Apply Yourself If you are a high school senior, you are probably busy penning your college admissions essays. Sometimes the essay prompts can seem a little mystifying, but here are tips to help you understand two common types of prompts -- the 'Why You?' and the 'Why Us?' prompts, as well as how to answer them.
With a Little 'Prompting,' You Can Write a Great College Essay Your essay brings authenticity to your application and allows admissions officers to learn who you are. The essay is your opportunity to stand out from all other applicants, and is the only part of your application that you have full control over. Some essay prompts can be...shall we say...unusual...here is one from the University of Chicago: 'Were pH an expression of personality, what would be your pH and why?' (this is called a creative prompt).
More commonly, essay prompts fall under two types - 'Why You?' and 'Why Us?'
For the 'Why You?' essay, the college wants to get to know you better and learn what is important to you. An example of 'Why You?' is the University of California freshman application prompt, 'Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school - and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.' Be sure to tell your story, keep your answer focused and reveal your core qualities.
The 'Why Us?' prompt is a little bit different. The college wants to know how serious you are about attending their school. A 'Why Us?' question sounds like this (from Duke University): 'If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you?' Research the college by visiting campus (or at least the website), reading the mission statement, studying course lists, and talking to current or former students and admissions representatives. Be clear and specific about what you know about the college and how you can contribute in a meaningful way.
Following these essay tips can distinguish you from other applicants and help make you stand out. For guidance on essays or to inquire about an essay-writing workshop, send me an email email@example.com.
Upcoming! Essay Writing Workshop
High school seniors - college applications are upon us! I am holding a college essay-writing workshop in Half Moon Bay on Monday, September 15, 6:00-8:00 pm. We will analyze successful and unsuccessful essays, review essay prompts and then begin your drafts. Spaces are still available - sign up now! Friends discount - $10 off if you bring a friend. For more info or to register, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Liz Murphy College Advising Liz Murphy College Advising, based in Half Moon Bay CA, provides a relaxed, personalized approach to help students find success at a college that best fits their academic, social and financial goals. I meet one-on-one with students and offer workshops. College applications opened August 1. Contact me and let's get started!
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Liz helped us a lot with the college selection and application process. She identified several schools we had not heard of that were promising matches for our daughter. Liz provided detailed information and clear feedback in a way that was very supportive. She gave very workable advice on our daughter's essays. Working with Liz gave our family a boost in the right direction! I would strongly recommend working with Liz on this process.