Guidelines for College Research Prior to Writing Essays and Going on Interviews

One very effective strategy for writing compelling college essays and making a strong impression during your interview is to conduct research on each college you are applying to. In short, the more you know about the college, the more effectively you can make the case that you will make a significant contribution to the campus and that the college will help to further your life goals. Use the following suggestions to guide your research

  1. Read Mission Statement and Strategic Planning Statement
  2. Scan each column of information including academics, research, about us, campus experience, and anything else that looks interesting to you.
  3. Gain an understanding of campus size, campus culture and living situation.
  4. Under academics, navigate to your anticipated major and do significant research to determine the extent to which the college’s priorities match your experiences to date and your anticipated future path. This is particularly important because admission committees want to make sure that you are a good fit for their institution, both in terms of how well they can assist you along your path and how much of a contribution you are likely to make to their institution.
  5. Look at some of the classes offered or required under your anticipated major.
  6. In particular, focus on the aspects that colleges seem to be proudest of, such as their recent research and success stories, new construction, and how they’re making a difference in the community.
  7. Write down any interesting catch phrases or marketing phrases they use. For example,

“We are driven to meet the world’s challenges” (U Chicago) or “We foster independent thinking” (Brown University). In particular, look for terms such as: leaders, leadership, collaboration, teamwork, research, talent, and diversity.

  • Go down a rabbit hole or two, either following the research of a particular professor or identifying details of a particular major.
  • Check other resources such as Unigo or Reddit to find out what students are saying about the college. Keep in mind that websites such as these tend to attract people with very strong opinions, so take whatever you read with a grain of salt.
  • Based on this research, get a general idea of how well you will fit in at this college and state this information in both your interviews and your essays.