What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

A 100 Word “Why Major” Essay Example and Analysis

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.


What’s Covered:



In this article, we will look at the Purdue short essay question, provide an example of a response, and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the essay. The prompt reads as follows: 


Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major that you have selected. (100 words) 


As you can see, 100 words is not very much space and requires a short response. However, there is still a lot that you can fit in here.


100 Word Essay Example


“Growing up my older sister and I watched Venus and Serena decimate their competition as an unmatched duo. After last year’s COVID-induced tennis match hiatus, everything was lining up for Serena to finally match the long-standing record for most major titles. But instead, I watched my icon fall in real time – my heart and my throat. I watched her hit the court and painfully attempt to get. I realized that so much more of her pros lay in the battles she lost. This scene cemented my desire to support athletes through their worst times as a sports medicine doctor.”


Essay Strengths


One of the strengths of this essay is that it is really specific. It tells a story of something that actually happened when Serena Williams fell during Wimbledon, injured herself, and had to retire from the match. 


At the same time, this essay makes sure that the anecdote is personal. We can feel the emotion because the author has explained to the audience that Serena is someone that they’ve looked up to for a long time. Additionally, they have added that there is a family connection to this role model, since the writer includes that they used to watch tennis with their older sister. The essay manages to tell an emotional and personal story.


Essay Weaknesses


Of course, there are a few drawbacks to this response. The most significant one is that the author never actually mentions their intended major and therefore doesn’t answer the question. Instead, they go straight to the career they are trying to pursue. While it is great to mention your career goals if you have more space in the essay, it is crucial to first mention your academic and intellectual interests first. The author could have remedied this by writing something like – “This scene cemented my desire to support athletes through their worst times, and therefore I plan to study biology so that I can go into sports medicine.” 


Another weakness of this essay is that some of the sentences are a little fluffy and could be cut down to save space. The sentence, “I realized that so much more of her pros lay in the battles she lost,” doesn’t really tell us much about sports medicine or an intended major. It just highlights how much the author idolizes Serena Williams; this is fine but is not relevant to this essay in particular. If the author had cut that sentence, they could have used the extra space to talk more about why they want to pursue a career in sports medicine and how they want to get there with their chosen major.


One final weakness in this essay is that there is nothing specifically cited about Purdue. By cutting back on some of the fluff in other sentences, such as words or phrases that they don’t necessarily need to get their points across, the author could have used the extra space to talk about programs or professors at Purdue that could help them achieve their goals. 


Is Your “Why Major” Essay Strong Enough?


Essays account for around 25% of your admissions decision, as they’re your chance to humanize your application and set yourself apart from other applicants with strong profiles. 


The “Why Major” essay is especially important, as it allows you to reflect on your unique interests and fit with the school. Your supplement needs to demonstrate your interest in the major and paint a picture of how you’ll contribute to their program.


To understand if your essay is strong enough, we recommend using our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. This tool will make it easier to understand your essay’s strengths and weaknesses, and help you make your writing even more compelling.