Why This College Essay: Guide + Examples

The “Why This College” essay is a crucial component of the college application process. It allows you to showcase your knowledge about the institution and express why you believe it is the perfect fit for your academic and personal goals.

What Is the Purpose of “Why Us” College Essays?

The purpose of the “Why Us” college application essays is to demonstrate your genuine interest in the institution and articulate how your values, aspirations, and academic interests align with what the college has to offer. Admissions officers want to see that you have taken the time to research and understand their school and that you can envision yourself thriving within their community.

Why Do Colleges Want You to Write a “Why Us” Essay?

Colleges request a “Why Us” essay to gain insights into why you want to attend their institution and if you will be a good fit for the school. They want to ensure that you have a genuine connection to their school and that you are not simply applying as a backup option. Additionally, the short essay helps admissions officers assess whether you have done your due diligence and have a clear understanding of what the college can provide you.

What Colleges Get Out Of Reading Your “Why This College” Essay

When colleges read your “Why This College” essay, they gain valuable information about the level of research and effort you have put into understanding their institution. This essay allows them to assess your fit within their college admissions academic programs, campus culture, and community. It also helps them evaluate your potential contributions to the college as a student and future graduate.

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2 Types of “Why This College” Essay Prompts

There are two common types of “Why This College” essay prompts that you may encounter during the application process:

“Why us?” This prompt requires you to delve into the specific aspects of the college that resonate with you. You need to identify the unique programs, resources, or opportunities that make the institution stand out for you personally.

“Why you?” This prompt focuses on your personal qualities, experiences, and goals that align with the college’s values and mission. You need to articulate how your background and aspirations make you a strong candidate for their institution.

How to Write A “Why This College” Essay: A Step-By-Step Guide

Writing a compelling “Why This College” essay requires careful planning and execution. Follow these steps to craft an essay that highlights your genuine interest and compatibility with the institution.

Step 1: How to Find All the Resources You Need to Learn about a Particular School

Before you can write a persuasive essay, you need to gather information about the college. Start by exploring the college’s website, including the admission section, academic programs, faculty profiles, campus life, and any other relevant pages. Take note of key details, such as mission statements, values, and unique offerings.

When researching a specific aspect of a college, try using the following three-word search query: “college name” + “keyword.” For example, if you’re interested in the environmental science area of study at the University of Michigan, search for “Michigan University environmental science.” This technique will help you find more specific and targeted information.

Step 2: Organize Your Research

After gathering information, organize your research into categories or themes. This will help you identify the most important and relevant details to include in your essay. Consider grouping your findings based on academic programs, extracurricular activities, campus resources, and values or mission statements.

Step 3: Decide on Your Approach

Once you have organized your research, it’s time to decide on the approach you want to take in your essay. Here are three common strategies:

Approach #1: The Basic, Solid “Why This College” Essay 

In this approach, you will provide a well-rounded overview of the college’s offerings and explain why each aspect appeals to you. This is a good option if you have several compelling reasons to choose the college.

Approach #2: The “3-5 Unique Reasons” Strategy

In this approach, you will focus on highlighting three to five specific and unique reasons why the college stands out for you. These reasons could be related to a particular college program, research opportunity, faculty member, or campus tradition.

Approach #3: The “One Value” Strategy

In this approach, you will focus on one core value or characteristic of the college that resonates deeply with you. This could be a commitment to social justice, a strong sense of community, or an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. Explore how this value aligns with your own beliefs and aspirations.

How to Write a “Why This College” Essay If You Don’t Know What You Want to Study

If you’re undecided about your academic path, writing a “Why This College” essay can still be a meaningful exercise. Instead of focusing on a specific program, emphasize the college’s overall academic reputation, diverse course offerings, and opportunities for exploration and discovery. Highlight the particular college’s supportive and flexible environment for undecided students and express your eagerness to explore different fields before making a decision.

How to Structure a “Why This College” Essay

A well-structured “Why This College” essay follows a clear format that engages the reader and effectively communicates your reasons for choosing the institution.

First Paragraph

Begin with a captivating opening that grabs the reader’s attention. You can start with a personal anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a compelling statement. Clearly state the purpose of your essay and introduce the nursing school you’re applying to.

Body Paragraph(s)

In the body paragraphs, elaborate on the reasons why the college is a great fit for you. Use specific details and examples from your research to support your points. Be sure to highlight academic programs, faculty expertise, research opportunities, campus resources, and any other factors that resonate with your goals and interests at the university. Demonstrate how these aspects align with your academic and personal aspirations.

Closing Paragraph

In the final paragraph, summarize your main points and reiterate your genuine interest in the school. Emphasize how the institution’s values, community, and resources will contribute to your growth and future success. End with a strong concluding statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

“Why This College” Essay Example

To illustrate the structure and content of a “Why This College” essay, consider the following example:

Title: Embracing Opportunities: My Journey at XYZ University


From the moment I set foot on the campus of XYZ University, I knew I had found my academic home. The vibrant atmosphere, the welcoming community, and the diverse range of opportunities all spoke to me in a way that no other institution had. In this “Why This College” essay, I will outline the key reasons why XYZ University is the perfect place for me to pursue my academic and personal growth.


A Multidisciplinary Approach to Education:

XYZ University’s commitment to interdisciplinary learning aligns perfectly with my academic goals. As a student with diverse interests, I appreciate the flexibility to explore various disciplines and connect ideas across different fields. Whether it’s combining psychology and computer science or exploring the intersections of art and technology, XYZ University’s diverse range of programs and cross-departmental collaboration will provide me with a rich and holistic education.

Research Opportunities:

The emphasis on undergraduate research at XYZ University is unparalleled. The chance to engage in hands-on research from the early stages of my academic journey is incredibly enticing. The university’s state-of-the-art laboratories, esteemed faculty members, and robust funding opportunities will allow me to delve deep into my areas of interest, contribute to meaningful research projects, and make a tangible impact in my field.

Campus Community and Student Life:

XYZ University’s strong sense of community and inclusivity stood out to me during my campus visit. The warmth and support I felt from current students and faculty reassured me that I would be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share my passion for learning and personal growth. The plethora of student organizations, clubs, and extracurricular activities will not only enhance my college experience but also provide opportunities to develop leadership skills, foster new friendships, and make a positive impact on campus.

Global Perspective and Study Abroad Programs:

As a global citizen, I value the opportunity to broaden my horizons and gain a global perspective. XYZ University’s robust study abroad programs, partnerships with international institutions, and diverse student body will expose me to different cultures, ideas, and perspectives. I am excited about the prospect of studying in new environments, immersing myself in different societies, and developing a more nuanced understanding of the world.


In conclusion, XYZ University encompasses everything I am looking for in a college experience. Its multidisciplinary approach, commitment to specific undergraduate research, vibrant campus community, and global perspective align perfectly with my aspirations. I am eager to embrace the countless opportunities XYZ University offers and contribute to its dynamic and inclusive community. With XYZ University as my academic home, I am confident that I will grow intellectually, personally, and professionally, and become a well-rounded individual prepared to make a meaningful impact in the world.

5 Tips for Writing a Great “Why This College” Essay

  • Customize your essay for each college and avoid generic responses. Tailor your essay to highlight specific aspects of each institution that resonate with your goals and interests.
  • Take the time to thoroughly research each college you’re applying to. Explore their websites, attend virtual information sessions, and connect with current students or alumni. The more you know about the college, the better you can articulate your reasons for choosing it.
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of how the college aligns with your academic and personal goals. Showcase the specific programs, resources, or opportunities that make the institution a perfect fit for you.
  • Avoid vague statements and provide concrete examples to support your points. Use specific details about the college’s offerings and connect them to your personal experiences, interests, or goals. This will add depth and authenticity to your essay.
  • Let your passion and excitement for the college shine through in your writing. Admissions officers want to see that you are genuinely excited about the opportunity to attend their institution. Use vivid language and expressive examples to convey your enthusiasm and make a memorable impression.

Six Common Mistakes Students Make on the “Why This College” Essay

  • Writing about the school’s size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking: Admissions officers already have access to this information, so it’s important to focus on unique aspects that differentiate the college from others.
  • Using emotional language to demonstrate fit: While it’s important to show your genuine interest, avoid overly sentimental or exaggerated language. Stick to providing concrete reasons and evidence for why the college is the right fit for you.
  • Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors, or names of important people or places on campus: Double-check all the details and ensure accuracy when mentioning specific names or details about the college. Mistakes in this area can undermine the credibility of your essay.
  • Parroting the brochures or website language: Admissions officers want to hear your unique perspective and insights. Avoid regurgitating generic information from the college’s promotional materials. Instead, provide your own observations and experiences.
  • Describing traditions the school is well-known for: While it’s important to appreciate and respect the traditions of the college, avoid focusing solely on well-known aspects. Instead, dig deeper and showcase your understanding of the college’s values, programs, or initiatives that resonate with you personally.
  • Thinking of this as only a “Why them” essay: Remember that the “Why This College” essay is not just about the college, but also about you. It should demonstrate how you will contribute to the college community, take advantage of the opportunities provided, and grow personally and academically during your time there.

Wrapping up: “Why This College?” Essay

Writing a compelling “Why This College?” essay requires careful research, introspection, and a genuine passion for the institution. By showcasing your fit, aligning your goals, and highlighting the college’s influence, you can craft an unforgettable essay that sets you apart from other applicants.

Remember to stay true to yourself, be authentic, and customize your essay for each college. Use concrete examples, personal anecdotes, and a clear narrative to make your essay engaging and persuasive. With these expert tips and insights, you’re well on your way to creating an essay that showcases your expertise, passion, and genuine interest in your dream college.

As you navigate the process of writing your “Why This College?” essay, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experienced writers and consultants who will provide personalized guidance tailored to your unique circumstances and goals.

FAQs About the “Why This College?” Essay

How long should my “Why This College?” essay be?

Your “Why This College?” essay should be concise and focused. Typically, colleges provide a word limit or a specific prompt that indicates the desired length. Aim to strike a balance between providing sufficient detail and keeping your essay within the specified limits.

Should I mention specific professors or faculty members in my essay?

If a particular faculty member’s work or research aligns with your interests, mentioning them can be beneficial. However, avoid name-dropping for the sake of it. Only mention individuals if they genuinely influence your decision and if you can articulate how they will contribute to your academic journey.

What if I’m applying to multiple colleges? Can I reuse my essay?

While it may be tempting to reuse your “Why This College?” essay across multiple applications, it is essential to customize it for each institution. Admissions officers can easily spot generic or recycled content, which may negatively impact your chances of acceptance. Take the time to research and understand each college’s unique offerings and tailor your supplemental essay accordingly.

Can I include personal anecdotes in my essay?

Absolutely! Personal anecdotes can bring your essay to life and make it more engaging. Share meaningful experiences that highlight your growth, challenges, or moments of inspiration. However, ensure that your anecdotes are relevant to the dream school and effectively showcase why you believe it is the right fit for you.

How do I strike a balance between showcasing my fit and avoiding sounding too desperate?

While it is crucial to showcase your genuine interest and passion for the college, it’s equally important to strike a balance and avoid sounding desperate or overly eager. Focus on conveying your enthusiasm and compatibility with the institution without exaggerating or using excessive flattery.

Should I discuss my extracurricular activities in the essay?

If your extracurricular activities align with the college’s values or have played a significant role in shaping your interests, it can be beneficial to mention them. However, be selective and only discuss activities that directly relate to your academic or personal growth and highlight how they align with the college’s offerings.

What are colleges looking for in the “Why Us” essay?

Colleges want to see that you have done your research, understand the institution’s values and offerings, and can articulate how they align with your goals and interests.

Which colleges have a “Why This College?” essay?

Many colleges, especially selective institutions, require or recommend a “Why This College” essay. It’s important to check the application requirements of each college you are applying to.

What kind of writing style should I use?

Use a clear and concise writing style that reflects your own voice. Avoid using overly formal or informal language and strike a balance between professionalism and authenticity.

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