Written by Traecy Hobson.  If you are a high school senior, chances are you will be asked to write at least one “why us” college essay. It’s the open-ended question that sounds something like this, “tell us why our university is a good fit for you.” In theory, the question is simple enough. Right? Why do you want to go to X University? But when you sit down to write it, and you just don’t know what to say.

What is a “why” essay?

Think of it as a love letter of sorts. It is your chance to profess your love of the school and why you two would be perfect together.

Check-MarkWhat to say

Be specific on what attracts you to the school.

  • If you visited, let the college know what you liked that you saw on campus.
  • If there is a terrific academic program that you want to study, let them know and don’t forget to mention why you want to study that.
  • If you sat in on a class, tell them what you saw and heard that interested you.
  • If you spoke to a professor, give a shout out.
  • If you attended a sporting event on campus and felt the school spirit in the stands, say that.
  • If you heard about an awesome club you want to join, mention that and why.
  • If your tour guide told you about a campus tradition that you want to be a part of, tell them.
  • If you want to be part of the marching band or orchestra, let them know.

X-MarkWhat not to say

Don’t state the obvious and tell a college what they already know. Don’t be insincere. Here are some examples of what not to say.

  • Georgetown already knows that they are located in the nation’s capital.
  • Don’t tell Tulane that you are looking forward to Marti Gras.
  • Michigan already knows that the business school is highly ranked.
  • Just like bad pick-up lines, colleges don’t want to read a lot of superlatives and sugary language that mean nothing.

I think you’re ready now. Start wrapping up those “why” essays seniors. Here’s hoping that the college you love affirms its love for you with an acceptance letter.


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A College Love Letter—Why Us?
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