About the “Why this College” Supplemental Essay
Most students are familiar with the common application personal statement essay. Less known is the “Why this college?” supplemental essay. “Why this college?” seems like a simple question, but it usually proves to be the most difficult of supplemental essays for students.
Everyone’s natural inclination is to regurgitate facts about the school. Students tend to write sentences that have little insight, such as, “You have a gorgeous campus” or “I love that you are located in the city.” Admissions counselors aren’t interested in learning about their school—they already know all about it.
The key to answering this question effectively is to prove your interest in the college. That means taking what you’ve done in the past and applying it to the future in a specific way that indicates you’ve done your research. Your point could be as simple as, “I want to build on my passion for engineering at UCLA, and I would relish the opportunity to work with professor John Smith because of his groundbreaking research in the field.” Or you could write, “I was heavily involved in Hinsdale Central’s student council, serving as secretary my junior year. Part of my interest in University of Illinois stems from the school’s robust student government.” You get the idea.
We recommend starting most sentences with “I” clauses. For example: “I was a four-year starter in basketball at York High School, and one of my goals is to continue playing at DePaul because it has such a noted program.” There’s a caveat, though: Don’t overdo the starting-sentences-with-an-“I” approach. You want to vary the structure of your sentences so that the essay reads with zest. Mainly, your goal simply should be to write in an action-oriented manner that utilizes positive language.
More than anything, specificity separates the excellent from the mediocre essays.
“Why this college?” essay example
Prompt: Other parts of your application give us a sense for how you might contribute to Sample University. But we also want to consider how Sample University will contribute to your interests and goals. In 300 words or less, help us understand what aspects of Sample University appeal most to you, and how you’ll make use of specific resources and opportunities here.
I am and strive to be a communicator and creator. Whether it be through my passion for writing or film, Sample University’s open education philosophy means I won’t have to sacrifice one of my varied interests while in pursuit of my academic and career paths.
Sample University recognizes no field of study exists in a vacuum. I value and noticed this with the integration of philosophy in the journalism core as well as in Professor Smith’s class Media Design where students are taught to engage audiences beyond language into the visual art. I am specifically excited about the journalism residency opportunity where the deconstruction and analysis offered over the broad curriculum culminates in a practical application of the refined skill of relaying reality through the lens of humanity. I believe here, I will sharpen my abilities in truth seeking and storytelling.
I’m particularly inspired by student film “Sports for Engagement and Social Change,” aided by the Shane Project for Peace grant. Research grants such as the Media Arts Grant and the Travel-Study Grant appeal to my affinity for filmmaking and my desire to travel, explore and document earth’s beauty and innumerable cultures.
Additionally, I crave the shared experience at Sample University’s Writing Lab where students, professors, and professionals converge to advance the craft of journalism. The creative and collaborative spirit of a community of writers would allow me to contribute, learn and advance my own craft.
I see, in Sample University, an environment ideal for fueling passions and betterment. Youthful artists and intellectuals uninhibited and flourishing amidst a vibrant culture. Whether it be revering in the transience of music in the Big Day Festival or releasing traditional primal screams hours before final exams, I can think of no better place for exploring, learning and advancing than Sample University.
Be specific in your “Why this college?” essay
At HelloCollege, we have resources and workshops to help our students drill down to specific achievements and goals that can be matched to particular colleges. Our expert essay coaches take students through a series of pointed questions, such as, “What classes would you have taken if you had been a college freshman this year?” or “What are two extracurricular activities that you want to be part of in college?” It is critical to understand and focus in on your prompt.
The “Why this college?” supplemental essay is often poorly executed and that provides you with a golden opportunity. If you can nail this one, it will be a differentiator, something that will really set you apart from other applicants.