June 20, 2019
The keys to getting accepted into your preferred college are more than just having a high GPA and being involved in extracurricular activities. The ‘reasons to attend college’ essay is ultimately the difference-maker. To write it successfully, you need to briefly explain – typically in one or two paragraphs – why you are the perfect fit for the particular colleges that you are applying to. This means highlighting the unique qualities that you possess. But your “Why I want to Go to College” essay should not be dry and unemotional. The goal is to enthusiastic, genuine, and true to yourself.
So how do you start writing your “reasons to attend college” essay? This article provides step-by-step pointers that can put you on the right track. First, as with any type of writing, you should start by doing some preparation. Next, we will discuss how to brainstorm good topics (along with topics to avoid). After that, we will provide information on how you can transform your ideas and research into a high quality college admissions essay. Finally, we will dissect the “reasons to attend college” essay so that you will understand how and why it is your key to success.
Step 1: Learn More about the College
It goes without saying that you can only write about a college if you know exactly what makes it unique and ideal for your objectives both academically and beyond. By demonstrating knowledge about your target college, you are showing the admissions officers that you take the process seriously. How can you find out more about the college? Below are several options.
In-Person Campus Visits
If possible, sign up for a college tour. The firsthand experience offers one of the best opportunities to find out about the school. Using your tablet or smartphone, make sure to make note of the following:
- The name of your tour guide
- A couple of interesting things that the guide says about that college
- Any traditions or features that makes the college stand out.
Connect with students and/or professors while you are there. If the opportunity to visit a class presents itself, take advantage of this. Strike up conversations with students around campus and find out what they enjoy most about the college.
Virtual Campus Visits
If you are unable to physically visit your target colleges, an online tour is the best alternative. Your college website can be a good starting point. In addition, you should be able to find videos on YouTube about your college. A lot of currently enrolled students volunteer to allow themselves to be contacted by prospective students. Feel free to send them emails with questions about their experiences at that college.
Get in touch with alumni and ask them questions about their experiences at that college along with what they have achieved since graduating. Make sure to record the interviews so that you can go back and take note of the information that you find most useful.
If your target college is sending representatives to a college fair in your community, do not simply collect a brochure and be on your way. Stop and have a discussion with the rep about what makes that college stand out from the rest. Since their job is to sell prospective students on the idea of applying, they are sure to provide you with informative answers.
Materials Published by the College
Colleges put together a ton of material that will benefit you as you do the research. Here are several types that you can use.
Brochures and Course Catalogs
Zero in on the college’s mission statement. Do you find that their educational philosophy is a good match for yours? You should also look and see if the college offers unique courses, majors, or departments that seem to be just what you are looking for.
Read through articles about professors in fields that interest you. Perhaps you will find that they have done research that is closely related to projects you have worked on in high school. Alumni magazines also often announce campus expansion, new buildings and even new courses and majors that will be offered. Make sure to also look at articles written by alumni, especially if it provides insight into why they chose to attend that college and the impact their degree has had on their career.
The campus newspaper is a perfect way to find out about the biggest issues facing the college, including controversies as well as achievements. You will also learn a lot about student life, social activities, etc.
The College’s Social Media
Check out the college’s social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Follow the school and stay up-to-date on what is going on.
College Confidential is a website that specifically caters to prospective students who are currently or getting ready for the college application process. Wikipedia is another good resource if you want to find out more details about the college.
Step 2: Brainstorm Potential Essay Topics
Now that you have done a thorough job of researching the college, the next step is to use the information to create the main points that connect you and the college.
Pick Out the Information that Really Sticks Out
If you have truly done the research, you should have a wealth of information to work with. In addition, the campus tour (whether physical or virtual), the conversations you have had with students, professors, recruiters and alumni, and what you have read in the various school publications will come in handy.
Since the essay needs to be brief and focused, you will want to narrow it down to around four or five things that really caught your attention. Take this information and apply it to your own goals, experiences and expectations. You will be able to highlight how the target college is making a good decision by accepting you, and you further explain how you will benefit from the education the college provides. In essence, you want to convince admissions that the benefits are mutual.
The question you might be asking is: which four or five things should I choose? What should I be aware of from the item that will serve as my topic? Here are some strategies that will help answer these questions.
Highlight the Target College’s Unique Attributes and Why You Find Them Appealing
Using the information you have uncovered, clearly express how you connect well to the target college. The admissions committee is not looking for general statements about how attractive the campus is nor do they want you to simply summarize all of the information found on the college’s website. All colleges have similar characteristics; your job is to discuss what makes the target college different.
Make Sure the Attributes are Clear
Again, the four or five things that you are highlighting need to express the uniqueness of the school. You should double check and make sure these are truly attributes that cannot be found at other colleges. In addition, you will want to identify the unique characteristics from your own perspective. Do not just write in general terms about how it is an amazing college; you should discuss why you personally find it to be so great. For instance, if you decide to focus on an aspect related to academics (such as majors, offered courses, professors, internship opportunities, etc.) you should connect them to your high school projects or future academic/career goals.
Do not Be Shallow
Suppose you want to attend a particular college because you love the city it is located in. Well, that city certain has more than one college, so this does not provide much insight as to why you are choosing one college and not another. This is why you should elaborate as to why you favor the particular college in that city. Likewise, the fact that you think a campus has beautiful architecture is not very meaningful when you consider that hundreds of colleges around the country have equally attractive buildings. Simply put, if you are focusing on a common attribute that many colleges possess, you will want to build a deeper personal connection.
Turn Your Favorite College Attributes Into Essay Topics
Every ‘Reasons to attend our college’ essay requires you to consider both “why choose us” and “why should we choose you?” But the way you will answer depends on how your target college words its question. Thus, you will end up focusing more on one or the other.
Since both questions seek similar information, it is easy to flip your ideas around in order to address the specific prompt. For instance, if you are answering the “why us” question, you might discuss how a certain interdisciplinary project that the college offers aligns well with a high school project that you have been working on. On the other hand, if you are answering a “why you” question, you could write about how you have been working on a high school project that aligns well with an interdisciplinary project that the college offers.