Why Is Writing Important? (45 Reasons)

Have you ever felt the rush of thoughts and emotions, yearning for an escape?

Writing is more than just a skill; it’s an art , a therapy , a voice . Throughout history, the essence of human experience has been captured, one word at a time. While every stroke of the pen holds power, there’s an underlying significance to the art of writing that goes beyond the surface.

Dive in with us to unravel the sheer importance of writing, an endeavor that has been shaping minds and stories for centuries.

Table of Contents

Personal Development and Wellbeing

Communication and understanding, education and intellectual growth, creativity and artistic expression, professional and economic impact, social and cultural influence, influence and advocacy, 1. writing provides catharsis.

Writing helps people to get their feelings out. It can be like talking to a friend when no one is around. Writing about what bothers you can make you feel better. This is a way to clean out your mind and make space for happier thoughts. Sometimes, it’s the key to feeling peaceful again .

2. Writing Offers Introspection

Writing helps people to think about who they are. They can write about their thoughts, dreams, and what they like or don’t like. This helps them understand themselves better. Understanding oneself is a big step in growing and becoming a better person.

3. Writing Enhances Memory Retention

When people write things down, they remember them better. This is because writing helps to put the information into the brain in a way that sticks. People who write lists or take notes often find that they can remember things without even looking at what they wrote.

It’s a great way to make sure important things are not forgotten.

4. Writing Boosts Self-Confidence

Writing helps people feel good about themselves. When they write well, they feel proud. They know that they can communicate their thoughts and ideas clearly. This makes them feel strong and sure of themselves. It’s a great way to build confidence and feel successful.

5. Writing Cultivates Mindfulness

Writing can help people pay attention to their lives . When they write about what’s happening, they really think about it. They notice things that might slip by if they were not writing. This makes them more aware and present in their own lives.

Writing can make them feel more alive and connected to the world around them.

6. Writing Fosters Resilience

Writing can help people get through hard times . When they write about their problems, they can see them more clearly. Sometimes, writing helps them find solutions. Even if it doesn’t solve the problem, writing about it can make them feel stronger and more able to deal with it.

It’s a tool that helps build toughness and determination.

7. Writing Encourages Individuality

Everyone’s writing is unique . Writing lets people show who they are. They can use words that mean something to them. They can tell their stories in their way. Writing is a way for people to be themselves and to show that to the world.

1. Writing Facilitates Communication

Writing helps people share their thoughts and feelings. It allows them to put their ideas into words that others can read and understand. With writing, people can take their time to choose the right words. This means they can express themselves clearly. It’s a way to connect with others, even without speaking.

2. Writing Aids in Conflict Resolution

When people have disagreements, writing can help. They can write down their feelings and thoughts about the issue. By doing this, they can see the problem more clearly. Writing also gives a chance to think before reacting. This can lead to better understanding and finding solutions.

3. Writing Supports Remote Communication

Sometimes, people can’t talk face to face. Writing helps in these times. With writing, they can send letters, emails, or messages. This means they can keep in touch, even from far away. It’s a bridge that connects people, no matter where they are.

4. Writing Can Reduce Misunderstandings

Misunderstandings can happen when people talk. Sometimes, they might not hear right, or emotions can get in the way. Writing can help because it gives a clear record of what’s being said. People can read and re-read to understand better. It’s a way to be sure everyone is on the same page.

5. Writing Recognizes and Validates Experiences

When people write about what they go through, it matters. It says, “This happened to me, and it’s real.” By writing, they validate their own experiences. This helps them process events and emotions. It’s a powerful way to say that their feelings and stories have value.

1. Writing Fosters Learning

Writing is a powerful tool in the learning process. When students write, they process information in a deeper way. It helps them to understand and remember better. They can organize their thoughts and see connections between ideas. Writing, in many ways, makes learning stick.

2. Writing Builds Analytical Skills

When individuals write, they often have to think critically. They analyze what they read or experience and then put it into their own words. This process helps them see patterns, make comparisons, and draw conclusions.

Analytical thinking is key for problem-solving, and writing helps sharpen this skill. It makes the brain work in a structured yet creative way.

3. Writing Nurtures Curiosity

Writing pushes people to explore new topics and ideas. When they write, they often ask questions and seek answers. This thirst for knowledge makes them more curious about the world. Writing is like a door that leads to more and more knowledge. It’s a journey of discovery that starts with a pen and paper.

4. Writing Enhances Adaptability

The world is always changing, and writing helps people adapt. When they write, they learn to express ideas in different ways. They also learn to consider different viewpoints. This flexibility in thinking helps them adjust to new situations and challenges. In essence, writing equips them with the ability to change and grow.

5. Writing Encourages Ethical Thinking

Writing often involves exploring morals and values. When individuals write about complex topics, they reflect on what’s right and wrong. They consider the impact of actions and decisions. Writing is a mirror that reflects a person’s ethics and beliefs. Through it, they can shape a strong moral compass.

6. Writing Supports Scientific Exploration

Scientists use writing to share their findings. Through writing, they document experiments, observations, and conclusions. This allows others to learn from and build on their work. Writing is the bridge that connects scientific discoveries with the world. It’s how knowledge grows and spreads.

1. Writing Encourages Creativity

Writing is a blank canvas for the mind. Just like an artist paints with colors, a writer paints with words. They bring to life imaginary worlds, characters, and stories. Each word chosen is a brushstroke that shapes the narrative. Writing is an act of creation, turning ideas into something tangible.

2. Writing Is an Art Form

Words have rhythm, flow, and emotion, just like music or dance. Through writing, individuals convey feelings, evoke emotions, and create visual images in the reader’s mind. It’s a craft that requires skill, passion, and dedication. When done right, writing can be as expressive and moving as any masterpiece painting or musical composition.

3. Writing Offers Safe Fictional Exploration

Challenging topics or situations can be tough to address directly. Writing offers a safe space to explore these. Through fictional characters and narratives, writers can delve into difficult subjects. This exploration provides understanding, catharsis, and even solutions. It’s a way to navigate real-world issues from the safety of a fictional setting.

4. Writing Complements Other Art Forms

Written works often become the foundation for other artistic mediums. Novels are transformed into movies, plays, or TV series. Poems inspire songs or visual art pieces.

In this way, writing acts as a bridge , enriching and broadening the reach of a story or idea. It’s a testament to the universal power and adaptability of written expression.

1. Writing Aids in Goal Setting

In the professional world, clarity of purpose is essential. Writing helps in defining clear, actionable goals. When goals are written down, they become tangible targets to achieve. Writing provides structure, making goals more specific and measurable. It’s a simple act that paves the way for success.

2. Writing Provides Economic Opportunities

Writing is a valuable skill in the job market. Many professions, from marketing to journalism, require strong writing abilities. Even beyond specific roles, effective communication is often tied to career advancement. Writing, as a skill, can open doors to numerous job opportunities and can be a source of income on its own.

3. Writing Assists in Branding

A strong brand has a clear voice and message. Writing plays a significant role in shaping that voice. Whether it’s website content, promotional material, or social media posts, writing conveys a brand’s identity and values. It connects with the audience and sets a brand apart from competitors.

4. Writing Aids in Project Planning

Every successful project starts with a plan. Writing helps in laying out the project’s vision, objectives, and steps. It provides a roadmap, ensuring everyone involved knows their roles and responsibilities. Documenting the plan makes it easier to track progress, adjust as needed, and achieve desired outcomes.

5. Writing Aids in Establishing Authority

Experts in any field often share their knowledge through writing. Articles, books, and white papers showcase expertise and establish credibility. By sharing insights and research in written form, professionals position themselves as authorities in their domain. It’s a way to gain trust and influence in one’s industry.

6. Writing Serves as A Foundation for Multimedia Content

In the digital age, content comes in various forms: videos, podcasts, infographics, and more. Behind many of these multimedia pieces is a foundation of strong writing. Scripts, storyboards, and content outlines guide the creation of multimedia projects, ensuring clarity and coherence.

7. Writing Enforces Systematic Processes

Procedures, guidelines, and manuals are essential in many industries. Writing these documents ensures consistent and efficient processes. It minimizes errors, provides clear instructions, and enhances overall productivity.

Systematic processes, documented in writing, are the backbone of many successful organizations.

1. Writing Gives a Voice to The Marginalized

For many marginalized communities, writing has been a powerful tool for expression. It allows individuals and groups to share their experiences, challenges, and dreams. Writing can expose injustices, spark movements, and drive change.

It’s a platform for those often unheard, giving them a space to be recognized and understood.

2. Writing Bridges Cultural Gaps

Stories, essays, and articles can introduce readers to different cultures and perspectives. Through writing, people learn about traditions, values, and experiences far removed from their own. This exposure fosters understanding and empathy, reducing prejudices and biases.

Writing, in essence, can unite diverse groups by highlighting shared human experiences.

3. Writing Supports Democratic Processes

Democracies thrive on informed citizens. Writing, in the form of journalism, essays, and reports, ensures that the public is aware of issues, government actions, and societal changes. Written constitutions, laws, and policies guide nations.

Moreover, writing enables citizens to express their views, whether through letters to the editor, blogs, or social media.

4. Writing Is a Testament to Human Evolution

From ancient cave paintings to modern digital texts, writing chronicles human history and progress. It’s a testament to our intellectual evolution, capturing our discoveries, philosophies, and achievements. Over millennia, writing has evolved, reflecting changes in society, technology, and thought.

5. Writing Aids in Cultural Preservation

Cultures are preserved and passed down through stories , folklore , rituals , and traditions . Writing plays a crucial role in documenting and safeguarding these treasures for future generations. It captures the nuances of languages, the wisdom of elders, and the essence of traditions.

In a rapidly changing world, written records ensure that cultural richness is not lost.

1. Writing Influences Public Opinion

Writing holds the power to shape public sentiment. By presenting facts, sharing stories, or appealing to emotions, writers can persuade readers to see things from a specific perspective.

Through articles, blogs, and social media, even one individual can influence a vast audience. Over time, these collective writings can drive societal change and mold popular beliefs.

2. Writing Enhances Persuasion Skills

Effective persuasion isn’t about merely stating opinions. It requires presenting arguments logically, supporting them with evidence, and addressing counterpoints. Writing hones these skills. As individuals craft essays or articles, they learn to structure arguments coherently and convincingly.

3. Writing Serves as Feedback

Writing offers a tangible way to process thoughts, ideas, and experiences. When these are shared, readers can provide feedback, leading to refined ideas and better clarity. Feedback loops created by writing foster collaboration, mutual learning, and growth.

4. Writing Promotes Organizational Skills

To write clearly, one must think clearly. Writing demands organization, from structuring paragraphs to ordering arguments. This process enhances a person’s ability to arrange thoughts, data, and events in a coherent and logical manner.

5. Writing Fosters Global Connections

In the digital age, writing can reach a global audience instantly. It bridges geographical distances, connecting writers with readers from diverse backgrounds. This global reach fosters understanding, collaboration, and shared knowledge.

6. Writing Aids in Advocacy

Advocacy relies on clear communication and compelling arguments. Writing provides advocates a platform to voice concerns, share solutions, and rally support. Whether it’s for environmental issues, human rights, or community development, well-crafted writing can propel a cause forward.

7. Writing Offers a Legacy

Words have permanence. Writing allows individuals to leave a lasting mark, sharing wisdom, stories, or insights for future generations. Whether it’s personal journals, published books, or digital content, these words can inspire and educate long after the author’s time.

8. Writing Sharpens Observation Skills

To write descriptively and authentically, keen observation is essential. Writers learn to notice details, nuances, and subtleties in their surroundings. This heightened awareness enriches their narratives and offers readers a vivid experience.

9. Writing Facilitates Negotiation and Diplomacy

Effective negotiation and diplomacy require clarity, understanding, and tact. Writing plays a pivotal role in these processes. Official communications, treaties, and agreements are documented in written form, ensuring clarity and mutual understanding.

10. Writing Is Essential for Record-Keeping

From ancient civilizations to modern businesses, record-keeping has always been fundamental. Writing ensures that events, decisions, and data are documented for reference, accountability, and analysis. It provides a consistent means to track progress, remember agreements, and learn from the past.

11. Writing Is Timeless

While civilizations rise and fall and technologies change, writing remains a constant. It’s a timeless medium to express, communicate, and record. The essence of humanity, its thoughts, emotions, and discoveries, are immortalized through words.

In the tapestry of human history, writing stands as a potent thread binding our stories, emotions, and knowledge. It’s not just about penning down words but giving voice to silent thoughts, painting vivid tales, and connecting the past with the future.

The significance of writing transcends time, bridging gaps between cultures and generations. As we continue to evolve, one thing remains unchanged: our intrinsic need to communicate and understand, facilitated by the timeless art of writing.

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Aerielle Ezra

Aerielle Ezra is an enthusiastic student of architecture who has a wide range of interests, including psychology, lifestyle, and relationships. Apart from her studies, she also likes to engage in athletic activities, particularly volleyball. When she is not playing, she spends her free time watching her preferred sitcoms or reading her favorite books, which include fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Susan K Perry Ph.D.

Why Writing Is So Good for You

Putting your experiences into words brings form to chaos..

Posted May 15, 2014

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People have long claimed that expressive writing--essays, memoirs, stories--has helped them feel better. Studies have demonstrated improvements in overall well-being for those who write out their sorrows and difficult experiences.

Underlying mechanisms are hard to pinpoint, though. It’s a challenge for empirical research to answer questions like, “Why?” or “Exactly how?” Mostly researchers can count up how often something happens, and then ask for subjective responses to questions that relate to consciousness.

From my own research among famous, successful writers, and from my own and others’ experiences of writing non-professionally (i.e., not necessarily for publication), I suggest a lot of the benefits come from writing in flow .

WHY FLOW IS SEDUCTIVE

Flow takes you out of yourself and allows you to feel part of something larger. Writing is an excellent activity for entering a flow state. You get fully engaged while doing it, you’re not thinking about rewards or an audience (at least early on), time seems to shift in importance or even stop, and you forget your everyday self in the interests of this “larger-than-life” thing you’re crafting.

Depression and anxiety tend to cause rumination, having the same dreary thoughts over and over. But when you begin writing things down, whether it’s directly about your life, as in a diary, or an attempt at an essay or story or even a novel, you get deeply involved in that task and tend to rise above the ordinary frustrations of your day.

By forming a coherent narrative out of the chaotic elements of your personal history, reported psychologists James Pennebaker and Janet D. Seagal, "the mind doesn't have to work as hard to bring structure and meaning to it."

In one of their studies, experimental and control groups of students were asked to write about an assigned topic for four consecutive days for 15 minutes each day. Those who had written about emotional topics had far fewer doctors' visits during the rest of the school year. "Having a narrative is similar to completing a job, allowing one to essentially forget the event," Pennebaker concluded.

MORE THAN AN EMPTY NEST

I found this conclusion to be quite true when I kept an “empty nest journal” beginning when my second son was getting ready to leave for college. I found relief and clarity during this emotionally challenging time by writing out my feelings. Some years later, I turned my journal into my first novel, Kylie’s Heel , a fictionalized account of a woman who loses everything.

What I did was fictionalize— catastrophize , even—my own normal upcoming loss into a worst-case scenario. An example:

Why hadn’t it occurred to me to bring a camera to his prom? I’d even unthinkingly left my phone at home. Before the divorce , I was the family recorder, catching life on light-sensitive paper, arranging bits of it into albums, gathering the overabundance in yellow Kodak envelopes and storing them in a closet. A few years later, though, poring over those pictures of my son when he was small and of myself when I was younger, I might have been scrutinizing images from an alternate universe. To say if only I had clasped it closer, held it tighter, appreciated it more: what does that mean?

Struggling with the novel's plot helped me figure out how someone could survive so much loss. By that process of writing out my anxieties to their worst possible conclusion, I liberated myself—at least partially—from those common parental fears.

2 EXAMPLES FROM CURRENT BOOKS

I’d like to share two fine examples of writing, one a memoir, the other a novel, that demonstrate how art can—and must—occasionally be created out of grief .

Falling Out of Time is a novel by the leftist Israeli David Grossman, whose son was killed several yars ago. It’a poetic litany of grief, with surreal elements, and I read it with a hard ache in my chest. Here’s an excerpt that’s excruciatingly autobiographical:

That’s how it is with me, clerko, that’s how I’m built. No getting around it. I can’t understand anything until I write it. Really understand, I mean. Veritably! What are you looking at? Again with that waif face? I’m talking about actually writing, not just regurgitating what a thousand people before me have chewed up and vomited, like you are so fond of doing, eh, keeper of the notebook? Snooping, snipping, jotting down every single fart with your precious handwriting, eh? Well then, write this, please, in big letters, giant ones: I must re-create it in the form of a story! Do you get that? It, you idiot! The thing that happened! What’s not to understand? It! The sonofabitch thing that happened to me and my boy. Yes—mix it into a story is what I need to do, have to do. And it must have plots! And imagination ! And hallucinations and freedom and dreams ! Fire! A bubbling cauldron!

And here’s a telling excerpt from My Mistake , a memoir by Daniel Menaker about his family life, the death of his brother Mike when they were both young (he blames himself), his cancer, and his many years at The New Yorker (where he wasn’t always appreciated) and Random House. His voice is often appealingly vulnerable.

why is writing essays good

And then out of desperation I wrote a story based on what had happened. And then came more writing — because much as I dislike the actual work of writing, it settles me, makes me feel as though I am actually managing myself, as nothing else does. I suppose this goes in the plus column too. But finally there’s this: Would I give back every sentence, every lesson learned, every bit of wisdom , every gram of sympathy for others, every sensitivity, every penny, every square inch of real estate, to have Mike walking three years ahead of me? Instead of adding year after unnatural year to my seniority over him? Instead of coming around the bend of the year and into the fall with the usual schoolboy’s summer’s-end sadness so uniquely sharpened? Instead of living in the shadow of an alternative unlived life? You tell me.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Susan K. Perry , author of Kylie’s Heel

Susan K Perry Ph.D.

Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. , is a social psychologist and author. Her current focus is on the creative aspects of rationality and atheism.

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What is Good Writing?

At the Writing Center, we’re often asked “What makes good writing?” or “What makes someone a good writer?” Instructors wonder whether anyone can really be taught to write and why their students don’t know how to write by now. To begin to understand what makes writing, and writers, “good,” we need to ask the larger question “What is writing?”

It’s easy to agree on the definition of writing if we limit it to something like “putting pen to paper” or “typing ideas into a computer.” But if we look more closely at the elements of the act of writing, the definition comes to life. The following paragraphs might prompt your thinking about how writing happens for your students and for you.

Writing is a response.

We write because we are reacting to someone or something. While writing can feel like an isolating, individual act—just you and the computer or pad of paper—it is really a social act, a way in which we respond to the people and world around us. Writing happens in specific, often prescribed contexts. We are not just writing—we are always writing to an audience(s) for some particular purpose. When we write, we do so because we want, need, or have been required to create a fixed space for someone to receive and react to our ideas. Understanding this social or rhetorical context—who our readers may be, why they want to read our ideas, when and where they will be reading, how they might view us as writers—governs some of the choices we make. The writing context requires writers to have a sense of the reader’s expectations and an awareness of conventions for a particular piece of writing. The context of the piece further determines the appropriate tone, level of vocabulary, kind and placement of evidence, genre, and sometimes even punctuation.

Writing is linear.

In order to communicate effectively, we need to order our words and ideas on the page in ways that make sense to a reader. We name this requirement in various ways: “grammar,” “logic,” or “flow.” While we would all agree that organization is important, the process of lining up ideas is far from simple and is not always recognized as “writing.” We assume that if a person has ideas, putting them on the page is a simple matter of recording them, when in fact the process is usually more complicated. As we’ve all experienced, our ideas do not necessarily arise in a linear form. We may have a scattering of related ideas, a hunch that something feels true, or some other sense that an idea is “right” before we have worked out the details. It is often through the act of writing that we begin to create the logical relationships that develop the idea into something that someone else may receive and perhaps find interesting. The process of putting ideas into words and arranging them for a reader helps us to see, create, and explore new connections. So not only does a writer need to “have” ideas, but the writer also has to put them in linear form, to “write” them for a reader, in order for those ideas to be meaningful. As a result, when we are writing, we often try to immediately fit our choices into linear structures (which may or may not suit our habits of mind).

Writing is recursive.

As we write, we constantly rewrite. Sometimes we do this unconsciously, as we juggle words, then choose, delete, and choose again. Sometimes we do this rewriting very consciously and conscientiously as we reread a paragraph or page for clarity, coherence, or simply to see what we’ve just said and decide whether we like it. Having read, we rewrite the same phrases or ideas to make a closer match to our intentions or to refine our discoveries through language. The process of writing and then reviewing, changing, and rewriting is a natural and important part of shaping expression for an anticipated audience. So while we are trying to put our words and ideas into a logical line, we are also circling round and back and over again.

Writing is both subject and object.

We value writing because it reveals the personal choices a writer has made and thereby reveals something of her habits of mind, her ability to connect and shape ideas, and her ability to transform or change us as readers. We take writing as evidence of a subject or subjective position. Especially in an academic environment, we read written language as individual expression (whether or not multiple voices have informed the one voice we privilege on the page), as a volley from one individual mind to another. That said, writing also serves as an object for us, a “piece” or a “paper” whose shape, size, and function are determined by genre and conventions. While we don’t think of writing as technology, it is also that; it allows us to remove a person’s ideas from the confines of her head and fix those ideas in another place, a place where they will be evaluated according to standards, objectively. Here is where our sense of what counts as “good” writing develops. We have created objective (although highly contextualized) ideals for writing that include measures of appropriate voice, vocabulary, evidence, and arrangement. So while writing is very personal, or subjective, it creates an objective space, a place apart from the individual, and we measure it against objective standards derived from the context. It creates space both for the individual (the subject) and the idea (the object) to coexist so that we can both judge the merits of the individual voicing the idea and contend with the idea on the page.

Writing is decision making.

It may seem obvious, but in order to get something on the page, a writer chooses the words, the order of the words in the sentence, the grouping of sentences into paragraphs, and the order of the paragraphs within a piece. While there is an ordinariness about this—we make choices or decisions almost unconsciously about many things all day long—with writing, as we have all experienced, such decision-making can be a complex process, full of discovery, despair, determination, and deadlines. Making decisions about words and ideas can be a messy, fascinating, perplexing experience that often results in something mysterious, something the writer may not be sure “works” until she has auditioned it for a real reader.

Writing is a process.

Contending with the decision-making, linearity, social context, subjectivity, and objectivity that constitute writing is a process that takes place over time and through language. When producing a piece of writing for an audience, experienced writers use systems they have developed. Each writer has an idiosyncratic combination of thinking, planning, drafting, and revising that means “writing” something. No matter how we each describe our writing process (e.g., “First I think about my idea then dump thoughts onto the computer,” or “I make an outline then work out topic sentences”), we all (usually unconsciously) negotiate the series of choices required in an individual context and produce a draft that begins to capture a representation of our ideas. For most people, this negotiation includes trial and error (this word or that?), false starts (beginning with an example that later proves misleading), contradictions (I can’t say X because it may throw Y into question), sorting (how much do I need to say about this?), doubt about how the idea will be received, and satisfaction when they think they have cleared these hurdles successfully. For most people, this process happens through language. In other words, we use words to discover what, how, and why we believe. Research supports the adage “I don’t know what I think until I read what I’ve said.”

Altogether these elements make writing both an interesting and challenging act—one that is rich, complex, and valuable. What else is writing for you? Think about what the definitions discussed here miss and how you might complete the sentence “Writing is like…” From your experience as a writer, what else about writing seems essential? How is that connected to what you value about the process of writing and the final pieces that you produce?

For more information about student writing or to talk with someone about your writing assignments, contact Kimberly Abels [email protected] at the Writing Center.

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A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing

  • Mark Rennella

why is writing essays good

It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.

The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?

  • Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
  • In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
  • For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
  • Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).

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Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.

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  • MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .  

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Why Students Should Write in All Subjects

Writing improves learning by consolidating information in long-term memory, researchers explain. Plus, five engaging writing activities to use in all subjects.

An illustration of the inside of a mind while writing

For Kyle Pahigian, a 10th-grade math teacher at University Park Campus School in Massachusetts, a lesson on congruent triangles doesn’t start with calculators and protractors. Instead, she hands her students a treasure map and asks them to write detailed directions—using landmarks as a guide—to the buried treasure.

“I won’t tell the kids right away, ‘Today we’re going to learn about triangle congruence theorems,’” said Pahigian. “I want them to instead view it as them experimenting with something and doing something that they feel like they’re really good at.” Students often feel intimidated by math, and transforming the activity into a writing exercise eases some of the anxiety of introducing difficult concepts, she said.

In Pahigian’s math class, writing is regularly used as a learning strategy, one that gives her a window into her students’ thinking. “I like to do low-stakes writing when we’re coming up with definitions,” said Pahigian. Instead of telling her students what a polygon is, for example, she’ll show them a set of polygons and a set of non-polygons, and ask them, “What do you notice? What differences do you see?” Students spend a few minutes writing down their answers, and then join groups to compare responses.

“It’s really interesting and fun for me to read what they’ve written, because I can see all the questions. I can see the process,” said Pahigian.

A recent study sheds light on why writing is such a beneficial activity—not just in subjects typically associated with writing, like history and English, but across all subjects. Professor Steve Graham and his colleagues at Arizona State University’s Teachers College analyzed 56 studies looking at the benefits of writing in science, social studies, and math and found that writing “reliably enhanced learning” across all grade levels. While teachers commonly ask students to write about a topic in order to assess how well they understand the material, the process of writing also improves a student’s ability to recall information, make connections between different concepts, and synthesize information in new ways. In effect, writing isn’t just a tool to assess learning, it also promotes it.

Strengthening Memories

Why is writing effective? “Writing about content material facilitates learning by consolidating information in long-term memory,” explain Graham and his colleagues, describing a process known as the retrieval effect . As previous research has shown , information is quickly forgotten if it’s not reinforced, and writing helps to strengthen a student’s memories of the material they’re learning.

It’s the same cognitive mechanism that explains why practice tests are effective : In a 2014 study, students who took low-stakes practice tests in science and history classes scored 16 percentage points higher on their final exams than students who simply studied the material. “Practicing retrieval of recently studied information enhances the likelihood of the learner retrieving that information in the future,” the researchers of the 2014 study said.

Writing about a topic also encourages students to process information at a deeper level. Answering multiple-choice or short-answer questions may help with factual recall, but putting thoughts on paper encourages students to evaluate different ideas, weighing the importance of each one and considering the order they should be presented in, Graham and his colleagues write. By doing so, students may make new connections between ideas, ones they may not have made when initially learning the information.

A Metacognitive Tool

Students often believe that they understand a topic, but if they’re asked to write it down—and explain it—gaps in their understanding may be revealed. One of the most effective writing strategies that Graham and his colleagues found was metacognitive prompting, in which students are asked not only to recall information but also to apply what they’ve learned to different contexts by thinking about multiple sides of a position or making predictions based on what they currently know. For example, instead of simply reading about ecosystems in a textbook, students can write about their own impact by examining how much trash their household produces or the environmental impact of producing the food they eat.

5 Writing Strategies to Use in Any Subject

Here are a variety of ideas teachers have shared with Edutopia in recent years on incorporating writing into a variety of subjects.

“I wonder” journals: At Crellin Elementary School in Oakland, Maryland, teachers encouraged students to ask “I wonder” questions to push their learning beyond the classroom. After visiting a local barn and garden, for example, Dave Miller realized his fifth-grade students had more questions about animals and plants than he had time to answer, so he had them write down anything they were confused or curious about, which helped him plan future lessons and experiments.

“If they don’t wonder, ‘How would we ever survive on the moon?’ then that’s never going to be explored,” said Dana McCauley, Crellin’s principal. “But that doesn’t mean they should stop wondering, because wonderings lead to thinking outside the box, which makes them critical thinkers. As they try to figure it out, and reflect on what they’re doing, that’s where it all ties together for them. That’s where all that learning occurs—where all the connections start being made.”

Travel journals: Every student at Normal Park Museum Magnet, a K–8 school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, created a travel journal to chart their learning. These journals included not only charts, drawings, and graphic organizers, but also writing and reflection pieces that capture students’ learning about a topic.

When fifth-grade teacher Denver Huffstutler began a unit on earth science, he asked his students to imagine they were explorers looking for a new world that could sustain life. In their travel journal, they kept track of everything they were learning, from the impact of man-made disasters to their designs and calculations for a manned rocket that could reach distant planets.

Low-stakes writing: Writing can be daunting, so teachers at University Park Campus School used daily low-stakes writing activities to foster student voice, self-confidence, and critical thinking skills—a school-wide strategy used in every subject.

“The most important thing about it for me is that it’s not censored, and it’s not too highly structured,” said seventh-grade science teacher James Kobialka. “It’s about them getting their own ideas down, and then being able to interact with those ideas, change them, and revise them if they’re not correct.”

For example, when Kobialka’s students were learning about the conservation of mass, he didn’t start by defining it—he showed them a picture and asked, “What do you notice about the atoms on both sides? How can you explain that?” Students wrote down their observations, and the entire class came up with a definition. “From there,” he said, “once that consensus is formed, I’ll ask somebody to write it on the board, and we’ll talk about the key concepts.”

Student-created magazines: In Alessandra King’s algebra class, students created a magazine with dozens of articles about real world applications of math. For each article, they selected a primary source—an article from Scientific American , for example—read it closely, and then wrote a summary. Students wrote about a range of topics, from gerrymandering to fractals in Jackson Pollock’s paintings to invisibility cloaks.

“Effective writing clarifies and organizes a student’s thoughts, and the slow pace of writing is conducive to student learning because it allows them to reason carefully to make sure they’re correct before they state their thoughts,” King wrote. “Studies have shown that writing is valuable specifically for the math classroom—for example, it seems that a student’s ability to explain concepts in writing is related to the ability to comprehend and apply them.”

Creative writing: Former teachers Ed Kang and Amy Schwartzbach-Kang incorporated storytelling and creative writing into their after-school program’s science lessons. For example, they asked students to imagine a creature that could survive in a local habitat —the Chicago River, in their case. What color would it be? What features would help it to survive and defend itself? How would it hunt its prey? Students then wrote a story about their creature that combined science concepts with creative storytelling.

“There’s brain science to support using stories to help kids engage with content and create personal meaning,” explained Kang, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience. “Listening to facts mainly stimulates the two language-processing areas of the brain. However, when we listen to a story, additional parts of the brain are also activated—regions involved with our senses and motor movements help listeners actually ‘feel’ the descriptions.”

The Write Practice

Essay Writing Tips: 10 Steps to Writing a Great Essay (And Have Fun Doing It!)

by Joe Bunting | 118 comments

Do you dread essay writing? Are you looking for some essay tips that will help you write an amazing essay—and have fun doing it?

essay tips

Lots of students, young and old, dread essay writing. It's a daunting assignment, one that takes research, time, and concentration.

It's also an assignment that you can break up into simple steps that make writing an essay manageable and, yes, even enjoyable.

These ten essay tips completely changed my writing process—and I hope that they can do the same for you.

Essay Writing Can Be Fun

Honestly, throughout most of high school and college, I was a mediocre essay writer.

Every once in a while, I would write a really good essay, but mostly I skated by with B's and A-minuses.

I know personally how boring writing an essay can be, and also, how hard it can be to write a good one.

However, toward the end of my time as a student, I made a breakthrough. I figured out how to not only write a great essay, I learned how to have fun while doing it . 

And since then, I've become a professional writer and have written more than a dozen books. I'm not saying that these essay writing tips are going to magically turn you into a writer, but at least they can help you enjoy the process more.

I'm excited to share these ten essay writing tips with you today! But first, we need to talk about why writing an essay is so hard.

Why Writing an Essay Is So Hard

When it comes to essay writing, a lot of students find a reason to put it off. And when they tackle it, they find it difficult to string sentences together that sound like a decent stance on the assigned subject.

Here are a few reasons why essay writing is hard:

  • You'd rather be scrolling through Facebook
  • You're trying to write something your teacher or professor will like
  • You're trying to get an A instead of writing something that's actually good
  • You want to do the least amount of work possible

The biggest reason writing an essay is so hard is because we mostly focus on those external  rewards like getting a passing grade, winning our teacher's approval, or just avoiding accusations of plagiarism.

The problem is that when you focus on external approval it not only makes writing much less fun, it also makes it significantly harder.

Because when you focus on external approval, you shut down your subconscious, and the subconscious is the source of your creativity.

The subconscious is the source of your creativity.

What this means practically is that when you're trying to write that perfect, A-plus-worthy sentence, you're turning off most of your best resources and writing skills.

So stop. Stop trying to write a good essay (or even a “good-enough” essay). Instead, write an interesting  essay, write an essay you think is fascinating. And when you're finished, go back and edit it until it's “good” according to your teacher's standards.

Yes, you need to follow the guidelines in your assignment. If your teacher tells you to write a five-paragraph essay, then write a five-paragraph essay! If your teacher asks for a specific type of essay, like an analysis, argument, or research essay, then make sure you write that type of essay!

However, within those guidelines, find room to express something that is uniquely you .

I can't guarantee you'll get a higher grade (although, you almost certainly will), but I can absolutely promise you'll have a lot more fun writing.

The Step-by-Step Process to Writing a Great Essay: Your 10 Essay Writing Tips

Ready to get writing? You can read my ten best tips for having fun while writing an essay that earns you the top grade, or check out this presentation designed by our friends at Canva Presentations .

1. Remember your essay is just a story.

Every story is about conflict and change, and the truth is that essays are about conflict and change, too! The difference is that in an essay, the conflict is between different ideas , and the change is in the way we should perceive those ideas.

That means that the best essays are about surprise: “You probably think it's one way, but in reality, you should think of it this other way.” See tip #3 for more on this.

How do you know what story you're telling? The prompt should tell you.

Any list of essay prompts includes various topics and tasks associated with them. Within those topics are characters (historical, fictional, or topical) faced with difficult choices. Your job is to work with those choices, usually by analyzing them, arguing about them, researching them, or describing them in detail.

2. Before you start writing, ask yourself, “How can I have the most fun writing this?”

It's normal to feel unmotivated when writing an academic essay. I'm a writer, and honestly, I feel unmotivated to write all the time. But I have a super-ninja, judo-mind trick I like to use to help motivate myself.

Here's the secret trick: One of the interesting things about your subconscious is that it will answer any question you ask yourself. So whenever you feel unmotivated to write your essay, ask yourself the following question:

“How much fun can I have writing this?”

Your subconscious will immediately start thinking of strategies to make the writing process more fun.

The best time to have your fun is the first draft. Since you're just brainstorming within the topic, and exploring the possible ways of approaching it, the first draft is the perfect place to get creative and even a little scandalous. Here are some wild suggestions to make your next essay a load of fun:

  • Research the most surprising or outrageous fact about the topic and use it as your hook.
  • Use a thesaurus to research the topic's key words. Get crazy with your vocabulary as you write, working in each key word synonym as much as possible.
  • Play devil's advocate and take the opposing or immoral side of the issue. See where the discussion takes you as you write.

3. As you research, ask yourself, “What surprises me about this subject?”

The temptation, when you're writing an essay, is to write what you think your teacher or professor wants to read.

Don't do this .

Instead, ask yourself, “What do I find interesting about this subject? What surprises me?”

If you can't think of anything that surprises you, anything you find interesting, then you're not searching well enough, because history, science, and literature are all brimming   over with surprises. When you look at how great ideas actually happen, the story is always, “We used  to think the world was this way. We found out we were completely wrong, and that the world is actually quite different from what we thought.”

These pieces of surprising information often make for the best topic sentences as well. Use them to outline your essay and build your body paragraphs off of each unique fact or idea. These will function as excellent hooks for your reader as you transition from one topic to the next.

(By the way, what sources should you use for research? Check out tip #10 below.)

4. Overwhelmed? Write five original sentences.

The standard three-point essay is really made up of just five original sentences surrounded by supporting paragraphs that back up those five sentences. If you're feeling overwhelmed, just write five sentences covering your most basic main points.

Here's what they might look like for this article:

  • Introductory Paragraph:  While most students consider writing an essay a boring task, with the right mindset, it can actually be an enjoyable experience.
  • Body #1: Most students think writing an essay is tedious because they focus on external rewards.
  • Body #2: Students should instead focus on internal fulfillment when writing an essay.
  • Body #3: Not only will focusing on internal fulfillment allow students to have more fun, it will also result in better essays.
  • Conclusion: Writing an essay doesn't have to be simply a way to earn a good grade. Instead, it can be a means of finding fulfillment.

After you write your five sentences, it's easy to fill in the paragraphs for each one.

Now, you give it a shot!

5. Be “source heavy.”

In college, I discovered a trick that helped me go from a B-average student to an A-student, but before I explain how it works, let me warn you. This technique is powerful , but it might not work for all teachers or professors. Use with caution.

As I was writing a paper for a literature class, I realized that the articles and books I was reading said what I was trying to say much better than I ever could. So what did I do? I quoted them liberally throughout my paper. When I wasn't quoting, I re-phrased what they said in my own words, giving proper credit, of course. I found that not only did this formula create a well-written essay, it took about half the time to write.

It's good to keep in mind that using anyone else's words, even when morphed into your own phrasing, requires citation. While the definition of plagiarism is shifting with the rise of online collaboration and cooperative learning environments, always  err on the side of excessive citation to be safe.

When I used this technique, my professors sometimes mentioned that my papers were very “source” heavy. However, at the same time, they always gave me A's.

To keep yourself safe, I recommend using a 60/40 approach with your body paragraphs: Make sure 60% of the words are your own analysis and argumentation, while 40% can be quoted (or text you paraphrase) from your sources.

Like the five sentence trick, this technique makes the writing process simpler. Instead of putting the main focus on writing well, it instead forces you to research  well, which some students find easier.

6. Write the body first, the introduction second, and the conclusion last.

Introductions are often the hardest part to write because you're trying to summarize your entire essay before you've even written it yet. Instead, try writing your introduction last, giving yourself the body of the paper to figure out the main point of your essay.

This is especially important with an essay topic you are not personally interested in. I definitely recommend this in classes you either don't excel in or care much for. Take plenty of time to draft and revise your body paragraphs before  attempting to craft a meaningful introductory paragraph.

Otherwise your opening may sound awkward, wooden, and bland.

7. Most essays answer the question, “What?” Good essays answer the “Why?” The best essays answer the “How?”

If you get stuck trying to make your argument, or you're struggling to reach the required word count, try focusing on the question, “How?”

For example:

  • How did J.D. Salinger convey the theme of inauthenticity in  The Catcher In the Rye ?
  • How did Napoleon restore stability in France after the French Revolution?
  • How does the research prove girls really do rule and boys really do drool?

If you focus on how, you'll always have enough to write about.

8. Don't be afraid to jump around.

Essay writing can be a dance. You don't have to stay in one place and write from beginning to end.

For the same reasons listed in point #6, give yourself the freedom to write as if you're circling around your topic rather than making a single, straightforward argument. Then, when you edit and proofread, you can make sure everything lines up correctly.

In fact, now is the perfect time to mention that proofreading your essay isn't just about spelling and commas.

It's about making sure your analysis or argument flows smoothly from one idea to another. (Okay, technically this comprises editing, but most students writing a high school or college essay don't take the time to complete every step of the writing process. Let's be honest.)

So as you clean up your mechanics and sentence structure, make sure your ideas flow smoothly, logically, and naturally from one to the next as you finish proofreading.

9. Here are some words and phrases you don't want to use.

  • You  (You'll notice I use a lot of you's, which is great for a blog post. However, in an academic essay, it's better to omit the second-person.)
  • To Be verbs (is, are, was, were, am)

Don't have time to edit? Here's a lightning-quick editing technique .

A note about “I”: Some teachers say you shouldn't use “I” statements in your writing, but the truth is that professional, academic papers often use phrases like “I believe” and “in my opinion,” especially in their introductions.

10. It's okay to use Wikipedia, if…

Wikipedia is one of the top five websites in the world for a reason: it can be a great tool for research. However, most teachers and professors don't consider Wikipedia a valid source for use in essays.

Don't totally discount it, though! Here are two ways you can use Wikipedia in your essay writing:

  • Background research. If you don't know enough about your topic, Wikipedia can be a great resource to quickly learn everything you need to know to get started.
  • Find sources . Check the reference section of Wikipedia's articles on your topic. While you may not be able to cite Wikipedia itself, you can often find those original sources and cite them . You can locate the links to primary and secondary sources at the bottom of any Wikipedia page under the headings “Further Reading” and “References.”

You Can Enjoy Essay Writing

The thing I regret most about high school and college is that I treated it like something I had  to do rather than something I wanted  to do.

The truth is, education is an opportunity many people in the world don't have access to.

It's a gift, not just something that makes your life more difficult. I don't want you to make the mistake of just “getting by” through school, waiting desperately for summer breaks and, eventually, graduation.

How would your life be better if you actively enjoyed writing an essay? What would school look like if you wanted to suck it dry of all the gifts it has to give you?

All I'm saying is, don't miss out!

Looking for More Essay Writing Tips?

Looking for more essay tips to strengthen your essay writing? Try some of these resources:

  • 7 Tips on Writing an Effective Essay
  • Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

How about you? Do you have any tips for writing an essay?  Let us know in the  comments .

Need more grammar help?  My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid . Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 20 percent off: WritePractice20

Coupon Code:WritePractice20 »

Ready to try out these ten essay tips to make your essay assignment fun? Spend fifteen minutes using tip #4 and write five original sentences that could be turned into an essay.

When you're finished, share your five sentences in the comments section. And don't forget to give feedback to your fellow writers!

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How to Write Like Louise Penny

Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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Although it may appear at first that the people who have the most to benefit from writing are writers, managers, businessmen, journalists, or keynote speakers, that cannot be further from the truth.

Each and every one of us can take away something from developing and honing our writing skills, even if it’s just a simple practice of keeping a journal.

As human beings are social animals, we need to communicate with each other on a daily basis.

Although the majority of that interaction is carried out verbally or non-verbally , a great deal of communication requires us to write. The most obvious example of this is posts or messages on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. This also includes text messages we send each using our smartphones, or through platforms like Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp.

Of course, emails still have their place and some even still hold on to the lost art of writing letters . These are all instances where we are required to write, but what about benefits of writing just for the sake of writing? How can we make use of that?

The following list contains eight reasons why good writing skills can improve your life, and make you a well-rounded, happier individual.

1. Writing Helps Your Clear Your Mind

We've all sometimes felt the need to vent and speak our minds in order to get our point across.

Well, writing can help you do that.

Try and write down all of your thoughts, grievances, doubts, fantasies, and pretty much everything else that crosses your mind. Just write, without thinking about what lands on paper or your computer screen. It may seem like the end result is something pretty chaotic, but that’s not the point.

The point is for you to clear your mind, so that you can go about your day, working, solving problems, and just enjoying life. Without all those thoughts in the back of your head distracting you, you will find it easier to work and focus, no matter what your profession is.

2. Writing Will Help You Recover Memories

You will be surprised at how writing is able to bring back old and almost forgotten memories.

Start writing down those which you do remember. Before you know it, a certain word or a phrase you’ve put down on paper will trigger some other memory you would never have thought of otherwise. Some of those memories won’t be pleasant, but you will be able to look at them from a distance and put them perspective, and ponder how much you have learned from those experiences.

On the other hand, happy memories will put a smile on your face, and you will remember events and people you care about, driving you to get in touch with them again.

3. You Will Be Able to Stockpile Ideas

It is a good rule of thumb to always write down ideas that pop up out of nowhere because you will be less likely to forget about them that way.

You can try and keep them inside your head but, seeing as we live in a digital age, we process an insane amount of information. We are bound to forget most of them, and that includes some great and precious ideas.

However, when you write them down, you will not only save them from being forgotten, but it will be easier for you to develop them and connect them with one another. You can even come up with new ones through brainstorming.

4. Put Your Life Events into Perspective

One of the most basic examples of this is keeping a journal, but it’s not the only way of putting things into perspective.

Writing fiction will also help you analyze things and look at them from a different point of view. You will be able to draw parallels between those fictional events and situations, and those which took place for real in your life. This will help you look at them in a more objective light.

Another effective way of doing this is to start a blog. This will make you think long and hard before you write anything down since your work will read by an audience.

5. Improve Your Verbal and Written Skills

When you are writing something down, you become more careful in choosing the right words. This means your writing will be more eloquent, concise, and elegant than your actual speech.

But, if you keep at it long enough, plenty of those beautifully put together words, phrases, and sentences will begin to find their way in into your verbal communication skills . You will start to use an expanded vocabulary, which will leave a better impression of you on the person you are communicating with. Both your personal and professional lives stand to benefit from this.

6. You Will Feel like You Have Accomplished Something

You know that pleasant sense of accomplishment after building or fixing something, or winning a simple game?

You will also get that feeling once you finish writing a short story, your daily blog post, or your latest journal entry. Those who are more ambitious can take on writing a novel, or a book, which is even more satisfying and brings a greater sense of accomplishment. But, for the time being, stick to shorter forms and, who knows, you might even be able to publish some of your work down the line, or earn some money on the side thanks to your writing skills.

7. It’s a Great Mental Exercise

Keeping in shape doesn’t just apply to exercising your body regularly. You can do the same for you mind as well. Writing activates a number of different cognitive processes, and unleashes your creativity.

All of this will keep your brain sharp and active, and it can even act as a preventative measure against some mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer's or dementia. You can even join an online writing course to hone your skills and practice.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways in which you can benefit from writing on a regular basis, even if you are not a professional writer. All of these tips will lead you to become a more accomplished, eloquent, and satisfied person.

Great writing skills go a long way toward establishing you as a more complete person too. You will be able to improve your social life, and become a better professional.

Start writing today and reap the benefits.

About the Author

After a few years being a freelance teacher, Laura decided to become a freelance writer and editor instead.

She has worked many happy years as a writer, where she helps to edit the work of some of their most diligent and professional writers.

She one day hopes to own a ranch in Texas and has already started saving for the deposit.

Continue to: How Writing Can Make You a Better Person Journaling for Personal Development: Creating a Learning Journal

See also: Lifelong Learning | How to Write a Letter Writing your CV or Resume | Gender Neutral Writing

Englist

What is academic writing and why is it important?

Dec 27, 2020 | Academic Writing , College Applications , Englist blog , TOEFL Prep | 0 comments

Academic writing has become an increasingly important part of education as parents and educators realize the value of critical thinking skills and preparing students for college. 

Still, many students, parents, and even other teachers don’t have a great grasp on this area of learning and why it is so critical.

As such, at Englist we find it is important to not only teach academic writing, but also help everyone understand why it is imperative to the development of thoughtful and capable students.

What is academic writing?

First, what is academic writing? Most students see writing as something they just have to do because a teacher says so, and it becomes a painful and time-consuming assignment. Our mission is to end this kind of thinking.

Simply put, academic writing is teaching students how to write essays. That sounds pretty simple, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Essay writing is the process of sharing complex ideas, thoughts, or opinions. Writers learn to construct a rather complicated argument or explanation by combining sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into an essay.

Academic writing demands writers become clear in their explanations and reasoning, direct in their communication, and most importantly, able to make readers understand their topic and thesis.

An Idea!

Eight Characteristics of Good Writing

by Melissa Donovan | Dec 2, 2021 | Better Writing | 31 comments

good writing

What’s the difference between bad and good writing?

How important is it for a writer to be able to discern the difference between good writing and bad writing?

Pretty important, if you ask me.

I know some writers aren’t concerned with quality. In today’s do-it-yourself and get-it-done-fast world, quality plays second fiddle to quantity. Who cares if your books are full of typos, bad grammar, and poor logic as long as you have published lots and made a bunch of money?

The Characteristics of Good Writing

So, what constitutes good writing? Opinions on the matter vary widely. There will be different traits that make good fiction versus good poetry or good nonfiction. However, we can cull together a general list of the characteristics of good writing (in no particular order):

  • Clarity and focus: In good writing, everything makes sense and readers don’t get lost or have to reread passages to figure out what’s going on. Focused writing sticks with the plot or core idea without running off on too many tangents.
  • Organization: A well organized piece of writing is not only clear, it’s presented in a way that is logical and aesthetically pleasing. You can tell non-linear stories or place your thesis at the end of an essay and get away with it as long as your scenes or ideas are well ordered.
  • Ideas and themes: Is the topic of your paper relevant? Does your story come complete with themes? Can the reader visualize your poem? For a piece of writing to be considered well crafted, it has to contain clearly identifiable ideas and themes.
  • Voice: This is what sets you apart from all other writers. It’s your unique way of stringing words together, formulating ideas, and relating scenes or images to the reader. In any piece of writing, the voice should be consistent and identifiable.
  • Language (word choice): We writers can never underestimate or fail to appreciate our most valuable tools: words. Good writing includes precise and accurate word choices and well crafted sentences.
  • Grammar and style: Many writers would wish this one away, but for a piece of writing to be considered good (let alone great), it has to follow the rules of grammar (and break those rules only when there’s a good reason). Style is also important in ensuring that a piece of writing is clear and consistent. Make sure you keep a grammar book and style guide handy.
  • Credibility or believability: Nothing says bad writing like getting the facts wrong or misrepresenting oneself. In fiction, the story must be believable (even if it’s impossible), and in nonfiction, accurate research can make or break a writer.
  • Thought-provoking or emotionally inspiring: Perhaps the most important quality of good writing is how the reader responds to it. Does she come away with a fresh perspective and new ideas? Does he close the cover with tears in his eyes or a sense of victory? How readers react to your work will fully determine your success as a writer.

I want to add an honorable mention for originality. Everything has been done before, so originality is somewhat arbitrary. However, putting old ideas together in new ways and creating remixes of the best that literature has to offer is a skill worth developing.

Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Good and Bad Writing

To write well, a writer must be able to recognize quality in a piece of writing. How can you assess or improve your own work if you can’t tell the difference between mediocre and better writing in others’ work? This is why it’s so important for writers to be dedicated readers!

Writing is also an art form and therefore subject to personal taste. Can you read a book and dislike it but acknowledge that the writing was good? Have you ever read a book and loved the story but felt that the writing was weak?

A writer should be able to articulate why a piece of writing succeeds or fails, and a writer should also be able to recognize the qualities in a piece of writing even when it doesn’t appeal to their personal taste. These skills are especially necessary when writers are reviewing or critiquing other writers’ work and when revising, editing, and proofreading their own work.

Where do you stand? Do you rate other people’s writing? Do you worry about whether your own writing is any good? Would you add or remove any characteristics of good writing from this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing.

10 Core Practices for Better Writing

31 Comments

Michelle

I have had work published. I have even won a competition and still I lack the courage to really commit to it. It’s like I heard a character in a ‘soap’ once saying: ” If I dream of doing it I can always hold onto the dream and live on the’ I could have done it if I tried’, whereas if I go ahead and do it I just might not be ‘good’ and then everything will be gone then, dream and all ! ” Everything you say makes sense but it’s courage I now seek to acquire as well as certain’ devil may care attitude . Courage and self belief and wee bit of discipline. 2012 might just be the year ! Michelle

Melissa Donovan

Michelle, I actually think it’s healthy to have dreams that we don’t fully intend on pursuing. It’s good for the imagination! A person might be interested or passionate about dozens of things and cannot possibly make careers out of them all. But courage is something else… and I don’t think anyone can give you courage. You have to find it within yourself. The first step is to decide that you are going to brave the writing career. After that, you muster up the courage. It’s there inside you, and if you really want it, you’ll find it 🙂 Good luck to you!

Bill Polm

Good one, Michelle, and needed too.

So many blog posts on how to drum up business or write enticing posts or articles, or even how to avoid embarrassing grammatical errors (not that those are not important).

So little on just plain old good writing. Writing that is unusually good, that delights, that informs with impact,

I love the freedom an informal style of modern English. But sometimes I worry a bit that contemporary readers are being fed to many tiny sentences to appeal to an ever-diminishing attention span.

A good list you have there. Maybe I would add that I value fluency. That adroit facility of the accomplished writer who’s covered miles of (digital) paper and now can write not only accurate and clear words and sentences but also compelling and memorable prose.

Ah, fluency is definitely necessary to good writing, although I think it comes with experience, so it might only apply to older or more advanced writers. Great food for thought, Bill. Thanks!

Michael White

Loved this blog post. It actually reminded me of a quote by Oscar Wilde, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”

That quote could spur a debate, I’m sure! Thanks for sharing it, Michael. I’m going to give Oscar Wilde’s idea some serious consideration.

PlumaDame

“A writer should be able to articulate why a piece of writing succeeds or fails, and a writer should also be able to recognize the qualities in a piece of writing even when it doesn’t appeal to personal taste”

I’m reading a book right now with a story line that I don’t particularly care for. Eight chapters into it, I’m not fully invested into the story. BUT, the author’s grasp of human emotion/interaction and her ability to explicate the nuances with clarity is brilliant. That fact alone keeps interested and pulls me forward.

Ah! I’ve been there too!

Sierra

This is a very well written blog, and the advice is good for teaching people how to get their points across. However, my problem is not that I can’t tell good from bad; apparently I’m quite good at assessing the quality of other authors’ writing and helping them iprove it. My problem is that though I love writing and am proud of my plot lines and characters, I don’t have a way with words and I just can’t write. Does anyone have any advice on how to make things WORK once you have everything planned out, or am I doomed to the life of an author who can’t write? That sounded really dismal.

Beckie

How do really know your writing is bad? If you’ve got a plot that you love, characters that are filled with layers and truth, set them free! Turn off those negative thoughts and just run with it. Write your story through to the end. If you believe in what you’ve got so far then let it lead you. You will surprise yourself. You proved with your post above that you can convey feeling, let your characters have their voice. Take a deep breath and jump/write!! Best of luck and courageous hugs!

Thanks, Beckie. Well said!

My guess is that your way with words isn’t as bad as you think. I didn’t have any trouble understanding what you wrote. However, if you want to strengthen your skills in vocabulary, word choice, and sentence structure, there are two things you can do: read as much as possible and engage with poetry. Pick up an introductory book on poetry and you’ll learn tons of techniques in this area (which you can apply to fiction and nonfiction). This one can be expensive but it’s worth every penny: Perrine’s Sound and Sense . Good luck to you!

Thank you, both you and Beckie. That’s really good advice. 🙂 I’ll try to be more positive.

Yes! Keep your chin up and stick with it.

Tina Ridgway

In my estimation, for what it’s worth, you write very well. You were clear and concise. I understood the points you were trying to convey. You even allowed a bit of your personality to shine through with self deprecation. Don’t be so hard on yourself, if you wish to be a writer then you should write. I am learning that for one to write compelling characters , one must be well acquainted with the characters they are creating. I am working on fleshing out some characters who are too one dimensional. Life is not black and white. I am trying to write in between the lines in gray. Good luck with your writing.

Paul Atreides

I’ve been perusing your site all morning. I’ve found some terrific tips, some very well-thought common sense approaches to working through difficulties in writing. And as soon as I push the submit button on this I’ll be subscribing!

Though I’ve been published and produced, I find myself in an almost constant state of questioning even the most basic ability to write. On the one hand, a local critic stated “proves he can write” and “there’s a simplicity in the writing that is quite refreshing.” On the other hand, I face a writer’s group (all women) each week who continually tell me my writing is sorely lacking because there aren’t enough issues (conflicts) in any given piece and therefore the characters do not exhibit enough “emotional levels.” Facing this type of weekly demolition has made me think I need to go back to doing what I used to do (before I became unemployed!): write for my own enjoyment and forget about any further publishing.

Where can one go to determine if there is even the slightest bit of talent worth further pursuit? I don’t mean a full-on critique of a piece, but a simple “I’d give it up if I were you.” or “This [writing] shows promise, keep learning and keep writing.”

Melissa McCann

Hmmm, Paul, possibly find a few dudes for your critiques? Also, are the women published? Have good reviews themselves? Read widely in your genre? Men and women do sometimes have widely varying ideas of what makes a good story. You may be writing good, solid, plot-driven adventures (I don’t know–maybe you’re into steamy historical romance) that don’t rely on a lot of emotional nuance. I’d look for beta-readers who understand what you are trying to accomplish.

Or take the girls with a big grain of salt and use what seems to deepen your own writing while recognizing that women’s brains are different. We have bizarre and incomprehensible ideas about relationships and whatnot. I read an interesting theory from the creators of the Dramatica Pro story outlining software about how a “masculine” character (or story) is about getting from point A to Point Z while overcoming every obstacle in between whereas a feminine character (or story) is about getting everything into balance and restoring chaos to equilibrium. Both perfectly fine stories. (I prefer the masculine-type storylines myself).

Post those good reviews and read ’em every day. I have some really nice rejections that I savor whenever I’m feeling inadequate.

Thanks, Melissa!

Two of the ladies have been published but have no reviews of their work. All have complimented the basic plot lines. Their big complaint would seem to fall into the theory from Dramatica Pro you mention; they are looking for every female character to make absolute sense to them strictly within their belief structure of how the characters should/must react to a particular situation. Otherwise, they give solid line-edit critiques and they do point out the occassional hole in content.

None of them read within my genre – if I even have one, that is. I’d classify my novels as “budscapades” (you like my mash-up moniker?) – in other words the main characters are male (female characters do show up along the way) and they are definitely plot driven stories. In entering the Amazon Breakout Book Award Contest, I classified the novel as “bromantic comedy” (plenty of action for guys with a hint of romance for women).

Both your suggestions are solid. I’m sticking with the ladies but will weigh their critiques carefully before implementation and I’ll have to find some men who can show the same amount of weekly dedication to the process.

Thanks, Paul! I think that critique groups can be immensely beneficial, but I also think that each writer has to decide which feedback to apply and which to discard. Objectively, there’s good writing and bad writing, but subjectively, we all have our opinions and preferences. I guess you have to decide whether you want to step up the emotional levels in your characters and add more conflict or if you want to keep your work minimalist.

Here’s what matters: once you do publish, unless you are looking for awards and accolades, the trick is really to find your audience. And there is an audience for everything (as popular culture demonstrates). You might also take a hard look at what the others in your writing group are producing and ask whether this group is a good match to your writing style and needs. You can also ask one of the women in the group to work more closely with you to bring those emotional levels up, if you think you’d like to stretch yourself and experiment a little.

Final word of advice: do not give up on writing or publishing. Forge ahead! You might even look for a creative writing class or workshop — you’ll get a broader range of feedback.

And thank you, Melissa (not Melissa-me, Melissa-you) for putting some analysis into the question of what makes good writing. I get so frustrated with the “Good writing is subjective; it’s just what you like or don’t like,” crowd. The more you study writing, the more you begin to see the difference between good vs bad.

The difficulty, I suppose, is because writing is as complex as any other language. It’s too complex to learn by having the rules explained to us by helpful parents, “Now dear, this is a verb. It always goes after the subject. Is it time to make a poo-poo?” We learn the rules of spoken language by hearing it at a time when our brains are primed and programmed to take it in. Many people don’t start learning to read or write until after that language window is closed. Those of us who learned to read at the same time we were learning to talk have an advantage.

Yes, I’d have to agree that the younger we are when we are taught to read and write, the more naturally it comes. There is much about writing that is subjective, but I believe there is plenty that can be assessed critically and objectively: grammar, spelling, and punctuation, for starters.

David L Scurlock

i tell every mother about my baby can read…they agree and then dont get it for their child..

Matt S.

I have to admit, I share a lot of the insecurities that I have read in the comments here. I’m pretty young and new to the game, and I’m worried that even if I somehow finish this idea that I have (non-fiction) I wont be taken seriously given my lack of a college degree. I have this internal conflict raging in my subconscious, so much so that I’m starting to have dreams about it. Do I go ahead and share my thoughts with others or should I keep them to myself?

It doesn’t help that I have a fear of failure, I suppose. Writing is where I clarify my ideas and feelings, and I’m afraid that my work will be ripped apart by people that dislike it or dismiss my thoughts, mostly because I’ll take it as them dismantling my soul. Does anyone else feel this way?

As I’m writing this I’m slowly realizing that I think that what I need is a little encouragement from people that don’t know me. Man, writing is awesome!

Even if you have a degree, people can still rip your ideas apart. I believe strongly in the value of higher education, but I also know (for a fact) there are plenty of folks with degrees who lack common sense or good hearts. And there are plenty of bright people with good hearts and common sense who do not have degrees. Then again, if you’re that torn up about not having a degree, why not just go get one?

Having said all that, I think you can simply shift your focus. Most of the best writers in the literary canon did not have degrees. Many did not even finish high school. Of your favorite authors, how many have BAs or MAs? Do you know? Do you care? (I don’t.)

As for failure, everyone’s afraid of it. I don’t think we’re meant to eliminate the fear. It’s more a matter of moving forward even though we are afraid. I would say that if you publish a book, some people are not going to like it. That’s just the way it is. So what? Focus your attention and energy on all the people who do like it. If you work hard and write, and put it out there (and do your marketing), you’ll find your audience. Embrace them, and don’t worry so much about everybody else. Good luck to you!

never worry about what anyone says…if someone takes the time for a a scathing review instead of just chucking it in the trash, then you must have struck a chord with that person…all publicity is good publicity…people will want to find out what made this reviewer so angry/….if they are intelligent…

Tony Vanderwarker

Writing well is the price of admission. But beyond the basics is where it gets squishy. Eudora Welty said something like “You’re only writing when you surprise yourself”. What does that mean? You write until you discover.

I don’t know–I would say you’re only writing when you’re putting words on the page. Surprises and discoveries are bonuses in the writing process for me. Maybe it’s because I write a lot of nonfiction, which isn’t full of discovery or surprise the way fiction is.

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Great article. I’m going to link to it on Reddit!

i think another goal of writing is to use the fewest words possible to convey an idea…similies and metaphors fill this bill…but simple truth sticks with people especially when it is a parable for something much more meaningful.

I think that’s a good goal, although it’s not every writer’s goal. I love clear, simple language, but there are exceptions when I come across a poem or story that is dripping with rich language.

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Why Is Writing Important? (22 Reasons)

Have you ever stopped to think about how much writing impacts your life? From jotting down a shopping list to sending a text message, writing is everywhere, shaping how we interact with the world and each other.

It’s fundamental, yet we often take for granted just how powerful a tool it can be. Good writing not only helps us share information but also transforms the way we think, learn, and connect.

In the pages that follow, let’s explore the myriad ways writing touches every corner of our existence. Can writing truly change your life, or is it just another skill to master? Stick around, and you just might discover that writing holds more power than you ever imagined.

Table of Contents

Writing Enhances Clarity in Communication

Effective communication is all about getting your point across with clarity and precision. Writing is the chisel that shapes rough ideas into sharp narratives. 

Think about the times you’ve written an email or a report. Choosing your words carefully, you have to consider how the reader will interpret them. This process alone can transform a muddled thought into a clear message.

  • It leads to a better understanding of personal and professional relationships.
  • Well-crafted writing avoids misunderstandings that can occur with spoken words.
  • Smooth communication builds trust and respect between parties.

By fostering clarity, writing becomes the bridge connecting intention with understanding, ensuring everyone is on the same page, quite literally.

Writing Aids in Learning and Retention of Information

There’s a reason why note-taking is encouraged in classrooms worldwide. Writing while learning actively engages the brain, prompting it to analyze and reframe information. This dual action cements knowledge more firmly than passive listening.

Remember those scribbled margins in your textbooks? Here’s what they’re actually doing:

  • They’re boosting your recall by creating unique connections in your brain.
  • Summarizing complex ideas in your own words locks in learning.
  • Writing by hand has been linked to improved memory retention.

When learners write about what they’re studying, they create a personal connection with the information, which is invaluable for retention. It also encourages them to think critically, ask questions, and explore the material on a deeper level. 

This technique is employed in various settings, from classrooms to professional workshops, demonstrating the significant role writing plays in learning and education.

Writing Can Influence Social Change

Writing isn’t just about putting words on a page; it’s a powerful tool for advocacy and reform. The written word has sparked revolutions and nurtured movements that have reshaped nations. 

Here’s a look at how writing changes the world:

  • It disseminates ideas that challenge the status quo, encouraging people to think and act.
  • Influential works, from Thomas Paine’s “ Common Sense ” to Rachel Carson’s “ Silent Spring , ” demonstrate the impact of writing on public opinion and policy.

This form of communication can sneak past barriers that might restrict spoken words. Written appeals to reason, emotion, and shared values can cross geographical and cultural boundaries to unite people under a common cause. 

Through blogs, social media, articles, and books, famed and anonymous writers stir hearts, evoke dialogue, and drive action. So, while a pen may seem mightier, it can indeed be more powerful than a sword when it comes to championing rights, justice, and democracy.

Writing Preserves Stories and Cultures

Cultures are the tapestries of human existence, woven with stories, traditions, and languages. Writing is the crucial thread that holds these tapestries together across time. 

It’s almost magical how script locked away in dusty tomes or engraved on ancient ruins breathes life into civilizations long gone.

  • Folktales:  Maintaining folklore through written records ensures generations to come know their ancestral stories.
  • Language:  Documenting dialects and idiomatic expressions keeps languages alive.
  • Traditions:  From recipes to rituals, writing preserves the unique practices of communities.

Through writing, individuals not only chronicle their current way of life but also ensure that future generations have a window into their ancestral past. 

Writing Sharpens Critical Thinking Skills

To craft a solid piece of writing, one must weigh evidence, discern patterns, and anticipate counterarguments—all activities that hone your ability to think deeply and critically. This is the rigorous mental exercise that strengthens your reasoning muscles. 

When you write an essay, for example, you must present a clear argument supported by facts. This process demands a level of analysis that goes beyond surface-level understanding.

Engaging with diverse perspectives is also part of being a thoughtful writer. By reading the works of others and writing critiques or responses, you immerse yourself in a dialogic process, exchanging ideas that refine your own thoughts and positions.

This dialogue with different viewpoints is integral to broadening your own intellectual horizons.

Writing Connects People Across Distances

Imagine you’re writing a letter to a friend on the other side of the world or a text message to a loved one just down the street. In both cases, the words you pen bridge the physical gap between you and them. 

Writing is a unique tool that connects us irrespective of location; it’s a heart-to-heart dialogue that can cross continents and oceans.

There’s something magical about opening an email from a friend abroad or stumbling upon a blog post that changes your perspective. It feels like they’re right there with you, sharing a moment in time. 

Even in our tech-savvy world where video calls are just a click away, the written word holds a special kind of intimacy — it can be saved, reread, and treasured in a way that spoken words cannot. 

Writing Improves Focus and Discipline

Engaging in the act of writing requires a level of concentration that few other activities can match. You’re pulling together thoughts, weaving words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs—all of which demands a disciplined mind. 

Maintaining that focus over time helps to develop your ability to concentrate on tasks, both big and small.

For anyone who has set out to write a blog post or a book, the process often involves setting up a routine and sticking to it, come inspiration or writer’s block. This habitual commitment translates directly to improved self-regulation and time management skills as you become better at setting and achieving goals. 

Writing Assists in Conflict Resolution

By expressing ourselves through writing, we can clearly convey our thoughts and feelings, which is crucial in conflict resolution. Let’s break this down:

Clarifying Perspectives:

  • Expression of emotions : Writing allows individuals to articulate their feelings  without  the heat of verbal confrontation.
  • Rational argumentation : Parties involved can lay out their points logically, minimizing the potential for emotional escalation.

Understanding Parties’ Positions:  Written communication gives each party time to consider the other’s viewpoint and respond thoughtfully rather than reactively.

Documenting Agreements:  Written summaries of conflict resolutions serve as tangible records that can prevent future misunderstandings and foster long-term peacekeeping.

Whether it’s in personal relationships or international diplomacy, the pen can guide us toward finding common ground.

Writing Documents History and Important Information

Writing is the cornerstone of preserving human achievements and learning. Every innovation, from the wheel to the smartphone, has its development outlined in written form. 

Legal documents, with their precise language, dictate how societies function, maintaining order and recording the framework of our civilizations. 

But beyond the structural, writing offers intimacy with the past; it’s personal. Reading the musings of a 12th-century philosopher or the letters of a World War II soldier, we bridge the gap between now and then, understanding events and the people behind them.

The act of documenting through writing, as such, serves a dual purpose: 

  • It establishes the record that shapes the structure and identity of society.
  • It creates a pathway to revisit and learn from the experiences of those who came before us. 

Without writing, history would be like the wind, felt briefly but invisible to the eyes of the future.

Writing Refines Language Skills

Engaging regularly in writing is one of the most effective methods for improving language proficiency. It’s an active process that involves:

  • Vocabulary expansion : Delving into writing naturally exposes you to new words and phrases.
  • Grammar and syntax mastery : With practice, your sentence structure improves as you find more efficient ways to convey your message.
  • Style and tone variation : Writing allows you to experiment with different voices and styles suitable for various audiences and purposes.

The act of writing also provides an opportunity for feedback. Be it through a teacher’s corrections, an editor’s revisions, or comments from peers, each piece of feedback is a stepping stone toward language mastery. 

Whether you’re a native speaker or learning a new language, writing turns the abstract rules of grammar and style into concrete examples you create yourself, promoting a deeper internalization of the language.

Writing Organizes Thoughts and Ideas

Have you ever had a “ light bulb ” moment only to find it slipping away before you could fully grasp it? Writing is the tool we use to catch those ethereal thoughts and pin them down. 

It’s a mental sorting exercise, transforming a jumble of ideas into an ordered sequence. This linear format is tremendously powerful, allowing us to navigate complex concepts and construct detailed plans. 

Moreover, this ordering process is iterative; as we draft and redraft, our organized thoughts become refined arguments, compelling stories, or actionable strategies. Writing doesn’t just capture our initial musings; it shapes them into their most precise form.

Writing Helps Build Persuasive Arguments

When it comes to persuasion, writing is your secret weapon. It’s not just about having an idea but about  effectively  convincing others to get on board with that idea.

Through writing, you can carefully craft your argument step by step. 

  • You introduce your idea (the claim)
  • Back it up with solid evidence
  • Explain why this evidence matters (the explanation)

You’ve got the time to research your points thoroughly and present them in the most compelling way possible.

Consider the persuasive essays of high school, the debated op-eds in newspapers, or the carefully constructed cover letters accompanying job applications. Each is an exercise in persuasion, aiming to convert the reader from a state of indecision to one of agreement. 

Writing Fosters Creativity

Imagine the vast landscape of a blank page. Now, see it transforming as words dance across it, crafting worlds, characters, and plots. This is the realm where writing and creativity intertwine.

  • Unleashing the imagination : Writing gives life to the imagination, allowing the invisible to sculpt worlds as vivid as our reality.
  • Exploring possibilities : It allows us to ask “ what if ” and “ why not, ” pushing the boundaries of conventional thinking.
  • Expressive freedom : There are no limits; genres, forms, and styles become playgrounds for creative experimentation.

Whenever writers pick up a pen or type on a keyboard, they engage in a creative act. Whether it’s composing poetry, developing a story, or finding a creative solution to a problem, writing is a discovery process. 

The more you write, the more you tap into the depths of your imagination, stretching its capabilities. The act of writing itself can be a muse, sparking insights and ideas that might never surface in the regular rhythm of daily life.

Writing Can be Therapeutic

Engaging in the practice of writing has unexpected healing properties. It’s a canvas for the soul, where one can paint feelings, fears, and hopes in word form. As you articulate your inner narrative, you experience a sense of personal discovery and growth.

In therapy sessions,  writing  is often used as a tool to help individuals confront traumatic events or deal with psychological stress. The act of committing thoughts to paper can sometimes reveal patterns or solutions that were not evident before. 

Many people find that regular journaling makes their emotional burdens lighter and their minds clearer. This simple, quiet act of writing can be akin to a personal therapy session, fostering emotional health and well-being.

Writing is a Form of Entertainment

Whether getting lost in a fantasy novel or chuckling over a clever blog post, writing captivates and entertains our minds. It’s an escape hatch from reality, allowing readers to dive into different worlds, times, and experiences.

The Spectrum of Entertainment:

  • Novels and Short Stories : Craft vast adventures or snapshot moments.
  • Plays and Scripts : Bring characters and conflicts to life on stage and screen.
  • Poetry and Lyrics : Play with rhythm, rhyme, and emotions.

Writing is not only an important aspect of the entertainment industry, but it also serves as a personal amusement. From witty social media status updates to engaging articles on your favorite subjects, writing can elicit joy, suspense, laughter, and a range of emotions that enrich our daily lives.

Writing Aids in Personal Reflection and Introspection

When we put pen to paper, we engage in a solitary journey, navigating the corridors of our psyche. In a way, writing serves as the mirror through which we scrutinize our lives, dissecting our actions, thoughts, and feelings. 

Writing is introspective by nature; it requires us to slow down, reflect on our experiences, and examine them in the light of our deepest truths and beliefs. It’s a dialogue with the self that can lead to profound insights and a better understanding of personal motivations and desires. 

Whether chronicling daily events in a journal or composing letters that may never be sent, writing helps distill the essence of our experiences and offers a lens through which we can understand and evolve our sense of self.

Writing Empowers Self-Expression

Embracing the power of self-expression is to embrace the essence of what it means to be human. 

Through writing, individuals can craft their unique voices, assert their opinions, and leave an indelible mark on the tapestry of human experience. It’s an act of courage and an act of personal truth.

  • In novels, a character’s journey may mirror our own, echoing the complexities of real-life choices.
  • Blogs and articles serve as platforms for sharing insights and sparking discussions on topics that matter deeply to us.
  • Poetry breaks the chains of traditional narrative, allowing emotions to flow freely in a rhythmic and expressive dance.

Writing Keeps the Brain Active and Engaged

Just like how a runner sprints to keep muscles in peak condition, a writer pens words to exercise the brain. This mental workout boosts cognitive function and keeps the gears of the mind well-oiled. 

Consider the following:

  • Puzzling over the right word choices sharpens decision-making abilities.
  • Constructing complex sentences tests and improves memory.
  • Articulating abstract thoughts challenges the intellect and sparks neural connections.

Whether drafting a quick note or composing a lengthy manuscript, writing engages multiple areas of the brain, from language centers to memory storage. This continuous engagement is vital to maintaining a healthy and active mind throughout life, warding off the mental rust that can come with age or inactivity. 

Writing Helps in Career Progression

Writing is a ladder to career advancement. Here’s how it serves as a boost to professional growth:

  • Resume Crafting:  Your resume is your story, a narrative of your achievements. A well-written one can open the doors to new opportunities.
  • Effective Communication:  Clear, concise writing in emails and reports proves your professionalism and attention to detail, garnering respect from colleagues and superiors.
  • Thought Leadership:  Share your industry insights through articles or social media. It raises your profile and can position you as an expert in your field.

Proficiency in writing sets you apart in the job market and workplace. It’s a skill that shines a spotlight on your capabilities, helps you build influential networks, and can be a deciding factor in promotions and leadership roles.

Writing Secures Transactions and Agreements with Contracts

A contract is the backbone of a binding agreement, etched with words that spell out the expectations and obligations of all parties involved. 

Here’s how writing plays a crucial role:

  • Foundation : A written contract lays the groundwork, detailing the terms clearly to avoid ambiguity.
  • Protection : It serves as a legal safeguard, protecting interests and asserting rights.
  • Accountability : The contract ensures all parties are accountable, making commitments enforceable.

In the complex network of transactions and agreements that keep our world moving, writing stands guard against misunderstandings and disputes. Be it for buying a house, starting a new job, or entering into business partnerships, contracts captured in writing are the sentinels of our socio-economic landscape.

Writing is Integral for Marketing and Branding

In the realm of marketing and branding, words are currency. They can inform, persuade, and evoke emotions that drive consumer behavior. The language used in marketing materials can significantly impact how a brand is perceived and engaged with.

  • A captivating slogan can resonate with audiences, lodging itself in the communal consciousness.
  • Well-crafted copy defines a brand’s voice, from professional and authoritative to casual and friendly, shaping the brand’s public image and appeal.
  • Storytelling through content marketing forges a connection with customers, much like a novel draws in its readers, binding them to the characters—in this case, the brand and its offerings.

Through the strategic use of writing, a brand communicates its identity, values, and promises to the customer, establishing a narrative that differentiates it from competitors and builds brand loyalty.

Writing Encourages Lifelong Learning and Curiosity

The process of writing, though often seen as an output of learning, is equally powerful as a driver of continued education. When we write, we are not merely recording what we know; we are often learning anew.

Writing propels us to keep questioning, exploring, and absorbing the world. It injects curiosity into every subject touched by the tip of the pen. It opens the door to untapped reservoirs of knowledge, inviting us to step through and discover.

Can everyone benefit from writing, even if they’re not naturally good at it?

Yes, everyone can benefit from writing. Like any skill, writing improves with practice. It’s not just for professional writers or those with a natural talent. Writing is a fundamental skill that serves numerous practical purposes in everyone’s life.

How does writing differ from other forms of communication?

Writing allows for  thoughtful  expression where ideas can be refined and structured before sharing, providing a level of clarity and permanence that other forms of communication (like speaking) may not offer. It also transcends time and space, allowing for asynchronous communication.

How can someone improve their writing skills?

Improving writing skills can involve:

– Regular practice. – Reading widely. – Seeking feedback on your work. – Studying grammar and style. – Engaging in writing courses or workshops.

The key is to write consistently and be open to learning and refining your craft.

Can writing be a collaborative process? How?

Writing can be highly collaborative, with individuals working together to brainstorm, edit, and revise content. This is common in professional environments, academic settings, and even in creative writing, where authors may work with editors, publishers, and peer writers.

Is it important to maintain a personal style in writing?

While it’s crucial to adapt your writing to different contexts, maintaining a personal voice or style can help to differentiate and personalize your writing. It gives readers a sense of who you are and can make your writing more memorable and engaging.

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that it isn’t just about words on a page. It’s a tool for learning, a bridge for communication, and a foundation for building societies.

Whether carving out a career path or penning thoughts in a personal diary, writing is a companion that nurtures growth, kindles imaginations, and captures the full spectrum of human experience.

So the next time you pick up a pen, type out an email, or update your journal, remember the profound impact those seemingly simple acts of writing can have.

After all, each word you write weaves a thread into the vast tapestry of history, culture, and personal identity. And who knows? In sharing your story, you might just inspire someone else to start writing theirs.

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Robby Salveron

PrepScholar

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write a perfect "why this college" essay.

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College Essays

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Did you think you were all done pouring out your blood, sweat, and tears in written form for your personal statement , only to be faced with the "why this college?" supplemental essay? This question might seem simple but is in fact a crucial and potentially tricky part of many college applications. What exactly is the "why us?" essay trying to understand about you? And how do you answer this question without falling into its many pitfalls or making any rookie mistakes?

In this article, I'll explain why colleges want you to be able to explain why you are applying. I'll also discuss how to generate and brainstorm topics for this question and how to make yourself sound sincere and committed. Finally, we'll go over some "why this school?" essay do s and don't s.

This article is pretty detailed, so here's a brief overview of what we'll be covering:

Why Do Colleges Want You to Write a "Why Us?" Essay?

Two types of "why this college" essay prompts, step 1: research the school, step 2: brainstorm potential essay topics, step 3: nail the execution, example of a great "why this college" essay.

College admissions officers have to read an incredible amount of student work to put together a winning class, so trust me when I say that everything they ask you to write is meaningful and important .

The purpose of the "why us?" essay goes two ways. On one hand, seeing how you answer this question gives admissions officers a sense of whether you know and value their school .

On the other hand, having to verbalize why you are applying gives you the chance to think about what you want to get out of your college experience  and whether your target schools fit your goals and aspirations.

What Colleges Get Out Of Reading Your "Why This College?" Essay

Colleges want to check three things when they read this essay.

First, they want to see that you have a sense of what makes this college different and special.

  • Do you know something about the school's mission, history, or values?
  • Have you thought about the school's specific approach to learning?
  • Are you comfortable with the school's traditions and the overall feel of student life here?

Second, they want proof that you will be a good fit for the school.

  • Where do your interests lie? Do they correspond to this school's strengths?
  • Is there something about you that meshes well with some aspect of the school?
  • How will you contribute to college life? How will you make your mark on campus?

And third, they want to see that this school will, in turn, be a good fit for you.

  • What do you want to get out of college? Will this college be able to provide that? Will this school contribute to your future success?
  • What will you take advantage of on campus (e.g., academic programs, volunteer or travel opportunities, internships, or student organizations)?
  • Will you succeed academically? Does this school provide the right rigor and pace for your ideal learning environment?

What You Get Out Of Writing Your "Why This College?" Essay

Throughout this process of articulating your answers to the questions above, you will also benefit in a couple of key ways:

It Lets You Build Excitement about the School

Finding specific programs and opportunities at schools you are already happy about will give you a grounded sense of direction for when you start school . At the same time, by describing what is great about schools that are low on your list, you'll likely boost your enthusiasm for these colleges and keep yourself from feeling that they're nothing more than lackluster fallbacks.

It Helps You Ensure That You're Making the Right Choice

Writing the "why us?" essay can act as a moment of clarity. It's possible that you won't be able to come up with any reasons for applying to a particular school. If further research fails to reveal any appealing characteristics that fit with your goals and interests, this school is likely not for you.

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At the end of your four years, you want to feel like this, so take your "Why This College?" essay to heart.

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

The "why this college?" essay is best thought of as a back-and-forth between you and the college . This means that your essay will really be answering two separate, albeit related, questions:

  • "Why us?": This is where you explain what makes the school special in your eyes, what attracted you to it, and what you think you'll get out of your experience there.
  • "Why you?": This is the part where you talk about why you'll fit in at the school; what qualities, skills, talents, or abilities you'll contribute to student life; and how your future will be impacted by the school and its opportunities.

Colleges usually use one of these approaches to frame this essay , meaning that your essay will lean heavier toward whichever question is favored in the prompt. For example, if the prompt is all about "why us?" you'll want to put your main focus on praising the school. If the prompt instead is mostly configured as "why you?" you'll want to dwell at length on your fit and potential.

It's good to remember that these two prompts are simply two sides of the same coin. Your reasons for wanting to apply to a particular school can be made to fit either of these questions.

For instance, say you really want the chance to learn from the world-famous Professor X. A "why us?" essay might dwell on how amazing an opportunity studying with him would be for you, and how he anchors the Telepathy department.

Meanwhile, a "why you?" essay would point out that your own academic telepathy credentials and future career goals make you an ideal student to learn from Professor X, a renowned master of the field.

Next up, I'll show you some real-life examples of what these two different approaches to the same prompt look like.

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Clarifying why you want to study with a particular professor in a specific department can demonstrate to college admissions staff that you've done your research on the school.

"Why Us?" Prompts

  • Why [this college]?
  • Why are you interested in [this college]?
  • Why is [this college] a good choice for you?
  • What do you like best about [this college]?
  • Why do you want to attend [this college]?

Below are some examples of actual "why us?" college essay prompts:

  • Colorado College : "Describe how your personal experiences with a particular community make you a student who would benefit from Colorado College’s Block Plan."
  • Tufts University : " I am applying to Tufts because… "
  • Tulane University : "Describe why you are interested in joining the Tulane community. Consider your experiences, talents, and values to illustrate what you would contribute to the Tulane community if admitted." (via the Common App )
  • University of Michigan : "Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?"
  • Wellesley College : " When choosing a college, you are choosing an intellectual community and a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but it's a good place to start. Visit the Wellesley 100 and select two items that attract, inspire, or celebrate what you would bring to our community. Have fun! Use this opportunity to reflect personally on what items appeal to you most and why. "

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In a "why us?" essay, focus on the specific aspects of the school that appeal to you and how you will flourish because of those offerings.

"Why You?" Prompts

  • Why are you a good match or fit for us?
  • What are your interests, and how will you pursue them at [this college]?
  • What do you want to study, and how will that correspond to our program?
  • What or how will you contribute?
  • Why you at [this college]?
  • Why are you applying to [this college]?

Here are some examples of the "why you?" version of the college essay:

  • Babson College : " A defining element of the Babson experience is learning and thriving in an equitable and inclusive community with a wide range of perspectives and interests. Please share something about your background, lived experiences, or viewpoint(s) that speaks to how you will contribute to and learn from Babson's collaborative community. "
  • Bowdoin College : "Generations of students have found connection and meaning in Bowdoin's 'The Offer of the College.' ... Which line from the Offer resonates most with you? Optional: The Offer represents Bowdoin's values. Please reflect on the line you selected and how it has meaning to you." (via the Common App )

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In a "why you?" essay, focus on how your values, interests, and motivations align with the school's offerings and how you'll contribute to campus life.

No matter how the prompt is worded, this essay is a give-and-take of what you and the college have to offer each other. Your job is to quickly zoom in on your main points and use both precision and detail to sound sincere, excited, and authentic.

How do you effectively explain the benefits you see this particular school providing for you and the contributions you will bring to the table as a student there? And how can you do this best using the small amount of space that you have (usually just one to two paragraphs)?

In this section, we'll go through the process of writing the "Why This College?" essay, step-by-step. First, I'll talk about the prep work you'll need to do. Next, we'll go through how to brainstorm good topics (and touch on what topics to avoid). I'll give you some tips on transforming your ideas and research into an actual essay. Finally, I'll take apart an actual "why us?" essay to show you why and how it works.

Before you can write about a school, you'll need to know specific things that make it stand out and appeal to you and your interests . So where do you look for these? And how do you find the details that will speak to you? Here are some ways you can learn more about a school.

In-Person Campus Visits

If you're going on college tours , you've got the perfect opportunity to gather information about the school. Bring a notepad and write down the following:

  • Your tour guide's name
  • One to two funny, surprising, or enthusiastic things your guide said about the school
  • Any unusual features of the campus, such as buildings, sculptures, layout, history, or traditions

Try to also connect with students or faculty while you're there. If you visit a class, note which class it is and who teaches it. See whether you can briefly chat with a student (e.g., in the class you visit, around campus, or in a dining hall), and ask what they like most about the school or what has been most surprising about being there.

Don't forget to write down the answer! Trust me, you'll forget it otherwise—especially if you do this on multiple college visits.

Virtual Campus Visits

If you can't visit a campus in person, the next best thing is an online tour , either from the school's own website or from other websites, such as YOUniversityTV , CampusTours , or YouTube (search "[School Name] + tour").

You can also connect with students without visiting the campus in person . Some admissions websites list contact information for currently enrolled students you can email to ask one or two questions about what their experience of the school has been like.

Or if you know what department, sport, or activity you're interested in, you can ask the admissions office to put you in touch with a student who is involved with that particular interest.

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If you can't visit a campus in person, request a video chat with admissions staff, a current student, or a faculty member to get a better sense of specific topics you might write about in your essay.

Alumni Interview

If you have an interview , ask your interviewer questions about their experience at the school and about what going to that school has done for them since graduation. As always, take notes!

College Fairs

If you have a chance to go to a college fair where your ideal college has representatives, don't just attend and pick up a brochure. Instead, e ngage the representatives in conversation, and ask them about what they think makes the school unique .  Jot down notes on any interesting details they tell you.

The College's Own Materials

Colleges publish lots and lots of different admissions materials—and all of these will be useful for your research. Here are some suggestions for what you can use. (You should be able to find all of the following resources online.)

Brochures and Course Catalogs

Read the mission statement of the school; does its educational philosophy align with yours? You should also read through its catalogs. Are there any programs, classes, departments, or activities that seem tailor-made for you in some way?

Pro Tip: These interesting features you find should be unusual in some way or different from what other schools offer. For example, being fascinated with the English department isn't going to cut it unless you can discuss its unusual focus, its world-renowned professors, or the different way it structures the major that appeals to you specifically.

Alumni Magazine

Are any professors highlighted? Does their research speak to you or connect with a project you did in high school or for an extracurricular?

Sometimes alumni magazines will highlight a college's new focus or new expansion. Does the construction of a new engineering school relate to your intended major? There might also be some columns or letters written by alumni who talk about what going to this particular school has meant to them. What stands out about their experiences?

School or Campus Newspaper

Students write about the hot issues of the day, which means that the articles will be about the best and worst things on campus . It'll also give you insight into student life, opportunities that are available to students, activities you can do off campus, and so on.

The College's Social Media

Your ideal school is most likely on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, TikTok, and other social media. Follow the school to see what it's posting about.  Are there any exciting new campus developments? Professors in the news? Interesting events, clubs, or activities?

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The Internet

Wikipedia is a great resource for learning basic details about a college's history, traditions, and values. I also recommend looking for forums on College Confidential that specifically deal with the school you're researching.

Another option is to search on Google for interesting phrases, such as "What students really think about [School Name]" or "[School Name] student forum." This will help you get detailed points of view, comments about specific programs or courses, and insight into real student life.

So what should you do now that you've completed a bunch of research? Answer: use it to develop connection points between you and your dream school. These connections will be the skeleton of your "why this college?" essay.

Find the Gems in Your Research

You have on hand all kinds of information, from your own personal experiences on campus and your conversations with people affiliated with your ideal school to what you've learned from campus publications and tidbits gleaned from the web.

Now, it's time to sift through all of your notes to find the three to five things that really speak to you. Link what you've learned about the school to how you can plug into this school's life, approach, and environment. That way, no matter whether your school's prompt is more heavily focused on the "why us?" or "why you?" part of the give-and-take, you'll have an entry point into the essay.

But what should these three to five things be? What should you keep in mind when you're looking for the gem that will become your topic?

Here are some words of wisdom from Calvin Wise , director of recruitment and former associate director of admissions at Johns Hopkins University (emphasis mine):

" Focus on what makes us unique and why that interests you. Do your research, and articulate a multidimensional connection to the specific college or university. We do not want broad statements (the brick pathways and historic buildings are beautiful) or a rehash of the information on our website (College X offers a strong liberal arts curriculum). All institutions have similarities. We want you to talk about our differences. "

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Time to find that diamond, amethyst, opal, tourmaline, or amber in the rough.

Check Your Gems for Color and Clarity

When I say "check your gems," I mean make sure that each of the three to five things you've found is something your ideal school has that other schools don't have.

This something should be seen from your own perspective. The point isn't to generically praise the school but instead to go into detail about why it's so great for you that they have this thing.

This something you find should be meaningful to the school and specific to you. For example, if you focus on academics (e.g., courses, instructors, opportunities, or educational philosophy), find a way to link them either to your previous work or to your future aspirations.

This something should not be shallow and nonspecific. Want to live in a city? Every city has more than one college in it. Find a way to explain why this specific college in this specific city calls to you. Like pretty architecture? Many schools are beautiful, so dwell on why this particular place feels unlike any other. Like good weather, beach, skiing, or some other geographical attribute? There are many schools located near these places, and they know that people enjoy sunbathing. Either build a deeper connection or skip these as reasons.

Convert Your Gems into Essay Topics

Every "why this college?" essay is going to answer both the "why us?" and the "why you?" parts of the back-and-forth equation. But depending on which way your target school has worded its prompt, you'll lean more heavily on that part . This is why I'm going to split this brainstorming into two parts—to go with the "why us?" and "why you?" types of questions.

Of course, since they are both sides of the same coin, you can always easily flip each of these ideas around to have it work well for the other type of prompt . For example, a "why us?" essay might talk about how interesting the XYZ interdisciplinary project is and how it fits well with your senior project.

By contrast, a "why you?" essay would take the same idea but flip it to say that you've learned through your senior project how you deeply value an interdisciplinary approach to academics, making you a great fit for this school and its commitment to such work, as evidenced by project XYZ.

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Describing how project XYZ demonstrates your investment in a particular course of study that then happens to align with a specific program at the university is an effective approach to the "why you?" essay.

Possible "Why Us?" Topics

  • How a particular program of study, internship requirement, or volunteer connection will help further your specific career goals .
  • The school's interesting approach to your future major (if you know what that will be) or a major that combines several disciplines that appeal to you and fit with your current academic work and interests.
  • How the school handles financial aid and the infrastructure setup for low-income students and what that means for you in terms of opening doors.
  • A story about how you became interested in the school (if you learned about it in an interesting way). For example, did the institution host a high school contest you took part in? Did you attend an art exhibit or stage performance there that you enjoyed and that your own artistic work aligns with?
  • How you overcame an initial disinterest in the school (be sure to minimize this first negative impression). Did you do more research? Interact with someone on campus? Learn about the school's commitment to the community? Learn about interesting research being done there?
  • A positive interaction you had with current students, faculty, or staff, as long as this is more than just, "Everyone I met was really nice."
  • An experience you had while on a campus tour. Was there a super-passionate tour guide? Any information that surprised you? Did something happen to transform your idea about the school or campus life (in a good way)?
  • Interesting interdisciplinary work going on at the university and how that connects with your academic interests, career goals, or previous high school work.
  • The history of the school —but only if it's meaningful to you in some way. Has the school always been committed to fostering minority, first-generation, or immigrant students? Was it founded by someone you admire? Did it take an unpopular (but, to you, morally correct) stance at some crucial moment in history?
  • An amazing professor you can't wait to learn from. Is there a chemistry professor whose current research meshes with a science fair project you did? A professor who's a renowned scholar on your favorite literary or artistic period or genre? A professor whose book on economics finally made you understand the most recent financial crisis?
  • A class that sounds fascinating , especially if it's in a field you want to major in.
  • A facility or piece of equipment you can't wait to work in or with  and that doesn't exist in many other places. Is there a specialty library with rare medieval manuscripts? Is there an observatory?
  • A required curriculum that appeals to you because it provides a solid grounding in the classics, shakes up the traditional canon, connects all the students on campus in one intellectual project, or is taught in a unique way.

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If the school can boast a cutting-edge laboratory where you dream of conducting research, that would be a strong focus for a "Why Us?" essay.

Possible "Why You?" Topics

  • Do you want to continue a project you worked on in high school? Talk about how or where in the current course, club, and program offerings this work would fit in. Why will you be a good addition to the team?
  • Have you always been involved in a community service project that's already being done on campus? Write about integrating life on campus with events in the surrounding community.
  • Do you plan to keep performing in the arts, playing music, working on the newspaper, or engaging in something else you were seriously committed to in high school? Discuss how excited you are to join that existing organization.
  • Are you the perfect person to take advantage of an internship program (e.g., because you have already worked in this field, were exposed to it through your parents, or have completed academic work that gives you some experience with it)?
  • Are you the ideal candidate for a study abroad opportunity (e.g., because you can speak the language of the country, it's a place where you've worked or studied before, or your career goals are international in some respect)?
  • Are you a stand-out match for an undergraduate research project (e.g., because you'll major in this field, you've always wanted to work with this professor, or you want to pursue research as a career option)?
  • Is there something you were deeply involved with that doesn't currently exist on campus? Offer to start a club for it. And I mean a club; you aren't going to magically create a new academic department or even a new academic course, so don't try offering that. If you do write about this, make double (and even triple) sure that the school doesn't already have a club, course, or program for this interest.
  • What are some of the programs or activities you plan to get involved with on campus , and what unique qualities will you bring to them?
  • Make this a mini version of a personal statement you never wrote.  Use this essay as another chance to show a few more of the skills, talents, or passions that don't appear in your actual college essay. What's the runner-up interest that you didn't write about? What opportunity, program, or offering at the school lines up with it?

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One way to impress admissions staff in a "Why You?" essay is to discuss your fascination with a particular topic in a specific discipline, such as kinetic sculpture, and how you want to pursue that passion (e.g., as a studio art major).

Possible Topics for a College That's Not Your First Choice

  • If you're writing about a school you're not completely psyched about, one way to sidestep the issue is to focus on what getting this degree will do for you in the future . How do you see yourself changing existing systems, helping others, or otherwise succeeding?
  • Alternatively, discuss what the school values academically, socially, environmentally, or philosophically and how this connects with what you also care about . Does it have a vegan, organic, and cruelty-free cafeteria? A relationship with a local farm or garden? De-emphasized fraternity involvement? Strong commitment to environmental issues? Lots of opportunities to contribute to the community surrounding the school? Active inclusion and a sense of belonging for various underrepresented groups?
  • Try to find at least one or two features you're excited about for each of the schools on your list. If you can't think of a single reason why this would be a good place for you to go, maybe you shouldn't be applying there!

Topics to Avoid in Your Essay

  • Don't write about general characteristics, such as a school's location (or the weather in that location), reputation, or student body size. For example, anyone applying to the Webb Institute , which has just about 100 students , should by all means talk about having a preference for tiny, close-knit communities. By contrast, schools in sunny climates know that people enjoy good weather, but if you can't connect the outdoors with the college itself, think of something else to say.
  • Don't talk about your sports fandom. Saying, "I can see myself in crimson and white/blue and orange/[some color] and [some other color]" is both overused and not a persuasive reason for wanting to go to a particular college. After all, you could cheer for a team without going to the school! Unless you're an athlete, you're an aspiring mascot performer, or you have a truly one-of-a-kind story to tell about your link to the team, opt for a different track.
  • Don't copy descriptions from the college's website to tell admissions officers how great their institution is. They don't want to hear praise; they want to hear how you connect with their school. So if something on the college brochure speaks to you, explain why this specific detail matters to you and how your past experiences, academic work, extracurricular interests, or hobbies relate to that detail.
  • Don't use college rankings as a reason you want to go to a school. Of course prestige matters, but schools that are ranked right next to each other on the list are at about the same level of prestige. What makes you choose one over the other?
  • If you decide to write about a future major, don't just talk about what you want to study and why . Make sure that you also explain why you want to study this thing at this particular school . What do they do differently from other colleges?
  • Don't wax poetic about the school's pretty campus. "From the moment I stepped on your campus, I knew it was the place for me" is another cliché—and another way to say basically nothing about why you actually want to go to this particular school. Lots of schools are pretty, and many are pretty in the exact same way.

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Pop quiz: This pretty gothic building is on what college campus? Yes, that's right—it could be anywhere.

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When you've put together the ideas that will make up your answer to the "why us?" question, it's time to build them into a memorable essay. Here are some tips for doing that successfully:

  • Jump right in. The essay is short, so there's no need for an introduction or conclusion. Spend the first paragraph delving into your best one or two reasons for applying. Then, use the second paragraph to go into slightly less detail about reasons 2 (or 3) through 5.
  • To thine own self be true. Write in your own voice, and be sincere about what you're saying. Believe me—the reader can tell when you mean it and when you're just blathering!
  • Details, details, details. Show the school that you've done your research. Are there any classes, professors, clubs, or activities you're excited about at the school? Be specific (e.g., "I'm fascinated by the work Dr. Jenny Johnson has done with interactive sound installations").
  • If you plan on attending if admitted, say so. Colleges care about the numbers of acceptances deeply, so it might help to know you're a sure thing. But don't write this if you don't mean it!
  • Don't cut and paste the same essay for every school. At least once, you'll most likely forget to change the school name or some other telling detail. You also don't want to have too much vague, cookie-cutter reasoning, or else you'll start to sound bland and forgettable.

For more tips, check out our step-by-step essay-writing advice .

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Avoid cookie-cutter responses to "why this college?" essay prompts. Instead, provide an essay that's personalized to that particular institution.

At this point, it'll be helpful to take a look at a "why us?" essay that works and figure out what the author did to create a meaningful answer to this challenging question.

Here is a "Why Tufts?" essay from James Gregoire '19 for Tufts University :

It was on my official visit with the cross country team that I realized Tufts was the perfect school for me. Our topics of conversation ranged from Asian geography to efficient movement patterns, and everyone spoke enthusiastically about what they were involved in on campus. I really related with the guys I met, and I think they represent the passion that Tufts' students have. I can pursue my dream of being a successful entrepreneur by joining the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society, pursuing an Entrepreneurial Leadership minor, and taking part in an up-and-coming computer science program.

Here are some of the main reasons this essay is so effective:

  • Interaction with current students. James writes about hanging out with the cross-country team and sounds excited about meeting them.
  • "I'm a great fit." He uses the conversation with the cross-country team members to talk about his own good fit here ("I really related with the guys I met").
  • Why the school is special. James also uses the conversation as a way to show that he enjoys the variety of opportunities Tufts offers (their fun conversation covers Asian geography, movement patterns, and other things they "were involved with on campus").
  • Taking advantage of this specialness. James doesn't just list things Tufts offers but also explains which of them are of specific value to him. He's interested in being an entrepreneur, so the Tufts Entrepreneurs Society and the Entrepreneurial Leadership courses appeal to him.
  • Awareness of what the school is up to. Finally, James shows that he's aware of the latest Tufts developments when he mentions the new computer science program.

The Bottom Line: Writing a Great "Why This College?" Essay

  • Proof that you understand what makes this college different and special
  • Evidence that you'll be a good fit at this school
  • Evidence that this college will, in turn, be a good fit for you

The prompt may be phrased in one of two ways: "Why us?" or "Why you?" But these are sides of the same coin and will be addressed in your essay regardless of the prompt style.

Writing the perfect "why this school?" essay requires you to first research the specific qualities and characteristics of this school that appeal to you. You can find this information by doing any or all of the following:

  • Visiting campuses in person or virtually to interact with current students and faculty
  • Posing questions to your college interviewer or to representatives at college fairs
  • Reading the college's own materials , such as its brochures, official website, alumni magazine, campus newspaper, and social media
  • Looking at other websites that talk about the school

To find a topic to write about for your essay, find the three to five things that really speak to you about the school , and then link each of them to yourself, your interests, your goals, or your strengths.

Avoid using clichés that could be true for any school, such as architecture, geography, weather, or sports fandom. Instead, focus on the details that differentiate your intended school from all the others .

What's Next?

Are you also working on your personal statement? If you're using the Common App, check out our complete breakdown of the Common App prompts and learn how to pick the best prompt for you .

If you're applying to a University of California school, we've got an in-depth article on how to write effective UC personal statements .

And if you're submitting ApplyTexas applications, read our helpful guide on how to approach the many different ApplyTexas essay prompts .

Struggling with the college application process as a whole? Our expert guides teach you how to ask for recommendations , how to write about extracurriculars , and how to research colleges .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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why is writing essays good

30 Reasons Why Writing is Important

18  Comments

October 31, 2019

Inspired Forward is an Amazon Affiliate partner.

Today I want to share with you 30 reasons I believe writing is important and makes an impact. I've been a writer for basically all my life, despite some difficulties along the way.

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When I say "writing", I mean any time you take a pen to paper or your fingers fly across the keyboard, filling a page on the screen. "Writing" means journaling, writing nonfiction, original fiction, fanfiction, freewriting—you name it, it probably counts.

1. Writing is an Essential Communication Skill

This is probably the most impactful reason why writing is important. If you can't or don't write, you probably find it more difficult to communicate with all sorts of people.

2. Writing Every Day Builds Discipline

In July 2018 I wrote a post on 10 reasons why you should write every day. Building a daily writing practice into your morning routine teaches you how to stick with doing something important.

3. Creative Writing Engages Both Sides of the Brain

The right side of the brain is the more creative side, while the left side is the more analytical and logical side. You need both sides to write anything, but especially creative writing. The right brain handles all the visions of what you want on the page, and the left side helps you put it down in a way that makes sense.

4. It Helps You Think Through Problems

Whenever I'm feeling stuck or I'm contemplating a problem, it helps to write it down and work through possible solutions on the page. This is especially helpful when writing longhand.

5. Written Word Influences Society

Journalists, bloggers, speech-writers... How we think as a society is largely thanks to what people write. This is why propaganda works.

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6. We Wouldn't Have Our History Without Writing

"History is written by the victors," is a popular saying. But if we didn't write it down, we wouldn't have it at all. I just wish more people would study history, because if we don't, we're doomed to repeat it.

Another important thing we have because of this is the Bible. The Gospel of Jesus wouldn't travel as far and as wide as it has today if the Biblical authors hadn't written it.

7. Everyone Has a Book Inside Them

I've had books inside me all my life. I think everyone has a book inside, whether they realize it or not. It's not necessarily a book of fiction. It could be a book of their experiences. Why do you think autobiographies are popular? People want to share their stories. And everyone has a story to tell. Writing is the only way to get that story into the hands of people who care.

Want to write your novel in just two months? Join the 60-Day Novel Writing Challenge!

why is writing essays good

Author and editor Halie Fewkes (also my book editor!) hosts the 60-Day Novel Writing Challenge .

Past participants can upgrade to Returners Premium for group accountability coaching with me, a chance for 1:1 attention on your mindset about writing, and a critique group to edit your story.

Click here to sign up!

8. Journaling Benefits Mental Health

This is a big one. Writing your thoughts is important for dealing with anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. It also helps if you don't have a diagnosable MH illness. You can have poor mental health without having an MH disorder, and writing your thoughts helps work through those feelings and moves you toward a better mental state.

9. You're More Likely to Achieve Written Goals

Depending on your personality, telling people your goals could either help or hurt. But writing them down—for everyone—is an important step in actually achieving your goals. According to research from the Dominican University in California, "You are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down." I'll take those odds!

10. Improvements Come from Practice

Everyone starts with sucky writing, including me. This reason is especially important because you will not improve your writing unless you practice it. If you accept that your earliest written words (and a lot of them in-between) will suck, then you're miles ahead of the person who won't pick up a pen because they're afraid of how bad their writing is.

why is writing essays good

11. Well-Written Works are Respected More

This is an important one, especially in business settings. Poorly written memos, reports, emails, publications, presentations, and documentation sheds a bad light on the person who wrote it. When your writing is clear, concise, targeted, and proofread (by yourself or a grammar nerd), you don't give people a reason to question your abilities.

That being said, I know some people are notoriously poor at writing, and don't care. The problem with that is it creates more work for the people who read or quality check their writing.

12. All Excellent Communication Stems from Excellent Writing

Everything. Speeches, videos, meeting agendas, classes, letters, blogs, podcasts... If it's communicated, it likely started in written form somewhere else. Off-the-cuff speaking is different, except that regular writing helps develop eloquent speech and quick thoughts. The words themselves may not have been written down beforehand, but prior writing helped develop the neural pathways for quick and clear speech.

13. Your Thoughts Are More Organized

It's easier to see thought patterns after you write them down. This lets you figure out which thoughts to keep in your brain, and they're more organized as a result. If you've ever felt like your thoughts are all over the place, try writing them down.

14. It Gets Your To-Dos Out of Your Head

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done , is famous for saying that your head is a terrible office. We actually can't store more than four action items in our heads at any point. This means if your to-do list is 30 items long, you've already forgotten the last 26. Writing your to-dos is a good first step to actually getting things done. You should just never try to use your brain as the primary list.

why is writing essays good

15. Writing Clarifies Your Ideas for Yourself and Others

Sometimes an idea makes little sense until you can see it in words. It also helps when you're trying to explain your idea to another person—if they can see it written down, it goes a long way for understanding.

16. The Audience Matters

Writing for a specific audience forces you to think about what makes sense from their point of view. This is especially important for content creators on the internet. If you don't know exactly who you're talking to (called an avatar or ideal customer) then your words fall flat and nobody pays attention. When you consider things from that person's perspective, it becomes a lot easier to write to them in a way they'll understand.

17. Writing Forms Bonds with Others

When I was younger, I traded frequent letters with my Grandma. I did the same thing when my best friend lived in a different state for five years. My strengths have always been in writing... So when I feel the need to tell someone something important, it helps to write it down first, or just pour all of it into a letter. Nowadays, sending letters like that is rare, which makes them even more special when someone takes the time to write one.

18. Writing is a Legitimate Career

Authors, bloggers, freelance writers... What do these people have in common? They're making money with their writing! Writing is 100% a legit career for those with the determination and grit to put in the work. Full-time authors work their butts off writing their books. Sometimes they supplement with freelance writing or editing—all in the writing sphere. Freelance copywriters like Danny Margulies are killing it right now.

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19. Writing is an Important Work Skill

This goes back to communication. In any job, you'll have to write at least something. Emails, reports, post-it notes on your boss's desk... Writing well means the people reading it don't waste time and effort trying to decipher what you wrote. It also means there's no confusion about a message you (or someone else) meant to send. Nothing's worse than a CEO writing a company-wide email that sparks panic because she used vague wording and didn't consider her audience.

20. Written Reflection Helps Us Define Better Paths Forward

"Visualization" is big right now. I'm great at visualizing how my fiction stories play out in my head, but not so much with visualizing how I want things to unfold in the real world. This is where writing really helps me. Freewriting reflections and thoughts helps me figure out how I want things to unfold. It helps me decide which paths to take and work through my thoughts more efficiently than mulling them over in my brain.

21. Writing Your Fears and Worries Shrinks Their Impact

Tim Ferriss takes this to a deeper level he calls "Fear Setting." Often, the things we're afraid of seem so big because they're big in our minds. Writing them down puts them into the real world, and most of the time once we write them down we wonder why we were ever afraid of those things.

A big, abstract fear in the brain is a lot scarier than forcing that fear into words so you can think about it. Getting those fears onto a piece of paper shrinks their impact. I've also heard that it helps some people to write their fears down and then burn them... Sounds fun!

why is writing essays good

22. Concise Writing Quickly Transmits Ideas

Have you ever read Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic book The Scarlet Letter ? I have. I read it in high school and instantly learned what not to do with a paragraph. Hawthorne loved long sentences with infinite commas, semicolons, and flowery language. It hurt my brain to muddle through a single sentence which often made up an entire paragraph. Think about that for a moment... One sentence, long enough to look like a paragraph.

Concise writing is important because you don't want to lose your readers halfway through the first line of your work. Avoiding jargon, flowery language, and unnecessary run-on sentences makes everyone happier.

23. Writing Cements Ideas

Ideas can feel vague until they're written down. This is a core principle with business plans, goals, research, and communication. It's easier to identify what's realistic when you write your ideas and see how they take shape and solidify.

24. Regular Writing Improves Vocabulary & Other Communication Skills

If you want to write well, read. If you want to write like a pro, write. The more often you write, the better you become at your speechmaking skills and other communication skills. Regular writing is important for developing your critical thinking skills.

25. For Some, Writing is a Fun Pastime

Everybody finds entertainment in different ways. One of mine is writing, especially fanfiction. Writing for fun stimulates creative juices that bleed over into other areas of your life. Imagine if a quick 10-minute creative writing session helped you solve a problem you were thinking about at work!

One of my top goals is just to write my books for FUN. I don't want it to be a stressful experience (even though publishing can get that way sometimes). It was SO FUN to publish my first novel,  Mark of Stars , in 2021.

26. Writing Lets You Explore Other Options

Like I mentioned earlier, I have a hard time visualizing real-life situations unfolding how I want them to. I use writing as a workaround. When I write a visualization as if it were a scene in a book, it lets me "see" it more clearly than trying to imagine it in my mind. Doing it this way lets me write the same "scene" multiple different ways, or write a series of "scenes" representing steps to take.

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27. Understanding How to Write Can Help You Read Between the Lines

When you really understand how to write, you'll find yourself capable of reading in between the lines. Sometimes people write cagily, trying to say something that masks something else underneath. I see this a lot in politics, especially around election time. Because I know a) writing styles and b) underlying values, it's easier to see party lines or true beliefs even if the candidate is "non-partisan."

28. Every Single Company Needs Good Writers

Without writers, we wouldn't have such iconic slogans as we do right now. The first one that comes to mind is Nike's "Just Do It." Three simple words, strung together in such a way that everyone immediately knows it's Nike—and those words encompass what Nike is about. Companies fail without good writers to communicate the company's mission and values.

29. Writing Improves Social Skills

By now, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that writing improves your social skills. Because writing is an important method for developing communication skills, that translates over to social situations. Writing helps you with the ability to form clear, cohesive thoughts. All that's left is actually saying them!

30. No One Else Can Write Like You

Finally, writing is important because no one else can write like you. Everyone has their own style and voice. I can imitate J.K. Rowling's writing style, and it's definitely influenced mine, but no one on earth can claim to have my exact voice when I write. And that's amazing! It means no one else can say what I have to say, in the way I say it with the written word.

And that's a powerful thing.

What are you writing?

Have a story idea but not sure how to turn it into a book?

Join the 60-Day Novel Writing Challenge ! We have open enrollment, meaning you can start whenever you want! But if you want to do it with a group of other writers, join for the October, January, April, or July cohorts. If you've taken the challenge before, you can upgrade to Returners Premium for group coaching and critiques.

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About the author 

Life coach, author, podcast host, cat mom, wife, Ravenclaw, and semi-compulsive hiker living in the Montana Rockies.

Such a lengthy and well explained article. I love this

Thanks! You mentioned lots of things clearly and in detail as I was looking for.

Very inspiring! i also want to be a great writer like you but so much to learn about still. i appreciate if you could lend me some reference e-books/e-novels to continue my passion in reading and eventually write my own novel. thanks and God bless!

I honestly learned a lot from this

I understand the importance of writing but sometimes I just can't put what I want to say in words or in the correct wording.

You are very passionate about this subject of writing! Your points are made valid. You've inspired me to write more and expand my knowledge and effort in writing!

Thank you for the great info! Do you recommend any books?

Thank you so much for posting this. I really loved reading the information because now I have more insight as to what it takes to be a great writer and why it is important.

I love what u are saying i just started my book, but its very difficult, to much pain inside, how do i even think if, i cant remember mostly nothing about my early childhood, i want to write about my biography, but its to tearfull

Love this article. I started writing two weeks ago for about an hour a day to gain clarity on my thoughts and improve my speech communication. So far I feel like an upgraded human being with powerful ammunition of words ready to express my thoughts, goals and principles.

I highly recommend to read this blog to new writers specially as well as professional ones, Writing influence your thoughts that's a sure thing.

Thank you so much for this. It helped me with the school essay I was writing.

Very inspired! I totally agree with some statements. Thank you. I'll share these with my students.

What a lovely, inspirational, and brilliant article. I totally agree with some statements. Thank you.

Thank you very much for this article. I,m from Iran.

Super article. Well explained.

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why is writing essays good

12 Effective “Why This College?” Essay Examples

What’s covered.

  • Essay 1: UPenn Nursing
  • Essay 2: UPenn
  • Essay 3: UW Madison
  • Essay 4: Northwestern
  • Essay 5: NYU
  • Essay 6: NYU
  • Essay 7: Boston University
  • Essay 8: Boston University
  • Essay 9: Tufts
  • Essay 10: Tufts
  • Essay 11: Georgia Tech
  • Essay 12: Georgia Tech

Where to Get Your Essays Edited

The “ Why This College?” essay is one of the most common supplemental prompts. These school-specific essays help colleges understand if you’re a good fit for them, and if they’re a good fit for you.

In this post, we’ll share 12 “Why This College?” essay examples from real students and explain what they did well, and what could be improved. Read these examples to understand how to write a strong supplemental essay that improves your chances of acceptance.

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.

Essay Example #1: UPenn Nursing

Prompt: How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying (650 words).

Sister Simone Roach, a theorist of nursing ethics, said, “caring is the human mode of being.” I have long been inspired by Sister Roach’s Five C’s of Caring: commitment, conscience, competence, compassion, and confidence. Penn both embraces and fosters these values through a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum and unmatched access to service and volunteer opportunities.

COMMITMENT. Reading through the activities that Penn Quakers devote their time to (in addition to academics!) felt like drinking from a firehose in the best possible way. As a prospective nursing student with interests outside of my major, I value this level of flexibility. I plan to leverage Penn’s liberal arts curriculum to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges LGBT people face, especially regarding healthcare access. Through courses like “Interactional Processes with LGBT Individuals” and volunteering at the Mazzoni Center for outreach, I hope to learn how to better support the Penn LGBT community as well as my family and friends, including my cousin, who came out as trans last year.

CONSCIENCE. As one of the first people in my family to attend a four-year university, I wanted a school that promoted a sense of moral responsibility among its students. At Penn, professors challenge their students to question and recreate their own set of morals by sparking thought- provoking, open-minded discussions. I can imagine myself advocating for universal healthcare in courses such as “Health Care Reform & Future of American Health System” and debating its merits with my peers. Studying in an environment where students confidently voice their opinions – conservative or liberal – will push me to question and strengthen my value system.

COMPETENCE. Two aspects that drew my attention to Penn’s BSN program were its high-quality research opportunities and hands-on nursing projects. Through its Office of Nursing Research, Penn connects students to faculty members who share similar research interests. As I volunteered at a nursing home in high school, I hope to work with Dr. Carthon to improve the quality of care for senior citizens. Seniors, especially minorities, face serious barriers to healthcare that I want to resolve. Additionally, Penn’s unique use of simulations to bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world application impressed me. Using computerized manikins that mimic human responses, classes in Penn’s nursing program allow students to apply their emergency medical skills in a mass casualty simulation and monitor their actions afterward through a video system. Participating in this activity will help me identify my strengths and areas for improvement regarding crisis management and medical care in a controlled yet realistic setting. Research opportunities and simulations will develop my skills even before I interact with patients.

COMPASSION. I value giving back through community service, and I have a particular interest in Penn’s Community Champions and Nursing Students For Sexual & Reproductive Health (NSRH). As a four-year volunteer health educator, I hope to continue this work as a Community Champions member. I am excited to collaborate with medical students to teach fourth and fifth graders in the city about cardiology or lead a chair dance class for the elders at the LIFE Center. Furthermore, as a feminist who firmly believes in women’s abortion rights, I’d like to join NSRH in order to advocate for women’s health on campus. At Penn, I can work with like-minded people to make a meaningful difference.

CONFIDENCE. All of the Quakers that I have met possess one defining trait: confidence. Each student summarized their experiences at Penn as challenging but fulfilling. Although I expect my coursework to push me, from my conversations with current Quakers I know it will help me to be far more effective in my career.

The Five C’s of Caring are important heuristics for nursing, but they also provide insight into how I want to approach my time in college. I am eager to engage with these principles both as a nurse and as a Penn Quaker, and I can’t wait to start.

What the Essay Did Well

This essay has many positive aspects, but the most impressive one is the structure. Utilizing the Five C’s of Caring to discuss Penn’s offerings was a genius way of tying in this student’s passion for nursing while also making their essay exciting and easy to read. Beginning each paragraph with the respective adjective helped focus the paragraph and allowed the student to demonstrate how they exemplify each quality without explicitly stating it. The student wasn’t afraid to think outside the box and add creativity to their essay structure, which really paid off.

Another positive is how specific and specialized the Penn resources and opportunities the student mentions are. This essay did not fall into the trap of name-dropping professors or programs. In every paragraph, there was a connection to something the student wants to do at Penn to further themselves in the respective characteristic they were describing.

Not only did this student mention a resource at Penn—whether it was a professor, a class, or a club—in every paragraph, but they elaborated on what that resource was and how it would help them achieve their goal of becoming a nurse. The what and how is what sets this essay apart from other supplements that just name-drop resources for the sake of it. The amount of detail this essay went into about some of these resources makes it clear to the admissions officers reading the essay that this student has seriously looked into Penn and has a strong desire to come to campus and use these resources.

What Could Be Improved

One thing this essay could do to make it stronger is improve the first paragraph. The student does a good job of setting up Sister Roach and the Five C’s, but they don’t mention anything about their desire to study or pursue nursing. The first paragraph mentions both Sister Roach and Penn, but left out the student. This could be fixed by simply adding something along the lines of “I can’t wait to embody these values as a nursing student at Penn” to the paragraph.

Essay Example #2: UPenn

Prompt: Considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected, how will you explore your academic and intellectual interests at the University of Pennsylvania?  For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay. (300-450 words)

I always loved watching the worms when it rained. I used to put my little raincoat on, sit on the doorsteps, and watch them move toward the puddles. My younger brother, forever intent on destroying the world around him, would try to stomp on the worms, and I would run after him screaming. In my imagination, the brain looked like a pile of squiggly worms. However, my neuroscience curiosity has since grown beyond a worm’s habits.

For example, my mother thought that I was insane when I wanted to watch American Murder: The Family Next Door . To her immense relief, I was interested in the psychology of the criminal rather than the crime itself. Although neuroscience is my primary interest, I also hope to learn more about the intersection between law and medicine at the UPenn College of Arts and Sciences. I’ve been able to explore this topic through various projects at school such as presentations on juvenile crime and the death penalty.

At the University of Pennsylvania, I look forward to taking classes like Forensic Neuroscience (BIBB 050) as well as Neuroscience and Society (PSYC 247) both of which directly combine my two interests. Hopefully, the Take Your Professor to Dinner program resumes as I would make sure to talk to Dr. Daniel Langleben about his research on forensic functional brain imaging over a meal of Philly cheesesteaks.

I also hope to participate in the Race, Science, and Society Program where I can discover how race biases and neuroscience go hand-in-hand and contribute to the fight against racism. The Beyond Arrests: Re-Thinking Systematic-Oppression Group immediately caught my attention while looking at Penn’s opportunities to engage in relevant dialogue. My fascination with the criminal system began with reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment , and Penn will both fuel that curiosity as well as introduce new questions about the world of justice reform.

As an eight-year Latin scholar and a five-time reader of the Percy Jackson franchise, I would like to take classes in the Penn Classical Studies department where I can learn more about the impact of ancient cultures on society today. Classes such as Greek and Roman Medicine (CLST 271) would intersect my interests in medicine and classical civilizations.

Although I do harbor a deep love for Philly cheesesteaks and enjoyment of running in strange places like the Woodlands Cemetery, the range of programs to support my diverse interests and unmatched opportunities to put learning into action make me confident that the University of Pennsylvania is the best university for me to succeed.

The real strength in the essay lies in the sheer number of details this student is able to include in a short space, without sacrificing style and flow. The first two paragraphs really have nothing to do with Penn, but the inclusion of them makes this response feel like an essay, rather than a list of offerings at Penn. Striking the balance is important, and the anecdote at the beginning ultimately humanizes the writer.

From the three unique courses to the specific professor and his research to the race and criminal justice programs, this student has clearly done their homework on Penn! The key to this essay’s success isn’t just mentioning the offerings at Penn that excite the student, but the context that explains how each opportunity fits into the student’s academic interests.

Adding book titles like Crime and Punishment and Percy Jackson to support their passion for the criminal justice system and classics are extra details that help us learn more about how this student pursues their passions outside of the classroom. Finding little ways to humanize yourself throughout the essay can take it from good to great.

One area of improvement for this essay is the structure. It follows a very traditional “ Why This College? ” framework—start with an anecdote, then discuss classes, and then extracurriculars and programs—that gets old quickly for admissions officers.

A great way to add some spice to the format would be to use a sample schedule for the day. This essay mentions three different classes, two different groups, and a Take Your Professor to Dinner opportunity. Together, that’s the recipe for a full day at UPenn!

There are a few ways to play around with an essay that follows a typical day-in-the-life. Maybe each paragraph starts with a time and explains what they do during that hour. Maybe they narrate walking through campus on their way from one class to the next and what they just learned. However they choose to go about it, adding in a playful spin to the traditional essay structure is one of the best ways to instantly set an essay apart from the crowd. 

Essay Example #3: UW Madison

Prompt: Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided, please describe your areas of possible academic interest. (650 words)

Essay – # Day 117

7:30 am… As I open my eyes, I look at the pinboard in front of my bed. Written in red block letters are two of the many goals of my life: “Make life better and more independent for the Visually impaired; Inspire kids to explore the field of STEM, making them the future problem solvers.“

Keeping these goals afresh in mind, I freshen up and prepare for the first class of the day, ​ECE 533 Image Processing. As the professor explains the Applications of Image Processing in Computer Vision, a light bulb sparks in my mind. I can modify the head contraption of PERIPHIS to identify objects in peripheral vision and alert the wearer via an earpiece using Text to Speech (TTS). 

After the class, I see Professor Mohit Gupta at the WISION Lab, where he shares his insights from the Block World Cameras system, which helps to geometrize 3D Man-made environments. We brainstorm ways we can implement this system on PERIPHIS.

Deep in the discussion and intrigued by my curiosity, he asked me where my interest in this niche field sparked during high school, and then I recount the incident from 9th grade: 

“In Hindi – Agar aaj mere paas paise hote to ye din na dekhna padta” (If I had money, I would not have had to see this day.) 

These were the words of Aadiya, a glaucoma patient, who couldn’t help but cry in despair as she injured herself in an accident just because she couldn’t sense the incoming traffic. During my visit to “Baroda Association for Blind (BAB)” for a survey, I saw and experienced firsthand how hard and inaccessible it is for an underprivileged visually impaired to locomote without anyone’s assistance. 

What happened next was my first adventure into the world of Computer Science and Engineering. I dedicated the next four years to find an affordable solution to a pressing problem. It was called PERIPHIS, a smart wearable that helps alert the visually impaired wearer of impending danger while locomoting.

When I finally presented this device to Aadiya, the smile on her face made me realize how big an impact technology can make in one’s life.

11:00 am… As I head to the Engineering Hall to complete my assignments of COMP SCI 570

Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction, I crossways with my roommate from the Chadbourne Residential College, who is also interested in researching applications of Computer Vision in real life. We fix a time to chat later. 

1:20pm… After a quick bite, I head to Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory. I expand my knowledge on different applications of Computer Science to make human life better than I found. I get fascinated when I see a few students building a child-friendly humanoid robot to teach kids the principles of Coding and AI. I hop in and share insights from my experience of being the President at AiGoLearning and kindling interest in STEM for young children. I explain how crucial the UI is when it comes to technology for the young.

5:00pm… To blow off some steam and socialize, I meet up with my fellow countrymen and artists at the Indian Graduate Students’ Association. We discuss and plan the upcoming Diwali Night Music at Shannon Hall. I feel proud to share my national identity while bringing out my musical self by contributing as a Tabla player at the student organization. 

As I close my day, I reflect and think of the most unique resource at UW. It is not the labs, research facilities, classes, but the people, including the professors and students, all aligned to a single goal: “Solving problems to make society a better place.”

10:00pm… I find my way back to my dorm room and write with red block letters on my pinboard: “Meet with at least 1 Badger every day and gain new insight from them.”

This essay is a stellar example. The day in the life formatting is a common way to spice up your “Why This College?” essay, but the way this writer executes it is nearly flawless.

Opening with the vision board makes the student’s college goals clear from the very start, and this was cleverly done since vision boards are naturally one of the first things you see when you wake up.

The student then takes us to specific courses and labs and shares their thoughts on how they could improve their invention, PERIPHIS. The author seamlessly includes background information on PERIPHIS by including this hypothetical conversation with a professor who speaks their native language.

As we go through the day, we can see that this student will not only be involved academically, but also socially. We learn how important their culture is to them and how they plan to share it with the campus community.

This essay does everything a “Why This College?” essay should: it shares the student’s goals and motivations behind them, how the university can support those goals, and how the student will engage with the campus beyond academics.

There’s not much this essay could improve, besides a few formatting and wording issues. The first line of this essay—“ Essay – # Day 117”—is a great attention-grabber, but the placement of the # symbol is confusing and perhaps should’ve been in front of the number.

There are also a couple spots where wording is a bit awkward, such as these lines:

I crossways with my roommate from the Chadbourne Residential College, who is also interested in researching applications of Computer Vision in real life. We fix a time to chat later. 

It should instead say something like “I run into my roommate” and “We schedule a time”. This is likely due to English not being the student’s native language, but could’ve easily been caught by proofreading from a native speaker.

Essay Example #4: Northwestern

Prompt: While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are also excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community.

In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.

For as long as I can remember, I have seen my parents, both farmers, struggling to produce food because of the challenges presented by the environment. Joining Northwestern’s community, and majoring in Environmental Engineering, will allow me to understand what are the reasons behind climate change and learn how to stop them and/or prevent them from happening. 

Having witnessed how plant diseases affect crops, I would like to collaborate in the PLANT-Dx project and in its widespread application. I strongly believe that it will be able to help farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their production, and reduce famine around the world. At some point in my education, I want to take advantage of the study-abroad programs Northwestern has to offer and learn about farming practices in a different part of the world. In addition, I want to conduct research on sustainable alternative farming methods that adapt to the new environmental conditions and that can be practiced in countries with fewer resources.

Apart from having access to outstanding professors, rigorous academics, and cutting-edge research resources, I will be able to be part of a close-knit community genuinely curious about others’ activities, truly passionate about what they do, and not afraid to step out of their comfort zone to make of this world a better place. Being part of Engineers for a Sustainable World at Northwestern will allow me to get to know people that share one of my passions in addition to learning and teaching how to apply sustainable practices in daily life.  

I am already looking forward to marching through the Weber Arch.

This essay is extremely cohesive, as it focuses on the student’s agricultural background and desire to study environmental engineering. The student mentions a couple resources specific to Northwestern, such as the PLANT-Dx project and Engineers for a Sustainable World.

Because of the background information the student provided, their motivations for participating in these opportunities is also clear. We can see that Northwestern would be a school that would help them achieve their goals.

There are two main aspects of the essay that could be improved: the writing and its specificity.

To begin with, the intro paragraph is a bit clunky and vague.  The student should have specified the challenges the environment has presented to their parents’ farming with detailed imagery about droughts or torrential rain. The final sentence about climate change is also much too broad, and the student should’ve stated a goal in a smaller niche of environmentalism.

For example, here’s what a rewritten strong intro paragraph might look like:

The drought this year was bad, and the once-flourishing tomato crops on my family’s farm were afflicted with Southern Blight. As my family and our community struggled to put food on the table for the third year in a year, I resolved to major in Environmental Engineering at Northwestern to learn how to preserve our agriculture in the face of climate change.

Another writing error is the typo in the final paragraph, where they write “to make of this world a better place”. It’s important to proofread your essay and have others help you proofread as well!

Finally, while the essay mentions a couple specific Northwestern resources, the other resources they mention are too vague.  The student could’ve improved by mentioning a specific study abroad program and a current research project on sustainable alternative farming methods. Most colleges let you study abroad and conduct research, so you need to explain why Northwestern is the best place for your goals.

Essay Example #5: NYU

Prompt: We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand – Why NYU? (400 words)

“A futuristic way of looking at academics,” the student panelist said during a New York University virtual information session. I reflected on a conversation I had with my grandma; she couldn’t understand how her vegetarian granddaughter could build a career in the food industry. However much I tried convincing her that vegetarianism was the future, as it offers substantial benefits to the environment and can offer health benefits to a growing population with the same environmental resources, she insisted that tofu would never provide the same satiation as meat. She was raised in a community where meat consumption was embedded in the culture, and its production is a large part of the country’s economy. In contrast, I had the privilege of living a few steps from San Francisco, with many restaurants and grocery stores dedicated to plant-based meat alternatives. Trying innovative recipes and products eventually allowed me to develop my own recipes. Upon my move to Nicaragua, where my grandmother is from, I found my food options to be limited, expensive and hard to find. So I developed my own small-scale solutions that did not break the bank and satiated grandma.

An institution that implements forward-thinking is what I need to reach my goals of changing the future of plant-based diets and people’s views on vegetarianism. NYU’s Nutrition and Food Studies program offers multiple disciplines of food studies that I will apply to my aspirations as a vegetarian. I plan to study under Adjunct Faculty Kayleen St. John, whose success in the plant-based industry and her teaching of the ‘Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition’ in The Vegetarian Times excites me. The variety of classes like Introduction to Food History, Food Photography, and Food Systems: Food & Agriculture will give me an overview of what is available in the food industry to be prepared for all fields. Not to be cliche, but NYU’s proximity to the city is essential for the rapidly changing vegetarian industry. The multiculturalism available in NYC and NYU will allow me to understand the food system and diets of various cultures, religions, and areas. I can explore the extremes of the food industry, from fancy restaurants to public school cafeterias. These juxtapositions, much like the one I experienced after my move to Nicaragua, will allow me to broaden my reach and demonstrate that the vegetarian diet is not something reserved for select groups but a diet attainable to all. 

A core strength of this essay is the fact it takes its time to provide the reader with ample background on why this student is interested in nutrition and food studies and how they have grappled with difficult questions and surrounding this topic in the past. It’s okay to not mention anything about NYU for a whole paragraph if you are using that space to bring depth to your interests and tell the reader the crucial backstory behind pursuing your intended degree.

Another positive aspect is the inclusion of New York City for a purposeful reason. NYU admissions officers read thousands of essays that just talk about living in NYC for the sake of NYC—this is not what they want to hear. In contrast, this essay focuses on the vast and lively food scene in New York that the student considers to be an invaluable asset to her NYU education. This is a time where including New York actually plays to the appeal of NYU, rather than making it seem like the student is simply applying for the city.

Finally, this student clearly demonstrates that they are someone who wants to change the world for the better, but through their personal niche. NYU is looking for people who express this desire to be a changemaker, but oftentimes sweeping statements like “I want to change the world” come across as vague and disingenuous. The essay does mention changing diets and looking to the future, but it is focused within the student’s specific area of interest, making the claim to change the world more determined and authentic.

This essay could be made stronger if there was a bit more personal reflection included. The first paragraph provides a lot of details on the student’s vegetarianism and how it conflicts with her grandmother and her heritage. What it doesn’t include very much of is how the student thinks and feels about her diet being at odds with that of her family. 

Does this student feel they are betraying their heritage by being vegetarian? What emotions do they feel when people criticize vegetarianism? Why did they go vegetarian in the first place? Probing questions like these that get to the emotional core behind the story in the first paragraph would really help to build out this student’s backstory. We want to understand what their emotional responses and reasoning processes look like, so finding ways to include those into an already expositive paragraph would further bolster this essay.

Essay Example #6: NYU

My mother never takes off her Cartier necklace that my father gave her 10 years ago on their anniversary. As a child, I didn’t fully understand this attachment. However, on my 15th birthday, my aunt gifted me a ring, which was uniquely designed and made up of three rings linked together. Wearing it every day and making sure I would never lose it, I didn’t treat it like my easily replaceable childhood necklaces; it was my piece of luxury. This sparked my deep curiosity for the luxury world. The niche strives to provide the finest and most memorable experiences, as equally as my Japanese attention to detail and my French appreciation towards aesthetic beauty. In a constantly shifting environment, I learned that luxury chases timeless excellence.

NYU Stern’s BS in business and a co-concentration in management and marketing will fully immerse me in the business side of luxury fashion that I aim to pursue a future career in. The luxury marketing track, offered only by NYU, will enable me to assemble the most suited classes to reflect my interests. Specifically, NYU Stern’s exciting electives such as The Dynamics of the Fashion Industry seminar and Brand Strategy & Planning will encourage me to develop the skills that I was introduced to and grew keen on when running a virtual sustainable fashion auction.

As someone who has moved around from Paris to Tokyo, to Chicago and now Athens, I thrive in meeting and collaborating with others from diverse backgrounds. The school’s strong global outlook, demonstrated through Stern’s International Business Exchange Program, further sets NYU apart for me, as it is crucial to building essential soft skills. This opportunity allows me to experience new cultural approaches to luxury business which I can bring back with me to New York, and therefore push me to become a well-rounded business student. Similarly, I am excited to take part in the array of student clubs offered, such as the Luxury and Retail Association (LARA), which I learned about after connecting with and talking to current students. Seeing past talks from employers of companies like Conde Nast, I am eager to learn outside of the classroom from future speakers. 

Finding myself in new situations constantly, I always seek new challenges and explorations – to me, it is clear that NYU Stern will push me to create the finest and most unique learning experiences of timeless excellence.

This essay has an amazing introduction paragraph. It doesn’t mention anything about NYU or what this student is planning on studying, which is what makes it so intriguing. The reader doesn’t know where this student is headed after making such a seemingly unrelated statement about jewelry, but we want to find out. 

Not only does this essay immediately capture the reader’s attention, it maintains a succinct and direct tone that helps the reader effortlessly flow from one paragraph to the next. The student chose to include three opportunities at NYU that excite them and fully elaborate on them. This serves as an excellent example of more is less. 

We aren’t bombarded with a laundry list of classes, professors, and clubs the student wants to take. Instead, the student took a focused approach and described why they were excited by each offering they highlighted. Going deeper into a smaller number of opportunities at the college still shows this student did their research, but it allows for their backstory and goals to be discussed in far greater detail.

While this student does a good job of elaborating, they also mention a few key aspects of their personality as throw-away lines, when it would have been great to elaborate further on them. For example, they mention running a virtual sustainable fashion auction (cool!), but don’t provide us with any details on what that actually entails, how they got involved with it, what they enjoyed about it, etc. They also mention moving around a lot in the context of developing a diverse perspective, but they don’t include any emotional insight into what that was like.

Although there are only 400 words available, and you don’t want to spend too much time discussing the past, it would be nice to see just a sentence or two that delves into the details of this student’s background. The fashion auction and moving around clearly had an impact on the student, so we want to know what that was. If they are choosing to include these details, they must be important in the student’s decision to pursue business at NYU, so they shouldn’t be afraid to divulge the emotional significance to the reader.

Essay Example #7: Boston University

Prompt: In no more than 250 words, please tell us why BU is a good fit for you and what specifically has led you to apply for admission.

Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) attracts me because of its support of interdisciplinary study among its wide array of majors. In fact, the CAS now offers a course that combines biology, chemistry, and neuroscience. As I hope to conduct medical research into brain disorders, I plan to pursue all three areas of study. These cross-disciplinary connections at BU will prepare me to do so.

CAS’s undergraduate research program would allow me to work with a mentor, such as Dr. Alice Cronin-Golomb or Dr. Robert M.G. Reinhart related to their research on neurological disorders. With them, I can advance the work I have already completed related to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). In a summer class at our local university, my partner and I extracted data from fMRI and PET studies and inputted them into a coding program. We then created an indicator map, which we imported into another software program, AFNI, to display significant activity in the brain regions affected by DID. Seeing the representation of our data thrilled me because I knew it could eventually help people who live with DID. I want to experience that feeling again. Successfully analyzing these fMRI and PET studies and learning to code drives me to pursue more research opportunities, and this desire motivates me to study at a university that offers research opportunities to undergraduates. BU’s interdisciplinary approach to psychology and support for independent undergraduate research will optimally prepare me for a career as a neurological researcher.

This student clearly outlines BU-specific resources (the interdisciplinary course and undergrad research program), plus how these resources align with their professional goals (to become a neurological researcher). They do name professors, but since their work clearly relates to the student’s interests, it doesn’t look disingenuous, and shows that the student has done research on their fit with BU. The student also provides background on why they want to pursue research, and shows that they already have experience, which makes their interest in the undergrad research program more concrete.

The only thing missing from this essay is the student’s fit with BU in terms of extracurriculars and social life. “Why This College?” essays should also cover extracurriculars, as colleges are also interested in how you’ll contribute to their community. 

In general, these essays should be academic-leaning (especially if they’re under 250 words), but you should still address some social aspects of the college that appeal to you (we recommend about 70% academics, 30% social, with more or less focus on social aspects depending on the word count). 

Since the student probably already detailed their previous research in their Common App activities section, they could’ve just summarized their research background in one sentence (instead of 78 words, which is 31% of the total word count!), and used that valuable space to talk about a specific social aspect of BU that interests them. 

Essay Example #8: Boston University

Prompt: In no more than 250 words, please tell us why BU is a good fit for you and what specifically has led you to apply for admission. 

I am fascinated by research, though completely uninterested in the disciplines traditionally associated with it, such as STEM fields. I need to find a school that will balance my desire to conduct research with my interest in political science. 

While many schools boast in-depth student research programs for those looking to cure diseases or develop solutions to global warming, few tout their support for humanities research. Additionally, many universities that do allocate funding to social science research typically reserve these monies for graduate students or upperclassmen. BU, with the help of its Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, will allow me to conduct research on the topics that most intrigue me, such as gender disparity in politics, or the relationship between dominant parties in power and the country’s economy and involvement in foreign affairs. Furthermore, I can begin these studies as early as my first year. Not only can I take classes with professors like Sandra McEvoy or Dino Christenson to develop my interests in a classroom setting, but I could also work with one of them to develop new knowledge in the topics that we both enjoy learning about. With this knowledge base and experience conducting studies with top professors in a respected research institution, I will be well-prepared for my future law career. I want to learn in an environment that encourages independent study no matter one’s field of interest or experience, and BU’s support of intellectual curiosity for all of its students makes it a perfect fit for me.

This student knows exactly what they want, and they’re not afraid to state it bluntly. Their intro paragraph is totally honest about their interests (or lack of interest), and we immediately understand one of their main college goals: to conduct political science research.

The student mentions a specific resource, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, as well as an alignment with BU’s value of encouraging independent study in all fields. Showing alignment with a specific value of the university is a great way to take your essay to the next level.

This essay shows us that the student would be a great fit for BU and would take advantage of its research opportunities.

The writer mentions some of their research interests, but doesn’t explain the motivation behind them. We don’t actually learn very much about the student themself, which is a common flaw of “Why This College?” essays. The essay would’ve been stronger if they’d explained why they’re interested in “gender disparity in politics, or the relationship between dominant parties in power and the country’s economy and involvement in foreign affairs.” For example, maybe they feel strongly about abortion rights and are upset about the way men have been legislating women’s rights.

The student also names two professors whose classes they’d like to take and with whom they’d like to do research, but we aren’t told which classes they’re interested in, or which topics they could cover together. You want to avoid “name-dropping” professors without context in your essay. If the student shared the names of specific classes or research topics and why they’re interested in them, that would’ve strengthened their essay.

Essay Example #9: Tufts

Prompt: Why Tufts? (100 words) 

When Deanne, Tufts’ admissions counselor, visited my school, she immediately caught my attention by emphasizing Tufts’ diverse yet unified campus. Tufts’ inclusive definition of diversity goes beyond merely recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds. Tufts seeks to integrate these categories of diversity and pushes its students to learn from one another. One such intersectional program that attracts me is CAFE (Conversation, Action, Faith, and Education). By joining CAFE, a community that promotes interfaith education, I will learn from my peers, become more understanding of other religious backgrounds, and apply this broader understanding to my academic work at Tufts.

It’s hard to write a “Why This College?” essay in 100 words. This essay does a good job sticking to one unique element of Tufts—its intersectionality. Since Tufts also cares about demonstrated interest, it’s great that the student also mentioned speaking with an admissions counselor. 

We unfortunately don’t learn very much about the student from this essay. Why do they care about diversity and interfaith programs? How does this relate to their academic and career goals? While the word count is super short, they could’ve cut these lines and jumped right into the specific resource they’re interested in: Tufts’ inclusive definition of diversity goes beyond merely recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds. Tufts seeks to integrate these categories of diversity and pushes its students to learn from one another.

Here’s an example of a stronger version of this essay:

When a Tufts admissions counselor visited my school, she immediately caught my attention by emphasizing Tufts’ diverse yet unified campus. As a Muslim hoping to go into International Relations, I want to attend a school that not only recruits diverse students, but pushes them to learn from one another. I hope to join intersectional programs such as CAFE (Conversation, Action, Faith, and Education). By joining this community that promotes interfaith education, I will gain the necessary perspective and compassion to become a human rights lawyer in countries with religious conflict, such as my homeland Azerbaijan.

Essay Example #10: Tufts

Prompt: Why Tufts? (100 words)

Someday I hope to conduct medical research in developing countries; Tufts attracts me because of its wide array of majors it offers and support for undergraduate research. To understand the human brain, I hope to study biology, neuroscience, and psychology. In addition to outstanding faculty in each of these areas, Tufts also organizes initiatives including the International Research Program. Through this program, I would work with other students and faculty members on an international project related to brain diseases. This opportunity will give me a taste of my future career and help me narrow the scope of my later studies.

This essay does a better job of sharing the student’s goals with us compared to the previous Tufts essay. We learn that the applicant is interested in medical research in developing countries on brain diseases, and that Tufts has a program to support international research.

The essay still mentions some resources that could apply to many schools, which is not an effective use of the tiny word count. For example, they say: “Tufts attracts me because of its wide array of majors it offers and support for undergraduate research” and they mention the “outstanding faculty” in the fields they plan to study.

They also don’t tell us their motivation behind studying brain diseases abroad, and it feels like there’s a significant story there. Giving some background would’ve further strengthened their essay.

Finally, they mention that they still need to narrow the scope of their studies; while it’s fine to be undecided on your career and majors, you don’t need to spend your precious word count saying that in your essay. They could’ve instead shared a couple potential avenues they’re considering.

Here’s what the student could’ve written instead:

Outcomes for schizophrenia patients are better in developing countries than in developed ones. I hope to research the reasons behind this and improve the treatment options in the US for the cousin I grew up with. In college, I want to study biology, neuroscience, and psychology. Tufts attracts me because of its unique interdisciplinary BS in Cognitive and Brain Science and its International Research Program. Through this program, I could do the research I’ve dreamt of doing with a faculty member and other students, preparing me for my future career as either a researcher or clinician.

Essay Example #11: Georgia Tech

Prompt: Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech? (300 words)

Climate change is a human rights issue.  

There the headline was, screaming on my phone screen. I think about those suffering from a lack of clean water. I think about those suffering from a lack of clean air. 

I often think back to that headline – it’s what drives my passion for environmental engineering. As an environmental engineer, I can mitigate air pollution and design water treatment systems that address the water injustices that people face. However, it’s not just about creating a technology that cleans water; it’s about changing people’s lives. New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech’s research on creating a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those in need of improved sanitation aligns perfectly with my interests.   

At Georgia Tech, through the student-led organization, Engineers for a Sustainable World and the InVenture Prize, I can translate the knowledge gained from my classes into a concrete vision. I can design and implement hands-on sustainability projects around Atlanta and invent a water sanitation system for the on-site acquisition of clean water. 

Georgia Tech can also provide me with ample research opportunities, such as the broad area of Healthy Communities in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. I can further pursue my interest in developing solutions to deliver clean water while welcoming new areas of inquiry. An area I would like to explore would be the controlling of dangerous matter in the air to reduce health hazards; reducing the impact of climate change is of utmost importance to me. 

Studying environmental engineering at Georgia Tech would well prepare me to develop solutions to climate-related issues. With the countless opportunities that Georgia Tech has to offer, I know there is nowhere else where I can receive a better environmental engineering education.

What the Essay Did Well l

This essay begins with an attention-grabbing statement that leaves the reader wondering how this will relate to the student’s interest in Georgia Tech. They then transition seamlessly into how climate change and human rights motivate their desire to become an environmental engineer.

The student mentions several resources specific to Georgia Tech that would help them achieve their goals, such as the research on the toilet turning waste into water, Engineers for a Sustainable World, InVenture Prize, and Healthy Communities research. It’s clear that they did their research and have reflected on their fit with the campus community.

They end the essay explicitly stating that Georgia Tech is the best place for them to grow, and the reader is certainly convinced of this by the end.

This essay is quite strong, so there’s not much that the student could’ve improved. That said, there is one sentence that is a bit awkwardly worded: New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech’s research on creating a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those in need of improved sanitation aligns perfectly with my interests.

Instead, the student could’ve written:

New technologies can make a lasting difference in humanitarian issues worldwide; Georgia Tech aligns with this value of mine and is even developing a toilet that turns human waste into clean water for those who need improved sanitation.

Essay Example #12: Georgia Tech

From my first Java project, a somewhat primitive graphing calculator, I realized that CS unlocks a different way of thinking. My brain races at speeds it seldom touches with other subjects. Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve and affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application. 

“Progress and Service,” Georgia Tech’s motto, tells me there’s no better place to explore my curiosity and deepen my CS skills while simultaneously helping make the world a better place, my ultimate goal for a college education. 

In the classroom, I look forward to GT’s threads program, where I can tailor the curriculum to suit my career choice after exposing myself to all technical aspects of CS.

I’ll apply my specialized learning with Tech’s fascinating research opportunities. Professor Pandarinth’s brain-machine interfacing software means a lot to me. My uncle passed away from a freak accident after extensive paralysis because potential treatments were unaffordable. Exploring this revolutionary brain decoding software wouldn’t just involve me in cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology research, I’d be personally driven to ensure its success and accessibility. 

I’m at my best building towards tangible results. I learned this on my robotics team using design skills to create a technically complex robot that tackles anything from shooting balls to hanging on a balance beam. I’m excited to expand my skills on the RoboJackets team, applying my career interests to build ferocious BattleBots and autonomous race robots that compete on the Indy Speedway, two events that sound ridiculously fun. 

Of course, I can’t skip hackathons. These competitions molded my interest in coding so I want to give back to Georgia Tech’s Hack-Community by planning HackGT and the Catalyst Mentorship program as a member of the Hexlabs team. 

The student’s passion for CS shines through this essay. They explain what they love about the subject (the problem-solving aspect) and they share that they hope to make a difference through CS, demonstrating alignment with Tech’s motto of  “progress and service”.

It’s clear that this student has done their research, mentioning specific academic programs, research, and clubs. We can see that they’d be greatly engaged with the campus community.

Finally, this essay is also down-to-earth. The student doesn’t try to use impressive vocabulary or formal language. In fact, they even describe some extracurriculars as “ridiculously fun.” While you shouldn’t get too informal in your essays, this student’s casual tone in this context makes them feel more approachable and more excited about the prospect of going to Georgia Tech.

This essay has a couple sentences that are confusing to read:

Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve and affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application.

This sentence could’ve been broken up and rewritten as:

Every part of CS, from conceptualizing a plan to executing a solution, is another piece of a puzzle I’m eager to solve. For me, the field affords the most opportunities for creative problem-solving and application.

This sentence also uses incorrect grammar—the comma should be replaced with a semicolon:

Exploring this revolutionary brain decoding software wouldn’t just involve me in cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology research, I’d be personally driven to ensure its success and accessibility. 

These details would make the essay more readable.

The organization of the essay could also be reworked. The student mentions Tech’s motto of “progress and service,” but doesn’t follow up until later with an example of how they’d use CS for the greater good. Using CS for social good isn’t ultimately the theme of their essay, so this section would’ve been better placed at the end of the paragraph about AI technology research, or at the very end of the essay. The essay actually ends abruptly, so placing the section at the end might’ve tied it up nicely, if the student could’ve placed more emphasis on how they plan to use CS to improve society.

Do you want feedback on your “Why This College” essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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How Does Writing Fit Into the ‘Science of Reading’?

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In one sense, the national conversation about what it will take to make sure all children become strong readers has been wildly successful: States are passing legislation supporting evidence-based teaching approaches , and school districts are rushing to supply training. Publishers are under pressure to drop older materials . And for the first time in years, an instructional issue—reading—is headlining education media coverage.

In the middle of all that, though, the focus on the “science of reading” has elided its twin component in literacy instruction: writing.

Writing is intrinsically important for all students to learn—after all, it is the primary way beyond speech that humans communicate. But more than that, research suggests that teaching students to write in an integrated fashion with reading is not only efficient, it’s effective.

Yet writing is often underplayed in the elementary grades. Too often, it is separated from schools’ reading block. Writing is not assessed as frequently as reading, and principals, worried about reading-exam scores, direct teachers to focus on one often at the expense of the other. Finally, beyond the English/language arts block, kids often aren’t asked to do much writing in early grades.

“Sometimes, in an early-literacy classroom, you’ll hear a teacher say, ‘It’s time to pick up your pencils,’” said Wiley Blevins, an author and literacy consultant who provides training in schools. “But your pencils should be in your hand almost the entire morning.”

Strikingly, many of the critiques that reading researchers have made against the “balanced literacy” approach that has held sway in schools for decades could equally apply to writing instruction: Foundational writing skills—like phonics and language structure—have not generally been taught systematically or explicitly.

And like the “find the main idea” strategies commonly taught in reading comprehension, writing instruction has tended to focus on content-neutral tasks, rather than deepening students’ connections to the content they learn.

Education Week wants to bring more attention to these connections in the stories that make up this special collection . But first, we want to delve deeper into the case for including writing in every step of the elementary curriculum.

Why has writing been missing from the reading conversation?

Much like the body of knowledge on how children learn to read words, it is also settled science that reading and writing draw on shared knowledge, even though they have traditionally been segmented in instruction.

“The body of research is substantial in both number of studies and quality of studies. There’s no question that reading and writing share a lot of real estate, they depend on a lot of the same knowledge and skills,” said Timothy Shanahan, an emeritus professor of education at the University of Illinois Chicago. “Pick your spot: text structure, vocabulary, sound-symbol relationships, ‘world knowledge.’”

The reasons for the bifurcation in reading and writing are legion. One is that the two fields have typically been studied separately. (Researchers studying writing usually didn’t examine whether a writing intervention, for instance, also aided students’ reading abilities—and vice versa.)

Some scholars also finger the dominance of the federally commissioned National Reading Panel report, which in 2000 outlined key instructional components of learning to read. The review didn’t examine the connection of writing to reading.

Looking even further back yields insights, too. Penmanship and spelling were historically the only parts of writing that were taught, and when writing reappeared in the latter half of the 20th century, it tended to focus on “process writing,” emphasizing personal experience and story generation over other genres. Only when the Common Core State Standards appeared in 2010 did the emphasis shift to writing about nonfiction texts and across subjects—the idea that students should be writing about what they’ve learned.

And finally, teaching writing is hard. Few studies document what preparation teachers receive to teach writing, but in surveys, many teachers say they received little training in their college education courses. That’s probably why only a little over half of teachers, in one 2016 survey, said that they enjoyed teaching writing.

Writing should begin in the early grades

These factors all work against what is probably the most important conclusion from the research over the last few decades: Students in the early-elementary grades need lots of varied opportunities to write.

“Students need support in their writing,” said Dana Robertson, an associate professor of reading and literacy education at the school of education at Virginia Tech who also studies how instructional change takes root in schools. “They need to be taught explicitly the skills and strategies of writing and they need to see the connections of reading, writing, and knowledge development.”

While research supports some fundamental tenets of writing instruction—that it should be structured, for instance, and involve drafting and revising—it hasn’t yet pointed to a specific teaching recipe that works best.

One of the challenges, the researchers note, is that while reading curricula have improved over the years, they still don’t typically provide many supports for students—or teachers, for that matter—for writing. Teachers often have to supplement with additions that don’t always mesh well with their core, grade-level content instruction.

“We have a lot of activities in writing we know are good,” Shanahan said. “We don’t really have a yearlong elementary-school-level curriculum in writing. That just doesn’t exist the way it does in reading.”

Nevertheless, practitioners like Blevins work writing into every reading lesson, even in the earliest grades. And all the components that make up a solid reading program can be enhanced through writing activities.

4 Key Things to Know About How Reading and Writing Interlock

Want a quick summary of what research tells us about the instructional connections between reading and writing?

1. Reading and writing are intimately connected.

Research on the connections began in the early 1980s and has grown more robust with time.

Among the newest and most important additions are three research syntheses conducted by Steve Graham, a professor at the University of Arizona, and his research partners. One of them examined whether writing instruction also led to improvements in students’ reading ability; a second examined the inverse question. Both found significant positive effects for reading and writing.

A third meta-analysis gets one step closer to classroom instruction. Graham and partners examined 47 studies of instructional programs that balanced both reading and writing—no program could feature more than 60 percent of one or the other. The results showed generally positive effects on both reading and writing measures.

2. Writing matters even at the earliest grades, when students are learning to read.

Studies show that the prewriting students do in early education carries meaningful signals about their decoding, spelling, and reading comprehension later on. Reading experts say that students should be supported in writing almost as soon as they begin reading, and evidence suggests that both spelling and handwriting are connected to the ability to connect speech to print and to oral language development.

3. Like reading, writing must be taught explicitly.

Writing is a complex task that demands much of students’ cognitive resources. Researchers generally agree that writing must be explicitly taught—rather than left up to students to “figure out” the rules on their own.

There isn’t as much research about how precisely to do this. One 2019 review, in fact, found significant overlap among the dozen writing programs studied, and concluded that all showed signs of boosting learning. Debates abound about the amount of structure students need and in what sequence, such as whether they need to master sentence construction before moving onto paragraphs and lengthier texts.

But in general, students should be guided on how to construct sentences and paragraphs, and they should have access to models and exemplars, the research suggests. They also need to understand the iterative nature of writing, including how to draft and revise.

A number of different writing frameworks incorporating various degrees of structure and modeling are available, though most of them have not been studied empirically.

4. Writing can help students learn content—and make sense of it.

Much of reading comprehension depends on helping students absorb “world knowledge”—think arts, ancient cultures, literature, and science—so that they can make sense of increasingly sophisticated texts and ideas as their reading improves. Writing can enhance students’ content learning, too, and should be emphasized rather than taking a back seat to the more commonly taught stories and personal reflections.

Graham and colleagues conducted another meta-analysis of nearly 60 studies looking at this idea of “writing to learn” in mathematics, science, and social studies. The studies included a mix of higher-order assignments, like analyses and argumentative writing, and lower-level ones, like summarizing and explaining. The study found that across all three disciplines, writing about the content improved student learning.

If students are doing work on phonemic awareness—the ability to recognize sounds—they shouldn’t merely manipulate sounds orally; they can put them on the page using letters. If students are learning how to decode, they can also encode—record written letters and words while they say the sounds out loud.

And students can write as they begin learning about language structure. When Blevins’ students are mainly working with decodable texts with controlled vocabularies, writing can support their knowledge about how texts and narratives work: how sentences are put together and how they can be pulled apart and reconstructed. Teachers can prompt them in these tasks, asking them to rephrase a sentence as a question, split up two sentences, or combine them.

“Young kids are writing these mile-long sentences that become second nature. We set a higher bar, and they are fully capable of doing it. We can demystify a bit some of that complex text if we develop early on how to talk about sentences—how they’re created, how they’re joined,” Blevins said. “There are all these things you can do that are helpful to develop an understanding of how sentences work and to get lots of practice.”

As students progress through the elementary grades, this structured work grows more sophisticated. They need to be taught both sentence and paragraph structure , and they need to learn how different writing purposes and genres—narrative, persuasive, analytical—demand different approaches. Most of all, the research indicates, students need opportunities to write at length often.

Using writing to support students’ exploration of content

Reading is far more than foundational skills, of course. It means introducing students to rich content and the specialized vocabulary in each discipline and then ensuring that they read, discuss, analyze, and write about those ideas. The work to systematically build students’ knowledge begins in the early grades and progresses throughout their K-12 experience.

Here again, available evidence suggests that writing can be a useful tool to help students explore, deepen, and draw connections in this content. With the proper supports, writing can be a method for students to retell and analyze what they’ve learned in discussions of content and literature throughout the school day —in addition to their creative writing.

This “writing to learn” approach need not wait for students to master foundational skills. In the K-2 grades especially, much content is learned through teacher read-alouds and conversation that include more complex vocabulary and ideas than the texts students are capable of reading. But that should not preclude students from writing about this content, experts say.

“We do a read-aloud or a media piece and we write about what we learned. It’s just a part of how you’re responding, or sharing, what you’ve learned across texts; it’s not a separate thing from reading,” Blevins said. “If I am doing read-alouds on a concept—on animal habitats, for example—my decodable texts will be on animals. And students are able to include some of these more sophisticated ideas and language in their writing, because we’ve elevated the conversations around these texts.”

In this set of stories , Education Week examines the connections between elementary-level reading and writing in three areas— encoding , language and text structure , and content-area learning . But there are so many more examples.

Please write us to share yours when you’ve finished.

Want to read more about the research that informed this story? Here’s a bibliography to start you off.

Berninger V. W., Abbott, R. D., Abbott, S. P., Graham S., & Richards T. (2002). Writing and reading: Connections between language by hand and language by eye. J ournal of Learning Disabilities. Special Issue: The Language of Written Language, 35(1), 39–56 Berninger, Virginia, Robert D. Abbott, Janine Jones, Beverly J. Wolf, Laura Gould, Marci Anderson-Younstrom, Shirley Shimada, Kenn Apel. (2006) “Early development of language by hand: composing, reading, listening, and speaking connections; three letter-writing modes; and fast mapping in spelling.” Developmental Neuropsychology, 29(1), pp. 61-92 Cabell, Sonia Q, Laura S. Tortorelli, and Hope K. Gerde (2013). “How Do I Write…? Scaffolding Preschoolers’ Early Writing Skills.” The Reading Teacher, 66(8), pp. 650-659. Gerde, H.K., Bingham, G.E. & Wasik, B.A. (2012). “Writing in Early Childhood Classrooms: Guidance for Best Practices.” Early Childhood Education Journal 40, 351–359 (2012) Gilbert, Jennifer, and Steve Graham. (2010). “Teaching Writing to Elementary Students in Grades 4–6: A National Survey.” The Elementary School Journal 110(44) Graham, Steve, et al. (2017). “Effectiveness of Literacy Programs Balancing Reading and Writing Instruction: A Meta-Analysis.” Reading Research Quarterly, 53(3) pp. 279–304 Graham, Steve, and Michael Hebert. (2011). “Writing to Read: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Writing and Writing Instruction on Reading.” Harvard Educational Review (2011) 81(4): 710–744. Graham, Steve. (2020). “The Sciences of Reading and Writing Must Become More Fully Integrated.” Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1) pp. S35–S44 Graham, Steve, Sharlene A. Kiuhara, and Meade MacKay. (2020).”The Effects of Writing on Learning in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis.” Review of Educational Research April 2020, Vol 90, No. 2, pp. 179–226 Shanahan, Timothy. “History of Writing and Reading Connections.” in Shanahan, Timothy. (2016). “Relationships between reading and writing development.” In C. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (2nd ed., pp. 194–207). New York, NY: Guilford. Slavin, Robert, Lake, C., Inns, A., Baye, A., Dachet, D., & Haslam, J. (2019). “A quantitative synthesis of research on writing approaches in grades 2 to 12.” London: Education Endowment Foundation. Troia, Gary. (2014). Evidence-based practices for writing instruction (Document No. IC-5). Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability, and Reform Center website: http://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/tools/innovation-configuration/ Troia, Gary, and Steve Graham. (2016).“Common Core Writing and Language Standards and Aligned State Assessments: A National Survey of Teacher Beliefs and Attitudes.” Reading and Writing 29(9).

A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2023 edition of Education Week as How Does Writing Fit Into the ‘Science of Reading’?

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“Why This College?” Essay Examples

May 17, 2024

As you apply for college, you’ll notice that there are several different essay writing genres you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. There’s the Common App Essay , of course, along with many specific supplemental essays like the Community Essay and the Diversity Essay that will be required by particular schools. In particular, there is the “Why This College?” Essay. The “Why This College?” Essay can be an important component in your college application, as it’s an opportunity for you to describe why you specifically would be a good fit for a particular school. It’s a popular requirement for many colleges and universities and in this article, we’re going to show you a few “Why This College?” Essay examples, and share some tips and tricks for how to write a “Why This College?” Essay.

As you peruse these examples and tips, remember that there’s no one perfect way to write a “Why This College?” Essay. Rather, there are important generic conventions you can work with and build upon to craft an essay that is unique to you as a specific college candidate. Think of a novel. You can expect a novel to have a title and chapters and contain a fictional story. At the same time, novels are written across a plethora of genres, have characters that are as different as Vladomir Harkonnen and Elizabeth Bennet, and can be short reads or thousands of pages long. It’s the same in this case. As you learn how to write a “Why This College?” Essay, you’ll see that some elements of the essay will be fixed, while others will be entirely up to you to create!

What Kind of Prompts Are There for the “Why This College?” Essay?

Many schools require some form of the “Why This College?” Essay for their supplemental application materials, and the prompts can be general or specific.  Take these extra general ones from Yale and Dartmouth , for instance:

  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?
  • In short, why Dartmouth?

These open-ended prompts can feel like both a blessing and a curse. Without particular guidelines, you might feel freer to describe your particular fit within a university and it might be easier to brainstorm about the content you’d like to highlight in this essay; however, beware of open prompts: they can make it tempting to veer into generality!

In other instances, the “Why This College?” Essay prompt will be specifically tailored for many schools, and this specificity can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Take, for instance, these two examples from Northwestern :

  • Community and belonging matter at Northwestern. Tell us about one or more communities, networks, or student groups you see yourself connecting with on campus.
  • Northwestern’s location is special: on the shore of Lake Michigan, steps from downtown Evanston, just a few miles from Chicago. What aspects of our location are most compelling to you, and why? [i]

“Why This College?” Essay Examples (Continued)

The positive side to specific prompts like these is that they’ve given potential applicants a couple of springboards to begin diving from as you write – you can immediately begin detailing your specific interests and likes about Northwestern that make you an ideal candidate for the school. A potential downside is that you’ll honestly need to do research here before you can even begin brainstorming about either of these questions authentically! Specific prompts may also mean that you’ll need to totally start from scratch with each “Why This College?” Essay (for these Northwestern prompts, you certainly couldn’t plug in a different “Why This College?” Essay where you’ve written about your dream of editing for the Harvard Crimson or your hope to network in nearby New York City!).

So, with prompts like these, how to even begin writing a “Why This College?” Essay? Check out our tips and “Why This College?” Essay examples next!

Also, check out our list of college application essay topics to avoid .

Tips on How to Write a “Why This College?” Essay

Regardless of the prompt, your response needs to be specific. This is possibly the most important thing to remember as you learn how to write a “Why This College?” Essay.

First and most importantly of all, focus on fit. Remember that this is your opportunity to showcase why you’re specifically a good match for a college – not why a college is a great general choice for anybody. Ultimately, this is an essay about your potential relationship with a school. If you were writing an epic love poem, you might obsess over your beloved’s hair, eyes, etc. – but obsession isn’t a relationship! On the other hand, if you were asking someone out, you might want to focus, instead, on why you’d have a great time together because it’s more persuasive (and that’s ultimately what you’re trying to do: persuade this school’s admissions committee that you belong there!).

Here are a few tips on specificity that we’ll review below as we analyze a few “Why This College?” Essay examples:

  • Before writing your “Why This College?” Essay, do your research on each school to which you’ll apply. This means finding particular programs of study you’ll pursue, looking up course titles you’d like to take and even professors you’d like to study under. It means researching clubs and extracurriculars you’ll partake in, internship programs you’ll apply for, and details about the school that will further your goals as a student there.

At the beginning of your “Why This College?” Essay, you can include a brief anecdote or bit of personal information that will make your essay stand out. As with any college application essay, this is an opportunity to brag about yourself! For instance, if you’re going to mention a particular club or extracurricular you’d like to join at a university, you can use this anecdote to briefly remind your reader that you were the president of that extracurricular at your high school (especially if that detail doesn’t appear elsewhere in your application materials). NOTE: Including a personal anecdote like this is sometimes dependent upon word length. For longer “Why This College?” Essays, it’s a great choice. For shorter ones, this hook may be a feature you’ll have to reduce or skip altogether.

Don’t linger on the general features of the school, or on school qualities that apply to everyone. Don’t focus on the school’s reputation, rankings, or student-to-professor ratios. The school knows this stuff already! Everybody paints the rock at Northwestern and paints the fence at Carnegie Mellon and these schools’ admissions counselors have read about these sorts of traditions approximately a billion times. Avoid general features and focus, rather, on detailed aspects of the school community that are particularly compelling to you .

Details about campus culture or school location are okay to write about, but remember that you’re not trying to be John Keats here. Don’t just talk about the beauty of the leaves changing in the fall or the way the palm trees sway on the school’s tropical campus. Rather, focus on what the school’s location can do for you as a scholar . Is there something particular about the school’s locale that can further your scholastic goals? Perhaps it’s situated in a region known for a particular area of study, with the best professors in the field nearby (e.g. Silicon Valley for computer science). Or maybe its setting can provide ample internship opportunities for a student with your major (e.g. Washington, D.C. for political science majors).

Edit for details. As you write your thousandth college application essay, it can be so tempting to simply copy-paste and go through the motions of writing unique drafts. While it’s okay to have a little carry-over between essays, it’s essential that you don’t have any major bloopers (like getting the school’s colors or motto wrong) in a “Why This College?” Essay.

Honesty is the best policy! It’s better to write something authentic to you than something you think the school wants to hear. After all, no matter how prestigious a school or program might be, if you can’t think of why you’d fit in there, you may want to reconsider whether a school is meant for you!

“Why This College?” Essay Examples

Below, we’ve included three fictional “Why This College Essay?” examples. The first two are good examples, along with commentary on what makes them strong and what these authors might improve upon to make them even better. The third essay is an exceptionally poor one, designed to help you see common pitfalls within this essay genre so you can think about how to avoid them yourself (or even how to correct mistakes you’ve already made in drafts!). Think of this third, poor essay as a way to test how well you’ve familiarized yourself within the genre.

Good “Why This College?” Essay Example 1:

As current Editor-in-Chief of my school magazine The Clarion , I’d like to pursue a Journalism major at the College of Northeastern Ohio, where I will deepen my experience in writing and design through classes such as “Reporting with Visual Journalism” and “International Writing.” Additionally, CNO’s Amanpour Journalism Project will give me hands-on experience as a journalist working in a newsroom. There, I’ll explore aspects of journalism such as digital storytelling and broadcasting, along with elective courses like “Feature Interviews” and “Documentary Television.”

My love for writing and communication stems from my multilingual upbringing. In high school, I explored Latin America on a study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic, where I relied on my Guatemalan heritage to further my Spanish-speaking skills. Through CNO’s International Language Studies program, I hope to attain a Spanish minor and explore Spanish-speaking countries in their study abroad program while immersing myself in international media.

With the interdisciplinary emphasis at CNO, I’ll additionally have the flexibility to study politics through a Political Science double major. I’ve written many articles on global communication for The Clarion , and I hope to further my writing on political communication with the Amanpour Project’s “Writing in Conflict Zones” class and other interdisciplinary classes with Professor Joan Walters. CNO’s robust communications offerings give me the opportunity to specifically study my interests in writing, politics, and Spanish simultaneously with the resources of multiple departments.

This essay does a great job of both showcasing the writer’s unique experiences and exploring how the college will specifically help her pursue her major and career goals. Additionally, the author has done a dynamite job researching particular classes and programs within the university that she’d like to take, listing several by name and course/program details.

How we might fix it up:

This essay primarily focuses on academics. Since academics are usually the most important reason why you’d want to attend a particular university, this definitely isn’t a major problem! However, the writer could potentially explore other extracurriculars or campus offerings that might make her a great fit for this university.

Good “Why This College?” Essay Example 2:

Data. From our politics to what we binge on Netflix, data collection and information systems have become part of the fabric of our lives. But when we think about sports, we don’t always think about numbers – and I want to do just that. The Massachusetts Institute of Stanford Mellon offers a top-ranked Data Science and Information Systems major, which will provide me with transferable skills that can be applied to my dream career path: sports marketing and data analytics.

I would like to go to a university where I can immediately participate in research. In high school, I created an algorithm that helps me predict how much fans will spend on team gear, based on their previous purchases and levels of engagement with games, betting, and online searching. The MISM Data and Numbers Lab allows undergraduates to access their databases and start conducting research right away (without having to wait until grad school!) and courses like “Analysis of Algorithms” and “Marketing and Numbers” provide the tools to conduct research on issues like sports marketing. At MISM, I hope to study with mentors like Professor Bill Jobs, whose work on information systems and regional spending might facilitate my own independent research. Additionally, MISM has alumni networks that facilitate internship and job placement in both Silicon Valley and with major sporting equipment stores like Rick’s Sporting Depot.

Finally, MISM offers a variety of extracurriculars that I would love to join, particularly the Little Pucks program, which provides community outreach to aspiring hockey players with physical disabilities. Since my sophomore year, I’ve volunteered at our local rec center, volunteering with kids who have special needs and helping them learn about and play sports. As I pursue a career in sports marketing and data analytics, I want to make a positive impact on companies and consumers alike. I’d love to live up to MISM’s motto: “Knowledge for service.”

Again, this writer does a fantastic job showcasing his own strengths and specifically demonstrating how this university has particular offerings (courses, labs, professors, extracurriculars, etc.) that will help him in his chosen major and career path. The generalities of this essay (like the school motto) are also used for a purpose: to illustrate how the writer hopes to use his education to give back to the community.

This is a great draft. To make it even better, we might consider how this essay focuses a lot on what the school can do for the writer. The writer might want to consider: how will I, in turn, contribute more to the campus community?

Poor “Why This College? Essay” Example:

When I took a campus visit at Princevard University last year, I was sure to stop at the Wishing Fountain in the middle of the quad. There, I threw in a penny and recited Princevard’s motto, “Veritas in vota” – “truth in wishes” and made my wish: that I will get accepted into Princevard this fall. I’ve known that I wanted to attend Princevard ever since I was a little boy and found out that my Great Uncle Howie graduated from there in 1965. At Princevard, I would study in their English program so that I could pursue my dream of becoming a novelist and a teacher when I graduate.

Ranked at #7 in the nation, Princevard’s reputation is another reason why I would like to attend; a degree from Princevard will open up doors to jobs and internships that many other schools could never open. Finally, I hope to join one of Princevard’s fraternities because the school offers more Greek organizations than any other university on the East Coast.

Well, it’s a start. If you’ve written a similar draft to this one, which breaks many of our “Why This College?” Essay writing rules, don’t despair! Instead, use this draft as a springboard for your next one.

How we might fix up this essay:

You’re probably familiar enough now with the genre conventions of the “Why This College?” Essay to think of a few reasons why this essay is a poor one. Now, let’s see how we can take even a poor first pass and turn it into a viable essay:

Our main goal with a draft like this is to turn all of this generality into an essay that specifically tells the school why this student would be a good fit there. Hint: avoid the sentiments about ranking and general location!

While this essay begins with a personal anecdote, it doesn’t tell us anything about this particular student. Instead, it focuses on a vague campus tradition. Remember that personal anecdotes serve as an opportunity to hook your reader and tell them something unique and positive about yourself.

There’s not much need to mention that a family member attended a university unless a) you are such a strong legacy there that your name is literally on a building (in which case, you should probably have a donating family member make a call on your behalf to the admissions department) or, b) your family history is somehow relevant to your future career and attendance at that school (e.g. your mother went to law school there and you want to become a lawyer and join her firm). If the latter, be sure you’re using this detail as a vehicle to demonstrate why this university is right for you.

While it’s great to talk about your major and career aspirations, be specific! Most schools have English departments so it’s not super useful to point this generality out. Writing that “Princevard University offers a unique dual English program with concentrations in both Creative Writing and Literary Theory, which would enable to me to pursue an ultimate graduate degree in literary and cultural studies while honing my craft as a novelist,” on the other hand, is a much more useful and detailed statement that demonstrates fit and brags a little about the applicant’s writing aspirations!

Similarly, many universities have Greek life organizations. If you’re going to mention an extracurricular, name which ones and why. Perhaps a particular Greek organization on this campus is affiliated with your major; maybe a chapter is politically motivated with a cause you’ve previously championed; maybe a fraternity is historically associated with your ethnicity or race and you’d love to take part in that community.

Closing Thoughts on the “Why This College?” Essay

As you write a “Why This College?” Essay, remember that this essay is perhaps the first conversation you’ll have about your relationship with a university – a relationship that, if you’re accepted, will be a formative one for the rest of your life. Good luck!

[i] “Completing Your Northwestern Application,” Application Materials: Undergraduate Admissions – Northwestern University, 2024. https://admissions.northwestern.edu/apply/requirements.html

  • College Essay

Jamie Smith

For the past decade, Jamie has taught writing and English literature at several universities, including Boston College, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Carnegie Mellon, where she currently teaches courses and conducts research on composition, public writing, and British literature.

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why is writing essays good

The Impact of Professional Scholarship Essay Writing Services on Academic Success

I t’s hard to overestimate the usefulness of writing services for someone who needs a good essay for a scholarship application. At the same time, there are some concerns about the probable negative impact of writing services on academic success. Let’s consider both the potential negative and positive impact of a scholarship essay writing service to decide what’s stronger.

One of the most widespread concerns about the impact of essay writing services is the ethical side of use. Evidently, it is improper if people will provide someone’s work as their own. Even though such concern cannot be called groundless, it’s a matter of choice. Writing service is a tool, and it’s only the customer's choice how to use it. A person can buy a knife to cut fruits and vegetables or to take someone's life. This is not about the tool but about the ethics and decisions of the particular person who uses the tool.  

Another concern is related to the dependency. When people overuse writing services and outsource their own tasks to other experts, it rather decreases their own skills that ought to be developed with the assignments. It’s once again about human conscience and ethics. In this context, it can be useful to compare writing services with coffee. Sometimes, this drink can be very useful to help you wake up or not fall asleep for longer. However, with excessive use, it can be harmful to health and be addictive. And, if you are regularly using coffee to wake yourself up or to stay awake, you probably have to reconsider your time management.

One more concern is about the money. Writing services obviously don’t provide their help for free. Hence, the frequent use of it can cause a financial burden for people who use such services. Thinking this way, one can assume that any type of purchase can cause a financial burden. Most writing services insist on price transparency and the absence of any hidden additional increase in the price. One can see the price before placing an order and deciding whether this money will harm the budget.

As you can see, although the concerns about writing services aren’t baseless, they’re more about the weakness of human nature than about the negative impact of writing services themselves. People who can act unethically will find their way with or without writing services. And if a person has trouble managing money it will be evident from the different aspects of life, not only the use of writing services. You can be careful using writing services, but not more careful than with anything else in life. 

Except for the concerns considered above, writing services can also positively impact academic success when used properly. A person who needs to write a scholarship essay often faces the problem of procrastination and blank page syndrome. In such a case, help from a writing service can be incredibly useful to overcome the problems. A person can use the paper from the writing service as an example to follow or, in contrast, decide that everything must be written differently. Most importantly, one will start working on the scholarship essay instead of waiting for inspiration or being lost in anxiety. 

  • The positive impact on mental health comes from the previous advantage. Applying for the scholarship is a stressful process. A person is concerned about all the papers that must be gathered and forms to be filled out in the proper way, about the future if the scholarship will be obtained, and about the development of the events if not. Writing services that provide personalized examples of scholarship essays can help reduce stress and anxiety and, hence, have at least a small positive impact on mental health. 
  • Expert guidance can be crucial for a person who needs a scholarship. Yes, you can find free examples of scholarship essays on the web, but you might not be sure which is most suitable for your particular case. Writing services have professionals who often write scholarship essays and know their specifics. In addition, a personalized example is the most useful one to understand what and how you can write to succeed. 
  • Time management is the last but not the least point in this list. Writing services have short deadlines of just a few hours, which allows a person to get a ready example on the same day it was ordered. This saves time that a person might spend reading and understanding the nuances of the scholarship essay. Instead of that, one can take this time for other no less essential papers or activities related to getting a scholarship.

Final words

As one can see, scholarship essay writing services can potentially negatively and positively impact academic success. Such services can be a powerful tool to save time, avoid stress, and get a well-written personalized example of a scholarship essay. However, as well as in the case of any tool, it must be used wisely and ethically. 

The Impact of Professional Scholarship Essay Writing Services on Academic Success

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  27. The Impact of Professional Scholarship Essay Writing Services on ...

    Advantages. Except for the concerns considered above, writing services can also positively impact academic success when used properly. A person who needs to write a scholarship essay often faces ...