Nailing the “Why are you a good match” Question

Are you a good match for the colleges you are applying to?

It’s time to begin writing your supplemental essays for college! It is highly possible that at least one of your schools will ask the intimidating question, “Why are you a good match for our school?” Remembering these useful tips when confronted with a “Why are you a good match” question will both simplify the writing process and set your response apart from other applicants’:

  • Know the Department: Express precise knowledge about the department you are applying to, including specific professors and courses. The more precise your response, the more the admissions officers will think you are genuinely interested in the program.
  • Include the Mission Statement: Admissions officers are conscious of their school’s mission statement; integrating it into your essay will impress the reader of your essay.
  • Keep Up with the School: If political or social activity is buzzing on campus, include it in your essay; you will appear interested in both the academic and social scene of the school.
  • Be Yourself: Always keep your response idiosyncratic. Include fun anecdotes and remain passionate about the school throughout your response.

These tips will not only quicken the time it takes to write your response but will also help you write a concise, appropriate, acceptance-inducing essay.

Please see this article for more tips.

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Essay on Community

Colleges want to know that students will be committed to being an active member of their communities when they get there. This student wrote the essay below when colleges asked her to describe a significant community experience. Through describing her commitment to her current school, she demonstrated that she will be a valuable member of her future college.  

At the end of my junior year I decided to run for Student Council President, rhyming my entire speech, with friends on backup vocals, to Slick Rick’s “La Di Da Di.” Although I did not win, I stand by my platform: more social unity and school spirit—cliché maybe, but valid nonetheless. No one ever came to my basketball games and most of the students didn’t even know what our school colors were. Without a football team or pep rallies, Highland High suffers from a lack of student involvement. I wanted to change that.

Since 9th grade I have been heavily involved in Red Door, a club whose student members tour prospective parents around the school. This club encourages students to take pride in themselves and in the school, and has always meant a great deal to me. A parent I toured last year asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m sure he expected to hear “doctor” or “lawyer” but I proudly said, “Rock star!” and prepared for the questions. I explained that Highland High offers a wide variety of classes for future rock stars. Aside from regular music classes, there are music writing classes using computers, a music appreciation club that experiments with instruments, and speech class to help with press conferences after the show.

My commitment to Highland High continues through the Arts and Crafts Club I started last year—objectively the greatest club in Highland High's prestigious history. In truth, it does have the most regular members who meet once a week, and the main goal is to add a spike of childhood back into our busy city lives. We use things we don’t have in our art classes, like Play-Doh or Silly String, and make ginger bread houses, bracelets, and tye dye. Together we strive to build a creative environment that adds to the Highland High community and makes us all view our school like a second home.

Essay on Family Values

Colleges may ask you to describe your family, but what they are often trying to understand is the type of values your family hold. This student creatively responds to the question by not only talking about his family, but also his friends and the way he views others with an open mind. 

Every high school has its stereotypical cliques. The jocks, the nerds, the popular ones, and on and on. I have always found these labels so narrow-minded and unfair. I move comfortably from one group to another, always at ease with whom I am among. But some friends don’t understand this. Sometimes I am with a friend and am told that I can’t bring him to some get-together going on elsewhere. I either defend my friend or simply don’t meet up with the others, but I would never abandon him. Respect is the cornerstone of any true friendship, and I have always valued the differences that others embody.

Differences are what I am all about. My father is a French-Lebanese immigrant who moved to the United States in 1979, while my mother is a native Brazilian who came to the US in 1978. They both arrived in America eager to explore their new opportunities and discover different parts of their existing identities, and this hunger for adventure and possibility has been cultivated in me.

Their upbringings have created vast distinctions between my home life and that of my friends. My parents’ cultural backgrounds stress a greater emphasis on the family unit, whereas my friends tend to be pushed into more individualistic roles that prioritize the importance of doing things on their own.

Then there is also the matter of travel. I have visited many different countries and every vacation must be a family trip. We’re more travelers than tourists, looking to experience different nations and peoples from the inside perspective. I’m sure this is largely because of my experience going so often to Brazil. I travel there yearly, spending two or three months there each year. As a Brazilian citizen fluent in Portuguese, with family in Rio de Janeiro, I am able to mingle with the culture from the inside.

This diverse background, especially in the most multicultural city in the world, has given me a very unique perspective on life. When many people mention the term “diversity,” it is often just a concept or a word. It has little relevance to their actual lives. For me, diversity is my life, and this diversity of background has opened me to political movements, social ideas, and personal attitudes that more traditional Americans might not be receptive to. As a result, I am able to look beyond a limited perspective and consider issues in more global terms.

 

Essay on a Person of Influence

In an effort for colleges to better understand you as a person beyond grades and test scores, they may invite students to write about important influences in their lives. Below is a student's response when asked to describe a person who influenced him in a meaningful way.

Sometimes you find your inspiration where you least expect it. I found mine in Mr. Glick, my high school’s long-time vocal teacher. Given my love of math and science, I certainly did not walk into his class in seventh grade expecting anything more than a few hours a week listening to and learning about music. Instead, I found a new passion, singing, and a teacher who, through the zeal and energy he brought to each moment in class, served as a standard against which I could measure my own efforts.

My growing love for singing has led me to audition and become a part of Mr. Glick’s most selective choir group, the A Cappella singers. Singing without the aid of any instruments, turning our combined voices into the instruments themselves, is difficult work. It requires trust, teamwork, and the willingness to take risks, because any one person out of tune will ruin the sound. When everyone works together, though, the sound that is produced is simply amazing.

Through his boundless enthusiasm for music and tireless zest for teaching, Mr. Glick has been an indirect inspiration to me since seventh grade. As my vocal teacher and my advisor (a title similar to that of homeroom teacher), he has also directly encouraged me to seek out the camaraderie, solidarity, and shared passion I experience in choir through other activities. Sports turned out to be a natural outlet for me, and I was amazed to find the same sense of intuitive and collaborative bond with my school football and basketball teams as I did in choir.

The pleasure of being part of a community defines much of my time spent in high school. This feeling of connectedness to others, of having learned from and supported others in our common path toward a shared goal, is largely the result of finding myself in Mr. Glick’s music class five years ago. Now, as a senior in the A Capella choir who is also on the varsity football and basketball teams, I am fortunate to be part of such a wonderful high school family that I helped create.

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Essay on Intellectual Interests

Almost all students applying to college will need to write an essay describing their intellectual interests. This lets the college know what a student is interested in and wants to study at the university. It can also be modified to address other essay questions including, "Who are your favorite authors?" and "Which of your personal qualities or passions do you value most?" The key is to interpret the questions creatively and apply them to your own personal characteristics. Below is a sample essay that one student used to get into her dream college:

Words are precious to me, which is why I find writing this essay so challenging and so exhilarating. I take pride in my own words, choosing them with such scrutiny. Words are one of the most potent forms of expression. Their power is sometimes abused and often taken for granted by society and individuals. But in the end, they are what make humanity so special. In fact, the 1452 invention of the mass distribution of words through the printing press led the History Channel to just name Johannes Gutenberg the most influential man in modern history.

The powerful expression gained from words is easily taken for granted. I did not truly appreciate it until a couple of years ago when the ability to fully explain myself was obstructed by a foreign language barrier. I have always been a linguistic connoisseur. My love of French led me to Corsica in the summer of my freshman year. I simply stared into my friend Philo’s eyes, stuttering to explain the full depth of my sad state after hearing the tragic story she had just told me. I had understood what she’d said in French but could not express to her my feelings. Two days later I realized that I needed to push myself to truly speak French fluently if I ever hoped to penetrate this lingual wall. My passion for this melodious Romance language has left me yearning to learn and absorb Spanish and Italian language and culture, too.

Language and written documents allow us to learn about history, another one of my passions. The words and biases in primary and secondary sources throughout history transfer different information to future generations. History depends on words, the right words. Other subjects like psychology study how words are an external manifestation of our inner beings—after all, the way words translate and sometimes misrepresent our thoughts and feelings is at the essence of our intellectual and emotional nature.