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The Teen Wire: Writing the "Why this College?" Essay

Original post made by Daniel Morizono, San Ramon Valley High School, on Dec 14, 2009

Many of us high school seniors apply to at least one school that we don't know a whole lot about. Classroom format, opportunities to study abroad, graduation requirements - ideally, we should have done our research beforehand. Especially for private institutions, our gaps of knowledge are only made clear when we are faced with an essay prompt that goes somewhat like this: "attach an essay of no more than 500 words indicating what most influenced you to (insert college)." How do you go about writing this? And what things should you emphasize in your answer? Several experiences of mine in the past two years, I hope, will give you some insight in approaching this essay.

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Posted by Voltaire
a resident of Danville
on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Voltaire is a registered user.

On the money... I'm an alumni interviewer for my alma mater. Each fall and winter I meet with ~20 candidates who profess an interest in attending the college. You'd be stunned to know how uninformed some of the candidates are - and I'm speaking of those who list my alma mater as a top choice. You're contemplating the investment of an unreal sum of money in an undergraduate experience (applicants and parents alike). Take the time to read the institution's website, to learn as much as possible about your target schools. Be informed, not just for the alumni inteview and essay, but to better inform your choice.

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Posted by Elizabeth LaScala
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2009 at 6:51 am

Elizabeth LaScala is a registered user.

I enjoy your authenticity and easy writing style. Thank you for sharing your own process, and doing an interesting comparison between two contrasting experiences. I often wonder why the schools that do not ask "Why our college?" are not asking because they tire of reading trite, general essays that really say nothing more than the obvious--or worse, say almost nothing at all.

And congratulations to your teacher in Comparative Gov who used an assignment to further the college application process for students in an interesting and useful way.