This prompt is your classic “Why us?” essay. We recommend checking out thisand paying 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 Harvey Mudd might be a great fit for you (ideally 3-5 of the reasons will be unique to Harvey Mudd 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 Harvey Mudd’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 Harvey Mudd is well-known for
Mistake #6: Thinking of this as only a “why them” essay
Here’s a great sample essay for this prompt:
I was brought up by a Scottish computer scientist and a Colombian artist. From this, I have seen beauty in both computer science and art and heard the beautiful song produced when the two come together. Harvey Mudd seems to be hearing it too.
HMC introduces computer science through multiple concepts such as logic, complexity analysis, and basic processor architecture. On top of this, HMC provides courses such as Computer Systems and Advanced Computer Architecture, which would teach me how the systems that run my code work. Through Undisciplined Art I can take advantage of Computer Networks to create unique, interactive pieces of art. Although I love the idea of creating art through my major, I also love being in a studio working with my hands which is why I took courses such as Industrial Design at my high school. That is why Workshop in Hand Press Printing caught my eye and made me wonder if it is possible to connect printing and computing.
What sets Harvey Mudd even further apart from almost every other college is the clinic program, which bridges theory and practice. Connecting theory and practice is essential to growing as a computer scientist, as I learned while building a microservice during my internship at Microsoft. Through the clinic program I would look to get involved with Claremont Locally Grown Power, as I want to be involved with preventing climate change to build a safer world for myself and my family.
At Harvey Mudd I would also be able to pursue my love for food, by eating Bulgogi at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong in Koreatown in LA, or trying the Alaskan Cod Taco at Pocho’s Tacos food truck. However, I will mostly eat at Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons, which is the only LEED certified dining hall at the Claremonts, which demonstrates HMC’s commitment to global issues, which aligns with my own. At HMC I would also be looking to form a club that intersects chemistry, engineering, and cooking. I’m interested in experimenting with automating cooking in strange ways, which incidentally might prevent me from having to eat Cup Of Noodles every week. By taking advantage of Pitzer’s gardens and cooking meals for my roommates, I can mirror HMC’s and my own dedication to the environment by using locally grown foods.
The Claremonts also provide the opportunity to expand my education in other unique ways such as through the Costa Rica Semester Program at Pitzer, where I can continue to pursue international service. The Honnold-Mudd library would play a key role in my research as it would provide access to peer-reviewed research papers through the libraries Open Access program, and would allow me to study the question, does P = NP?
I believe that Harvey Mudd is the right fit for me as it allows me to focus on computer science and mathematics, while still being able to grow myself through art, food, and humanities. I’ll make sure to share some homemade dishes with you during my time on campus.
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Tips + Analysis
(Quickly) draw in your reader. This introduction hooks the reader’s attention while making connections between the student’s identity, his academic interests, and the college’s purpose. That’s a lot to accomplish in just three lines!
Show you know your stuff. This essay makes it clear the student has done his research. He knows what makes Harvey Mudd unique (for example, the clinic program) and connects those reasons back to himself—specifically, the computer science internship he did, plus name-dropping an actual organization he’d want to work with, and linking to his values. This aspect is key to a good “Why us”—school officials want to see that you’ve truly thought about how you and the Harvey Mudd fit together (again, why us, not why them), so show your readers that you’ve spent a good amount of time exploring what they have to offer through detail, and then directly relate that detail back to your interests, values, and actions.
Use “geeky” language, when possible. Chances are you’re pretty smart if you’re applying to Harvey Mudd. Don’t be afraid to show it off—but in a way that doesn’t feel off-putting. This student takes a nice approach of not going overboard when discussing computer science concepts, while also making sure the reader knows he has some expertise in this area through illustrative details.
Show different sides of yourself. This prompt specifically asks you to think about the school’s curriculum and community, so make sure you go beyond academics in your response. This student nicely connects his love of food with the college’s commitment to sustainability, describing not only where he’ll eat but also detailing a new club he’d like to start. Again, show you’ve done your homework and thought about you + them.
Here’s how another student approached the Harvey Mudd “Why us?” essay:
A self-prepared dinner with my three sisters: that is how I portray home. These simple dinners without our parents was what brought us together. My older sister and I discussed our math homework between bites, while my little sister hummed the notes of her piano pieces. It all came together as we enjoyed our humble dinner. I found a similar connection when I first saw Harvey Mudd’s classrooms; the students and the professor looked much more comfortable in a small intimate environment. This is the kind of place where jokes and stories are shared, while a steady lecture keeps learning consistent. Every student is engaged and receives the attention they deserve just like at home.
As a prospective Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) major, I appreciate that Harvey Mudd values collaboration and diversity, and even though students are guided by a rigorous curriculum, I love that they can still practice their passions outside of academics. I strongly resonate with Harvey Mudd’s vision of highlighting humanities and the arts while growing in the STEM field. I had been playing the piano for almost ten years, but as I migrated to the U.S. and the overload of catching up with students came, I almost left it behind. I still have an affection for the instrument I grew up with. That is why I seek Harvey Mudd’s curriculum because it is not only composed of STEM courses but also humanities, arts, and other sciences. This would allow me to study within my interests and practice my passions.
When I first visited HMC, I was attracted by how often students were involved with professors and their strong connections when doing research. But then I was captivated when I was introduced to HMC’s clinic program. It excites me to know that students can be part of projects set by big sponsors and apply the knowledge from class. This is the type of hands-on experience I’ve been looking for.
I was also relieved when I saw the diversity at this college. I saw an endless variety of ethnicities, personalities, and unique interests that stimulated my curiosity and fostered a vivid yet familiar environment. I was born in Washington, raised in Mexico, and both my parents are Chinese, and I feel that my unique background has made me who I am. I have also learned that diversity creates resilience and an understanding of a wide range of perspectives, and I seek to contribute to Mudd’s diversity pool by joining the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) to promote one part of my minority side and to encourage Latinos in particular to join STEM.
Mudd’s curriculum will not only enhance my engineering background, but it will also preserve my passion for the piano. I look forward to the opportunity to work with real-life problems that today’s tech companies face. It warms me that I could potentially call Mudd my new home. It would be an honor to represent Harvey Mudd’s class of 2021.
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