How to Write Your “Why This College” Supplement Essay
by Story2 Guest Author, on Oct 20, 2016 1:29:59 PM
For high school seniors, applying to college can feel like an entirely new experience. It requires students to think critically about who they are and where they’re headed, perhaps for the first time in their life. Until then, going to college might be a very abstract idea, and students may be making decisions based on very little actual research.
As a College Coach with College Summit, I always ask Peer Leaders and other students I work with to share their college lists before I make other suggestions. I want to hear their reasons for thinking about each of the colleges. Typically, they say “It’s close to home”; “My friends are applying there”; “It has a high ranking”; or “I can’t afford anywhere else.” I reply, “Think of the college’s point of view. Why should they take you? How will you contribute to the campus? Are you going to be a typical student for them?” As you begin to think more specifically, your list will become more specific to your needs. Most of my students have realized that there may be a range of colleges they can afford, and that there may well be opportunities beyond what they have dreamed of. If students understand the process, they can embark on applications with confidence!
This fall many College Summit Peer Leaders, and many students applying to college, will be writing college admission supplements. One of the most common essays is the “Why This College” essay. Colleges genuinely want to know why students are interested and what they will bring to campus. When writing a Why This College essay, Story2 provides a great framework that you can share with your students as they are writing their supplements:
Start with Research
Before you start writing the Why essay, it’s important to do your research and get to know more about the colleges to which you’re applying. Successful Why essays will rely on two elements:
- Expressing your own ambitions, values, and personality
- Demonstrating your knowledge about a specific college
How do I connect these two elements together?
For each college to which you are applying, write down at least five specific reasons why you want to attend the college. These might include a particular major, clubs, advising for careers or professional school, study abroad opportunities, and other features that are important to you.
Then for each of the reasons you wrote down, list three moments from your life that connect to the reason. Examples might be a visit to campus, a discussion with alumni, a project that connects you with a specialty.
Next, pick a moment that reveals something related to the college’s mission or an activity you may be involved with in college. Stick to specific details, make connections with what you’ve already done, and describe what difference will it make to have you as a part of that college community.
Nola Healy Lynch is a Certified Educational Planner and owner of Northwest College Search. She works with high school students and their families to prepare for, identify, and apply to colleges that fit their academic, social, and financial needs. She also volunteers as a College Coach for College Summit and as an advisor at many college access events.