I'll give you some tips on transforming your ideas and research into an actual essay. Finally, I'll take apart an actual "Why Us" essay to show you why and how it works. Before you can write about a school, you'll need to know specific things that make it stand out and appeal to you and your interests. So where do you look for these? And how do you find the detail that will speak to you? Here are some ways you can learn more about a school.
If you're going on college tours , you've got the perfect opportunity to gather information about the school. Bring a notepad and write down the following:. Try to also connect with students or faculty while you're there.
If you visit a class, note which class it is and who teaches it. See whether you can briefly chat up a student e. Don't forget to write down the answer! Trust me, you'll forget it otherwise—especially if you do this on multiple college visits. You can also connect with students without visiting the campus in person. Many admissions websites list contact information for currently enrolled students you can email to ask one or two questions about what their experience of the school has been like.
Or if you know what department, sport, or activity you're interested in, you can ask the admissions office to put you in touch with a student who is involved with that particular interest. Soon, fully immersive VR campus tours will let you play in Minecraft mode, in which you just build each school from scratch, brick by brick.
If you have an interview , ask your interviewer questions about his or her experience at the school and about what going to that school has done for him or her since graduation. As always, take notes! If you have a chance to go to a college fair where your target college has representatives, don't just come and pick up a brochure. Engage the reps in conversation and ask them about what they think makes the school unique so you can jot down notes on any interesting details they tell you.
Colleges publish lots and lots of different kinds of things—and all of these will be useful for your research. Here are some suggestions for what you can use. You should be able to find all of the following resources online. Read the mission statement of the school—does its educational philosophy align with yours? You should also read through its catalogs. Pro Tip: These interesting features you find should be unusual in some way or different from what other schools offer. For example, being fascinated with the English department isn't going to cut it unless you can discuss its unusual focus, its world-renowned professors, or the different way it structures the major that appeals to you specifically.
Are any professors highlighted? Does their research speak to you or connect with a project you did in high school or for an extracurricular? Sometimes alumni magazines will highlight a college's new focus or new expansion. Does the construction of a new engineering school relate to your intended major? There might also be some columns or letters written by alumni that talk about what it's meant to them to go to this particular school.
What stands out about their experiences? Students write about the hot issues of the day, which means that the articles will be about the best and worst things on campus. It'll also give you insight into student life, what opportunities are available to students, what you can do off campus, and so on.
Your target school is most likely on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , and other social media. Follow the school to see what it's posting about. Any exciting new campus developments? Professors in the news? Interesting events, clubs, or activities? Wikipedia is a great resource for learning basic details about a college's history, traditions, and values. I also recommend looking for forums on College Confidential that specifically deal with the school you're researching.
Another option is to search on Google for interesting phrases, such as "What students really think about [School Name]" or "[School Name] student forum. So what should you do now that you've completed a bunch of research? Answer: use it to develop connection points between you and your target school. These connections will be the skeleton of your "why this college" essay.
You have on hand all kinds of information, from your own personal experiences on campus, to your conversations with people affiliated with your target school, to what you've learned from campus publications, to tidbits gleaned from the web.
Now, it's time to sift through all of your notes to find the three to five things that really speak to you. Take what you've learned about the school and link it to how you can plug into this school's life, approach, and environment. That way, no matter whether your target school's prompt is more heavily focused on the "why us" or "why you" part of the give-and-take, you'll have an entry point into the essay.
But what should these three to five things be? What should you keep in mind when you're looking for the gem that will become your topic? Do your research, and articulate a multi-dimensional connection to the specific college or university. We do not want broad statements the brick pathways and historic buildings are beautiful or a rehash of the information on our website College X offers a strong liberal arts curriculum. All institutions have similarities. We want you to talk about our differences.
Time to find that diamond, amethyst, opal, tourmaline, or amber in the rough. When I say "check your gems," I mean make sure that each of the three to five things you've found is something your target school has that other schools don't have. This something should be seen from your own perspective.
The point isn't to generically praise the school but instead to go into detail about why it's so great for you that they have this thing. This something you find should be meaningful to the school and specific to you. For example, if you focus on academics such as courses, instructors, opportunities, or educational philosophy , find a way to link them either to your previous work or to your future aspirations.
This something should not be shallow and non-specific. Want to live in a city? Every city has more than one college in it. Find a way to explain why this specific college in this specific city calls to you. Like pretty architecture? Many schools are beautiful, so dwell on why this particular place feels unlike any other. Like good weather, beach, skiing, or some other geographical attribute? There are many schools located near these places, and they know that people enjoy sunbathing.
Either build a deeper connection or skip these as reasons. Every "why this college" essay is going to answer both the "why us" and the "why you" parts of the back-and-forth equation. But depending on which way your target school has worded its prompt, you'll lean more heavily on that part. This is why I'm going to split this brainstorming into two parts—to go with the "why us" and "why you" types of questions.
Of course, since they are both sides of the same coin, you can always easily flip each of these ideas around in order to have it work well for the other type of prompt. For example, a "why us" essay might talk about how interesting the XYZ interdisciplinary project is and how it fits well with your senior project. By contrast, a "why you" essay would take the same idea but flip it to say that you've learned through your senior project how you deeply value an interdisciplinary approach to academics, making you a great fit for this school and its commitment to such work, as evidenced by project XYZ.
Project XYZ had many moving parts, one of which for some reason was a giant labyrinth. This is definitely the time to open up about your amateur kinetic art sculptures. Pop quiz: this pretty Gothic building is on what college campus? Yup, that's right—could be anywhere. We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service.
We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.
Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. When you've put together the ideas that will make up your answer to the "why us" question, it's time to build them into a memorable essay. Here are some tips for doing that successfully:.
For more tips, check out our step-by-step essay-writing advice. Cookie cutters: great for dough, terrible for college applications. At this point, it'll be helpful to take a look at a "why us" essay that works and figure out what the author did to create a meaningful answer to this challenging question. It was on my official visit with the cross country team that I realized Tufts was the perfect school for me.
Our topics of conversation ranged from Asian geography to efficient movement patterns, and everyone spoke enthusiastically about what they were involved in on campus. I really related with the guys I met, and I think they represent the passion that Tufts' students have. I can pursue my dream of being a successful entrepreneur by joining the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society, pursuing an Entrepreneurial Leadership minor, and taking part in an up-and-coming computer science program.
You can see more great "why this school" essays for Tufts by visiting the Tufts website. The prompt may be phrased in one of two ways: "Why us? Participating in the Student Science Training Program and working in their lab made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Just the thought of participating in a project at this level of scientific rigor made me forget that this was supposed to be my summer break and I spent the first day eagerly examining every piece of equipment.
Even at first, when the whole research group sat there doing rote calculations and others felt like they were staring down the barrel of defeated purpose, I remained enthusiastic. Time and time again I reminded myself of that famous phrase "great effort leads to great rewards," and sure enough, soon my aspirations began to be met. This shift in attitude also coincided with a shift in location: from the computer desk to the laser lab.
It was finally time to get my hands dirty. Now things began to get really interesting. During the experimentation phase of the project, I spent the majority of my waking hours in the lab — and I enjoyed every minute of it. From debriefing with my coordinator in the morning to checking and rechecking results well into the afternoon, I was on cloud nine all day, every day.
I even loved the electric feeling of anxiety as I waited for the results. Most of all, though, I loved the pursuit of science itself. Before I knew it, I was well into the seventh week and had completed my first long-term research experiment. In the end, although the days were long and hard, my work that summer filled me with pride. That pride has confirmed and reinvigorated my love for science.
I felt more alive, more engaged, in that lab than I have anywhere else, and I am committed to returning. I have always dreamed of science but since that summer, since my experiment, I have dreamed only of the future. To me, medical science is the future and through it I seek another, permanent, opportunity to follow my passion.
After all, to follow your passion is, literally, a dream come true. In addition to its use of clear, demonstrative language, there is one thing that makes this an effective essay: focus. Indeed, notice that, although the question is broad, the answer is narrow. This is crucial. It can be easy to wax poetic on a topic and, in the process, take on too much. This emphasis gives the reader the opportunity to learn who the writer is on his terms and makes it a truly compelling application essay.
The winter of my seventh grade year, my alcoholic mother entered a psychiatric unit for an attempted suicide. Mom survived, but I would never forget visiting her at the ward or the complete confusion I felt about her attempt to end her life. Today I realize that this experience greatly influenced my professional ambition as well as my personal identity.
While early on my professional ambitions were aimed towards the mental health field, later experiences have redirected me towards a career in academia. I come from a small, economically depressed town in Northern Wisconson. Many people in this former mining town do not graduate high school and for them college is an idealistic concept, not a reality. Neither of my parents attended college.
Feelings of being trapped in a stagnant environment permeated my mind, and yet I knew I had to graduate high school; I had to get out. Although most of my friends and family did not understand my ambitions, I knew I wanted to make a difference and used their doubt as motivation to press through.
Four days after I graduated high school, I joined the U. The 4 years I spent in the Army cultivated a deep-seated passion for serving society. While in the Army, I had the great honor to serve with several men and women who, like me, fought to make a difference in the world.
During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments. Driven by a commitment to serve and a desire to understand the foundations of psychological illness, I decided to return to school to study psychology. In order to pay for school and continue being active in the community, I enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard as a Medic. Due to the increased deployment schedule and demands placed on all branches of the military after September 11, my attendance in school has necessarily come second to my commitment to the military.
There are various semesters where, due to this demand, I attended school less than full time. Despite taking a long time and the difficulty in carving separate time for school with such occupational requirements, I remained persistent aiming towards attending school as my schedule would allow. My military commitment ends this July and will no longer complicate my academic pursuits.
In college, as I became more politically engaged, my interest began to gravitate more towards political science. The interest in serving and understanding people has never changed, yet I realized I could make a greater difference doing something for which I have a deeper passion, political science. Pursuing dual degrees in both Psychology and Political Science, I was provided an opportunity to complete a thesis in Psychology with Dr. As an undergraduate, I was privileged to gain extensive research experience working in a research lab with Dr.
During the three years I worked in her lab, I aided in designing a study, writing an Institutional Review Board IRB application, running participants through both pilot and regular studies, coding data, and analyzing said data, with these experiences culminating in my honors thesis. Participating in such a large study from start to finish has validated my interest in academic research as a profession. This fall I will embark on writing an additional honors thesis in political science.
While the precise topic of my thesis is undecided, I am particularly interested in Mexico and its development towards a more democratic government. Minoring in Spanish, I have read various pieces of literature from Mexico and have come to respect Mexico and Latin American culture and society. I look forward to conducting this research as it will have a more qualitative tilt than my thesis in psychology, therefore granting an additional understanding of research methodology.
My present decision to switch from social psychology to political science is further related to a study abroad course sponsored by the European Union with Dr. Professor Mitchell obtained a grant to take a class of students to Belgium in order to study the EU. This course revealed a direct correlation between what I had studied in the classroom with the real world.
After spending several weeks studying the EU, its history and present movement towards integration, the class flew to Brussels where we met with officials and proceeded to learn firsthand how the EU functioned. My interest in attending the University of Rochester in particular, relates to my first semester at OU and the opportunity to take an introductory course in statistics with the now retired Dr. Larry Miller.
Through the combination of a genuine appreciation and knack for statistics and with his encouragement, I proceeded to take his advanced statistics class as well as the first graduate level statistics course at OU. I continued my statistical training by completing the second graduate statistics course on model comparisons with Dr. Roger Johnson, a Professor in the Psychology Department. The model comparison course was not only the most challenging course I have taken as an undergraduate, but the most important.
As the sole undergraduate in the course and only college algebra under my belt, I felt quite intimidated. Yet, the rigors of the class compelled me to expand my thinking and learn to overcome any insecurities and deficits in my education. Top Outstanding Psychology Student award in statistics. This award is given to the top undergraduate student with a demonstrated history of success in statistics. My statistical training in psychology orientates me toward a more quantitative graduate experience.
While attending the University of Rochester, I would like to study international relations or comparative politics while in graduate school. I find the research of Dr. Additionally, my attendance would allow the Political Science department to make a more accurate determination on how well I would fit in to the program than from solely my graduate school application. Attending the University of Rochester with its focus on quantitative training, would not only allow me to utilize the skills and knowledge I gained as an undergraduate, but also would expand this foundation to better prepare me to conduct research in a manner I find fascinating.
From attending S. I thrive on difficult tasks as I enjoy systematically developing solutions to problems. Attending the University of Rochester would more than likely prove a challenge, but there is no doubt in my mind that I would not only succeed but enable me to offer a unique set of experiences to fellow members of the incoming graduate class.
The number of competitors in the Midwest Spelling Bee had dropped from to the thirty-some who remained after two waves of preliminaries, a group I was awed to be in. The third round would likely be the last one carried out with pencil and paper. A sole word stood between me and the oral competition to follow. My approach to academic success in middle school consisted of rote memorization and stodgy study habits. Fortunately for my sanity and social life, I have since discovered that learning derived from experience can introduce an invaluable layer of reality to otherwise useless knowledge.
But, an error is an error, and my misspelling of the word earned me a disheartening dismissal from the Midwest Spelling Bee. I immediately resolved to learn about the man whose name was responsible for cheapening my years of poring over vocabulary lists and etymology guides. Upon learning that Richard Wagner was one of the most prolific opera composers in history, I had to investigate. Along my inquisitive quest, I encountered two newfound passions: opera music and the pursuit of stimulating information.
I am an unabashed classical music aficionado. My enthusiasm came gradually over years of imposed piano lessons that eventually became voluntary as my interest in the activity piqued. I came to sense the profound communion with notes on a page arising from tinkering out the same rhythms and melodies that were manuscripts by musical geniuses centuries ago.
However, because I could not perform it, I never thought to explore opera. Without my keen interest in Wagner, I may have never encountered the awe-inspiring blend of visual and musical mastery that constitutes his interpretation of the genre. Opera swiftly captured my eye and ear for insightful art.
For instance, in his landmark opera, Tristan und Isolde, Wagner unleashed a then-revolutionary tonal system which paved the way for twentieth century classical music. Fueled by my frustration with the outcome of the bee, I searched for the source of my failure. In uncovering the works of Wagner, I gleaned a sense of the vast droves of information that can lie behind a seemingly simple word.
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