Admit Achievers


A recent University of Michigan prompt asked applicants to describe the unique qualities that attract them to a specific undergraduate college or school including preferred admissions and dual degree program to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

Georgia Tech asked, beyond ranking, location and athletics why you are interested in attending Georgia Tech.

NYU Supplement has presented students with the following :

We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have 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 tell us why you are interested in each of the campuses, schools, colleges, or programs to which you have applied. You may be focused or undecided, or simply open to the options within NYU’s global network; regardless, we want to understand – Why NYU? (400-word maximum)

The above prompts and so many others you will encounter on your supplement essay safari yield what we call THE WHY College ESSAY..

It is important to have the right approach to write why these college essays.

The schools are essentially asking why you want to go there? But this shape-shifting question will come in many forms as an attempt to solicit information like:

  • what do you do when you get here?
  • How will you take the advantage of all the resources our school has to offer?
  • How will the school support your academic and professional goals?
  • And how do your past experiences and future goals support this claim?

It’s likely that many schools to which you apply will ask this question in slightly different ways and the wide range of the word limits.

Why college essays could be tricky is because they can quickly generic territory. No Matter what, there are two essential components for a successful WHY college? essay.

In-Depth knowledge of a school and a convincing demonstration of your personal interest.

Both of these elements require that you actually know what any institution has to offer.

And you know what does this means?

The amazing news about doing research on the internet is that you don’t have to visit the school physically to become intermediately familiar with its campus, curriculum and culture. Whether you have to write a why essay for a school or not, you should spend at least an hour to immerse the website to know what the school is all about and combing for the reasons you might be interested in attending. This of course is extra important if the school you are exploring does have a WHY essay.

Showcase your knowledge of and interest in the school offerings at a highly specific level is crucial and separate from truly impassioned and perfunctory applicants. As you run through the website, poke around the programs that you might want to join. Is that something specific in the curriculum which you like? Or the professor’s name you recognized? Are you excited that there is a super active volunteering community? To our knowledge, this is not an actual tradition at any university which is kind of a shame and those of you lucky enough to visit the schools to which you are applying in advance of writing your essays.

Take full advantage !!

Hop on a campus tour and ask your tour guide questions. Do not ask them where the parties are, don’t worry, you will find them. Takedown your tour guide’s name and ask for his email address so you can follow up with questions, make friends with someone in the cafeteria, notice how the campus makes you feel and try and reflect on why you were feeling those feelings.

What does the campus look and smell like? What did you eat there? Was there an exciting lab you discovered or a mock newsroom you would love to have access to? After you complete your visit or research session and we mean right after, take a few minutes to jot down notes on everything so you remember the important details when you sit down to write a month after your visit. You might even dare, we say it, want to devote a formal free write to each school. When you wrote your common app essay we asked you to get specific about yourself. Well, now is the time to get specific about the school. If you can insert the name of any other school into your essay, you are not being detailed enough and we know we shouldn’t have to say this but don’t plagiarize.

If you find a class that interests you, talk about it in your own words, don’t just use the word-for-word class description. Give admissions a little or a lot of credit. they know what their websites and catalogs sound like. Once you have a solid map of your school-specific interests, it’s time to turn the lens back on your experiences. It’s one thing to say you want to join the elite marine biology program but it’s much more convincing if you can also mention that you spent a summer on Cape Cod studying patterns of humpback whales or that you write a blog about your favorite deep-sea current events.

See, what you did!

Don’t expect admission officers to make the connection between your transcripts, activity list and interest in their school. Build the bridge for them.

In summary, when it comes to the why essay as with so many admission essays, details are important. What piques your particular interest in the school, the why essay whether it’s a hundred words or three hundred words clearly demonstrates the connection between the school’s characteristics and your own unique qualities and experiences.


What about being a student at Boston University most excites you? (250 words)

The opportunity to become a thread in Boston University’s rich tapestry and study in the ‘Athens of America’ is most exciting to me.

I was thrilled to read about the BA in Economics & Mathematics/MA in Economics program because it sounds like a tailored fit. I wish to pursue higher education in Economics but with a solid background in Mathematics. The opportunity to do just that alongside other students focused on the exact path as me is both comforting and exciting.   

As a student at BU, I am excited to take further steps in fields I have already found a footing in. From debating in the English week at my high school, I want to move on to joining the Debate Society at BU. From being the head girl and representing a class of 300, I want to leap forward to the Boston University Student Government and represent a student body of thousands. From geeking about price theory to my small group of friends, I want to join the Undergraduate Economics Association and interpret economic news and data with like-minded students. On the other hand, it is even more appealing to explore fields I never thought I would such as Beekeeping. 

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program is fascinating because it will allow me to take my first steps towards a future as a Research Economist. I greatly look forward to attending seminars on Development Economics at the Institute for Economic Development as it is the field I aspire to join.

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