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How To Write A “Why This School” Essay

VSAFuture.com | Online Tutoring and College Counseling.

As college application deadlines approach, high school seniors everywhere are furiously working on draft after draft of their college essays. To make your fifth—or tenth—“Why this school?” essay writing just a bit easier, VSA Future college experts have a few tips:

  • Demonstrate you have taken the time to do research on the school. The point is not to list a series of obscure facts about the school, but to weave key details into your essay that show you understand, and respect, the program you’re applying to—and that you’re a serious applicant. Showing clear interest is crucial to making you stand out from other applicants.
  • Don’t just gush about why the school’s so fantastic—focus on how your goals, interests, and aspirations match what the school has to offer. Admissions officers know why their school is fantastic; what they want to know is why you would be fantastic as their student. The essay needs to reflect not just your knowledge of the school, but also your own understanding and clear perceptions about yourself and your needs as a future college student, choir singer, or cancer researcher. Present yourself as a thoughtful, self-confident individual… not some crazed fan. If you’re a musician with no interest in the sciences, there’s no need to mention their “prize-winning chemistry faculty.”
  • Stay away from generalities. Writing that the school has “fantastic course offerings” or “high-quality faculty” is wholly unconvincing without specifics—always try to choose qualities that actually make the school stand out. This is where your school research can shine through: discuss how a professor’s area of research aligns with your own academic interests, or how you plan to pursue a major or extracurricular using the particular programs, centers, and resources available at the school. Likewise, don’t just say you are a “high performer” or “ambitious” without backing it up through specific examples.
  • Show what YOU have to offer. The entire application is about convincing the admissions officer why you should be accepted to the school—this is just another part of it. You don’t need to re-hash all your achievements here, but do mention what makes you special, and what you can contribute to the student body. When a school asks for a shorter answer (100–200 words), focus more explicitly on why you’re drawn to the school, while still offering a personal angle. When schools want a longer answer (400–600 words), however, you have the room to craft a more personalized narrative about your interests, experience, and achievements and how they align with the school’s strengths.

Visit us at our website vsafuture.com, or call us at 844-VSA-FUTURE for more advice and to find out about how we can help you with our custom counseling services. We can help no matter what stage of the process you’re in—just ask!

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