How to Write “Why [insert college name here]” Essay?

Lana Tanich
Lana Tanich

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Many top colleges require their undergraduate applicants to write an essay explaining why. The big “why” they’re asking is why you want to attend the particular college they’re applying for. This type of question can be structured in various forms yet asks for the same thing. Let’s discuss how to write “why this college” is the right one for you.

For example:

It can sounds something like this:

  • Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests (academic, extracurricular, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.) and how you will build upon them here. 
  • Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why?
  • Why Yale? Why does Yale appeal to you?
  • Please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you?

Research before you write why

First and foremost it is crucial to perform research about the university and ensure that your essay conveys your knowledge about the college’s offerings, culture and values. Learn everything there is to know about the curriculum you will pursue. Read course descriptions, read out to professors.

Be authentic

When composing your responses its best not to simply choose a topic you know the university will value and try to fit yourself and your interest within those parameters. Rather try to find out as much as you can about the college and only then evaluate what aspect of their core beliefs truly resonates with you and why. This will allow your answer to sound genuine and not forced. The more specific to you this is, the better and the easier it will be for you to write.

In your answer, you need to demonstrate that only the specific university offers the type of program you want to be a part of. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this college is the only one offering your major; obviously all schools often offer similar fields of study. Rather this can be something specific their course offering, community, science facilities, specific programs you may want to become a part of and so on. Explain how you will use their resources and what you can bring to the table.

Final tips

Some general things to remember when answering is that it can be effective to give some examples to help your audience understand that the major you’re applying to is something you’re truly passionate about. Or better yet, think of a story you can tell on why you found the subject matter fascinating… How did this happen? Was this something that always meant a great a deal to you? Or maybe something happened during your childhood that made you want to dedicate your life to your particular interest? This makes the point more personal and specific to you while at the same time helps engage the reader.

Empowerly can help guide you in choosing your essay direction and help in composing your application essays.

Questions? Let us know!