Earlier we discussed what to avoid when writing your "Why This College" college application essays. Today, let's get positive and talk about what should be in there by using some examples.
DO: Think of this as a "Why we are perfect for each other" essay.
Imagine you're on a date and the person sitting across from you leans in to ask, "So, why do you like me?" You can't just say, "Because you're hot." You're gonna need to be a little more specific. How do you do this? Here’s how:
DO: Fold a piece of paper in half to create two columns, then at the top label one "What I want" and the other "What they have."
As you're researching the school, bullet-point 10-15 specific, concrete reasons why you and the school are a great match for one another.
So, for example, if the school has a music and medicine program, put that in the right column. Next to it, in the left column, say why that's the perfect program for you. Or maybe you're interested in studying Chinese? Put that it in the left column and then look for something related to learning Chinese that the school offers--either academically or extracurricularly (an actual word but don't use it in your essay)--and put that it in the right column. How does this help? It takes your essay from:
"Michigan's well-known legacy, its fantastic football team and spectacular location in Ann Arbor are just a few reasons why I believe UM is the place for me." #supergeneric
"I look forward to Academic Argumentation (225) and Professional Writing (229), as I believe these courses will provide me with a firm basis in journalistic writing technique 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." #likeaboss
See what he's done there in this Why This College example?
DO: Mention specific classes, professors, clubs and activities that you will actually be excited about being a part of.
And don't BS it. Imagine yourself on campus as a freshman. What are you doing? What conversations are you having? How are you involved? I want to say "You can't get too specific," although I'm sure you could if you try... On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being "I want to be involved in all the campus activities!” and 10 being "There was a particular student's dorm window I looked in during the campus walking tour and I saw her reading a Microecon book and drinking a Strawberries Wild from Jamba Juice--my favorite--and I thought--" (Slow down, creeper. And how did you know what flavor it was??) Anyway, keep it at like a 7 or an 8. And make sure all your details are relevant and appropriate. Here's a good gauge to know what’s relevant and appropriate. Ask:
- Am I showing that I've done my research?
- Am I demonstrating my intelligence?
- Am I connecting what they have to with what I have?
If you’re doing all three, keep it in. If you’re not doing any of these, consider cutting. And I know I said that third thing already, but it's worth repeating: often students only say why the school is awesome. But remember that this essay is not about why the school is awesome. The school knows it’s awesome; the admissions readers spend a lot of their time telling students like you why it's awesome.
DO: Remember this is another chance to show a few more of your skills/talents/interests/passions.
Make a list of 10 things you definitely want the school to know about you. Ask yourself: are all these values/qualities in my main essay or another supplement? If not, the "Why This School" may be a place to include a few more details about who you are. But remember: connect it to some awesome opportunity/program/offering at or near the school.
Okay, I said I was finished but here's one more: If the school doesn't have a particular program/opportunity you're looking for, don't freak out. Look at this not as a dead end, but as an opportunity.
Looking for examples of past college essays that worked? These are some admissions essays that our officers liked best from last year.
Jonathan Marc Leon-Salans '20
Chevy Chase, MD
The Super Show was, for me, the defining moment of the Voices of Tufts program. From students “Banging Everything At Tufts” to slam poetry, and from African to Indian dance, Tufts' amazing diversity was on full display. People from all different backgrounds were not only performing in the show but also watching it, and all of us were having the best time. It was clear to me that, at Tufts, differences are not only accepted, but celebrated. It was the moment I realized Tufts is the place for me. On no other campus have I felt so welcome and embraced.
Yang Lowe '21
I never imagined I would be talking to Jumbos about everything from ethics in politics to squid in bibimbap, but my conversations with students during my visit confirmed everything I love about the school. Tufts is a uniquely curious, playful and collaborative platform that exudes intellectual diversity like none other. I can study anything from genetics to psychology, and pursue anything from the Entrepreneurship to the Culinary Society. As a metal guitarist who enjoys woodworking and reading up on human behavior, I've never felt like I fit neatly into one category. At Tufts, I won't have to.
Jesse Ryan ’21
I spent my Tufts campus visit in a "Sociology of War and Peace" class. The discussion was rich as ideas were tossed back and forth, comparing and contrasting modern warfare in different regions and cultures. The dialogue instantly excited me, but when the students I was sitting with invited me to come to lunch with them, to continue talking about the Middle Eastern conflict, I knew that Tufts was the kind of environment I was looking for: an open community that values dialogue, and a campus with a strong intellectual pulse, even outside of the classroom.
Isaac Joon-hyuk Choi ’21
Saint Joseph, MO
As an artist, I believe that one's work should reflect the world beyond it. Thus, I'm most attracted to Tufts SMFA's combination of rigorous artistic study with a challenging liberal arts curriculum at the School of Arts and Sciences. I want to inform my art-making with in-depth exploration of sociology, justice, and international relations, creating works that comment on global issues--a prospect uniquely possible at Tufts SMFA. With numerous opportunities for combining art and community work on campus and in Boston, the SMFA program shows art isn't only meant for the classroom; it's meant for the world.
Christopher Sprunt ’21
I vividly remember stepping onto the roof of Tisch Library and seeing a group of kids sitting in hammocks, overlooking the Boston skyline. I briefly tuned out my tour guide's presentation and began to eavesdrop. The students covered everything from physics to what they had for lunch that day. When they spoke about physics, they did not speak with pretension; instead they spoke with passion. Likewise, when they spoke about something as simple as lunch, they did so with witty intrigue. Tufts students are as interesting as they are interested. This description not only resonates with me, it defines me.
Plearn Arronchote ’21
I'm not a picky person, but in the college search, I sure was. Luckily, I found Tufts, a school that checked every box.
At Tufts, the many facets of my personality will be embraced. I can be an environmental engineer who does research in the Water: Systems, Science and Society program, takes US Foreign Policy in the Middle East, and stage-manages a musical. At Tufts, an institution that celebrates interdisciplinary learning, my diverse interests won't be met with judgmental indifference. Instead, they will be encouraged by peers who are just as enthusiastic about pretty much everything as I am.
Yarmina Kamal ’21
I fell in love with Tufts Engineering because of its extended focus on society. With the school's emphatic value on civic engagement and a larger global conversation, the engineering program allows me to supplement my profound fascination for math and physics with my impassioned value on service and learning. My love for the world and for its people empowers me. I see this same kind of love reflected within the Tufts community, which is why I know with wholehearted certainty that Tufts University is where I belong in order to be both the engineer and person I aspire to be.
Esther Tzau ’21
As a girl interested in computer science it's common when visiting university websites to utter "you go, girl" to the lone female faculty member smiling proudly amidst a male-dominated CS department. However, Tufts is a unique community that not only encourages minorities in STEM, but actively recruits female faculty like the spunky and inspirational activist/engineer/professor/entrepreneur Dr. Laney Strange, who I met at Girls Who Code. With my passions ranging from multimedia art to Latin American culture to CS, Tufts excites me since it's where diverse interests are celebrated and where I can have stimulating conversations with anyone I meet on campus.