College Essay Tips for Software Engineering Programs
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Hale Jaeger in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
For many college applications, you’ll write essays in addition to the Common App personal statement. These prompts will often ask you about what you’re planning on pursuing at the college. This article will give you practical advice for explaining your interest in software engineering.
“Why This . . .” Essays for Software Engineering
Many supplemental essay prompts are quite common, such as “Why this major?” and “Why this school?” If you’re sure about pursuing software engineering and know which college you want to kick off your career at, you should already know the answers to these questions.
Certain schools have strong software engineering and computer science programs. If this is the case for your chosen college, it should be easy for you to say that you can identify with their program. You can add that you’re excited to use the specific resources there and how they will help you reach your goal of becoming a software engineer.
When talking about your major, bring up what attracts you to the field. Your eventual salary and career prospects are incentives, but you want to explain what specifically about the study of computer science and engineering makes you excited. Why do you like to learn about it? Maybe you’re fascinated by the inner workings of technology. Perhaps you’re interested in how specific tools on certain websites work. It’s also possible that you want to improve user experience and innovate existing software.
These reasons are a bit less shallow than money. They also get to the heart of why you want to pursue software engineering: you like to build things and solve problems.
Writing Your Essay
From Abstract to Specific
In general, when writing your essays, you should work on funneling these types of ideas about your major from the abstract to the specific. You can open with a particular anecdote or story to catch the reader’s attention, of course, but try to start with high-level interests. Fundamental things like identifying the inner workings of a website can lead to more niche topics.
When writing your essays, make sure you touch on any personal experiences that can help show why this subject is your passion. It can all add to the personal narrative that you’ve been building in your entire application and help make the admissions officers understand you better.
If you had an experience with technology that fascinated you, drew you into the subject, and made you want to learn more, then include that. Be sure to add the important details so the reader can get a good sense of the scene. Another way to go is if you had the opposite experience: you encountered a frustrating piece of technology and were desperate to figure out how to get it working. You realized that you wanted to go into the field to improve software and make people’s lives easier. You can try writing about your interests that way.
Another way to write your essay is to back up an explanation of your passions with a personal story that will make your essay compelling. Try to draw on an anecdote, and if possible, explain what you’ve accomplished after your initial interest was sparked.
How did you get involved in coding? If you found technology that was glitching all the time or something that excited you, did this inspire you to figure out how it all worked? Write about how you’ve developed your skills in coding and science and how much you’ve learned about good systems and malfunctioning systems. Then, write about what you want to accomplish and innovate in the field.
Plans for the Future
When you’ve discussed the past and present, you can begin to probe the future. For the sake of narrative, try to include how you’ve grown and what your ultimate ambitions are. If you’re not sure exactly what branch of software engineering you want to go into, that’s fine. You can name a few options, such as game design or mobile design, or you can just talk about how you want to build things and make better technology to improve people’s lives.
When you’re talking about personal things, you should aim to be specific. Draw on stories when you can, and be honest about what interests you about this subject and what you want to do in the field. This is your chance to explore why you’re looking to go into software engineering, so you should come away from these essays feeling much more confident about your planned course of study.