The most frequently-asked-about piece of advice at College Essay Organizer revolves around how to tell a school that you want to attend. Surely they're not just looking for you to write about what makes them great, right? They already wrote their own guidebooks. They should know what makes them great.
And you're right. The purpose of these essays is not to talk about them but to talk about you. Your job in all of your college essay writing is to convince the reader that you're an interesting person who belongs in their highly-selective class. You're trying to get them to choose you instead of someone else.
Easier said than done, indeed. So today we direct you to a post written last year that has gotten a lot of traffic: How to tell a college that you're interested.
Always keep in mind that your job is to express what you have that they want. It's already implied that they have what you want - a great education and a raft of opportunities for your future, whatever that may be. Do this by identifying your own intellectual interests and developing them from a personal standpoint.
NC State has a pile of optional requirements that can be evaluated for scholarship purposes, as well as many scholarship-specific questions that are separate from the school's regular application.This year, the school has 14 scholarship-relevant questions in all.
Among them are the Parks Scholarships Program, the Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER) Scholarship program, and the Wood Products Scholarship Program, each of which can be addressed in part by using your intellectual interests essay.
Remember that College Essay Organizer can be a prime tool for finding free money for college, because while we centralize the essay requirements you need for all your schools, we also include departmental and scholarship essays, many of which you can satisfy by turning in altered versions of your essays for other school applications.
The SUNY (State University of New York) schools have many specific differences, including certain essay questions, scholarship requirements, and the like. But they share this question in common:
Please provide additional information that will help us better understand your academic performance. You may also explain any chronological gaps in your academic history (e.g. a period of time after high school graduation before applying to college).
At first glance, this question seems like it could be an optional "tell us anything" prompt, or even a required "disciplinary" question, telling you to explain any suspensions, or run-ins with authorities that have disrupted your time in school. At College Essay Organizer, we recommend that anybody without the kind of disciplinary problems or "gaps" in the academic record use this prompt as an opportunity to discuss his or her intellectual interests.
We have discussed the intellectual interest essay here before on the blog, but most importantly, it is the piece of writing that tells the school why you are interested in what they can offer you, and what you bring to the table as a member of the student body. It is a chance to discuss your interests while also implying what you are good at and how you spend your time most effectively. It can be a chance to distinguish yourself from your peers in a unique way, which is something you should always be looking for opportunities to do.
Why are you interested in our college?
This kind of prompt is common, of course, and it seems easy enough at first – you’re applying to the school, aren’t you? You’re interested in it. But now what? Your first instinct might be to repeat what’s in the guidebook, or just talk about what you heard on the informational tour. You might want to act like you need to sell the school back to itself.
But don’t. Essays like these need to be interpreted as what they are – essays about you and your skills. In the broad scheme of things, this is what you might want to call an “Intellectual Interest” essay.
What you want to do with an Intellectual Interest essay is make yourself look good to the school. You don’t need to fill the page with a series of meaningless and optionally funny anecdotes from your summer trip to Lake George with your uncle that one time when he fell off the boat and everyone laughed. What you’re really trying to communicate with this is something about who you are and what you can bring to the school that no one else can. Those are your Intellectual Interests.
It wants to be an essay about the time you demonstrated your love of Steinbeck’s writing to make a point about modern America, or the time you used your knowledge of physics to bond with a carpenter about his work you saw at a fair. Something specific, but tied to your love of academics.
In writing an essay like this, you need to focus your argument or story all around you and what you are capable of. If you want to structure it as an autobiographical episode, make sure the episode is about something specific, namely your interests or skills, and why those are important to have at a university like the one you’re applying to.
You can, of course, talk about your personal experiences visiting the college or about student clubs or opportunities unique to the school, but if you do, make sure that these examples are more about your personal interests than about the school itself.
When broad, vague, or even crazy prompts pop up, give them some thought about how they can be used to reflect something unique about you that the rest of your application doesn’t allow for. Then tell that story in terms of the wacked out prompt the school threw at you.