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Band 9 essay sample | One should get a university degree for a good job

by Manjusha Nambiar · October 16, 2016

Essay topic

Many people say that the only way to guarantee a good job is to complete a course of university education. Others claim that it is better to start work after school and gain experience in the world of work. How far do you agree or disagree with the above views?

Give reason for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. Write at least 250 words.

Here is a sample essay

Many people believe that completing a university degree is the only way to get a good job; others think work experience matters more. While universities prepare an individual theoretically, working after school equips a person with skills required for coping in the workplace. In my opinion, both the aforementioned arguments are true to a certain extent.

A university degree enhances an individual’s knowledge and promotes intellectual reasoning. This training makes an individual more mature and ready to face the challenges of the workplace. For example, when I was at university, most of our assignments involved critical thinking and research; this has expanded my knowledge in my field. In this modern world, most employers especially those in sectors like finance and health insist that all applicants should have a degree. A student who starts working immediately after leaving school will not be able to obtain a professional degree and hence cannot find employment in these sectors.

On the flip side, there are several benefits to getting a job soon after leaving school. A job will give the individual valuable work experience; however it is limited to certain occupations such as those in arts and crafts, fashion designing and cooking where creativity and skills matter more. For example, my friend, who is a chef at a famous restaurant never went to a cooking school; however, she makes delicious food because she has been working at a restaurant ever since she left school. This experience helped her polish her cooking skills.

To conclude, both university education and work experience have a role in guaranteeing a good job. Some occupations require a university degree while others do not. In my opinion, everyone should choose what is right for them.

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essay about having a university degree

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Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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10 Benefits of Having a College Degree

essay about having a university degree

Obtaining your bachelor’s degree used to be a way for students to stand out from others in a highly competitive job market. In the last five years, however, the number of job postings requiring the minimum of a bachelor’s degree has increased significantly. This new standard shows that job applicants having a bachelor’s or an even higher education are becoming more common.

Unique Postings Requiring a Bachelor's Degree

Does this mean that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t have value? Is it even important in today’s world of start-up entrepreneurs and self-employed business owners? Is it a worthwhile investment considering that student loan debt may be involved?

The answer, ultimately, is that it really depends on you. Your unique life goals, including your career aspirations, will determine if the bachelor’s degree is a good fit. 

Is College Necessary for a Successful Future?

A common question people tend to ask themselves when deciding whether or not to pursue a college degree is, “Can I succeed without college?”

This question is based on the various stories of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other successful business owners who did not acquire their college degrees. However, these experiences are the exception and not the rule, bringing into question if acquiring a degree is worth the investment for the majority of people.

To make this decision, it is important to know what you envision for your future career, the range of skills you would need to succeed, and the life experiences you would need to get there. The combination of all of these elements will inform whether or not time in college would benefit your professional journey.

If your ideal career cannot be pursued without some sort of higher education, there is little doubt that a college degree will provide the necessary resources to succeed in that chosen profession. As mentioned above, the amount of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher has significantly increased, making a bachelor’s more of a necessity. This is why, for many people, earning a college degree is important to their success in today’s job market.

Let’s look at the benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree, and how your personal educational goals and lifestyle choices should be considered in making this major decision.

1. Increased Access to Job Opportunities

Having a bachelor’s degree opens up rewarding opportunities that might have otherwise been inaccessible. For example, college graduates see 57 percent more job opportunities than non-graduates. A degree enables you to qualify for these additional opportunities and offers you more flexibility in where you choose to work.

Not only are there more jobs available to degree holders than high school graduates, but the existing jobs are also more accessible. According to a government report focused on job market analytics, the total number of job postings requiring a bachelor’s degree from 2019 to 2022 reached nearly 98.5 million.

Total Number of Jobs Postings Requiring Bachelor's Degree

For job seekers, these online job postings are a primary tool for finding and applying to available roles. While more than 80 percent of all job openings for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are advertised online , only 50 percent of jobs requiring a high school diploma are posted online, making it harder for these workers to connect with prospective employers.

Pursuing a college education also expands your access to opportunities by connecting you to a lifelong network of colleagues, advisors, professors, and mentors. Over the course of your career, this network can open doors and connect you to industry leaders with whom you can share ideas and explore new ventures.

2. Preparation for a Specialized Career

As the world changes, the job market changes with it. Technology, education, and health are three of the most rapidly growing fields for a good reason; they evolve so often that only the most accomplished individuals can do the work. Getting a bachelor’s degree will help you learn the specific skills and habits needed to make a living in these areas. 

While not all degrees offer a direct route to a particular job (English, philosophy, or political science, for example), many are created with a specific career path in mind. An educational degree, for example, is designed as a funnel for teaching jobs; some health degrees also have very specialized jobs waiting at the end for those who complete them.

3. Increased Marketability

Having a bachelor’s degree will keep you in demand as the need for skilled, college-educated workers continues to rise. 

Over 80 percent of jobs in four of the fastest-growing occupations—healthcare, STEM, education, and government services—demand postsecondary education.

On your path to earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll gain skills that will give you a competitive advantage in the job market. Today’s employers are most interested in applicants with exceptional communication, leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills . 

In college, you’ll have access to rigorous coursework and experiential learning opportunities that will arm you with these skills to make you more attractive to employers.

4. Increased Earning Potential

There is plenty of data that suggests college graduate majors can expect their starting salaries to increase over time, giving them hope for their future earnings. The greater your level of education, the higher you can expect your salary to be.

According to government data, the average salary of a bachelor’s degree recipient is $67,500 per year. With the current national average just below $56,000 per year, individuals with a bachelor’s degree are rewarded with higher earning potential as compared to high school diploma and associate degree recipients.

Average Salary of Bachelor's Degree Graduate

This trajectory of bachelor’s degree graduates has been on an upward trend as well. According to that same government report, from 2020 to 2022 the average median salary of individuals with a bachelor’s degree increased by nearly 20 percent.

Advertised Wage Trend of Job Postings

5. Economic Stability

Of the 11.6 million jobs created since 2010, over 8.4 million jobs—95 percent—have gone to bachelor’s degree holders . Meanwhile, jobs for high school graduates have only grown by 80,000. It makes sense, then, that bachelor’s degree holders have a significantly lower rate of unemployment than high school graduates . As of 2022, the unemployment rate for those older than 25 with bachelor’s degrees is 1.9 percent, while over 3.6 percent of high school graduates in that age range remain unemployed.

Consequently, individuals without a degree are three times more likely to be living in poverty . According to Pew Research Center, only six percent of bachelor’s degree holders live below the poverty line, while an alarming 22 percent of people without a college degree live in poverty. Earning a bachelor’s degree will help afford you economic stability and security for the future.

6. Networking Opportunities

In today’s job market, building and maintaining a professional network is critical to success. Certain aspects of getting a degree, from interning to volunteering, are designed to help you meet people who can help design your future. 

Taking advantage of the various job fairs and career development resources that college students have available is a great way to put that degree to work, as well. 

How to Build a Professional Network

When you get ready to finish your degree and head out into the world, degree earners can expect a level of support from their mentors and professors that isn’t available anywhere else.

7. A Pathway to Advancement 

Have you considered a career as a physical therapist, head librarian, or nurse anesthetist? These popular jobs usually require a bachelor’s degree as the first step before going on to get another, more-advanced degree. 

You’ll also need a bachelor’s before any Master’s or PhD , as well as the ever-popular MBA . Even if you’re not sure you’re up for the entire career path, earning a bachelor’s degree now puts you in the driver’s seat should you decide to pursue it later.

8. Personal Growth and Improved Self-Esteem

If you aren’t looking for the type of career that often comes from a four-year education, you may be questioning the value of a bachelor’s degree. 

There’s more to it than the paper, however; many students have found the experience to be deeply and personally rewarding, as well. In addition to gaining skills like writing, time-management, and working on a team, there are opportunities to polish presentation skills and interact with professors and students who will, later on, become part of your valuable career network . 

Earning a degree is empowering; it boosts confidence and provides a sense of achievement. The pursuit of higher education also equips you to master complex challenges and overcome adversity, contributing to increased happiness and reduced stress. This may be why bachelor’s degree holders report higher levels of self-esteem than high school graduates .

College graduates are also more likely to be involved in their communities. Compared to non-degree holders, they are more likely to vote, volunteer, donate to charities, join community organizations, and participate in educational activities with their children. As more active citizens, bachelor’s degree holders contribute to a stronger, more engaged community to provide opportunities for future generations.

9. Higher Job Satisfaction

Research shows that having a bachelor’s degree leads to greater long-term job satisfaction . The differences between degree and non-degree holders are stark:

  • Eighty-six percent of college graduates consider their job a career or a stepping stone to their career, while only 57 percent of high school graduates say the same.
  • The majority of bachelor’s degree holders—60 percent—say they are highly satisfied and their job is more than just a paycheck. Only 38 percent of degree holders report the same level of satisfaction.
  • Forty-two percent of high school graduates say their job is “just to get them by,” compared to 14 percent of bachelor’s degree holders.

Bachelor’s degree holders also enjoy more on-the-job perks that contribute to a sense of career satisfaction. In fact, 52 percent of full-time workers with a degree were offered retirement benefits, compared to only 43 percent of individuals without a degree .

10. Positive Return on Investment

The cost of a degree may be daunting, especially with many students on the news sharing student loan woes and not feeling like the job market is friendly to their specific degree. While no one can argue that some degrees aren’t that easy to employ, many college grads are finding the ROI of a bachelor’s degree to be positive. 

Young adults express that their degrees are a good value, with 72 percent believing that their degree has paid off, and an additional 17 percent believing that it will very soon. This trend stays steady among those who borrowed for school, as well. Plus, there are many programs available to help pay for higher education; scholarships , grants and tuition reimbursement programs are all designed to help students avoid debt.

Using a Bachelor’s Degree to Your Advantage

Whether you are looking for more upward mobility in your career, a new opportunity to learn and grow professionally, or a better life for your family through a higher annual salary, the reasons for exploring a bachelor’s degree program are many.

In today’s market, the cost of not having a college degree is rising, as non-graduates face a lack of job options and increased economic instability. 

While earning a bachelor’s degree is a big commitment, the rewards are plentiful and within your reach. A brighter economic future, more career possibilities, and a greater sense of personal fulfillment are all possible with the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree.

Take the next step and request information on earning your bachelor’s degree today.

Home — Essay Samples — Education — College Tuition — Why a College Degree Is Important

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Why a College Degree is Important

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Published: Mar 14, 2019

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How to Write the “Why this Major” College Essay + Example

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How to Write the “Why This Major” Essay If You’re Undecided→

The “Why This Major?” essay is a common prompt that nearly every college applicant will have to answer. In this post, we’ll be going over the purpose of this essay, examples of real prompts, sample responses, and expert tips for writing your own essay. If one of the colleges on your list asks you to respond to this prompt, you’ll be well-prepared after reading this post.

What is the “Why This Major” Essay?

In the college admissions process, you’ll need to submit two main types of essays: the personal statement and supplemental essays. The personal statement is your main application essay that goes to every school you apply to. The goal of this essay is to share more about who you are and your development.

On the other hand, s upplemental essays only go to specific schools, and each school requests their own essays. The goal of these essays is to showcase your fit with the school. Common prompts include “ Why This College? ”, “ Describe an Extracurricular ,” and “Why This Major?”.

As a supplemental essay, the “Why This Major?” prompt asks you to explain your interest in your intended major. Colleges want to understand your academic background, what your intellectual passions are, and what you plan to do professionally. It’s also meant to gauge your academic fit with the college, as you should also cover the school-specific resources that will help you achieve your goals. This prompt should actually be considered “Why This Major at This School?”.

Examples of “Why This Major?” Essay Prompts

Before we dive in, let’s first take a look at some real-life examples of these prompts.

For example, Yale requests that students write a supplemental essay based on the following prompt:

Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided. Why do these areas appeal to you? (100 words or fewer).

Similarly, Purdue asks applicants to write 100 words in response to the below statement:

“Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected.”

Another top college, Carnegie Mellon requires students to discuss the evolution of their proposed field of study in 300 words:

“Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time—what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study?”

Finally, UPenn asks students to craft a slightly longer essay (300-450 words) explaining how they chose their major:

“How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected.”

“Why This Major?” Essay Example

To give you a better idea of what these essays should actually look like, here’s an example of a response to the “Why This Major?” prompt.

Prompt: If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as a first year applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke (250 words).

One Christmas morning, when I was nine, I opened a snap circuit set from my grandmother. Although I had always loved math and science, I didn’t realize my passion for engineering until I spent the rest of winter break creating different circuits to power various lights, alarms, and sensors. Even after I outgrew the toy, I kept the set in my bedroom at home and knew I wanted to study engineering. Later, in a high school biology class, I learned that engineering didn’t only apply to circuits, but also to medical devices that could improve people’s quality of life. Biomedical engineering allows me to pursue my academic passions and help people at the same time.

Just as biology and engineering interact in biomedical engineering, I am fascinated by interdisciplinary research in my chosen career path. Duke offers unmatched resources, such as DUhatch and The Foundry, that will enrich my engineering education and help me practice creative problem-solving skills. The emphasis on entrepreneurship within these resources will also help me to make a helpful product. Duke’s Bass Connections program also interests me; I firmly believe that the most creative and necessary problem-solving comes by bringing people together from different backgrounds. Through this program, I can use my engineering education to solve complicated societal problems such as creating sustainable surgical tools for low-income countries. Along the way, I can learn alongside experts in the field. Duke’s openness and collaborative culture span across its academic disciplines, making Duke the best place for me to grow both as an engineer and as a social advocate.

This student does a great job of sharing how their interest in biomedical engineering developed. They begin the essay with an anecdote, which is more engaging and personal than simply stating “I want to study X major because…” The student also details how Duke specifically can help them achieve their goal of being an engineer and social advocate. It’s clear they’ve done their research, as they’re able to name resources at Duke, such as DUhatch, The Foundry, and the Bass Connections program.

Tips for Writing the “Why This Major?” Essay

Answering the “Why This Major?” essay prompt may seem like a difficult task. However, there are tips to help simplify the process and ensure your response addresses the question fully and effectively. Here are three steps for writing a standout essay about your major of choice:

1. Share how your academic interest developed. 

The first step in crafting an effective “Why This Major?” essay example is explaining your emotional resonance with the subject, and your background in it. While you might be tempted to write about your passion for the subject in flowery language, it’s better to share specific experiences that show how your interest developed. You should cover both the coursework that you’ve done and any relevant extracurricular experiences. If you have space, you can also add in the specific subtopics that interest you within the major (i.e. analyzing gender relations or racism within the broader topic of sociology).

You might also consider sharing a short anecdote related to your interest in the major. This is especially effective at the beginning of the essay, as telling a story will draw in the reader while providing context for your academic interest. For example, if you’re interested in attending Yale University to study English, you could start your essay by describing a childhood ritual in which you and your dad went to the library every Saturday. 

While anecdotes are effective components of a college essay, students should choose what details to include with care. The most impactful essays tell a story, so you should refrain from listing all of your extracurricular activities that relate to your chosen major. This is not a resume! Instead, find ways of connecting your initial anecdote with your desire to pursue your major. For example, perhaps your early experiences at the library led you to get a job at a local bookstore and organize author readings for the community.

2. Detail your reasoning and goals. 

It’s not enough to express your passion for a particular subject. You also want to describe your goals and explain how majoring in a field will help you achieve them. Perhaps your early experiences with authors inspired you to start a novel. You can further explain how majoring in English will enable you to study the great works of literature, thereby providing you with the background and foundation needed to find success as a writer. 

3. Explain your school choice. 

Finally, a “Why This Major?” essay should reveal how the college in question will help you achieve your goals. Your reasons should extend beyond “the college is highly ranked for this major,” and should dive into the curriculum, teaching methodology, and specific classes or resources.

For example, if you’re passionate about becoming a writer one day, take time to explain how Yale’s English program will set you on the road to success. Perhaps you’re interested in studying British greats through the famed Yale in London study abroad program. Or, maybe you plan on pursuing the Writing Concentration as a senior to further your creative writing skills. You could also mention a desire to take a particular course, study with a certain professor, or work on the school newspaper. Just be careful not to “name-drop” professors ⁠— only mention a specific faculty member if their work is actually highly-relevant to your interests. Otherwise, your interest will look disingenuous.

What to Do If You’re Undecided

Just because you haven’t decided on a concentration doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to writing the “Why This Major?” essay. If you’re still undecided, you can opt to write about 1-3 potential majors, while detailing how the school can help you meet your goals. For best results, include personal anecdotes about a few academic subjects or courses that have inspired you, and share some potential career paths stemming from them. For more tips, see our post on how to write the “Why this major?” essay if you’re undecided .

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

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How Important Is a College Degree Compared to Experience?

  • Soren Kaplan

essay about having a university degree

Is getting a college degree outdated?

The converging trends of a competitive labor market, ballooning university tuitions, new online learning alternatives, and fast-changing job roles has created a tipping point in the perceived value of college degrees. The percentage of jobs requiring a college degree fell from 51% in 2017 to 44% percent in 2021. And according to Gallup, the percentage of U.S. adults ages 18 to 29 who view college education as “very important” dropped from 74% to 41% in just six years. What does this mean for you?

  • In today’s fast-changing world, a university degree isn’t the only road to success. In fact, data shows that only 25% of college graduates would choose to pursue the same educational path if they could do it again.
  • On top of that, 41% say they would instead get a certificate that would instantly qualify them for an in-demand job.
  • Whether you’re considering college, about to graduate, or already have your degree, many more options exist for finding success than ever before.
  • Just be sure to give yourself practical experiences. That’s the key to continuous learning, and which can open the door to your next opportunity.

Twenty-one-year-old Eyal Bloom had almost zero business experience and only a high-school diploma. Nothing on her résumé said she could lead a remote project team with members in the United States, India, and Africa. But by applying what she learned leading a small unit when in the military, Eyal has done just that in her role at San Francisco-based startup Praxie.com.

  • Soren Kaplan is a co-founder of Praxie.com , author of Experiential Intelligence , and an affiliate at the Center for Effective Organizations at USC’s Marshall School of Business.

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Is a University Degree Necessary to Success? Essay Example

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In the past decade or so, the United States has been transformed from a manufactured based economy to knowledge and technology based world. Today a college education is just as important as a high school education was fifty years ago. A college degree is the foundation of a stable future. There are many reasons why a college degree is so important and necessary today. People who obtain a college education have a higher lifetime wages earned than people who do not have a college degree. This fact alone ensures a better quality of life for the college graduate. In today’s world, most employers prefer to hire persons who have a college degree or some type of technical certification. People without college educations are limited to the manufacturing and construction industries because these two industries are still based upon “working your way to the top”.  It is very possible that a person with only a high school diploma may obtain a job that pays well and provides great benefits; it is more likely that a college graduate will. A college degree is difficult to obtain for most, but it is well worth the difficulty in the long run.

A college degree provides one with the essential tools to compete in the world market for employment. The most important part of obtaining a college degree is the fact that one has a diploma that certifies that he/she is qualified to perform a certain job. When employers are in the process of hiring a new employee, they go through many resumes. Most employees are looking at the education section of the resumes to help them narrow their search. Most resumes without a college degree added will be discarded. Employers are looking for potential candidates that will be an asset to the company, but will require minimum investment of company money and training.

A college degree is beneficial because college students gain a wealth of experience and they have an opportunity to network with professors and fellow students. College professors often relay their personal experiences and failures with their students. Networking is so important. The old cliché, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”, is still true today. Often college students make lasting friendship through sororities and fraternities, campus organizations, work study appointments, and various other connections. College students have the opportunity to attend job fairs, research programs, and mentorships. These connections can be used later to secure jobs. In some cases, college students have a job secured before they even graduate. For example:

College also helps to discipline students. People who are lazy or procrastinators usually don’t make good employees. Likewise, these types of people don’t usually make good students. Most students who cannot manage their time and prioritize never obtain a college degree. So, the fact that a potential employee has received a college degree tells employers that the person has a drive to complete tasks. The college world is structured; students who are success are able to adapt to this world and meet deadlines and stay on task with various things going on around them. So, when a student has obtained a college degree it demonstrates that he/she has the ability to meet deadlines, work under pressure, and produce quality work. These are three skills that a many employers are looking for.

In recent years, members of minority groups have expressed that a college degree is especially important to them. A survey conducted concluded that Asian, Latinos, and African Americans believe that a four year college degree is necessary for them to be successful in life. Some minorities even said that they believe they value a college degree more than non-minorities because they feel that they have to be twice as good to be chosen over non-minority candidates. Likewise, about 70 percent of Latinos agreed with the statement, while only about 47 percent of whites agreed that a college degree was necessary to their success ( Bower & Wolverton, 2009). One African American woman interviewed stated that she saw how hard her mother worked to take care of them, so she knew that she would have to find a better route. She knew that obtaining a college degree was imperative. Many of minorities agreed that they are treated differently when they interview for a job. They don’t feel that they are expected to be intelligent and are usually hired for only entry level jobs. Bower & Wolverton (2009) discuss how African American women view success and leadership. The book focuses on women who have reached great heights in their careers and how they credit a college degree with making their successful life possible. They discuss how difficult it is to be accepted as successful in a male oriented arena. For them, the measure of success is when they are able to acquire jobs that are usually dominated by men. For example, one woman interviewed said, “If it were not for my college degree, I know I would be doomed to a mediocre job that would not pay enough for me to provide for my family in a respectable way” (Bower & Wolverton, 2009 ).

Being a first generation college graduate is very important to students who have parents who did not have the opportunity to attend college. Minorities can especially relate to this because for African American, being able to read and write was punishable by death. As a result, parents and grandparents of African Americans stress the important of their children obtaining a college degree. Even within the African American communities, gaining a college degree is very important. When one has been a part of a community that was denied access to education, it becomes a community effort.  As the overall college graduation rates of minorities increase, groups that are typically underrepresented have a realistic goal to aspire to. So, when minorities receive college degrees, they are inspiring other minorities to do likewise. Cox (2009) discusses the fear that many college students have of failing because their communities and family members have invested so much in their success. Cox interviewed various students from universities and colleges across the United States that were enrolled in English courses. He noted that many of the students that he interviewed would be considered failures by society because they did not obtain a college degree or enrolled and dropped-out for various reasons. He discussed some of the self-undermining behaviors that college students have that hinders them from completing college. “I would never be able to graduate anyway, so I might as well drop out now”, ( Cox, 2009) is a common excuse that students tell themselves.  Many of them cannot commit to goals or miss too many class meetings. He feels they do this in order to down play how challenged they feel to complete college and obtain a degree. As a result, if they do fail they will be able to say that they just didn’t apply themselves. He also examined the views of people who about community colleges. He argues that colleges should address the fear factor that students face.

Although a college degree is necessary to success, there are some barriers that hinder or prolong the time needed to obtain a degree.  For example, poor high school academic success can become a major road block to students who want to obtain a college degree after graduation. Students who have not maintained a good grade point average may find that they have to attend a local community college before be accepted into a four year institution. This allows the student to work hard and strengthen their grade point averages. Nonetheless, this often wastes valuable time for the student because he/she is only taking basic courses in preparation for the four year college. So, it is wise if any student who intends to attend college maintain a solid grade point average in high school. On the other hand, some students are academically prepared for college, but are just financially unable. These students find themselves with a great dilemma. Many of them just decide to borrow the money; other students decide to work part-time and attend college. Some students may even work full-time and attend night classes. However, all of these produce other dilemmas. Some students find it difficult to manage their time between work and school. As a result, academics often go lacking. Some eventually give up and begin working full time and never finish obtaining a college degree. Also, there is the myth that some degrees are more apt for success than others. Dietz(2009) discusses the debate over whether or not certain major guarantees the success of a particular student. With the costs of college degrees gradually increasing nearly every year, parents, students, and counselors are trying to make sure that college graduates degrees are worthwhile in the future. Consequently, researchers are trying to determine if the choice of college major has any bearings on the success of the student or if any one major is more likely to be more successful than another. Finally, Dietz stated, Success truly depends upon the person, but having a college degree definitely decreases the odds of failure”( Dietz, 2009 ).

Non-traditional students face even more barriers when trying to obtain a college degree. Non-traditional students are those that don’t fit the ideal of what a college student is. These students are typically older and are carrying many family and personal responsibilities that ideal college students are not. However, it has been documented that non-traditional students have success just as traditional students. For example, “Nationally, non-traditional students have lower completion rates than traditional students. However, a longitudinal study proved that , five years after enrolling, only 26.7% of non-traditional students had achieved their objective of an associate degree compared with 53.4% of traditional students” (Dietz, 2009) Barrow & Rouse(2012), examine how financial incentives can motivate students to work more diligently in class. They noted that females tend to be more enticed by financial benefits; however, male students were less motivated by financial benefits. The authors insist that this rule is true for adult life and success too. They believe that students who equated money with success were more apt to do well if the reward was monetary. While for most males, success is equated with self-efficacy and personal satisfaction. Likewise, some students drop-out of school when they begin working because they feel the money they are making will be efficient for what they want at the time.

A college degree is the ultimate foundation for one’s future. A proper education helps one to reach goals and become an effective member of society. With a great education comes more choices and opportunities to live a successful and happy life. Earning adequate money to provide for one’s family is the number one reason why so many people choose to obtain a college degree. For minorities, obtaining a degree is very important because they have lived firsthand the barriers caused by being uneducated. Consequently, minority communities’ support and influence young people to obtain college degrees. People without college degrees are limited to the types of jobs and incomes they can obtain. While those with college degrees have many choices and earn much more money than those without college degrees. There are so many advantages to obtaining a college degree. College graduates have a better income and access to healthcare services, which ensure a healthier, more productive life. The 21 st century is called the knowledge economy. Jobs that pay great wages, especially those in the manufacturing field, require manual labor, long hours, and often dangerous circumstances. The jobs that people worked 50 years ago are constantly being phased out through the development of new technology. A college degree does not guarantee success, but it definitely makes success more possible. Consequently, anyone who can obtain a college degree should. It requires hard work, diligent study habits, time, and devotion, but it is worth all of that. Education ensures a great future is possible.

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  • College essay
  • College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn’t

College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn't

Published on November 8, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on August 14, 2023.

One effective method for improving your college essay is to read example essays . Here are three sample essays, each with a bad and good version to help you improve your own essay.

Table of contents

Essay 1: sharing an identity or background through a montage, essay 2: overcoming a challenge, a sports injury narrative, essay 3: showing the influence of an important person or thing, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

This essay uses a montage structure to show snapshots of a student’s identity and background. The writer builds her essay around the theme of the five senses, sharing memories she associates with sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

In the weak rough draft, there is little connection between the individual anecdotes, and they do not robustly demonstrate the student’s qualities.

In the final version, the student uses an extended metaphor of a museum to create a strong connection among her stories, each showcasing a different part of her identity. She draws a specific personal insight from each memory and uses the stories to demonstrate her qualities and values.

How My Five Senses Record My Life

Throughout my life, I have kept a record of my life’s journey with my five senses. This collection of memories matters a great deal because I experience life every day through the lens of my identity.

“Chinese! Japanese!”

My classmate pulls one eye up and the other down.

“Look what my parents did to me!”

No matter how many times he repeats it, the other kids keep laughing. I focus my almond-shaped eyes on the ground, careful not to attract attention to my discomfort, anger, and shame. How could he say such a mean thing about me? What did I do to him? Joseph’s words would engrave themselves into my memory, making me question my appearance every time I saw my eyes in the mirror.

Soaking in overflowing bubble baths with Andrew Lloyd Webber belting from the boombox.

Listening to “Cell Block Tango” with my grandparents while eating filet mignon at a dine-in show in Ashland.

Singing “The Worst Pies in London” at a Korean karaoke club while laughing hysterically with my brother, who can do an eerily spot-on rendition of Sweeney Todd.

Taking car rides with Mom in the Toyota Sequoia as we compete to hit the high note in “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera . Neither of us stands a chance!

The sweet scent of vegetables, Chinese noodles, and sushi wafts through the room as we sit around the table. My grandma presents a good-smelling mixture of international cuisine for our Thanksgiving feast. My favorite is the Chinese food that she cooks. Only the family prayer stands between me and the chance to indulge in these delicious morsels, comforting me with their familiar savory scents.

I rinse a faded plastic plate decorated by my younger sister at the Waterworks Art Center. I wear yellow rubber gloves to protect my hands at Mom’s insistence, but I can still feel the warm water that offers a bit of comfort as I finish the task at hand. The crusted casserole dish with stubborn remnants from my dad’s five-layer lasagna requires extra effort, so I fill it with Dawn and scalding water, setting it aside to soak. I actually don’t mind this daily chore.

I taste sweat on my upper lip as I fight to continue pedaling on a stationary bike. Ava’s next to me and tells me to go up a level. We’re biking buddies, dieting buddies, and Saturday morning carbo-load buddies. After the bike display hits 30 minutes, we do a five-minute cool down, drink Gatorade, and put our legs up to rest.

My five senses are always gathering new memories of my identity. I’m excited to expand my collection.

Word count: 455

College essay checklist

Topic and structure

  • I’ve selected a topic that’s meaningful to me.
  • My essay reveals something different from the rest of my application.
  • I have a clear and well-structured narrative.
  • I’ve concluded with an insight or a creative ending.

Writing style and tone

  • I’ve crafted an introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.
  • I’ve written my essay in a way that shows instead of tells.
  • I’ve used appropriate style and tone for a college essay.
  • I’ve used specific, vivid personal stories that would be hard to replicate.
  • I’ve demonstrated my positive traits and values in my essay.
  • My essay is focused on me, not another person or thing.
  • I’ve included self-reflection and insight in my essay.
  • I’ve respected the word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.

Making Sense of My Identity

Welcome to The Rose Arimoto Museum. You are about to enter the “Making Sense of My Identity” collection. Allow me to guide you through select exhibits, carefully curated memories from Rose’s sensory experiences.

First, the Sight Exhibit.

“Chinese! Japanese!”

“Look what my parents did to me!”

No matter how many times he repeats it, the other kids keep laughing. I focus my almond-shaped eyes on the ground, careful not to attract attention as my lip trembles and palms sweat. Joseph couldn’t have known how his words would engrave themselves into my memory, making me question my appearance every time I saw my eyes in the mirror.

Ten years later, these same eyes now fixate on an InDesign layout sheet, searching for grammar errors while my friend Selena proofreads our feature piece on racial discrimination in our hometown. As we’re the school newspaper editors, our journalism teacher Ms. Riley allows us to stay until midnight to meet tomorrow’s deadline. She commends our work ethic, which for me is fueled by writing一my new weapon of choice.

Next, you’ll encounter the Sound Exhibit.

Still, the world is my Broadway as I find my voice on stage.

Just below, enter the Smell Exhibit.

While I help my Pau Pau prepare dinner, she divulges her recipe for cha siu bau, with its soft, pillowy white exterior hiding the fragrant filling of braised barbecue pork inside. The sweet scent of candied yams, fun see , and Spam musubi wafts through the room as we gather around our Thankgsiving feast. After our family prayer, we indulge in these delicious morsels until our bellies say stop. These savory scents of my family’s cultural heritage linger long after I’ve finished the last bite.

Next up, the Touch Exhibit.

I rinse a handmade mug that I had painstakingly molded and painted in ceramics class. I wear yellow rubber gloves to protect my hands at Mom’s insistence, but I can still feel the warm water that offers a bit of comfort as I finish the task at hand. The crusted casserole dish with stubborn remnants from my dad’s five-layer lasagna requires extra effort, so I fill it with Dawn and scalding water, setting it aside to soak. For a few fleeting moments, as I continue my nightly chore, the pressure of my weekend job, tomorrow’s calculus exam, and next week’s track meet are washed away.

Finally, we end with the Taste Exhibit.

My legs fight to keep pace with the stationary bike as the salty taste of sweat seeps into corners of my mouth. Ava challenges me to take it up a level. We always train together一even keeping each other accountable on our strict protein diet of chicken breasts, broccoli, and Muscle Milk. We occasionally splurge on Saturday mornings after interval training, relishing the decadence of everything bagels smeared with raspberry walnut cream cheese. But this is Wednesday, so I push myself. I know that once the digital display hits 30:00, we’ll allow our legs to relax into a five-minute cool down, followed by the fiery tang of Fruit Punch Gatorade to rehydrate.

Thank you for your attention. This completes our tour. I invite you to rejoin us for next fall’s College Experience collection, which will exhibit Rose’s continual search for identity and learning.

Word count: 649

  • I’ve crafted an essay introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.

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This essay uses a narrative structure to recount how a student overcame a challenge, specifically a sports injury. Since this topic is often overused, the essay requires vivid description, a memorable introduction and conclusion , and interesting insight.

The weak rough draft contains an interesting narrative, insight, and vivid imagery, but it has an overly formal tone that distracts the reader from the story. The student’s use of elaborate vocabulary in every sentence makes the essay sound inauthentic and stilted.

The final essay uses a more natural, conversational tone and chooses words that are vivid and specific without being pretentious. This allows the reader to focus on the narrative and appreciate the student’s unique insight.

One fateful evening some months ago, a defensive linebacker mauled me, his 212 pounds indisputably alighting upon my ankle. Ergo, an abhorrent cracking of calcified tissue. At first light the next day, I awoke cognizant of a new paradigm—one sans football—promulgated by a stabbing sensation that would continue to haunt me every morning of this semester.

It’s been an exceedingly taxing semester not being able to engage in football, but I am nonetheless excelling in school. That twist of fate never would have come to pass if I hadn’t broken my ankle. I still limp down the halls at school, but I’m feeling less maudlin these days. My friends don’t steer clear anymore, and I have a lot more of them. My teachers, emboldened by my newfound interest in learning, continually invite me to learn more and do my best. Football is still on hold, but I feel like I’m finally playing a game that matters.

Five months ago, right after my ill-fated injury, my friends’ demeanor became icy and remote, although I couldn’t fathom why. My teachers, in contrast, beckoned me close and invited me on a new learning journey. But despite their indubitably kind advances, even they recoiled when I drew near.

A few weeks later, I started to change my attitude vis-à-vis my newfound situation and determined to put my energy toward productive ends (i.e., homework). I wasn’t enamored with school. I never had been. Nevertheless, I didn’t abhor it either. I just preferred football.

My true turn of fate came when I started studying more and participating in class. I started to enjoy history class, and I grew interested in reading more. I discovered a volume of poems written by a fellow adventurer on the road of life, and I loved it. I ravenously devoured everything in the writer’s oeuvre .

As the weeks flitted past, I found myself spending my time with a group of people who were quite different from me. They participated in theater and played instruments in marching band. They raised their hands in class when the teacher posed a question. Because of their auspicious influence, I started raising my hand too. I am no longer vapid, and I now have something to say.

I am certain that your school would benefit from my miraculous academic transformation, and I entreat you to consider my application to your fine institution. Accepting me to your university would be an unequivocally righteous decision.

Word count: 408

  • I’ve chosen a college essay topic that’s meaningful to me.
  • I’ve respected the essay word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.

As I step out of bed, the pain shoots through my foot and up my leg like it has every morning since “the game.” That night, a defensive linebacker tackled me, his 212 pounds landing decidedly on my ankle. I heard the sound before I felt it. The next morning, I awoke to a new reality—one without football—announced by a stabbing sensation that would continue to haunt me every morning of this semester.

My broken ankle broke my spirit.

My friends steered clear of me as I hobbled down the halls at school. My teachers tried to find the delicate balance between giving me space and offering me help. I was as unsure how to deal with myself as they were.

In time, I figured out how to redirect some of my frustration, anger, and pent-up energy toward my studies. I had never not liked school, but I had never really liked it either. In my mind, football practice was my real-life classroom, where I could learn all I ever needed to know.

Then there was that day in Mrs. Brady’s history class. We sang a ridiculous-sounding mnemonic song to memorize all the Chinese dynasties from Shang to Qing. I mumbled the words at first, but I got caught up in the middle of the laughter and began singing along. Starting that day, I began browsing YouTube videos about history, curious to learn more. I had started learning something new, and, to my surprise, I liked it.

With my afternoons free from burpees and scrimmages, I dared to crack open a few more of my books to see what was in them. That’s when my English poetry book, Paint Me Like I Am , caught my attention. It was full of poems written by students my age from WritersCorps. I couldn’t get enough.

I wasn’t the only one who was taken with the poems. Previously, I’d only been vaguely aware of Christina as one of the weird kids I avoided. Crammed in the margins of her high-top Chuck Taylors were scribbled lines of her own poetry and infinite doodles. Beyond her punk rock persona was a sensitive artist, puppy-lover, and environmental activist that a wide receiver like me would have never noticed before.

With Christina, I started making friends with people who once would have been invisible to me: drama geeks, teachers’ pets, band nerds. Most were college bound but not to play a sport. They were smart and talented, and they cared about people and politics and all sorts of issues that I hadn’t considered before. Strangely, they also seemed to care about me.

I still limp down the halls at school, but I don’t seem to mind as much these days. My friends don’t steer clear anymore, and I have a lot more of them. My teachers, excited by my newfound interest in learning, continually invite me to learn more and do my best. Football is still on hold, but I feel like I’m finally playing a game that matters.

My broken ankle broke my spirit. Then, it broke my ignorance.

Word count: 512

This essay uses a narrative structure to show how a pet positively influenced the student’s values and character.

In the weak draft, the student doesn’t focus on himself, instead delving into too much detail about his dog’s positive traits and his grandma’s illness. The essay’s structure is meandering, with tangents and details that don’t communicate any specific insight.

In the improved version, the student keeps the focus on himself, not his pet. He chooses the most relevant stories to demonstrate specific qualities, and the structure more clearly builds up to an insightful conclusion.

Man’s Best Friend

I desperately wanted a cat. I begged my parents for one, but once again, my sisters overruled me, so we drove up the Thompson Valley Canyon from Loveland to Estes Park to meet our newest family member. My sisters had already hatched their master plan, complete with a Finding Nemo blanket to entice the pups. The blanket was a hit with all of them, except for one—the one who walked over and sat in my lap. That was the day that Francisco became a Villanova.

Maybe I should say he was mine because I got stuck with all the chores. As expected, my dog-loving sisters were nowhere to be found! My mom was “extra” with all the doggy gear. Cisco even had to wear these silly little puppy shoes outside so that when he came back in, he wouldn’t get the carpets dirty. If it was raining, my mother insisted I dress Cisco in a ridiculous yellow raincoat, but, in my opinion, it was an unnecessary source of humiliation for poor Cisco. It didn’t take long for Cisco to decide that his outerwear could be used as toys in a game of Keep Away. As soon as I took off one of his shoes, he would run away with it, hiding under the bed where I couldn’t reach him. But, he seemed to appreciate his ensemble more when we had to walk through snowdrifts to get his job done.

When my abuela was dying from cancer, we went in the middle of the night to see her before she passed. I was sad and scared. But, my dad let me take Cisco in the car, so Cisco cuddled with me and made me feel much better. It’s like he could read my mind. Once we arrived at the hospital, the fluorescent lighting made the entire scene seem unreal, as if I was watching the scene unfold through someone else’s eyes. My grandma lay calmly on her bed, smiling at us even through her last moments of pain. I disliked seeing the tubes and machines hooked up to her. It was unnatural to see her like this一it was so unlike the way I usually saw her beautiful in her flowery dress, whistling a Billie Holiday tune and baking snickerdoodle cookies in the kitchen. The hospital didn’t usually allow dogs, but they made a special exception to respect my grandma’s last wishes that the whole family be together. Cisco remained at the foot of the bed, intently watching abuela with a silence that seemed more effective at communicating comfort and compassion than the rest of us who attempted to offer up words of comfort that just seemed hollow and insincere. It was then that I truly appreciated Cisco’s empathy for others.

As I accompanied my dad to pick up our dry cleaner’s from Ms. Chapman, a family friend asked, “How’s Cisco?” before even asking about my sisters or me. Cisco is the Villanova family mascot, a Goldendoodle better recognized by strangers throughout Loveland than the individual members of my family.

On our summer trip to Boyd Lake State Park, we stayed at the Cottonwood campground for a breathtaking view of the lake. Cisco was allowed to come, but we had to keep him on a leash at all times. After a satisfying meal of fish, our entire family walked along the beach. Cisco and I led the way while my mom and sisters shuffled behind. Cisco always stopped and refused to move, looking back to make sure the others were still following. Once satisfied that everyone was together, he would turn back around and continue prancing with his golden boy curly locks waving in the chilly wind.

On the beach, Cisco “accidentally” got let off his leash and went running maniacally around the sand, unfettered and free. His pure joy as he raced through the sand made me forget about my AP Chem exam or my student council responsibilities. He brings a smile not only to my family members but everyone around him.

Cisco won’t live forever, but without words, he has impressed upon me life lessons of responsibility, compassion, loyalty, and joy. I can’t imagine life without him.

Word count: 701

I quickly figured out that as “the chosen one,” I had been enlisted by Cisco to oversee all aspects of his “business.” I learned to put on Cisco’s doggie shoes to keep the carpet clean before taking him out一no matter the weather. Soon after, Cisco decided that his shoes could be used as toys in a game of Keep Away. As soon as I removed one of his shoes, he would run away with it, hiding under the bed where I couldn’t reach him. But, he seemed to appreciate his footwear more after I’d gear him up and we’d tread through the snow for his daily walks.

One morning, it was 7:15 a.m., and Alejandro was late again to pick me up. “Cisco, you don’t think he overslept again, do you?” Cisco barked, as if saying, “Of course he did!” A text message would never do, so I called his dad, even if it was going to get him in trouble. There was no use in both of us getting another tardy during our first-period class, especially since I was ready on time after taking Cisco for his morning outing. Alejandro was mad at me but not too much. He knew I had helped him out, even if he had to endure his dad’s lecture on punctuality.

Another early morning, I heard my sister yell, “Mom! Where are my good ballet flats? I can’t find them anywhere!” I hesitated and then confessed, “I moved them.” She shrieked at me in disbelief, but I continued, “I put them in your closet, so Cisco wouldn’t chew them up.” More disbelief. However, this time, there was silence instead of shrieking.

Last spring, Cisco and I were fast asleep when the phone rang at midnight. Abuela would not make it through the night after a long year of chemo, but she was in Pueblo, almost three hours away. Sitting next to me for that long car ride on I-25 in pitch-black darkness, Cisco knew exactly what I needed and snuggled right next to me as I petted his coat in a rhythm while tears streamed down my face. The hospital didn’t usually allow dogs, but they made a special exception to respect my grandma’s last wishes that the whole family be together. Cisco remained sitting at the foot of the hospital bed, intently watching abuela with a silence that communicated more comfort than our hollow words. Since then, whenever I sense someone is upset, I sit in silence with them or listen to their words, just like Cisco did.

The other day, one of my friends told me, “You’re a strange one, Josue. You’re not like everybody else but in a good way.” I didn’t know what he meant at first. “You know, you’re super responsible and grown-up. You look out for us instead of yourself. Nobody else does that.” I was a bit surprised because I wasn’t trying to do anything different. I was just being me. But then I realized who had taught me: a fluffy little puppy who I had wished was a cat! I didn’t choose Cisco, but he certainly chose me and, unexpectedly, became my teacher, mentor, and friend.

Word count: 617

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing

 Communication

  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

A standout college essay has several key ingredients:

  • A unique, personally meaningful topic
  • A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook
  • Specific stories and language that show instead of telling
  • Vulnerability that’s authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy
  • Clear writing in an appropriate style and tone
  • A conclusion that offers deep insight or a creative ending

There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay , but these are two common structures that work:

  • A montage structure, a series of vignettes with a common theme.
  • A narrative structure, a single story that shows your personal growth or how you overcame a challenge.

Avoid the five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in high school.

Though admissions officers are interested in hearing your story, they’re also interested in how you tell it. An exceptionally written essay will differentiate you from other applicants, meaning that admissions officers will spend more time reading it.

You can use literary devices to catch your reader’s attention and enrich your storytelling; however, focus on using just a few devices well, rather than trying to use as many as possible.

Most importantly, your essay should be about you , not another person or thing. An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability.

Your essay shouldn’t be a résumé of your experiences but instead should tell a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.

When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding message, flow, tone, style , and clarity. Then, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors.

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How to Write the “Why This College” Essay (With an Example!)

essay about having a university degree

Applying to college is a big decision that brings a lot of excitement and stress. This is especially true when it comes to answering the “why this college” prompt asked by so many colleges. However daunting these prompts might seem, you got this. Keep reading to learn tips and tricks to write your “why this college” essay, and take a look at an example essay!

“Why this college?” essay prompts 

The “Why this college?” essay is probably one of the most common essays you’ll come across during your application process. This is partially because admissions committees want students that’re as interested and passionate about their institution. Some popular colleges that offer “why this college?” prompts include:

  • Columbia University : “Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (150 words or fewer)
  • Duke University : “What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you? If there is something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well. (max. 250 words)”
  • University of Michigan : “Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?” (Minimum: 100 words/Maximum: 550 words)

As you can see, all three of the prompts are a variation of the basic “why this college” question. Let’s take a look at a sample response essay written for Columbia University. 

“Why this college?” sample essay

Dear Columbia University, 

This is probably the hundredth essay you’ve read in the sea of applicants, and as you’re likely expecting, I could tell you that I’m different from them all. Though in some ways, I’m the same. Like them, I want to stand on the corner of Broadway and 116th St. and know I chose the perfect school to study literary arts with a focus on fiction writing. 

Even more so, I strive to be one of the Columbia Greats that inspired me to pick up a pen. Though, you shouldn’t want me because I might be the next Allen Ginsberg, but because I plan on being a writer that captures the virtue found in the rye of J.D. Salinger, the watchful gaze of Zora Neale Hurston, and the freshness of my own style. Amongst your walls and tutelage, these literary greats blossomed, as I hope to.

Applicant Name

Why this essay works:

  • Starts with a compelling statement to interest the audience
  • Answers the “why this college?” question by discussing notable alumni and the arts program
  • Uses a unique approach to the prompt question that reflects interest in the major of choice
  • Explains why the admissions committee should choose this applicant
  • Stays within the word count limit

Also see: How to respond to this year’s Common App essay prompts

Mistakes to avoid when writing a “why this college” essay

Generalizing.

When writing any essay, generalizing usually isn’t the way to go. Readers want to get invested in the story or argument you’re presenting, and the admissions office is no different. Details are a key component of making your essay stand out. 

The admissions committee wants to get to know you and assess how you’ll fit into their institution. No two applicants are the same, and you should strive to prove that through your unique essay. 

Placating the admissions office

It can be easy to fall back on simply telling your college’s admissions committee what they want to hear. However, you shouldn’t just pull facts and figures from the website or quote the college’s brochure. Individualize your essay not only to capture the attention of your reader, but to display interest in your college of choice.

Anyone can put general information in their application, but it takes effort to explain why you want to attend a particular school, how admission would affect your life, and what the school has to gain from your attendance. Think of it as a persuasive essay where you have to back up your argument with details. 

Also see: An insider’s perspective into what goes on in college admissions offices

Tips for writing your essay

Find a connection.

Even before you start writing your essay, figure out the connection between you and your college of choice. 

Is there a particular professor you want to study under? Are you a legacy applicant? Is it the campus of your dreams? Are you excited for a particular program? 

Asking yourself questions like this can help pinpoint what’s motivating you to apply to a university and why they should admit you. Explaining your connection to your school of choice can show the admissions committee that you belong on their campus. 

It will strengthen your application and help you individualize your application. Create an interesting or anecdotal story out of your connection in order to set yourself apart.

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

Outline and edit

College essays usually range from around 200 – 500 words, which can go by much quicker than you might think. This is why it’s ideal to outline your essay once you’ve decided what to write about. It can be easy to get distracted by the little details, but emphasize the main points that are essential to the story you’re trying to tell the admissions office. 

It’s also a good idea to thoroughly read and edit your essay multiple times. You’ll want to submit the complete and final version of your essay, not something that reads like a rough draft. 

Remember, your parents, advisors, teachers, and peers can be helpful resources during revision. Feedback is an important aspect of the editing process.

Additional resources

Congratulations on starting your applications to college and working so diligently on them! Fortunately, Scholarships360 has even more resources to offer that can help propel your college journey in the right direction. 

  • Start choosing your major
  • Find the supplemental essay guide for your college
  • Learn what “demonstrated interest” means for your application

Frequently asked questions about writing a “why this college” essay

What should i say for why this college, what should you not say in a college essay, scholarships360 recommended.

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College Degree: The Effect of Getting Essay

Education is one of the most important ingredients of a civilized human life. In the modern world, which is extremely fast paced and highly competent, education is the only means by which a person can enable himself or herself to survive. Earlier, high school education would have been enough for a person for earn a job or be considered as an educated individual. However, the present society has different standards and a college degree has become the criteria not only for earning a job but also for being treated as an educated person. The human race has evolved into its current status because of the faculty of intelligence, and education is the sole factor that helped this race to become a super power in the universe. Besides, education has also helped humans to attain spiritual and philosophical accomplishments. Thus, it can be stated that education is a very significant factor in human life and it is the basic element that has elevated this race to the position of being the most sophisticated living being in this universe. In the modern context, a college degree is the most essential component in an individual’s life and it is the only tool by which he or she can survive in a competitive environment.

Getting a good job is one of the most important factors in every individual’s life and this is a dream that every person cherishes. Job is the source through which he or she has to earn money and carry on with life, fending for the family and other dependents. The current time is marked by overall growth and development because of the advancements in technology, and there are ample career opportunities in different fields. However, the job market is characterized by extremely intense competition due to the fact that “supply is greater than demand…” (The Effects of Having a College Degree on Salaries, para.4). Employers have, thus, access to a wide array of choices when hiring human resources for their organizations. Most of the companies these days prescribe a college degree as the minimum qualification for a decent job. In addition, research show that earning potential for people who possess a college degree is significantly higher than those who do not have it. “The Economist’s Voice has published research which shows that those with a college degree earn, on average, 68% more than those who only graduate from high school.” (Getting a College Degree? Go to College, Do the Work, and get a Degree: Why Get a Degree, Para. 1). Therefore, it has become imperative for every individual to earn a college degree to attain a good job and receive a competitive salary. Thus, it transpires that the primary effect of a college degree is that it enables a person to get a good job that pays well.

Besides, a college degree is also the minimum requirement for securing admission to higher studies in any field. As stated earlier, the stiff competition that characterizes the present world has made it necessary for people to gain higher qualifications for getting better jobs. While in the olden days a college degree would have sufficed to earn a managerial position, presently organizations insist that the prospective candidates should have the minimum educational qualification of a postgraduate degree like MBA for being considered for the job as a manager. Similarly, if a person wants to attain a professional qualification in any field like engineering or medicine, he or she must primarily have a college degree for applying for any of the professional courses. Thus, earning a college degree has become the basic element in determining a person’s profession.

It has always been an inherent nature in human beings to change and evolve according to the needs of time. This reflects in their attitude towards the concept of education also. Earlier, people considered a high school graduate as educated. But as time moves on concepts and standards also have kept changing. Nowadays, no one will consider a high school graduate as an educated person. To be called ‘educated’ in the modern context, a person needs to have at least a college degree. Education also does not confine to mere imparting of knowledge from textbooks. Besides providing specific and detailed knowledge on different subjects, college is also the grooming ground for a student to develop his or her personality and gain experience in different aspects of life. College also serves as a platform for people to interact with each other, learn effective communication, and prepare themselves for the life ahead to become responsible citizens. “They learn from experience how much studying, drinking, and class skipping is permissible without having a negative effect on their GPA. Students also adjust to their surroundings and learn how to better use the resources around them and become more efficient at scheduling and utilizing their time to maximize their utility.” (Nelson Para. 4). Therefore, another effect of a college degree can be perceived in its ability to groom and develop youngsters into capable adults and equipping them with the necessary faculties to discharge their duties in their future roles in life.

From the above discussions it becomes apparent that a college degree has several positive effects on an individual. First of all, its relevance relates to the career choices of people and it is the tool that enables them to secure a good job that pays decently so that they can live a comfortable life. Another significant factor can be perceived in the context of a college degree being the basic qualification for a person to attain higher degrees of professional courses. As the competition becomes stiffer in the job market, only through higher education can people get better and higher paying jobs. A college degree is the springboard for everyone to attain the objective of higher education. Last but not the least, a college degree becomes significant as a platform for students to develop themselves as capable individuals and enabling them to handle their responsibilities in life.

Works Cited

Getting a College Degree? Go to College, Do the Work, and get a Degree: Why Get a Degree ? e-ReferenceDesk. 2008. Web.

Nelson, Rebecca. Student Efficiency: A Study on the Behaviour and Productive Efficiency of College Students and the Determinants of GPA . Issues in Political Economy. Vol. 2. 2003. Web.

The Effects of Having a College Degree on Salaries . College and Scholarship. 2009. Web.

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Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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