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Why Swarthmore? - An Over the Top / Cliche essay?

djkang 1 / 6  
Dec 28, 2010   #1
HI Everyone,

I'm having difficulty with my Why [college] essays... Essentially, my parents critiqued my essays and pointed out that they may be over the top / cliche / not specific ~ I'd like more input on this, and whether I should mention more programs or be more down to earth in my essay.

Anyhow, here it is:

Why are you applying to Swarthmore in particular?

When people ask what I enjoy doing most, they expect typical answers. Answers like, "baking soufflé," or "skiing," or perhaps "long walks on the beach." It's true. I enjoy it all. But that's not my answer.

I go to boarding school, and there I discovered my greatest passion, as cheesy as it may sound: Conversation, in a softly lit room with my best friends at two in the morning. They tend towards the intellectual side - my dorm superlative last year was "most likely to host a conversation about the politics of Bhutan at two in the morning" (the other was "mostly likely to frustrate dorm faculty with his antics at two in the morning, but that's a different story). For some reason, there is something immensely enjoyable about simply sitting and talking - the knowledge that is shared, the bonds we make, the games we play. We might discuss the nature of personality, or play word association until the sun rises. Sometimes we'll be broody, sometimes wild and ridiculous. But however the conversation varies, I know one thing: there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

What I heard about Swarthmore caught my attention - its quirky, intellectual atmosphere, a place where you know everyone on the pathway, a place where everyone would share my passion for sitting, perhaps over a cup of coffee or on the front lawn, and talking. Naturally, I decided to visit. Before visiting Swarthmore, I had already toured other colleges, many of them impressive, exciting places. Yet - there was something missing.

As I walked through Parrish Hall, as I wandered among stacks of books at the library, it struck me - this is it. I found the atmosphere I was missing. Here, I could see myself sit down, at any table, and start discussing anything with the person next to me. Here, I could see myself watching as someone drew a diagram on the outdoor chalkboard, or standing up myself, talking, arguing, erasing, and altering. Here, I could do what I loved most.

Where else would I meet other people with quirks that make life so interesting, who would go nuts for off-beat traditions like "Chocolates and Choosing"? Where I else could continue thinking of crazy ideas - huge Jenga brick parties, water balloon photography, Soviet marches, miracle fruit tasting parities - and find people to come along for the ride? Where I else could I find others who indulge in my passion for uni (sea urchin gonads) and the Soviet Anthem? So, then, what other place is there for odd discussions on the nuances of Hong Kong public transportation, or the finer details of cooking pesto?

When people ask what I enjoy doing most, I think back to long afternoons walking and discussing, to everything I've said and heard, to my best friends in my dorm. I smile, and simply say, "I enjoy conversation."

Why apply to Swarthmore? There's no place I'd enjoy more.

Thanks in advance!
turntablespp 6 / 41  
Dec 28, 2010   #2
Take the first paragraph out, it seems too cliche

For some reason, there is something immensely enjoyable about simply sitting and talking - the knowledge that is shared, the bonds we make, the games we play (huh?).

okay, as for you essay, I feel that this isn't swarthmore specific. I mean face it, you can strike up a conversation anywhere. I think you should focus on specific programs in the school and how you will take advantage of those opportunities.

Although the essay is well written, but not for this occasion!

sorry if I was harsh!
can you read my cornell essay please?
aiswim 4 / 28  
Dec 28, 2010   #3
I have to disagree with turntablespp.
I really love this essay, and I think you took a different approach that admissions officers might appreciate.
But yeah, take out that first paragraph-- it's a waste of space. Instead, include some more Swarthmore-specific details later on in the essay.

Overall, good work. Please help me with my Tufts essay!
OP djkang 1 / 6  
Dec 28, 2010   #4
I suppose what I was going for is that I really liked the vibe I got from Swarthmore, not any one particular program or class (I'm undecided on pretty much everything, and go pretty much by "feel"). The inclusive community environment and the intellectual"ness" of Swarthmore really appealed to me - it was the only school I visited where I went, wow, this is it.

But it's pretty hard to capture without being overly vague or cliche, and I'm having difficulty with that - maybe I'll go more into the liberal arts curriculum? The support? The academic flexibility/small classes?
maineballin 2 / 6  
Dec 28, 2010   #5
I think that it is acceptable as a Why us? essay because you talk about the things you like about the school and can tell them what made swarthmore stick out to you and since you can relate to it, it is pretty good. but the first sentence comes of kinda snobby in my opinion. Good luck!
fc barca 4 / 19  
Jan 2, 2011   #6
I think it's great! You remind me why I loved Swarthmore so much!

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