The most important thing to remember about a “Why College” essay is that it’s really a “Why You” Essay. This essay is just as much about you as it is the college. Why do they need you on their campus? What will you bring? So, in essence, this should be an essay that only you could write about only this school. If any sentence could apply to any other school or applicant, scratch it. 

Write a love letter to the college explaining all the reasons you need to be together. Here’s an idea borrowed from Ethan Sawyer, College Essay Guy: take a sheet of paper and divide it down the middle. On one side list all the awesome stuff about you. On the other side list all the amazing stuff about the college. Where do you see overlaps? Where do you match? Where does the college bump up against you? And Where do you bump up against the school? That’s the substance of your essay. It’s kinda like thinking about any kind of relationship really. 

Make sure you include specifics. For specifics about your college, do your research:

  • If you’ve visited, say so. And talk about what you saw and liked and why it was specifically appealing to you. 
  • Read the student newspaper online. Find events and articles that appeal to you.  
  • Follow the admissions department on social media. Mention something they’ve profiled recently and why it’s specifically interesting to you. 
  • Read the website, especially the admissions website, carefully. Most college websites tell you exactly what they’re looking for. Are you that person? If so, demonstrate to them why. If not, well, maybe this school isn’t a great fit for you. 
  • Check out classes that look interesting to you. Look at course lists on the website. Tell them why this would be a great class for you. What will you get out of it? What can you contribute? 
  • Find professors who appeal to you ( can be your friend here). 
  • Check out clubs and activities on campus. What can you bring to the campus and how do you see yourself being involved? 
  • Check out other sources that might help you learn more about the colleges like, or my new app, CollegeVizzy (on the app store now).

Even though these essays can often be short, they are super important and must show that you’ve taken your time, given thought, highlighted yourself, and done your research. They’re just as important as your personal essay. Every word counts.