Cracking the college code 101

Part 2: Why your “Why us” essay sucks.


If you are reading this series you are probably pretty deep into your college applications by this time. Many students tend to focus on their other essays and leave the “why us” essay last. They might think the “why us” essay is the easiest, or that they will reuse the same one for every college they apply to. Bzzzzt! First mistake!

Truth is, the “why us” essay is one of the most important essays in your college application. It shows colleges if you are a good fit for them and if you are actually interested in them. A sloppy “why us” essay can be the difference between getting into that college or not. 

The purpose of the “why us” essay is not for colleges and universities to receive positive feedback about the institution. The goal of these essays is to persuade admissions committees that you are a suitable fit. They can also be used to introduce yourself and your interests.

When examining “why this college” essays, admissions staff consider a number of factors. They are interested in learning about a student’s values, ambitions, and hobbies. Additionally, they search for students that show a sincere interest in the institution.

Here is what not to do. Try avoiding these words since they can sound way too cliche or vague:

  • (_____ College) is the perfect place for me. I want to go there because of its diversity in culture.
  • (______) College) is the perfect place for me to grow since it has so many opportunities.
  • In conclusion (______ college) is the perfect place to make my dreams come true.

Do not write something generic! Again, here’s another example of what you should NOT do.  Saying something like “I love x college because of the beautiful campus, great academics, and location” is something you can say about probably every school. Think about it this way. If you can replace the name of the college you are writing about for another one, it is probably too generic and simple. 

Another thing you should stay away from is mentioning college rankings. Yes, we all know that your favorite thing about that college is how prestigious it is, or the ranking, but don’t tell colleges this. It makes you sound superficial. They know how prestigious they are. You do not have to remind them. 

For this essay, you must research the college you are trying to get into. Research your program, student life, the professors. The more specific, the better. This will help you tailor your essay to the specific institution, and show that you are genuinely interested in attending.

Next, focus on your own strengths and experiences. What makes you a good fit for the school? What experiences have prepared you for success there? What skills and abilities do you bring to the table? Be specific and provide examples to support your points.

It’s also important, to be honest and genuine in your essay. Admissions committees can spot a generic or insincere essay a mile away, so be yourself and let your personality shine through. Avoid cliches and platitudes, and instead, focus on sharing your own unique perspective and experiences.

Here is an example of a “why us” essay that incorporates these tips:

“As a prospective environmental science major, I am excited to apply to XYZ University because of its renowned program in sustainable agriculture. I have always been passionate about sustainable food systems and the role they play in addressing climate change and preserving natural resources. At XYZ University, I would have the opportunity to take courses in agroecology and participate in hands-on projects at the school’s organic farm. I am also impressed by the school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, which I believe is crucial for fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment. I am confident that attending XYZ University would provide me with the knowledge, skills, and experiences I need to pursue a career in sustainable agriculture.”

In this example, the applicant mentions specific aspects of the college or university that align with their interests and goals, such as the program in sustainable agriculture and the commitment to diversity and inclusion. This shows the admissions committee why the applicant would be a good fit for the school and why they are interested in attending.

Make sure to proofread your essay carefully. A well-written and error-free essay will make a much better impression on the admissions committee than one with typos and grammar mistakes.

In conclusion, the “why us” essay is an important part of a college application. By researching the school and focusing on your own strengths and experiences, you can write an essay that shows why you are a good fit for the institution and why you will be successful there. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can craft an essay that will help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of being accepted to your dream school. 

Work Cited

Sawyer, E. (2022, August 15). Why this college essay guide + examples: College essay guy. College Essay Guy | Get Inspired. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from

How to write a Stellar “why this college?” Essay + examples. CollegeVine Blog. (2022, November 1). Retrieved December 15, 2022, from

Wulick, D. A. (n.d.). How to write a perfect “why this college” Essay. How to Write a Perfect “Why This College” Essay. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from

Testa, M. (2022, July 22). How to research and write a “why this college?” essay. Scribbr. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from

How to write an awesome “why this college?” essay. YouTube. (2021, August 24). Retrieved December 15, 2022, from

How to write the why this college essay! why Nyu? why Penn? why Michigan? why Yale? why Tulane? YouTube. (2020, November 13). Retrieved December 15, 2022, from

“why us” College essay: Tips + examples from my why uchicago essay. YouTube. (2020, October 30). Retrieved December 15, 2022, from