Exhausted. You’ve just finished writing your personal statement essay when you realize that your dream school requires a “Why This School” supplement. At 250-350 word limit (the word count requirement will vary depending on the school), you think this essay will be a breeze. You assume all it takes is just a few clicks and quick searches of the school to fill up a couple of paragraphs, and another essay finished on a long checklist of things to do when applying for college. Unfortunately, it just isn’t that easy. The “Why This School” supplement is deceptively tricky to write, but incredibly important because it offers colleges a window into not only who you are but also how you will utilize specific academic and extracurricular resources at the school. To help you approach the “Why This School” supplement and avoid the most common rookie mistakes, we’ve compiled a shortlist of Dos.
1. Research, Research, Research!
If your essay is based on information from the college’s home page, you haven’t done enough research. Colleges don’t want to read about their stats, ranking, location, and any other factual information you can garner from their website. You need to scour the internet for information about the school that isn’t readily available to every single applicant. You might be thinking, how do I do that? Here are a few ways.
Go on Virtual Tours
Due to the COVID pandemic, most schools are offering virtual tours. This is a great opportunity for you to get a feel for the school without actually visiting.
Read student blogs from the School’s Admissions Page.
Most schools will have an admission page where students will write blogs about things that they’re working on or studying, school traditions, or events they’ve participated in, or just why they love the school.
Follow Social Media Accounts
Since the school’s admission page is monitored by the school, you might not get the full story! You can expand your research by following and reading Reddit threads, watching “Day in the Life of” videos on YouTube, following the school’s or school-affiliated club/organization Instagram page, and much much more!
Contact the Admissions Office, Current or Former Student
When you contact the admissions office, most colleges will put you in contact with an admission representative who might offer tangible reasons why the school you are considering is better than other schools.
If you want to read more about how to research colleges, read our How to Research College When You Can’t Visit blog
2. Bring it back to you
Remember, the “Why This School” essay is not just about how great the school is but why YOU are a good fit. Make sure to bring your points back to why it’s important to you and how it will help you be successful at that particular school! For example, if you write that you are interested in the school because it has a famous humor magazine with no other context, the admission committee will be very confused. But if you weave into your essay that you are an aspiring writer and English major who’s written for your high school newspaper, the admission committee can then see how much you’ve researched and how well you’ll fit at the school!
Here is how we recommend outlining your essay.
Introduction: Have a hook and clear thesis statement
You can do this by listing your major and academic interest, or a program that you want to pursue that is unique to the school. Your why this school essay doesn’t have to be limited to academics; you can also talk about campus culture and extracurriculars. We usually recommend students choose one academic reason and one extracurricular reason to show versatility, but that is not a hard-fast rule.
Paragraph 1: Reason #1
You should state ONE reason you want to attend this particular school and give 2-3 specific details supporting your reasoning to show that you’ve done your due diligence. One thing that can take a “Why This School” essay from an okay essay to a great essay is showing continuity. You want to show schools that you have the drive and motivation to succeed, and that with the school’s specific resources, you will be able to accomplish your goals.
Paragraph 2: Reason #2
State another reason you want to attend this particular school. Make sure to provide 2-3 details why this is important to you.
Conclusion: Restate your thesis and look to the future.
In your conclusion, you should first restate your thesis statement and how attending this school will prepare you in your future endeavors. You should then discuss how you will contribute to the school culture and community. This is incredibly important because the whole purpose of why schools want you to write this essay is to see how well your values and the school’s values are aligned. You have to be able to show not only how well you’ll use the school’s resources but ultimately how you will contribute back to the school.
If you’re still unsure about how to write the “Why This School” essay, know that the counselors at Eureka College Admissions are here to help. We can help with everything from researching the school to editing and finalizing the “Why This School” essay. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about the college admissions packages we offer!