This prompt is your classic “Why us?” essay, with an added twist. We recommend checking out our—pay close attention to the “Why Cornell” and “Why Penn” examples, which are our favorites.
Here’s the short version of how to write the “Why us?” essay:
Spend 1 hr+ researching 10+ reasons why Babson might be a great fit for you (ideally 3-5 of the reasons will be unique to Babson and connect back to you).
Make a copy ofto map out your college research.
Create an outline for your essays based on either Approach 1, 2 (recommended), or 3 in the full guide above.
Write a first draft!
As you write, try to avoid these common mistakes:
Six Common Mistakes Students Make on “Why Us?” Essays
Mistake #1: Writing about Babson’s size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking.
Mistake #2: Simply using emotional language to demonstrate fit.
Mistake #3: Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors, or names of any important people or places on campus.
Mistake #4: Parroting the brochures or website language.
Mistake #5: Describing traditions Babson is well-known for.
Mistake #6: Thinking of this as only a “Why them” essay.
Okay, now for the twist.
Notice that Babson is letting you decide whether to write or record your answer to this prompt. While you might be tempted to opt for the video option to save the time of writing, take some time to think carefully about which format would work best for the narrative you want to tell. Here are a couple questions to consider:
Am I a charismatic and confident speaker?
Do I have video editing skills or experience?
Can I effectively talk about or illustrate the moments/experiences of importance to me in just 1 minute?
What are my core values and strengths (check out ourif you’re not completely sure)? Can these values be reflected better through a visual or a written lens?
Does the story I want to tell about myself have a visual/auditory component to it? Would using visuals/audio add nuance to my narrative?
These are just a couple questions to get you started. The goal is just to get you thinking more deeply about your topic and the platform through which you want to talk about it. There’s no right answer here—both formats can work well in different contexts.
Maybe you’re someone who gets stressed trying to act or read a script and prefers having more time to think through your word choice. In this case, going with the written format might make more sense. Or maybe you’re a singer and you want to use song as a way of expressing your identity. That might be a case in which having sound and visuals would add another dimension to your response.
If it helps you choose, try creating a mind map of your topic(s) of choice. Write your topic(s) in the middle of the sheet of paper and start connecting it to other words and phrases. What sensations come to mind when you think of it? What adjectives are evoked? Do you have any personal anecdotes that remind you of your topic? As you begin to flesh out your ideas, you may be able to start connecting the associations with a particular medium of expression.
If you go the written essay route, the example below helps illustrate what a strong response to this prompt might look like.
I have short stubby fingers, with flattened nails bitten raw right at the tips. No, not exactly the epitome of femininity as I have come to understand it. A glance at my fingers began the struggle that led me to pursue community relentlessly as a powerful woman.
I ran these unpolished fingernails over a crack in the wall of an old village home. I could clearly see that the walls of the house in front of me were withering, worn down, with paint peeling from all sides. But looking at this half finished home, my eyes filled with visions of an extension to the living room, new tiles to replace the concrete floor, and a fresh coat of bright paint to cover the walls.
After months of reaching out to a local construction company to collaborate on the renovation of a low income household, the plan was finally approved and underway. It was now my responsibility to ensure that I could deliver the sense of comfort and welfare that is at the essence of the renovation project, and the essence of a home. More than anything, I was dedicated to doing it right.
I stood on the frontlines of the construction site, directing volunteers to their stations, approving interior decisions, and fully moderating build site activities. I loved every minute of it despite having no ambition towards construction or design. This was not my passion, but knowing I was addressing the needs in my community, I found myself completely engrossed in the project. My unconventional enthusiasm for construction made me an anomaly in the male-dominated field in the Middle East, furthering my discomfort. Despite the support coming from the buildsite workers I could not avoid feeling out of place. Eventually it manifested as hyper-awareness of my femininity or lack thereof. This insecurity had dwelled within me for a long time, and at that moment I was forced to acknowledge my insecurity. Was I exercising too much of a masculine role? Even as I felt myself at the height of my creative powers, I was wrestling with what the job said about me as a woman.
I pushed the self-consciousness to the back of my head and focused on the final details of the house. I ordered a vase of dahlias and placed a translated version of my favorite book, The Little Prince, on the children’s bookshelf while the team wrote the family a card.
I took a step back and stared at the freshly painted caramel walls and textured drapes, and realized that I had reconstructed my idea of being feminine; it is the act of building a sense of community. That wandering glance at my hand has inspired me to apply to Babson. Babson is a university that celebrates community and rejects defined gender roles. At Babson I look forward to addressing the needs of my community as an individual rather than a stereotype. (485 words)
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Tips + Analysis
Consider prioritizing quality over quantity. One really great aspect about this essay is that it doesn’t try to do too much in the space provided. While 500 words may seem daunting at first, it’s actually not a lot to work with given how broad the prompt is. This student takes the time to deeply delve into one topic—what it’s like to challenge gender norms through her construction work. She doesn’t overload the reader with information about 20 different accomplishments or extracurriculars. Rather, she spends time grappling with complex questions about identity, culture, community, and definitions of home. Because of that, we get to see what keeps her up at night. We get visceral details about her nails (“bitten raw right at the tips”) and the house she built (“freshly painted caramel walls and textured drapes”), details that could’ve been easily overlooked in a more dense essay. Give your piece room to breathe as you tell your story. It’s better to add layers of complexity, growth, and self-reflection to one topic than speak superficially about many.
Make connections to Babson’s core values. This is a bit of an unconventional “Why us?” essay example because it doesn’t spend a lot of time explicitly talking about Babson. Only in the last few sentences does the student directly reference the college. However, Babson is written all over this essay in more subtle ways. Remember, this is a community that values hands-on work, personal ambition/motivation, creative thinking, and learning by doing. Nearly every part of this essay plays into those values: the grit of rejecting stereotypical roles for specific genders and ethnicities, the hands-on aspect of construction work, the innovative thinking involved in the building process, the idea of serving one’s community through action. Together, these details paint a clear picture of how this student would fit in on Babson’s campus. You can be more explicit and reference some of Babson’s resources that speak to you, which would go even further in showing you’ve done your research. As you write, keep Babson’s values in mind and think about how you can connect them to the story of you.
Try to demonstrate growth. One of the best parts of this essay is that it ends in a different place from where it begins. From the start, the student gives us a sense of her anxiety in challenging the gendered dynamics of construction work, despite her clear knack for the job. As the essay progresses, we see her get more comfortable in her role and question the stereotypes she once took for granted. She even includes some of the questions she asks herself as she’s reconciling her background with her interests. We see her confidence grow as she nears the end of the piece, giving her essay a sense of momentum. She does a great job of rounding it all out by connecting her growth back to the initial wandering glance at her hand, a modest way of showing readers how much she’s learned through this one building project. When you write your essay, try to give it a sense of forward movement. This doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers to your questions (in fact, it can show vulnerability and insight to pose questions you don’t have the answers to yet). The point here is to use questions to illustrate how you’re thinking about the world around you. Babson is looking for students who can respond to their environment in dynamic ways, so self-awareness and flexibility are great values to express.
With these tips in mind, you’re ready to start writing a stand-out essay!