Four Tips for Writing the Why Our College Essay

on April 4, 2017

The number of colleges asking students why they want to attend is growing. Below are a few tips for narrowing down the motivations in your essay:

 

Explain Why You Want to Attend  

 

When colleges ask why you want to attend, they’re really asking two things: Why their school is right for you and why you are right for them. Identify a distinct relationship between the college — specific academic programs or community offerings should be mentioned — and your potential contributions. Convey that this would be a mutually beneficial relationship. It's not just enough to list the benefits to attending a specific college. Those benefits have to be described in terms of what they'll mean to you as a student and how you'll take advantage of them. 

 

Talk to a Current Student

 

Talking to current or former students is a great way to get insight into why students love a college beyond more obvious factors. Go on a tour or contact the admissions office to set up an interview with a current student. If you've scheduled an alumni interview, your interviewer counts, too. Mentioning these personal interactions in your essay is sure to strengthen the authenticity of your statements. It also shows that you’ve sought out real-life examples of people who've benefited from what this school has to offer — rather than simply browsing their website.

 

Be Sincere

 

If you’re copy and pasting the same essay for multiple schools and editing minor details along the way, admissions officers will know. Even if you’re not that interested in a school, hone in on one detail and center your essay on that detail and its importance to you. And if a particular college is your dream school, show it. Provide substantive examples: Talk about how a school makes you feel and what it means to you in addition to explaining the features of that school that appeal to you. Genuine enthusiasm will catch the attention of admissions officers.

 

Avoid Rankings, Weather and Location

 

Desire to attend a school in part because of its prestige is perfectly natural, and beautiful weather and a desirable location are great perks, but mentioning any of these factors in an admissions essay is a classic mistake. It's up to you to dive deeper. Talk about the minor details that appeal to you rather than facts that everyone knows. As a general rule, if your reason for going to a specific school could be applied to multiple schools, it probably isn't strong enough. 

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