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"WHY US?" Essays

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Gerardo Zepeda from The Princeton Review Hong Kong


In a few weeks, Regular Decision deadline for US universities will come up. One of the essays that many colleges ask in the supplemental essay section is “Why Us?” Why do you want to attend our university? How can we enrich your 4 year college experience?

In reality, admission officers want to know if you have done your homework and researched what added value the university can bring to you. They also want to learn whether you are a good fit for their school. It is about what’s in it for you, but also what’s in it for them. Focus on why exactly you want to attend their college or university, appeal to their guiding principles, and highlight what you are capable of accomplishing. To stand out, share specific past inside or outside of classroom experience in a specific field of study, and discuss how the school you’re applying to will further enhance your learning process. What did you learn, about yourself or others, throughout the years thanks to such experiences? Share what you have learned about their school through word of mouth, their website and faculty, or summer school visits, and link your academic or extracurricular to what they can offer.

Instead of only talking about what is visible online, go deeper. If the school you’re applying to has a specific principles or values (e.g.: emphasis on service) that resonates with your own values, mention them. Be sure to address what’s in it for them too. How will your proactive, culturally diverse, and academically oriented personality positively influence their school’s university life? Will you join a specific club or organization? Are you aspiring to do groundbreaking research with a well-known faculty?

If you were in an elevator for 1 minute with the university’s head of admissions, what would you tell him/her to stand out?

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