How to Answer the "Why This College?" Essay

Many colleges ask students to specify why exactly they want to attend their school as a supplemental essay. It makes sense. After all, each school gets thousands of applicants, so it’s important for them to know whether or not you’ll strive at their institution and what you’ll contribute to the community as a student and a future alumnus.  

So, how do you approach this supplemental essay topic? We’ve covered essay writing tips and techniques to emphasize how your passions align with each school’s unique environment or opportunities. The only issue is how do you know what they are?

We asked our friends at AdmitSee, a peer-to-peer college admissions resource, to share the advice and insights crowdsourced from current college students.

Rena.s: University of Chicago ‘19Rena.s UChicago Undergraduate Profile

UChicago is a school that has an unbelievable culture behind it. There is a tradition for every possible event, and the entire school participates. If you want to show the admissions committee that you've done your research you're much better off discussing one of these traditions (Scav, midnight soccer, etc.) than some boring statistics you found in the brochure they sent you. I also talked about the Core curriculum in my Why UChicago essay because it IS such an integral part of the philosophy of the school. View full advice.

Uhoh29: Johns Hopkins University ‘19

Hopkins prides itself in being a research university. About 70% of undergraduates perform some kind of research, so it's a big part of the academic environment. Part of my "Why Hopkins?" supplement talked about having questions that I wanted to find answers to. I think Hopkins looks for students with this kind of inquisitive nature because they are the ones who will go out and, in a sense, create their own knowledge. Learn more about JHU!

Mouse43: Yale University ‘20Mouse43 Yale Undergraduate Profile

Every applicant to Yale will be asked to write a 100 word "Why Yale?" essay. You just can't fit everything you love about Yale into 100 words. There's just so much to love. I suggest picking two or three facets of Yale that appeal to you the most and elaborating on them briefly as opposed to listing multiple aspects that have no connection to each other. Things to consider discussing include: very low student-to-faculty ratio (approximately 3-to-1 in engineering/CS), 800+ labs actively conducting research and an intense focus on undergraduate research, depth of courses across nearly every department, the freshman seminar program, the wide variety of literary publications… Find out more about Yale.
Want to learn more about each specific school? AdmitSee has a database of 60,000+ successful college application files waiting for you to uncover. Be inspired by how others who have gained acceptance did it before you!

Written by Frances Wong at AdmitSee. AdmitSee is a peer-to-peer college and grad school admissions platform. Access our crowd-sourced database to read applications, essays and advice direct from the students who got in. Find out how you compare.

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Recently Updated Colleges for the 2016-2017 Season

Below are the colleges we've updated for the 2016-2017 application season.

You'll also notice that the asterisk before each of the following colleges has been removed in our database, indicating that the college is now updated:

  1. Academy of Art University
  2. Adams State College
  3. Amherst College
  4. Aurora University
  5. Austin Peay State University
  6. Babson College
  7. Bates College
  8. Beacon College
  9. Becker College
  10. Bemidji State University
  11. Berklee College of Music
  12. Birmingham-Southern College
  13. Boise State University
  14. Bowdoin College
  15. California Maritime Academy
  16. California State University-Bakersfield
  17. California State University-Channel Islands
  18. California State University-Chico
  19. California State University-East Bay
  20. California State University-Fresno
  21. California State University-Fullerton
  22. California State University-Long Beach
  23. California State University-Los Angeles
  24. California State University-Monterey Bay
  25. California State University-Northridge
  26. California State University-Sacramento
  27. Canisius College
  28. Central Michigan University
  29. Coastal Carolina University
  30. Colgate University
  31. College of Saint Elizabeth
  32. College of St. Rose (NY)
  33. Concordia College
  34. Connecticut College
  35. Daemen College
  36. Dartmouth College
  37. DeSales University
  38. Dominican College
  39. Duke University
  40. East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
  41. East Tennessee State University
  42. Elmira College
  43. Emmanuel College
  44. Florida Institute of Technology
  45. Florida Southern College
  46. Fort Valley State University
  47. Franklin and Marshall College
  48. Gannon University
  49. George Washington University
  50. Georgetown University
  51. Georgia Institute of Technology
  52. Gettysburg College
  53. Hamilton College
  54. Harding University
  55. Hartwick College
  56. Hastings College
  57. Hollins University
  58. Howard University
  59. Idaho State University
  60. Iowa State University
  61. Jacksonville University
  62. Johns Hopkins University
  63. Johnson & Wales at Charlotte
  64. Johnson & Wales at Charlotte at North Miami
  65. Johnson & Wales at Providence
  66. Kean University
  67. Lamar University
  68. Lenoir-Rhyne University
  69. Louisiana State University
  70. Louisiana State University-Shreveport
  71. Louisiana Tech University
  72. Luther College
  73. Manhattan College
  74. Marywood University
  75. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  76. Merrimack College
  77. MidAmerica Nazarene University
  78. Middlebury College
  79. Midwestern State University
  80. Mississippi College
  81. Molloy College
  82. New College of Florida
  83. New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
  84. New Mexico State University
  85. Northeastern University
  86. Northwestern University
  87. Oklahoma State University
  88. Olivet College
  89. Oregon Institute of Technology
  90. Pepperdine University
  91. Pomona College
  92. Portland State University
  93. Randolph College
  94. Regis University
  95. Rhode Island College
  96. Ringling College of Art & Design
  97. Rockland Community College
  98. Roosevelt University
  99. Sacred Heart University
  100. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
  101. Saint Martin's University
  102. San Diego State University
  103. San Francisco State University
  104. San Jose City College
  105. San Jose State University
  106. Santa Fe University of Art and Design
  107. Seton Hill University
  108. Shorter University
  109. South Carolina State University
  110. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
  111. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
  112. Southern Nazarene University
  113. Southern University at New Orleans
  114. St. John's University (NY)
  115. St. Mary's College
  116. St. Thomas Aquinas College
  117. Stanford University
  118. State University of New York at Binghamton
  119. State University of New York at Buffalo State College
  120. State University of New York at Cortland
  121. State University of New York at Fredonia
  122. Stephens College
  123. Tarleton State University
  124. Trine University
  125. Trinity College (CT)
  126. Troy University
  127. Tufts University
  128. Tulane University
  129. Tusculum College
  130. Tuskegee University
  131. United States Air Force Academy
  132. University of Alabama
  133. University of Alaska-Southeast
  134. University of California-Berkeley
  135. University of California-Davis
  136. University of California-Irvine
  137. University of California-Los Angeles
  138. University of California-Merced
  139. University of California-Riverside
  140. University of California-San Diego
  141. University of California-Santa Barbara
  142. University of California-Santa Cruz
  143. University of Chicago
  144. University of Colorado-Boulder
  145. University of Florida
  146. University of Mary
  147. University of Maryland-College Park
  148. University of Maryland-University College
  149. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  150. University of Montevallo
  151. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  152. University of North Dakota
  153. University of Pennsylvania
  154. University of Saskatchewan
  155. University of Texas-Austin
  156. University of Texas-El Paso
  157. University of Toronto
  158. University of Victoria
  159. University of Virginia
  160. University of Washington-Seattle
  161. Villanova University
  162. Wake Forest University
  163. Warren Wilson College
  164. Webb Institute
  165. Widener University
  166. Williams College
  167. Winona State University (MN)
  168. Wright State University

Only a few colleges post their new questions this early. Most colleges will update in late July/Aug, and we'll be right on top of them all for you. We will also be updating many colleges before the Common App goes live Aug 1.

Make sure to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter to get our daily  updates and special posts.
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Upcoming ExpertAccess Webcast: Still Haven't Written Your College Application Essays?

Still haven't written your college application essays? Don't panic! Join Felice Kobrick for an overview of everything you need to know to write sensational college essays. She will discuss what makes a great essay and a not-so-great essay, review the Common Application essay prompts, and touch on the ubiquitous "Why this college" essay. The webcast will end with a Q&A. Felice Kobrick is a leading educational consultant widely recognized for her knowledge of college admissions. She offers workshops and seminars throughout the country, and has written a College Admissions 101 column.

If you attend, you could win a FREE essay review!

WHEN: Tuesday, November 11 @ 8pm ET

TO ATTEND THIS WEBCAST: Log into your account and upgrade to ExpertAccess. You'll have access all season long to the nation's leading admissions experts.

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Colleges With 2014-2015 Essay Questions

We have updated the essay questions for the 2014-2015 application season for the following colleges:

1. Academy of Art University
2. Adams State College
3. Adelphi University
4. Agnes Scott College
5. Albright College
6. Alfred University
7. Allegheny College
8. Alma College
9. American University
10. Amherst College
11. Appalachian State University
12. Arcadia University
13. Aurora University
14. Austin College
15. Austin Peay State University
16. Babson College
17. Bard College
18. Barnard College
19. Bates College
20. Baylor University
21. Beacon College
22. Belmont University
23. Bemidji State University
24. Bennington College
25. Bentley University
26. Berklee College of Music
27. Berry College
28. Birmingham-Southern College
29. Boston University
30. Bowdoin College
31. Bowling Green State University
32. Bradley University
33. Brandeis University
34. Brown University
35. Bryant University
36. California Institute of Technology
37. California Lutheran University
38. Calvin College
39. Campbell University
40. Canisius College
41. Carleton College
42. Carnegie Mellon University
43. Carroll College
44. Case Western Reserve University
45. Castelton State College
46. Catholic University of America
47. Cazenovia College
48. Cedar Crest College
49. Centenary College of Louisiana
50. Central Michigan University
51. Centre College
52. Champlain College
53. Christian Brothers University in TN
54. Claremont McKenna College
55. Clark University
56. Clarkson University
57. Clemson University
58. Coastal Carolina University
59. Coe College
60. Colby College
61. Colby-Sawyer College
62. Colgate University
63. College of New Jersey
64. College of St. Benedict
65. College of St. Joseph
66. College of St. Rose (NY)
67. College of the Holy Cross
68. College of the Ozarks
69. College of William and Mary
70. College of Wooster
71. Colorado College
72. Colorado State University
73. Columbia University
74. Concordia University (CA)
75. Connecticut College
76. Cornell College
77. Cornell University
78. Creighton University
79. Curry College
80. Daemen College
81. Dartmouth College
82. Davidson College
83. Delaware State University
84. DePaul University
85. DePauw University
86. DeSales University
87. Dickinson College
88. Dowling College
89. Drake University
90. Drew University
91. Drexel University
92. Drury University
93. Duke University
94. Earlham College
95. East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
96. East Tennessee State University
97. Eastern Mennonite University
98. Eckerd College
99. Elon University
100. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Campus
101. Emerson College
102. Emmanuel College
103. Emory and Henry College
104. Emory University
105. Endicott College
106. Fairfield University
107. Fairleigh Dickinson University
108. Flagler College
109. Florida International University
110. Florida State University
111. Fordham University
112. Fort Valley State University
113. Franklin and Marshall College
114. Franklin Pierce University
115. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
116. Furman University
117. Gannon University
118. George Fox University
119. Georgetown College
120. Georgetown University
121. Georgia College and State University
122. Georgia Institute of Technology
123. Gettysburg College
124. Gonzaga University
125. Goucher College
126. Grinnell College
127. Guilford College
128. Hamilton College
129. Hampshire College
130. Harding University
131. Hartwick College
132. Harvard University
133. Harvey Mudd College
134. Hastings College
135. Haverford College
136. Hawaii Pacific University
137. High Point University
138. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
139. Hollins University
140. Hope College
141. Howard University
142. Idaho State University
143. Illinois Wesleyan University
144. Indiana University
145. Iowa State University
146. James Madison University
147. Johns Hopkins University
148. Keene State College
149. Kent State University
150. Kenyon College
151. Knox College
152. La Salle University
153. Lafayette College
154. Laguna College of Art and Design
155. Lake Forest College
156. Lawrence University
157. Le Moyne College
158. Lehigh University
159. Lewis & Clark College
160. Linfield College
161. Louisiana State University
162. Louisiana Tech University
163. Louisianna State University-Shreveport
164. Loyola Marymount University
165. Loyola University Chicago
166. Loyola University Maryland
167. Loyola University New Orleans
168. Luther College
169. Lynchburg College
170. Lynn University
171. Macalester College
172. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY
173. Manhattan College
174. Marist College
175. Marquette University
176. Marymount Manhattan College
177. Maryville College
178. Marywood University
179. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
180. McDaniel College
181. Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York
182. Menlo College
183. Mercy College
184. Mercyhurst College
185. Merrimack College
186. Miami University (OH)
187. Michigan State University
188. MidAmerica Nazarene University
189. Middlebury College
190. Millikin University
191. Mills College
192. Millsaps College
193. Milwaukee School of Engineering
194. Mississippi College
195. Missouri University of Science and Technology
196. Monmouth College
197. Morehouse College
198. Muhlenberg College
199. Murray State University
200. Muskingum College
201. Nazareth College
202. Nebraska Wesleyan University
203. New College of Florida
204. New England College
205. New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
206. New Mexico State University
207. New World School of the Arts
208. New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York
209. New York University
210. Newbury College
211. Niagara University
212. Nichols College
213. Norfolk State University
214. Northeastern University
215. Northwestern University
216. Notre Dame de Namur University
217. Nova Southeastern University
218. Occidental College
219. Ohio State University-Columbus
220. Ohio Wesleyan University
221. Olivet College
222. Oregon Institute of Technology
223. Pennsylvania State University-University Park
224. Pepperdine University
225. Pine Manor College
226. Pitzer College
227. Pomona College
228. Portland State University
229. Prescott College
230. Princeton University
231. Providence College
232. Purdue University-West Lafayette
233. Quinnipiac University
234. Randolph College
235. Randolph-Macon College
236. Reed College
237. Regis College
238. Regis University
239. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
240. Rhode Island College
241. Rhodes College
242. Rider University
243. Ringling College of Art & Design
244. Ripon College
245. Rochester Institute of Technology
246. Rockland Community College
247. Roger WIlliams University
248. Rosemont College
249. Rowan University
250. Rutgers-New Brunswick
251. Rutgers-Newark
252. Sacred Heart University
253. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
254. Saint Leo University
255. Saint Martin's University
256. Saint Mary's College (CA)
257. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
258. Saint Michael's College
259. Salisbury University
260. Salve Regina University
261. San Diego State University
262. San Francisco State University
263. San Jose City College
264. Santa Clara University
265. Santa Fe Community College
266. Sarah Lawrence College
267. Savannah State University
268. Scripps College
269. Seattle Pacific University
270. Seattle University
271. Sewanee: The University of the South
272. Shenandoah University
273. Shorter University
274. Simmons College
275. Skidmore College
276. Smith College
277. Soka University of America
278. South Carolina State University
279. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
280. Southern Methodist University
281. Southern Nazarene University
282. Southern New Hampshire University
283. Southern University at New Orleans
284. Southwestern University
285. Spring Hill College
286. Springfield College
287. St. Catherine University
288. St. Edward’s University
289. St. Mary's College
290. St. Mary's College of Maryland
291. St. Olaf College
292. St. Petersburg College
293. St. Thomas Aquinas College
294. Stanford University
295. State University of New York at Albany
296. State University of New York at Buffalo State College
297. State University of New York at Cortland
298. State University of New York at Fredonia
299. State University of New York at Geneseo
300. State University of New York at Old Westbury
301. State University of New York at Oneonta
302. State University of New York at Oswego
303. State University of New York at Plattsburgh
304. State University of New York at Stony Brook
305. State University of New York-University at Buffalo
306. Stetson University
307. Stevens Institute of Technology
308. Stonehill College
309. Suffolk University
310. Susquehanna University
311. Swarthmore College
312. Syracuse University
313. Texas A&M University-College Station
314. Texas Christian University
315. Transylvania University
316. Trine University
317. Trinity College (CT)
318. Trinity University
319. Troy University
320. Tufts University
321. Tulane University
322. Tuskegee University
323. Union College
324. United States Air Force Academy
325. United States Naval Academy
326. Unity College
327. University of Alabama
328. University of Alaska-Southeast
329. University of Arizona
330. University of California-Berkeley
331. University of California-Davis
332. University of California-Irvine
333. University of California-Los Angeles
334. University of California-Merced
335. University of California-Riverside
336. University of California-San Diego
337. University of California-Santa Barbara
338. University of California-Santa Cruz
339. University of Central Florida
340. University of Chicago
341. University of Cincinnati
342. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
343. University of Colorado-Boulder
344. University of Connecticut
345. University of Dayton
346. University of Denver
347. University of Findlay
348. University of Florida
349. University of Georgia
350. University of Great Falls
351. University of Hartford
352. University of Hawaii-Manoa
353. University of Illinois-Chicago
354. University of Iowa
355. University of Kansas
356. University of Mary
357. University of Mary Washington
358. University of Maryland-University College
359. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
360. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
361. University of Massachusetts-Boston
362. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
363. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
364. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
365. University of Mississippi
366. University of Missouri-Columbia
367. University of Montevallo
368. University of Nebraska-Omaha
369. University of New England
370. University of New Hampshire
371. University of New Haven
372. University of North Carolina-Asheville
373. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
374. University of North Carolina-Charlotte
375. University of North Dakota
376. University of Northern Colorado
377. University of Notre Dame
378. University of Oklahoma
379. University of Oregon
380. University of Pennsylvania
381. University of Pittsburgh
382. University of Portland
383. University of Puget Sound
384. University of Redlands
385. University of Rhode Island
386. University of Richmond
387. University of Rochester
388. University of San Diego
389. University of San Francisco
390. University of Saskatchewan
391. University of Scranton
392. University of South Florida
393. University of Southern California
394. University of Tennessee
395. University of Texas-Austin
396. University of the Sciences
397. University of Toronto
398. University of Vermont
399. University of Victoria
400. University of Virginia
401. University of Western Ontario
402. University of Wisconsin-Madison
403. University of Wyoming
404. Ursinus College
405. Valparaiso University
406. Vanderbilt University
407. Vassar College
408. Villanova University
409. Virginia Commonwealth University
410. Virginia Tech
411. Wabash College
412. Wagner College
413. Wake Forest University
414. Wartburg College
415. Washington and Lee University
416. Washington College
417. Washington State University
418. Webb Institute
419. Wellesley College
420. Wells College
421. Wentworth Institute of Technology
422. Wentworth Military Academy and College
423. Wesleyan University
424. Western Carolina University
425. Western New England University
426. Western Washington University
427. Westminster College (MO)
428. Westminster College (PA)
429. Westmont College
430. Wheaton College
431. Wheelock College (MA)
432. Whitman College
433. Whittier College
434. Widener University
435. Willamette University
436. William Paterson University
437. Williams College
438. Wingate University
439. Winona State University (MN)
440. Wofford College
441. Woodbury University
442. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
443. Wright State University
444. Xavier University (OH)
445. Xavier University of Louisiana
446. Yale University

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College Essay Organizer Discussed on Fox News

fox_news_logo_a_lSince the College Board announced that it's revamping the SAT in 2016, there have been questions about what the most important factors are in the college admissions process. Scott Farber, co-founder of College Essay Organizer, recently addressed this stating that colleges place equal weight on standardized test scores and grades, with essays following closely behind.

Don't miss this Fox News interview where Farber also mentions College Essay Organizer, created to give students the edge on their essays and enhance students' ability to tell their story in their own unique way. The stories that students write continue to increase in importance and are most often the deciding factor between two students with similar grades and test scores.



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Princeton's Dean of Admission Talks About College Essays

Janet Rapelye, the dean of admission at Princeton University, is answering admissions questions for The New York Times' Choice Blog this week. Her first posting addressed the importance of taking time to write your college essays:

"Your ability to write well is critical to our decision because your writing reflects your thinking. No matter what question is asked on a college application, admission officers are looking to see how well you convey your ideas and express yourself in writing. It is our window to your world."

This definitely reinforces the fact that college essays can play a pivotal role in acceptance to a college. Starting early, staying organized, and investing considerable time perfecting your prose may make all the difference in getting accepted to your top choice college.

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First College Essay Update of the 2012/2013 Season

It’s official: The 2012/2013 college application season has begun!

Georgia Tech has posted a preview of its essay prompts for the new application season, and after confirming with the university that these are the official questions, we've updated them in College Essay Organizer. We appreciate Georgia Tech's awareness of the stress involved in the essay process when they write: "If you are anxious to get a head start on your application, we would encourage you to work on your essay - the portion of the application that most student's report takes the longest to complete."

Notwithstanding (or perhaps because of) Georgia Tech's ironic typo when emphasizing the difficulty of the writing process (highlighted by us in red), we agree that the college essay process is absolutely the most time-consuming and challenging part for applicants, and we're the only site (including the Common App and Naviance) that makes it a much smoother, more successful experience.

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College Essay Organizer at the IECA Conference in Dallas

We had a great time at the IECA Fall Conference in Dallas, TX! It was exciting to see so many of you face to face, and to encounter new members interested in learning more about College Essay Organizer. As promised, we also gave away a free CEO master account valued at $195 during the IECA raffle. Good times all around.

For those of you who weren't on hand for an in-person demo, you can email us at [email protected] anytime, and we can set up a time to walk you through it. IECA members are also entitled to one free student account per season, so please contact us if you have not already done so, so we can get you set up.

Thanks again to all of you who came by to introduce yourselves in person. Talking with our members enables us to keep making improvements, and lets us know that we are meeting your needs.

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College Essay Organizer's Essay QuickFinder Now FREE For Students!

College Essay Organizer's Essay QuickFinder will be FREE for the remainder of 2011! Get access to every essay question you'll need to write this year, including supplemental, scholarship, optional, and program-specific questions you won't find on the Common App -- all organized in one place!

Get Started Today For FREE!

  1. Click here and create your Student account. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. Select "Essay QuickFinder - up to 20 colleges" under "Choose Your Services"
  3. Enter promo code blogfree1 and press tab - your Essay QuickFinder is free!

This offer applies only to high school seniors - no counselors. Each student gets only one free account.

Once you create your account, simply select your colleges and College Essay Organizer will do the rest!

All students who create their accounts will be eligible to enter our Best Essay Contest and win up to $500 cash!

If you have questions, call 646-448-4927 or email [email protected].

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Brown University and the Common App Supplement

Emma Watson Brown University Student

One of these people goes to Brown University. Exciting! You should probably not write your essay about that.

Brown University has always been known for its distinctive academic requirements - distinctive in that it has nearly no traditional academic requirements at all. Brown does not have a core curriculum, and allows students to shape their learning around a required number of credits each semester. As one might expect, a number of Brown's essay requirements address this atypical aspect of the school, one of which goes a little something like this:

"A distinctive feature of the Brown Curriculum is the opportunity to be the 'architect of your education.' Why does this academic environment appeal to you?"

This is another way of asking why you are interested in the school, something we've addressed here on CEO Blog before. When Brown asks you what's so great about leaving your educational requirements for you to choose, what they're really asking is what you are interested in and how you plan to take advantage of the opportunities such an arrangement allows you more than anything you might find in a Brown University promotional pamphlet.

Don't forget that your writing is always about what you can do for the school and its student body, regardless of the question. The implied meaning of all your responses is that you are a desirable candidate, and that you have qualities that set you apart from the thousands of other applicants. So when writing about a school-specific quality, like when addressing this prompt from Brown, make sure that you are identifying your own interests, and detailing how they would come alive in such an environment. Be specific, clear, and assertive and find the spots where their interests are yours, too.

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