Tackling the “Why this University?” essay

Tackling the “Why this University?” essay

You complete filling the application form, personal statements and the common essays, and just when you think you’re done, you’re faced with another prompt- “Why this university?” This seemingly easy question has been dreaded by many, but with some simple tips and tricks, you’d be able to answer this supplemental prompt in no time!

What is the “Why this university?” prompt?

Through this prompt, the admissions officers assess your motivation for applying to their specific university. The prompts may look like these-

“We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand—Why NYU?”

“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?”

“Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, ‘Why Tufts?'”

“At Brown, you will learn as much from your peers outside the classroom as in academic spaces. How will you contribute to the Brown community?”

Why do universities require a “Why this university?” essay?

Universities wish to get to know you better, and make sure they select the right candidate who would not only be a perfect fit for their university, but would also add value to their institution. Through this prompt, they get a sense of your how well do you know about the school, and whether your values align with the ethos of their university.

Generally, universities assess your responses based on three parameters-

  1. How well do you know the university, and do you value what they have to offer?
    What makes this school unique and different from the others? What are the traditions and values of this school?
  2. How is this university a perfect fit for you?
    How will studying here help you and your future? How will this university add to your academics and extracurriculars?
  3. How will you be a good fit here?
    How do your interests and goals align with the university’s values? How do you wish to contribute to the college community?

How to answer the “Why This University?” prompt

  1. Research!

Learn all you can about the University, its flagship programs, courses offered, clubs, sports, and everything else! The first step should be to visit the university’s website, and browse through everything that the university has to offer. The ‘About the University’ and ‘News’ sections of the website will give you an insight of the Universities values, and also the recent happenings in the university. Also, do make sure to look at your major of interest, and go through the course syllabus and modules. Find out what are the university’s unique offerings.

Another great resource is to go through the university social media accounts. Follow the school’s profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep in touch with university news and updates. You may just find something exciting here, that you can include in this essay!

Getting to know the geography of the university is also important at times. For example, NYU prides in itself for being a “city-campus”, with schools spread out all over New York City. You can understand the university’s geography and location much better by taking virtual tours on websites such as CampusTours, and YOUniversityTV.

A university is after all made up of the people who attend it, and not just brick and stones. Get in touch with their professors and alumni, or even current students to better understand the university life and your specific subjects.

  1. Co-relating your interests with the University

Now that you have gathered enough information about the university, connect these details to your specific interests and goals. Are you a national level swimmer, and does has this university been NCAA Champions? Or will the pitch competitions and startup challenges in a particular university give wings to your entrepreneurial dreams? Tabulate all these details, and see how the university can uniquely aid your growth, and also how you can contribute to the university’s programs.

  1. Writing the essay

Researching about the university? Done! Seeing how it aligns with your interests? Done! Now all that’s left is to write the essay in a proper structure.

A general structure you can follow is something like this-

  • Introduction- Be subject specific here, and talk about what you want to study and why
  • Give primary details as to what makes the course at this particular university unique and different from others, but also try to connect it with your own interests (refrain from making generic statements like “The faculty at XYZ University is the best there is”)
  • Talk about programs/initiatives (academic/co-curricular in nature) that the school is famous for (Eg. Stern Talks at NYU; Wharton Startup Challenge)
  • Briefly, mention the extracurricular activities that interest you and how they connect with you
  • Finally, conclude by demonstrating why you would be a good fit here


Keeping these pointers in mind should help you come write the perfect “Why this college” essay. This should clear your doubts, and get you on the path towards your dream college!

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