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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People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

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Her baking is not confined to an amalgamation of sugar, butter, and flour. It's an outstretched hand, an open invitation, a makeshift bridge thrown across the divides of age and culture. Thanks to Buni, the reason I bake has evolved. What started as stress relief is now a lifeline to my heritage, a language that allows me to communicate with my family in ways my tongue cannot. By rolling dough for saratele and crushing walnuts for cornulete, my baking speaks more fluently to my Romanian heritage than my broken Romanian ever could....

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12 Effective “Why This College?” Essay Examples

What’s covered.

  • 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

The “ Why This College?” essay is one of the most common supplemental prompts. These school-specific essays help colleges understand if you’re a good fit for them, and if they’re a good fit for you.

In this post, we’ll share 12 “Why This College?” essay examples from real students and explain what they did well, and what could be improved. Read these examples to understand how to write a strong supplemental essay that improves your chances of acceptance.

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.

Essay Example #1: UPenn Nursing

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).

Sister Simone Roach, a theorist of nursing ethics, said, “caring is the human mode of being.” I have long been inspired by Sister Roach’s Five C’s of Caring: commitment, conscience, competence, compassion, and confidence. Penn both embraces and fosters these values through a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum and unmatched access to service and volunteer opportunities.

COMMITMENT. Reading through the activities that Penn Quakers devote their time to (in addition to academics!) felt like drinking from a firehose in the best possible way. As a prospective nursing student with interests outside of my major, I value this level of flexibility. I plan to leverage Penn’s liberal arts curriculum to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges LGBT people face, especially regarding healthcare access. Through courses like “Interactional Processes with LGBT Individuals” and volunteering at the Mazzoni Center for outreach, I hope to learn how to better support the Penn LGBT community as well as my family and friends, including my cousin, who came out as trans last year.

CONSCIENCE. As one of the first people in my family to attend a four-year university, I wanted a school that promoted a sense of moral responsibility among its students. At Penn, professors challenge their students to question and recreate their own set of morals by sparking thought- provoking, open-minded discussions. I can imagine myself advocating for universal healthcare in courses such as “Health Care Reform & Future of American Health System” and debating its merits with my peers. Studying in an environment where students confidently voice their opinions – conservative or liberal – will push me to question and strengthen my value system.

COMPETENCE. Two aspects that drew my attention to Penn’s BSN program were its high-quality research opportunities and hands-on nursing projects. Through its Office of Nursing Research, Penn connects students to faculty members who share similar research interests. As I volunteered at a nursing home in high school, I hope to work with Dr. Carthon to improve the quality of care for senior citizens. Seniors, especially minorities, face serious barriers to healthcare that I want to resolve. Additionally, Penn’s unique use of simulations to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world application impressed me. Using computerized manikins that mimic human responses, classes in Penn’s nursing program allow students to apply their emergency medical skills in a mass casualty simulation and monitor their actions afterward through a video system. Participating in this activity will help me identify my strengths and areas for improvement regarding crisis management and medical care in a controlled yet realistic setting. Research opportunities and simulations will develop my skills even before I interact with patients.

COMPASSION. I value giving back through community service, and I have a particular interest in Penn’s Community Champions and Nursing Students For Sexual & Reproductive Health (NSRH). As a four-year volunteer health educator, I hope to continue this work as a Community Champions member. I am excited to collaborate with medical students to teach fourth and fifth graders in the city about cardiology or lead a chair dance class for the elders at the LIFE Center. Furthermore, as a feminist who firmly believes in women’s abortion rights, I’d like to join NSRH in order to advocate for women’s health on campus. At Penn, I can work with like-minded people to make a meaningful difference.

CONFIDENCE. All of the Quakers that I have met possess one defining trait: confidence. Each student summarized their experiences at Penn as challenging but fulfilling. Although I expect my coursework to push me, from my conversations with current Quakers I know it will help me to be far more effective in my career.

The Five C’s of Caring are important heuristics for nursing, but they also provide insight into how I want to approach my time in college. I am eager to engage with these principles both as a nurse and as a Penn Quaker, and I can’t wait to start.

What the Essay Did Well

This essay has many positive aspects, but the most impressive one is the structure. Utilizing the Five C’s of Caring to discuss Penn’s offerings was a genius way of tying in this student’s passion for nursing while also making their essay exciting and easy to read. Beginning each paragraph with the respective adjective helped focus the paragraph and allowed the student to demonstrate how they exemplify each quality without explicitly stating it. The student wasn’t afraid to think outside the box and add creativity to their essay structure, which really paid off.

Another positive is how specific and specialized the Penn resources and opportunities the student mentions are. This essay did not fall into the trap of name-dropping professors or programs. In every paragraph, there was a connection to something the student wants to do at Penn to further themselves in the respective characteristic they were describing.

Not only did this student mention a resource at Penn—whether it was a professor, a class, or a club—in every paragraph, but they elaborated on what that resource was and how it would help them achieve their goal of becoming a nurse. The what and how is what sets this essay apart from other supplements that just name-drop resources for the sake of it. The amount of detail this essay went into about some of these resources makes it clear to the admissions officers reading the essay that this student has seriously looked into Penn and has a strong desire to come to campus and use these resources.

What Could Be Improved

One thing this essay could do to make it stronger is improve the first paragraph. The student does a good job of setting up Sister Roach and the Five C’s, but they don’t mention anything about their desire to study or pursue nursing. The first paragraph mentions both Sister Roach and Penn, but left out the student. This could be fixed by simply adding something along the lines of “I can’t wait to embody these values as a nursing student at Penn” to the paragraph.

Essay Example #2: UPenn

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)

I always loved watching the worms when it rained. I used to put my little raincoat on, sit on the doorsteps, and watch them move toward the puddles. My younger brother, forever intent on destroying the world around him, would try to stomp on the worms, and I would run after him screaming. In my imagination, the brain looked like a pile of squiggly worms. However, my neuroscience curiosity has since grown beyond a worm’s habits.

For example, my mother thought that I was insane when I wanted to watch American Murder: The Family Next Door . To her immense relief, I was interested in the psychology of the criminal rather than the crime itself. Although neuroscience is my primary interest, I also hope to learn more about the intersection between law and medicine at the UPenn College of Arts and Sciences. I’ve been able to explore this topic through various projects at school such as presentations on juvenile crime and the death penalty.

At the University of Pennsylvania, I look forward to taking classes like Forensic Neuroscience (BIBB 050) as well as Neuroscience and Society (PSYC 247) both of which directly combine my two interests. Hopefully, the Take Your Professor to Dinner program resumes as I would make sure to talk to Dr. Daniel Langleben about his research on forensic functional brain imaging over a meal of Philly cheesesteaks.

I also hope to participate in the Race, Science, and Society Program where I can discover how race biases and neuroscience go hand-in-hand and contribute to the fight against racism. The Beyond Arrests: Re-Thinking Systematic-Oppression Group immediately caught my attention while looking at Penn’s opportunities to engage in relevant dialogue. My fascination with the criminal system began with reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment , and Penn will both fuel that curiosity as well as introduce new questions about the world of justice reform.

As an eight-year Latin scholar and a five-time reader of the Percy Jackson franchise, I would like to take classes in the Penn Classical Studies department where I can learn more about the impact of ancient cultures on society today. Classes such as Greek and Roman Medicine (CLST 271) would intersect my interests in medicine and classical civilizations.

Although I do harbor a deep love for Philly cheesesteaks and enjoyment of running in strange places like the Woodlands Cemetery, the range of programs to support my diverse interests and unmatched opportunities to put learning into action make me confident that the University of Pennsylvania is the best university for me to succeed.

The real strength in the essay lies in the sheer number of details this student is able to include in a short space, without sacrificing style and flow. The first two paragraphs really have nothing to do with Penn, but the inclusion of them makes this response feel like an essay, rather than a list of offerings at Penn. Striking the balance is important, and the anecdote at the beginning ultimately humanizes the writer.

From the three unique courses to the specific professor and his research to the race and criminal justice programs, this student has clearly done their homework on Penn! The key to this essay’s success isn’t just mentioning the offerings at Penn that excite the student, but the context that explains how each opportunity fits into the student’s academic interests.

Adding book titles like Crime and Punishment and Percy Jackson to support their passion for the criminal justice system and classics are extra details that help us learn more about how this student pursues their passions outside of the classroom. Finding little ways to humanize yourself throughout the essay can take it from good to great.

One area of improvement for this essay is the structure. It follows a very traditional “ Why This College? ” framework—start with an anecdote, then discuss classes, and then extracurriculars and programs—that gets old quickly for admissions officers.

A great way to add some spice to the format would be to use a sample schedule for the day. This essay mentions three different classes, two different groups, and a Take Your Professor to Dinner opportunity. Together, that’s the recipe for a full day at UPenn!

There are a few ways to play around with an essay that follows a typical day-in-the-life. Maybe each paragraph starts with a time and explains what they do during that hour. Maybe they narrate walking through campus on their way from one class to the next and what they just learned. However they choose to go about it, adding in a playful spin to the traditional essay structure is one of the best ways to instantly set an essay apart from the crowd. 

Essay Example #3: UW Madison

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. (650 words)

Essay – # Day 117

7:30 am… As I open my eyes, I look at the pinboard in front of my bed. Written in red block letters are two of the many goals of my life: “Make life better and more independent for the Visually impaired; Inspire kids to explore the field of STEM, making them the future problem solvers.“

Keeping these goals afresh in mind, I freshen up and prepare for the first class of the day, ​ECE 533 Image Processing. As the professor explains the Applications of Image Processing in Computer Vision, a light bulb sparks in my mind. I can modify the head contraption of PERIPHIS to identify objects in peripheral vision and alert the wearer via an earpiece using Text to Speech (TTS). 

After the class, I see Professor Mohit Gupta at the WISION Lab, where he shares his insights from the Block World Cameras system, which helps to geometrize 3D Man-made environments. We brainstorm ways we can implement this system on PERIPHIS.

Deep in the discussion and intrigued by my curiosity, he asked me where my interest in this niche field sparked during high school, and then I recount the incident from 9th grade: 

“In Hindi – Agar aaj mere paas paise hote to ye din na dekhna padta” (If I had money, I would not have had to see this day.) 

These were the words of Aadiya, a glaucoma patient, who couldn’t help but cry in despair as she injured herself in an accident just because she couldn’t sense the incoming traffic. During my visit to “Baroda Association for Blind (BAB)” for a survey, I saw and experienced firsthand how hard and inaccessible it is for an underprivileged visually impaired to locomote without anyone’s assistance. 

What happened next was my first adventure into the world of Computer Science and Engineering. I dedicated the next four years to find an affordable solution to a pressing problem. It was called PERIPHIS, a smart wearable that helps alert the visually impaired wearer of impending danger while locomoting.

When I finally presented this device to Aadiya, the smile on her face made me realize how big an impact technology can make in one’s life.

11:00 am… As I head to the Engineering Hall to complete my assignments of COMP SCI 570

Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction, I crossways with my roommate from the Chadbourne Residential College, who is also interested in researching applications of Computer Vision in real life. We fix a time to chat later. 

1:20pm… After a quick bite, I head to Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory. I expand my knowledge on different applications of Computer Science to make human life better than I found. I get fascinated when I see a few students building a child-friendly humanoid robot to teach kids the principles of Coding and AI. I hop in and share insights from my experience of being the President at AiGoLearning and kindling interest in STEM for young children. I explain how crucial the UI is when it comes to technology for the young.

5:00pm… To blow off some steam and socialize, I meet up with my fellow countrymen and artists at the Indian Graduate Students’ Association. We discuss and plan the upcoming Diwali Night Music at Shannon Hall. I feel proud to share my national identity while bringing out my musical self by contributing as a Tabla player at the student organization. 

As I close my day, I reflect and think of the most unique resource at UW. It is not the labs, research facilities, classes, but the people, including the professors and students, all aligned to a single goal: “Solving problems to make society a better place.”

10:00pm… I find my way back to my dorm room and write with red block letters on my pinboard: “Meet with at least 1 Badger every day and gain new insight from them.”

This essay is a stellar example. The day in the life formatting is a common way to spice up your “Why This College?” essay, but the way this writer executes it is nearly flawless.

Opening with the vision board makes the student’s college goals clear from the very start, and this was cleverly done since vision boards are naturally one of the first things you see when you wake up.

The student then takes us to specific courses and labs and shares their thoughts on how they could improve their invention, PERIPHIS. The author seamlessly includes background information on PERIPHIS by including this hypothetical conversation with a professor who speaks their native language.

As we go through the day, we can see that this student will not only be involved academically, but also socially. We learn how important their culture is to them and how they plan to share it with the campus community.

This essay does everything a “Why This College?” essay should: it shares the student’s goals and motivations behind them, how the university can support those goals, and how the student will engage with the campus beyond academics.

There’s not much this essay could improve, besides a few formatting and wording issues. The first line of this essay—“ Essay – # Day 117”—is a great attention-grabber, but the placement of the # symbol is confusing and perhaps should’ve been in front of the number.

There are also a couple spots where wording is a bit awkward, such as these lines:

I crossways with my roommate from the Chadbourne Residential College, who is also interested in researching applications of Computer Vision in real life. We fix a time to chat later. 

It should instead say something like “I run into my roommate” and “We schedule a time”. This is likely due to English not being the student’s native language, but could’ve easily been caught by proofreading from a native speaker.

Essay Example #4: Northwestern

Prompt: 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.

For as long as I can remember, I have seen my parents, both farmers, struggling to produce food because of the challenges presented by the environment. Joining Northwestern’s community, and majoring in Environmental Engineering, will allow me to understand what are the reasons behind climate change and learn how to stop them and/or prevent them from happening. 

Having witnessed how plant diseases affect crops, I would like to collaborate in the PLANT-Dx project and in its widespread application. I strongly believe that it will be able to help farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their production, and reduce famine around the world. At some point in my education, I want to take advantage of the study-abroad programs Northwestern has to offer and learn about farming practices in a different part of the world. In addition, I want to conduct research on sustainable alternative farming methods that adapt to the new environmental conditions and that can be practiced in countries with fewer resources.

Apart from having access to outstanding professors, rigorous academics, and cutting-edge research resources, I will be able to be part of a close-knit community genuinely curious about others’ activities, truly passionate about what they do, and not afraid to step out of their comfort zone to make of this world a better place. Being part of Engineers for a Sustainable World at Northwestern will allow me to get to know people that share one of my passions in addition to learning and teaching how to apply sustainable practices in daily life.  

I am already looking forward to marching through the Weber Arch.

This essay is extremely cohesive, as it focuses on the student’s agricultural background and desire to study environmental engineering. The student mentions a couple resources specific to Northwestern, such as the PLANT-Dx project and Engineers for a Sustainable World.

Because of the background information the student provided, their motivations for participating in these opportunities is also clear. We can see that Northwestern would be a school that would help them achieve their goals.

There are two main aspects of the essay that could be improved: the writing and its specificity.

To begin with, the intro paragraph is a bit clunky and vague.  The student should have specified the challenges the environment has presented to their parents’ farming with detailed imagery about droughts or torrential rain. The final sentence about climate change is also much too broad, and the student should’ve stated a goal in a smaller niche of environmentalism.

For example, here’s what a rewritten strong intro paragraph might look like:

The drought this year was bad, and the once-flourishing tomato crops on my family’s farm were afflicted with Southern Blight. As my family and our community struggled to put food on the table for the third year in a year, I resolved to major in Environmental Engineering at Northwestern to learn how to preserve our agriculture in the face of climate change.

Another writing error is the typo in the final paragraph, where they write “to make of this world a better place”. It’s important to proofread your essay and have others help you proofread as well!

Finally, while the essay mentions a couple specific Northwestern resources, the other resources they mention are too vague.  The student could’ve improved by mentioning a specific study abroad program and a current research project on sustainable alternative farming methods. Most colleges let you study abroad and conduct research, so you need to explain why Northwestern is the best place for your goals.

Essay Example #5: NYU

Prompt: 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)

“A futuristic way of looking at academics,” the student panelist said during a New York University virtual information session. I reflected on a conversation I had with my grandma; she couldn’t understand how her vegetarian granddaughter could build a career in the food industry. However much I tried convincing her that vegetarianism was the future, as it offers substantial benefits to the environment and can offer health benefits to a growing population with the same environmental resources, she insisted that tofu would never provide the same satiation as meat. She was raised in a community where meat consumption was embedded in the culture, and its production is a large part of the country’s economy. In contrast, I had the privilege of living a few steps from San Francisco, with many restaurants and grocery stores dedicated to plant-based meat alternatives. Trying innovative recipes and products eventually allowed me to develop my own recipes. Upon my move to Nicaragua, where my grandmother is from, I found my food options to be limited, expensive and hard to find. So I developed my own small-scale solutions that did not break the bank and satiated grandma.

An institution that implements forward-thinking is what I need to reach my goals of changing the future of plant-based diets and people’s views on vegetarianism. NYU’s Nutrition and Food Studies program offers multiple disciplines of food studies that I will apply to my aspirations as a vegetarian. I plan to study under Adjunct Faculty Kayleen St. John, whose success in the plant-based industry and her teaching of the ‘Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition’ in The Vegetarian Times excites me. The variety of classes like Introduction to Food History, Food Photography, and Food Systems: Food & Agriculture will give me an overview of what is available in the food industry to be prepared for all fields. Not to be cliche, but NYU’s proximity to the city is essential for the rapidly changing vegetarian industry. The multiculturalism available in NYC and NYU will allow me to understand the food system and diets of various cultures, religions, and areas. I can explore the extremes of the food industry, from fancy restaurants to public school cafeterias. These juxtapositions, much like the one I experienced after my move to Nicaragua, will allow me to broaden my reach and demonstrate that the vegetarian diet is not something reserved for select groups but a diet attainable to all. 

A core strength of this essay is the fact it takes its time to provide the reader with ample background on why this student is interested in nutrition and food studies and how they have grappled with difficult questions and surrounding this topic in the past. It’s okay to not mention anything about NYU for a whole paragraph if you are using that space to bring depth to your interests and tell the reader the crucial backstory behind pursuing your intended degree.

Another positive aspect is the inclusion of New York City for a purposeful reason. NYU admissions officers read thousands of essays that just talk about living in NYC for the sake of NYC—this is not what they want to hear. In contrast, this essay focuses on the vast and lively food scene in New York that the student considers to be an invaluable asset to her NYU education. This is a time where including New York actually plays to the appeal of NYU, rather than making it seem like the student is simply applying for the city.

Finally, this student clearly demonstrates that they are someone who wants to change the world for the better, but through their personal niche. NYU is looking for people who express this desire to be a changemaker, but oftentimes sweeping statements like “I want to change the world” come across as vague and disingenuous. The essay does mention changing diets and looking to the future, but it is focused within the student’s specific area of interest, making the claim to change the world more determined and authentic.

This essay could be made stronger if there was a bit more personal reflection included. The first paragraph provides a lot of details on the student’s vegetarianism and how it conflicts with her grandmother and her heritage. What it doesn’t include very much of is how the student thinks and feels about her diet being at odds with that of her family. 

Does this student feel they are betraying their heritage by being vegetarian? What emotions do they feel when people criticize vegetarianism? Why did they go vegetarian in the first place? Probing questions like these that get to the emotional core behind the story in the first paragraph would really help to build out this student’s backstory. We want to understand what their emotional responses and reasoning processes look like, so finding ways to include those into an already expositive paragraph would further bolster this essay.

Essay Example #6: NYU

My mother never takes off her Cartier necklace that my father gave her 10 years ago on their anniversary. As a child, I didn’t fully understand this attachment. However, on my 15th birthday, my aunt gifted me a ring, which was uniquely designed and made up of three rings linked together. Wearing it every day and making sure I would never lose it, I didn’t treat it like my easily replaceable childhood necklaces; it was my piece of luxury. This sparked my deep curiosity for the luxury world. The niche strives to provide the finest and most memorable experiences, as equally as my Japanese attention to detail and my French appreciation towards aesthetic beauty. In a constantly shifting environment, I learned that luxury chases timeless excellence.

NYU Stern’s BS in business and a co-concentration in management and marketing will fully immerse me in the business side of luxury fashion that I aim to pursue a future career in. The luxury marketing track, offered only by NYU, will enable me to assemble the most suited classes to reflect my interests. Specifically, NYU Stern’s exciting electives such as The Dynamics of the Fashion Industry seminar and Brand Strategy & Planning will encourage me to develop the skills that I was introduced to and grew keen on when running a virtual sustainable fashion auction.

As someone who has moved around from Paris to Tokyo, to Chicago and now Athens, I thrive in meeting and collaborating with others from diverse backgrounds. The school’s strong global outlook, demonstrated through Stern’s International Business Exchange Program, further sets NYU apart for me, as it is crucial to building essential soft skills. This opportunity allows me to experience new cultural approaches to luxury business which I can bring back with me to New York, and therefore push me to become a well-rounded business student. Similarly, I am excited to take part in the array of student clubs offered, such as the Luxury and Retail Association (LARA), which I learned about after connecting with and talking to current students. Seeing past talks from employers of companies like Conde Nast, I am eager to learn outside of the classroom from future speakers. 

Finding myself in new situations constantly, I always seek new challenges and explorations – to me, it is clear that NYU Stern will push me to create the finest and most unique learning experiences of timeless excellence.

This essay has an amazing introduction paragraph. It doesn’t mention anything about NYU or what this student is planning on studying, which is what makes it so intriguing. The reader doesn’t know where this student is headed after making such a seemingly unrelated statement about jewelry, but we want to find out. 

Not only does this essay immediately capture the reader’s attention, it maintains a succinct and direct tone that helps the reader effortlessly flow from one paragraph to the next. The student chose to include three opportunities at NYU that excite them and fully elaborate on them. This serves as an excellent example of more is less. 

We aren’t bombarded with a laundry list of classes, professors, and clubs the student wants to take. Instead, the student took a focused approach and described why they were excited by each offering they highlighted. Going deeper into a smaller number of opportunities at the college still shows this student did their research, but it allows for their backstory and goals to be discussed in far greater detail.

While this student does a good job of elaborating, they also mention a few key aspects of their personality as throw-away lines, when it would have been great to elaborate further on them. For example, they mention running a virtual sustainable fashion auction (cool!), but don’t provide us with any details on what that actually entails, how they got involved with it, what they enjoyed about it, etc. They also mention moving around a lot in the context of developing a diverse perspective, but they don’t include any emotional insight into what that was like.

Although there are only 400 words available, and you don’t want to spend too much time discussing the past, it would be nice to see just a sentence or two that delves into the details of this student’s background. The fashion auction and moving around clearly had an impact on the student, so we want to know what that was. If they are choosing to include these details, they must be important in the student’s decision to pursue business at NYU, so they shouldn’t be afraid to divulge the emotional significance to the reader.

Essay Example #7: Boston University

Prompt: In no more than 250 words, please tell us why BU is a good fit for you and what specifically has led you to apply for admission.

Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) attracts me because of its support of interdisciplinary study among its wide array of majors. In fact, the CAS now offers a course that combines biology, chemistry, and neuroscience. As I hope to conduct medical research into brain disorders, I plan to pursue all three areas of study. These cross-disciplinary connections at BU will prepare me to do so.

CAS’s undergraduate research program would allow me to work with a mentor, such as Dr. Alice Cronin-Golomb or Dr. Robert M.G. Reinhart related to their research on neurological disorders. With them, I can advance the work I have already completed related to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). In a summer class at our local university, my partner and I extracted data from fMRI and PET studies and inputted them into a coding program. We then created an indicator map, which we imported into another software program, AFNI, to display significant activity in the brain regions affected by DID. Seeing the representation of our data thrilled me because I knew it could eventually help people who live with DID. I want to experience that feeling again. Successfully analyzing these fMRI and PET studies and learning to code drives me to pursue more research opportunities, and this desire motivates me to study at a university that offers research opportunities to undergraduates. BU’s interdisciplinary approach to psychology and support for independent undergraduate research will optimally prepare me for a career as a neurological researcher.

This student clearly outlines BU-specific resources (the interdisciplinary course and undergrad research program), plus how these resources align with their professional goals (to become a neurological researcher). They do name professors, but since their work clearly relates to the student’s interests, it doesn’t look disingenuous, and shows that the student has done research on their fit with BU. The student also provides background on why they want to pursue research, and shows that they already have experience, which makes their interest in the undergrad research program more concrete.

The only thing missing from this essay is the student’s fit with BU in terms of extracurriculars and social life. “Why This College?” essays should also cover extracurriculars, as colleges are also interested in how you’ll contribute to their community. 

In general, these essays should be academic-leaning (especially if they’re under 250 words), but you should still address some social aspects of the college that appeal to you (we recommend about 70% academics, 30% social, with more or less focus on social aspects depending on the word count). 

Since the student probably already detailed their previous research in their Common App activities section, they could’ve just summarized their research background in one sentence (instead of 78 words, which is 31% of the total word count!), and used that valuable space to talk about a specific social aspect of BU that interests them. 

Essay Example #8: Boston University

Prompt: In no more than 250 words, please tell us why BU is a good fit for you and what specifically has led you to apply for admission. 

I am fascinated by research, though completely uninterested in the disciplines traditionally associated with it, such as STEM fields. I need to find a school that will balance my desire to conduct research with my interest in political science. 

While many schools boast in-depth student research programs for those looking to cure diseases or develop solutions to global warming, few tout their support for humanities research. Additionally, many universities that do allocate funding to social science research typically reserve these monies for graduate students or upperclassmen. BU, with the help of its Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, will allow me to conduct research on the topics that most intrigue me, such as gender disparity in politics, or the relationship between dominant parties in power and the country’s economy and involvement in foreign affairs. Furthermore, I can begin these studies as early as my first year. Not only can I take classes with professors like Sandra McEvoy or Dino Christenson to develop my interests in a classroom setting, but I could also work with one of them to develop new knowledge in the topics that we both enjoy learning about. With this knowledge base and experience conducting studies with top professors in a respected research institution, I will be well-prepared for my future law career. I want to learn in an environment that encourages independent study no matter one’s field of interest or experience, and BU’s support of intellectual curiosity for all of its students makes it a perfect fit for me.

This student knows exactly what they want, and they’re not afraid to state it bluntly. Their intro paragraph is totally honest about their interests (or lack of interest), and we immediately understand one of their main college goals: to conduct political science research.

The student mentions a specific resource, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, as well as an alignment with BU’s value of encouraging independent study in all fields. Showing alignment with a specific value of the university is a great way to take your essay to the next level.

This essay shows us that the student would be a great fit for BU and would take advantage of its research opportunities.

The writer mentions some of their research interests, but doesn’t explain the motivation behind them. We don’t actually learn very much about the student themself, which is a common flaw of “Why This College?” essays. The essay would’ve been stronger if they’d explained why they’re interested in “gender disparity in politics, or the relationship between dominant parties in power and the country’s economy and involvement in foreign affairs.” For example, maybe they feel strongly about abortion rights and are upset about the way men have been legislating women’s rights.

The student also names two professors whose classes they’d like to take and with whom they’d like to do research, but we aren’t told which classes they’re interested in, or which topics they could cover together. You want to avoid “name-dropping” professors without context in your essay. If the student shared the names of specific classes or research topics and why they’re interested in them, that would’ve strengthened their essay.

Essay Example #9: Tufts

Prompt: Why Tufts? (100 words) 

When Deanne, Tufts’ admissions counselor, visited my school, she immediately caught my attention by emphasizing Tufts’ diverse yet unified campus. Tufts’ inclusive definition of diversity goes beyond merely recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds. Tufts seeks to integrate these categories of diversity and pushes its students to learn from one another. One such intersectional program that attracts me is CAFE (Conversation, Action, Faith, and Education). By joining CAFE, a community that promotes interfaith education, I will learn from my peers, become more understanding of other religious backgrounds, and apply this broader understanding to my academic work at Tufts.

It’s hard to write a “Why This College?” essay in 100 words. This essay does a good job sticking to one unique element of Tufts—its intersectionality. Since Tufts also cares about demonstrated interest, it’s great that the student also mentioned speaking with an admissions counselor. 

We unfortunately don’t learn very much about the student from this essay. Why do they care about diversity and interfaith programs? How does this relate to their academic and career goals? While the word count is super short, they could’ve cut these lines and jumped right into the specific resource they’re interested in: Tufts’ inclusive definition of diversity goes beyond merely recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds. Tufts seeks to integrate these categories of diversity and pushes its students to learn from one another.

Here’s an example of a stronger version of this essay:

When a Tufts admissions counselor visited my school, she immediately caught my attention by emphasizing Tufts’ diverse yet unified campus. As a Muslim hoping to go into International Relations, I want to attend a school that not only recruits diverse students, but pushes them to learn from one another. I hope to join intersectional programs such as CAFE (Conversation, Action, Faith, and Education). By joining this community that promotes interfaith education, I will gain the necessary perspective and compassion to become a human rights lawyer in countries with religious conflict, such as my homeland Azerbaijan.

Essay Example #10: Tufts

Prompt: Why Tufts? (100 words)

Someday I hope to conduct medical research in developing countries; Tufts attracts me because of its wide array of majors it offers and support for undergraduate research. To understand the human brain, I hope to study biology, neuroscience, and psychology. In addition to outstanding faculty in each of these areas, Tufts also organizes initiatives including the International Research Program. Through this program, I would work with other students and faculty members on an international project related to brain diseases. This opportunity will give me a taste of my future career and help me narrow the scope of my later studies.

This essay does a better job of sharing the student’s goals with us compared to the previous Tufts essay. We learn that the applicant is interested in medical research in developing countries on brain diseases, and that Tufts has a program to support international research.

The essay still mentions some resources that could apply to many schools, which is not an effective use of the tiny word count. For example, they say: “Tufts attracts me because of its wide array of majors it offers and support for undergraduate research” and they mention the “outstanding faculty” in the fields they plan to study.

They also don’t tell us their motivation behind studying brain diseases abroad, and it feels like there’s a significant story there. Giving some background would’ve further strengthened their essay.

Finally, they mention that they still need to narrow the scope of their studies; while it’s fine to be undecided on your career and majors, you don’t need to spend your precious word count saying that in your essay. They could’ve instead shared a couple potential avenues they’re considering.

Here’s what the student could’ve written instead:

Outcomes for schizophrenia patients are better in developing countries than in developed ones. I hope to research the reasons behind this and improve the treatment options in the US for the cousin I grew up with. In college, I want to study biology, neuroscience, and psychology. Tufts attracts me because of its unique interdisciplinary BS in Cognitive and Brain Science and its International Research Program. Through this program, I could do the research I’ve dreamt of doing with a faculty member and other students, preparing me for my future career as either a researcher or clinician.

Essay Example #11: Georgia Tech

Prompt: Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech? (300 words)

Climate change is a human rights issue.  

There the headline was, screaming on my phone screen. I think about those suffering from a lack of clean water. I think about those suffering from a lack of clean air. 

I often think back to that headline – it’s what drives my passion for environmental engineering. As an environmental engineer, I can mitigate air pollution and design water treatment systems that address the water injustices that people face. However, it’s not just about creating a technology that cleans water; it’s about changing people’s lives. New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech’s research on creating a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those in need of improved sanitation aligns perfectly with my interests.   

At Georgia Tech, through the student-led organization, Engineers for a Sustainable World and the InVenture Prize, I can translate the knowledge gained from my classes into a concrete vision. I can design and implement hands-on sustainability projects around Atlanta and invent a water sanitation system for the on-site acquisition of clean water. 

Georgia Tech can also provide me with ample research opportunities, such as the broad area of Healthy Communities in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. I can further pursue my interest in developing solutions to deliver clean water while welcoming new areas of inquiry. An area I would like to explore would be the controlling of dangerous matter in the air to reduce health hazards; reducing the impact of climate change is of utmost importance to me. 

Studying environmental engineering at Georgia Tech would well prepare me to develop solutions to climate-related issues. With the countless opportunities that Georgia Tech has to offer, I know there is nowhere else where I can receive a better environmental engineering education.

What the Essay Did Well l

This essay begins with an attention-grabbing statement that leaves the reader wondering how this will relate to the student’s interest in Georgia Tech. They then transition seamlessly into how climate change and human rights motivate their desire to become an environmental engineer.

The student mentions several resources specific to Georgia Tech that would help them achieve their goals, such as the research on the toilet turning waste into water, Engineers for a Sustainable World, InVenture Prize, and Healthy Communities research. It’s clear that they did their research and have reflected on their fit with the campus community.

They end the essay explicitly stating that Georgia Tech is the best place for them to grow, and the reader is certainly convinced of this by the end.

This essay is quite strong, so there’s not much that the student could’ve improved. That said, there is one sentence that is a bit awkwardly worded: New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech’s research on creating a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those in need of improved sanitation aligns perfectly with my interests.

Instead, the student could’ve written:

New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech aligns with this value of mine and is even developing a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those who need improved sanitation.

Essay Example #12: Georgia Tech

From my first Java project, a somewhat primitive graphing calculator, I realized that CS unlocks a different way of thinking. My brain races at speeds it seldom touches with other subjects. Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve and affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application. 

“Progress and Service,” Georgia Tech’s motto, tells me there’s no better place to explore my curiosity and deepen my CS skills while simultaneously helping make the world a better place, my ultimate goal for a college education. 

In the classroom, I look forward to GT’s threads program, where I can tailor the curriculum to suit my career choice after exposing myself to all technical aspects of CS.

I’ll apply my specialized learning with Tech’s fascinating research opportunities. Professor Pandarinth’s brain-machine interfacing software means a lot to me. My uncle passed away from a freak accident after extensive paralysis because potential treatments were unaffordable. Exploring this revolutionary brain decoding software wouldn’t just involve me in cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology research, I’d be personally driven to ensure its success and accessibility. 

I’m at my best building towards tangible results. I learned this on my robotics team using design skills to create a technically complex robot that tackles anything from shooting balls to hanging on a balance beam. I’m excited to expand my skills on the RoboJackets team, applying my career interests to build ferocious BattleBots and autonomous race robots that compete on the Indy Speedway, two events that sound ridiculously fun. 

Of course, I can’t skip hackathons. These competitions molded my interest in coding so I want to give back to Georgia Tech’s Hack-Community by planning HackGT and the Catalyst Mentorship program as a member of the Hexlabs team. 

The student’s passion for CS shines through this essay. They explain what they love about the subject (the problem-solving aspect) and they share that they hope to make a difference through CS, demonstrating alignment with Tech’s motto of  “progress and service”.

It’s clear that this student has done their research, mentioning specific academic programs, research, and clubs. We can see that they’d be greatly engaged with the campus community.

Finally, this essay is also down-to-earth. The student doesn’t try to use impressive vocabulary or formal language. In fact, they even describe some extracurriculars as “ridiculously fun.” While you shouldn’t get too informal in your essays, this student’s casual tone in this context makes them feel more approachable and more excited about the prospect of going to Georgia Tech.

This essay has a couple sentences that are confusing to read:

Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve and affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application.

This sentence could’ve been broken up and rewritten as:

Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve. For me, the field affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application.

This sentence also uses incorrect grammar—the comma should be replaced with a semicolon:

Exploring this revolutionary brain decoding software wouldn’t just involve me in cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology research, I’d be personally driven to ensure its success and accessibility. 

These details would make the essay more readable.

The organization of the essay could also be reworked. The student mentions Tech’s motto of “progress and service,” but doesn’t follow up until later with an example of how they’d use CS for the greater good. Using CS for social good isn’t ultimately the theme of their essay, so this section would’ve been better placed at the end of the paragraph about AI technology research, or at the very end of the essay. The essay actually ends abruptly, so placing the section at the end might’ve tied it up nicely, if the student could’ve placed more emphasis on how they plan to use CS to improve society.

Do you want feedback on your “Why This College” essays? 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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How to Write the “Why This College” Essay (With an Example!)

essay about why you should go to college

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

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

essay about why you should go to college

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

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

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

“Why this college?” essay prompts 

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

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

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

“Why this college?” sample essay

Dear Columbia University, 

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

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

Applicant Name

Why this essay works:

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

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

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

Generalizing.

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

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

Placating the admissions office

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

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

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

Tips for writing your essay

Find a connection.

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

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

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

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

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

Outline and edit

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

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

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

Additional resources

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

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

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Why This College Essay Sample

Why this college essay sample – introduction.

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

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

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

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

We’ll look at why school essay examples from:

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

What are examples of Why School essay prompts?

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

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

Essay prompts change

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

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

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

University of ChicagoHow 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
Georgia Institute of TechnologyWhy do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech?300 words
Wake Forest UniversityWhy have you decided to apply to Wake Forest? Share with us anything that has made you interested in our institution.150 words
Tufts UniversityWhich aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, “Why Tufts?”100-150 words
Loyola Marymount UniversityPlease briefly state your reason for wishing to attend LMU and/or how you came to select your major.500 words
Duke UniversityWhat 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
University of FloridaWhy is applying for the UF Honors Program important to you? Which aspects of the program’s three pillars of opportunity, community, and challenge pique your interests? How would you engage with the program to exemplify these pillars yourself? How does the program factor into your long-term goals?400 words
Lafayette CollegeStudents identify Lafayette as an excellent fit for countless reasons. In your response, be deliberate and specific about your motivation for applying to Lafayette.20-200 words

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

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

Different schools, different prompts

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

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

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

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

Which schools require a Why This College essay?

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

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

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

Top Universities with a Why School Essay

  • Northwestern
  • American Unviersity

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

More Why School Essay Examples Guides to Explore

Why northwestern.

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

Why Barnard

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

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

Why Dartmouth

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

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

Why This College Essay Examples

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

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

Why this college essay sample #1- UChicago

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

Why UChicago Essay Examples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explaining why this essay worked

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

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

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

Why this college essay sample #2 – Georgia Tech

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

Georgia Tech Essay Examples

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did this Georgia Tech essay work?

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

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

Why this college essay sample #3 – Wake Forest

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

Why Wake Forest Essay Examples

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

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

Why this Wake Forest essay worked

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

College essays that worked #4 – Tufts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why this college essay sample #5- Lewis and Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exploring the strengths of this essay

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

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

Why this college essay sample #6 – Loyola Marymount

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why this college essay sample #7 – Duke

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

Why Duke Essay Examples

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

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

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

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

Why this essay worked

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

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

Why this college essay sample #8 – University of Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why this UF Honors Program essay worked

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

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

Why this college essay sample #9 – Franklin & Marshall

Franklin & marshall essays.

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

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

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

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

Why this college essay sample #10- Lafayette College

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

Why Lafayette College Essay Examples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Write A Why This College Essay

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

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

Do your research

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

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

How to Start a Why This College Essay

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

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

Use these examples to help brainstorm

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

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

Other CollegeAdvisor Resources on Why This College Essays

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

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

Why Northwestern Essay Examples

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

Barnard Essay Examples

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

Why Yale Essay Examples

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

NYU Essay Examples (And Why They Worked)

Why This College Essay Sample – Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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essay about why you should go to college

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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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February 7, 2023

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

essay about why you should go to college

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

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

The Top Colleges That Ask “Why College” Essay Prompts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rank (“Best National Universities”)\”
Princeton University#1As 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?250 Words
Massachusetts Institute of Technology#2Tell us more about why this field of study at MIT appeals to you.100 Words
Harvard University#3N/A
Stanford University#3Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford.50 Words
Yale University#3What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?125 Words
University of Chicago#6How 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.No Word Limit
Johns Hopkins University#7N/A
University of Pennsylvania#7How 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.

Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, describe how you intend to explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania.
150-200 Words & 150-200 Words
California Institute of Technology#9N/A
Duke University#10What 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
Northwestern University#10Help 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
Dartmouth College#12Dartmouth 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?100 Words
Brown University#13Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about any academic interests that excite you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue them while also embracing topics with which you are unfamiliar.200-250 Words
Vanderbilt University#13N/A
Rice University#15Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you?150 Words
Washington University in St. Louis#15N/A
Cornell University#17 Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals?

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.



What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration).

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.

How has your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology been influenced by your related experiences? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future?



Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School.
650 Words for All, Except for College of Engineering’s 250 Words
Columbia University#18Why 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
University of Notre Dame#18Notre Dame is a Catholic university, founded by members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, with a mission to educate the hearts and minds of students. What excites you about attending Notre Dame?200 Words
University of California, Berkeley#20N/A
University of California, Los Angeles#20N/A
Carnegie Mellon University#22N/A
Emory University#22N/A
Georgetown University#22What does it mean to you to be educated? How might Georgetown College help you achieve this aim?Prompt Should Not Exceed 1-Page, Single-Spaced
New York University#25N/A
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor#25Describe 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?Minimum 100 Words, Maximum 550 Words
University of Southern California#25Describe 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
University of Virginia#25N/A

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:

Rank (“Best Liberal Arts Colleges”)
Williams College#1N/A
Amherst College#2N/A
Pomona College#3N/A
Swarthmore College#4Why are you interested in applying to and attending Swarthmore?250 Words (1 of 3 Essay Options)
Wellesley College#5When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the “Wellesley 100” is a good place to start. Visit The Wellesley 100 and let us know, in two well-developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (Not-so-secret tip: The “why” matters to us.) 250-400 Words
Bowdoin College#6How did you first learn about Bowdoin?140 Characters
Carleton College#6N/A
Claremont McKenna College#9Why do you want to attend CMC?150-250 Words
Middlebury College#11N/A
Washington and Lee University#11Please describe how you have familiarized yourself with Washington and Lee University and what aspects of W&L’s community are most exciting to you.250 Words
Smith College#13N/A
Vassar College#13N/A
Davidson College#15There are just under 4,000 4-year colleges and universities in the United States. Being as specific as possible, what interests you most about Davidson College.250-300 Words
Grinnell College#15N/A
Hamilton College#15While the primary criteria for admission are academic achievement, intellectual promise, and community engagement, Hamilton also seeks to admit candidates who are a good fit with the programs and experiences offered by the College. Please take this opportunity to tell us about your interest in Hamilton and, in particular, why you believe it is a place where you can thrive. Be open. Be honest. Be brief.
100-250 Words
Barnard College#18What factors encouraged your decision to apply to Barnard College and why do you think the College would be a good match for you?300 Words
Colgate University#18Colgate students immerse themselves in social and intellectual pursuits that inspire them. Tell us what inspires you and why you want to pursue that at Colgate.

I’m drawn to Colgate because…
200-250 Words & 13 Words
Haverford College#18Please tell us what motivated you to apply to Haverford and what excites you most as you imagine your Haverford experience.150 Words
University of Richmond#18N/A
Wesleyan University#18N/A
Colby College#24N/A
Bates College#25N/A

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.

You are permitted to use www.ivycoach.com (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.

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How To Answer The “Why This College” Essay Prompt

How To Answer The “Why This College” Essay Prompt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of “Why This College” Essay Prompts

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

Yale & Columbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Equation for a Perfect “Why This College” Essay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example: A Successful “Why Yale” Essay

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 3 "Why This School?" Essay Tips

Tips for Finding Relevant Information

Level 1: Novice Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Level 2: Expert Tips

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

Organizing Your Research

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

Research Categories

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

Organization Tips

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

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

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Creating a Personalized List of Reasons

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

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

How to Structure Your "Why This College" Essay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Further Reading:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When researching colleges, be sure to:

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

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

I love this example from u/Ninotchka :

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

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

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

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

More College Essay Questions?

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

Ask Admissions Mom

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

Carolyn Allison Caplan (she/her)

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

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Importance of College Education: Why it is Important to go to College

You are approaching high school graduation and wondering what’s in store next. Sure, the thought of going straight into the workforce to immediately generate an income sounds exciting. But have you considered furthering your studies to expand your earning potential within today’s economy? While higher education may easily be one of the largest expenses you will face in your lifetime, attending college provides opportunities for graduates that may not be as widespread for those without a university degree.

Did You Know? : According to the U.S. Department of Education college graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66 percent more than those with only a high school diploma, and are also far less likely to face unemployment.

Why Consider Going to College?

The biggest advantage of going to college is the gateway to increased opportunity. We aren’t just talking about more work opportunities after graduation, but also the endless possibilities of making new connections that may become of value to you for life, the benefits of gaining knowledge , the encouragement of discovering new passions, and so much more!

Make Valuable Connections

Attending college gives you the opportunity to meet new people of different backgrounds with unique interests, increasing your chances of connecting with people in your potential career field. Knowing the right people can take you far in life! You never know who is going to help you land your dream job, or connect you with the right person who will.

Some ways you can expand your network in college is by becoming a part of clubs that align with your interests, playing sports, or volunteering for an organization. Joining a sorority or a fraternity is also a surefire way to meet some close friends for many. You could even pick up an internship or part-time job on or off-campus, and meet people that way as well. Learning from someone more established is also a fantastic way to test the waters in a field of interest, and in that sense, get to know yourself better!

Exercise the Mind

Students pursuing higher education are presented with the opportunity to read books and listen to lectures of top experts in their fields. As a result, they gain advanced knowledge in areas that interest them most. This stimulation encourages individuals to think critically, question concepts, and explore new ideas, which allow for additional growth and development. Generally, college graduates have an edge in the job market over those who have just come out of high school. In recent years, seniors have also been going back to college to exercise their minds and to learn from new opportunities to help them as they grow older.

Open Up to More Job Opportunities

Finally, most people pursuing a college degree look forward to promising job prospects after graduating. The good news is that many recruiters in the United States now look for candidates that have experienced higher education. We have shifted from a manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, which makes having a college education especially important these days. Regardless of what career field plan to commit to, you will likely benefit from going to college!

Get Well-Rounded

By experiencing things like being a part of a club, participating in a group study, taking a variety of courses, and continually enhancing your work ethic, you innately get to know yourself as an individual better.

More often than not, those entering their twenties without a clue on what they want to do for a living will develop a better sense of their “calling” after taking different classes that were not offered in high school. Some examples of such courses may include psychology, communications, sociology, business, and computer science, to name a few.

Many higher education students are also living away from home for the first time, and that independence and freedom allows them to try things they didn’t feel totally comfortable doing in their high school years. New discoveries could lead to new passions and potential career paths after college!

With the global economy becoming increasingly competitive, going to college is a smart way to give yourself the best chance at landing a stable, well-paying job. Gain a wealth of knowledge and experience that you would never receive if you decided to skip higher education. You’ll be surprised at how much personal development you will experience, too!

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The decision to attend college is a big one. Getting a college degree takes time: at least four years for most people. Getting a college degree also costs money: tens of thousands of dollars for most people. You might be asking yourself, "Is it worth it? Should I go to college?"

In this article, I'll explain the benefits of going to college and detail some of the potential drawbacks. Furthermore, I'll give you all the information you need to decide whether or not you should pursue a college degree.

4 Major Benefits of Going to College

Going to college can make you richer, happier, and healthier—sounds good to me! Here, we take a look at the four biggest benefits of attending college.

#1: There Are Many Financial and Career Benefits

Let's start by considering the financial advantages of a college education.

College graduates with a bachelor's degree earn about $32,000 more per year than those with a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Here's one of the most cited statistics that shows the benefits of a college education: a person with a bachelor's degree will, on average, earn almost $1 million more over the course of her lifetime than somebody with just a high school diploma . While money shouldn't necessarily be the biggest priority in anyone's life, there's no doubt that a higher salary will give you more opportunities, alleviate stress, and allow you to more easily support a family.

Moreover, college-educated Millennials have much lower unemployment and poverty rates. According to recent studies from 2020 to 2021 by the New York Federal Reserve Bank , young people aged 22-27 are more likely to be unemployed if they don't have a college degree. Unemployment among those with a college degree was 3.9%, but it was 10.3% for those without a degree.

In addition, those who attended college are more likely to get married and less likely to be living in their parents' homes. Statistics indicate that attending college has more economic benefits for Millennials than it did for previous generations. Going to college might be more important now than ever before!

Finally, a college degree is required for many entry-level jobs. According to a study done b y the Georgetown Public Policy Institute , 65% of jobs now require postsecondary education and training beyond high school, and 35% of jobs require at least a bachelor's degree.

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As you can see, there are tons of financial benefits to getting a bachelor's degree. But what about the professional advantages?

In college, you can make connections that will help you land a good job after you graduate. Experts estimate that 70%-80% of jobs aren't advertised publicly . Often, you simply have to know the right people to secure employment.

Many companies also offer internship programs to college students that can lead to full-time employment after you graduate.

Furthermore, most colleges offer free career counseling and can put you in touch with employers and alumni who can help you find a job. Colleges will often have job fairs as well, where recruiters come to campus looking for qualified students to work for their companies. These fairs give you an opportunity to form relationships with company representatives who can assist you professionally.

Lastly, many of your peers will probably go on to professional success. Your college friends might one day be able to offer you a job, refer you for a job, or make a lucrative business deal with you. As a college student, you'll (likely) be surrounded by many motivated, talented people who, in the future, will want to work with those they know and trust—and this could very well include you.

#2: You Get to Explore Your Interests

College opens up a whole new world to you academically. In high school, you generally only have a choice of a handful of elective classes, but in college you can literally choose from among hundreds of classes and majors.

While there are core requirements at most colleges, for the most part, you can decide what you want to study and take classes in subjects you want to learn more about. Many students are able to spark academic passions in college.

You could take classes in anthropology, psychology, sociology, microbiology, or osteology. Many college grads have several friends and former students who were inspired by college classes that positively changed the course of their academic and professional lives.

Also, while in college, you'll have the chance to pursue tons of extracurriculars and opportunities you might not otherwise have done. These activities can become lifelong passions, help you form meaningful relationships, and even prepare you for a future job.

For example, you could write for the campus newspaper, or you could be a DJ for the school radio station. You could dance for a hip-hop group, or join a campus organization that provides tutoring to underprivileged kids. You could help build houses for those in need. You could work on political campaigns or join groups that advocate for various social issues. The choice is yours!

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Howard Stern started his career working at the radio station at Boston University.

#3: You'll Have Fun and Make Friends

Many students enjoy their college experience. Too often people discount the importance of fun when it comes to education, and for some people, their best memories and most fun times are from their college years. On a college campus, you can attend parties, plays, sporting events, and concerts; you can also create your own random fun with your peers.

Most schools bring exciting events and speakers to their campuses, too. Colleges will often host famous musicians and comedians. For example, The Weeknd has performed shows at Syracuse, Northeastern, Lafayette College, and the University of Minnesota, while Drake has performed at numerous colleges, including Howard, SUNY Purchase, and the University of Kentucky.

Colleges will also sponsor parties and other on-campus events that are just meant to be fun and facilitate social interaction. At Stanford, there's a tradition known as Full Moon on the Quad . On the first full moon of the school year, students gather in the quad, and the seniors welcome the freshmen by kissing them. There's a lot of kissing. It might not be hygienic, but it's memorable.

You may make very close friends while you're attending college. In college, you get to befriend people from all over the US and even other countries. A big part of the college experience is having the opportunity to learn from and interact with people from diverse backgrounds.

Overall, you have the chance to study, live, party, and participate in extracurricular activities with your peers. There will probably be no other time in your life when you get to spend as much time with your friends, and the amount of quality time you get to spend with them will form the foundation for meaningful lifelong friendships.

#4: It Gives You Space for Self-Improvement

For many students, college is the first time in their lives they're not living at home. During college, they learn to be self-sufficient. They learn domestic skills and budgeting—even how to motivate themselves without parental encouragement. At the same time, most college students can still go home or call home if they're in need of some money or advice.

Many people who don't go to college remain at home for at least a couple of years after high school. Though they often have more freedom than they did during high school, their routines and mindsets don't change nearly as drastically as those who went to college. Anecdotally at least, even students who live at home and commute to college experience more growth than those who bypass college.

Whether you go to an in-state or out-of-state school, your college will likely expose you to a new city and environment. For instance, if you grew up in California and went to Stanford , it could still be a six-hour drive from where your family lived. You would be able to experience life in Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a different vibe, culture, and climate from, say, Los Angeles. Many college students are grateful to be able to have the opportunity to live in a different environment.

Furthermore, most colleges have study abroad programs that can give you a chance to take classes in countries around the world. At Emerson College, you can spend a semester in a 14th-century medieval castle in The Netherlands. At the University of Chicago , you can study abroad in Paris, Beijing, Barcelona, Berlin, Kyoto, Bologna, Cairo, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, London, Oaxaca, Vienna, Milan, and a few other places, too. You can learn about the world by traveling and studying in countries around the world.

Finally, people who go to college tend to be healthier. According to a report from the National Academy of Sciences , people with a bachelor's degree live longer than people without one. They're also less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise.

Similarly, according to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health , people who get a bachelor's degree after 25 years of age exhibit fewer depressive symptoms and have better self-rated health at midlife.

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3 Possible Disadvantages of Attending College

Even though attending college can offer you many benefits, there are potential drawbacks.

Note that you only get many of the benefits of going to college if you're able to graduate. A 2021 Forbes article reported that, six years after enrolling in college, less than 60% of students had graduated with a bachelor's degree.

Now, let's take a look at the three biggest cons of attending college.

#1: There's the Risk of High Costs and Potential Debt

College is really, really expensive, with costs continuing to rise, and many college graduates are burdened with astronomical student loan debt.

The College Board estimates that the average cost of attendance for an in-state public college for 2021-2022 is $10,740 , while the cost of attendance for a private college averages $38,070.  Remember, though, that most students receive financial aid that covers at least part of the cost of attendance if they demonstrate financial need.

Unfortunately, many students don't receive the aid they need to fully cover the costs. As a result, they take on unsubsidized student loans to finance their college education. Sadly, student loan debt increased from $260 billion in 2004 to $1.7 trillion in 2021 . Average student loan debt in 2021 was $38,147 —that's a pretty staggering amount.

Overall, student loan debt can dramatically impact your life after your graduate. It can affect the jobs you take and cause you to delay buying a house or starting a family.

#2: The Financial Benefits of College Might Be Overstated

The claim that college graduates earn $1 million more in their lifetimes might actually be skewed by graduates from top universities .

A 2021 study by PayScale.com found that there are only seven schools (out of 1,878 four-year schools) at which earning a college degree can get you a $1 million return on investment. Basically, the reported number that college graduates make $1 million more over the course of their professional lives is not that accurate.

Moreover, it's important to note that while attending college, most people aren’t working or are only working part-time. So in addition to the financial costs and debts you're incurring while in college, you probably won't be able to get the salary you could be making from working a full-time job during the four to six years you're in school.

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#3: College Might Not Actually Make You Smarter

The last con of attending college is that going to one might not actually increase your intelligence.

A 2011 study found that 45% of 2,322 traditional-aged college students studied from 2005 to 2009 made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning, or writing skills during the first two years of college. After four years, 36% showed no significant gains.

More recent studies have shown similar trends among those with either some college or a degree. Given the cost of attending college, you'd hope that higher education would have a dramatically positive effect on these skills for all students—but this might not actually be the case.

Should I Go to College? How to Make the Right Choice for You

Admittedly, we might be somewhat biased because we've spent years stressing the importance of attending college to high school students. However, we do recognize that college might not be for everyone.

Other than the pros and cons of college we mentioned previously, here are some additional factors to consider when deciding whether or not to attend college.

You'll Have More Options With a College Degree

You might be planning to enter a trade that doesn't require a college degree and will provide you with a good salary and benefits. However, if you end up deciding that you don't like that field after a few years and you don't have a college degree, your employment options will be limited.

Also, if you take up a trade that requires physical labor and you suffer an injury, you might struggle to find work without a college degree.

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There Are Ways to Pay for College

You might be turned off by college because of how much you think it will cost you. But remember that you might not know your out-of-pocket expenses until you get accepted to college and get a financial aid package.

In reality, there are many grants and scholarships that can alleviate the financial burden and make college more affordable for you .

You Might Not Need College If You're Already Successful

If you're one of those rare people who has already achieved tremendous professional success before attending college, then going to college might not benefit you much financially.

For instance, say you get drafted in the first round of the draft by Major League Baseball and are offered a multi-million dollar signing bonus. Nobody would fault you for bypassing college. After all, you can always take college classes in the off-season or get your degree when you're done with your playing career.

If you're a mini Mark Zuckerberg or starring in your own sitcom, going to college might not lead to a higher income or a better job after you graduate. Bill Gates and Miley Cyrus were able to do OK professionally without college degrees!

You Might Not Be Academically Inclined

Most people are capable of doing college-level work if they're motivated and apply themselves. That being said, some people just detest school or don't have the aptitude to do well in a college environment.

Keep in mind, though, that college gives you so much more freedom than high school to explore your academic interests and find the fields in which you can excel. Similarly, if there's a subject that confuses you and that you absolutely abhor, you can probably avoid taking classes in it in college.

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Conclusion: Should You Go to College or Not?

There's no denying that college offers many financial, professional, and personal benefits. Numerous studies have shown that college graduates have far better financial and job prospects than those who don't attend college. What's more, few people regret going to college despite the tremendous amount of student debt and the less-than-ideal economy.

If you're worried about the cost of attendance, make sure you know about financial aid and how to limit your debt when you graduate . College is an investment that pays off for the vast majority of people who graduate.

Admittedly, some people don't need college to achieve their personal or professional goals. While you can of course be successful without a college degree, college graduates tend to fare better. If you're considering college, make the decision that will benefit you the most now and in the future.

What's Next?

Decided you want to go to college? Then take the first step and find out how to apply .

If you don't think you'll be able to get into college, check out these open admission colleges and these colleges with the highest acceptance rates .

If you still need to take the SAT or ACT for college, take a look at our ultimate SAT study guide and ultimate ACT study guide to learn more about the tests and what you'll need to know to ace them.

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

Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.

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Published: Mar 16, 2024

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Higher earning potential, employment opportunities, personal development, networking and connections, increased knowledge and skills.

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