Why College X - The Two-Three Paragraph Version (150-300 words)

Essay Prompt

Other parts of your application give us a sense for how you might contribute to Northwestern. But we also want to consider how Northwestern will contribute to your interests and goals. Help us understand what aspects of Northwestern appeal most to you, and how you'll make use of specific resources and opportunities here. (300 words)

Sample Essay


Why Northwestern? Because this is how I imagine an ordinary day in my college career there.

I roll out of bed and head out for my Creative Nonfiction class. It’s a new genre for me and since I’m still not sure what kind of writer I want to be (historical novelist, journalist, or corporate branding guru are all possibilities), I’m enjoying exploring all genres here. After class, I linger a bit to talk with Professor Bresland about whether he thinks I can polish up one of my assignments and submit it in the annual English department competition for the Edwin L. Shuman Award for Creative Nonfiction Essay. He says absolutely and I leave class elated. Off to my next class, then a quick lunch with my roommate.

After lunch, I hustle off to meet with another member of the PROMPT Literary Magazine staff. We’re in charge of coordinating one of the writer’s workshops. Since I got involved with the magazine after attending one of those workshops, I want to make sure this one is great. (Pay it forward and all that.) Once our meeting concludes, I’m off to my favorite quiet study space -- the Art and Architecture reading room on the 3rd floor of Deering Library. The art around me inspires and I happily dig into my reading until dinner time.

Dinner is with a group of friends who like to explore Chicago neighborhoods and restaurants. Since I’ll try anything once, I’m all in for the plan to go to an authentic Chinese place that serves “stinky tofu.” (How bad can it be?)

Interesting classes, writing opportunities galore, and fabulous friends; these are the ingredients of a perfectly extraordinary ordinary day for me at Northwestern. That’s why.


I have a bucket list for college – a list of all the things I want to add to the list of things I’ve done before the next four years go by. What impresses me about Northwestern is how many of the things on my bucket list, I know for sure I’ll be able to do. Here are three of the biggies:

Published Research: Having participated in scientific research during high school, I am ready to dig in and get published during college. I was thrilled to see the research opportunities and funding provided by Northwestern for its undergraduates. Having emailed back and forth with a couple of undergraduate researchers in a lab that particularly interested me, I am confident that I will have the resources to realize this dream!

Studying Abroad: A prospective science major, I wasn’t sure I would be able to attain my dream of studying abroad; that was until I saw Northwestern’s integrated programs. I’m excited about the possibility of minoring in Global Health, which would allow me, as a pre‐med student, to explore other parts of the world, and to gain a better understanding of international health issues.

Philosophy on the Side: I know it seems like I’m a total science geek and I am kind of am. But lurking inside me is also a philosophy nerd. With Northwestern’s quarter system, I know I can take philosophy classes alongside all of my science classes without a problem.

Beyond these three biggies, there are many other small ones that I could also check off at Northwestern like go to a fall football game some place that actually has fall or sing in an a capella group. My bucket list completed is what Northwestern offers. Need I say more?


Sports broadcasting has fascinated me since I was in the 3rd grade. Around this time I started watching sports with more focus, and becoming one of these men I so often saw on ESPN or heard on the radio became my dream: a dream that I haven't wavered from and a dream that I want college to help me fulfill.

All it took to convince me that the Medill School of Journalism was far and away the best school for me was the visit I made there last spring. Before I arrived, I had done my homework and I knew that Medill was one of only a few universities that offered a strong liberal arts foundation combined with an incredible opportunity for in-depth and hands-on studies in journalism. I also knew that among those few, Medill stood out as the only one that is regarded as world-class in both liberal arts and journalism. But what I didn’t really know was how much being at a world-class university really matters until I got a taste of it for myself.

The magnitude of the fantastic opportunity Medill provides came home to me in a conversation I had with Professor LaMay and two students following my visit to his Sports, Society and Media class. That conversation showed me how the faculty and my fellow classmates at Medill will challenge me to go beyond mastering the basics of sports journalism to examine the deeper aspects and more profound opportunities in the field. And I want that challenge because, for me, sports journalism has always been much more than simply narrating the action. It is discovering how I can increase the positive impact that sports can have on the community; it's how I can tell a story about sports that will help a struggling community find pride, a divided community come together, or a wounded community heal. I know that sports journalism can do all that and more. And I’m excited to be at a place where I can learn from and study with others who know that too.

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