College Application Essays: Mistake #4: Not reading the college's website


Within the supplemental essays, each college is going to ask why you want to attend that particular institution.

If you are a guy, imagine this: You walk up to a girl and ask, “Will you go out with me?” She says, “Why me?” You respond, “I don’t know….you’re standing here.” (Obviously, not a good answer). Of course I only use a guy as the example because if a girl did the same thing to a guy, the guy would say, “Uh...YEAH.”

The Point is…you need to KNOW the school. Think of their website as an advertisement for their product. The site is designed to sell you on them by telling you all they have to offer.

WARNING: Don’t use the website information to sound like you are working in their advertising department. Here is an example of that….as well as too many clichés to count. (That itself is a cliché)

Penn Nursing’s motto, “Care to Change the World,” speaks to who I am. I want to be that nurse practitioner who impacts families, who betters society, and who makes a difference. I want to be that PNP who smiles, who makes children feel comfortable, and who heals.

And Penn’s School of Nursing will help me achieve that goal. Where else can you gain clinical exposure in the sophomore year with access to world-class hospitals, such as The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania? Where else do you have the opportunity to engage in real-world research, like at LIFE, and improve quality of elder care?
But practical experience is just one side of the double helix of education. The rigor of Penn’s academic curriculum also calls my name.The emphasis on leadership appeals to me.

The above example tells me NOTHING about the teen. I may hire her to work in the public relations department but she’s not becoming a student in the nursing department.

I want to go to (Name of School Here): “I want to go to NYU because it is in New York City and I want that city experience.” There are more than FIFTY colleges in New York City so saying that you want to go to NYU because it’s in the city is as bad as saying, “I want to go out with you because you are standing here.” Why specifically NYU? What does NYU offer that all the other institutions don’t offer? What is it about NYU that will complement your aspirations? SPECIFICALLY. 

BE SPECIFIC: What does the school specifically offer than addresses your specific needs in terms of...


Telling them it’s a prestigious university with distinguished professors, unparalleled resources and a spectacular campus tells them nothing that they don’t already know…and you sound like a Kiss Up!

Don’t cut and paste. Don’t plagiarize. Don’t regurgitate the website’s stats.

Bottom Line: Why is this place specifically the best fit for you?