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At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :. The "why this college" essay is best thought of as a back and forth between you and the college. This means that your essay will really be answering two separate, albeit related, questions:. Colleges usually use one of these approaches to frame this essay, meaning that your essay will lean heavier toward whichever question is favored in the prompt.
For example, if the prompt is all about "why us? If the prompt instead is mostly configured as "why you? It's good to remember that these two prompts are simply two sides of the same coin. Your reasons for wanting to apply to a particular school can be made to fit either of these questions. For instance, say you really want the chance to learn from the world-famous Professor X. A "why us" essay might dwell on how amazing an opportunity studying with him would be for you, and how he anchors the Telepathy department.
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Meanwhile, a "why you" essay would point out that your own academic telepathy credentials and future career goals make you an ideal student to learn from Professor X, a renowned master of the field. Next up, I'll show you some real-life examples of what these two different approaches to the same prompt look like. I hear the Rings of Power Department is really strong at that school, too. Check out the Gandalf seminar on repelling Balrogs—super easy A.
Tell me all about Sure, Ultimate Frisbee is cool, Whitman College. But when I get to campus, I'm starting a quidditch league. No matter how the prompt is worded, this essay is a give-and-take of what you and the college have to offer each other. Your job is to quickly zoom in on your main points and use both precision and detail to sound sincere, excited, and authentic.
Did you know your essay makes up 25% of your college application?
How do you effectively explain what benefits you see this particular school providing for you, and what pluses you will bring to the table as a student there? And how can you do this best using the small amount of space that you have usually just one to two paragraphs? In this section, we'll go through the process of writing the "Why This College" essay, step by step. First, I'll talk about the prep work you'll need to do. Next, we'll go through how to brainstorm good topics and touch on what topics to avoid. I'll give you some tips on transforming your ideas and research into an actual essay.
Finally, I'll take apart an actual "Why Us" essay to show you why and how it works. Before you can write about a school, you'll need to know specific things that make it stand out and appeal to you and your interests. So where do you look for these? And how do you find the detail that will speak to you? Here are some ways you can learn more about a school.
If you're going on college tours , you've got the perfect opportunity to gather information about the school. Bring a notepad and write down the following:. Try to also connect with students or faculty while you're there. If you visit a class, note which class it is and who teaches it. See whether you can briefly chat up a student e. Don't forget to write down the answer!
Trust me, you'll forget it otherwise—especially if you do this on multiple college visits. You can also connect with students without visiting the campus in person. Many admissions websites list contact information for currently enrolled students you can email to ask one or two questions about what their experience of the school has been like. Or if you know what department, sport, or activity you're interested in, you can ask the admissions office to put you in touch with a student who is involved with that particular interest. Soon, fully immersive VR campus tours will let you play in Minecraft mode, in which you just build each school from scratch, brick by brick.
If you have an interview , ask your interviewer questions about his or her experience at the school and about what going to that school has done for him or her since graduation.
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As always, take notes! If you have a chance to go to a college fair where your target college has representatives, don't just come and pick up a brochure. Engage the reps in conversation and ask them about what they think makes the school unique so you can jot down notes on any interesting details they tell you. Colleges publish lots and lots of different kinds of things—and all of these will be useful for your research. Here are some suggestions for what you can use.
You should be able to find all of the following resources online. Read the mission statement of the school—does its educational philosophy align with yours? You should also read through its catalogs.
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Pro Tip: These interesting features you find should be unusual in some way or different from what other schools offer. For example, being fascinated with the English department isn't going to cut it unless you can discuss its unusual focus, its world-renowned professors, or the different way it structures the major that appeals to you specifically. Are any professors highlighted? Does their research speak to you or connect with a project you did in high school or for an extracurricular?
Sometimes alumni magazines will highlight a college's new focus or new expansion.
Does the construction of a new engineering school relate to your intended major? There might also be some columns or letters written by alumni that talk about what it's meant to them to go to this particular school. What stands out about their experiences? Students write about the hot issues of the day, which means that the articles will be about the best and worst things on campus. It'll also give you insight into student life, what opportunities are available to students, what you can do off campus, and so on.
Your target school is most likely on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , and other social media.
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Follow the school to see what it's posting about. Any exciting new campus developments? Professors in the news? Interesting events, clubs, or activities? Wikipedia is a great resource for learning basic details about a college's history, traditions, and values. I also recommend looking for forums on College Confidential that specifically deal with the school you're researching. Another option is to search on Google for interesting phrases, such as "What students really think about [School Name]" or "[School Name] student forum.
So what should you do now that you've completed a bunch of research? Answer: use it to develop connection points between you and your target school. These connections will be the skeleton of your "why this college" essay. You have on hand all kinds of information, from your own personal experiences on campus, to your conversations with people affiliated with your target school, to what you've learned from campus publications, to tidbits gleaned from the web. Now, it's time to sift through all of your notes to find the three to five things that really speak to you.
Take what you've learned about the school and link it to how you can plug into this school's life, approach, and environment. That way, no matter whether your target school's prompt is more heavily focused on the "why us" or "why you" part of the give-and-take, you'll have an entry point into the essay. But what should these three to five things be? What should you keep in mind when you're looking for the gem that will become your topic?
Do your research, and articulate a multi-dimensional connection to the specific college or university. We do not want broad statements the brick pathways and historic buildings are beautiful or a rehash of the information on our website College X offers a strong liberal arts curriculum. All institutions have similarities. We want you to talk about our differences.
Time to find that diamond, amethyst, opal, tourmaline, or amber in the rough. When I say "check your gems," I mean make sure that each of the three to five things you've found is something your target school has that other schools don't have. This something should be seen from your own perspective. The point isn't to generically praise the school but instead to go into detail about why it's so great for you that they have this thing. This something you find should be meaningful to the school and specific to you.
For example, if you focus on academics such as courses, instructors, opportunities, or educational philosophy , find a way to link them either to your previous work or to your future aspirations. This something should not be shallow and non-specific. Want to live in a city? Every city has more than one college in it. Find a way to explain why this specific college in this specific city calls to you.
Like pretty architecture? Many schools are beautiful, so dwell on why this particular place feels unlike any other. Like good weather, beach, skiing, or some other geographical attribute? There are many schools located near these places, and they know that people enjoy sunbathing.
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