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The Essay “Why Us” or ….“Why This or That University”


Many colleges/universities ask Why Did you Choose to Apply to College X? or What aspects of the curriculum or undergraduate experience prompted your application? In one way or the other, they are asking you “Why Us?”


This seems like an easy question but again, it will require thinking, researching and making sure you answer the question while saying as much about yourself as possible. Schools want to know if you really want to attend there and what you can contribute to their academic and social life.



Don’t just write a generic answer and plug in the name of the different university depending on where you apply. Don’t just mention rankings, U.S. News and World Report, or the city where it’s located…do your research and thinking.


Here are some guidelines:


  1. If you have visited the university, think of what impressed you and what you liked.
  2. Most likely, you haven’t visited the place, so go to the school’s webpage and read about it carefully trying to discern the big picture, the values and priorities of the place. Do these fit your values and priorities?
  3. Read blogs by alumni or current students and if something catches your attention, internalize it and talk about it.
  4. Make sure you don’t copy phrases from the webpage. Say it in your own words. Do you like the school program, campus life, did you hear about it from a friend of a friend, do you know someone who went there? What did they like about it?
  5. Is there something at the college/university that you are passionate about?


For example: Brown University is an Ivy League school, i.e. highly selective with 94% of its entering class in the top 10% of their high school. It has a distinct curriculum which allows you to choose your own majors and classes, or take classes where you don’t want to be graded. The basis of it is the university belief that college is the place where you should explore and be in charge of what you study. This flexibility allows you to combine various interests, as well as learn to make decisions and think independently. If you spend enough time on the site you will also notice the numerous a cappella groups or journals. If this is what you want to do, make sure you mention it.


January 22, 2015

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