Why Us Essay Examples, All you Need to Know Before Writing.
Why Us: Of all the supplemental college essays out there, the “Why Us?” essay is the most difficult to master, especially when you have to write one for each school on your college list. So, how do you convince admissions officers at each college you belong there while staying true to yourself? Do not worry, I have a bunch of tips for you.
Why Do you Think Colleges Ask This Question?
I mentioned above that this is one of the most important essays you’ll write—and that almost every college wants you to write it.
But why? What’s the significance of this question?
In reading your response, colleges are hoping to determine:
- Whether you truly know and have an interest in their school
- Whether you’ll be a good fit for the school
- Whether the school is a good fit for you
Are You Interested?
Sure, the fact that you’re filling out the application indicates some level of interest in the school.
- But many students apply to schools simply because they recognize the name, know the school has a great reputation, or even have been pushed in that direction by friends or family members.
Colleges only accept a limited number of students, and they want to admit students who have a genuine interest in and commitment to their school.
- Do you know what makes this college stand out from others?
- Do you know about the opportunities and experiences this school can offer?
- Are you aware of the school’s values, culture, and traditions?
- Have you already spent time picturing yourself here? Are you excited about this possibility?
As you write this essay, aim to demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for the school in question.
Are You a Good Fit for the School?
As they read your essays, college admissions officers try to picture you on their campus.
- Will you fit in and thrive there?
- What contributions will you make to their college and community?
- Do your interests mesh well with the school’s strengths?
- Is your personality a good fit for the school’s culture and values?
Help the admissions team imagine you as someone who would happily thrive at their school, making positive contributions to campus.
Is the School a Good Fit for You?
Not only do you need to be a good fit for the school, but the school needs to be a good fit for you as well.
- What are your academic and career goals? Can this school help you achieve them?
- Will you be successful at this school? Is the rigor and approach to learning a good fit for you?
- What academic programs, research or internship opportunities, classes, extracurricular activities, and so on will you take advantage of and participate in?
Show that the school you’re applying to has the resources to help you achieve academic and career success.
How to Recognize the “Why This College” Question
Of course, this essay won’t be labeled “Why This College” on applications. You’ll have to be able to recognize it in a variety of forms.
There are two different angles colleges might use to approach this question: “Why us?” and “Why you?”
- Why us? Here, you’ll express enthusiasm for the school and its opportunities and culture. What will you get out of attending this school?
- Why you? In this case, the focus is on the contributions you’ll make to campus and the skills, background, and talents that make you a good fit.
Although these approaches are slightly different, you can include similar information in your answers to both prompt types.
Take, for instance, let’s say you’re excited about a particular program offered by the university.
- If the university’s asking, “Why us?” you might focus on what an amazing opportunity participating in this program would be, and why you’re so excited about it. You could explain how the program would help you achieve your future goals.
- For a “Why you?” essay, you might describe how your background, experiences, and abilities make you a perfect fit for the program. You could also discuss how your future goals make you someone who would benefit from and take advantage of this program.
Let’s take a look at what these two different approaches look like.
Examples of “Why This College?” Prompts
In some cases, the college will ask you, “Why [college name here]?” making this prompt very easy to identify.
Alternatively, they might ask you:
- What do you like best about our university?
- Why are you interested in our school?
- Why do you want to go to our college?
- What aspects of our college most excite you?
“Why This College” Essay Example
To sum everything up, we would like to provide an example of a winning “why this college” essay and explain why it works:
“Stanford has been hosting a football game in which I participated as a part of my school’s team. I am an athlete, but I have quite a few more interests than sports. As such, during my time at Stanford, I got the opportunity not only to check out and enjoy the college’s football facilities but also to exchange a few words with the students.
A few words quickly turned into fervent discussions of so many topics that interest me – from Asian geography to efficient movement patterns. Not only the topics themselves have inspired and excited me, but the ardor with which the other guys were talking about them. I felt like we have known each other for years! This is exactly the kind of environment in which I would be happy to continue my studies.
I have looked into the programs and activities at Stanford, and I was glad to find out about the Stanford Entrepreneurs Club because this gives me an excellent opportunity to go on pursuing my interest in the subject-matter: currently I am an active member of a similar club at my high school. As such, I would like to take an Entrepreneurial Leadership minor alongside my Computer Science major.”
Here are the reasons why this “why this college” essay is a winning one:
- The applicant begins by mentioning that he has already begun building connections with other students, thus starting his integration into the campus life
- He states that he already feels included, thus revealing confidence in both the rightness of his choice to study at Stanford and the success of his application
- He is specific about how exactly he got to connect with students by mentioning the topics that they have discussed
- He explains what he particularly likes about Stanford and why: he participates in his high school entrepreneur’s club and feels strongly inclined to contribute to a similar club at college. He also mentions that he is specifically interested in Entrepreneurial Leadership
- He reveals awareness about the college curriculum
The Why Michigan “Why This College” Essay Example
Prompt: Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (500-word limit)
Mark Twain was a steamboat pilot. Agatha Christie was a nurse. Robert Frost was a light bulb filament changer. The best writers do not only write beautifully but also integrate their personal experiences and knowledge outside the world of literature.
By combining the study of literature, media, and perhaps law, I believe the University of Michigan will provide the education necessary for me to evolve as a journalist.
A journalist cannot reach the peak of his craft if his knowledge of literature and critical thinking skills are weak, which is why I’m excited to explore what the Department of English has to offer.
I look forward to courses such as Academic Argumentation and Professional Writing, as I believe these will provide me with a firm basis in journalistic writing techniques and improve my abilities to write analytically and develop well-supported arguments. Furthermore, the Professional Writing course will teach me how to write in a concise, straightforward style, a skill vital to a journalist.
At The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, I will be able to apply the skills learned in class with media studies in and beyond the classroom. The Honors Program provides an opportunity for independent research into the field of mass media, which will allow for intensive group studies and in-depth research opportunities, and the superb networking opportunity provides the chance to meet and engage with prominent figures in media-related studies, which will provide deeper insight and knowledge into the field. Outside the classroom, I can see myself writing scripts for the student-run television station WOLV-TV, or composing headlines for The Michigan Daily.
And although journalism is the path I’m currently on, I want to remain open to other opportunities I may encounter at UM. The Pre-Law Advising Program is interesting because I want to explore the intricacies of law and policies that govern this world. I believe that the judicial role of a lawyer is closely related to the expository skills of a writer, and I look forward to exploring this new field of study that wasn’t offered in my high school education.
But all these are what UM has to offer me. I realize that, as a member of the UM community, I’ll want to give back as well. The various volunteer programs offered by Volunteers Involved Every Week appeals to me, as does the possibility of volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Michigan, as I have previous experience with elementary school teaching.
And as an international student, I know the pains of learning English as a second language. I believe I can contribute to the ESL teaching program either at UM or abroad, and see this as an opportunity to have an impact not only at UM but in Washtenaw County and beyond. (466 words)
Four Things I Love About the “Why Michigan” Essay
- The short hook. Many students spend way too long on their opening when a short one will do. This essay’s hook is just 40 words long and works well. Does your “Why This College” essay even need a hook? Nope. If you use this first approach, get to the main argument as fast as you can.
- The clear thesis that provides a path for the essay. This will probably take you back to AP English class essays where you’re asked to make your argument explicit at the start and then provide evidence to support it. That’s what you’re doing in a “Why This College” essay and you argue that you and the school are a perfect match.
- Three main reasons and 3-4 bits of supporting evidence per paragraph. I recommend identifying three main reasons because a) it keeps your essay organized, b) it’s easy to adapt for different lengths “Why this College” essays, and c) it provides “buckets” for your research. (“Buckets” = the themed paragraphs you need to “fill” with research.)
- The way he sprinkles “salt” into his essay. Remember above where the author notes that he “look[s] forward to exploring [law at Michigan, as it] wasn’t offered in [his] high school education”? I call this sprinkling “salt” into your “Why us?” essay. Why? Consider this analogy: salt makes one thirsty and, by mentioning opportunities you haven’t had access to, you let the reader know that you’re thirsty for something the school has to offer. And the reader may know of opportunities for quenching that thirst that you don’t–including the “salt” may inspire them to think of those ways.
And there you have it. Enough approaches to tackle your ‘Why this college” essay, and some important context before you dive in. Hopefully, these tips have you off and running.
Have a tip or question? Have a different approach to this essay? Let me know in the comments. Do well to share with your friends too.
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