Applying To College

College Essay Writing and Interview Skills

How to Answer “Why This College?” Essay – pt. 1: What Schools Want


how-to-answer-why-this-school“Dear Student,
Please respond to this question: ‘Why do you want to go to OUR GREAT SCHOOL U?'”

How do you answer this question?

This is an important essay
. Don’t save it for last. Give it some time and thought.

Your Goal
Use specific examples to show that you understand what makes the college special and why it’s a good fit for you.

Once Again
Be Specific. Details and examples matter.

Schools Want to Know
1. That you “get them.” This means that you understand what makes them different from other schools. Take into consideration academic philosophy, traditions, student life, etc.
2. Why you’re a good match for them. How will you fit in? How will you contribute? How will you take advantage of what they have to offer? Tell them why their school matters to you.

Schools Don’t Like
1. Vague answers such as “Your school really inspires me”… “I like cold weather”…“The campus is amazing”… “I can really see myself going there.” (You probably won’t.)

2. Hearing information they already know. For example: “I’m looking forward to going to OUR GREAT SCHOOL U because it has a Division I Soccer Team.”They already know that. Personalize it instead: “I’ve been following Division I soccer for years and was psyched when OUR GREAT SCHOOL U made it to the NCAA Soccer finals last December. I’ll be in the stands cheering when I get to campus next fall.”

Don’t Use the Same Essay for Different Schools

Some students use the same first one or two sentences as an introduction, but this shouldn’t be a “fill in the blank” essay where you plug in the name of a dorm or professor. The admissions committee will catch that.  Remember…the more specific you can be the more successful you’ll be.

Read: Part 2:
  5 Steps to Writing A Great Why This College Essay
Read: Part 3:  “Why This College” Essay Samples


Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.


Leave a comment — let me know what you think!

Author: Sharon Epstein

College consultant, teaching students how to write memorable college application essays, grad school and prep school essays, and succeed at job and college interviews.

5 thoughts on “How to Answer “Why This College?” Essay – pt. 1: What Schools Want

  1. Pingback: How to Answer “Why This College?” pt.2: 5 Steps to a Great Essay « Applying To College

  2. Pingback: How to Answer “Why This College?” pt 3: Essay Samples « Applying To College

  3. Pingback: 5 Questions to Ask Students on Your College Visit « Applying To College

  4. Pingback: 10 College Visit Tips for High School Sophomores | Applying To College

  5. Pingback: 5 More College Visit Tips for High School Sophomores | Applying To College

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