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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.

why a college essay

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Craft Your Perfect College Essay

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.

why a college essay

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Get Into Your Top Choice School

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 it for free now:

Get eBook: 5 Tips for 160+ Points

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 Research and Write a “Why This College?” Essay

How to Research and Write a "Why This College?" Essay

Published on September 24, 2021 by Meredith Testa . Revised on June 1, 2023.

As part of the college application process , many colleges ask applicants to include a supplemental essay explaining why they are interested in their school specifically. There’s one absolute must for writing a great answer to this question: do your research .

Admissions officers are looking for applicants to prove that they are knowledgeable and interested in their school in particular. General answers like “I like the location” or “It’s the right size and offers my major” won’t earn you much praise. Admissions officers are far more impressed by students who can take very specific information—the names of certain classes, for example—and connect it to their personal academic interests.

The process of writing a “Why this college?” essay should look something like this:

  • Thoroughly research the college
  • Connect what you’ve learned through your research to yourself
  • Outline and write the essay

Table of contents

How to research a college, plan and write the essay, mistakes to avoid in a “why this college” essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

The first step in the process is by far the most important. Research should be concrete and very specific—the College Board’s “At a Glance” pages or the “About” section of the college website won’t have the information you need. Instead, look deeply into the college website to find information that isn’t so obvious.

The information you come up with should only be applicable to one college—if you could replace the name of one school with another and have the essay still make sense, you’re not being specific enough.

Visit the campus

Most students visit colleges they’re considering before they apply, and those visits can be a great source of information. Not only will you learn information on the tour, but you’ll also connect with a current student—the tour guide. Current students can answer questions about campus life, and mentioning your interactions with students in your essay can help strengthen it.

On your tour, keep an eye out for any information, big or small, about what makes the school unique. Ask your tour guide about what on-campus social events they enjoy or what unusual traditions they’ve taken part in.

If you’re an international student or otherwise unable to travel to the campus, check if there are other opportunities to find out more about the campus, such as virtual tours.

Look for courses and professors that interest you

If you have a major in mind, there will almost certainly be a list of requirements for that major somewhere on the website. Many schools also make their course catalog available on their website, which can be an excellent resource for prospective students.

You should also check the names of professors teaching in the department. Professors’ email addresses will usually be listed on these pages, and you can email them with any specific questions about the program that the admissions office can’t answer.

This process can work even if you aren’t sure what you’d like to major in. Look for classes in any fields that pique your interest. Find programs you might be interested in—such as study abroad or internship programs—and dig for detailed information about them.

To answer the “Why Duke?” supplemental essay question, Ariana looks at Duke’s registrar website, which offers a version of the course catalog online, and searches for courses in linguistics. There are plenty of courses that seem perfect for Ariana: “Spanish in the US,” “Neuroscience and Human Language,” and “Bilingualism” are all great fits with her interests.

Researching other activities

In addition to finding information on the academics of your chosen school, you should also research other aspects of the college. Non-academic motivations probably won’t make up the bulk of your essay, but they can be a great addition.

Student organizations are good to mention, and it’s great to connect with students who participate in organizations you’re interested in prior to writing your essay.

If you’re a student athlete, you will likely meet with the coach for your sport before you apply. Feel free to mention that—and what you discussed with them—in your essay.

You can also mention other unique traditions or quirks of the school that appeal to you. For example, Muhlenberg College prides itself on painting all of the doors on campus red as a sign of welcome; mentioning that in your essay could show that you’re invested in the friendly, communal culture of that school.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Once you’ve completed your research, you’re ready to start the writing process. All the general rules of essay writing still apply—you’ll want, for example, to organize your thoughts with an outline before getting started—but keep in mind that many schools want this essay to be short compared to the personal essay.

In your early notes, be sure to include all the possible reasons the school appeals to you. Write down any information you gathered from your research, campus visit, or conversations with faculty or current students, along with anything else that strikes you as relevant. For example, here’s what Ariana’s list of her reasons for applying to Duke might look like.

  • Combining linguistics and medicine/healthcare
  • Interesting courses: “Neuroscience and Human Language”; “Language, Music, and Dementia”; “Spanish in the US”
  • Campus atmosphere: I overheard students discussing their academic interests throughout the day, even at the dining hall. The student body seems passionate and focused on academics.
  • Conversation with a student during the tour: Discussed my interest in Spanish/bilingualism with a student who happened to be majoring in Spanish.
  • Clubs/activities: Latin American Students Organization and Mi Gente
  • VLearn Program: Duke offers students $70 per semester for lunch with a faculty member

Once your list of campus positives is finished, you can move on to writing an outline in which you organize your thoughts. In the outline, be sure to connect your research to yourself. You can do that by detailing a relevant experience, explaining an academic interest, or connecting the research to your personal life.

I have always been interested in language and how it intersects with neuroscience and medicine. Duke’s “Language, Music, and Dementia” class seems tailor-made for me: it’s the exact type of course I’d like to take and would prepare me for a future career in research or medicine, my two academic passions.

Once you’ve outlined your essay, you can write a draft. The word count for these essays is usually lower. Admissions officers don’t spend much time on each application, so be sure not to exceed the word count.

It’s okay for your answer to be short; successful answers to this question at Tufts, for example, range from just 100 words to 250 words .

For a strong essay, avoid being too general or too emotional, and try not to repeat the same points you’ve already made in other parts of your application.

Speaking in generalities

The most common cause of a bad “ Why this college?” essay is the use of generalities. You may have initially been interested in a school because of its size, ranking, reputation, or location, or the availability of your desired majors, but those aren’t specific enough reasons to include in your essay.

Overusing emotive language

It’s great if you “felt at home” on your college visit, but what does that really mean? You can call a college your “dream school,” but that doesn’t really explain what about it appeals to you.

While it’s fine to discuss the emotional reasons you like a specific college, your essay must include specific, concrete reasons why you want to attend.

Rewriting your personal essay or resume

Admissions officers already have your personal essay and resume right in front of them; you don’t need to reiterate what’s in those, especially if it isn’t relevant to the reasons you’ve given.

Rewriting your accomplishments over and over throughout the application can be annoyingly redundant or, worse, come off as boastful.

However, rewriting your personal essay to make it more readable is highly recommended. You can do this quickly with a paraphrasing tool .

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing

 Communication

  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

Colleges set a “Why this college?” essay because they want to see that you’ve done your research. You must prove that you know what makes the school unique and can connect that to your own personal goals and academic interests.

Campus visits are always helpful, but if you can’t make it in person, the college website will have plenty of information for you to explore. You should look through the course catalog and even reach out to current faculty with any questions about the school.

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How To Write The “Why This College” Essay

A student sitting outside on a ledge taking notes on a notepad.

College admissions officers aren’t just looking for straight As, glowing recommendations , and a slew of extracurricular activities. They are seeking students who want to be on their campus and will start clubs, eat in the quad, and engage with professors.

Before applying to any school, you should be confident that the school has the academic options, co-curricular opportunities, and social climate to make your next four years magical. If you can give a few examples of these things for each of the schools on your list, you are ready to start your “why this college” essay.  

“Why this college” essays are designed for students to demonstrate their interest and passion for the school community they are applying to. It allows admission officers to picture the student on campus.

Colleges have many different ways of asking why you believe their institution is a fit for you. This can range from asking how the college can help you succeed, why you are interested in studying your academic interests at the college, or what most excites you about the school.

Provide specific examples of why you belong there

The best way to answer any form of these questions is through specific, unique examples that clarify your interests in the school. You want to stay away from things that could be found on a school’s brochure or fun facts told on a college tour. Give examples that indicate you have done research on the school and have confidence that it is a fit for you. 

One way to tackle this is by taking detailed looks at a school’s academic options. If you have a niche academic interest that is only offered at a few schools, make sure you let the school know you can’t find this option in other places.

If you are a science student who enjoys a liberal arts approach to education, point out your interest in earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in a subject such as biology or chemistry. You should strive to find unique parts of the school’s academic offering that are for you.

If you have taken previous coursework at the school or attended open lectures, this is a great time to talk about your love of the things you have already seen from the school. These can be things such as discussion-based science classes or opportunities for students to teach as a substitute for traditional elective credits.

For one of my essays, I talked about the offering of an interdisciplinary minor in medicine, literature, and culture taught by graduate school professors to undergraduate students. I discussed my interest in strengthening my writing skills as a pre-med student through assignments outside of lab reports and the benefits of understanding illness from a cultural perspective. I discussed an online class I had taken previously that was similar to the courses offered under the minor to further demonstrate my interest in pursuing it. 

Discuss extracurricular activities you would be involved in

Examining a school’s co-curricular offerings is the next stop for “why this college” essays. Although academics are the main priority for any college student, your co-curricular experiences are what can build your resume and prepare you for a job or graduate school application.

This can be a space to talk about clubs, volunteering opportunities , or on-campus jobs at the school that interest you. This is also a subtle way to show that you are ready to be involved on campus.

My best example of this was discussing the presence of pre-health clubs for minority students run by alumni. Not only was this club a great place for mentoring and networking, but it also could help students find like-minded people on campus with similar backgrounds.

This was important to me since clubs like that were not available at my high school and was something I wanted as a part of my support team throughout college.

Paint the picture 

Lastly, discussing the social climate of a school can be an untraditional approach to explaining why the school is great for you. These can be observations you’ve made such as how the collaborative floors of the library are always filled indicating the presence of teamwork on campus or how you’ve noticed professors eating pizza with students outside the dining hall.

An essay that reflects on these parts of the school’s atmosphere can be just as meaningful as talking about any major or club offered at the school. When visiting a friend of mine who had already started college, one of her professors saw us walking in the quad and asked if I would want to sit in on a class since it fit my academic interest.

After the class, I got to talk to the professor about my passions and hear more about his research. I was amazed by his friendliness and excitement for incoming students. Stories like that can stand out from the typical stories about football games and other school traditions. 

Hopefully this offers you some guidance on tackling your “why this college” essay. Remember, make it specific and link it back to you. Best of luck!

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Author: Lauryn Taylor

Hi everyone! I am Lauryn Taylor, a second year student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying economics and public policy with a media and journalism minor. I am on the pre-law track with interest in health, education, and media. At school, I am involved with a couple different things including being Vice President of a mental health club and the Student Director of Institutional Research and Assessment. I also work for our Campus Health marketing and engagement team and am the student representative for the Policy Review Committee. I look forward to sharing my journey and being a guide through the your college admissions journey!

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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.

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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 (With an Example!)

why a college essay

Applying to college is a big decision that brings a lot of excitement and stress. This is especially so when it comes to answering the “why this college” prompt asked by many colleges.  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 are 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. (200 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? (Required for all applicants; 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 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 that want to attend Columbia University next fall. As you’re probably expecting, I could tell you that I’m different from them all. Though in some ways, I’m exactly the same. Just like them, I want to stand on the corner of Broadway and 116th St. and feel completely confident that I chose the perfect school to study literary arts with a focus on fiction writing. 

Even more so, I strive to be amongst the Columbia Greats that inspired me to pick up a pen in the first place. Though Columbia, you shouldn’t want me just 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 perspective and style. Amongst your walls and tutelage, these literary greats blossomed, much 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 highlight 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
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  • Learn what “demonstrated interest” means for your application

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How to Write a "Why This College" Essay + Examples that Worked for the Ivy League

How to write a “why this college” essay + examples that worked for the ivy league.

Bonus Material: Download 30 Real College Essays that Got Students Into Princeton

College admissions have never been more competitive. With acceptance percentages for top colleges in the low teens (or lower for Ivies!), you need to take every opportunity to stand out from other applicants. 

We all know the importance of grades, test scores, and the personal statement. But there’s one part of the process that students all too often underestimate: the supplemental essays.

 In this post, we’ll take you through how to approach one of the most common supplemental prompts: the “Why this college?” essay. 

Jump to section:

Why do colleges ask this question? Types of “Why this college?” prompts Step 1: Research unique offerings! Step 2: Link to your story! Step 3: Create a frame for your essay A list of Don’ts Rules to remember Next steps

Download 30 Successful College Essays

Why do colleges ask this question?

This is one of the most common supplemental questions asked by colleges, especially by some of the most competitive ones! For example, six of the eight Ivies have an essay that basically asks you to answer that simple-sounding question: “Why us?”

Princeton University

You might be tempted to think these questions are silly or unimportant. But the truth is that they matter a whole lot. What colleges are looking for in these essays is, at heart, two things: proof that you’re a good fit, and proof that you’re actually committed to attending. 

Think about these essays as conveying to the college two fundamental things: that you’re interest ing , and that you’re interest ed . 

Why does that matter? Well, think about it from the college’s perspective. Elite colleges are committed to admitting only a tiny percentage of the tens of thousands of applications they receive yearly. 

Because of that, it’s massively important that those lucky and exceptional few they do accept will actually contribute to the community. They want the best!

At the same time, these colleges don’t want to “waste” an acceptance on a student who then goes on to enroll somewhere else. They want to be reasonably confident that, if they accept you, you’ll take them up on their offer.

It’s a little like dating: they want to be sure you’re good relationship material, but they also don’t want to ask you out if it doesn’t seem like you’re interested. 

Types of “Why this college?” prompts

Sometimes, the prompt will really be as simple as “Why Dartmouth?” Other times, though, these prompts will highlight some particular aspect they want you to focus on. Take a look at the below prompts, and see if you can spot the difference:

Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? (150-200 words)

How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)*

In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

These are all “Why us?” essays. But UPenn splits this question into two separate prompts: the first is specifically about “intellectual and academic interests,” while the second is specifically about “community.” The third prompt, from Northwestern, is more general: it’s really about any aspects of the university that draw you in. 

why a college essay

Colleges will generally ask the “Why us?” question in one of three ways:

  • An overall question asking you to focus on anything that appeals to you about the school.
  • A specific question asking how you’ll use the school’s resources to pursue your academic interests. 
  • A specific question asking how you’ll engage with non-academic elements of the school, often framed around community.

Though these questions are all being asked for the same purpose, they’ll require you to discuss different aspects of the school and of yourself. 

Now that you know what these prompts look like and what they’re for, let’s take a look at how you should start answering them. 

Download 30 College Essays That Got Students Into Princeton

Step 1: Research unique offerings!

It might sound obvious, but you cannot write one of these essays without first doing serious research into the school’s offerings. Get on the computer, go through the school’s website, and note down specific offerings that interest you. For academics, some things to look into might be:

  • Whether the school has a unique approach to the core curriculum (e.g., Brown or Barnard).
  • Research opportunities for undergraduates. 
  • Unique service learning or study abroad opportunities. 
  • Unique work opportunities (e.g., Northeastern’s CoOp program)
  • Opportunities within your planned major (unique tracks, specializations, etc.)

You might notice I used the word “unique” a lot there. It may sound repetitive, but it does stress the point: you need to focus on aspects that are unique to the school you’re applying to!

Brown University

Anyone who’s worked with college essays has seen a fair share that say something like:

Part of what I’m excited about at School X is the robust Economics department, where I’ll be able to take classes like Introduction to Microeconomics and International Economics .

What’s the problem there? Well, every school with an economics department is going to offer those classes! It’s not unique, and it suggests that the author of that sentence didn’t do their research or, even worse, doesn’t really have any specific reason for choosing School X. 

If you’re looking to discuss community aspects, you should do the same kind of research, perhaps focusing on:

  • Unique college-wide initiatives (e.g., Dartmouth’s Sophomore Summer)
  • Student clubs/organizations
  • Anything specific the college stresses as a point of pride in terms of values, diversity, etc.

Researching unique offerings from these schools can be difficult: how do you know what’s unique enough to mention? Or what a particular school really prides itself on?

If you’re struggling with this first key step, reach out to one of experienced college essay coaches , who can help you through the process so you know what to write about before you start.

Step 2: Link to your story!

But that research is only half the battle. Schools don’t just want a list of what they do well. Remember our two guiding principles for these essays: prove you’ll be a good fit, and prove you’re interested. 

To do that, you’ll have to connect any specific opportunities you mention with your own narrative. What about you —your experiences, passions, values, successes, failures—has led you to be interested in these specific opportunities presented by the school? 

Remember that all college essays are stories. When these “Why us?” essays are perfect, it should make the admissions committee feel that your journey up to this point has naturally led you to apply to their school. 

So, don’t think of this as an essay about the school itself. It is, like all these college essays, an essay about you as a person . The only difference is you have to show how your story intersects with what this particular college can do for you . 

why a college essay

As an initial brainstorming exercise, make two columns. In the first, list all of those specifics you researched in step one. In the second column, put what connects you to each of those specific offerings. Activities you’ve been involved with, important moments in your life, values you hold dear. Wherever you have the strongest connections, that’s what you’ll write about. 

Thinking strategically, you can especially focus on strong connections that also tie in to your most impressive achievements, whether academic or extracurricular, because you’ll get another chance to reference them in your supplemental essays.

For inspiration, check out 30 examples of real college essays by some of the most successful applicants in the world, who told their stories in interesting and unique ways.

Step 3: Create a frame for your essay

Each of these essays should be personalized to the school you’re applying to. But , because this is at heart an essay about yourself, you can create an introduction and conclusion (a “frame”) that you tweak only slightly for multiple schools. 

The first paragraph, whenever possible, should be eye-catching and specific to you. Often, the best way to do this is with some small anecdote or mini-story from your life that contextualizes the rest of the essay. 

Are you going to apply to these schools as a Math major? Well, then you might want to start the essays with a short description of the moment you fell in love with math, or with what burning questions drive you to pursue it in college. 

Your last paragraph (which should be very short) can return to this story or to some other key element of yourself that explains your goals within the context of the essay. With the first and last paragraph, you should have a deeply personal frame that gives context for what you say in the body of your essay.

student success

This frame doesn’t have to change much: if it fits for the prompt, reuse it! But do change the body paragraphs. Since those paragraphs are all about the specifics for the school you’re applying to, each of those needs to be written from scratch. 

A list of Don’ts:

Writing these essays can get pretty complicated. There’s a lot of nuance, a lot of potential pitfalls, and a lot on the line (which is why you should look into working with one of our experts). But one good place to start is with what you shouldn’t do:

  • Avoid all generalizations about the strength of the program, the prestige of the faculty, or the rigor of the academics. 
  • Avoid talking too much about the location of the school, especially for schools in major cities like NYC. 
  • Exception: if your application can show a demonstrated interest in a particular field (e.g., if you’ve already done research with a professor, or published something in a relevant journal), then it will seem much more believable when you reference a professor or coursework. 
  • Similarly, avoid name-dropping specific buildings or locations at the school as if you’ve already been there. Generally, don’t say things like “I can already see myself walking through the doors of Firestone Library.”
  • Do your best to avoid stock/cliche sentences like, “I am passionate about […]” or “[…] really stands out to me as an incredible opportunity.” It’s more than likely some of these will sneak into your writing, but cut as much of them as you can.
  • Don’t spend too much time describing the college’s program/club/etc. without tying it specifically to you . The admissions officers already know that their school is great, and they don’t need you to explain their special community-building outdoor adventure program! What they want to know is what is specifically attractive about that adventure program to you and how it ties into your past accomplishments and future plans.  

student writing college essay

Rules to remember

By far the best way to excel on these essays is to work with a qualified college essay coach . There’s nothing like a second set of eyes to give you perspective and guidance on your work! But regardless of whether you get assistance or set out on your own, keep the below rules in mind:

  • There are no “optional” essays ! If a school offers you a prompt, always write a response.
  • Balance school specifics with your own narrative. Always show how what you like about the college connects back to your experiences . 
  • Every sentence should be specific to you and/or the school : if you read a sentence and it could have been written by someone else or about some other school, you need a better sentence. 
  • Avoid generalizations; focus on specifics . 

So, now that you’ve read this post and gotten a better idea of what colleges want, how do you start writing?

Download 30 College Essays That Worked

Our college essay coaches can help you through every step of the process, from that initial research to final proofreading for clarity and polish. Not only have our coaches helped students gain admission into some of the top colleges in the country, but they’ve successfully navigated that process themselves. 

Princeton University

In the meantime, take a look at the examples we collected from 30 students admitted to Princeton so you can get a sense of what’s been successful in the past. 

Related articles

11 College Essays That Worked 7 Qualities of a Successful College Essay 5 Ways to Structure Your College Essay The 6 Princeton Supplemental Essays: How to Respond How to Answer the Harvard Supplemental Essay Prompts How Colleges Read Your Application: A 4 Step Process What College Admissions Officers Look For: Your Data-Backed Guide 14 Best College Essay Services for 2022 (40 Services Reviewed)

why a college essay

Emily graduated  summa cum laude  from Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. She was a National Merit Scholar and has won numerous academic prizes and fellowships. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay. 

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Why This College Essay Sample

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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

What are examples of Why School essay prompts?

why this college essay sample

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?

Why This College Essay Sample

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

why 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

why college essay examples

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

why college essay examples

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 .

Why This College Essay Sample

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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Transizion

The Admissions Strategist

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?

"Why This College" Essay: The Ultimate College Essay Guide

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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How to write a “why this college” essay: examples included.

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

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 9/15/23

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

why a college essay

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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Why this College Essay — How to Write It

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The “Why this college essay” is meant to illustrate, by concrete details and examples, why you are a good fit for the institution in question. Writing a college essay may be a great way to show admissions officers that you care about attending their school. Therefore, this essay is one of the most often requested supplementary topics from applicants.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  • 1 Why this College Essay – In a Nutshell
  • 2 Definition: Why This College Essay
  • 3 What do Colleges Want in a Why This College Essay
  • 4 How to Research for Your Why This College Essay
  • 5 Why this College Essay: Example
  • 6 Common Mistakes in a Why This College Essay

Why this College Essay – In a Nutshell

  • The “Why this college essay” is an opportunity for you to demonstrate why you are a good fit for the particular college or university you are applying to. Your “Why this college essay” should convey a genuine interest in the school beyond its reputation or prestige.
  • To make your why this college essay stand out, it’s important to be specific and provide concrete examples of why the college matches you. This can include specific classes, professors, research opportunities or clubs.
  • The “Why this college essay” requires thorough research on the school you are applying to. You should take the time to read the school’s website, social media accounts and any other relevant materials to gain a deeper understanding of what makes the school unique.
  • The “Why this college essay” is a chance for you to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the school and your commitment to attending if accepted. You should convey a sense of excitement and eagerness to be a part of the school’s community and contribute to its mission.

Definition: Why This College Essay

A “why this college essay” is a type of essay that is required as part of the college application process. This essay aims to explain why the applicant is interested in attending a particular college or university. Similarly, it convinces the admissions committee that the applicant would fit that institution well.

In a “why this college essay”, the applicant should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the college or university, its values, academic programs and campus culture. The why this college essay should also show how the applicant’s interests, goals and experiences align with the opportunities offered by the institution.

The essay is important because it helps the admissions committee assess the applicant’s fit for the college or university and whether they will likely thrive academically and personally at that institution. A well-written “why this college essay” can make the difference between being accepted or rejected from a particular institution.

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What do Colleges Want in a Why This College Essay

Admissions officers are responsible for selecting the most qualified applicants to attend their institution. These individuals are tasked with evaluating each why this college essay application to determine who will be admitted to their college or university. While the criteria that admissions officers use to evaluate applicants can vary from school to school, there are some general qualities that admissions officers tend to look for when reviewing applications.

Higher learning institutions look for a combination of academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, personal characteristics, background and experiences and contribution to campus diversity. By highlighting these qualities in a why this college essay, applicants can increase their chances of being admitted to the institution of their choice.

Academic Achievement: First and foremost, admissions officers look for academic success in a why this college essay. They want to see that applicants have excelled in high school and have a solid academic foundation to build upon at the college level. This includes considering factors such as grade point average, course rigour and standardised test scores.

Extracurricular Activities: Colleges and universities are interested in an applicant’s extracurricular activities, which you should include in a why this college essay. They want to see applicants have pursued their interests outside of the classroom and demonstrate leadership, creativity and commitment to their passions. This can include club participation, sports, community service or work experience.

Personal Characteristics and Qualities: Another important factor applicants must include in a why this college essay is personal characteristics and qualities. Admission officers want to see that applicants are well-rounded individuals who are curious, motivated and have a strong sense of self-awareness.

Background and Experiences: Admissions officers recognise that not all applicants have had the same opportunities or advantages. They want to see how applicants have overcome obstacles or made the most of their circumstances. This can include factors such as socioeconomic status, geographic location, family background or cultural identity.

Overall Participation: Admission officers are looking for applicants who will contribute to their institution’s overall diversity and community. They want to build a class of students from various backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. This means they are interested in applicants who bring unique perspectives, ideas and experiences to their college or university.

How to Research for Your Why This College Essay

Researching for a “why this college essay” involves gathering information about the specific college, its values, programs, facilities, campus culture and anything that sets it apart from other institutions. This can be done by browsing the college website, reading student testimonials, attending virtual or in-person campus tours, speaking with alumni or current students and reviewing college rankings.

Look for Specific Courses and Programs

If you know the subject you want to pursue, look up its qualifications on the website. Prospective students may find a wealth of information, including course descriptions, on the websites of many institutions. The names of the faculty members in the relevant department should also be verified. Suppose you have particular questions regarding the program that the admissions office cannot answer. In that case, you may contact the professors directly using the email addresses usually provided on these pages.

Even if you have not decided on a major, this method may help you get there. Try to enrol in courses in whichever areas seem interesting to you. Investigate potential programmes, such as those for studying abroad or gaining work experience, in which you are interested.

College Website

A college website’s “about section” provides valuable information to help you write an effective why this college essay. This section often includes the college’s mission statement, history and values, which can give your insight into what the college prioritises and what its community is like. By researching the college’s history and mission, you can gain a deeper understanding of what it stands for and its goals. This information can help you tailor your why this college essay to the specific college and demonstrate your interest and fit.

The about section may also provide information about the college’s academic programs, extracurricular activities and resources, which can help you showcase why you are a good fit for the college and how you can contribute to its community.

Visit Colleges

College tours are a brilliant way for prospective students to learn more about the institutions they are interested in applying to. The tour guide is a wealth of knowledge and a personal connection to a present student. Asking current students to understand campus life is a great way to boost your why this college essay application.

Throughout your tour, keep an eye out for any details—big or small—that can help you better understand what sets this institution apart. Please get to know your tour guide better by inquiring about their favourite campus customs and social activities. Find out whether there are alternative ways to learn about the campus, including virtual tours, if you cannot physically visit since you are an international student.

Why this College Essay: Example

When I started researching colleges, I was looking for a place to offer me a rigorous academic program, a vibrant campus community and opportunities to pursue my interests outside the classroom. After learning more about Oxford University, I thought it was the perfect place to achieve my goals.

First and foremost, I was drawn to Oxford University’s reputation for academic excellence. As someone passionate about learning and pushing myself to my limits, I am excited by the prospect of studying under world-renowned professors who are experts in their fields. In particular, I am interested in Oxfords University’s program in Computer Science, which is widely recognised as one of the best in the country.

Beyond academics, I am also impressed by the sense of community that permeates Oxford University. From the moment I stepped on campus, I felt welcomed and valued as a potential community member. I am excited by the prospect of getting involved in student organisations and activities, particularly the Oxford Club, which aligns with my passion for community service.

Finally, I appreciate Oxford University’s opportunities for experiential learning and hands-on experience. As someone who learns best by doing, I am excited by the prospect of working on research projects and internships that will allow me to apply what I learn in the classroom to real-world problems. I am excited by the prospect of joining this dynamic and supportive community and eager to contribute my talents and energy to the university.

Common Mistakes in a Why This College Essay

Generalisation.

Using broad, overarching statements is the most typical reason for a poorly written why this college essay. Although if factors like a school’s size, ranking, reputation, location or the accessibility of your intended majors may have contributed to your initial interest in it, you should avoid using them as generalisations in your why this college essay.

Using Too Emotional Phrases

It’s wonderful that your college visit felt like home. Labelling a university as your “dream school” does not tell others why you have such a soft spot for that specific institution. It’s acceptable to talk about your connection to a school, but you must also provide rational explanations for why you wish to study there.

Rewriting a Personal Statement or Resume

The admissions committee has your resume in front of them; there is only a need to repeat information from those documents if it directly relates to your justifications. It may be unnecessarily repetitive or come across as boastful to rewrite your successes throughout why this college essay application.

What Not to Do in a "Why This College Essay"?

When writing a why this college essay, be specific. Instead, focus on your connection to the college, specific programs or opportunities that interest you and how you would contribute to the community.

Why is the "Why This College Essay "Important in The College Application Process?

The why this college essay is important because it demonstrates your interest and fit for a particular college or university. Admissions officers want to see that you have done your research and have a genuine passion for attending their institution.

How Should I Approach Writing a "Why This College Essay"?

When writing a why this college essay, you should first research the college or university you are interested in attending. This includes looking at their academic programs, extracurricular activities and campus culture. Then, think about how these align with your interests and goals. Be specific and highlight any unique aspects of the college that appeal to you.

Where Can I Start Looking for Information on Colleges?

While visiting the campus in person is ideal, you may still learn a lot about the school by browsing its website. If you have any queries regarding the institution, check over the course catalogue and even contact existing teachers.

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Why This College Essay – 7 Tips for Success

July 8, 2022

why a college essay

After pouring their heart and soul into the Common App essay, students often run out of gas by the time they encounter any remaining supplemental essays. While supplemental essays may ask you anything from “What excites your intellectual curiosity?” ( Tufts ) to your thoughts on wisdom teeth ( the University of Chicago ), the most important question in this section will, in some form, ask you to explain why this school is the perfect postsecondary home for you. Quite often, we observe that the Why This College essay, in whatever permutation, lulls students into spewing clichés, empty hyperbolic proclamations, and other vapid, “let me just fill up this space” commentary.

Don’t worry—the task before you may be challenging, but it’s hardly nuclear physics. Everything you need to know to write a winning “Why Us” Essay can be reduced to seven fairly straightforward tips. The list below highlights a series of important “don’ts” and ends with the “do’s” that are essential for success. Follow all seven tips with fidelity and we guarantee that your essay will sparkle.

1. Avoid empty superlatives

Imagine an admissions officer, at the end of a long day’s work, getting ready to digest his or her 37th “why this college?” answer of the day. Picking up your essay, the officer learns that you want to attend their school because it is “great” and “has a stellar reputation.” Yawns ensue.  After being reminded for the 37th time today of their school’s  U.S. News and World Report  ranking, they take another sip of coffee and move on to the next file.

Heaping generic praise on your school is not going to sway anyone. If you’re going to shower a college with flattery, make it as specific and genuine as you possibly can. This requires research (more on this a moment).

2. Don’t play Why This College Essay Mad Libs

If you are applying to 8-12 schools, and will thus be composing 8-12 of these essays, your inclination to take shortcuts is completely understandable. Just make sure that these timesavers don’t turn into admissions-killers.

Having a general structure for all of your essays is okay, but try to avoid playing the fill-in-the-blank game. There are two main reasons we advise this: 1) Your essay will feel generic and uninspired and 2) you are more prone to mistakenly reference the wrong school’s name, mascot, colors, etc.

If, due to a time crunch, you end up playing a degree of college application Mad Libs, at least make sure you play it flawlessly. The last thing you want to do is tell the University of Florida that you’ve always been a huge Seminoles fan.

3. Ditch the non-essential details

On your visit to Brown, you made sure to try the famous pumpkin pancakes at Louis Family Restaurant . Awesome! Hope you found them to be delicious but if you feel inclined to write about the experience, do so on Yelp, not as part of your “Why Us?” essay.

Many essays contain the equivalent of, “I can picture myself strolling through Branford Courtyard (Yale)…” Specifics about why you want to attend a given school needs to be more meaningful than referencing campus landmarks and attractions.

Other details that won’t set you apart include odes to features like the “scenic New England autumns,” the “heavenly weather” at UC-San Diego or the “roar of the crowd on Saturdays at Michigan Stadium.”  While there is nothing inherently wrong or off-putting about referencing restaurants, campus landmarks, weather, or sports, they ultimately take up valuable word-count real estate without doing anything to differentiate you from the pack.

4. The goal is not sameness

The best recipe for creating something unoriginal is beginning from a place of fear. It’s easy to play it super-safe and get sucked-into the clichés and tropes of the “Why Us?” essay. In the end you may produce a competent essay, but at a school with a single-digit admit rate, just about everyone will have produced something competent. To gain an admissions edge, you need to transcend competent blandness.

It all boils down to introductory game theory. In a competitive environment with more losers than winners blending in with the pack isn’t going to add value to your candidacy. For example, Harvard had a 3.2% acceptance rate for the Class of 2026. Columbia and MIT were in the same ballpark. At least 95% of your equally brilliant peers (i.e. the competition) will produce essays that lack an obvious flaw. However, that isn’t the objective of an applicant wishing to distinguish him or herself.

To be clear, we would never advocate being different just for the sake of it—writing your essay in Dothraki, painting your response in watercolor, or writing something intentionally controversial. Your job is to be different in an organic and sincere way. So, how does one do that? We’re going to start answering that question right now…

5. Show that you did your homework

Let’s amend our uninspired example from our first tip: University X is “great” because Professor Anderson’s research on the human genome inspired you to study biology and you are impressed by the “stellar reputation” of their one-of-kind undergraduate research initiatives. You go on to lavish praise on their state-of-the-art laboratories that were completely revamped in 2020, with further renovations scheduled for 2024. In expressing your individual passion for biology, you paint a picture (not in watercolor) of how attending University X would tie-in to your academic and career aims.

Now, you have gotten the admission officer’s attention. Remember, admissions officers want to see that you have done serious homework on their institution indicative of students who, if admitted, is likely to actually enroll (the whole “ demonstrated interest ” thing).

So, where does one find this type of substantive information?  We recommend utilizing the top college guidebooks , a real-life or virtual tour of campus, a chat with a university rep, or some good old-fashioned Googling to gather what you need.

6. Say more about your passions

In addition to highlighting elements of a school that appeal to you, this essay also provides a venue to further explain what makes you tick and why this particular college is the ideal milieu in which to cultivate your unique passions. What clubs, activities, or study abroad locales appeal to you? Are there unique degree programs or undergraduate research opportunities that will enhance your learning experience? Is there something different about the school’s philosophy, commitment to undergraduate education, required coursework, or foundational courses?

If you can’t come up with a sincere answer to any of these questions, you might want to rethink why a given school is even on your college list in the first place.

7. Focus on the match

In order to accomplish your goal of penning a superior “Why Us?” essay, you’ll need to merge our previous two tips—showing that you did your homework and saying more about your passions. A stand-out essay seamlessly and incisively connects the opportunities that the school offers to your unique interest and talents. Here’s an example:

You did your homework and know that Reed College offers a rigorous environment for intellectually serious, self-directed students. Instead of letter grades, students receive qualitative evaluations from their professors. All courses are taught by professors, never TAs, and research opportunities for undergraduates abound. It’s little surprise that an insanely high number of Reed graduates go on to earn PhDs in their respective fields.

Now that you’ve done strong research and extracted some key facts as well as the ethos of the school, it’s time to show why you belong there. You value substantive and constructive feedback over chasing A’s. One day, you plan on getting a graduate degree and want to immerse yourself in research throughout your undergraduate years. You are craving direct contact with faculty. You spent your high school years independently pursuing an area of passion—creating your own reading list, seeking out adult mentors, etc.

Whether you’re interested in Reed College or one of the other 3,000 four year colleges and universities in the United States, your mission is to hone in on why that school is a great fit for you, and then, why you are a great fit for it. If, after reviewing your composition, you can check both of those boxes, and you’ve avoided the common pitfalls highlighted previously, then you can rest assured that you have mastered the “Why Us?” essay.

College Transitions’ Final Thoughts – Why This College Essay

The 2022-23 admissions cycle is likely to see record numbers of applications pour into top colleges around the country. Temporary test-optional policies adopted by institutions in response to the pandemic opened the floodgates. Now, a whole new crop of students vie for a spot at the Ivies or other highly-selective universities.

Whether you are applying with or without test scores, applicants in 2022-23 need to shine brightly. The mission is to stand out in a sea of similarly-qualified young people. Devoting a TON of time and energy to the Why This College essay is one such way to accomplish this feat. If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Why This College essays, we encourage you to get a quote  today.

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Andrew Belasco

A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew's experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans two decades. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.

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“Innovative and invaluable…use this book as your college lifeline.”

— Lynn O'Shaughnessy

Nationally Recognized College Expert

37 Unique "Why This College" Essay Examples for Top-20 Colleges

Ryan

Here's the secret to writing your "Why us?" and "Why this college?" essays:

Admissions officers ask these questions because they want to see if you'll be a good match for their school—both academically, socially, culturally, and otherwise.

Admissions officers are trying to answer these 4 questions about you with this essay:

  • Are you genuinely interested in our school? Is there a good chance you'll go here if we accept you?
  • Do you have what it takes to be a successful student here? What does this essay reveal about you that we didn't already know ?
  • Are you a good fit for our school and the culture? Will you positively contribute to the school if you attend?
  • Do you have an idea about what you want your future to look like, and will our school help you fulfill that vision ?

Biggest Mistakes Students Make in "Why This College" Essays

Most students approach these essays with generic answers that focus too heavily on the school itself.

Things like... "I want to go to Yale because it has..."

  • "amazing academics"
  • "world-class professors"
  • "interdisciplinary education"
  • "a hands-on approach to learning"

Then, most students throw in a few specific, but generic, qualities about the school, like...

  • "I want to research with Professor Chiang about the impact of climate change on population decline"
  • "I imagine joining the Yale Debate Team where I could continue my passion for public speaking"
  • "I'd love to take ECON 142—Behavioral Economics as I'm interested in the intersection of psychology and economics"

This is generic .

It's super generic because it doesn't tell the admissions officer anything about you .

Anybody could write these things. Admissions officers already know these things about their school.

A Better Approach to "Why This College" Essays

A better approach is to focus on yourself .

Specifically, what's a unique, specific, and interesting idea that you can explore?

Exploring ideas always make for the best essays, because sharing your thoughts is what tells the admissions officer the most about who you are.

A better approach would be something like...

I've always been fascinated with abstraction. Whether within math, physics, or computer science, abstraction is what ties it all together. And at Yale, abstraction isn't an afterthought or begrudging obligation, but it's at the heart of learning. From the Engineering Physics Club, which focuses on abstracting the theoretical physics behind engineering feats and then instantiating those learnings to create new engineering solutions, to the Leitner Observatory, where I could work with astrophysicists and infers vasts amounts of knowledge from seemingly chaotic data, Yale embodies the cycle of learning I've come to love: abstraction and instantiation, understanding the mysteries of the universe and engineering solutions based on them.

So why does this approach work so much better?

  • It focuses on an idea : a specific, unique reason that matters to you.
  • It's not focused too heavily on the school itself, but rather what you value and how the school can help you fulfill that.
  • It connects tangibly to the school's offerings, without just listing generically.

Find an interesting, unique, idea.

It could be...

  • "solving systemic problems by taking full accountability"
  • "promoting social justice through radical honesty"
  • "reducing the latency of communication to deepen our learning experience"

Or any other ideas that matter to you.

Then, connect your idea to the school's offerings.

Any student could also mention the "Engineering Physics Club" or the "Leitner Observatory", but the difference in how you mention these things.

What do these opportunities represent? How do they tie into that idea ?

Now, let's look at some examples of "Why this college?" essays that worked for top-20 schools.

I've gathered 37 "Why us?" essays that range in topics, quality, and schools, so you can see what works and what doesn't.

Let's dive right in.

37 "Why This College" Essay Examples

1. "why northwestern" essay example.

Prompt: "Why Northwestern" Statement:

While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are also excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community.

In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond. (300 words max)

I love Northwestern’s academic flexibility, including the freedom of the curriculum to explore a variety of fields and the emphasis on cross-department study. Also, the quarter system provides a faster pace of learning and the opportunity to take more classes than a semester school.

Specifically, I am excited by the Spanish and Portuguese department and the classes on Hispanic and Lusophone culture, literature, and phonetics. For example, the accelerated Portuguese program is a perfect way to pick up the language at a faster pace using my prior knowledge of Spanish. I intend to supplement my language acquisition through the study abroad programs offered at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro or an affiliate program in Santiago, Chile. Additionally, the GESI program in Costa Rica is another intriguing opportunity through its intersectionality. It will allow me to combine a practical application of my language skills with studies in environmental conservation that I find a pressing and interesting issue. As an open-minded learner keen to forge links between academic fields of study, I believe I would be an excellent fit for the program.

I am also interested in Linguistics and pursuing undergraduate research or possibly undertaking the coterminal BA/MA program. The opportunity to link my research to a modern language of choice and investigate, for example, regional variation in Latin American Spanish or how Portuguese loanwords have infiltrated native Amazonian languages sounds fascinating and exciting.

Finally, the unique sense of community at Northwestern captivated me when I visited campus. The residential college system, the school spirit at Wildcat games, and the friendliness of the students I met, one of whom described the school as “the most welcoming place ever”, were all emblematic of this atmosphere for me. I think I will thrive in such a dynamic and inquisitive place.

2. "Why Northwestern?" Essay Example

The only reason I fear going for lunch in a hotel is probably because I wouldn’t choose between fried chicken and roasted meat and so is my dilemma over my college major. The multifaceted whole brain approach at McCormick, however, grants me the perfect opportunity to pursue my interest in Computer Science whilst acquiring the appropriate skills in entrepreneurship to a one day startup as an innovator.

As a NU computer scientist, I particularly look forward to Software Development EECS 473 – NUvention: Web, through which I would not only learn intricacies of Software development, but have related studies in real time software development in relation to market requirements in CS+X that would form a base for a startup. That would also provide a bridge for me to join Prof Todd Warren at Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation where I would specifically join the NUvention; Web + Media. Through this unparalleled program I would have the intimacy of working in a team with fellow wild cats towards an innovative business project. The results of which will be an introduction to the Northwestern Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) through which I look forward to gaining practical exposure in launching businesses to the general public.

Outside McCormick, I would be excited to pursue the Managerial analytics Certificate program at Kellogg to acquire intelligent business management skills, let off steam at SPARK exploring hacks while fostering entrepreneurial habits, and eventually joining preparations for the Benedictine Eagle Invite at the Henry Crown Sport’s Pavilion (SPAC) with the NU track club. I may not the best of singers, but I do have intense phases of music obsessions and where best to let it off than taking non major classes at Bienen and, joining one of the numerous Acapella groups as I await Armadillo day!

3. "Why Northwestern?" Essay Example

Why Northwestern? Because this introduction was so difficult to write; because I cannot possibly summarize these reasons in one introductory sentence. Simply put, my interests span across a wide range, and Northwestern has a place for them all.

As an enthusiastic programmer and advocate for positive minority representation in the media, I hope to combine both these interests and conduct research on the influence of media on society. To my delight as a prospective communications major, the School of Communication's research labs showcase project topics ranging from the depiction of STEM in media to improving digital communication. I look forward to taking advantage of the high-quality research, internship and even career opportunities offered to explore my ideas.

My multiple passions keep me creative and energetic, and I plan to continue pursuing them at Northwestern. With years of editing and writing experience for school publications under my belt, for instance, I hope to join the staff of Helicon and North by Northwestern . Last but not least is the constant school spirit and sense of inclusion present within campus. During my campus tour, each tour guide seemed genuinely excited to introduce prospective students to the school. As my particular tour guide described the quarter system and tradition of guarding and painting the rock with passion in her eyes, I knew that only at Northwestern could I find students as enthusiastic about the school itself as they are about their majors. I also spotted many students of color while visiting; as an Asian woman, Northwestern's focus on diversifying reassures me that not only will I not be judged for my background, but that I will get to meet students of all ethnicities and cultures.

College is a time of self-discovery, and I firmly believe I can see my dreams become reality at Northwestern.

4. "Why Northwestern?" Essay Example

I felt the cold sheets beneath me and the beeping sounds of a monitor next to my bed, my chest moving up and down and my body sinking into the mattress. I opened my eyes and was greeted with a plastic surgeon holding the cyst that was once in the corner of my eye. Medicine, I decided, was my destiny.

Flash forward to 8th grade, the year I decided to read 100 books. Emerson, John Green, Ernest Cline--you name the author, I read them. I became instantly inspired to learn to write like the wonderful authors I had read. So, writing, I decided (maybe), was my destiny.

Wait--or was it medicine? Well, perhaps it can be both.

The thing I find most striking about Northwestern is its emphasis on the word “AND.” Northwestern students can love computer science AND music theory, poetry AND Latin History, journalism AND business--I can love science AND English. At Northwestern, my interests would not be hindered by strict and unwavering guidelines. Rather, they could be effortlessly streamlined and integrated into one another. I could go from ​PSYCH 361--Brain Damage and the Mind to ENG 206 - Reading and Writing Poetry to Carol Clayberger’s Lab to continue my extensive research on T-lymphocytes, similar to that I conducted at UPMC. I would be learning each level of the human psyche, communicating my thoughts through writing, and putting them into action through my research.

At Northwestern, I plan to take advantage of the various resources that would enable me to pursue my passions, find new ones, and combine them into one, pulling from both sides of my brain. I know that I am right for Northwestern and Northwestern is right for me because we have a mutual understanding of what education should look like--emphasis on “AND,” not “OR.”

5. "Why Tufts?" Essay Example

Prompt: Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, "Why Tufts?" (150 words max)

The cross-curricular focus and freedom of study at Tufts would allow me to pursue an interdisciplinary major and draw together my love for Spanish, Portuguese, Linguistics, and the natural sciences. This unique ability to design my own major by combining elements from a variety of academic fields definitely excites me. To support this, I intend to participate in the study abroad program in Chile or a civic semester in Urubamba, Peru that will allow me to practice my language skills while also benefitting the local community and gaining an invaluable cultural understanding through intimate homestay experience. Other than the academics, the vibrant community at Tufts also attracts me, with the warm and compassionate students acting as flattering adverts for the school. One student I spoke with described the average Jumbo as “goofy and loving” which I feel accurately matches my own character and outlook.

6. "Why Tulane?" Essay Example

Prompt: Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University (optional). (50-800 words)

I need a meaningful education to be a meaningful educator. Tulane is unparalleled in its dedication to development of the students, on a personal and intellectual level. From when I touch the Victory Bell after Convocation all the way to when I say farewell at the Wave Goodbye Party at Commencement, I’ll have changed and grown, both in my mind and in my heart.

Why This Essay Works:

For "Why Us" essays, it's critical that you imagine how you'll be involved on campus. One strategy is to research specific initiatives, events, or programs already taking place. The more unique these are to the school, the better. Then, talk about how your personal interests would make you a perfect fit for participating in these opportunities. Don't reference too many (over 5 is pushing it) in a committal way (i.e. saying "I will do XYZ") because it can seem unrealistic. Instead, focus on a handful that you're most interested in, and then you can reference others as "possible" ways you'd get involved.

For "Why Us?" essays, one of the hardest parts is finding what is super unique about the school that other colleges don't offer. Most colleges have similar research, curriculum, sports, clubs, etc. While those can be good references (if unique to the school), it can sometimes be easier to find unique aspects by focusing on the intangibles: the culture, approach to education, values, character of student body, ideals they uphold, etc. Having a combination of both unique offerings (programs, opportunities, curriculum, etc.) and ways the school is unique in its approach will make for the most compelling reasons for "Why Us?".

What They Might Improve:

Avoid telling admissions officers what they already know about their school. You don't need to repeat the school's history or information about its faculty, unless there is something exceptionally unique about it that you're pointing out. Admissions officers will already know these facts, so instead jump into the "meat" of your point. Focus on the unique aspects that make you interested in the school, rather than the ones that could be said about almost any school.

7. "Why Tulane?" Essay Example

What starts with the letter P and is distinct to Louisiana and not the other forty-nine states? This question stumped my fifth-grade class when our resource teacher was giving a lesson on Louisiana culture. Among hands that threw out guesses, such as ports and Lake Pontchartrain, my minuscule fingers, like unwrapping a Christmas present, unveiled the correct response: parishes. It was this moment that sparked my awakening of Louisiana’s profoundly unique traditions and history, ranging the gamut of culture, such as food, music, and holidays.

From Gumbo to Zydeco to Mardi Gras, these distinctions made Louisiana my home when I emigrated at the age of three from Mexico, which, like Louisiana, shared the status of owning an inimitable culture; from an early age, I took comfort in this common characteristic. Basking in rich traditions, Tulane joins Louisiana and my Hispanic background to form a trio of diversity. With staple practices, such as swinging beads into a tree or Crawfest, Tulane fosters a living and learning experience that is grounded in unparalleled traditions, offering enlightening and invigorating undergraduate opportunities to explore social milestones.

In its liberation from normal college practices, Tulane encourages students to kindle a life that is eccentric but indicative of the individual beliefs of a student. Because of Tulane’s vigorous ties to special traditions, I would be humbled to have Tulane advise me in crafting my art piece adorned with decorations, my life adorned with personal values.

In addition to the customs on Tulane’s campus, another reason I want to attend Tulane is because of the university’s integration with the most vivid city in the United States: New Orleans. Inside this bright, bustling city, Tulane students participate in myriad festivals and celebrations, cultivating a new social perspective. Aside from the social revelations, New Orleans is Tulane’s classroom, inviting students to apply classroom discussions and academic theories to the neurons of interactions between individuals, businesses, agencies, and other entities.

Tulane returns the favor to New Orleans through community service, serving as a catalyst for students to aid a city often decimated by natural or social injustices. Moreover, Tulane emphasizes its commitment to community service throughout its undergraduate population. As a Louisiana resident, I am invested in Louisiana’s unique physique, whether it is being ecstatic for a super bowl win secured by the Saints or being sympathetic to victims of flooding. Heeding the advice of a stockbroker, it is wise to invest in a system that will provide a generous, satisfying return. Therefore, I would like to make an investment of my leadership potential, my academic excellence, my service dedication, and my social experiences into Tulane University. This investment would reap mutualistic rewards because I would be the beneficiary of a robust education and Tulane would be the beneficiary of a loyal student, who is pious to the university’s commitments to diversity, learning, and service.

8. "Why 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.

9. "Why 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.

10. "Why 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.

11. "Why 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.

12. "Why Oberlin?" Essay Example

Prompt: How did your interest in Oberlin develop and what aspects of our college community most excite you? (250 words max)

“Give Oberlin a look” my father suggested. A school I knew little about. I casually added Oberlin to the long list of schools of which Tufts was perched atop. My father had gone to Tufts and I had convinced myself that I should follow.

Adding Oberlin to my list begat the serendipitous series of events that ultimately saw a fly-in invitation to Oberlin in my email inbox. My father encouraged me to go; “It doesn’t hurt to listen”.

The most influential component of Oberlin were the people. My host, Estrella, like every Oberlin student I met, was generous with her time and her experiences. It wasn’t 24 hours before I could imagine myself laughing with friends at the 10 pm dinner, dozing off on a swing bench in Tappan square, spending late nights at the library in a womb chair, or petting kittens in some little art store. Sharing a day with these people who were clearly in the right place brought some force to my mind that Oberlin was the right place for me. My short trip revealed that Oberlin offered me both the academic rigor I seek and the visceral experience of living in a community of people with broadly varying backgrounds─an experience that I had in this small Ohio town and nowhere else.

I don’t know whose essay I’d be writing right now if this opportunity had never presented itself, but I am very grateful it did.

13. "Why Dartmouth?" Essay Example

Prompt: While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: “It is, sir,…a small college, and yet there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2026, what aspects of the College’s program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? (100 words max)

I see myself nestled under the wooden arches of Sanborn Library in my Dartmouth EMT jacket too enthralled in my work to notice the snow flurries outside. I'll take a quick study break with some cross-country skiing at the outing club and then take my professor, Dr. Ackerman, out to lunch at the Hanover Inn to talk about her groundbreaking research in vaccine development. After a conversation on protein engineering and immunology, I'll stop by Foco for an infamous chocolate chip cookie with my friends from our unforgettable freshman hiking trip. I know I'm home when I am at Dartmouth.

14. "Why Claremont McKenna?" Essay Example

Prompt: Why do you want to attend CMC? (150-250 words)

I’ve been able to get to know CMC well, since my sister has relished pursuing her undergraduate studies at this amazing school. I’ve visited Claremont many times, and I’m certain this is exactly the school best positioned to both challenge and support me during this critical stage of my education.

The person I aspire to be in the wake of my undergraduate studies is a knowledgeable, accomplished and compassionate leader ready to take over our family business. The privilege of diving into CMC’s unique undergraduate major in Economics will certainly enable me to attain the knowledge I will need. The rigorous classes of the inimitable Finance Sequence will definitely challenge me, but I will savor this. My sister often talks about the exuberance with which professors at the Roberts Day School conduct their classes and I hope to experience this. More specifically, I want to study Financial Economics under Dr. Lisa K. Meulbroek and get an insight into the world of corporate finance by evaluating everything from mergers to investments.

A CMC education also complements my intellectual curiosity, since it would enable me to pursue a second major in Religious Studies. This is immensely important to me since I come from an area where religious tensions are spiraling out of control. In addition, to enable me to develop the hard and soft skills of leadership, CMC offers experiential projects and countless opportunities for me to take on leadership roles in clubs and societies I’m passionate about, like the Blockchain club.

15. "Why Indiana University?" Essay Example

Prompt: Describe your academic and career plans and any special interest (for example, undergraduate research, academic interests, leadership opportunities, etc.) that you are eager to pursue as an undergraduate at Indiana University. Also, if you encountered any unusual circumstances, challenges, or obstacles in pursuit of your education, share those experiences and how you overcame them. (200-400 words)

Walking into school on the first day of my senior year, the excitement about college was evident as I passed through the halls. While many students discussed the local options, the one name I heard that really drew me in was Indiana. Unaware of the tremendous opportunities that would be within my reach as a student there, I began to learn more information through both individual research and from discussion with alumni. This was how I knew Bloomington was the place for me.

Always interested in business, the characteristics of the Kelley School run parallel to those that I value in numerous ways. First, because I have taken Chinese for most of my time as a student, international experience is vital to me. While classroom learning is no doubt helpful, continuing my education of the language within the culture will teach me more meaning to the words that I am speaking. Tying in with business, it also will give me leadership experience dealing with planning and collaboration around the globe.

The collaborative community is another aspect of Indiana that I truly appreciate. Dating back to the first group activities I worked on at school, I have always appreciated the helpfulness in working with my peers rather than against them. Working with others to solve problems is not only how I have accomplished so many of my goals, but also how I have made some of my closest friends. Additionally, I will utilize this emphasis of collaboration with my professors at the Kelley School as a way to enrich what I have learned in their classrooms.

While in collaboration with my classmates, friends, and professors, I will begin connecting myself with the future alumna- and eventually become one down the road. Since the Kelley School has the largest alumni population of any other business school, the community I am entering into is sure to be influential in the future. This opportunity to enter this prestigious group will open up doors and give me access to some of the top people in business today.

I cannot wait to be a part of the community within the Kelley School: for not just the next four years of my life, but the rest of my life.

16. "Why New York University (NYU)?" Essay Example

Prompt: Why NYU?

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 words max)

Living in a suburb my whole life, I've always felt as if I lived in a two-dimensional plane. I can go left, right, forward, and backward.

In a suburb, however, it is nearly impossible to get any meaningful altitude. Upon visiting New York City during the summer before my senior year, however, I found myself gazing up at the skyscrapers soaring high above me. I've always loved the views mountains and buildings; both from above and below. I also have spent time studying Mandarin, and Shanghai would offer a unique opportunity to further my linguistic studies while engaging in cultural immersion.

Beyond settings, NYU has the capacity and the resources available for me to engage in research in quantum computation. Playing video games got me into math and science beyond just playing with my calculator as a baby. There were practical applications of the numbers, and I wanted to understand how it all worked in order to get the best equipment and maximize ammo efficiency. I would watch "Mythbusters" and try to come up with my own hypothesis and see if it matched their conclusion.

In 8th grade, I figured out that I loved science along with math, but I didn't exactly know what science I loved. At the time I was in "physical science" and I did enjoy the class a lot, but I always thought of physics as "speed distance time" triangles which were no fun at all. I was convinced to take AP Physics in my junior year with my friends, and I loved it. It was almost every week we would learn something that completely altered my perception of the universe.

Once I learned about quantum physics and how it basically destroys our understanding of everything, I knew I wanted to pursue it further, and be at the forefront of quantum research.

At NYU, not only can I take courses to learn about the subject, but I can also participate in research through the "Center for Quantum Phenomena". Taking advanced courses and conducting research in a new setting, such as New York or Shanghai, can offer me a new perspective and a breath of fresh air. Conversely, I can help over NYU a new perspective on critical thinking and problem-solving. I chose to apply to NYU because NYU is fit for me, and I am fit for NYU.

17. "Why 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 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.

19. "Why 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.

20. "Why University of Michigan?" Essay Example

Throughout my college search, I had yet to come across the perfect undergraduate school for my interests. The safe pick was always the standard “College of Arts and Sciences” or its equivalent, with the most varied options for me to craft my experience. Something was different about Michigan. I didn’t need to craft my own academic experience at another university when the perfect one was already designed here: The School of Kinesiology’s Movement Science program.

In my house, we never eat scrambled eggs. We eat denatured albumin and yolk proteins served with a sprinkling of sodium chloride; cooking was chemistry, not just a chore. From a young age, my parents have cultivated a sense of curiosity in me. So when I injured my left wrist in the summer before freshman year, it was so much more than just an injury. I researched more into my growth plate dislocation and radial fracture. I got to see the details of the procedure, the recovery process, and the gradual reversion of my X-rays to a normal wrist image. This fascinating journey got me through an otherwise disappointing summer: no basketball and no french horn.

While the seeds were planted during my injury, they didn’t start blooming until I spent a week shadowing Dr. Kesavan Ramanujan in the Royal United Hospital, Bath, England. I realized that the field of orthopedics was a field where I could visually identify a problem, come up with a solution, implement the solution through operation, and help someone progress to full recovery. The gratification on the doctor’s faces when their recovered patients came back to visit them was infectious. While this trip was my first time staying abroad without my family, the biggest takeaway for me was that I had found a career I was truly interested in.

My volunteer work at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital Physiotherapy Clinic has only strengthened this notion. While my work as a volunteer may be the more routine tasks: making schedules, doing paperwork, cleaning the beds and the gym, setting up hot packs, cold packs, and stimulation pads, I have learned so much about the subtle details of patient interaction through what I absorb from the physical therapists. Even if a PT is having a bad day, they have taught me how important it is to have a smile on your face for the next patient coming through the doors. They have also taught me how much of an intersection there is between teaching and medicine/therapy.

These experiences draw me to the School of Kinesiology, and specifically the Movement Science program. The opportunity to actively engage with skeletomuscular system studies as opposed to solely classroom learning appeals to me, as do the extensive research opportunities. The specialized IONM Intraoperative Neuromonitoring Program-- the only accredited IONM program in the world-- would give me the chance to engage in an exciting, interdisciplinary curriculum that cannot be found anywhere else.

From scrambled eggs to broken bones; from British adventures to lessons learned in the RWJ clinic. Discovering my passion for orthopedics and movement science has already been an exhilarating ride; yet, these have all been just the beginning steps of my journey. I cannot think of a better place to continue than the University of Michigan.

21. "Why 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.

22. "Why 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.

23. "Why 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 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.

25. "Why 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.

26. "Why Tufts University?" Essay Example

Prompt: Why Tufts? (100 words max)

What struck me most about Tufts was not only the warm, open, and energetic atmosphere, but also the students’ willingness to be walking contradictions. With the ExCollege ​encouraging interdisciplinary education through ​classes like ​EXP-0058-PS Health, Communication & Society, it is easy to be contradictory.

During my visit, I met Biological Poets, Singing Physicists, and Mathematical Artists. I know that Tufts is right for me because it preaches everything I believe about synergistic learning. Being a contradiction my entire life--the scientific, mathematically inclined, yet literature obsessed barista--it was comforting to find a community of people identical to and completely different from me.

27. "Why Tufts University?" Essay Example

Prompt: Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? (100 words max)

Touring a college is not always enough to get a sense of what the college is like. But, I had the unique opportunity to meet with Professor Dennis Rasmussen and discuss Political Science at Tufts. He talked to me about the unique opportunities which Tufts students have, from the fantastic study abroad opportunities to a senior thesis which lets you dip your feet into research before moving onto higher education. The combination of Professor Rasmussen’s thoughtfulness and the school’s academic prowess proved to me that Tufts is the place to be.

28. "Why Northwestern?" Essay Example

Think Purple: Aspiring journalist dreams of being a Wildcat F​iled under ​A​dmissions​, ​Top Stories

After brochure browsing, website wandering, and campus canvassing what felt like hundreds of different schools, it took Daisy Conant exactly 32 seconds on the Northwestern University campus to realize she had found the one.

“Northwestern is undefinable in the best way, an addicting hub of intellectuality, creativity, and school spirit - something especially appealing to a football lover,” laughed Conant. “But what excites me most about NU is the opportunity to study at the Medill School of Journalism.”

A writer with hopes of becoming a foreign correspondent, Conant has always been drawn to people and their stories, especially those completely unfamiliar to herself and her experiences. Once learning she could start on day one at Medill acquiring investigative journalism experience writing an enterprise story and end on day 600 with a journalism residency and international experience already under her belt, she was hooked.

“Conducting groundbreaking research on the socioeconomic disparities in the CPS system for the Medill Justice Project, spending a semester abroad reporting on cultural crisis in Greece, interning at the Post - at Medill, my options are boundless,” remarked Conant. “I could explore the world of print news writing in-focuses for the Daily Northwestern, dabble in magazine editing laying out spreads for North by Northwestern, even try my hand at broadcast reporting for WNUR.”

A journalist at heart, Conant is fascinated with the intersections of other disciplines. As an NU student she would be free to engage her passions for international studies and business through outside concentrations in addition to investigative journalism, uncovering the adventures (and discovering the tenacious Wildcats) that lie between Evanston and the shores of Lake Michigan. “My story is just beginning,” said Conant. “And Northwestern is the perfect lede.”

29. "Why Notre Dame?" Essay Example

Prompt: What excites you about the University of Notre Dame that makes it stand out from other institutions? (200 words max)

Lou Holtz once said, “You don't go to Notre Dame to learn something; you go to Notre Dame to be somebody.” While I can hardly tell the difference between a linebacker, quarterback and fullback, I know that the advice from the former football coach rings true. Notre Dame will not only provide me with a wonderful education, but will equip me with the tools to pursue a career in government.

Notre Dame’s emphasis on a practical political science education is what first drew me in. The emphasis on equipping students with the ability to do research through the Research Apprenticeship Course and the ability to complete a thesis allow for an undergraduate to get hands-on experience in helping contribute to the body of knowledge in political science.

Further, the ability to obtain internships, especially with the U.S. Department of State and the City of Chicago Law Division emphasize the experiential learning I hoped for. Real-world experience will empower me to solve real-world problems and enter the workforce.

While I may never understand football, with a Notre Dame education I know I will learn to understand political science deeply and be equipped for a successful future.

30. "Why Notre Dame?" Essay Example

When I attended a Notre Dame information session, the admission representative, Zach, told us wonderful stories about campus life. One thing that especially stuck out to me was how diverse Notre Dame is. It was intriguing to think that I could sit down at a lunch table and there would be someone there from Hong Kong, Germany, and Korea. This nurtures my love of cultures different from my own. Also, I’ve spent my whole life in Kansas City, which is roughly 8 hours away from Indiana.

The idea of leaving everything that I’ve grown so familiar with frightens me. A family friend who attends Notre Dame says that you form a close bond with the people in your dorm, but it extends beyond that because it’s like everyone at Notre Dame is family. Even the Alumni stay involved long after they’ve graduated. People are proud to have graduated from Notre Dame, leading me to believe that when you attend Notre Dame, you become a family for life. Notre Dame has a history and legacy of greatness, and I would love to be a part of a school that changes lives like that.

31. "Why 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.

32. "Why Rice University?" Essay Example

Prompt: How did you first learn about Rice University, and what motivated you to apply? (250 words max)

I live in Ponchatoula, but I am from New Orleans. Most of my family is from there, including my parents, and as a result, I have grown up in a food-loving household. My parents and I decided to take a foodie vacation to Houston since we heard about how amazing the food is there. My mom suggested I research the schools in Houston so I could visit one while we were there. I will admit that I chose Rice simply because it was the highest-ranking school according to a quick Google search. I didn't do any further research.

However, as soon as I stepped through the Sallyport, my nonchalance faded, and I was entranced.

The beauty of the school was nearly enough for me to apply, but I was intrigued when my tour guide spoke about the importance of liberal arts at Rice because I have never been in an environment that held such respect for them. I also loved the housing system of Rice. It reminded me of the houses in Hogwarts from Harry Potter! I felt incredibly welcomed at Rice; I was pleasantly surprised when I asked the tour guide if I could visit the Shepherd School of Music by myself since it wasn't included in the tour, and she told me "of course." As I stepped through the unlocked doors and strolled through the maroon floors of the Shepherd School of Music, I didn't hesitate to inform my parents of my new dream school.

33. "Why University of Wisconsin-Madison?" Essay Example

Prompt: Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided please describe your areas of possible academic interest. (80-650 words)

This essay uses a lot of a great, specific references about UW Madison that show that the author has done their research and know the school well. Your reasons for applying in these "Why Us?" essays should be as specific as possible. This essay uses references to specific professors and their work, lab equipment ("biolayer interferometry"), courses, and features about campus. All of this works to create a compelling reason why this student would be a good fit, while also demonstrating strong interest in the school. When writing "Why Us" essays, doing your research to find unique and specific aspects is most important.

Even for "Why Us?" essays that don't explicitly ask you to write about your major, referencing your intended major is often a strong reason "why." By connecting what you want to study with what the school offers, you can show how your studies would be made even better. Admissions officers are trying to imagine how you'd fit into campus, so try showing them how you'd be engaged in the specific department. Researching the department is also a good idea, as often times it is easier to find unique qualities about a department (like "Biochemistry department") than it is to find about the school as a whole.

This essay starts off with a somewhat unserious introduction, referencing Wisconsin's reputation for cheese-making. Although this is casual and humorous, it serves as an engaging introduction into their main ideas about what the school offers. Using humor can show your personality, while also making it more fun for admissions officers to read. They'll be more likely to find your essay likable if you can include small moments of lightheartedness. This student also shows their personality through interjecting their thoughts (like this is doing here) using parentheses, which works to bring the reader into your thought process.

In this intro, the author sets up three points that they use as criteria for what they want in a school. However, this ultimately ends up creating unnecessary repetition because they later they discuss each of those points in detail. In general, avoid prefacing your ideas or thoughts. That is, you don't have to "prepare" or "introduce" what you're about to say to the reader. Instead, it is usually more compelling to just start with those juicy details rather than setting them up.

34. "Why Cornell 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)

35. "Why Brown University?" Essay Example

Prompt: Why Brown, and why the Brown Curriculum? (200 words max)

I believe any college should equip you with tools as you embark upon your journey. Brown provides the necessary. That is what the capstone experience does (not to mention the importance of internships given to Brown Students). You can never know everything about anything. But quench the questions is exactly what the Capstone Experience fosters.

The Open Curriculum was obviously the first thing that caught my eye. In school, you are sometimes forced to take the subjects you don’t like. College shouldn’t be the same. It is supposed to be a fresh start and that is exactly why you should be allowed to take the courses that appeal to you. Here is where the S/NC option was interesting. Only if you know perspectives from all subjects, can you determine a solution; S/NC promotes this. Group Independent Study Projects is also unique. Getting into the course is something hard. But creating your own course is amusing.

I would love to be a part of The Society of Women Engineers because I had to fight with my own family to study Computer Science in the United States. If it means providing the help for people I wish I'd got, never better.

36. "Why UPenn?" Essay Example

Prompt: How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying. (650 words max)

37. "Why Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)?" Essay Example

Prompt: Why Carnegie Mellon? (650 words max)

With a strong background in computer science and communications, I hope to incorporate both into a future career of building data systems, conducting research, and consulting for organizations that serve underrepresented citizens.

Specific details and anecdotes will almost always be more compelling than less specific ones. In this essay, the student does a great job of including specific, "nerdy" details, such as "an association test between melanoma associated variants and survival outcome." These details demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of an area and make your essay more engaging.

This essay does a fantastic job of addressing real-world problems and emphasizing the "bigger picture" impact of their studies. Rather than just explaining what they want to study, this student explains how their education will help them have an impact on the world. Make an argument for what problems you see in the world and how you could potentially help solve them.

For "Why Us?" college essays, one of the most important parts is to reference unique aspects to the school. Almost all colleges have strong academics, great faculty, etc. So instead of referencing those points, reference what makes the school unique and different. In this essay, the student talks about "CMU's Technology Consulting in the Global Community" program, which is both highly specific to CMU and relevant to their own interests.

In general, you should avoid simply listing your achievements. This student has many remarkable activities and experiences, but it comes across less interesting because the first half of the essay is simply describing these accomplishments.

For "Why Us?" essays, it is also a good idea to reference the values the school represents. Each school has a different "culture" and type of student body, and admissions wants to know how you will fit in.

What You Can Learn From These "Why This College" Essay Examples

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Princeton Admitted Essay

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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MIT Admitted Essay

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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UPenn Admitted Essay

A cow gave birth and I watched. Staring from the window of our stopped car, I experienced two beginnings that day: the small bovine life and my future. Both emerged when I was only 10 years old and cruising along the twisting roads of rural Maryland...

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why a college essay

  • Questions about Expos?
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  • Conclusions

One of the most common questions we receive at the Writing Center is “what am I supposed to do in my conclusion?” This is a difficult question to answer because there’s no one right answer to what belongs in a conclusion. How you conclude your paper will depend on where you started—and where you traveled. It will also depend on the conventions and expectations of the discipline in which you are writing. For example, while the conclusion to a STEM paper could focus on questions for further study, the conclusion of a literature paper could include a quotation from your central text that can now be understood differently in light of what has been discussed in the paper. You should consult your instructor about expectations for conclusions in a particular discipline.

With that in mind, here are some general guidelines you might find helpful to use as you think about your conclusion.  

Begin with the “what”  

In a short paper—even a research paper—you don’t need to provide an exhaustive summary as part of your conclusion. But you do need to make some kind of transition between your final body paragraph and your concluding paragraph. This may come in the form of a few sentences of summary. Or it may come in the form of a sentence that brings your readers back to your thesis or main idea and reminds your readers where you began and how far you have traveled.

So, for example, in a paper about the relationship between ADHD and rejection sensitivity, Vanessa Roser begins by introducing readers to the fact that researchers have studied the relationship between the two conditions and then provides her explanation of that relationship. Here’s her thesis: “While socialization may indeed be an important factor in RS, I argue that individuals with ADHD may also possess a neurological predisposition to RS that is exacerbated by the differing executive and emotional regulation characteristic of ADHD.”

In her final paragraph, Roser reminds us of where she started by echoing her thesis: “This literature demonstrates that, as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Highlight the “so what”  

At the beginning of your paper, you explain to your readers what’s at stake—why they should care about the argument you’re making. In your conclusion, you can bring readers back to those stakes by reminding them why your argument is important in the first place. You can also draft a few sentences that put those stakes into a new or broader context.

In the conclusion to her paper about ADHD and RS, Roser echoes the stakes she established in her introduction—that research into connections between ADHD and RS has led to contradictory results, raising questions about the “behavioral mediation hypothesis.”

She writes, “as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Leave your readers with the “now what”  

After the “what” and the “so what,” you should leave your reader with some final thoughts. If you have written a strong introduction, your readers will know why you have been arguing what you have been arguing—and why they should care. And if you’ve made a good case for your thesis, then your readers should be in a position to see things in a new way, understand new questions, or be ready for something that they weren’t ready for before they read your paper.

In her conclusion, Roser offers two “now what” statements. First, she explains that it is important to recognize that the flawed behavioral mediation hypothesis “seems to place a degree of fault on the individual. It implies that individuals with ADHD must have elicited such frequent or intense rejection by virtue of their inadequate social skills, erasing the possibility that they may simply possess a natural sensitivity to emotion.” She then highlights the broader implications for treatment of people with ADHD, noting that recognizing the actual connection between rejection sensitivity and ADHD “has profound implications for understanding how individuals with ADHD might best be treated in educational settings, by counselors, family, peers, or even society as a whole.”

To find your own “now what” for your essay’s conclusion, try asking yourself these questions:

  • What can my readers now understand, see in a new light, or grapple with that they would not have understood in the same way before reading my paper? Are we a step closer to understanding a larger phenomenon or to understanding why what was at stake is so important?  
  • What questions can I now raise that would not have made sense at the beginning of my paper? Questions for further research? Other ways that this topic could be approached?  
  • Are there other applications for my research? Could my questions be asked about different data in a different context? Could I use my methods to answer a different question?  
  • What action should be taken in light of this argument? What action do I predict will be taken or could lead to a solution?  
  • What larger context might my argument be a part of?  

What to avoid in your conclusion  

  • a complete restatement of all that you have said in your paper.  
  • a substantial counterargument that you do not have space to refute; you should introduce counterarguments before your conclusion.  
  • an apology for what you have not said. If you need to explain the scope of your paper, you should do this sooner—but don’t apologize for what you have not discussed in your paper.  
  • fake transitions like “in conclusion” that are followed by sentences that aren’t actually conclusions. (“In conclusion, I have now demonstrated that my thesis is correct.”)
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why a college essay

How to Write the Georgia Tech Essay 2023-2024

The Georgia Institute of Technology is the southeast’s premier public university oriented towards technology. Located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia Tech is consistently ranked in the top 40 national universities. 

Engineering, computer science, and mathematics are among the strongest offerings at Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is also known for its emphasis on hands-on experience, and the majority of students have internships and/or study abroad.

Georgia Tech is highly selective and admissions officers will look closely at your essays. While drafting their supplemental essay can be daunting, CollegeVine is here to help! Read on for a guide to tackling Georgia Tech’s essay.

Read these Georgia Tech essay examples to inspire your own writing.

Georgia Tech Supplemental Essay Prompt

Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at georgia tech (300 words max).

This prompt is both straightforward and challenging, and is essentially a “ Why this major? ” essay. Given the brevity of your answer, you will need to selectively use your background and resume to convincingly describe how Georgia Tech fits into your future. Here’s how to approach this prompt:

1. Describe your interests and background.

The first portion of your response should explain what drew you to your prospective major. A common pitfall students make here is being way too general – try to make your response something that is unique to you and your life experiences. For instance, one applicant might write an anecdote about how they first interacted with the subject. Another might describe a niche within the subject that appeals to them the most. Be sure to include specific details such as people, roles, and events that influenced your decision. Here are two examples of how to start off your essay:

Weak: “For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in civil engineering. I love working with my hands, so engineering has always seemed like a good fit for me. I have also always done well in the relevant classes, like math, physics, and computer science. In addition, I knew I wanted to pursue a subject that would make the world a better place.”

Strong: “As an environmental activist, I firmly believe everyone has a social responsibility to help keep the planet healthy and I am always looking for new ways that I can contribute to this endeavor. In high school, I started the Anti-litter Volunteer Club, where my peers and I picked up trash around our campus and neighboring community. Exploring my passion in college as a civil engineer seemed like the logical next step in developing ways to preserve nature. I am especially passionate about reducing waste by making product packaging out of biodegradable materials.”

This first response is weak for several reasons. The student mentions wanting to work with their hands, but this is much too general as it can apply to any type of engineering and other subjects as well. In contrast, the second response shows, rather than tells, admissions officers that this student has a passion for the environment. The student includes specific details about their past that communicate their desire to engage with civil engineering. 

The first applicant also lists superficial reasons, such as their academic prowess, which can come off as boastful and disingenuous rather than as a passion for the major itself. Instead, efforts you have made to pursue the subject outside of the classroom, like the anti-litter club, provide much better examples of your interest in the subject. Finally, the second applicant introduces a niche in civil engineering that they are especially passionate about. This level of detail lends authenticity to your response, and you can use forward-thinking phrasing to connect to the next portion of your essay. Keep in mind that these examples are just excerpts, and you should elaborate more in this area if word count allows for it.

2. Connect them to your choice of major and resources at Georgia Tech.

After you have established a foundation for your passion for your major, you can delve into how you can continue to develop it at Georgia Tech. This will reaffirm your interest in the school while also providing a realistic path through which you can accomplish your goals. Try to avoid clichés like small classroom size and mention more specific offerings instead, like programs and classes that are unique to Georgia Tech. Here is a weak and strong example of this portion:

Weak: “With the second best undergraduate civil engineering program, Georgia Tech is a leading institution that will provide me the tools to be successful in this field. I look forward to taking engaging classes, including breadth electives, that will expand my knowledge of civil and other types of engineering. I plan on joining clubs like Engineers Without Borders to continue learning outside of the classroom.”

Strong: “Georgia Tech can provide me with ample opportunities to pursue my passion; for instance, I can work on creating a biodegradable takeout box with my peers in the Geotechnical Society, and then implement our prototype design in on-campus dining facilities like Colony Bistro and Bhojanic. I also look forward to attending the Sustainability Banquet to hear from Atlanta’s leaders in sustainability like Dr. Jennifer Hirsch. Her work in grassroots sustainability innovation and use of a cross-cultural lens embody the approach I wish to take in civil engineering.”

The first response makes a common mistake in lauding the school’s accomplishments. Admissions officers are aware of statistics and ranking but want to know what, beyond prestige, makes you interested in this particular major at this particular university. The second prompt achieves this by mentioning specific offerings like the Sustainability Banquet, and a professor’s work that closely aligns with the student’s values. 

Though the first prompt does name a club at Georgia Tec h, the applicant fails to describe how exactly they plan to use this resource. Meanwhile, the strong response mentions a society and provides a hypothetical scenario where they might participate in it. The latter response is a much more effective approach in that it shows, rather than telling, admissions officers how you plan to pursue your major on-campus. Again, keep in mind that these examples are just excerpts, and you should elaborate more in this area if word count allows for it.

3. Explain how Georgia Tech will prepare you for your prospective career/future.

Finally, you should wrap up your response by mentioning how your passion for your major and involvement on Georgia Tech’s campus will culminate in your future. Avoid platitudes about making the world a better place and growing academically and professionally. Instead, tie your conclusion back to the purpose behind your essay and communicate that you want to pursue your passion for this subject beyond your college career.

Weak: “Obtaining a degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech will allow me to further my passion for this subject. I look forward to using the skills I learn in my future career.”

Strong: “Embarking on projects like these will provide me with hands-on learning opportunities that will reinforce my commitment to sustainability. A background in civil engineering will provide me with the tools to literally build a better planet, a passion I will continue to pursue beyond my college career.”

While the first response tells readers what the author plans to do, it lacks specific details and the narrative-like quality that will keep admissions officers engaged. In contrast, the second conclusion restates the applicant’s goal of sustainability and their major of choice while providing a future-facing ending. This drums up the correct level of interest within the reader and lends your response closure without making it feel finite.

This prompt is designed to help admissions officers understand your character, background, and how you think. You should never just relist your extracurriculars and coursework. Instead, your essay should show , rather than tell , readers about your interests and make your major and career choices seem both logical and borne out of a genuine passion.

Where to Get Your Georgia Tech Essay Edited

Do you want feedback on your Georgia Tech 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!

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  1. Why This College Essay Guide + Examples

    In some cases, the "Why us?" essay is an important way to demonstrate interest in a particular college. The "Why this college?" essay, and variations of this prompt, also happens to be one of the most popular supplemental essay questions asked of students on the college application.

  2. How to Write a Stellar "Why This College?" Essay + Examples

    What's Covered: Sample "Why This College?" Prompts FAQs About the "Why This College?" Essay Common Mistakes to Avoid Good "Why This College?" Essay Examples Brainstorming for this Essay Outlining Your Essay Where to Get Your Essay Edited One of the most common college essay supplements will ask you to answer the question: "Why This College?".

  3. How to Write a Perfect "Why This College?" Essay

    Step 1: Research the School Step 2: Brainstorm Potential Essay Topics Step 3: Nail the Execution Example of a Great "Why This College?" Essay Why Do Colleges Want You to Write a "Why Us?" Essay?

  4. How to Research and Write a "Why This College?" Essay

    The process of writing a "Why this college?" essay should look something like this: Thoroughly research the college Connect what you've learned through your research to yourself Outline and write the essay Table of contents How to research a college Plan and write the essay Mistakes to avoid in a "Why this college?" essay Other interesting articles

  5. 12 Effective "Why This College?" Essay Examples

    What's Covered Essay Examples Essay 1: UPenn Nursing Essay 2: UPenn Essay 3: UW Madison Essay 4: Northwestern Essay 5: NYU Essay 6: NYU Essay 7: Boston University Essay 8: Boston University Essay 9: Tufts Essay 10: Tufts Essay 11: Georgia Tech Essay 12: Georgia Tech Where to Get Your Essays Edited

  6. How to Write a "Why This College" Essay

    Lonnie Woods III Updated on June 27, 2023 Learn more about our editorial process Stuck on writing a "why this college" essay? This guide breaks down how to write a "why us" college essay to impress your dream school.

  7. How To Write The "Why This College" Essay

    "Why this college" essays are designed for students to demonstrate their interest and passion for the school community they are applying to. It allows admission officers to picture the student on campus. Colleges have many different ways of asking why you believe their institution is a fit for you.

  8. How to Write the "Why this Major" College Essay + Example

    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 supplemental essay based on the following prompt:

  9. How To Write a "Why This" College Essay in 2022-23

    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.

  10. How To Write a "Why This College" Essay in 6 Steps

    Here are the steps to follow for writing a "Why us" college essay: 1. Research the school Conduct thorough research on the school that you want to attend. Begin by reviewing the school's website. Learn about their offerings, such as: Academic programs Activities Course catalog Majors Minors Professional opportunities

  11. How to Write the "Why This College" Essay (With an Example!)

    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 are as interested and passionate about their institution. Some popular colleges that offer "why this college?" prompts include:

  12. How to Write a "Why This College" Essay

    Why do colleges ask this question? This is one of the most common supplemental questions asked by colleges, especially by some of the most competitive ones! For example, six of the eight Ivies have an essay that basically asks you to answer that simple-sounding question: "Why us?" Princeton University

  13. Why this college essay sample

    Stefanie Tedards 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.

  14. How to Write the "Why This College" Essay (With ...

    How to Write the " Why This College " Essay: The Ultimate Guide by Ashley C. Updated October 27, 2022 Do you need help finding best-fit colleges or writing essays? You can sign up for a free consult here . If you apply to Yale University, you'll be asked, "What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?"

  15. How to Write a "Why This College" Essay (With 12 Examples)

    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.

  16. How to Write "Why This College" Essay Guide

    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.

  17. "Why this College?" Essay Example

    About the "Why this College" Supplemental Essay. Most students are familiar with the common application personal statement essay. Less known is the "Why this college?" supplemental essay. "Why this college?" seems like a simple question, but it usually proves to be the most difficult of supplemental essays for students.

  18. How to Write the "Why this Major" College Essay

    What does a "Why this College Major" essay look like? Like this: Why are you drawn to the area (s) of study you indicated earlier in this application? (You may share with us a skill or concept that you found challenging and rewarding to learn, or any experiences beyond coursework that may have broadened your interest.) Or this:

  19. Why this College Essay ~ How to Write It

    The "Why this college essay" is an opportunity for you to demonstrate why you are a good fit for the particular college or university you are applying to. Your "Why this college essay" should convey a genuine interest in the school beyond its reputation or prestige.

  20. How to Write an Awesome "Why This College?" Essay

    The "Why us" or "Why this college" essay is a chance for you to demonstrate why you're a great match for a particular school. In this college essay guide, I'...

  21. "Why This College?" Essay: How to Write a Great Paper

    How to write a "Why this college" essay: essential steps. Step 1. Research. Explore the school's website thoroughly, focusing on majors, courses, programs, activities, and unique opportunities to understand what makes this school different from the others you can apply to. Read expert reviews from sources like Colleges That Change Lives ...

  22. Why This College Essay

    Andrew Belasco "Innovative and invaluable…use this book as your college lifeline." We offer 7 tips for writing a winning Why This College essay in 2022-23. Use this advice to master this important supplemental essay topic.

  23. 37 Unique "Why This College" Essay Examples for Top-20 Colleges

    The residential college system, the school spirit at Wildcat games, and the friendliness of the students I met, one of whom described the school as "the most welcoming place ever", were all emblematic of this atmosphere for me. I think I will thrive in such a dynamic and inquisitive place. ( 299 / 300 words) 2.

  24. Conclusions

    a complete restatement of all that you have said in your paper. a substantial counterargument that you do not have space to refute; you should introduce counterarguments before your conclusion. an apology for what you have not said. If you need to explain the scope of your paper, you should do this sooner—but don't apologize for what you ...

  25. How to Write the Georgia Tech Essay 2023-2024

    Here's how to approach this prompt: 1. Describe your interests and background. The first portion of your response should explain what drew you to your prospective major. A common pitfall students make here is being way too general - try to make your response something that is unique to you and your life experiences.