Good news: you can still write a great “Why this College” even if you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up. Some tips:
1. Consider including a thesis that either name your 2-3 areas of interest or states that you’re unsure what you want to study. In that thesis, consider saying what you do want, and including the name of the school (Example: “I’m interested in X, Y, and Z, and I believe there’s no other place for me to explore these areas than the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”)
2. You can also begin with a nice hook to not only show your creativity but also perhaps distract from the fact that you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up (and oh by the way it’s totally fine to not know).
Here’s a great example to illustrate these points:
The Why Johns Hopkins “Why this College” Essay Example
Prompt: Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 on a spirit of exploration and discovery. As a result, students can pursue a multi-dimensional undergraduate experience both in and outside of the classroom. Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests (academic, extracurricular, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.) and how you will build upon them here. (500 words)
Dear 2016 Ariana,
It’s 2026. I have just returned from the G20 summit after delivering the annual-report on demographic transition and population stability.
Throughout your seventeen years of life, you have been barraged with choices: Which airline seat to choose? Is the answer B or C? Is “the dress” blue/black or white/gold? But, you will soon make a choice that will allow you to harness your knowledge and apply it to reality. The choice to go to Johns Hopkins.
By now, you have lived in India, the UK, and the USA: multicultural exposure that shaped your worldview. You are confused as to what you want exactly, but deep down you strive for a synergy of ideas and fields. That can and will be found at Hopkins.
Particularly, the JHU Humanities Center will provide you with a flexible approach toward interdisciplinary study: important, as you value the need to explore before settling on a choice. You will find this at Homewood, but also globally; through study at the Sciences Po campus, Paris, which outlines the interconnectedness between areas such as law, finance, and urban policy.
In Model United Nations, you built skills in collaboration, working with students across the country to embody pluralism and reach consensus. At Hopkins, you will enhance these skills and your knowledge of international relations in Professors Moss and Hanchards’s class, Diaspora, Nation, Race, & Politics. The discussions, which range from political sociology and human rights to the fall of late nineteenth century empires, will give you greater insight into how history determines our understanding of today’s geopolitical challenges.
And although you stuck your toe in the ocean of government and politics through your internship in Senator Glazer’s office, JHU provides an immersive dive into this field through their International Studies Program, with opportunities at the Nanjing Center, China and the Nitze School in Washington D.C.
On a local level, you will be able to extend your political service when you run for JHU Student Government Association, where you will continue to represent diverse viewpoints and provide a forum for recognition and discussion.
You will also have the opportunity to continue your work with the Red Cross, giving back to the Baltimore community by joining the JHU and the Chesapeake Regional chapters. And by joining the Public Health Student Forum, you will gain access to speakers who have worked in these fields all their life, like Former Director of the Peace Corps, Dr. Jody Olsen, and Dr. Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer of the Red Cross.
All your life experiences, from building community to understanding behavior in order to enact decisions, have stemmed from One. Single. Choice. Without Johns Hopkins, you would not have become an expert on global policy change, speaking at events like the G20 emporium.
Yes, the world has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. But Hopkins recognizes this fluidity, and paired with you, Ariana, will propel the importance of integrative study.
PS: The dress is white/gold.
Final note from me: Do you notice how in the end this approach isn’t all that different from Approaches 1 and 2? The main difference is her thesis, which, instead of naming a major, simply states that she’s unsure what she wants to study. We’re cool with it, though, especially because she still includes lots of reasons and connects each back to herself.