When your favorite food is pepperoni pizza and your friend asks why, you can easily say, I don’t know. I just like it because it tastes good.
When colleges ask applicants to write 500 or fewer on “Why do you want to major in XYZ?”, applicants find themselves staring back at the computer screen: I don’t know why. I just like it. Isn’t that enough?
No, it’s not. Going to college is not exactly like eating pepperoni pizza.
So what exactly are colleges looking for in applicant responses?
It’s easier than you think and only involves 2 steps. Let’s break it down.
Reuse keywords from “learning outcomes” to prove your fit.
Let’s say you wanted to be a Communication major at University of Colorado Boulder.
- Go to the most recent university catalog.
- Find the Communication major
- Find the “Learning Outcomes” tab.
- Read the description.
- Find a portion of the learning outcomes that speaks to you.
Example 1: Social Change from Student Council
“Students will strategize how to engage with communities to create social change through communication practices.”
Pick some of these words to express why you want to major in Communication at CU Boulder.
“After serving as a student council member creating positive change at school, I wanted to learn how to engage with local communities to create social change through effective communication.”
Then back it up with concrete examples of times in your life when you’ve needed or wanted to use better communication practices to improve student turnout at pep rallies, increase athletic booster donations, or creating a more respectful and accepting environment at school.
Example 2: Intersectional Differences
“Students will utilize communication theories to analyze intersectional differences and power in society.”
“As an aspiring CEO, I hope to learn communication theories to analyze power differences in society that will inform my leadership decisions to ensure a diverse and respected team of