Many students think that the essay question, “Why do you want to attend this college?” is not something they need to put a lot of thought or time into. However, this question is very important. It shows a college or university that you are very interested in the school and that you have spent time visiting the campus and/or reviewing its website.
Here are some tips for effective answers to this question:
1. Spend time researching the school. If you can visit the college or university, talk to current students, try to arrange to attend a class, and get information about on-campus clubs and organizations. If you are unable to visit, do your research through the school’s website, and perhaps there’s a way to connect with current students through social media, through a mutual friend, or arrange a phone call with a student in the admissions office.
2. Research the classes. Look at the classes offered in areas you are interested in and read the course descriptions. Explain how the classes will help you reach your academic goals and increase your knowledge in the field you want to study. Be as specific as possible and try to avoid writing in generalities.
3. Research the professors. Read about the professors who teach in the field of study you are pursuing. If there is a professor that has an area of expertise that you are looking forward to exploring and learning from, then communicate that information. If a professor is doing research in an area you are interested in, write about how you could learn from, or possibly add to the research.
4. Faculty, Admission Rep, or Alumni Meetings. Refer to any meetings or interviews you had with an admissions rep, alumni, or any contact you had with a faculty member. These could have occurred at a college fair, a summer or other program at a college, or an alumni or on-campus interview. Discuss how this has influenced you to apply to the college or university.
5. Write a separate essay for each application. Do not use the same “why this school” essay for each application. Admissions reps can easily spot that you have basically cut and pasted the essay. A generic essay will not impress the admissions team. Make the essay very specific to each school you are applying to.
Spending time thinking through the reasons why you want to attend the college, not only gives the admissions reps more understanding of your interest in the school, but can also help you to examine what the school will offer you.
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