to Race and Ethnicity, LSA prepares students for the real world, where problems necessitate not just single-minded expertise but also a diverse understanding of other factors involved. My internship experience only confirmed the practicality of this perspective; we used mindfulness meditation alongside spinal cord stimulation technologies to treat chronic pain.

This mindset is not confined to learning inside the classroom. The LSA Opportunity Hub is robust, connecting students to internships at Nike, Forbes, and the US Department of Education, among other places. To intern as a research assistant at Mayo Clinic, to use mathematical models to predict brain tumor growth like current Michigan junior Tatum Doyle would be an unequalled opportunity. Her work in incorporating mathematical concepts in medical research personifies the LSA culture, where problems are best solved holistically. LSA’s interdisciplinary approach does not detract from fostering specialization and excellence in specific fields, but adds; its Biochemistry program promotes innovation and independence in its students and is ranked top in the nation.

I remember boiling down cabbage with my dad to make acid/base indicators. In elementary school, my teacher wrote that I had been spending too much time reading animal books and too little time playing with other kids. I loved (and still love) all things living, often marvelling at the complexity of the animal kingdom, the human body, the organs, and the cells that were the foundation for everything else. The first time I read about the process of translation, of rendering mRNA into proteins, my eyes filled with tears; this is what I wanted to do, to apply the chemistry that had defined my childhood to my love of biology.

LSA shares that passion, dedicating a plethora of resources, both intellectual and material, to its Biochemistry department. With equipment like atomic absorption spectrophotometers, classes in Endocrinology, and distinguished professors, the University of Michigan has everything any biochemistry undergraduate student would need, and much more. To research under a PI like Dr. Kopelman, winner of the J. William Fulbright Research Award, would be a dream fulfilled. His work in employing 5-dimensional chemical imaging to visualize and treat tumors does what LSA does best; it uses an interdisciplinary approach to make academic discoveries both relevant and essential in the real world. It is a culture I would be honored to take part in, should I be accepted.

20. "Why Undeclared?" University of Michigan Essay Example

Sweat drips down my face onto homework in front of me.

I just got home from a soccer game; I’m not stressed. This is until I realize I still have a plethora of edits to make on my lab report as well as emails to write for an upcoming NHS event. AND I have three tests the next day.

Although stressful, I enjoy every minute of juggling a variety of academics and extracurriculars. I appreciate all the opportunities my high school offers to me and I take advantage of as many as I can handle. Thanks to my involved years of high school, I have received a great education as well as many experiences I would never trade away.

Entering my senior year and researching universities I may want to attend, there is one question which continuously presents itself. What do I want to major in when I get to college? It is a scary question and I have never known the answer. Despite participating in many extracurriculars such as National Honor Society, Science Olympiad, Math Honor Society, and Future Business Leaders of America, I still have no idea what I want to do with my life.

As a student at LSA, I would be able to use the abundance of resources to explore possibilities for life after college. Since I am one of the many college applicants who has not decided upon a major, a large, liberal arts college like LSA is the perfect place for me to discover more about myself, pursue interests, and find my purpose. I have considered medicine, business, economics, and law. The two courses I have enjoyed the most are biomedical sciences and US History. I am truly all over the map!

With so much variety at LSA, I would be able to change majors or take a diverse group of classes so that I could find what I want to study. LSA is unique from its University of Michigan counterparts because it offers a broader range of departments, majors, and courses. The flexibility at LSA would help me discover what I want my life to be like while supporting me through my journey.

Additionally, LSA provides students with multiple opportunities not found anywhere else at University of Michigan. One program that caught my eye was Michigan Learning Communities. This program appeals to me because having the resources of this large university, yet finding a niche in the community to challenge myself and others, can help me grow as a student and a person. Similarly, the Opportunity Hub at LSA jumped out at me as I researched the University and toured the school. I would take full advantage of the great connections the Opportunity Hub provides, as it could help me find an internship or job offer when the perfect time comes. MLCs, the Opportunity Hub, and the many other programs which LSA offers are the main reasons why LSA would be the best college fit for me.

I was initially drawn to the University of Michigan by the beautiful campus, great athletics programs, unmatched prestige, and massive alumni network. However, as I dove deeper, I discovered LSA, a school that can help me realize my purpose and passions while providing a focused learning environment to lead me to a bright future.

21. "Why Computer Science?" Cornell Essay Example

22. "why kinesiology" university of michigan essay example, 23. "why mathematics" cornell essay example.

Prompt: Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem solving that helps people, communities…the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in. (250-650 words)

For "Why Us?" college essays, one of the most important parts is to show ways you imagine being involved on campus. This student does a great job of showing that they've done their research about Cornell, by connecting their passion for studying heart disease to specific initiatives already taking place on campus. Try researching what events, research, or programs are being conducted. By referencing those specifics, you can create convincing reasons of why this school is fit for you.

When discussing your intended area of study, one effective strategy is to identify a problem that you see. This problem can be in the field itself, your community, or the world. Then, you can connect this problem to yourself by showing how you'd want to help solve it. Don't try to tackle it entirely yourself, but show how you'd "take bites" out of this larger problem. It is also important that you identify potential solutions to the problem. You definitely don't (and shouldn't) have all the answers, but what do you see as potential steps for combatting the issue?

Using technical language, such as referencing "semi-elliptical curves" and "modular form" in this essay, will help show your in-depth knowledge and passion. Don't be afraid to use technical jargon like this, and don't worry if admissions officers may not know all the terms. As long as they have context and knowing the terminology isn't critical to understanding your point, including "nerdy" language will make your essay more engaging and demonstrate your intelligence.

If you have personal connections to the school you're applying to (such as legacy, family members who work there, students or faculty you're close with), it can be a good idea to reference those connections. Showing personal connections to the school makes admissions think, "They're already practically one of us!" Just make sure that these connections aren't contrived: only write about them if you have a clear purpose within your essay for introducing them. In this essay, the student references their brother who attended Cornell, but does so in a way that naturally ties into the rest of their reasons for "why Cornell."

24. "Why Computer Science?" Brown University Essay Example

Prompt: Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated? (150 words max)

There was a time when I was low and afraid to be with myself. That’s when I dived into programming. I always sat with my laptop. But unlike others on Instagram or Snapchat, I was coding. I always kept myself occupied so I wouldn’t think about hardships. But as I was solving those little Instantiation and StackOverflow errors, I realized that any problem in my life had a solution. I could either modify the code and right the wrong, or just keep compiling them, producing no output. So, life is not all that different. That is why I want to pursue Computer Science. I know I can work to keep myself happy. Inevitably, what makes me happy is Computer Science, which is what I want to pursue.

25. "Why Journalism?" Emerson College Essay Example

Prompt: As you know, the academic programs at Emerson College are focused on communication and the arts. Please tell us what influenced you to select your major. If you're undecided about your major, what attracted you to Emerson's programs? Please be brief. (100-200 words)

Recording devices have been banned from the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court Building since 1946. Therefore, when the Court makes a landmark decision, interns must hand-deliver paper copies of the ruling to news organizations.

The quarter-mile sprint from the Court building to the area where networks ​await ​is no easy feat. But the interns dress with this mind, often pairing running shoes with their business attire.

When I first saw photographs of “The Running of the Interns”, I knew that I wanted nothing more than to ​be​ one of those people. I wanted to feel my running shoes beating against the limestone sidewalks, to feel sweat staining my suit.

Why did a tradition centered around dashing through D.C. attract me to journalism? Because it reminded me that the news is a race, a constantly-changing collection of stories shaping social and political development.

This, I think, defines both what it means to be a journalist and why I want to be a journalist: When I become a journalism major at Emerson, and, later, a part of the press--perhaps a running intern--I get to be a contender in the race to change the world.

What You Can Learn From These "Why This Major" Essay Examples

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People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

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Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

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Interview questions answered: Why did you choose this university?

Applying for a place at a university, you’ll always have to go through the admission process . In the better scenario (the easier one), you just fill in an application form (online or offline), submit the required documentation, and eventually get the desired reply –the acceptation of your application. In many cases, however, you will have to pass an admission interview , competing with other students for the limited number of spots in the study program. This is the case especially with nursing schools, pharmacy schools, med schools, law schools , etc.

Regardless of whether you have to interview for your place or not, you will almost always face the question about your choice: Why our university? Why not some other place? In many cases you have to answer this question directly on the application form , and you will almost always face it in your interview as well. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question, including some unconventional choices. Check them out, pick one that resonates with the message you try to convey on your application, makes sense for the given university, and then adjust it slightly for your application form or the eventual interview at school.

7 sample answers to “Why did you choose this university?” interview question

  • I’ve chosen your place for two main reasons . First one is the study program . I went through the curriculum for all four years , checked every subject, and I find your curriculum superior to other competing universities in the country. Second reason is your location . I know the city well, like it a lot, especially the surrounding nature, and I can imagine living there for the next few years at least.
  • I wanted to study with the best . You top the national rankings of universities , many top-class professors teach at your place, and I know that a degree from your university means something in the job interviews, and will open me doors to interesting places once I earn it. I have the grades to apply for a place at your med school, and see no reason why I should opt for the second best alternative. I hope you will give me a chance to prove my motivation and readiness for studies in an interview.
  • Honestly speaking, I applied with you because I know I have a realistic chance to get in . I haven’t been the best student at high school, and it would be a waste of time sending my application to certain universities, which would not even bother reading it once they see my GPA . But I do not support such elitist institutions. At the end of the day, you will find some great teachers at every university , and I see no reason why I cannot learn the management at your place. What’s more, I like the mission statement of your school , the role you play in a local community, and would be proud to belong to your students .
  • I have several reasons for my choice. First of all, I did not get in the last year , but I had a really good impression from the interviews , and enjoyed my time with the teachers and students of the school. Gaining some working experience and improving my interviewing skills during the “gap year”, I wanted to give your place another shot, because I know I will have a better chance this time around, more experienced and mature. What’s more, I really like the research opportunities for undergraduate students , something not many schools in the area offer. And last but not least, I live in the city. It will be easier for me to financially support my studies, because I won’t have to pay for rent or for the dorm.
  • I just love everything about your place . First of all, the campus. The huge library, the park, I just found the place incredibly inspirational and motivating . I have visited it several times already. Secondly, the study program, and the emphasis you put on hands-on practice . Then I also like your basketball team , I am a big supporter and will try to play in the team if I get a chance. And last but not least, the way you present your place online and in the media really resonates with my values , and I will be incredibly happy to study at your school…
  • My main reason is your athletic team . I’ve studied the application rules carefully, and I know that with my results and record times I am eligible to get a scholarship at your place. I know the coaches, and have been following their careers for a while, and would love to train under them , and represent the colors of your school with some great results. At the same time, however, I want to have something to fall back on in life , because a career of an athlete is short, and an injury can always stop you. Studying sports management and marketing while trying to become a top-class runner seems like a dream come true to me. And I can live this dream at your university.
  • Two of my close friends study at your university. I interviewed them a couple of times, trying to get first-hand information, about the teachers, the subjects, the life at the college and everything. And I love what they say about the quality of lectures, the interaction with both teachers and students, the after school activities, as well as the leadership of the place. It motivated me to apply with your university, and when I saw that you have a course in water resources engineering, something I always wanted to study , it was an easy choice…

Give them some praise, but try to be honest

At the end of the day, admission committee members are humans from flesh and bones , just like you or me. They enjoy when someone recognizes a good job they do , when people talk nicely about their place of work. Try to find something you can praise the university for. Options are almost endless.

Their campus, study programs, their online presentation, scholarships they offer, modern technology they have in place, attitude to various issues we face as humanity, particular teachers and professors, research activity they do, their athletic teams, and so on, and so forth. But do your research first , because it is important to be realistic.

Praising some school for the results of their students or teachers, while in fact they are on a tail end of the rankings in the categories you praise them for, will earn you nothing but rejection . Do your research, find things worthy of praise, and then praise them on your application, or in the interviews.

essay on why i want to go to a certain college

Refer to the study program anytime you can

At the end of day, study program is the most important thing for your choice. Regardless of having a beautiful campus or employing the best teachers in the country, it makes no sense to study at some university, unless you can study the subjects of your choice, unless you like the curriculum.

As you can observe on my list of sample answers, students typically pick several reasons for their choice . And you should do the same thing, making sure that the study program is one of the reasons . You can even take this one step further, picking particular subjects you like , or teachers , or even master’s degrees you can pursue later on at the same university, citing them as the main reason of your application.

At the end of the day, you will likely apply with several schools. And it is right to do so, because you do not want to bet all your chances on a single application form. When hearing (or reading) why you chose their university, however, admission committee members should get an impression that they are your first choice . That’s the ultimate goal you should try to achieve with your answer to this tricky question…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! But do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky college interview questions:

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What I’ve Learned From My Students’ College Essays

The genre is often maligned for being formulaic and melodramatic, but it’s more important than you think.

An illustration of a high school student with blue hair, dreaming of what to write in their college essay.

By Nell Freudenberger

Most high school seniors approach the college essay with dread. Either their upbringing hasn’t supplied them with several hundred words of adversity, or worse, they’re afraid that packaging the genuine trauma they’ve experienced is the only way to secure their future. The college counselor at the Brooklyn high school where I’m a writing tutor advises against trauma porn. “Keep it brief , ” she says, “and show how you rose above it.”

I started volunteering in New York City schools in my 20s, before I had kids of my own. At the time, I liked hanging out with teenagers, whom I sometimes had more interesting conversations with than I did my peers. Often I worked with students who spoke English as a second language or who used slang in their writing, and at first I was hung up on grammar. Should I correct any deviation from “standard English” to appeal to some Wizard of Oz behind the curtains of a college admissions office? Or should I encourage students to write the way they speak, in pursuit of an authentic voice, that most elusive of literary qualities?

In fact, I was missing the point. One of many lessons the students have taught me is to let the story dictate the voice of the essay. A few years ago, I worked with a boy who claimed to have nothing to write about. His life had been ordinary, he said; nothing had happened to him. I asked if he wanted to try writing about a family member, his favorite school subject, a summer job? He glanced at his phone, his posture and expression suggesting that he’d rather be anywhere but in front of a computer with me. “Hobbies?” I suggested, without much hope. He gave me a shy glance. “I like to box,” he said.

I’ve had this experience with reluctant writers again and again — when a topic clicks with a student, an essay can unfurl spontaneously. Of course the primary goal of a college essay is to help its author get an education that leads to a career. Changes in testing policies and financial aid have made applying to college more confusing than ever, but essays have remained basically the same. I would argue that they’re much more than an onerous task or rote exercise, and that unlike standardized tests they are infinitely variable and sometimes beautiful. College essays also provide an opportunity to learn precision, clarity and the process of working toward the truth through multiple revisions.

When a topic clicks with a student, an essay can unfurl spontaneously.

Even if writing doesn’t end up being fundamental to their future professions, students learn to choose language carefully and to be suspicious of the first words that come to mind. Especially now, as college students shoulder so much of the country’s ethical responsibility for war with their protest movement, essay writing teaches prospective students an increasingly urgent lesson: that choosing their own words over ready-made phrases is the only reliable way to ensure they’re thinking for themselves.

Teenagers are ideal writers for several reasons. They’re usually free of preconceptions about writing, and they tend not to use self-consciously ‘‘literary’’ language. They’re allergic to hypocrisy and are generally unfiltered: They overshare, ask personal questions and call you out for microaggressions as well as less egregious (but still mortifying) verbal errors, such as referring to weed as ‘‘pot.’’ Most important, they have yet to put down their best stories in a finished form.

I can imagine an essay taking a risk and distinguishing itself formally — a poem or a one-act play — but most kids use a more straightforward model: a hook followed by a narrative built around “small moments” that lead to a concluding lesson or aspiration for the future. I never get tired of working with students on these essays because each one is different, and the short, rigid form sometimes makes an emotional story even more powerful. Before I read Javier Zamora’s wrenching “Solito,” I worked with a student who had been transported by a coyote into the U.S. and was reunited with his mother in the parking lot of a big-box store. I don’t remember whether this essay focused on specific skills or coping mechanisms that he gained from his ordeal. I remember only the bliss of the parent-and-child reunion in that uninspiring setting. If I were making a case to an admissions officer, I would suggest that simply being able to convey that experience demonstrates the kind of resilience that any college should admire.

The essays that have stayed with me over the years don’t follow a pattern. There are some narratives on very predictable topics — living up to the expectations of immigrant parents, or suffering from depression in 2020 — that are moving because of the attention with which the student describes the experience. One girl determined to become an engineer while watching her father build furniture from scraps after work; a boy, grieving for his mother during lockdown, began taking pictures of the sky.

If, as Lorrie Moore said, “a short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage,” what is a college essay? Every once in a while I sit down next to a student and start reading, and I have to suppress my excitement, because there on the Google Doc in front of me is a real writer’s voice. One of the first students I ever worked with wrote about falling in love with another girl in dance class, the absolute magic of watching her move and the terror in the conflict between her feelings and the instruction of her religious middle school. She made me think that college essays are less like love than limerence: one-sided, obsessive, idiosyncratic but profound, the first draft of the most personal story their writers will ever tell.

Nell Freudenberger’s novel “The Limits” was published by Knopf last month. She volunteers through the PEN America Writers in the Schools program.

Does It Really Matter Where You Go To College? Financially, It Does

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Stanford University

High school students and their parents are nothing short of obsessed with college decisions—concerns over students’ higher education prospects prompt parents to spend thousands of dollars on private school, tutoring, private college admissions consulting, competitive summer programs, and more. Though many invest huge amounts of time, money, and energy into the process, others often wonder: Does it really matter whether your student attends an Ivy League school or a state university?

From large state schools to small liberal arts colleges, students can find research opportunities, rigorous curricula, and vibrant campus communities at a wide array of colleges. In choosing where to apply, and later, where to attend college, students should be diligent in their research and discern what kind of school will best suit them. An Ivy League school is not the right choice for every student—needless to say, many students would not thrive in such rigorous academic environments. Further, Ivy League schools’ small campus sizes, cultures and locations may not be the best fit for some students. When it comes to student satisfaction and the potential to flourish, an Ivy League may not be the best option.

However, when it comes to future earning potential and career success, where you go to college matters greatly.

First and foremost, the caliber of a student’s alma mater can impact their likelihood of securing a job after graduation. Princeton, Harvard, and Yale all rank in the top 10 in the Times Higher Education 2023-2024 Global Employability University Ranking, alongside other top schools such as MIT, CalTech, and Stanford. Not only are graduates of these schools more likely to get a job, but a report from Opportunity Insights indicated further that attending a college in the Ivy plus category rather than a highly selective public institution triples a graduate’s chances of working at a prestigious firm.

This is due in large part to the networking opportunities afforded to students at world-renowned universities. While excelling in the classroom during one’s college years is an impressive feat, few employers will look at students’ GPAs or transcripts after graduation. They will care instead about the quality of their resumes and professional experiences. Ivy League and other top schools provide networks that will follow students throughout their careers, as graduates connect with one another through organizations such as the Harvard Club of New York City.

The significance of attending a top college manifests not only in one’s likelihood of getting a job, but also their average earnings. Graduates from Ivy League schools are reported to have higher average annual earnings than their peers who graduate in the top 10% of other colleges. According to U.S. News & World Report , Ivy League graduates with approximately three years of professional experience earned a median annual salary of $86,025 in 2022, compared to graduates of other schools who earned $58,643. The gap widens as time goes on—by mid-career (20 years of experience), Ivy League grads earn $161,888 on average, compared to other graduates who average $101,777. Additionally, graduates of Ivy League and other top schools are 60% more likely to reach the top 1% of the earnings distribution. It is no surprise, then, that every Ivy League school except for Brown appears on Forbes’ 2022 list of The 11 Most Popular Colleges Among America’s Richest. University of Pennsylvania topped that list, with 17 graduates appearing on Forbes’ 400 wealthiest American rankings.

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These statistics are even more significant in light of Ivy League schools’ financial aid packages. For instance, in 2022, Princeton announced that they would offer free tuition, room, and board for most students whose families made less than $100,000 annually. Programs such as these bring the average annual cost of attending an Ivy League education down to $23,234 —less than the average cost of ranked colleges outside of the Ivy League. These financial incentives contribute to the ROI of top schools, placing Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth in the top 10 in The Princeton Review ’s ranking of best value colleges.

Ultimately, students should seek to attend a school that aligns with their goals and passions while recognizing that their college decision will have lasting effects on their career and income. Investing in the necessary support to maximize your student’s chances of admission to Ivy League and other top schools is a strategic choice—and one that could have a positive impact for years to come.

Christopher Rim

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    One thing this essay could do to make it stronger is improve the first paragraph. The student does a good job of setting up Sister Roach and the Five C's, but they don't mention anything about their desire to study or pursue nursing. The first paragraph mentions both Sister Roach and Penn, but left out the student.

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    Step 1: How to Find All the Resources You Need to Learn about a Particular School. The Top Secret Three-Word Trick to Finding Specific Info for Your "Why this College" Essay. Step 2: Organize Your Research. Step 3: Decide on Your Approach: Approach #2: The "3-5 Unique Reasons" Strategy Approach #3: The "One Value" Strategy. How to ...

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    5 Tips for Writing a Great "Why This College" Essay. Follow the five tips below to help your "why this school" essay leave a memorable impression on admissions officers. 1. Treat Each "Why Us" Essay Individually. Although it may seem tempting to write one essay about why you want to attend college and send it to every school, this strategy isn ...

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    It's these kinds of specific examples that are key to mention in a "Why This College" Essay. 3. Visit student group websites and Facebook groups. If you want to get a student's perspective of a university, you should read through forums where students from that university are frequently contributing to.

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    Just jump right into your reasons. Your first paragraph should focus on your main 1-2 reasons, while the next paragraph should go into slightly less detail about the remaining reasons you've selected. Recycle the same essay. This essay requires a specific response that is tailored to the college you've selected.

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