“Why Did You Choose This School?” How to Answer the Challenging Question

Why did you choose this school?

Flickr user Jiuguang Wang

Why did you choose this school? There’s no easy answer to this. It involves crafting your answer, some research, and even some answers to avoid. The question also comes in different forms, such as:

What is it about our college that is most appealing to you?

Why do you think our college is a good fit for you?

What will you bring to the table?

It’s all the same question, just asked differently. You are likely to come across this question in some form or the other when filling up college application forms or during the college admissions interview. Some colleges even require you to address this question when writing your personal statement.

At first, it sounds like a relatively straightforward and casual question and one that requires a quick one-line reply. Treating this question so casually however, can be a huge mistake and could potentially get your application rejected. You can be sure that the admissions authorities will not just skim through your answer. They will read through it carefully and use it as one of the factors in their final decision.

These tips will help you craft a compelling reply to this challenging question.

 Craft your answer to address the question being asked

Although the questions are similar, each college may have its own unique angle on it. ‘What will you bring to the table’ is quite different from ‘Why do you want to go to our college’. Take time to read and understand the question and angle your answer to address that specific question.

Do your research before you answer “why did you choose this school” 

Go through the college website again. Explore the course offerings as well as the extracurricular opportunities. What does the college pride itself on most? Do they encourage community involvement, being green, or celebrating diversity?

The only way to can give a more specific reply is to research a college and get to know the college better.

Emphasize your academic interest

College authorities want to know more about your academic interests and commitments. Talk about the specific educational, research, and other academic opportunities offered by the college that appeal to you. Expand on this idea by talking about how these opportunities help support your future goals.

Whether you are applying to a fine arts program, a physics program, or a business management program, talk about specific opportunities that excite you most and why. Knowing your major is a great way to show that you are interested in the program.

How NOT to answer this question

Maybe you had not really thought it through. You may have decided to apply because it is your friend’s or your favorite celebrity’s alma-mater and you’ve heard only good things about the school. Or maybe you’ve heard of the amazing frat parties thrown by the students of that school and you want to be part of that scene.

Stating these reasons as part of your reply will get your application rejected outright. They are also not the right reasons for you to apply to any college in the first place. Applying to a college for the right reasons is so important and answering this question can be an eye-opener for you too.

In replying to “why did you choose this school,” other things that you should refrain from mentioning are the geographic location of the school (you do not want to say you like that the school is close to the beach or other superficial aspects like cafeteria is great or they have state-of-the-art dorms).

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