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Why Our University? – Ace This Crucial Essay

As a high school senior on the cusp of entering the thrilling yet daunting world of college applications, one question stands out in multiple university applications: “Why Our University”. This seemingly simple yet highly critical supplemental essay is a standard feature of most college applications. It requires applicants to reflect on why they are genuinely interested in a particular institution and how they envision themselves as a valuable addition to that academic community. 

Unique Prompts


Some examples of prompts are:

  • Please describe what aspects of your life experiences, interests and character would help you make a distinctive contribution as an undergraduate to Stanford University. 
  • How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective, and how your experiences and perspective will help shape Penn. 
  • Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard? 
  • Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech? 
  •  How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom?

This essay is an opportunity for you to demonstrate a deep understanding of the university’s culture, programs, and values, and to convince the admissions committee that you are a natural fit for their institution.

Research Extensively


The foundation of an outstanding “Why Us” essay is thorough research. Begin by visiting the university’s website, exploring its programs, faculty, campus facilities, and any unique offerings that pique your interest. Additionally, consider attending virtual or in-person information sessions, speaking with current students or alumni, and reading articles written by eminent professors.

You should strive to go beyond the university’s official website. Look for niche forums, student-run publications, and social media groups where students share their experiences and insights about the university. This deep dive into the university’s ecosystem will equip you with valuable material to craft a compelling essay.

Personalize Your Response


One of the common pitfalls in these types of essays is that the students create a similar response for each university. To stand out, you must personalize your essay by connecting your goals, interests, and experiences to specific aspects of the university.

Start by identifying a few key aspects of the university that resonate with you. It could be a particular program, faculty member, research opportunity, or campus tradition. Then, explain how these elements align with your academic and personal aspirations. Use anecdotes and examples from your own experiences to illustrate why that university is the perfect place for you to thrive.

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Show Your Fit


Admissions committees are looking for students who not only want to attend their institution but also contribute positively to its community. Therefore, it’s crucial to convey how you can fit into the university’s culture and make a meaningful impact.

Highlight your extracurricular interests and passions that align with the university’s values and activities. Discuss any relevant skills or experiences that demonstrate your potential contributions to the campus community. Whether it’s joining a specific club, participating in research, or engaging in community service, showcasing your proactive approach to university life can set you apart.

Be Specific and Concrete


Avoid vague or common statements in your essay. Instead, provide specific and concrete details about the university and how they relate to your goals and interests.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m impressed by your renowned faculty,” you could say, “I look forward to studying under Professor X, whose groundbreaking research in neuroscience aligns perfectly with my academic interests. Her work on neuroplasticity has inspired my passion for understanding the brain’s remarkable adaptability.”

Stay True to Yourself


While it’s essential to tailor your essay to the university’s attributes, it’s equally crucial to maintain authenticity. Avoid exaggerations or fabrications, as admissions committees can often spot insincerity from a mile away. Your essay should reflect your genuine interest in the institution, not a contrived attempt to appease the committee.

Connect the Dots


A well-structured essay should have a clear narrative that ties your past experiences, present aspirations, and future goals together. Begin with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention, then provide background information about your academic journey and interests. Finally, connect these elements to the university and its offerings.

Consider the chronological order of your essay, ensuring a logical flow from past to present to future. This narrative structure will help the reader understand why you are the ideal candidate for their university.

Edit and Revise

Writing an exceptional supplemental essay requires careful editing and revision. After crafting your initial draft, set it aside for a while, and then return to it with fresh eyes. Look for clarity, conciseness, and coherence in your writing. Remove any redundant or irrelevant information and check for grammar and spelling errors.

Additionally, consider seeking feedback from your high school teachers, peers, or mentors who can provide valuable insights and suggestions. You should ask them whether your essay effectively conveys your enthusiasm for the university and if it makes a compelling case for your admission.

This essay is an opportunity for you to showcase your genuine interest in a university and demonstrate how you can be a valuable addition to their academic community. By conducting thorough research, personalizing your response, showing your fit, being specific and concrete, staying true to yourself, connecting the dots, and editing rigorously, you can craft a compelling essay that stands out to the admissions committee.


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