Asia Bradlee
5 min read 12th Grade,Essay Tips

5 Effective “Why This College” Essay Examples


When working on your college essays, chances are that you’ll come across a “Why this college” essay. These school-specific essays are a way for colleges to get a better understanding of how you’ll take advantage of the academic resources the school offers, as well as what extracurriculars you plan to get involved in.


These “Why this college” essay examples were all written by real students. For each example, we provide a first draft, what the writer can improve, and the revised version.


Example of the “Why This College Essay” 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.


“Why This College” Essay Example, First Draft


The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Boston University attracts me because of its liberal arts education around a wide array of majors, including biology, neuroscience, and psychology. In fact, the CAS now has a course that combines biology, chemistry, and neuroscience. I’m extremely interested in this course because it connects all three forms of science into one class, emphasizing the importance of the cross-disciplinary connections. I am particularly interested in CAS’s research program because it would allow me to work with a mentor on a project, an extremely meaningful experience and preparation since I have a strong interest in conducting medical research. I have already had a taste of research at the college level through my data analysis project on Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). My partner and I extracted data from fMRI and PET studies and inputted them into the coding program Matlab. We then created an indicator map that we imported into another software AFNI to display the significant activity of the brain regions affected by DID. Because I had not taken a computer science or coding class prior to this course, I initially struggled to keep up with the coding processes. However, successfully analyzing these fMRI and PET studies and learning to code drives me to want to conduct more research, and this desire motivates me to study in a research university. CAS and its research opportunities, therefore, would open doors and include firsthand experience in the career I want to pursue.



Thoughts on the Essay and How It Can Be Improved


The focus of this essay is on research, which is something that BU excels at, so the author made a good topic choice. For the response to really be exceptional, the author needs to highlight their own interests and motivations much sooner—and they need to go into more depth about why BU is the right place for them to pursue those interests. 


First, the author needs to more clearly show their deepest interests and motivations. After reading this essay, we understand that they want to conduct medical research. However, it’s not clear why they’re interested in medical research, or what particular problems they’’d like to solve through their research. This, in turn, means that it’s never quite clear why BU’s particular resources (their majors, cross-disciplinary courses, and research opportunities) fit them. To address this, there are a few steps they could take. One would be to just add in a few sentences throughout the essay that explain more about why they’re interested in medical research. 


An even stronger approach would be to incorporate a story or anecdote that shows why they’re drawn to this career path. The best way to do this might be to include an anecdote at the start of the essay to clearly establish their interests and motivations early on—then, they can refer back to this throughout the essay. This anecdote could be almost anything: a story about someone they love who suffered from mental health issues; something they read in the news; a medical experience; or even just something they observed in passing. The goal is to use a specific moment to really show what drives them.


One other thing for the author to keep in mind is that their research experience has lots of potential to show a lot about what drives them, but it’s currently underdeveloped. The main focus seems to be on reporting what they did and  explaining how they overcame the challenge of not knowing much about coding. While it’s valuable to report what they did, the latter may not be an effective point of focus in this essay. Instead, they should try to illustrate why this research was meaningful and include details that show their passion and enthusiasm. Were they entranced by the process of turning data into meaningful insights? Did they love knowing that they were working on something that could help others? To use their story of research to illustrate their interests and motivations, the author should consider “flipping” the order of their essay and starting by describing their research—and then explaining how they can continue to explore these interests at BU.


Finally, they should elaborate more on BU’s resources. Right now, almost half of the essay is focused on their past experiences. This essay is ultimately about the future and what they want to do about BU. To address this, the author should add in more details about the kind of research they want to do at BU. What topics do they want to explore? What makes BU’s facilities ideal for this kind of research? Is there a particular person they hope to work with? 


Overall, the author should spend more time explaining what interests them and why. To do this, they should consider either adding an anecdote or story at the start of the essay to really show what drives them or moving the story of their research to the start of the essay to serve this same purpose. Then, focus on elaborating on BU’s resources and how they fit into their specific, personal motivation and interests.


The Revised Essay, Final Draft

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.


More “Why This College” Essay Examples


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Asia Bradlee

Short Bio
Asia is a graduate of Tulane University where she studied English and Public Health. She's held multiple writing positions and has experience writing about everything from furniture to higher education to nutrition and exercise.

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