Do you want to apply to US universities? This is the second part of our 5-part US college supplements series. This one will focus on the “Why Major X” Essay!
I applied to 10 universities in the United States and wrote nearly 30 individual supplemental essays for them in total. After having applied to and receiving acceptances from several top US universities so far, I believe that I can share some of my experience about different types of college essays. I will also include example responses of supplemental essays that got me accepted into those colleges!
What are college supplements?
Supplemental essays are college-specific and are of varying length. They provide a chance for applicants to provide more information about themselves—why they chose the majors they did, why they chose the university, and even some fun personal information.
Why are they important?
Aside from the main 650-word common application essay (or personal statement), these supplements allow students to express more of an interest in the specific university they are applying to and to reveal other aspects of themselves that may not already have been mentioned.
Tips on how to write a “Why Major X?” essay
This essay asks students to express their interest in the subject area they want to pursue in university, and why this university is the best option for it. Remember that these essays are not binding: you do not have to pursue this major at university. But pick something you are interested in enough to write about! The major you pick will most likely coincide with which college within the university you will be applying to, so be sure to include details on that as well.
1. Briefly describe how you got interested in this subject area
It is a great idea to begin this essay by talking about what got you interested in this field and why. Your interest may have started since elementary school and developed over time. It could also have been something you discovered recently but have been taking the initiative to explore further. Pick the most important details and tie it all together at the end!
2. Detail your interest in the major at the university
Let’s say you are interested in taking Biology. Be specific as to how the Biology major at the University of X is the best fit for a passionate, young Biology student like you! There are so many universities offering similar majors. You want to be sure to explain how your interests can be fulfilled better at this particular university than at any other.
3. List past experiences
Feel free to briefly mention any internships you have participated in, online courses you have taken, or IAs or EEs you have written on the topic of your major, and how it furthered your interest!
4. Think about your future goals!
What do you want to pursue in the future, after you graduate from university? How will this major help you pursue your lifelong goals? This information can come towards the end, or in the conclusion of your essay!
My personal experience
Here is the intro of my University of Michigan essay that describes my interest in the liberal arts school of Literature, Science, and Arts.
“When asked about my favorite subject in high school, I would often draw a blank. While some of my classmates would sarcastically say, “lunchtime,” others would refer to themselves as Math geeks and Literature nerds. However, I found it difficult to pick a single favorite subject. I view myself as a political enthusiast, a philosophy lover, an economics geek, and an English nerd, all at the same time. My diverse range of interests can all be met in the School of Literature, Sciences, and Arts (LSA).”
Here is the part where I start talking about my interest in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, Economics)
“I, therefore, want to major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), to draw on three major approaches to understand the world better. The core distributive requirements - normative theory, political economy, and formal reasoning - will help me learn foundational theories and apply them in real life. The skills I obtain from this major will transfer seamlessly into a career in public policy and social justice.”
Keep in mind that intentionally is very important. Your responses to these essays can serve the purpose of building your package in a particular area of study or adding variety and dimension to your essay. US college admissions are holistic! Your essays are not the sole factor that will determine your acceptance. Think of it as the cherry on top!