American University Essay

American University Essay 2022-23

American University Essay: Quick Facts

  • American University Acceptance Rate: 36%– U.S. News ranks American University as a more selective school. 
  • American University Essay Requirements:
    • 1 (~ 150 word) essay
  • American University Application: Students must submit their American University application through the Common Application. Make sure to have all of your American University supplemental essays and other required application materials ready when applying. 
  • American University Application Deadlines:
    • Early Decision: November 15th
    • Early Decision 2: January 15th
    • Regular Decision: January 15th 
  • American University Essay Tip: There is only one American University essay to complete. Make sure that you take the time to answer carefully and thoughtfully. 

Does American University require any supplemental essays?

Yes. There is one 150-word American University essay that students must complete—the “Why American University” essay.

Since there are not multiple American University essay prompts, you should do all you can to make this Why American University essay count. 

You only have 150 words to use in this American University supplement essay. Although there aren’t various American University essay prompts and the only required “Why American University essay” is short, that doesn’t make it easier to complete. The difficulty lies in writing about a broad topic in a small amount of space. 

Showcase your writing

Your American University essay is your only chance beyond your Common App essay to showcase your writing skills. It also lets you show American University why you belong on their campus. As such, your American University supplement can make a major difference in your application. A strong American University supplement essay, then, will increase your admissions odds. So, when strategizing around how to get into American University, prioritize your American University supplemental essays. This will give you an advantage

If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry. Below, we’ve provided a detailed guide on how to write a successful “Why American University essay.” 

What are American University’s Essays?

Here’s the American University supplemental essay prompt:

Why are you interested in American University? (150 words max.)

As we discussed, there are not multiple American University essay prompts. Take advantage of your one chance to impress the American University admissions committee! Students who write excellent American University supplemental essays are sure to stand out.

You might be familiar with “Why School essays” from other supplements. So, approach the “Why American University essay” with the same strategy that you might have used on other applications. Namely, your essay should show the American University admissions committee why you belong at their school. 

This essay also helps the American University admissions committee envision you on campus. The admissions team wants to admit students who will enrich their community. Your American University essay, then, should show how you’d actively contribute to campus life. Successful American University supplemental essays will answer not only the why American University essay prompt, but also show American University why they should invest in you. 

Standing out

American University Essay

No matter your interests, showing passion and leadership will help you stand out. In your American University supplement, therefore, you should highlight exactly how you’d engage with American University and its offerings.  Students who write successful American University supplemental essays will show their motivation and enthusiasm for the school. 

This American University supplement also assesses how well a student fits in with the school’s culture. American University Admissions doesn’t just want to know why you want to attend their school; they also want to know if their school will serve your needs. Well-written American University supplemental essays need to touch on both of these points. 

With this in mind, do some research before writing your American University supplement. The Why American University essay reveals how much you know about American University. It also shows how you’ll take advantage of the resources the school provides. The best American University supplemental essays will show specific knowledge about American University and provide strong evidence that the writer will succeed on campus.

Demonstrate your interest

Pay attention to how this prompt uses the word “interested.” In your American University supplement essay, you should show “demonstrated interest,” or DI. Unlike some top schools, American University tracks demonstrated interest. This means that they evaluate how much you engage with the school and actively show that you want to attend. 

Universities often use DI as a tool to measure exactly how much a student wants to attend. Since “why school” essays are useful for determining DI, many universities use questions like the American University essay prompts in their supplements.

Now that you know more about the American University supplement essay, let’s look at how to write it. You can also use the tips in this guide to answer similar questions on other university supplements. If you apply anywhere else with a “why us” essay, the information below will help you complete supplements like the American University essay prompts.

Approaching a “Why School” essay

As we now know, there aren’t multiple American University supplemental essays. So, applicants are faced with the tricky task of impressing admissions officers with one short, well-crafted American University supplemental essay. You may be thrilled at the prospect of not having to respond to multiple American University essay prompts. However, without multiple American University supplemental essays to write, the spotlight is truly on your “why American University essay.”

You’ll likely see the why school essay in other college applications. You shouldn’t reuse essays, as they need to be specific to each school. However, they will all achieve the same general goal. You should use the why American University essay to amplify your application by showing what you’ll gain from attending their school. However, a successful why American University essay won’t stop there. You’ll also need to show how you will enhance the school. What will you bring to campus? This “why American University essay” is your opportunity to show that you are a perfect fit. 

Research is key

There are probably specific qualities that attracted you to the school. Essentially, ask yourself why you want to go there. Is there a certain major, internship, or other program that excites you? Are there clubs you want to join or courses you want to take there?

Try not to think of this research as another chore in your American University application process. Get excited about learning more about the school. Authentic passion and drive will come across in successful American University supplemental essays. However, it can’t be faked. So, take advantage of not having multiple American University supplemental essay prompts to manage. Then, dive head first into your why American University essay research. 

Avoid common mistakes

The biggest mistake that students make when responding to the why school essay is being overly general. Vague or dispassionate American University supplemental essays will not help you overcome the American University acceptance rate. 

Use what you learned during your college search to help you get started. What qualifying factors did you use to compare colleges? What made you decide to go through the lengthy American University application? Reference specific programs, courses, or unique campus qualities when writing your why American University essay. 

If American University is truly a good fit for you, you’ll probably have many things to talk about. The challenge will be keeping your American University essay focused and within the 150 word limit. Be sure to choose a topic for your Why American University essay that is truly unique and specific to the school. 

Highlight your strengths

American University Essay

Another important part of responding to a why school essay is showing why you are a good fit for the university. What will you bring to campus that no one else could? What kind of experience or leadership skills might you apply to your activities on campus? Think about your skills, talents and interests. Then, highlight them in a way that makes it impossible for American University admissions to deny the positive impact you’d have on the school. 

The majority of schools you apply to will have some version of the why school essay. Similar to the American University essay, NYU only has one supplemental essay which follows the same style. The difference with the why NYU essay is that applicants have 400 words to answer, whereas the American University essay is much shorter. 

Northwestern University, like AU, only gives applicants one supplemental essay apart from the Common app essay. Students must answer the why Northwestern essay prompt in 300 words or less. Check out these successful essays from admitted students. 

UChicago also has a why school essay. However, it is one of multiple supplemental essays that students must complete. And, unlike students responding to the American University essay prompts, UChicago applicants have no word limit to their why school prompt.  

How do I write American University’s supplemental essay?

Writing the “Why American University essay” starts with brainstorming the reasons why you want to attend. Even if American University is not your top choice, you should still have specific reasons why it interests you. The American University admissions team wants to know these reasons!

Think about why you would want to attend American University. Ask yourself what specific aspects of American University most interest you, and make a list. If you’re struggling, do some more research on the school. What extracurriculars does it offer that align with your interests? What academic programs seem exciting to you?

Focus on the details

Once you have your list, make the details as specific as possible. For example, if you wrote down that you like American’s academic programs, try to find a specific discipline or major that American University offers. If you wrote that you enjoy the setting in Washington D.C., you could discuss a specific way AU allows students to interface with the city. The more specific and personal your reasons for applying are, the more the American University admissions committee will want to admit you. 

Then, narrow down your list to two or three specific areas of interest to discuss in detail. Because you only have 150 words in this American University supplement essay, you likely can’t mention every item on your list and stay within the word limit. So, instead of listing everything that interests you in your “Why American University essay,” focus on the most significant items. Although this significance can be subjective, you should likely discuss the programs and offerings that will most influence your choice to attend.

American University Essay

Do your research

After you have your topics, do some more research. Find out exactly how American University will help you pursue your interests. Your American University supplement essay will be more effective if you can reference traditions, specific academic courses, or other opportunities. This shows the American University admissions committee why the school is a good fit for you. 

Some good ways to get that information include:

  • Visiting the school’s website: You can look up specific course offerings, browse extracurricular activities, and explore various aspects of student life. Just be sure you use the school’s official page or another trusted source.
  • Speaking to a current or former student: If someone you know attends American University or has recently graduated, reach out to them. Their insights can help you connect your interests with specific opportunities at American University.
  • Attending a college fair: These events give you a chance to talk to American University admissions representatives about your interests. They also let you gather more information about the school. Plus, speaking to a representative at a college fair is a great way to show DI.

You should also mention any interactions you have had with students or staff in your American University supplement essay. Whether you visit the school (either in person or virtually) or simply email an American University admissions counselor, every engagement with American University shows demonstrated interest. Referencing these conversations in your American University supplement essay reinforces the research that you have done and shows how proactive you are. 

Find a hook

american university essay

As you begin your “Why American University essay,” start with an interesting hook or topic sentence to grab your reader’s attention. If possible, avoid the standard: “The first reason I want to attend American University is…” because it sounds plain and formulaic. Think about immersing your reader into a story instead of restating the prompt.

Some examples of strong introductions include:

  • A description of how you first heard about American University: You might open with the story of a memorable campus visit or an anecdote told by a family member about American University. This introduction establishes an immediate, personal connection with the American University admissions team.
  • A career or academic goal that American University will help you achieve: If you already know what career or major you want to pursue, this is a great way to make your intentions known. The rest of your American University essay can then explain why this school will help you achieve your goals.
  • A special or unique feature about American University: In your research, you may have encountered a tradition, club, class, or professor that makes American University stand out. Mentioning this in the opening sentence shows that you understand what sets American University apart from other schools.

Focus on core themes

In the body of your “Why American University essay,” stay focused on your core themes. Remember, you may not have enough room to address everything you want to say. Find the essential aspects of American University that make it the ideal school for you. Then, use them as the foundation of your American University supplement essay.

American University Essay Reflections Questions:

  • Does this essay show you’ve done research on American University?
  • Do you explain why American University is a good fit for you?
  • Does this essay reference specific qualities about American University?
  • Do you use an interesting hook or introductory sentence?
  • Does this essay describe your reasons for applying to American University? 

Want more advice about writing your American University supplement essay? Check out this article for additional tips on impressing American University admissions!

American University Essay & American University Admissions

You may be wondering just how important the American University supplemental essays are in the grand scheme of the American University application. Well, the American University acceptance rate is competitive at 36%

For the Class of 2022, there were nearly 19,000 applicants, with the average GPA of admitted students falling in the range of 3.47-4.00. American University currently has a test optional policy. So, if your SAT scores don’t hit at least 1240 (the low end of the average SAT score range for accepted applicants), then you don’t need to submit them. High grades and test scores can help you impress the American University admissions committee. However, grades and scores alone won’t be enough to stand out in the American University admissions process. 

With so many competitive applicants, you’ll want to make sure that you craft an impressive American University application narrative. The American University essay plays an important role in that narrative. The essay matters even more if you’re applying with an average GPA or feel like you don’t have a good SAT score that you want to submit. The American University essay is your opportunity to show admissions what makes you stand out. Use it to highlight why you should be accepted out of the many other qualified candidates.  

Beyond the American University Essay

Knowing how to write the American University supplement essay is important, but in order to figure out how to get into American University you also need to know how to maximize your admissions odds. Since the American University acceptance rate is competitive, your American University supplement essay is incredibly important. And of course, there are other American University supplemental materials that will help to enhance your American University application, such as your teacher recommendation letter

The American University admissions committee accepts the Common Application. This means all applicants must complete the Common App essay. You will also submit the American University supplement. On your Common Application, you will report your GPA and courses, share your extracurricular involvement, and write a short personal statement. Each part of the application lets you show the American University admissions team what makes you unique. 

Many factors to consider

Admission to a selective school like American University depends on many factors, including the American University essay prompts. While grades and scores matter, the American University admissions committee also considers things like writing skills and personal qualities. They also evaluate whether American University is the right fit for you. 

To determine these more abstract metrics, the committee relies on the Common App essay—also known as your personal statement—and the American University supplement essay. The American University essay prompts, therefore, let you show why you belong at American University.   

American University admissions states that they have a holistic admissions policy. This means that they look at the whole picture when considering each American University application. So, wondering how to get into American University? AU admissions looks for well-rounded, passionate applicants. Do your best on every part of the American University application, including your American University essay. 

Top 3 Tips for Writing the American University Essay

While there aren’t multiple American University supplemental essays, that doesn’t necessarily make things easier. It will take thoughtful planning to write your compelling yet concise American University essay. 

However, an exceptional American University essay could be what has you opening your acceptance letter and planning your college enrollment for fall semester. So, get excited. The more passionate you are about the school, the stronger your essay will be. Here are 3 tips for students to consider in order to write their best American supplemental essays.

American University Essay Top Tips

#1- Get specific

This isn’t not the time to generalize or be vague. Use this American University essay to really learn about specific programs and offerings that are only found at AU. Why did American University make it onto your college list? A well written why American University essay will highlight the unique education that only American University students can enjoy. 

#2- Why you?

While you want to highlight specific details of American University that you would take advantage of as a prospective student, you also need to tie it back to what you would bring to the campus. Sure, you’re interested in AU, but why should they consider you out of their large pool of competitive applicants? What separates you from the rest?

#3- Make it interesting

Bring your passion and creativity to this American University essay. Think of all the American University supplemental essays that admissions officers have to read. To be successful, yours needs to stand out. Bring some sparkle to your essay by showing off your writing skills and getting innovative while answering the prompt. 

Want more advice about writing your American University supplement essay? Check out this video from American University admissions for additional tips on what to include!

Still looking for inspiration before tackling the American University essay prompts? Before you write your American University supplemental essays, check out some examples of successful college essays. You’ll be able to see what works well. Then, you can use the same techniques to write your best American University essay.

American University Supplement Essay: Final Thoughts

When reviewing your American University supplement, the American University admissions team wants to see answers to two distinct questions: “what does this student know about our school” and “what makes our school a good fit for this student.”  Understanding these two implied questions behind the “Why American University essay” will help you craft the best possible response.

Address each part of the question

To answer the first question, let your research shine through in your essay. Use specific examples to let the American University admissions team know that you know a lot about the school. Finally, make sure your American University essay reflects what you might pursue in college.

To answer the second question, make sure you clearly articulate your goals. You want to connect those goals to opportunities at American University and explain how this particular school will help you achieve them. If the topics discussed in your American University essay could apply to any other college, look for more specific details.  

Finally, don’t hesitate to have someone else look over your American University essay before you submit it. A second pair of eyes can help you see ways to improve your writing that you may have missed! 

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This American University essay guide was written by Sarah KaminskiLooking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.