Write a Meaningful “Why This Program?” Essay


There are only so many ways you can cook an egg, and there are only so many ways you can write a “Why This Program?” essay. But there are ways to spice up the process, to add a little seasoning to a something that’s usually pretty boring.

A lot of colleges--UT honors included--will ask you what’s appealing about their specific programs. Out of all the options, why exactly do you want to attend the business school, for example, or pursue the honors engineering major? The question on its surface is pretty straightforward. And most likely you will say that the program has good professors, good classes, good hands-on experiences, good...well, EVERYTHING.

The admissions officers know that.

So how do you make this egg-say (yep, just made that pun) a tasty treat and not a scrambled mess? As with most things you write to colleges, you need to find your angle and run with it.

Let’s return to that list from above, the one that you will undoubtedly make at some point, a list that rattles off all the clichés of why you want to attend a specific program:

Professors

Classes

Hands-on experiences

EVERYTHING (research, students, study abroad, etc…)

What you need to do is choose one of these things and make that the centerpiece of your response. Let’s say you love the classes because they are interdisciplinary, here’s a format:

PART 1:

Talk about an experience in high school when you took a class that blended two different subjects together. In this part, you want to make it clear that you fell in love with interdisciplinary curriculum. What happened? Why did you like it? What revelation did you have? You want to set the stage, or give the admissions officer context, on why this type of coursework is meaningful to you.

PART 2:

Describe how the program in question addresses these classroom concerns. So, in this case, talk about how the program’s classes meet the standards and goals that you have for interdisciplinary learning. Connect the experience described in PART 1 to the style of the program’s curriculum. And give an example of a specific class that represents the program’s interdisciplinary style.

What about the professors, the hands-on experiences, the EVERYTHING else? Since most of these questions restrict your response to 200-300 words, there is no space for dilly-dallying, so you can’t give a shoutout to all aspects of the program and still provide a personal and meaningful response. Instead, you can kindly nod to all those other things by saying in a single sentence that they are great too. (Now if you are given 500 words to work with, then you can go into more detail about some of the other aspects of the program while still maintaining a centerpiece.)

It’s easier said than done, recipe[d] than cooked, but planning is half the battle. Most students barrel into the response spatula and pepper shaker flailing in the wind. There is Chef Boyardee and Chef Boyardon’t--I think you get the idea.

If you still need help spicing up your “Why This Program?” essay, then let the master chefs at B2A give you some help in the kitchen. All right, so we aren’t actually culinary artists--well, some of us are--but we are eager editors and wonderful wordsmiths. And we can help you turn a plodding and trite essay into something much more worthy of the admissions officer’s attention.

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