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12 Effective “Why This College?” Essay Examples

The “Why This College?” essay is one of the most common supplemental prompts. These school-specific essays help colleges understand if you’re a good fit for them, and if they’re a good fit for you.

 

In this post, we’ll share 12 “Why This College?” essay examples from real students and explain what they did well, and what could be improved. Read these examples to understand how to write a strong supplemental essay that improves your chances of acceptance.

 

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.

 

Essay 1: UPenn

 

Prompt: How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying (650 words).

 

Sister Simone Roach, a theorist of nursing ethics, said, “caring is the human mode of being.” I have long been inspired by Sister Roach’s Five C’s of Caring: commitment, conscience, competence, compassion, and confidence. Penn both embraces and fosters these values through a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum and unmatched access to service and volunteer opportunities.

 

COMMITMENT. Reading through the activities that Penn Quakers devote their time to (in addition to academics!) felt like drinking from a firehose in the best possible way. As a prospective nursing student with interests outside of my major, I value this level of flexibility. I plan to leverage Penn’s liberal arts curriculum to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges LGBT people face, especially regarding healthcare access. Through courses like “Interactional Processes with LGBT Individuals” and volunteering at the Mazzoni Center for outreach, I hope to learn how to better support the Penn LGBT community as well as my family and friends, including my cousin, who came out as trans last year.

 

CONSCIENCE. As one of the first people in my family to attend a four-year university, I wanted a school that promoted a sense of moral responsibility among its students. At Penn, professors challenge their students to question and recreate their own set of morals by sparking thought- provoking, open-minded discussions. I can imagine myself advocating for universal healthcare in courses such as “Health Care Reform & Future of American Health System” and debating its merits with my peers. Studying in an environment where students confidently voice their opinions – conservative or liberal – will push me to question and strengthen my value system.

 

COMPETENCE. Two aspects that drew my attention to Penn’s BSN program were its high-quality research opportunities and hands-on nursing projects. Through its Office of Nursing Research, Penn connects students to faculty members who share similar research interests. As I volunteered at a nursing home in high school, I hope to work with Dr. Carthon to improve the quality of care for senior citizens. Seniors, especially minorities, face serious barriers to healthcare that I want to resolve. Additionally, Penn’s unique use of simulations to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world application impressed me. Using computerized manikins that mimic human responses, classes in Penn’s nursing program allow students to apply their emergency medical skills in a mass casualty simulation and monitor their actions afterward through a video system. Participating in this activity will help me identify my strengths and areas for improvement regarding crisis management and medical care in a controlled yet realistic setting. Research opportunities and simulations will develop my skills even before I interact with patients.

 

COMPASSION. I value giving back through community service, and I have a particular interest in Penn’s Community Champions and Nursing Students For Sexual & Reproductive Health (NSRH). As a four-year volunteer health educator, I hope to continue this work as a Community Champions member. I am excited to collaborate with medical students to teach fourth and fifth graders in the city about cardiology or lead a chair dance class for the elders at the LIFE Center. Furthermore, as a feminist who firmly believes in women’s abortion rights, I’d like to join NSRH in order to advocate for women’s health on campus. At Penn, I can work with like-minded people to make a meaningful difference.

 

CONFIDENCE. All of the Quakers that I have met possess one defining trait: confidence. Each student summarized their experiences at Penn as challenging but fulfilling. Although I expect my coursework to push me, from my conversations with current Quakers I know it will help me to be far more effective in my career.

  

The Five C’s of Caring are important heuristics for nursing, but they also provide insight into how I want to approach my time in college. I am eager to engage with these principles both as a nurse and as a Penn Quaker, and I can’t wait to start.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This essay has many positive aspects, but the most impressive one is the structure. Utilizing the Five C’s of Caring to discuss Penn’s offerings was a genius way of tying in this student’s passion for nursing while also making their essay exciting and easy to read. Beginning each paragraph with the respective adjective helped focus the paragraph and allowed the student to demonstrate how they exemplify each quality without explicitly stating it. The student wasn’t afraid to think outside the box and add creativity to their essay structure, which really paid off.

 

Another positive is how specific and specialized the Penn resources and opportunities the student mentions are. This essay did not fall into the trap of name-dropping professors or programs. In every paragraph, there was a connection to something the student wants to do at Penn to further themselves in the respective characteristic they were describing.

 

Not only did this student mention a resource at Penn—whether it was a professor, a class, or a club—in every paragraph, but they elaborated on what that resource was and how it would help them achieve their goal of becoming a nurse. The what and how is what sets this essay apart from other supplements that just name-drop resources for the sake of it. The amount of detail this essay went into about some of these resources makes it clear to the admissions officers reading the essay that this student has seriously looked into Penn and has a strong desire to come to campus and use these resources.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

One thing this essay could do to make it stronger is improve the first paragraph. The student does a good job of setting up Sister Roach and the Five C’s, but they don’t mention anything about their desire to study or pursue nursing. The first paragraph mentions both Sister Roach and Penn, but left out the student. This could be fixed by simply adding something along the lines of “I can’t wait to embody these values as a nursing student at Penn” to the paragraph.

 

Essay 2: UPenn

 

Prompt: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania?  For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay. (300-450 words)

 

I always loved watching the worms when it rained. I used to put my little raincoat on, sit on the doorsteps, and watch them move toward the puddles. My younger brother, forever intent on destroying the world around him, would try to stomp on the worms, and I would run after him screaming. In my imagination, the brain looked like a pile of squiggly worms. However, my neuroscience curiosity has since grown beyond a worm’s habits.

 

For example, my mother thought that I was insane when I wanted to watch American Murder: The Family Next Door. To her immense relief, I was interested in the psychology of the criminal rather than the crime itself. Although neuroscience is my primary interest, I also hope to learn more about the intersection between law and medicine at the UPenn College of Arts and Sciences. I’ve been able to explore this topic through various projects at school such as presentations on juvenile crime and the death penalty.

 

At the University of Pennsylvania, I look forward to taking classes like Forensic Neuroscience (BIBB 050) as well as Neuroscience and Society (PSYC 247) both of which directly combine my two interests. Hopefully, the Take Your Professor to Dinner program resumes as I would make sure to talk to Dr. Daniel Langleben about his research on forensic functional brain imaging over a meal of Philly cheesesteaks.

 

I also hope to participate in the Race, Science, and Society Program where I can discover how race biases and neuroscience go hand-in-hand and contribute to the fight against racism. The Beyond Arrests: Re-Thinking Systematic-Oppression Group immediately caught my attention while looking at Penn’s opportunities to engage in relevant dialogue. My fascination with the criminal system began with reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Penn will both fuel that curiosity as well as introduce new questions about the world of justice reform.

 

As an eight-year Latin scholar and a five-time reader of the Percy Jackson franchise, I would like to take classes in the Penn Classical Studies department where I can learn more about the impact of ancient cultures on society today. Classes such as Greek and Roman Medicine (CLST 271) would intersect my interests in medicine and classical civilizations.

 

Although I do harbor a deep love for Philly cheesesteaks and enjoyment of running in strange places like the Woodlands Cemetery, the range of programs to support my diverse interests and unmatched opportunities to put learning into action make me confident that the University of Pennsylvania is the best university for me to succeed.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

The real strength in the essay lies in the sheer number of details this student is able to include in a short space, without sacrificing style and flow. The first two paragraphs really have nothing to do with Penn, but the inclusion of them makes this response feel like an essay, rather than a list of offerings at Penn. Striking the balance is important, and the anecdote at the beginning ultimately humanizes the writer.

 

From the three unique courses to the specific professor and his research to the race and criminal justice programs, this student has clearly done their homework on Penn! The key to this essay’s success isn’t just mentioning the offerings at Penn that excite the student, but the context that explains how each opportunity fits into the student’s academic interests.

 

Adding book titles like Crime and Punishment and Percy Jackson to support their passion for the criminal justice system and classics are extra details that help us learn more about how this student pursues their passions outside of the classroom. Finding little ways to humanize yourself throughout the essay can take it from good to great.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

One area of improvement for this essay is the structure. It follows a very traditional “Why This College?” framework—start with an anecdote, then discuss classes, and then extracurriculars and programs—that gets old quickly for admissions officers.

 

A great way to add some spice to the format would be to use a sample schedule for the day. This essay mentions three different classes, two different groups, and a Take Your Professor to Dinner opportunity. Together, that’s the recipe for a full day at UPenn!

 

There are a few ways to play around with an essay that follows a typical day-in-the-life. Maybe each paragraph starts with a time and explains what they do during that hour. Maybe they narrate walking through campus on their way from one class to the next and what they just learned. However they choose to go about it, adding in a playful spin to the traditional essay structure is one of the best ways to instantly set an essay apart from the crowd. 

 

Essay 3: UW Madison

 

Prompt: Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided, please describe your areas of possible academic interest. (650 words)

 

Essay – # Day 117

 

7:30 am… As I open my eyes, I look at the pinboard in front of my bed. Written in red block letters are two of the many goals of my life: “Make life better and more independent for the Visually impaired; Inspire kids to explore the field of STEM, making them the future problem solvers.“

 

Keeping these goals afresh in mind, I freshen up and prepare for the first class of the day, ​ECE 533 Image Processing. As the professor explains the Applications of Image Processing in Computer Vision, a light bulb sparks in my mind. I can modify the head contraption of PERIPHIS to identify objects in peripheral vision and alert the wearer via an earpiece using Text to Speech (TTS). 

 

After the class, I see Professor Mohit Gupta at the WISION Lab, where he shares his insights from the Block World Cameras system, which helps to geometrize 3D Man-made environments. We brainstorm ways we can implement this system on PERIPHIS.

 

Deep in the discussion and intrigued by my curiosity, he asked me where my interest in this niche field sparked during high school, and then I recount the incident from 9th grade: 

“In Hindi – Agar aaj mere paas paise hote to ye din na dekhna padta” (If I had money, I would not have had to see this day.) 

 

These were the words of Aadiya, a glaucoma patient, who couldn’t help but cry in despair as she injured herself in an accident just because she couldn’t sense the incoming traffic. During my visit to “Baroda Association for Blind (BAB)” for a survey, I saw and experienced firsthand how hard and inaccessible it is for an underprivileged visually impaired to locomote without anyone’s assistance. 

 

What happened next was my first adventure into the world of Computer Science and Engineering. I dedicated the next four years to find an affordable solution to a pressing problem. It was called PERIPHIS, a smart wearable that helps alert the visually impaired wearer of impending danger while locomoting.

 

When I finally presented this device to Aadiya, the smile on her face made me realize how big an impact technology can make in one’s life.

 

11:00 am… As I head to the Engineering Hall to complete my assignments of COMP SCI 570

Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction, I crossways with my roommate from the Chadbourne Residential College, who is also interested in researching applications of Computer Vision in real life. We fix a time to chat later. 

 

1:20pm… After a quick bite, I head to Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory. I expand my knowledge on different applications of Computer Science to make human life better than I found. I get fascinated when I see a few students building a child-friendly humanoid robot to teach kids the principles of Coding and AI. I hop in and share insights from my experience of being the President at AiGoLearning and kindling interest in STEM for young children. I explain how crucial the UI is when it comes to technology for the young.

 

5:00pm… To blow off some steam and socialize, I meet up with my fellow countrymen and artists at the Indian Graduate Students’ Association. We discuss and plan the upcoming Diwali Night Music at Shannon Hall. I feel proud to share my national identity while bringing out my musical self by contributing as a Tabla player at the student organization. 

 

As I close my day, I reflect and think of the most unique resource at UW. It is not the labs, research facilities, classes, but the people, including the professors and students, all aligned to a single goal: “Solving problems to make society a better place.”

 

10:00pm… I find my way back to my dorm room and write with red block letters on my pinboard: “Meet with at least 1 Badger every day and gain new insight from them.”

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This essay is a stellar example. The day in the life formatting is a common way to spice up your “Why This College?” essay, but the way this writer executes it is nearly flawless.

 

Opening with the vision board makes the student’s college goals clear from the very start, and this was cleverly done since vision boards are naturally one of the first things you see when you wake up.

 

The student then takes us to specific courses and labs and shares their thoughts on how they could improve their invention, PERIPHIS. The author seamlessly includes background information on PERIPHIS by including this hypothetical conversation with a professor who speaks their native language.

 

As we go through the day, we can see that this student will not only be involved academically, but also socially. We learn how important their culture is to them and how they plan to share it with the campus community.

 

This essay does everything a “Why This College?” essay should: it shares the student’s goals and motivations behind them, how the university can support those goals, and how the student will engage with the campus beyond academics.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

There’s not much this essay could improve, besides a few formatting and wording issues. The first line of this essay—“Essay – # Day 117”—is a great attention-grabber, but the placement of the # symbol is confusing and perhaps should’ve been in front of the number.

 

There are also a couple spots where wording is a bit awkward, such as these lines:

 

I crossways with my roommate from the Chadbourne Residential College, who is also interested in researching applications of Computer Vision in real life. We fix a time to chat later. 

 

It should instead say something like “I run into my roommate” and “We schedule a time”. This is likely due to English not being the student’s native language, but could’ve easily been caught by proofreading from a native speaker.

 

Essay 4: Northwestern

 

Prompt: While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are also excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community.

 

In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

 

For as long as I can remember, I have seen my parents, both farmers, struggling to produce food because of the challenges presented by the environment. Joining Northwestern’s community, and majoring in Environmental Engineering, will allow me to understand what are the reasons behind climate change and learn how to stop them and/or prevent them from happening. 

 

Having witnessed how plant diseases affect crops, I would like to collaborate in the PLANT-Dx project and in its widespread application. I strongly believe that it will be able to help farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their production, and reduce famine around the world. At some point in my education, I want to take advantage of the study-abroad programs Northwestern has to offer and learn about farming practices in a different part of the world. In addition, I want to conduct research on sustainable alternative farming methods that adapt to the new environmental conditions and that can be practiced in countries with fewer resources.

 

Apart from having access to outstanding professors, rigorous academics, and cutting-edge research resources, I will be able to be part of a close-knit community genuinely curious about others’ activities, truly passionate about what they do, and not afraid to step out of their comfort zone to make of this world a better place. Being part of Engineers for a Sustainable World at Northwestern will allow me to get to know people that share one of my passions in addition to learning and teaching how to apply sustainable practices in daily life.  

 

I am already looking forward to marching through the Weber Arch.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This essay is extremely cohesive, as it focuses on the student’s agricultural background and desire to study environmental engineering. The student mentions a couple resources specific to Northwestern, such as the PLANT-Dx project and Engineers for a Sustainable World.

 

Because of the background information the student provided, their motivations for participating in these opportunities is also clear. We can see that Northwestern would be a school that would help them achieve their goals.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

There are two main aspects of the essay that could be improved: the writing and its specificity.

 

The intro paragraph is a bit clunky and vague: 

 

For as long as I can remember, I have seen my parents, both farmers, struggling to produce food because of the challenges presented by the environment. Joining Northwestern’s community, and majoring in Environmental Engineering, will allow me to understand what are the reasons behind climate change and learn how to stop them and/or prevent them from happening.

 

They should have specified the challenges the environment has presented to their parents’ farming. The final sentence about climate change is also much too broad, and the student should’ve stated a goal in a smaller niche of environmentalism.

 

For example, here’s what a rewritten strong intro paragraph might look like:

 

The drought this year was bad, and the once-flourishing tomato crops on my family’s farm were afflicted with Southern Blight. As my family and our community struggled to put food on the table for the third year in a year, I resolved to major in Environmental Engineering at Northwestern to learn how to preserve our agriculture in the face of climate change.

 

This would lead smoothly into the Plant-Dx paragraph and make their goals more explicit from the beginning.

 

Another writing error is the typo in the final paragraph, where they write “to make of this world a better place”. It’s important to proofread your essay and have others help you proofread as well!

 

Finally, while the essay mentions a couple specific Northwestern resources, the other resources they mention are too vague. These sentences in particular need to be reshaped:

 

At some point in my education, I want to take advantage of the study-abroad programs Northwestern has to offer and learn about farming practices in a different part of the world. In addition, I want to conduct research on sustainable alternative farming methods that adapt to the new environmental conditions and that can be practiced in countries with fewer resources.

 

Apart from having access to outstanding professors, rigorous academics, and cutting-edge research resources, I will be able to be part of a close-knit community genuinely curious about others’ activities, truly passionate about what they do, and not afraid to step out of their comfort zone to make of this world a better place.

 

The writer could’ve improved the first two sentences by mentioning a specific study abroad program and a current research project on sustainable alternative farming methods. Most colleges let you study abroad and conduct research, so you need to explain why Northwestern is the best place for your goals.

 

The final sentence in that excerpt is simply a bunch of broad pleasantries that could apply to any university. The writer would’ve been better-served by cutting it and explaining how they plan to engage with Engineers for a Sustainable World at Northwestern. What kinds of events do they want to participate in? What kinds of skills do they want to learn?

 

Ultimately, this essay would be much stronger with these changes.

 

Essay 5: NYU

 

Prompt: We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand – Why NYU? (400 words)

 

“A futuristic way of looking at academics,” the student panelist said during a New York University virtual information session. I reflected on a conversation I had with my grandma; she couldn’t understand how her vegetarian granddaughter could build a career in the food industry. However much I tried convincing her that vegetarianism was the future, as it offers substantial benefits to the environment and can offer health benefits to a growing population with the same environmental resources, she insisted that tofu would never provide the same satiation as meat. She was raised in a community where meat consumption was embedded in the culture, and its production is a large part of the country’s economy. In contrast, I had the privilege of living a few steps from San Francisco, with many restaurants and grocery stores dedicated to plant-based meat alternatives. Trying innovative recipes and products eventually allowed me to develop my own recipes. Upon my move to Nicaragua, where my grandmother is from, I found my food options to be limited, expensive and hard to find. So I developed my own small-scale solutions that did not break the bank and satiated grandma.

 

An institution that implements forward-thinking is what I need to reach my goals of changing the future of plant-based diets and people’s views on vegetarianism. NYU’s Nutrition and Food Studies program offers multiple disciplines of food studies that I will apply to my aspirations as a vegetarian. I plan to study under Adjunct Faculty Kayleen St. John, whose success in the plant-based industry and her teaching of the ‘Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition’ in The Vegetarian Times excites me. The variety of classes like Introduction to Food History, Food Photography, and Food Systems: Food & Agriculture will give me an overview of what is available in the food industry to be prepared for all fields. Not to be cliche, but NYU’s proximity to the city is essential for the rapidly changing vegetarian industry. The multiculturalism available in NYC and NYU will allow me to understand the food system and diets of various cultures, religions, and areas. I can explore the extremes of the food industry, from fancy restaurants to public school cafeterias. These juxtapositions, much like the one I experienced after my move to Nicaragua, will allow me to broaden my reach and demonstrate that the vegetarian diet is not something reserved for select groups but a diet attainable to all. 

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

A core strength of this essay is the fact it takes its time to provide the reader with ample background on why this student is interested in nutrition and food studies and how they have grappled with difficult questions and surrounding this topic in the past. It’s okay to not mention anything about NYU for a whole paragraph if you are using that space to bring depth to your interests and tell the reader the crucial backstory behind pursuing your intended degree.

 

Another positive aspect is the inclusion of New York City for a purposeful reason. NYU admissions officers read thousands of essays that just talk about living in NYC for the sake of NYC—this is not what they want to hear. In contrast, this essay focuses on the vast and lively food scene in New York that the student considers to be an invaluable asset to her NYU education. This is a time where including New York actually plays to the appeal of NYU, rather than making it seem like the student is simply applying for the city.

 

Finally, this student clearly demonstrates that they are someone who wants to change the world for the better, but through their personal niche. NYU is looking for people who express this desire to be a changemaker, but oftentimes sweeping statements like “I want to change the world” come across as vague and disingenuous. The essay does mention changing diets and looking to the future, but it is focused within the student’s specific area of interest, making the claim to change the world more determined and authentic.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

This essay could be made stronger if there was a bit more personal reflection included. The first paragraph provides a lot of details on the student’s vegetarianism and how it conflicts with her grandmother and her heritage. What it doesn’t include very much of is how the student thinks and feels about her diet being at odds with that of her family. 

 

Does this student feel they are betraying their heritage by being vegetarian? What emotions do they feel when people criticize vegetarianism? Why did they go vegetarian in the first place? Probing questions like these that get to the emotional core behind the story in the first paragraph would really help to build out this student’s backstory. We want to understand what their emotional responses and reasoning processes look like, so finding ways to include those into an already expositive paragraph would further bolster this essay.

 

Essay 6: NYU

 

Prompt: We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand – Why NYU? (400 words)

 

My mother never takes off her Cartier necklace that my father gave her 10 years ago on their anniversary. As a child, I didn’t fully understand this attachment. However, on my 15th birthday, my aunt gifted me a ring, which was uniquely designed and made up of three rings linked together. Wearing it every day and making sure I would never lose it, I didn’t treat it like my easily replaceable childhood necklaces; it was my piece of luxury. This sparked my deep curiosity for the luxury world. The niche strives to provide the finest and most memorable experiences, as equally as my Japanese attention to detail and my French appreciation towards aesthetic beauty. In a constantly shifting environment, I learned that luxury chases timeless excellence.

 

NYU Stern’s BS in business and a co-concentration in management and marketing will fully immerse me in the business side of luxury fashion that I aim to pursue a future career in. The luxury marketing track, offered only by NYU, will enable me to assemble the most suited classes to reflect my interests. Specifically, NYU Stern’s exciting electives such as The Dynamics of the Fashion Industry seminar and Brand Strategy & Planning will encourage me to develop the skills that I was introduced to and grew keen on when running a virtual sustainable fashion auction.

 

As someone who has moved around from Paris to Tokyo, to Chicago and now Athens, I thrive in meeting and collaborating with others from diverse backgrounds. The school’s strong global outlook, demonstrated through Stern’s International Business Exchange Program, further sets NYU apart for me, as it is crucial to building essential soft skills. This opportunity allows me to experience new cultural approaches to luxury business which I can bring back with me to New York, and therefore push me to become a well-rounded business student. Similarly, I am excited to take part in the array of student clubs offered, such as the Luxury and Retail Association (LARA), which I learned about after connecting with and talking to current students. Seeing past talks from employers of companies like Conde Nast, I am eager to learn outside of the classroom from future speakers. 

 

Finding myself in new situations constantly, I always seek new challenges and explorations – to me, it is clear that NYU Stern will push me to create the finest and most unique learning experiences of timeless excellence.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This essay has an amazing introduction paragraph. It doesn’t mention anything about NYU or what this student is planning on studying, which is what makes it so intriguing. The reader doesn’t know where this student is headed after making such a seemingly unrelated statement about jewelry, but we want to find out. 

 

Not only does this essay immediately capture the reader’s attention, it maintains a succinct and direct tone that helps the reader effortlessly flow from one paragraph to the next. The student chose to include three opportunities at NYU that excite them and fully elaborate on them. This serves as an excellent example of more is less. 

 

We aren’t bombarded with a laundry list of classes, professors, and clubs the student wants to take. Instead, the student took a focused approach and described why they were excited by each offering they highlighted. Going deeper into a smaller number of opportunities at the college still shows this student did their research, but it allows for their backstory and goals to be discussed in far greater detail.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

While this student does a good job of elaborating, they also mention a few key aspects of their personality as throw-away lines, when it would have been great to elaborate further on them. For example, they mention running a virtual sustainable fashion auction (cool!), but don’t provide us with any details on what that actually entails, how they got involved with it, what they enjoyed about it, etc. They also mention moving around a lot in the context of developing a diverse perspective, but they don’t include any emotional insight into what that was like.

 

Although there are only 400 words available, and you don’t want to spend too much time discussing the past, it would be nice to see just a sentence or two that delves into the details of this student’s background. The fashion auction and moving around clearly had an impact on the student, so we want to know what that was. If they are choosing to include these details, they must be important in the student’s decision to pursue business at NYU, so they shouldn’t be afraid to divulge the emotional significance to the reader.

 

Essay 7: Boston University

 

Prompt: In no more than 250 words, please tell us why BU is a good fit for you and what specifically has led you to apply for admission.

 

Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) attracts me because of its support of interdisciplinary study among its wide array of majors. In fact, the CAS now offers a course that combines biology, chemistry, and neuroscience. As I hope to conduct medical research into brain disorders, I plan to pursue all three areas of study. These cross-disciplinary connections at BU will prepare me to do so.

 

CAS’s undergraduate research program would allow me to work with a mentor, such as Dr. Alice Cronin-Golomb or Dr. Robert M.G. Reinhart related to their research on neurological disorders. With them, I can advance the work I have already completed related to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). In a summer class at our local university, my partner and I extracted data from fMRI and PET studies and inputted them into a coding program. We then created an indicator map, which we imported into another software program, AFNI, to display significant activity in the brain regions affected by DID. Seeing the representation of our data thrilled me because I knew it could eventually help people who live with DID. I want to experience that feeling again. Successfully analyzing these fMRI and PET studies and learning to code drives me to pursue more research opportunities, and this desire motivates me to study at a university that offers research opportunities to undergraduates. BU’s interdisciplinary approach to psychology and support for independent undergraduate research will optimally prepare me for a career as a neurological researcher.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This student clearly outlines BU-specific resources (the interdisciplinary course and undergrad research program), plus how these resources align with their professional goals (to become a neurological researcher). They do name professors, but since their work clearly relates to the student’s interests, it doesn’t look disingenuous, and shows that the student has done research on their fit with BU. The student also provides background on why they want to pursue research, and shows that they already have experience, which makes their interest in the undergrad research program more concrete.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

The only thing missing from this essay is the student’s fit with BU in terms of extracurriculars and social life. “Why This College?” essays should also cover extracurriculars, as colleges are also interested in how you’ll contribute to their community. 

 

In general, these essays should be academic-leaning (especially if they’re under 250 words), but you should still address some social aspects of the college that appeal to you (we recommend about 70% academics, 30% social, with more or less focus on social aspects depending on the word count). 

 

Since the student probably already detailed their previous research in their Common App activities section, they could’ve just summarized their research background in one sentence (instead of 78 words, which is 31% of the total word count!), and used that valuable space to talk about a specific social aspect of BU that interests them. 

 

Essay 8: Boston University

 

Prompt: In no more than 250 words, please tell us why BU is a good fit for you and what specifically has led you to apply for admission. 

 

I am fascinated by research, though completely uninterested in the disciplines traditionally associated with it, such as STEM fields. I need to find a school that will balance my desire to conduct research with my interest in political science. 

 

While many schools boast in-depth student research programs for those looking to cure diseases or develop solutions to global warming, few tout their support for humanities research. Additionally, many universities that do allocate funding to social science research typically reserve these monies for graduate students or upperclassmen. BU, with the help of its Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, will allow me to conduct research on the topics that most intrigue me, such as gender disparity in politics, or the relationship between dominant parties in power and the country’s economy and involvement in foreign affairs. Furthermore, I can begin these studies as early as my first year. Not only can I take classes with professors like Sandra McEvoy or Dino Christenson to develop my interests in a classroom setting, but I could also work with one of them to develop new knowledge in the topics that we both enjoy learning about. With this knowledge base and experience conducting studies with top professors in a respected research institution, I will be well-prepared for my future law career. I want to learn in an environment that encourages independent study no matter one’s field of interest or experience, and BU’s support of intellectual curiosity for all of its students makes it a perfect fit for me.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This student knows exactly what they want, and they’re not afraid to state it bluntly. Their intro paragraph is totally honest about their interests (or lack of interest), and we immediately understand one of their main college goals: to conduct political science research.

 

The student mentions a specific resource, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, as well as an alignment with BU’s value of encouraging independent study in all fields. Showing alignment with a specific value of the university is a great way to take your essay to the next level.

 

This essay shows us that the student would be a great fit for BU and would take advantage of its research opportunities.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

The writer mentions some of their research interests, but doesn’t explain the motivation behind them. We don’t actually learn very much about the student themself, which is a common flaw of “Why This College?” essays. The essay would’ve been stronger if they’d explained why they’re interested in “gender disparity in politics, or the relationship between dominant parties in power and the country’s economy and involvement in foreign affairs.” For example, maybe they feel strongly about abortion rights and are upset about the way men have been legislating women’s rights.

 

The student also names two professors whose classes they’d like to take and with whom they’d like to do research, but we aren’t told which classes they’re interested in, or which topics they could cover together. You want to avoid “name-dropping” professors without context in your essay. If the student shared the names of specific classes or research topics and why they’re interested in them, that would’ve strengthened their essay.

 

Essay 9: Tufts

 

Prompt: Why Tufts? (100 words) 

 

When Deanne, Tufts’ admissions counselor, visited my school, she immediately caught my attention by emphasizing Tufts’ diverse yet unified campus. Tufts’ inclusive definition of diversity goes beyond merely recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds. Tufts seeks to integrate these categories of diversity and pushes its students to learn from one another. One such intersectional program that attracts me is CAFE (Conversation, Action, Faith, and Education). By joining CAFE, a community that promotes interfaith education, I will learn from my peers, become more understanding of other religious backgrounds, and apply this broader understanding to my academic work at Tufts.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

It’s hard to write a “Why This College?” essay in 100 words. This essay does a good job sticking to one unique element of Tufts—its intersectionality. Since Tufts also cares about demonstrated interest, it’s great that the student also mentioned speaking with an admissions counselor. 

 

What Could Be Improved

 

We unfortunately don’t learn very much about the student from this essay. Why do they care about diversity and interfaith programs? How does this relate to their academic and career goals? While the word count is super short, they could’ve cut these lines and jumped right into the specific resource they’re interested in: Tufts’ inclusive definition of diversity goes beyond merely recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds. Tufts seeks to integrate these categories of diversity and pushes its students to learn from one another.

 

Here’s an example of a stronger version of this essay:

 

When a Tufts admissions counselor visited my school, she immediately caught my attention by emphasizing Tufts’ diverse yet unified campus. As a Muslim hoping to go into International Relations, I want to attend a school that not only recruits diverse students, but pushes them to learn from one another. I hope to join intersectional programs such as CAFE (Conversation, Action, Faith, and Education). By joining this community that promotes interfaith education, I will gain the necessary perspective and compassion to become a human rights lawyer in countries with religious conflict, such as my homeland Azerbaijan.

 

Essay 10: Tufts

 

Prompt: Why Tufts? (100 words)

 

Someday I hope to conduct medical research in developing countries; Tufts attracts me because of its wide array of majors it offers and support for undergraduate research. To understand the human brain, I hope to study biology, neuroscience, and psychology. In addition to outstanding faculty in each of these areas, Tufts also organizes initiatives including the International Research Program. Through this program, I would work with other students and faculty members on an international project related to brain diseases. This opportunity will give me a taste of my future career and help me narrow the scope of my later studies.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This essay does a better job of sharing the student’s goals with us compared to the previous Tufts essay. We learn that the applicant is interested in medical research in developing countries on brain diseases, and that Tufts has a program to support international research.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

The essay still mentions some resources that could apply to many schools, which is not an effective use of the tiny word count. For example, they say: “Tufts attracts me because of its wide array of majors it offers and support for undergraduate research” and they mention the “outstanding faculty” in the fields they plan to study.

 

They also don’t tell us their motivation behind studying brain diseases abroad, and it feels like there’s a significant story there. Giving some background would’ve further strengthened their essay.

 

Finally, they mention that they still need to narrow the scope of their studies; while it’s fine to be undecided on your career and majors, you don’t need to spend your precious word count saying that in your essay. They could’ve instead shared a couple potential avenues they’re considering.

 

Here’s what the student could’ve written instead:

 

Outcomes for schizophrenia patients are better in developing countries than in developed ones. I hope to research the reasons behind this and improve the treatment options in the US for the cousin I grew up with. In college, I want to study biology, neuroscience, and psychology. Tufts attracts me because of its unique interdisciplinary BS in Cognitive and Brain Science and its International Research Program. Through this program, I could do the research I’ve dreamt of doing with a faculty member and other students, preparing me for my future career as either a researcher or clinician.

 

Essay 11: Georgia Tech

 

Prompt: Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech? (300 words)

 

Climate change is a human rights issue.  

 

There the headline was, screaming on my phone screen. I think about those suffering from a lack of clean water. I think about those suffering from a lack of clean air. 

      

I often think back to that headline – it’s what drives my passion for environmental engineering. As an environmental engineer, I can mitigate air pollution and design water treatment systems that address the water injustices that people face. However, it’s not just about creating a technology that cleans water; it’s about changing people’s lives. New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech’s research on creating a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those in need of improved sanitation aligns perfectly with my interests.   

 

At Georgia Tech, through the student-led organization, Engineers for a Sustainable World and the InVenture Prize, I can translate the knowledge gained from my classes into a concrete vision. I can design and implement hands-on sustainability projects around Atlanta and invent a water sanitation system for the on-site acquisition of clean water. 

 

Georgia Tech can also provide me with ample research opportunities, such as the broad area of Healthy Communities in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. I can further pursue my interest in developing solutions to deliver clean water while welcoming new areas of inquiry. An area I would like to explore would be the controlling of dangerous matter in the air to reduce health hazards; reducing the impact of climate change is of utmost importance to me. 

 

Studying environmental engineering at Georgia Tech would well prepare me to develop solutions to climate-related issues. With the countless opportunities that Georgia Tech has to offer, I know there is nowhere else where I can receive a better environmental engineering education.

 

What the Essay Did Welll

 

This essay begins with an attention-grabbing statement that leaves the reader wondering how this will relate to the student’s interest in Georgia Tech. They then transition seamlessly into how climate change and human rights motivate their desire to become an environmental engineer.

 

The student mentions several resources specific to Georgia Tech that would help them achieve their goals, such as the research on the toilet turning waste into water, Engineers for a Sustainable World, InVenture Prize, and Healthy Communities research. It’s clear that they did their research and have reflected on their fit with the campus community.

 

They end the essay explicitly stating that Georgia Tech is the best place for them to grow, and the reader is certainly convinced of this by the end.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

This essay is quite strong, so there’s not much that the student could’ve improved. That said, there is one sentence that is a bit awkwardly worded: New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech’s research on creating a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those in need of improved sanitation aligns perfectly with my interests.

 

Instead, the student could’ve written:

 

New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech aligns with this value of mine and is even developing a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those who need improved sanitation.

 

Essay 12: Georgia Tech

 

Prompt: Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech? (300 words)

 

From my first Java project, a somewhat primitive graphing calculator, I realized that CS unlocks a different way of thinking. My brain races at speeds it seldom touches with other subjects. Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve and affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application. 

 

“Progress and Service,” Georgia Tech’s motto, tells me there’s no better place to explore my curiosity and deepen my CS skills while simultaneously helping make the world a better place, my ultimate goal for a college education. 

 

In the classroom, I look forward to GT’s threads program, where I can tailor the curriculum to suit my career choice after exposing myself to all technical aspects of CS.

 

I’ll apply my specialized learning with Tech’s fascinating research opportunities. Professor Pandarinth’s brain-machine interfacing software means a lot to me. My uncle passed away from a freak accident after extensive paralysis because potential treatments were unaffordable. Exploring this revolutionary brain decoding software wouldn’t just involve me in cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology research, I’d be personally driven to ensure its success and accessibility. 

 

I’m at my best building towards tangible results. I learned this on my robotics team using design skills to create a technically complex robot that tackles anything from shooting balls to hanging on a balance beam. I’m excited to expand my skills on the RoboJackets team, applying my career interests to build ferocious BattleBots and autonomous race robots that compete on the Indy Speedway, two events that sound ridiculously fun. 

 

Of course, I can’t skip hackathons. These competitions molded my interest in coding so I want to give back to Georgia Tech’s Hack-Community by planning HackGT and the Catalyst Mentorship program as a member of the Hexlabs team. 

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

The student’s passion for CS shines through this essay. They explain what they love about the subject (the problem-solving aspect) and they share that they hope to make a difference through CS, demonstrating alignment with Tech’s motto of  “progress and service”.

 

It’s clear that this student has done their research, mentioning specific academic programs, research, and clubs. We can see that they’d be greatly engaged with the campus community.

 

Finally, this essay is also down-to-earth. The student doesn’t try to use impressive vocabulary or formal language. In fact, they even describe some extracurriculars as “ridiculously fun.” While you shouldn’t get too informal in your essays, this student’s casual tone in this context makes them feel more approachable and more excited about the prospect of going to Georgia Tech.

 

What Could Be Improved

 

This essay has a couple sentences that are confusing to read:

 

Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve and affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application.

 

This sentence could’ve been broken up and rewritten as:

 

Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve. For me, the field affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application.

 

This sentence also uses incorrect grammar—the comma should be replaced with a semicolon:

 

Exploring this revolutionary brain decoding software wouldn’t just involve me in cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology research, I’d be personally driven to ensure its success and accessibility. 

 

These details would make the essay more readable.

 

The organization of the essay could also be reworked. The student mentions Tech’s motto of “progress and service,” but doesn’t follow up until later with an example of how they’d use CS for the greater good. Using CS for social good isn’t ultimately the theme of their essay, so this section would’ve been better placed at the end of the paragraph about AI technology research, or at the very end of the essay. The essay actually ends abruptly, so placing the section at the end might’ve tied it up nicely, if the student could’ve placed more emphasis on how they plan to use CS to improve society.

 

Where to Get Your Essays Edited

 

Do you want feedback on your “Why This College” essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free 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. 

 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!


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