How to Write the Claremont McKenna College Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2021/2022

This is your classic “Why us?” prompt, though topping out at 250 words, it’s a bit on the short-ish side. We recommend checking out our complete guide on how to write the “Why us?” essay and paying close attention to the “Why Cornell” and “Why Penn” examples, which are our favorites. The “Why Tufts” essay is a good example of how to write to a shorter prompt.

Here’s the short version of how to write the “Why us?” essay:

  • Spend 1 hr+ researching 5-7 reasons why Claremont McKenna might be a great fit for you (ideally 3-5 of the reasons will be unique to CMC and connect back to you).

  • Make a copy of this chart to 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 Claremont McKenna’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 CMC is well-known for.

Mistake #6: Thinking of this as only a “Why them” essay.

Here’s a great “Why us?” for CMC.


Through Claremont McKenna’s small school environment, flexible degree structure, supportive faculty, and cutting-edge research, I will have the opportunity to take advantage of an interdisciplinary education and hands-on learning experience. I am specifically interested in furthering and combining my knowledge of economics and science. 

The interdisciplinary focus of the Keck Science Department would allow me to learn more deeply in chemistry, biology, and environmental science. From Introduction to Biological Chemistry to Accelerated Integrated Science Sequence, there is no shortage of courses that I can explore. Likewise, the Roberts Environmental Center focuses on public and private partnerships where I can apply theory to practical environmental solutions that I am deeply committed to improving. 

Without showing the economic value, it is often very difficult to implement scientific and environmental solutions. This is why I find economics coupled with a science degree to be so rewarding. Participating in the Dis Copenhagen Economic study abroad program would broaden this understanding through hands-on learning experiences.

Besides the amazing educational opportunities, I also admire the strong community of happy students at CMC. I particularly like the Claremont International Relations Society, Unchained, and would even look to create a sports debate club to deepen school spirit, and provide opportunities for students with similar interests. With a CMC education, I am confident I will continue to be a life-long learner, active community member, and a global citizen.

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Tips + Analysis

  1. Try to show variety in your interests. College is about more than academics, and CMC has some robust out-of-the-classroom opportunities that can make for a well-rounded, fulfilling college experience. By broadening your “Why CMC” reasons to clubs, organizations and activities—as this student does with the Claremont International Relations Society and sports debate club—you can show CMC that you plan to play an active role in its campus community.

  2. Explain your impact. The author here doesn’t just reference opportunities at CMC in passing; she does so with intention. Every time he brings up a campus organization or course, he explains why he’s interested in it and what he’d do as a member of it. Writing about the contributions you see yourself making helps admission officers envision your impact on the campus environment more tangibly. It also shows you’re thinking through your involvement in the community on a deeper level, demonstrating a commitment to CMC’s core values.

  3. Put your academic goals in the context of the larger community. Outside the classroom, you’ll also be interacting with a diverse group of people with backgrounds that may be completely different from your own. Consider thinking through how your coursework might influence places, people, and communities outside the classroom. This student emphasizes how happy and strong the community at CMC is, envisioning himself taking advantage of the collaborative culture to connect to others as a global citizen and lifelong learner. He also shares his plans to study abroad in Copenhagen and implement hands-on solutions in alternative learning environments. If you have the details, you can get even more specific, drawing on personal experience to help your reader understand the scope and significance of the impact you see yourself making at CMC.

  4. Connect your interests to CMC’s resources. This essay isn’t just about you. It also isn’t just about CMC. “Why us?” = why you + why CMC. So try to craft a response that demonstrates your unique interests and then connects those to what the college has to offer. This student, for example, highlights his interest in economics and science. He then connects those interests to specific opportunities at CMC, like the Roberts Environmental Center and Keck Science Department. We get a distinct sense of his excitement to engage with school resources. Getting as specific as possible about the clubs, labs, classes, majors, or professors you want to engage with will show that you’ve done your research—and you’ve found lots at CMC to be excited about.

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