On most college application supplements this fall you’ll find a question along the lines of, “Why do you believe you’re a good fit for our university?”  If students responded with what’s actually in their head, answers would probably look something like this:

“Are you kidding?  Everyone wants to go to your school, of course I do too!”

“Mom and Dad told me I have to apply here.  I’ll die if I actually have to go.”

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“I don’t know!  I’m exhausted and have no more original thoughts from doing all these essays!  Just admit me please!”

While the honesty and transparency in these examples is certainly something to be admired, I’m sure you’ve guessed -- it’s not exactly what colleges are looking for.  

When you come across one of these questions, take a moment to slam your fists on your desk and yell, “Another essay!” and then follow this easy formula:

Mission of the School + Personal Connection =  Golden Ticket

Let’s break that down.  First, you want to hone in on exactly what the school is about on a macro level.  You’ll get some hints by talking to admissions counselors, taking tours, and reading their literature but the easiest way to distill this information is to head to their website and search the words, “Mission and Vision.”  

All colleges will have a mission and vision statement that has been obsessed over and perfected by people that make more money than we do.  Think college administrators, board of trustee members, and influential alumni.  If that much time and energy has gone into those statements, you can bet they’re pounded into the brains of all college employees, including admissions counselors.  Zero in on the kind of student the school is looking for and connect that to who you are -- you’re set.

For example, if you see the word “service” or “community” a lot in that statement -- highlight some of your volunteer experience.  If you see “global citizen” or “international” -- you’ll want to echo your dedication to being part of an international culture.

Almost done!  Just one more step.  You’ve already made a personal connection to that mission, just drive it home with a personal connection you made to the college itself. Like, they have co-op opportunities at a company you’ve admired for years.  Or, when you saw students playing quidditch on the quad, you knew you’d fit in.  Do your best to find a connection that relates in some way to that mission and vision connection you made before.  Essays are all about flow, right?

If you can effectively swirl all this together, your admissions counselor will be impressed with your knowledge of the school and how well you’d add to their student community...and maybe even tear up a bit at the end.