10 months ago
Admissions Advice

Is this topic valid for my "Why us" essay?

Hi all,

I'm an international student writing my Why Us essay for Barnard College, which is my dream school. I was thinking of answering the prompt with a description of a day as a student, while touching all the reasons I love the school and why it's the perfect fit for me.

Do you guys think this is a good approach? Or maybe I should do a regular essay rather than like a story?


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
10 months ago

While most applicants approach the "why us" essay thinking that the college wants to admit someone super enthusiastic about the school and how the school would serve them, I think that's a one-sided narrative. In this hypercompetitive environment where Barnard is receiving record numbers of applications from all over the world, I recommend taking a different approach.

I would research as much as I could about Barnard with the intention of figuring out how your admittance can positively impact the incoming Freshman class of cohorts. Maybe you have some innate talent or skill that you can leverage to make the Barnard experience a better one for your classmates and teachers. May you have some experience or passion that can invoke a better Barnard community of understanding, equity, inclusion, or diversity. Yes, it's equally important to delineate why you love Barnard but it has to be a balanced essay.

Last year 9411 applicants, admitted 1022 and enrolled just 697 cohorts. And I will bet that 90%+ of them all wrote about how Barnard was a perfect fit for them. When you are the most competitive women's college in the world, you don't need more accolades of desire. You can sit back and cherry-pick who you think will make the most interesting and memorable class that fits in with your institutional goals, your world-class reputation, and your future growth either by graduating super impactful students or those that will be remarkably successful and help the school further down the line.

This year, I'm assuming there will in excess of 12000 applicants for fewer spots since perhaps 10% took Gap years due to COVID. I have a strong feeling the Class of '25 will be first-class in US history to admit less than 10% to a women's college. When the competition is fierce, you have to stand up and stand out in the crowd. You have 1 shot, make it count.

(I took a similar approach when I wrote my Columbia College essay this fall and it helped secure my admission).

Good luck.

9 months ago

This is exactly what I did and I got in Barnard ED! Be sure to touch on classes you want to take, clubs you want to join, and how Barnard would benefit you specifically. Also, be sure to research specific opportunities for international students. Access Barnard is a new initiative that I think international success groups are under, they also have a lot of first-gen and low-income assistance if that applies to you. Definitely focus on opportunities exclusive to Barnumbia. I hope this helps!

10 months ago

Great question - I think both approaches are valid! One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you don't have a ton of words allotted for this response. It may be hard to walk through a full day and say meaningful things about the Barnard experience in only 300 words. Since you seem quite interested in this approach, I definitely think you should try it out. If the essay ultimately seems a little too trite, you can always go back and re-write a standard essay response focusing on a couple things that particularly attract you to Barnard. As always, make sure that the essay is specific to you and to Barnard. (If you can switch out Barnard for another school without changing much else, then the essay isn't specific enough. If the essay could work just as well for someone else, then it's not personal enough.) So long as you're able to share a bit of your personality, demonstrate that you've done your research on Barnard, and convince the admissions officers that Barnard is the ideal fit for you, then you'll have done a great job.


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