Many colleges request supplemental essays, in addition to the Common Application or other required essays. Subjects range from one word responses to page and a half philosophical explorations but one of the most common is the simple question, “Why (Your School Here)?”

In answering this prompt, one of the keys to a good essay is to avoid sounding totally generic. “Your outstanding faculty, world class facilities, and study abroad programs will give me everything I need in an education” can pretty much be said about every four year school in the country. Instead, as in all college essays, get specific. Do some research and mention a professor whose course or philosophy appeals to you. If you intend on studying a language, give details about what it means to you, i.e., “As an economics major, I’m particularly interested in the global business environment and feel that mastering a non-English language will help me in this pursuit.”

Another way to maximize this essay prompt is to avoid telling the school what it already knows about itself, for example, “I am attracted to State University because you offer more internship opportunities than any other school in the region.” That might be true but, again, it’s much better to present it from a personal point of view. “One of my key objectives during college is to build a resume that will land me a job upon graduation. State’s many internship opportunities will help me achieve this goal.”

It’s also important to remember that this prompt often takes a bit of research. Study the school’s website and follow links for late breaking news, then weave this information in skillfully, i.e., “As a fan of old movies, the recent news about State’s new on-campus movie theater is particularly appealing.” You should also check out the courses in your major or electives that you might want to take and mention them as part of the “Why?”

Intellectually, you want to present yourself as a serious, deep thinking student, not someone who is there for the parties on Homecoming. To create this impression, again, it’s important to be personal, to go beyond the externals and truly reveal something of yourself. Students applying to big schools: explain why this appeals to you, whether it be the wide variety of people or the simple fact that you love crowds. Students applying to a small school, same concept: explain why you would rather not be bothered with pretending to care about a football team that will never interest you.

Why (Your School Here)? seems like a fairly easy essay question. But going beyond the obvious, revealing yourself through specifics and thoughtful concepts, can make it a true asset toward getting you accepted.

For more personal help with the college application essay, contact Craig Heller directly at [email protected] or 818-340-1276.

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