How to do this: Succinctly. Ask yourself: Is there anything else I need to say? Like, really need to say? Hopefully you’ve said it all already. If so, just close it out with 1-2 short lines.
Here are a few options that other students have used:
The “bringing it back full circle” ending:
My pulse will always race when I’m creating my grandmother’s cacio e peppe for a party of eight. Yet cooking wasn’t meant to be my career or my college experience. I learned I truly, deeply, profoundly love chemistry, and only through transferring to [insert school here] can I [name specific skills/resources you hope to gain], becoming a world renowned chemist specializing in global nutrient efficiency and bringing an end to world hunger.
The “my experiences made me who I am” ending:
Once I thought about it, I realized that if I hadn’t dropped out, I would have never [insert formative experience here], and I would have never [insert positive value here]. Looking back on this part of my life, I realized that dropping out was actually the best decision I could have ever made.
The “I have a dream (and you can help!)” ending:
I’m inspired to continue my work spreading nutritional information and resources to low-income communities like the one I was raised in and am committed to helping create not only a healthier future for my own family, but for the larger Latino community. I believe [insert school’s name] can help.
The “I’m looking for a home” ending:
Finally, the students and faculty that I met on my visit were [insert positive value here]. They made me feel that [insert college here] was a place I could call home.
Obviously don’t copy these word-for-word; let these inspire you. Or write something else altogether!
My advice: Aim for the heart. But be concise.
Ready to see how it all comes together?
Here’s an example essay–and I’ll put tiny notes in bold and italics in between the paragraphs so you can remember what to look for.
1. Core values: experiential learning, multiculturalism, embracing differences
Before I could even walk, my parents instilled in me a love for history. And thanks to their passion for travel, much of my early education was experiential. At eight, I could not only recite knowledge of Corrie Ten Boom, I’d visited the house where she’d hidden Jews in her home during WWII. By 10 I’d seen the Roman Ruins just outside Paris and by 11, I’d visited Rome and Florence, and begun to develop a passion for Michelangelo. By 14 I’d climbed the caverns of Mykonos and by 16 I’d walked barefoot through India and jogged along the Great Wall of China.
Though moving around wasn’t always easy, travel gave me the opportunity to become more adaptable and resourceful, and I came to embrace differences as not only normal but exciting. My passion for cultural experiences and history continued in high school, and I looked forward to more experiential learning opportunities in college.
2. Why she initially chose X school
One of the things that initially attracted me to Biola University was the Torrey Honors program. I also appreciated the welcoming attitude of its students, and, initially, its emphasis on Judeo-Christian values. But the past year and a half has given me time for introspection, and I have begun to see that Biola and I are not the best match.
3. A polite articulation of why she and the school are not the best match
I believe, for example, in the freedom to express love for whomever one chooses. But on at least one occasion at Biola I’ve been reported to my resident director for displaying physical affection toward another girl and have been told I could risk expulsion if we were “caught” in the act. I also believe that one should be free to express her spiritual beliefs in any way she chooses. At Biola, however, students are required to attend a minimum of 30 chapel events, and must pay upwards of $300 if this requirement is not met. I’m also interested in a diversity of perspective, but faculty are required to teach through a Biblical lens, and over 90% of the students in my department (Anthropology) are seeking to do missionary work following graduation. Finally, I didn’t feel the Torrey Honors Program provided the kind of experiential learning environment I was looking for.
4. How she made the best of things–and learned some great lessons and skills!
Two highlights of my time at Biola included debate, and the experience of founding BQU, a safe, but underground group for queer students. Working with the debate team has taught me how to be accountable for my own work and more humble in my losses. Working with BQU has shown me not only the necessity of being vulnerable with others, but has also taught me skills in creating a group constitution, designing a website, and advertising our cause in a non-inflammatory way.
5. What she wants to do (a.k.a.: the dream)
I’ve always been interested in psychological or environmental root of motives, and I see myself one day working in public policy. I’m seeking science and social science departments that offer both excellent research facilities and opportunities for practical application.
6. How she’ll pursue her interests at her new school: a mini “Why us” essay
I am interested in the debate team at Fordham because its Jesuit tradition inspires an intellectually rigorous environment. While my current team is very skilled, it does not fulfill my intellectual values; I want classmates who want to explore controversial topics despite their personal stances, and who want to take debate as seriously as their social lives. My desire to explore diversity is also reflected in my major (Anthropology), and draws me to the Irish Studies department. I am personally looking to revive my cultural heritage, and I am also interested in helping oppressed cultures thrive. I see a need to promote how Celtic culture shaped current American society, and want to explore the gender roles of early Celtic culture.
7. And we’re out.
Although my time at Biola has been challenging, it has given me time to discover my own values, ethics, and priorities. I am ready to find a place where I can feel at home, and Fordham is a place where I can picture myself reading Nietzsche in my dorm room or working on progressive debate resolutions with the squad. I hope to contribute my interests and values to the Fordham tradition.
For what it’s worth, here’s an alternate ending that she wrote for another school (Haverford):
Because of my childhood–learning history experientially through travel–I am hoping for a similar style of learning through my college experience. I believe that Haverford can provide this through its independent college programs, bi-college programs, and Ex-Co. My interests in criminology, environmental public policy, and gender studies are not normally included in traditional learning. I hope to take advantage of courses that exist outside of a strict department, such as Epidemiology and Global Health, which “examines the interplay of biomedical, societal and ethical concerns in global health.” This is important to me, because as a current anthropology major, I believe it is important to take into consideration all aspects that affect decision making in government and humanitarian efforts. Restorative Justice: A Path to Criminal and Social Justice is also a class that piques my desire to promote rehabilitation of the incarcerated population. Because I understand that social systems are intertwined, my interest into other topics grew. Furthermore, I am interested in advocating for the LGBTQ community in relation to the legal system. I wish to take Haverford’s bi-college program in gender and sexuality in order to view criminology from an LGBTQ lense.
As a student who intertwines academics with extracurricular involvement, I am impressed by the Ex-Co’s ability to provide learning opportunities outside of class. Additionally, I am drawn to extracurriculars that can also increase my knowledge of the world, such as the Debate Team. While Haverford’ current team is out of commission, I hope to get it up and running, and give students another place to speak their opinions confidently. As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I am looking forward to a place where I can openly express myself, not only in a social arena–through the QDG- but also in a political arena–through the SAGA. The two women’s centers also address these two important needs, one a need for activism, the other a need for a safe space, including that for male feminists. As an individual with various networks, it will be nice to continue having a religious community, but Grace Covenant Church Fellowship appears to be more inclusive than the one I have previously been involved with, as well as providing an opportunity to expand my own network to other schools in the area.
Because of my focus on activism, I was impressed by Haverford’s Honor Code and the Plenary. These encourage students to acknowledge the importance of civic involvement, and inspire students to improve campus policy. This particularly appeals to me as a student who feels my voice is currently not heard at Biola University. I hope to contribute ideas on how the school can help students continue to feel part of the community and celebrated for their differences.
For those wondering, this student ultimately ended up at Reed College in Portland. She’s very happy there.