Why Are You Applying Here?Nov 06, 2021
With so much competition for admission to selective colleges, students want to do everything right in preparing their applications. They often seek to write what they think admission officers want to read. Not a good plan. Students often think they need to impress the reader with their accomplishments. Well-meaning parents or friends may tell them that this isn’t the time to be modest. But you don’t want to come across as bragging. Confidence is appealing; arrogance is off-putting.
Rather than telling a reader about your qualities, it is much more effective to share an anecdote that illustrates those qualities. Give the facts and allow the reader to come to the conclusion that you are a leader or an exceptionally creative person. While students sometimes try too hard to impress in their primary application essay, they can really go overboard in the “Why are you applying to our college?” essay. You see this prompt on a lot of Common Application supplements, and it can be more challenging than the longer essay because it is tough to respond in a way that doesn’t come across as insincere and irrelevant.
It may be a shorter piece, but this essay is as important as the long Personal Statement essay. Admission officers at many colleges believe the response to this question tells them how much effort a student has put into getting to know the college and whether she is a serious applicant who is likely to matriculate. A student who has researched a college and knows it’s the right place for her is also less likely to transfer or drop out, which means a higher retention rate for the school. Some students use this essay as an opportunity to demonstrate “fake” interest in a college, but they usually end up with a generic answer that won’t enhance their application. For students who are genuinely interested in a college, the process of answering this question helps them assess whether the college is a good fit and enables them to write a meaningful response.
Many students tell admission officers what they already know when responding to the “why our college” prompt. They are aware that their college has a reputation for educational excellence. They know the low student-teacher ratio and the great internship opportunities. Your response should not sound as if it was lifted from a school’s website.
It would be best to use this essay to show that you and this college are a perfect match, and flattery is not the best way to do that. Instead, think about your interests, strengths, and goals, and look for how they mesh with the colleges. For example, suppose one institution’s mission statement talks about the importance of the life of the mind, and another stresses its commitment to preparing students for the job market. In that case, you get a sense of the different approaches each college has to education. You may realize that one institution is a much better fit for you. Taking the time to review course offerings in the catalog and reading about professors, research opportunities, and student organizations will help you make sure you are applying to colleges that are perfect matches. Instead of trying too hard to win over admission officers, you will be able to make a compelling case for admission in a matter-of-fact way that is ultimately much more effective.
Don't miss a beat!
Get my Newsletter sent to your email box with the latest strategies, tools, and college planning insight.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.