Last month, one of my students passed along the rough draft of his “Why University X?” response. Upon reading it, I chuckled. It was almost identical to the thoughtful, well-written response to a similar question he had written for College Y. The problem, of course, was that the answer, which fit his interests in Y perfectly, was completely irrelevant to University X.
Like many high school seniors in the past few months, he fell victim to the idea that one more application wouldn’t be too hard and would be a wise choice. In some ways, he’s correct. College Y, the late addition, is a fine school, and a reasonable “fit” for this student. However, the ease of application kept the student from trying to understand exactly why he might actually like to attend the college if ultimately admitted.
This year, Ursinus College made their application more challenging. Out was the “fast track” application; back in with the essay questions. The number of applications to Ursinus fell, but the number of truly interested applicants may remain the same. Is this a good thing? I think so. While tired high school seniors, balancing rigorous coursework and a slew of extracurricular activities might not want to write that last essay, the introspection and careful consideration that a more lengthy application brings about is beneficial in the long run to both the student and the college.
By Whitney Bruce, who has worked in college admissions since 1996. She has served as an Senior Assistant Director of Admissions (Washington U), Application Reader (University of Michigan), Assistant Director of College Counseling (private prep school in St. Louis), and an independent college counselor. She is happy to provide you with college admissions consulting as you apply to college.