“Why college X?” – the motivational essay

Some students write list-like paragraphs of what a college offers, liberally spiced with meaningless words like “nice”, “pleasant” and “useful”. Well, admissions officers do know what their college offers, so they don’t need you to tell them. They also know that their college offers more than a single student can take in four years. What makes sense to write in a motivational essay?

Of course, you have to show that you know the college well, but not by simply listing what it offers. A motivational essay is as much about you as it is about the college. It has to show that you two match.

There is no “right” way to show that you fit in as college is not army. Thousands of people have graduated from your dream college, and they all followed their unique path. Some of them stood out with their ways of fitting in 🙂 In fact standing out among those who fit in increases your chances of getting in.

How do you fit in and stand out at the same time?

If you have read Hermann Hesse’s “The Journey to the East”?, you probably remember hoards of people moving together driven by a common goal – to reach the East (here’s how they fit in); yet each of them had his unique reason to join the group: one hoped to meet a beautiful princess, another to discover some jewel (here is how they stand out)…

You can fit in by showing that you share the same educational philosophy and values, that you like the way people interrelate. In short: you have to show them you’ll thrive in the college atmosphere and that you share the college culture.

You’ll stand out by sharing some personal / academic / career goals and showing how a particular college experience will help you reach them.

The tricky part is to show “fitting in” and “standing out” simultaneously – through sharing your dreams and goals and showing how particular aspects of college experience will help you reach them.

Don’t forget that college is not simply in incubator; it’s part of life too 🙂 It would be to your advantage to show a vivid picture of your college experience. One way to do it is to describe a day at the particular college you’re applying to. Of course, that will take a lot of research and daydreaming, but if you cannot picture yourself on a campus, how do you expect admissions officers to be able to picture you there. And if they are unable to picture you there, how do you expect them to accept you?

For a start … be honest and sit down and write in a simple down-to-earth way, as if you are talking to a good friend, why you’d like to go to college, why you have chosen X or Y. Sometimes love cannot be explained 🙂 So share your daydreams about life at college. As simple as that.

P.S. These tips were meant to help students applying to American schools, preferably liberal arts ones. If you’re applying to career prep schools, you’d better be more matter-of-fact, focusing on career goals and plans and trying to prove you have relevant experience, skills, knowledge, attitude …


One response to this post.

  1. Awesome things here. I am very happy to peer your post.
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