How to write a “Why this college” essay

August 1st is around the corner, which means you can start submitting the Common Application and other college applications. While many schools only require the personal statement from the Common Application, others have supplemental essays that are required. One of the most common additional essays is the “Why are you applying to this school?” question.

These are typically short, 100 to 400 words. The college wants to see that you have done your research and that you understand what their college has to offer you. They also want to see that you have thought about what you want from a college–and how theirs matches those requirements. Start by thinking about what those things are and make a list:

  • What do you want to study as a major, minor or concentration?
  • Do you want to conduct research with faculty?
  • Are you interested in project-based learning or experiential learning or are you ok with large lecture style learning?
  • What type of clubs and activities do you want to join?
  • Do you want very specific major and curriculum requirements or do you want the freedom to take a variety of classes that interest you?
  • Do you want to study abroad?
  • Do you want big time sports and tailgating, or a vibrant arts scene (or both)?
  • Do you want a traditional campus or to have a major city serve as your campus?

Then once you have compiled the list of things you want in a college, start researching those items at the college where you are applying. For instance, if you want to do research with faculty, is that possible as an undergraduate? Are there particular faculty members conducting specific research that interests you?

Then write an essay describing how what you want from college can be accomplished at this particular school. Don’t rehash their website to them but instead share your vision for your college life and how their school helps you accomplish that.

If you need help building your college list or would like someone to brainstorm essays with you, Coffman Consulting is happy to help.

Published by Kate Coffman

Kate has worked in admissions, financial aid, college and career readiness for over twenty years. She most recently served as the Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Franklin College. Kate has also worked in admissions at Butler University and Indiana University. Kate has presented at numerous schools and conferences helping families, educators and those who work with youth understand how to be college and career ready, how to apply to college and how to afford their education.

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