Picture this. You are sitting in front of your computer, smiling as wide as you can. You hope the person at the other end of the video call can’t see you sweat. Your heart is pounding so hard that you can hear it through your headphones. Yes, this is it. This is your college admissions interview!
Category: College Prep
For many of you, your college applications are almost completed (and there is light at the end of the tunnel, we promise). The next big item coming up is early admissions decisions!
The college admissions landscape continues to surprise us this year. The new, digital SAT will be implemented in Spring 2024, and some schools, such as MIT, terminate their test-optional admissions policy. With USC offering its first Early Action admissions option and CalTech moving to a new Restricted Early Action plan, notification dates for early admissions results seem more important than ever!
Insights on Early Decision & Early Action
For 23 years, Insight Education is committed to helping high school students and families to navigate the college admissions process, and that includes understanding your concerns and providing a tailored strategy for you. Here are the top 3 common questions surrounding ED/EA, and you can always reach out to your Insight Counselor or contact us to find out more!
Q: What do I need to do between now and the decision time?
A: Check your portal regularly! Set up a weekly reminder and commit to checking your email and college portal. Some schools may require you to send in your progress report for the current school year.
Q: What do I do about ED II if my ED I decision won’t come back until January?
A: You can still apply to ED II. When ED I notifies your acceptance, you can withdraw your application from ED II school.
Q: What do I do if my current progress report is not as good?
A: If you are improving but your progress report doesn’t show it, ask your school counselor to make a note on your progress report before you send it to your ED school.
2022-2023 College Admissions Season –
Early Decision / Early Action Notification Date for Class of 2027
Here are early admissions decision notification dates for the upcoming Class of 2027. Please check back regularly for updated dates and times as we gather the most updated information – especially for those without specific dates and times or those labeled “TBD.”
Last Updated: November 20, 2022
Early Decision I Notification Date
Early Action Notification Date
Early Decision II Notification Date
Early Action II Notification Date
|American University||December 31||February 15|
|Amherst College||Early to Mid-December|
|Babson College||Mid-December||January 1||Mid-February|
|Bates College||December 20||February 15|
|Baylor University||December 15||January 15||March 1|
|Bentley University||Late December||Early February|
|Boston College||December 15||February 15|
|Boston University||December 15||February 15|
|Brandeis University||December 15||February 1|
|Carleton College||December 15|
|Carnegie Mellon University||February 1|
|Case Western University||December 10||December 21||Beginning January 9|
|Chapman University||Late December||Late December|
|Clark University||Late December||Mid-January||Early February|
|Clemson University||December 1|
|Davidson College||December 15||February 1|
|Elon University||December 1||December 20|
|Emerson College||Mid-December||Mid-December||Early February|
|Emory University||December 15||February 15|
|Fordham University||December 20||December 20|
|George Mason University||December 15|
|George Washington University||Late December||Late-February|
December 9 (for Georgia students)
|Late January (for Non-Georgia students)|
|Hamilton College||December 15||February 15|
|Harvey Mudd||December 15||February 15|
|Haverford College||December 10||Early February|
|Hofstra University||January 15|
|Indiana University Bloomington||January 15|
|Johns Hopkins University||December 16||February 17|
|Lafayette College||December 15||February 15|
|Mount Holyoke College||Late December||Late January|
|New York University (NYU)||December 15||February 15|
|Northeastern University||December 15||February 1||March 1|
|Oberlin College||December 15||February 1|
|Occidental College||December 15||February 20|
|The Ohio State University||Late January|
|University of Oregon||
(some Insight students already heard the great news)
|Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)||
(some Insight students already heard the great news)
|Pomona College||December 15||February 15|
|Princeton University||Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) Decision Notification: Mid-December|
|Purdue University||January 15|
|Rice University||Early December|
|Rutgers University||January 31|
|Santa Clara University||Late December||Late December||Mid-February|
|Suffolk University||Late December|
(Some Insight students already heard the good news)
|Tulane University||December 15||January 15||January 31|
|University of Chicago||Mid-December||Mid-December||Mid-February|
|University of Georgia||December 1|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||December 1|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)||January 27|
|University of Massachusettes||Late January|
|University of Miami||Late December||Late January||Late February|
|University of Michigan||Late January|
|University of Minnesota||
(Including engineering. Some Insight students already heard the good news!)
|University of North Carolina (UNC)||January 31|
|University of Notre Dame||
Restrictive Early Action decisions released in Mid-December
|University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)||Mid-December|
|University of Richmond||December 15||January 25||February 15|
|University of Rochester||Mid-December||Early-February|
|University of San Francisco||Mid-December||Late January|
|University of South California (USC)||Mid- to Late January|
|University of South Carolina||Mid-December|
|University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)||February 1|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||On or before January 31|
|University of Vermont||Late December||Late December|
|University of Virginia||December 15||February 15|
|Vanderbilt University||January 15|
|Villanova University||December 15||January 20||February 15|
|Virginia Tech||Mid-December||Late February|
|Washington & Lee University||Late December||Late January|
|Washington University in St. Louis (Wustl)||December 16||February 17|
|William & Mary||Early December||Early February|
|Worcester Polytechnic Institute||December 15||January 15||February 15||March 1|
|Yale University||Single choice early action decisions will be available in Mid-December|
Thank you for your interest in Insight’s Summer Opportunities Fair on November 5, 2022! We hoped you had a great time meeting the participating volunteering, research, and internship programs. We want to share a few snapshots to capture the day’s festivities and the list of participating programs (listed in alphabetical order).
Wondering what you should do for the summer? Need help with your summer program essays and application process? Contact us and schedule a meeting with our counselors today!
Bay Area Community Health
Bay Area Community Health was formed in 2020 off the strength of southern Alameda County’s Tri-City Health Center and Santa Clara County’s Foothill Community Health Center. Formed during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bay Area Community Health (BACH) brings more than 70 years of combined service to an area that stretches from Union City to Gilroy. BACH serves more than 100,000 people, who rely on high-quality healthcare services, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, disabilities, or ability to pay.
Lumiere Research Scholar Program
The Lumiere Research Scholar Program is a selective research program for top high school students. As a Lumiere scholar, students work 1-1 with top researchers from universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford. Founded by a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard College classmates, the program guides students in the creation of an independent, 20-page research paper over the course of 10 weeks.
Our City Forest
Our City Forest (OCF) is an urban forestry non-profit located in the heart of San Jose. OCF’s mission is to create a green and healthy Silicon Valley by engaging community members in the appreciation, protection, growth, and maintenance of our urban forest. Volunteer opportunities range from helping out at the Community Nursery and Training Center with various tree and shrub-care activities, to joining at the new Education Center at Martial Cottle Park to help expand the arboretum. OCF also hosts community tree planting events in which volunteers can help plant trees at various locations throughout Santa Clara County! These events are typically held on Saturdays.
PilotCity runs programs where students “build projects to win internships” with our employers – serving as an engine for innovation in cities with the people from there. Students enrolled in the program explore employer projects, choose a project, and then are guided through a series of unlockable activities & deliverables to complete to then auto-apply, interview & win offers for internships. Upon hire, interns further advance their project, assigned tasks, and the objective of the employers.
The Pioneer Research Program is a virtual research institute for outstanding high school students worldwide. It offers STEM, social sciences, and humanities disciplines. Widely respected for its high standards in admissions selectivity and academic rigor, it is the only US online college credit-bearing research program for high school students. In Pioneer’s rigorous academic system, students work one-on-one with university professors in advanced study and research of a topic of their interest, culminating in a full-length research paper. To learn more about Pioneer Academic’s Information Sessions, please click here.
Polygence is an online research academy connecting high achieving students with expert mentors to pursue personalized research projects and publish research papers. Polygence offers project-based research mentorship in academic disciplines across STEM, the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. Polygence students submit their projects to high school science fairs, research journals, and conferences with guidance from expert mentors. Mentors hold PhDs, MDs, JDs, MAs, and MFAs in a variety of disciplines from neuroscience and computer science to fashion design and architecture.
Rosetta Institute of Biomedical Research
Rosetta Institute provides advanced classes for high achieving high school and middle school students interested in pursuing a career in medicine or related fields, such as biomedical research, drug development, pharmacy, or nursing. They offer a variety of workshops related to molecular medicine – Molecular Biology, Medicinal Chemistry, Medical Bioinformatics, Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Covid-19: Biology/Immunity/Medicine, Cancer Research, Immunology Research, and Biomedical Research – that are taught by PhD-level instructors with years of research and teaching experience.
Youngzine: Summer Climate Fellowship Program
Youngzine teaches children about our environment and the changing climate. Its mission is to empower youth to action. Youngzine’s Climate Fellowship provides an opportunity for high school students to help combat climate change and contribute to a more sustainable future. During a three-week program, students will have the chance to learn about climate change issue, interact with climate experts, and develop a climate or sustainability-related project. Throughout the year, Youngzine offers training and opportunities for high school writers.
Extracurricular and summer activities are important in building a powerful narrative in your College Application. It is also important to help build your character, skillset, network and values! Not sure what summer or extracurricular activities you should do? Contact us and schedule a meeting with our counselors today!
Over the past few years, all of us at Team Insight are noticing more and more families want to know if early admission option can increase their chance of acceptance. While early admissions may have a higher acceptance rate, it’s important to understand your options and weigh the restrictions before you send in your application!
Most of you probably know about early actions (EA) and early decisions (ED). If you are uncertain, you can learn more about them in our article “Early Decision vs. Early Action.” In addition to early decisions and early actions, we will also explain restrictive early actions (REA) and single-choice early actions (SCEA) and provide insights on Early Decision 2 (ED2).
Early Decision 1 (EDI or ED1)
If you look at any of the admissions statistics, you may be shocked at how high the acceptance rates are compared to regular decisions. Before you jump in and apply ED, note there is a catch. Early decision is binding. You can apply ED to only ONE college, and if you are accepted, you must withdraw all your applications to other universities. Essentially, when you apply ED to a school, you are signing a contract telling this school, “You’re my number one choice, and I will absolutely attend if I am accepted.”
Should you do that for your dream school? The answer is “it depends.” ED doesn’t mean less competitive; it may even be more competitive because it is a self-selecting process. Everyone who applies ED to UPenn is highly qualified, not to mention they are well-motivated to plan and start their application process early. If you are confident that you can finalize a high-quality college application by the typical November ED deadline, ED may be an option for you.
The other consideration is financial aid. Once again, when you apply early decision, you are signaling to the college that you will attend no matter what. This means colleges are less likely to offer you scholarships or financial aid. Therefore, if you are counting on financial help, then early decision may not be the right option.
Read more: Think it Through: Early Decision
Early Decision 2 (EDII or ED 2)
This is a relatively new admissions option, and not all colleges offer this. You follow the same rule as ED1. For many schools, ED2 deadline is slightly before or the same as regular decision. Why would you choose the ED2 option then? The main reason you’d apply ED2 is that you were deferred or rejected from your ED1 college.
Like ED1, your ED2 school is a college that you are excited to attend. Although early decision 2 admissions rate is not as high as early decision 1 acceptance rate, it can still provide you with a boost because of the binding policy.
A word of caution for ED2: some universities (for example, Santa Clara University) offer both early action and early decision 2. You cannot switch from early action to early decision 2. That’s why ED2 options need to be factored in early during the admissions process rather than treated like a backup option. If you are not sure which of your top-choice colleges offer ED2 or how to use it to your advantage, reach out to your Insight Counselor!
Have quesitons about applying early? Talk to one of our Counselors today!
Early Action (EA)
The deadlines for early action are typically November 1st or November 15th. For some schools and majors, you may need to submit your application as early as mid-October. When you apply EA, you can apply to as many schools as you want. A word of caution, some colleges offer EA programs, but the admissions process is closer to restricted early action, which we will get to in the next section.
What’s the benefit of submitting your applications early? In addition to getting a big to-do item checked off before your high school finals, you also hear about the admissions results earlier. You may find out in December or January whether you get to attend your top-choice school, and who wouldn’t like that as a Christmas present?
The other advantage is you have time on your side to strategize (or relax) since you won’t have to commit to a college until May 1st. This gives you time to apply to more schools, compare financial aid options, and visit more campuses. Since early action is non-binding, you can choose what you like the most.
Restrictive or Single-Choice Early Action (REA or SCEA)
This is where things get a bit more complicated. Whether you see restrictive early action or single-choice early action, please note that REA and SCEA are interchangeable. Ultimately, it’s up to the admissions office’s restrictions, so always remember to read the college admissions website carefully. When in doubt, talk to your Insight Counselor!
There are two different types of restrictive early action, and we will explain both with examples. The first type of REA limits perspective students from applying ED to any universities, nor can they apply EA to any private colleges. The colleges that adopt this type of REA are Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, CalTech, and Yale (on Yale’s admissions site, this is known as the single-choice early action). This means if you are applying early to Princeton, you cannot apply EA to USC, but you can still apply EA to University of Michigan.
USC now words their early action deadline differently, so you may still be able to apply to restrictive early action to some of the examples listed above. Wonder how this might work? Schedule a personalized college admission strategy session with an Insight counselor today!
The second type of REA does not limit the type (private or public) of EA schools you can apply to. Georgetown is a good example. On the admissions page, Georgetown classifies its program as early action, but their description of their EA program outlines the restriction. If you apply early to Georgetown, you can still apply EA to both USC and UMich, but you cannot apply to any early decision programs.
While it may be confusing on what you can or cannot apply, the restrictions end at the early admissions round. Both REA and SCEA are non-binding. Thus, you can still apply to other schools during regular decision deadlines, and you can enroll in the college that you like the most.
While you may use early admissions to increase your chance in getting into your dream schools, it’s still important to have a strong college application that tells a powerful personal narrative. Ultimately, it’s up to you. How thoughtful you are in putting together your college list. Have you talked to your parents about financial aid? Did you send your application to your Insight Counselor for review yet? Are you following up with teachers who can be strong recommenders? Have you been working on your college essays? Are you scheduling time every week to focus on your application and essays? These are all actions you can take to ensure you have the best chance of maximizing your college admissions acceptance rate. If you need help or additional clarification, don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com and let our team of experienced college admissions counselors help you!
This article was created from an interview with Insight’s Co-Founder and Head of Counseling Purvi Mody.
Since 1998, Purvi has dedicated her career to education and is exceedingly well versed in the college admissions process. Her philosophy centers around helping kids identify and apply to the schools that are the best fit for them and then develop applications that emphasize their unique attributes and talents.
It’s application season! Whether you’ve been working on your college essay drafts all summer or just finished slaying your first draft, you want to double-check your personal statement or personal insight questions (PIQs) response. In this article, Insight Counselor Zach summarizes the top 10 most common college essay mistakes that you definitely want to avoid!
The University of California (UC) application portal has been open for 2022-2023 admissions since August 1. As Insight Counselor Jenny guided our seniors step-by-step through filling out their UC apps, she discovered some important updates to the UC applications that you wouldn’t want to miss!
Key Insight #1: UC Berkeley Major Choices Update
In the past, UC Berkeley only allows applicants to select one major. In the 2022-2023 admissions season, you can indicate your alternate major choices on all UC campuses. This is in an effort to standardize the University of California system’s application process.
However, UCB will only review your alternate major as space permits. What does that mean? It means your second major choice for UC Berkeley may not be reviewed. In short, nothing has changed in the review process. If you want to study Computer Science (CS) and not Electrical Engineering/Computer Science (EECS), then you should be honest in that preference in your application. Keep in mind that CS at UCB is a pre-major, and if accepted, you will enroll in the College of Letters and Science (L&S) as undeclared. On the other hand, those admitted to EECS will spend their 4 years in the engineering program.
Not sure what you should do to maximize your chances? Interested in other competitive majors? Let our College Admissions expert do a 360-review of your profile and help you plan the path to your dream school!
Key Insight #2: UC Approved Courses in You Academic Section
This is a massive improvement! In the past, UC applicants had to visit the UC A-G Course website and check how the UC admissions office categorizes their high school classes. Now, once you enter your high school in the UC application, you should be able to find the classes offered in your high school in the academic section.
While this is true for many high schools across the United States, there are of course exceptions. If you cannot find your school or coursework on the UC A-G Course website, then follow your transcripts as closely as you can. Avoid any unclear abbreviations. Most importantly, make sure you satisfy the UC subject requirement.
Did you know? At Insight, each college application is thoroughly reviewed by multiple counselors. We don’t just check your academic records, activities, and essays. Our team carefully examines your personal information and your major choices to make sure your application is complete!
Key Insight #3: UCSD’s New Eighth College
For those who are applying to UCSD, you should know to rank the colleges you want to be at. These are usually not related to your major (though it can be), but the community you want to be a part of. At Insight, our counselors guide their seniors to carefully rank these colleges to maximize the overlapping of required coursework and personal interests. This year, San Diego has a new college – the Eighth College.
The Eighth College’s theme is “engagement and community.” The Eighth students will be taking more writing-intensive courses which focus on community, critical engagement, and structural racism.
This begs the question: will you be more likely to get accepted into UCSD this year if you rank the Eighth College as number one? Sadly, no. You will only be placed in one of the UCSD colleges AFTER you are accepted. We know we say this a lot at Insight; it is important to be true to yourself and be authentic on your application. Rank the colleges where you can see yourself thriving in the next four years!
The UC made many changes in the past couple of years, and the historically low acceptance rates of some UC campuses may be daunting. If you are a high school senior right now, take a deep breath and understand this: while you cannot change your past, you have the power to do your best in the present. Focus on what is important right now. Fill out the UC application carefully and accurately. Continue to do your best in your classes. Brainstorm and revise those Personal Insight Questions and personal statements. And should you need any guidance on major choices, college essays, or comprehensive application review, all of us at Team Insight are happy to help you!
Do you know what’s a co-op university? What is unique about co-op? Can you name a few colleges that offer this? Let our College Admissions Counselor Kevin (previously an academic advisor at Northeastern) tell you all about cooperative universities and why you may want to add a few of them to your college list! Continue reading
The list contains the test-optional colleges that changed their admission policies due to COVID-19. Some have extended their test-optional policies. These policies primarily focus on ACT and SAT standardized tests for first-year U.S. undergraduate applicants. This list was last updated in September 2022.
*While we try our best to keep this list complete and updated, please note that this list is not exhaustive.
FAQ About Test-Optional and College Admissions
1. Test-Optional vs. Test-Blind
Test optional means that you can still submit your scores (and you should if you can) and universities will take them into consideration. On the other hand, test blind means colleges won’t look at test scores at all. In both cases, test scores may be used for placement purposes, so you won’t have to take a placement exam before course selection. In some test-optional colleges, test scores are required for certain programs, majors, and/or merit-based scholarships. You may also need to submit test scores if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirements. Please see the “Notes from Insight Education” section for specific college admissions requirements.
Have questions regarding test-optional? We can help! Talk to our team by clicking HERE.
2. For freshmen and sophomores, should they prepare for SAT/ ACT or wait to confirm or later is test-optional or not?
For now, most popular schools extended their test-optional policies for Fall 2023 applicants. There are colleges that adopted test-optional policies, too. Therefore, it depends on your college list, which can shift and change over the years. Your college list can change until the moment you finish submitting applications! To keep your options open (and stress level low), it’s good to take the diagnostic test and then strategize to see if test scores can give you an advantage. Also keep in mind that certain majors, athletic admissions, honors programs, and scholarships require ACT / SAT test scores, and you can use your test scores in lieu of placement exams.
3. Will I have an advantage with ACT / SAT scores?
Yes! From the 2021 and the 2022 admissions results, we’ve seen those who submitted test scores have a higher acceptance rate than those who did not. In some cases, the school may ask you to submit test scores as they are reviewing your applications. Certain colleges require additional essays and/or admissions interviews when you apply without a test score. To learn more, check out our blog on “Top 3 Tips to Prepare You for College Admissions” or “How to Approach Standardized Testing“.
Things I hear during application season:
“I read a bunch of college essays on ____ site to help me understand what I should be writing.”
“My friend/parent/older sibling told me I should do _____ – is that OK?
And on it goes.
Why is writing for college applications so very difficult? Why does it stir up so much doubt? Because of fear. Fear of looking silly. Fear of writing the wrong thing. Fear of being REJECTED.
When it comes to college essays, you often feel that the stakes could not be higher.
What should you do? Reframe the task. College admissions officers want to hear what you have to say. They are not out to play “gotcha” – they actually want to get to know you. That’s what your college essays are all about. How can you help them to see the real you? Let’s dive into that first draft!
How important is your college essay? Check out our post on Why The College Essay Matters
Insight #1: Channel Your Creativity!
Great writing starts with great…pre-writing. Yes, brainstorming! A simple pen with paper will do. So will sticky notes, or, if you like being able to move, erase, etc. your ideas, I highly recommend using a mind-mapping software (Coggle and Miro are examples). Check your environment – is being at home too distracting? Hit the library or literally take a hike (and bring your notebook with you).
Insight #2: Let Your Inner Editor Wait Its Turn
If you are worried about your writing, while you are writing it, this means your editor and writer selves are battling for control. Who is the captain? The editor or the writer? If the answer is “both” that means the boat goes nowhere (“boat” in this metaphor being your draft). When you notice your inner editor interfering, questioning, or otherwise stopping the writing process, try thanking it for showing up and asking it to wait a while until it is time to work. When will that be? AFTER the first draft.
Writer’s block? Read more about Overcoming Writers Block
Insight #3: You are Feeling the Pain of Learning How to Write About…You
Quick, grab any adult you know and show them some of these college essay questions. Would they love to answer these? Of course not. They are difficult! So part of this process is learning that the discomfort of learning how to write about yourself doesn’t mean you are “good” or “bad” at it – it just means you are learning.
Insight #4: Everyone Can Do A GREAT Job
No matter how you feel about your writing skills, it is highly unlikely that you have written anything like this before. Do you think that my students who have written novels and scripts, or have worked on their school newspapers sailed through the applications process without a care in the world? Nope! If you write well, your fears may be even more pronounced than someone who feels less confident about their writing. Why? Because you know that you can always do a better job.
What if you struggle in English classes? That is also OK. I have worked with students who aren’t native English speakers, and they are still able to express themselves well in their college applications. How??? The fact that the process of writing your college essays is difficult. Keep in mind that your first draft does not predict the later quality of your work. At Insight, we work with students through one draft after the next, and every iteration pushes their college essays toward greatness. Don’t feel discouraged if your first few drafts aren’t perfect. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and making consistent progress – that is what matters!
Insight #5: You Are The Expert of Your Life
Lastly, something to remember is that you have had 11 years of people telling you to listen and follow their lead. It can be shocking to realize that colleges want to hear from you. It is a completely different dynamic. My goodness – now someone wants to hear what I have to say? It takes some acclimatization. However strange it may sound, you are actually an expert – on your own life. You are 100% qualified to discuss it.
Want more college essay tips? Check out 5 Tips for Your College Essays
I hope these college essay insights help you as you move through your drafts this summer/fall. Happy Writing!
Need help with your college essays? We are here for you! Schedule a 1-hour personalized college planning session with an Insight Counselor today to learn how we can help you write your college essays!
This article is written by Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Meilin Obinata.
Meilin Obinata is a Senior College Counselor who enjoys learning from her students. She believes education is a creative endeavor and creates a space that allows students to explore new ideas. As a Bay Area native who grew up in Santa Cruz, she is familiar with the local schools. Read her full bio here.
During the college admissions process, you may come across many supplement essays. The most challenging one is the “why” essay. Generally, these college essay prompt asks, “Why do you want to attend our school” or “why do you want to study this specific major?”
(Rather watch a video instead? Check out Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach’s video on How to Write the “Why Major” and “Why College” Essays!)
What Do College Admissions Officers Want to See in a “Why College” Essays?
It depends on the specific college or the specific program you are applying to. When you respond to the “why college” essay, you want to address the reasons that you’re drawn to that college. Essentially, you’d share what you find unique and different about that particular university.
Think of the “why college” essay like a love letter. There are thousands of colleges out there you can apply to, but what makes this college THE ONE? A good “why college” essay is based on in-depth research. You really have to do your homework! Don’t just jot down the first few things you see on the college’s website. Dig deep. What are some of the opportunities that this university offers that draw you in? How do you find yourself fitting perfectly into the campus culture? Why is this college the best fit for you academically or socially? What are some of your personal goals and values that can only be achieved at this school?
Just like any love letter, you want the reader to feel special. The why essay should not feel generic. The easiest way to check if your why essay is too general is to substitute the name. If you can replace “College A” with “College B” in your essay and it still reads fine, then you need to rewrite and be more specific.
What about a “Why Major” Essay?
The “why major” essay is specific to what you are hoping to accomplish or what career path you hope to be on in the future. Not every high school student knows exactly what they want to do. That’s perfectly normal. For those who are undecided or those who have several interests, be as clear as possible on what you are trying to achieve. What drives you to this set of majors? What do you hope to explore within this particular program?
For those who have a better idea of what they want to do, you’d want to research the resources that this major (or program) offers. What classes are available? Why do you find them intriguing? What research opportunities are offered? What facilities and labs will you be able to utilize? What professors would you study or research under? You want to demonstrate that you’ve really looked into this program, and only this major/program at this school can offer you the unique chance to achieve your goals.
How to Write a Good Why Essay?
Be specific! The more focused you are on expressing what attracts you, the better. The why essay is as much about you as it is about the school (or program or major). Don’t rely on samples or templates that are out there. You may want to talk to friends or alum who went to this college, but what they tell you to write might not make good content.
This really needs to be about you. Think about it from the admissions officer’s perspective. They are reviewing thousands and thousands of applications. You don’t want to sound like just any average joe. You don’t want your love letter to this school/program/major to sound generic. You want it to be unique. You want it to be authentic and specific. You want your own voice to come out. Most importantly, you want your why essay to supplement your personal statement.
A good why essay should provide another dimension to who you are. You shouldn’t repeat information that’s already in the activity section or your personal statement. Ultimately, a good why essay shares why this college is a good fit for you while allowing the college admissions officers to get to know more about you.
Sounds Great! How Do I Get Started?
One way to get started on your why essay is to ask – “What did you enjoy doing?” You want to reflect on what you’ve done thus far. Think back on your high school years and what you have accomplished so far. What are the ways you can continue excelling at the college level? How can this college help you grow?
For example, if you have been involved in certain charity work and you love it, look for opportunities on this college campus that will allow you to explore this. What are the ways this college or program will help you expand this experience? If you have started a particular research at the high school level, you will have access to more resources, better tools, and professors that can help you to further your research. It may lead to jobs and future career paths.
Another way is to visit the college. Check out research opportunities online. Walk around the campus. Join a virtual information session. Schedule informational interviews with alumni. Essentially, use all the possible resources to learn more about this college. This can help you convey why you are drawn to this school with detailed examples and reasons.
The key point to remember as you write your why essay: you want this college (or major) to do as much for you as you can for it.
Need professional guidance for your college essays? Schedule a personalized one-hour consultation with our College Admissions Counselor!
This article is inspired by an interview by Insight Senior Counselor Zach Pava.
Zach has guided hundreds of students throughout the college admissions process. His extensive writing background includes essay contributions online and in print, a sports blog, screenplays, and film reviews. Contact Insight Education today to schedule an initial consultation with Zach. Read his full bio here.