It’s that time of year when most of you high school seniors are finalizing your Personal Statements, required by nearly every college in the country. Once you complete that, you may find that you have a number of supplemental essays to write. A common supplemental essay requested by many colleges is the “Why Us?” essay.

With this question, schools are seeking to learn why you would be a good match for them. This question is more difficult than it may first appear. In fact, it’s a minefield. This is where you can show that you have done your research and engaged in some self-reflection about how your goals, aspirations and values are aligned with the college in question. 

First, this is not the place to talk about the fact that you like the school because of its student population, location, climate or sports team. You may like all of those things. And, in fact, schools realize that those factors are important when students are making a decision about which schools to apply to. But admissions officers are looking for a deeper response from you, one that shows that you understand the mission and vision of the college and that it aligns with your values, character and interests. 

Here’s a simplistic way to think about the “Why This College” essay. Ask yourself:

What am I looking for in a college? 

Is it a co-op program that allows you to gain some practical work experience? A college that values service work and turns out high percentages of Peace Corps volunteers? Maybe it’s the opportunity to do biomedical research with a professor well-known in his or her field.

Then ask yourself:

In what way does the college offer what I’m looking for? 

Is there a match? The “match” can be a values match, an academic match, or any number of other points of alignment. 

Ideally, you will be able to identify three or four “matches” or “alignments” between you and the college in question. It’s important to elaborate on these with specificity. Successful applicants will have reviewed a course curriculum that’s of interest to them, emailed a professor or spoken with a current student. The more details you can give about how the college is allied with your interests, goals, values, and beliefs, the stronger your essay will be. 

Once you’ve been able to identify the points of alignment between you and the college, there are a number of ways to write the essay. At Annapolis College Consulting we have an Essay Resource Team to help you write an insightful, meaningful “Why Us?” essay that will move your application to the top of the pile. Connect with us today!