The "Why This College" Essay

While wading through all the essay questions - talking about your life, motivations and interests, nothing can be more confounding than writing about why you would be interested in a particular college. Although so far you may have been attempting to ‘market’ yourself, here is a question that’s clearly probing how genuine your intentions and choices are. Consequently, most student essays have great difficulty in representing their motivations accurately and not seeming quite vague.

Before you begin writing, you should think about how to narrate the story of making your choice. Your essay should be a brief walkthrough for admissions officer, of the experiences and ideas that have led you to the point of applying to that particular college.

Reading the prompt carefully should keep you focussed on what points you have to cover. You must make sure your essay is concise and is not diverging to unrelated points.

The first step then should involve keeping yourself informed regarding every aspect of that college. The college website should be read thoroughly and you should be aware of every part of the college life – academics, co-curricular activities and clubs and so on. With regards to the programme you’re applying for, try and keep yourself briefed about the faculty members, ongoing research work and the programme itself.

Differentiating yourself from countless other applicants becomes easy once you’re sufficiently aware to be specific about your interests. As they say, “The devil is in the details” and admissions officers are known to favourably remark upon a good eye for the minutest of details.
Write about how the current research work or the academic accomplishments of particular faculty members, align with your motivations in that particular field. If you have already worked out what you want to pursue later in that field, write about that as well in tandem.

Demonstrating a seamless connectivity between how you engaged with your interests in school and how you would engage with them in college is an important part of identifying yourself with a particular college. Relate your past experiences in extra-curricular activities in school – perhaps as a founding member of a club or as a creator of successful initiatives, and try to connect them with similar clubs’ activities in college.

While the architecture of the college or the city it is located in should not figure as prime factors of your choices, your appreciation of them should represent how you see yourself fitting into the daily routine.

Your excitement about being added to that college’s culture and history, should be sustained by your efforts to find points of interest in its various aspects.
Once that is clear, you can easily inset yourself within that life. Admissions officers’ are very appreciative of a personal vision being apparent.

Of course, one of the common errors one makes while writing such a descriptive essay is rambling on. You have to keep in mind that the gentleman or lady reading the essay has countless others to read and will only be irked by incoherent passages. Once you’re done with your first draft, trim it down to the briefest possible version.

Lastly, as you look over your final essay, it would be a good idea to observe how personalised it is to that particular college. If your essay seems to be suitably describe other colleges as well, then it’s obvious you have written a generic one.
Keep in mind that the college you’re applying to is already aware of all the conventional reasons for choosing it. The key to standing out then is to show them how your choice is largely independent of these conventional reasons.

To avoid being vague, be personal. Good luck!