Tip #1: Don't fake it. What do I mean? If a school is on your list and you're not excited about it, why is it on your list? Take it off. Or, better yet:
Do your research and get excited about the school. Chances are, you may not be excited about a school because you don't know much about it yet. Try this: think of a school you're not excited about applying to but probably will, and write down on a piece of paper everything you know about it. (Not a ton, eh?) See, here's something you may not have been told.
Finding a school that “fits” you is an active process, not a passive one. That’s one reason I appreciate and am an advocate for the “Why us” essay--you get to (read: have to) research and find out if the school you’re pledging your allegiance to is actually one that you want to pledge your allegiance to. So get researching! If, once you’ve researched for a while, you’re still not super excited about the school you’re writing the essay for, ask yourself: do I even want to apply here? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you need some new schools to get excited about. But what if you’re set on applying to a school but you’re just not, I don’t know, feeling it? Try this:
TIP #2: Write your “Why Us” statement for a school you areactually excited about... then switch out the variables. Okay, for any “Why us” statement to work, you need specifics--and not just about the school--about what you’re interested in doing while attending the school. For example :
I’m eager to become involved in UChicago’s Urban Health Initiative as I’m committed to both increasing health care access and nurturing strong patient-physician relationships. And in the same way that researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab have drastically changed cancer treatment through nanomaterials and particle physics, I hope to play a part in revolutionizing cancer treatment by looking at its causes. Crazy specific? Yeah.
But watch this: I am also eager to become involved in University of Rochester’s Golisano Children’s Hospital as I’m committed to increasing access to children’s health care and nurturing strong patient-physician relationships. And in the same way that researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab have drastically changed cancer treatment through nanomaterials and particle physics, I hope to play a part in revolutionizing cancer treatment by looking at its causes.
Sneaky? Maybe a little. But also true, right? Aren’t those the things you’re interested in doing wherever you end up? Well there you go, then.
I wrote in a different post that the best way to sound excited in your “Why us” statement is to actually get excited about the school you’re writing for. How? By doing research.
But is there a way to tell the difference between a student who really wants to go to a particular school and one who’s well, BS-ing the essay? (Ha, that sounds funny.) And here’s a hint: your BS detector is actually pretty good. You just need to turn it on. Do so now...Activate!
Turn on your BS-detector and tell me if this sounds like the person actually wants to go to this school or not so much:
Given that I am an individual that genuinely enjoys being introduced to new concepts, ideas, and new information, Kalamazoo would definitely be a great fit for me. Being around sophisticated and intellectual students, with similar ambitions as mine, would inspire me to challenge myself on a daily basis. By doing so, I would gradually grow not only as a student, but as a human.
What do we learn about what makes K-Zoo special in this student’s eyes?
Survey says... Absolutely nothing. Let’s try again:
SMU has a program called the NCA, which stands for the National Communication Association, and it helps support students to be able to solve problems by communicating. SMU also has over 90 student organization for students to get involved with that can complement their academic pursuits, which will allow me to join organizations I really enjoy.BZZZZT.
SMU KNOWS WHAT PROGRAMS IT HAS; WHICH PROGRAMS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN AND WHY?
I like the fact that the professors are dedicated to helping students succeed in their studies and are willing to help… Oh, as opposed to that other university where the professors aren’t dedicated to helping students succeed.
So how do you write sentences that sound like you actually want to go to the school? Like this:
I believe USC is perfect for me because, though other schools offer a Judaic Studies major, I have yet to find a program as comprehensive as USC’s. Take, for example, courses like “Biblical Hebrew” (as opposed to just Modern Hebrew) and “Why Be Jewish?”
Like a boss. Look how specific. Beautiful.
And another, from the same student:
Though the CogSci program at USC is in its inaugural year and little information was available during my open house visit, I was able to contact Associate Professor of Psychology and Linguistics Toby Mintz through email and was happy to discover that USC’s program is extremely interdisciplinary in nature, cross cutting traditional disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and anthropology. I have always been interested in languages (I speak three), consider computer science a strength and am drawn to the “Philosophy of Language” courses, as I recently wrote a research paper addressing the potential implications of applying J.L. Austin’s work with “performative utterances” to smart-phone technology.
Now that’s legit.
Has he demonstrated interest in the school? Yes.
Has he done his research? Oui.
Is he clearly showing why he’s specifically interested in USC while revealing more about himself? نعم.
Get it? Got it? Good.