Summer College Checklist #8: Create a Template for Your “Why Us?” Supplements

By now, you’re probably up to your eyeballs in college essay writing — and hopefully making some headway on your personal statement.

But when do you need to start work on the supplemental writings that individual colleges require?

Most colleges update their supplemental prompts from mid-August through mid-September of that year’s application cycle. You can usually find those prompts on the college’s requirements page in the platform you’ll be using to apply (Common App, Coalition, etc.).

However, most colleges don’t make dramatic changes to their supplements from year to year. And, there is one type of supplemental prompt that colleges use most frequently:

They ask some form of the question, “Why us?”

In other words, they’re asking you to explain why you think the fit would be right.

Remember that there are three aspects to defining a great fit: how you’ll benefit the college, how you will take advantage of the things the college has to offer you, and why you are someone the college can expect future success from.

No matter which college you’re writing a “why us?” response for, there are two parts of the picture that won’t change: what you will bring to the table, and what you would like to gain from your college experience.

That’s where building the template comes in. Drawing on your Guiding Goals, make a list of your needs from college (starting with academics) and a second list of your strengths.

Then, expand the items on those lists into sentences. These will do two things for you: first, they’ll guide your research into each particular college’s offerings. You’ll have a clear direction for the details you’re gathering when you dig into a college’s website or contact an admissions office with questions.

Second, you’ll have topic and supporting sentences for the actual writing, once you’ve finished researching. Once you write a couple of these individual responses, you’ll start to find the rhythm and the format that you can plug into — while making each piece as nuanced as the college itself.

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