The “Why this college essay” is meant to illustrate, by concrete details and examples, why you are a good fit for the institution in question.1 Writing a “Why this college essay” may be a great way to show admissions officers that you care about attending their school. Therefore, this essay is one of the most often requested supplementary topics from applicants.
Definition: Why This College Essay
A “why this college essay” is a type of essay that is required as part of the college application process. This essay aims to explain why the applicant is interested in attending a particular college or university. Similarly, it convinces the admissions committee that the applicant would fit that institution well.
In a “why this college essay”, the applicant should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the college or university, its values, academic programs and campus culture. The why this college essay should also show how the applicant’s interests, goals and experiences align with the opportunities offered by the institution.
The essay is important because it helps the admissions committee assess the applicant’s fit for the college or university and whether they will likely thrive academically and personally at that institution. A well-written “why this college essay” can make the difference between being accepted or rejected from a particular institution.
What do Colleges Want in a Why This College Essay
Admissions officers are responsible for selecting the most qualified applicants to attend their institution. These individuals are tasked with evaluating each why this college essay application to determine who will be admitted to their college or university.2 While the criteria that admissions officers use to evaluate applicants can vary from school to school, there are some general qualities that admissions officers tend to look for when reviewing applications.
Higher learning institutions look for a combination of academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, personal characteristics, background and experiences and contribution to campus diversity. By highlighting these qualities in a why this college essay, applicants can increase their chances of being admitted to the institution of their choice.
Academic Achievement: First and foremost, admissions officers look for academic success in a why this college essay. They want to see that applicants have excelled in high school and have a solid academic foundation to build upon at the college level. This includes considering factors such as grade point average, course rigour and standardised test scores.
Extracurricular Activities: Colleges and universities are interested in an applicant’s extracurricular activities, which you should include in a why this college essay. They want to see applicants have pursued their interests outside of the classroom and demonstrate leadership, creativity and commitment to their passions. This can include club participation, sports, community service or work experience.
Personal Characteristics and Qualities: Another important factor applicants must include in a why this college essay is personal characteristics and qualities. Admission officers want to see that applicants are well-rounded individuals who are curious, motivated and have a strong sense of self-awareness.
Background and Experiences: Admissions officers recognise that not all applicants have had the same opportunities or advantages. They want to see how applicants have overcome obstacles or made the most of their circumstances. This can include factors such as socioeconomic status, geographic location, family background or cultural identity.
Overall Participation: Admission officers are looking for applicants who will contribute to their institution’s overall diversity and community. They want to build a class of students from various backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. This means they are interested in applicants who bring unique perspectives, ideas and experiences to their college or university.
How to Research for Your Why This College Essay
Researching for a “why this college essay” involves gathering information about the specific college, its values, programs, facilities, campus culture and anything that sets it apart from other institutions. This can be done by browsing the college website, reading student testimonials, attending virtual or in-person campus tours, speaking with alumni or current students and reviewing college rankings.
Look for Specific Courses and Programs
If you know the subject you want to pursue, look up its qualifications on the website. Prospective students may find a wealth of information, including course descriptions, on the websites of many institutions.3The names of the faculty members in the relevant department should also be verified. Suppose you have particular questions regarding the programme that the admissions office cannot answer. In that case, you may contact the professors directly using the email addresses usually provided on these pages.
Even if you have not decided on a major, this method may help you get there. Try to enrol in courses in whichever areas seem interesting to you. Investigate potential programmes, such as those for studying abroad or gaining work experience, in which you are interested.
A college website’s “about section” provides valuable information to help you write an effective why this college essay. This section often includes the college’s mission statement, history and values, which can give your insight into what the college prioritises and what its community is like. By researching the college’s history and mission, you can gain a deeper understanding of what it stands for and its goals. This information can help you tailor your why this college essay to the specific college and demonstrate your interest and fit.
The about section may also provide information about the college’s academic programs, extracurricular activities and resources, which can help you showcase why you are a good fit for the college and how you can contribute to its community.
College tours are a brilliant way for prospective students to learn more about the institutions they are interested in applying to. The tour guide is a wealth of knowledge and a personal connection to a present student. Asking current students to understand campus life is a great way to boost your why this college essay application.
Throughout your tour, keep an eye out for any details—big or small—that can help you better understand what sets this institution apart. Please get to know your tour guide better by inquiring about their favourite campus customs and social activities.4 Find out whether there are alternative ways to learn about the campus, including virtual tours, if you cannot physically visit since you are an international student.
Why this College Essay: Example
Common Mistakes in a Why This College Essay
Using broad, overarching statements is the most typical reason for a poorly written why this college essay.5 Although if factors like a school’s size, ranking, reputation, location or the accessibility of your intended majors may have contributed to your initial interest in it, you should avoid using them as generalisations in your why this college essay.
Using Too Emotional Phrases
It’s wonderful that your college visit felt like home. Labelling a university as your “dream school” does not tell others why you have such a soft spot for that specific institution. It’s acceptable to talk about your connection to a school, but you must also provide rational explanations for why you wish to study there.
Rewriting a Personal Statement or Resume
The admissions committee has your resume in front of them; there is only a need to repeat information from those documents if it directly relates to your justifications. It may be unnecessarily repetitive or come across as boastful to rewrite your successes throughout why this college essay application.
When writing a why this college essay, be specific. Instead, focus on your connection to the college, specific programs or opportunities that interest you and how you would contribute to the community.
The why this college essay is important because it demonstrates your interest and fit for a particular college or university. Admissions officers want to see that you have done your research and have a genuine passion for attending their institution.
When writing a why this college essay, you should first research the college or university you are interested in attending. This includes looking at their academic programs, extracurricular activities and campus culture. Then, think about how these align with your interests and goals. Be specific and highlight any unique aspects of the college that appeal to you.
While visiting the campus in person is ideal, you may still learn a lot about the school by browsing its website. If you have any queries regarding the institution, check over the course catalogue and even contact existing teachers.
1 Harvard Summer School. “12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay,” July 26, 2022. https://summer.harvard.edu/blog/12-strategies-to-writing-the-perfect-college-essay/.
2 College Admissions. “Essay Writing Advice: ‘Why X University?’ Essays.” Accessed March 26, 2023. https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/uncommon-blog/essay-writing-advice-why-x-university-essays.
3 Mandelaro, Jim. “How to Write Your Best College Application Essay.” News Center, September 28, 2021. https://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/how-to-write-your-best-college-application-essay-493692/.
4 afsa.org. “The ‘Why This College?’ Essay.” Accessed March 26, 2023. https://afsa.org/why-college-essay.
5 Applying to College. “Writing ‘Why Do You Want to Attend This School?’” Accessed March 26, 2023. https://applyingtocollege.org/category/writing-why-do-you-want-to-attend-this-school/.