Many colleges ask the question, “Why us?” as part of the college admissions process. The question is asked differently by the colleges, but the idea behind the question is always the same: why us?
Here are a few examples of “why us?” essays:
- Columbia University: “Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.”
- University of Notre Dame: “What excites you about attending Notre Dame?”
- University of Pennsylvania: “How will you explore your intellectual and academic interest at the University of Pennsylvania?”
Colleges are asking “why us” because they are trying to learn how serious students are about their college. Admissions officers are looking for serious interest in the institution and a passion for wanting to attend. Therefore, students must do their research about each college and be very specific about why they want to attend the institution.
Tips for the “Why us?” essays:
- Recycling college admissions essays is common. However, students must proofread to ensure it is specific to the college. Do not send an essay that says, “I want to attend ‘X’ university” when applying to ‘Y’ university.
- Check the facts. Do not use the wrong information when talking about a university. If mentioning city, state, professor name, team colors, etc., make sure the correct information is included.
- Do not regurgitate information that is listed on the website or publications. The average class size, for example, may be great, but many other colleges have the same statistics. If the fact is important, students should explain why it is important to them.
- The main reason for attending a college should not be location, prestige, size or weather. Do not list these reasons in the essay because they can apply to many other colleges. This information should only be included if it is supporting other reasons listed in the essay.
- Read each sentence of the essay and see if it could apply to another college. If it can be for another college, it might not be specific enough for the “why us” essay.
- The “Why us?” essay is the perfect time to use names. If students have met professors or learned about a specific student organization, share this information. If there is something specific that is drawing the student to the university, share it in the essay.
- Although many of the essay prompts do not ask this, students can also include what they will contribute to the college campus. Colleges want to admit students who will be active on campus.
Students must research the programs, resources and activities of interest at the college before submitting the essay. Writing “I want to attend ‘X’ University because it feels right,” is not enough. Instead, students should go into detail about the unique offerings the college offers and why it would be beneficial for the student. For students who have visited the campus, they should use this information in the essay.
If students are having a hard time writing specific reasons why they want to attend a college, it might suggest the college is not the best fit for the student. Alternatively, it might suggest the student needs to dedicate more time to researching the college to learn about the unique opportunities the college offers. The “Why Us” essay shows the admissions committee your interest, so make it sounds like you are interested in the college.