How to Answer the Essay Question "Why Do You Want To Attend Our School?"

When colleges ask "why do you want to attend our school?" what do you say?

"Dear Student,
Please respond to this question: 'Why do you want to go to OUR GREAT SCHOOL U?'"

How do you answer this question?

This is an important essay
. Don't save it for last. Give it some time and thought.

Your Goal
Be specific. Using specific examples show that you understand what makes the college special and why it's a good fit for you.

Schools Want to Know
1. That you “get them.” This means that you understand what makes them different from other schools. Take into consideration academic philosophy, traditions, student life, etc.
2. Why you're a good match for them. How will you fit in? How will you contribute? How will you take advantage of what they have to offer? Tell them why their school matters to you.

Schools Don't Like
1. Vague answers such as "Your school really inspires me”... “I like cold weather”...“The campus is amazing”... “I can really see myself going there." (You probably won't.)

2. Hearing information they already know. For example: “I'm looking forward to going to OUR GREAT SCHOOL U because it has a Division I Soccer Team.”They already know that. Personalize it instead: “I've been following Division I soccer for years and was psyched when OUR GREAT SCHOOL U made it to the NCAA Soccer finals last December. I'll be in the stands cheering when I get to campus next fall."

Don't Use the Same Essay for Different Schools

Some students use the same first one or two sentences as an introduction, but this shouldn't be a "fill in the blank" essay where you plug in the name of a dorm or professor. The admissions committee will catch that.

The more specific you can be the more successful you'll be.

Coming Soon! Part 2: How to Answer "Why This College?" - 5 Steps to A Great Essay

Helpful Links:

College Confidential
Tips for Answering "Why this College"

Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting and is the recipient of a Writers Guild Award and two Emmy nominations for her writing.
Need help? I work with students everywhere: in-person, over the phone and by computer. Visit my website for more info.  

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