Northwestern University Essay Word Limit On College

Interested in sharing the same alma mater as Stephen Colbert and David Schwimmer? If Northwestern is one of your top choices, you should be able to succinctly explain why.

Part of the Northwestern application includes a supplemental essay that asks you to elaborate on why you are applying to their school. Here’s their prompt:

We ask an intentionally open-ended question: why would you like to attend? When you answer, focus on your interests or experiences.

Here are 5 successful “Why Northwestern” essays to help you kickstart yours:


Northwestern ‘18

Any school, but especially Northwestern, is difficult to summarize.  Balanced, spirited, laidback, ambitious; although true, each word generalizes the depth of the overall university experience.  Two descriptors stand out above the rest, however: flexible and magnetic. Keep reading. 


Northwestern ‘20

After researching potential college majors, I decided to pursue engineering with a focus on the more creative and human side. While I love math and science, creativity and human interaction are very important to me. When I attended the Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering information session, Dean Holtgreive talked about the Design Thinking and Communication class; it sounded exactly like the course of study I want to pursue. Read more.


Northwestern ‘19

What appeals most to me about Northwestern is that it houses some of the world’s top scholars and innovators in Evanston who are accessible and willing to work with undergraduates on research projects. After my summer 2014 internship at The University of Akron’s Polymer Science department, the second best in the country, where I designed and implemented a procedure to test the effect of varying gecko toe pad surface chemistry on the effectiveness of the self-cleaning of its feet, I am seeking a school that is committed to undergraduate research. Continue reading.



Northwestern ‘18

There are many things I love about Northwestern, such as the academic flexibility, the chance to take more classes with the quarter system, the variety of clubs, and the proximity to Chicago.

That’s the answer I give to my friends and teachers. While those things are true, my real reason for choosing Northwestern is more than just academics, statistics, or Gator Bowl titles. It was the feeling I got that Friday afternoon in May when I first met Natalie, the student who would be hosting me for an overnight. Read more. 


Northwestern ‘18

With the rapid increase of global communications and the cultural preeminence of social media, the social fabric of American society is constantly shifting, and with it, the role of media within our everyday lives. The Medill School of Journalism would allow me to not only gain insight on the dynamic functions of modern media, but also develop the crucial rhetorical skills required to thrive in the professional world. View full essay.




Interested in reading these students full personal statements, and Why Northwestern supplements? Unlock all of them in one go with our Why Northwestern package! 

Our premium plans offer different level of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school. Unlock any of our packages or search our undergraduate profile database to find specific profiles that can help you make an informed choice about where to apply! 

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

Moreover, adding “flavor” to the essays by elaborating on your personal connection with your chosen interests, and the unique contributions you have made to them are also critical to your candidacy. Remember that you do not have to win a Nobel Prize or cure cancer to engage your readers and make them feel that you will add to the excellence of the institution. Uniqueness is conveyed through personal anecdotes, narrated with a detailed voice.


If you are passionate about biomedical engineering, do not write, “I love the intersection between biology and engineering.” Everyone majoring in biomedical engineering also finds such overlap appealing. Instead, start the essay with an anecdote about how when you missed school because of a stomach flu, you spent the long hours in bed sketching designs of ingestible micro-machines that could disseminate antibiotics more efficiently than regular medicine, thinking of the pain it would spare you and millions of other people.


Not only is this specific anecdote a more appropriate way of conveying to the reader that biomedical engineering already permeates your life, it also implies that you are inventive and industrious with your time. This supplement is only 300 words, so using specific anecdotes like this with multiple layers of meaning is essential to saturating the space with as much content as possible.


Do not, however, treat this as a shorter Common Application essay. Ultimately, the emphasis is on your fit for Northwestern’s specific resources. You could begin by illustrating how you would bury your head in literature written by the likes of Kafka and Camus all weekend, then show up Monday morning before everyone else arrives at school for an advanced lab that aims to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, then transition to discussing how Northwestern’s Science in Human Culture Program is a perfect fit for you and your interdisciplinary mind.


Remember to talk about what you will actually do in the program; envision yourself there, already at Northwestern. What will your day look like? Which professors would you like to work with within the Science in Human Culture Program? What kind of scholarship or internship opportunities within the program will you take advantage of for your research proposal?


Again, specificity is key. Avoid making general statements such as: “Northwestern’s state-of-the-art theater program makes it the perfect school for me.” That answer is one that could be given by virtually anyone, even those who haven’t the slightest idea of what theater is. Generality connotes lack of interest, lack of research, and worst of all, lack of effort. So when writing this essay, ask yourself: What are the specific aspects of Northwestern University that sets it apart from all the other top 20 schools? What could I do at Northwestern that would be hard for me to do at other colleges?

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