Northwestern university essay examples
Northwestern University – Evanston, IL,” wallyg | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The following essay examples were written by several different authors who were admitted to Northwestern University and are intended to provide examples of successful Northwestern University application essays. All names have been redacted for anonymity. Please note that has shared these essays with admissions officers at Northwestern University in order to deter potential plagiarism.

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In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.


Passion is described as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something” according to Merriam-Webster. This quality certainly cannot be taken lightly or easily flaunted, but when it is present, it deems expression.

My passion for business sprouted when I was nine and my father enrolled me in a Finance and Economics summer program at my local community college. I had dreaded the idea of doing something educational over the summer, but those feelings were quickly replaced with interest and excitement. With a small team, I helped manage a fake stock portfolio and witnessed the beginning of a national recession.

Although I do not use the term passion lightly, my passions are certainly far spread. Being involved in orchestra has allowed me to experience the beauty of music and given me the opportunity to play in the White House, France, and Monaco. My passion for teamwork has driven me to explore my abilities in Cross Country and Track.

Northwestern is a place where I can express my passions and explore new ones. When I visited Northwestern over the summer, two perky tour guides told me about their own passions. One was the president of her sorority and the other loved to dance and raved about Northwestern’s Dance Marathon. Passion allows us to thrive and be happy in our pursuits for success. The suburban campus will be a perfect place for me to immerse myself in clubs and activities while having easy access to opportunities in the lovely city of Chicago.

Why This Northwestern Essay Worked: From an ex-admissions officer

This essay is persuasive because it communicates urgency and energy around the student’s activities. It shows enthusiasm for and depth in the academic and extracurricular pursuits that have clearly defined the student’s journey. The student does a good job of tying their interests to their expected involvements at Northwestern. In doing so, the student helps the reader see the linear connection between the student and their potential to make a positive impact on the school.


In 2013, I embarked with my family on a whirlwind tour of seventeen American universities. Of all the schools I visited, Northwestern stood out. In addition to stellar academic programs, its emphasis on civic and global engagement really spoke to me. It is vital for me to attend college where both academic rigor and openness to the world and to others are widely promoted.

In the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, I could take advantage of a broad liberal arts education while taking classes closely aligned with my career goals. My Middle Eastern heritage and international background have made me passionate about social justice, peace, and conflict resolution, fields I would like to work in after college. At Weinberg, I hope to pursue an undergraduate program focused on Middle East and North African Studies, taking classes such as “Middle East, Modernity and Identity” or “The Middle East in International Politics.”

In addition, given the University’s proximity to Chicago, a city renowned for its cultural vibrancy, I would take advantage of everything from guest speakers visiting campus to performances and exhibitions in the city.

Finally, I believe the Northwestern Community Development Corps is an amazing resource for young people who are passionate about community outreach. Service has always been very important to me, and I’d like to continue in this path throughout college. It would help me sharpen my skills and strengthen my confidence to lead initiatives that can make a positive difference in the lives of others. I believe Northwestern is the place where all the aspects of my personality would thrive. Northwestern students and faculty are motivated, active, and inspiring in the ways that inspire me. At Northwestern, I would grow both academically and socially in an international and open-minded environment. It would be an honor to spend the next four years in such an incredible college.

Why Northwestern This Essay Worked: From an ex-admissions officer

The ideal “why X college” essay communicates as much about the student as it does about the student’s potential to make a positive impact on the school community. The writer needs to convince the reader that they have legitimacy, meaning that they have done real, thoughtful research about the school, and have put thought into why they and that particular college are a good fit. A strong “why X college” essay also showcases the student’s particular passions, talents, or interests and how those will manifest on the college campus.

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