"Why College XYZ?" Essay

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: July 2003 Archive: "Why College XYZ?" Essay
By Unmatchedsocks (Unmatchedsocks) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 05:57 pm: Edit

Hi! This is a very, very rough draft of one of my "Why Such and Such College" essays. I am looking for input on content only. Thanks! (College name and some information is edited out because I would not be surprised if someone on this board would steal it, even though it sucks.)

When I first visited XYZ, I was blown away. I was in the middle of a week-long east coast college tour circuit designed by my mother, and by the time I arrived at XYZ, I thought I knew what to expect -- Cold tour guides with a rehearsed script, an empty and desolate campus, and two and a half hours of insufferable heat. Instead, I found the campus alive with not only cherry blossoms and flowers, but students studying, talking, laughing, and smiling. My tour guide took me to the places that interested me, and asked me as many questions as I asked her. The students smiled at me as they passed, and I felt at home instantly.
Months passed, and many times people would ask me what college I had liked best and why. This particular question caused me a lot of difficulty, as it is hard to describe XYZ's atmosphere. Not only is it electrifyingly intellectual, but XYZ smells like knowledge. The entire campus has a hint of one’s favorite well-worn book. Ever since I was little, my favorite place has been the library. The smell of books always puts a smile on my face. While the campus smells of knowledge, it also has excitement and curiosity in the faintly musty air.
As I researched XYZ, my decision became increasingly clear. Every time I read anything written by an XYZ student or alumna, I was always impressed with their articulate nature, their ease with the language, and their ability to develop and communicate their own unique voice and style so quickly.
Overall, I was impressed with the students' confidence, friendliness, and, most importantly, intellectual curiosity. I really felt that XYZ would be a place where a person could not only grow, but flourish.

By Momof2 (Momof2) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 06:08 pm: Edit

I'm in a bit of a rush, sorry, but it's a good first draft. My only suggestion is that you add some particulars for that campus, perhaps pertaining to your intended major. [I was immediately drawn to the **lab in Greene Hall; I wanted to go in and join the class in session.] Otherwise, it looks like you might be able to substitute schools with little rewriting. You don't want to sound like you are sending it to 5 other "dream" schools. That's just my first impression, though. Good luck!

By Unmatchedsocks (Unmatchedsocks) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 06:11 pm: Edit

Oh, no, this is just for one particular school. Thanks, Momof2!

By Digmedia (Digmedia) on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 10:34 pm: Edit

Momof2 is right. It almost ALWAYS helps A LOT to focus in on a few details... in detail. Like the Presidents do in the State of the Union Address: they always illustrate their plans and schemes with a particular person who's been invited to the speech (and the cameras queued to show those people at the appropriate moment).

For example, what was the name of your tour guide? Male? Female? Smiling?

Who asked you about where you wanted to go? How did the conversation arise? What did you say that really nailed XYZ for YOU. Colleges always hear how great they are... but what you want to get across is how great a FIT it is for YOU.

Like Mo2 says, put in some real XYZ details about the visit.

I think its a good start, but there are a few things that sound gratuitous to me and that I'd drop or change:

...was always impressed with their articulate nature... That whole sentence is little much. I'd tone this down. Sounds like you're reaching for something to say.

...electrifyingly intellectual... Likewise here.

...a person could not only grow... You should not be talking about "a person" but about YOU (again). Will YOU grow and flourish at XYZ? Why?

The good:

...smells like knowledge... This was my favorite part, especially with the part that follows that statement. Up to that point, pretending to be an adcom, I thought, ho hum, another "how great the school is" essay. But that phrase made me stop the reading and mull that over. Did I like it? I was unsure until I read on, and decided that here was something a little different, and the phrasing worked for me.

Like I said, it's a good first start, but the opening paragraph needs the most work. Read it without the first sentence and you'll see that it's stronger already: "I was in the middle of..."

By Unmatchedsocks (Unmatchedsocks) on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 12:29 am: Edit

Thanks, Digimedia!

By Winterfresh (Winterfresh) on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 12:52 pm: Edit

yes, i like the "smells like knowledge" part....very well said..

maybe you could write an essay for me lol

By Justplayin104 (Justplayin104) on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 05:12 pm: Edit

Some little tips..

+Most Noticeable+ Phrasing, Specificity, Word Choice. Grab a thesaurus and have a blast.
Some examples of the 3 points I noted above.

--> "...students smiled at me as i passed.... Month's passed..." Find a synonym or glorified phrase for "passed." It could be used better, and not in 2 sentences together.

-->"...many times people would ask me what college I had liked best and why." Reword it. Say something like "countless people wondered which college I favored." Somethin a little more succinct than the original phrasing.

--> Hack off "this question blah blah blah difficulty blah atmosphere." Reword to something with the effect of " I didn't know what to say, how to describe it. XYZ simply feels intellectual; it smells like knowledge."

--> Add specificity (like others have emphasized). Ex: The entire campus -- XYZ Memorium, XYZ Lake, XYZ Gardens -- it all has the flavor of a well-worn book."
[Note: I'm not sure of the punctuation on the one, but I did my best, and if you're not sure you can ask somebody. And if you don't agree in the books have flavors or it too strongly implies a physical taste, say 'feeling' or something similar]
Just don't say a dorm room, dining hall, residence hall, athletic facility, etc. has the feeling of a well-worn book. They don't. Choose something pleasant and specific. Even the "towering magnolia trees" work. But don't combine something relatively general like magnolia trees with something relatively specific, like XYZ Lake.

--> Go through the tedious process of re-wording and re-phrasing (as I have done) throughout your essay. Remember, this is short, but it also has to be SWEET. It must flow. Again, grab a thesaurus.


--> Has...has..be...became...is...was...overall (Not necessarily a bad word, just use something else, like "ultimately" or another word of your choice.) Take out and replace as many weak "be" verbs, as you can. Put in some action words, words with substance. See note at thesaurus.

--> Something that irks me: The book thing is GOOD. But you take it too far; that is, beyond the one simple sentence that it should be.

And you need more than 2 simple sentences. Well, you'll only have one if you choose to heed the advice of the above note. The essay has a lot of commas and complex sentences. Throw in some shorter ones here and there too.
And make a strong connection between the college and you, personally. Ex: XYZ Meadows tugged at the ropes of my cross country side, inviting me to make a mad dash through the grasses. Good luck!

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