We all have those colleges on our list. You know the ones. They’re the schools your parents made you apply to, the schools you decided to apply to just because you’ve heard a few good things, or maybe they’re the “safety” schools that you don’t really expect to attend.
Whatever the case, you don’t know much about these institutions. Then you come to the dreaded question in the application: “Why our school?”
Don’t panic! Here’s what you need to know about how to write a successful response to this prompt for the school that’s not exactly your top choice.
DON’T go on and on about the city where the college is located.
An ode to your love for Boston doesn’t tell an admissions officer why Boston College is a better fit for you than Boston University.
Spend a little while browsing the website of the college, especially the pages for any academic programs or community service opportunities you might be interested in. As you learn more and more about the school, you might be surprised at the number of things you can bring up in the supplement.
Don’t just write that you would like to attend a college because of their world-renowned biology department. Explain why you like aspects of the department at this school in particular, such as certain classes and professors.
Talk to an alumni of your high school who now attends the college.
Your college counselor may be able to put you in touch by providing an email or a phone number. This student can help you learn information you never could have found on a website. You can ask them questions about student life and the general atmosphere on campus, if you weren’t able to visit.
It’s all about YOU.
Although the prompt “Why our college?” might seem to be heavily focused on the school itself, a main part of the essay should describe your interests and goals and explain why the school is a good fit for you specifically. Your response should be very personalized, not just a rephrased version of the college’s brochure.
College admissions officers read hundreds of these essays and they can tell a sincere student from one that just knows what will sound impressive. Exaggeration can be tempting, but remember that being your unique self is what will make you stand out from the crowd.