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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