Showing interest in college admissions is important. Don’t understand what that means? It means that colleges want you to love them. Think of college admissions as a lot like dating — but in college admissions, there’s no benefit to playing hard to get. Colleges want students who want them back. After all, it impacts their yield. If they admit a ton of students who have no interest in attending their university, their yield is going to plummet. But if they admit a ton of students who are keen on attending their university, their yield will skyrocket. Which alternative do you think makes more sense for a highly selective college? The latter of course!
One of the ways in which colleges can easily gauge how interested you are in attending their university is through the “Why College” essay — which is quite often a supplement. We’d like to present you with a sample excerpt of a “Why College” essay and then we’d like for you to figure out exactly what’s wrong with what the applicant states. Also, we’d like to see if you can determine why what they’ve written is wrong and how the college might be able to gauge their interest in their university on account of what they’ve written.
So here goes: “I want to attend Duke University because of its small class sizes and beautiful Durham campus. At Duke, I would volunteer by tutoring children at the local elementary school. I would also attend basketball games. Growing up rooting for the likes of Elton Brand, Shane Battier, and Chris Duhon makes me excited to attend Duke. Duke is where I want to spend my college years!”
Spot anything fishy? If not, let’s point out some major blunders for you. First, the student wants to attend Duke because of its small class sizes. But small class sizes aren’t unique to Duke. Amherst has small class sizes. So does MIT. And Caltech, UNC, and Stanford. Writing small class sizes as the reason you want to attend Duke is bad form — it’s so clearly part of your template for all of your “Why College Essays.” That’s like going on a job interview and saying you’d be good at this job because you’re “a people person.” Oy vey! That’s a way how not to get hired!
And what else is wrong in the sample excerpt you ask? How about saying you want to go to Duke because of basketball games? We all know Duke has a great men’s basketball program under Coach K! But that shouldn’t be the reason you want to attend this prestigious university! Don’t fall into the group of hundreds and hundreds of applicants who cite basketball as the top reason why they want to attend Duke. Even if that’s the case, you don’t have to cite it explicitly to Duke admissions officers! Oh and how about citing some specifics when the students writes about volunteering with children in the community? Every college has an elementary school in the neighborhood. The applicant didn’t even bother to mention a specific program or elementary school. If the applicant didn’t bother, neither will the Duke admissions officers in checking off “admit.”