How to Write the “Why Us” Essay

Many colleges ask students to write a supplemental essay with the prompt, “Why are you applying to Amazing University?”  Chances are you will have to write one or more of these during the application rush. Easy, right?  Not so fast!  This essay can be one of the more challenging essays to do correctly.  It requires careful reflection and should not be put off until the last minute.


Details, Details, Details

The first step to writing a good “Why Us?” essay is to brainstorm, either verbally or on paper, the specific things you really like about that college.  Think back to the campus tour, mentally put yourself back in the student center, or read the website thoroughly to remind yourself about just what it was that made that college stand out to you.  Try to come up with details that apply ONLY to that college, none of the other colleges you visited.  Consider positive interactions you had with students or other individuals on campus.  Recalling a particular experience you had can be helpful.  Once you brainstorm ALL of the super great things about Amazing University, pick out a couple that stand out to you.


Don’t Mention the Weather or the Location

This is a very typical pitfall of this essay question.  Many students will mention the weather or the location of the college as being a reason for applying there.  Don’t do it! Although those might be important reasons for you, the same can be said of other colleges.  Here’s an example: “I’ve always wanted to go to a college in a warm location and in a city, and at Amazing University, I can have both!” Yes, but there are many other colleges that fit those criteria as well, but you didn’t apply to them.  Make sure that this essay can ONLY be about this ONE school; it can not apply to any other schools.  So, it pretty much goes without saying that this essay can not be used again for any other application; it’s that specific.


Hint: This Essay is Really About You

It’s important to incorporate yourself into this essay.  So, you’ve picked out a couple very specific things you love about Amazing University, and now it’s time to reflect on why those specific things are important to you. You love Amazing U’s theater program…why is that important to YOU?  You love AU’s freshman year internship program…why is that important to YOU?


The bottom line is that the “Why Us” essay is really a love-letter between the applicant and the college.  You are saying, “Here are the ways I am perfect for you, and all the ways you are perfect for me.” A good “Why Us?” essay can make an admissions reader feel like you really are meant for that school and it can make admitting you that much more enticing.

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