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Your Path To Ivy Leagues: “Why This Major?” Essay

As students navigate the exciting journey of college applications, it’s crucial to address the persistent question: “Why this college major?” This article serves as a guide, not only for understanding your career objectives but also for crafting an intelligent response to the admissions officers.

Some universities may ask you directly while other universities may ask you this question indirectly. Given below are some examples of universities and how they ask this question in different ways.

University Subject Specific Prompts 

  • Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. – Purdue University
  • Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major? – UT Austin
  • Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? – UMich
  • Describe your personal and/or career goals after graduating from UIUC and how your selected first-choice major will help you achieve them. – UIUC
  • Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. – UC

Now that we know the different ways the universities can ask this question, let’s delve deeper into how to answer this. 

What are your career objectives? 

Let’s start with your career objectives, both short-term and long-term. Consider your immediate aspirations, perhaps you wish to land a coveted internship or gaining hands-on experience in your dream company. 

Simultaneously, envision the broader picture, where do you see yourself five, ten years down the road? Maybe you wish to spearhead innovative projects and contribute to the development of groundbreaking technologies or launch your own venture. Charting these ambitions will not only provide clarity but also help you convey a sense of purpose in your essay.

How does your college major align with your career objectives?

It’s crucial to have a roadmap for your future. When the admissions officers ask about your major, they are essentially seeking to understand how your chosen field aligns with your aspirations. So, envision your path. The major that you choose acts as the scaffolding supporting this vision, equipping you with the knowledge and expertise to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of your chosen field. 

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Is there any personal connection, anecdotes, or story that demonstrates your interest in this major?

Personal connection adds depth to your narrative. Share anecdotes or stories that illuminate your passion for the chosen major. Perhaps it was a childhood experience, a teacher or mentor who left an indelible mark, or an epiphany during a class project. Share the moments that sparked the flames of curiosity within you and steered you towards this academic pursuit. Such personal touches infuse authenticity into your essay, helping the admissions officers connect with your journey on a more profound level. 

For example- Student A has an interest in Business Administration. Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, the student was exposed to the intricacies of running a business from a young age. Anecdotes of family gatherings turning into impromptu business strategy sessions highlight the development of the student’s interest in the field. These experiences served as a foundation, motivating student A to delve deeper into the world of business and management.

Have you already studied related subjects in class? Are there any accomplishments you can mention?

Mentioning your related coursework is crucial. Maybe you have scored great marks in this subject as well as actively participated in class discussions. This demonstrates not only your genuine interest but also your proactive approach to academic exploration. Highlight any accomplishments you’ve achieved in these classes, showcasing your dedication and proficiency in the subject matter. These achievements serve as indicators of the student’s potential to excel in the field upon graduation.

Another scenario, perhaps the subject that you wish to pursue is not offered by your school. Now what?  If your high school doesn’t offer that subject then take initiative and search for opportunities beyond your classroom. Read books on that topic or read research papers written by scholars to satisfy your curiosity. Enlist for Advanced Placement (AP) courses, enroll for online certifications, participate in competitions and projects etc. This shows the admissions officers that you are not limited by the constraints of your high school curriculum, but rather, you are proactive and resourceful in pursuing your academic interests. In the absence of formal classroom exposure to your chosen subject, taking initiative demonstrates your genuine passion and commitment. 

Are there projects, research papers, or other activities that you have done in a related field? If yes, explain?

Beyond the classroom, consider any extracurricular projects, research papers, or related activities that have fueled your passion. Admissions officers appreciate tangible examples of your engagement with your chosen field. Discuss how these experiences have shaped your understanding, reinforced your commitment, or provided valuable insights that traditional coursework might not offer.

As you craft your response, imagine you’re painting a vivid portrait of your academic journey. Begin with a compelling introduction that encapsulates your passion and sets the stage for what’s to come.

In the body of your essay, seamlessly weave together your career objectives, chosen major, and personal anecdotes. Allow the narrative to flow naturally, creating a cohesive and compelling story that captivates the reader. Be specific in linking your major to your goals, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between the two.

Conclude with a reflection on how the university’s program uniquely positions you to achieve your aspirations. Remember, this essay is your opportunity to showcase not only what you want to study but also why it matters deeply to you.


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