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“Why This College?” Essay Guide

Students often put a lot of effort into writing the common essay for their college admission, but supplemental essay, including the “Why This College?” essay, are often treated as an afterthought. However, a persuasively written “Why This College?” essay can have a crucial effect on the success of your college application, including situations when you compete with another applicant for a spot at your dream college.

In theory, the answer to the question “Why Us?” asked by a college seems pretty straightforward, but in reality students often make common mistakes by riddling their applications with clichés, overly emotional confessions, and pleas that are as likely to get you into the college you want as writing no “Why This College?” essay at all.

Why do Colleges Ask You to Write this Essay?

You may think that the college application process is complex enough for them to demand another essay from you. However, the “Why Us?” essays often serve a much more important purpose than simply finding out why you’ve decided to apply there. The “Why This College?” essay serves two major purposes. On one hand, this essay is the way for your dream college to find out whether you know enough about the college, its mission and values to make an informed decision or if you have chosen this particular college on a whim. On the other hand, this type of essay allows the college to know more about your expectations of the college experience.

In other words, writing and submitting the “Why Us?” essay is a way for the college to find out three things about you as an applicant. First, they want to know if you fully understand which college you’re applying to, that is why your essay should demonstrate your familiarity with what the college stands for and what it’s like to be a student there. Second, the “Why This College?” essay is a chance for you to prove that you’re going to be a good fit for the college. It’s very important for the success of your application that you share some of the college values or ideas and are able to become a valuable part of the campus life. Third, you need to prove that the college is a good fit for you. Are you going to take the most out of their programs and activities? These three things are exactly why colleges ask you to do extra work by writing a “Why Us?” essay.

How to Write a “Why This College” Essay

In general, your “Why This College?” essay will need to provide answers to two most important questions: “why us?” and “why should we accept you?”. No matter which college you apply to, the people responsible for reviewing applications will look for answers to those two questions. Of course, the final decision of which answer to emphasize will depend on the specific college and its requirements for applicants, but covering those two topics will make sure you won’t be filtered out of the application process.

To write a good “Why Us?” essay, you’ll need to do a lot of research, which will also help you decide whether you’re making the right choice. It’s not uncommon for students to start gathering information for their application essay only to find out that some of the values or traditions of the chosen college contradict their own views on the world. If you’ve discovered some facts that make you seriously doubt whether you should apply to this particular college, the right decision may be to look for other options instead of having to suppress your opinions for the duration of your college life. However, even if you don’t discover any conflict of interests between you and the college, but the thought of eventually going there doesn’t excite you at all, browsing other options may also be the right thing to do.

Avoid non-essential information

The last thing the application reviewing board wants to see in your “Why This College?” essay is clichéd or overly sentimental answers. These people have seen all kinds of answers to this question, both interesting and incredibly boring, so telling them you fell in love with the campus the exact you stepped out of the car on your first visit isn’t going to get you any further. Neither will do the fact that you think you look fantastic in their college colours, or that you know some famous personalities who graduated from there and you want to follow into the footsteps. It’s also better to stay away from stating the obvious, like how historically significant or big the college is, how many great students study there, or how excited you are about their convenient location.

Find all available information on college

In the day and age when every bit of information ever created by humans is available to you with just a few clicks, there is no excuse for being uninformed when writing your “Why Us” essay. The reviewers are looking for a unique perspective on what connects you with their college, not a generic piece on how you want to achieve great things in life and their college is exactly what you need to succeed.

There are dozens of possible sources for you to find out more about your college of choice, from the usual Wikipedia and unigo.com to getting in touch with former or current students on Facebook or discovering noteworthy facts about the college from books and magazine articles. Plus, you can always reach out to the college directly if you want to confirm or expand on some facts. This kind of diligence and willingness to go the extra mile will be noted and in the end, you will be rewarded.

Put you “why us” ideas together

A “Why This College?” essay is challenging for many reasons, but, perhaps, the most challenging of them is succeeding at fitting a lot of information into a short text. That is why you need to apply your skill of covering the essential points and leaving out anything with little value. This essay should serve as an introduction to your personality and how well it can mesh with the chosen college.

In your essay, you need to introduce yourself and what you stand for. Talk about your education and career aspirations and how the college can help you get to where you want. Here you need to be specific: don’t just talk about the things the college is famous for. Include the name of the professor whose work you admire, express hope that you will get to work with a said professor, and throw in a little story about how the professor helped shape you as a young scholar.

Mention your hobbies and passions – ideally, they also need to have a connection to the college, but it’s okay to leave a couple of sentences that simply offer an insight into your life outside of the education process. If you feel like there is something else you want to tell the college that isn’t included into any essay writing guide, you can take the risk and see whether it pays off.

When you’re done writing the “Why Us” essay, review it once again to see if you’ve answered the following questions:

  • Do I come across as an intelligent and dedicated person?
  • Have I demonstrated my abilities to do a thorough research?
  • Is it clear that I am a good fit for the college and the college is a good fit for me?

One more thing that needs to be mentioned: don’t copy and paste the same essay into different college applications; only creativity and personal approach are rewarded in the end.

Writing a thesis or research paper and stuck on the acknowledgement section? Find out How and Why to Write Acknowledgement!

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