why northwestern essay examples

Why Northwestern essay examples – Introduction 

As one of the top research universities in the country, Northwestern places a lot of emphasis on applicants’ essays. So, if you’re wondering how to get into Northwestern, start by reviewing our Why Northwestern essay examples. That way, you’ll have the tools you need to craft strong Northwestern essays.

In this guide, we will look at several Why Northwestern essay examples. We will examine two Why Northwestern essay examples and discuss what made them effective. We’ll also look at the current Northwestern essay prompts and Northwestern supplemental essay requirements.

 Why Northwestern Essay Examples: The Prompt

Beyond the Common App essay, there’s only one additional Northwestern essay prompt—the Why Northwestern essay:

While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community. 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. 

Later in this article, we’ll look at various Why Northwestern essay examples. You’ll notice that there aren’t multiple Northwestern essay prompts. This makes your Why Northwestern essay all the more important. Use our Why Northwestern essay examples as a blueprint for your own writing. However, always make sure your essay is your own work. 

In this guide, we’ll look at two successful Why Northwestern essay examples. Then, we’ll discuss what made these Why Northwestern essay examples so impactful. That way, you can approach the Northwestern essay prompt with confidence.

Beyond supplemental essays

Of course, your Northwestern essays aren’t the only aspect of the admissions process. Beyond our Why Northwestern essay examples, we’ll also discuss other elements of the application process. We will review the Northwestern admissions requirements, the Northwestern application, and the Northwestern acceptance rate. 

Now, let’s take a look at some Why Northwestern essay examples. In addition to the Why Northwestern essay examples themselves, we will also provide a breakdown of why they worked and how they successfully addressed the Northwestern essay prompt. Finally, we’ll discuss how important the Why Northwestern essay is to the overall Northwestern admissions process. 

Why Northwestern essay examples 

The following Why Northwestern essay examples were written by students who were accepted to Northwestern University. These Why Northwestern essay examples are intended to provide you with an example of successful Northwestern supplemental essays. All names and personal details in these Northwestern supplemental essays examples have been redacted and/or changed for anonymity. 

After each of these Northwestern supplemental essays examples, we will discuss why these are good responses to Northwestern essay prompts. 

Here’s the first of our Why Northwestern essay examples: 

Why Northwestern Essay Example #1

No matter the research made by scientists on climate change, if politicians don’t accept scientific evidence and pass environmental legislation, the world will suffer greater consequences from climate change. As a political science major at Northwestern, I’ll acquire the skills necessary to pass future legislation that puts the environment and people above the interests of corporations.

I believe that being able to incorporate multiple areas of study can greatly deepen my ability to understand environmental advocacy. With Northwestern’s interdisciplinary curriculum, I’d explore how policy, law, and political philosophy intersect with the process of passing environmental legislation. By taking the “U.S. Environmental Politics” course, for example, I’ll learn how to implement effective environmental policies, both on the international and domestic scale, while also considering the economic, legal, and ethical issues involved.

Regardless of how many hours I spend in the classroom, however, I believe that my knowledge is less meaningful if I can’t apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to lead initiatives that can advocate for the environment. Through the Chicago Field Studies program, I’d be thrilled to take on civic engagement internships and explore how climate change is intertwined with poverty. I’ll also jump at the opportunity to utilize the Ginsberg Research Grant and initiate my own research with professors like Chloe Thurston, who specializes in policy research. It would be an honor to work with faculty members and conduct research on how interest groups affect environmental management compromises.

Outside of the classroom, I’m excited to join the Associated Student Government organization, where I’d work with administrators to promote Northwestern’s environmental sustainability and strive to make the Northwestern experience even better for students.

With the knowledge and experiences I gain at Northwestern, I’ll work to pass the future environmental policies that our world needs.

Why This Essay Worked

This sample of our Northwestern supplemental essays examples successfully addresses the Why School essay prompt for several reasons.

First, the opening of this Why Northwestern essay example is a bold statement. The author sees themselves fixing an issue because of what they will major in and learn at Northwestern. 

They mention their academic interests and future major at Northwestern in the introductory paragraph. This allows the Northwestern admissions officer to quickly understand what is important to the writer. It’s clear that this author has specific career goals. Instead of just mentioning those goals, they explain how attending Northwestern will help them reach these goals. 

Getting specific

The first of our Why Northwestern essay examples specifically mentions Northwestern’s interdisciplinary curriculum. This shows that the writer has done their research on Northwestern. More importantly, it shows how they will use their time on campus to reach their goals. 

Additionally, this author mentions a specific course at Northwestern by name: U.S. Environmental Politics. This successfully addresses the prompt’s question about “how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here.” 

The first of our Why Northwestern essay examples discusses how the author would interact with U.S. Environmental Politics. They also describe what they would learn in this course, which ties back to their academic interests. 

Then, the author references resources outside of the classroom. In particular, the Chicago Field Studies program and conducting research with a Northwestern professor. Again, this shows that the writer of the first of our Why Northwestern essay examples has done their research. They know specific aspects of Northwestern that they are excited to explore. 

Finding your place

This writer also describes a specific community at Northwestern that they are excited to join: the Associated Student Government organization. This shows how the applicant will engage with the larger Northwestern community. 

This whole essay ties back to the writer’s interests in political science, enacting change, and revolutionizing environmental policies. They mention specific Northwestern resources, communities, and opportunities throughout their response. They also connect these opportunities to their own goals. That way, they answer the prompt’s question: “how they may enrich their time at Northwestern and beyond.” 

You can learn a lot from our Why Northwestern essay examples as you write your own Northwestern essay. This sample shows you how to incorporate specific features that are unique to Northwestern in your essay. 

Applying this Why Northwestern essay example to your writing

why northwestern essay examples

Take your cues from this example essay as you start drafting. While you should do your research, you don’t want to just copy/paste information from the Northwestern website. The admissions team knows what Northwestern has to offer—as they read your essay, they want to see how you’d enrich Northwestern’s campus.

So, refer to the first of our Why Northwestern essay examples. Think about how this writer paints a picture of how they’d engage with Northwestern’s community. How can you explain how you plan to engage with whatever resource/opportunity/community you referenced?

Effective Northwestern essay examples also bring the focus back to your own interests and goals. Northwestern admissions wants to know more about you. Don’t just tell them about Northwestern—instead, bring the focus back to you. The first of our Why Northwestern essay examples does just that.

Keeping it concrete

Finally, strong Northwestern essay examples are intentional. Are you intentional about the resources you highlight in your own Northwestern essay? The author of the first of our Why Northwestern essay examples was interested in political science at Northwestern. In doing so, they will “acquire the skills necessary to pass future legislation that puts the environment and people above the interests of corporations.”  

In the first Northwestern essay example, the writer clearly shows how Northwestern would help them reach their goal. They mention Northwestern’s interdisciplinary curriculum and the U.S. Environmental Politics course. They also mention the Chicago Field Studies Program, the Ginsburg Research grant, and Professor Chloe Thurston. Finally, they include extracurricular engagements by highlighting the Associated Student Government organization.

All of these resources connect back to the author’s interests and goals. This makes it easy for Northwestern admissions officers to see what interests the author and how Northwestern will benefit them. It also shows the reader how the applicant will be a great fit in the larger Northwestern community. Ultimately, that is the entire purpose of the Why School essay. 

Now that we have examined one of the Why Northwestern essays examples and why it worked, let’s dive into the second of our Northwestern supplemental essays examples. 

Below is the second of our Why Northwestern essay examples: 

Why Northwestern Essay Example #2

“What is the function of hydrophilic heads?” my AP Biology teacher asked the class.

All that could be heard was the sound of multiple classmates snoring in unison and the tapping of several students on their cell phones.

I had already answered the past 5 questions… Should I answer this one?

School is not a source of enjoyment for most of my classmates. Though the goal was to graduate, the pathway was often marred with cheating, plagiarism, and a lack of motivation to pursue something greater than the average.

At Northwestern however, no such situation would ever take place. The community of students, though from diverse backgrounds, all share the same goal to learn to their greatest potential and will do anything to share it.

In addition to the support such classmates would provide is the faculty of distinguished professors Northwestern has at its disposal. With the quarter system that allows students to take multiple classes outside their major, having such an array of top professors to choose from will guarantee that whichever path I may take will ensure a quality education. Though I plan to major in a Neuroscience-related program as a pre-medical student, I have many interests that have accumulated for years but remained untouched due to circumstances. With my professors as mentors, I would be able to conduct research in these areas, setting an invincible foundation that will increase my vitality in the medical field.  

Coming from a background such as mine to such a collaborative community would be a huge adjustment, but it is one I am excited to make. Having the opportunity to interact/work with people who are genuinely passionate about their fields is an invaluable asset that will motivate me to push harder in spite of any challenges I may face in the future.

Why This Essay Worked

The second of our Why Northwestern essay examples is different from the first one. Still, it is just as successful at addressing the prompt. Remember, not all Why Northwestern essays examples are the same.

Strong introduction

The second of our Northwestern supplemental essays examples starts with a quote, which immediately places the reader into the story. This can be a very effective and creative way of beginning your own Northwestern essay. 

This quote then opens into a broader narrative. The beginning of this Northwestern essay explains the academic environment in the author’s high school. In doing so, it highlights how this student operates in a classroom and why they’d succeed at Northwestern.

Then, they connect the opening story to what they want to experience at Northwestern. This instantly shows how they value the community of Northwestern and how they can see themselves joining it. 

Highlighting academic interests

Next, the author uses Northwestern faculty and the quarter system to highlight their own academic interests and future major. Eye-catching Northwestern supplemental essays examples mention specific attributes of Northwestern University—like this essay does. 

Like the first of our Why Northwestern essay examples, this author also explains how they’ll engage with these resources. Additionally, the author connects these resources back to their own interests and goals. 

Finally, good Northwestern supplemental essays examples show excitement about joining the larger Northwestern community. They express genuine interest in becoming a part of the Northwestern community, showing the reader they’re committed to Northwestern. 

Essay examples are a guide, not a blueprint

why northwestern essay examples

All successful essays will have their own distinct voice and character. As you likely noticed, this essay is different from the first of our Why Northwestern essay examples. Still, you can learn a lot from this and other strong Northwestern supplemental essays examples. Keep these points in mind as you begin writing your own Northwestern essay. 

Some Why Northwestern essay examples also use humor to get the reader’s attention. If used well, humor can be an effective tool to get the reader on your side. Obviously, don’t feel pressured to include humor if it’s not natural for you. We can’t all be the next Terry Pratchett! At the same time, Northwestern admissions officers read thousands of essays each application cycle. If you can incorporate some humor into your own Northwestern essay, it’s likely to stand out from the crowd. 

Finally, all impactful Northwestern supplemental essays examples show how the author genuinely wants to join the Northwestern community.  The Northwestern essay prompt assesses how committed you are to Northwestern. So, discuss specific communities at Northwestern that interest you. This will help the reader understand how well you’ll fit into Northwestern. 

Curious about other Northwestern supplemental essays examples? Check out our guide here. In it, you’ll find two additional Northwestern supplemental essays examples. We also explain why these Northwestern supplemental essays examples worked. 

Northwestern Supplemental Essay Requirements

You’ve seen some Northwestern essay examples and gotten some useful tips to craft your own. Now, let’s look at the Northwestern supplemental essay requirements. But before we do, let’s take a closer look at the school itself. Remember, the more you know about Northwestern, the stronger your Northwestern essays will be.

Northwestern University

In reading our Why Northwestern essay examples, you probably noticed that the authors have done their research. So, before you complete the Northwestern supplemental essay requirements, let’s take a closer look at the school.

why northwestern essay examples

Northwestern University is a private university founded in 1851. Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,494 students. The overall student population at Northwestern is 25,870. 

According to U.S. News and World Report, Northwestern University is ranked #10 in National Universities (tied with Duke University). Forbes ranks Northwestern as #11 in their list of Top Colleges of 2022 and #9 in their list of Top Private Colleges. 

Because Northwestern is an elite private university, Northwestern admissions is considered most selective. The Northwestern acceptance rate is 7%. Admitted students have a 1460–1560 SAT score or a 33–35 ACT score. 

Since the Northwestern acceptance rate is so competitive, it’s important that your Northwestern supplemental essays stand out to the Northwestern admissions officers. By writing strong essays, you can boost your chances of admission. Use our Why Northwestern essay examples to guide you as you begin writing your own Northwestern essay. 

Be sure to refer to this guide often as you write your own Northwestern essay. Reviewing the Northwestern supplemental essays examples can help you brainstorm ideas for your own Northwestern supplemental essays. 

Northwestern requires applicants to complete two essays (including the personal statement). The first Northwestern supplemental essay can be found on the Common Application or Coalition Application. The second Northwestern essay is the Northwestern writing supplement. 

Why Northwestern Essay

We’ve looked at some Why Northwestern essays examples. Now, let’s spend a bit more time with the Northwestern essay prompt: 

While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community. 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. 

Essentially, the Northwestern supplemental essay prompt asks students to explain why they would like to attend Northwestern. You’ve seen this prompt in our Northwestern essay examples. This is a classic Why School essay—you’ll find similar prompts on many applications. The Why Northwestern essays are open-ended, which gives applicants plenty of flexibility as they craft their response to this Why School essay. 

When you write your own Why Northwestern essays, you can choose to include one or several aspects of the university in your response. As you saw in our Why Northwestern essay examples, strong essays don’t all look the same. However, you should try to highlight specific resources only available at Northwestern.  

However, Why Northwestern essays should not just reiterate information that can be found on the university website. Instead, you will want to relate the content of your Northwestern essay to your own interests, background, or experiences. Think about our Why Northwestern essay examples. While they highlight Northwestern’s resources, these Northwestern essays still give the reader a clear sense of the writer’s background, interests, and goals.

Northwestern Admissions Requirements

In addition to your Why Northwestern essays, Northwestern admissions also requires two letters of recommendation along with your Northwestern application:

  • One from your high school counselor
  • One from a high school teacher (ideally from junior or senior year)

It’s important to ask for letters of recommendation from people that know you well. Your teacher should be able to speak to your achievements both inside and outside of the classroom. 

For the 2022-2023 Northwestern admissions cycle, test scores are optional. If you choose to submit your test scores, Northwestern will review them and assign a “superscore” to your Northwestern application. In other words, if you took the SAT or ACT multiple times, Northwestern admissions only considers your highest scores.

Students will also submit an activity chart with their Northwestern application. This activity chart is your chance to provide additional details about your extracurricular activities and involvements outside of your high school courses. 

Finally, alumni interviews are an optional component of the Northwestern application process. These interviews are available online or in person on a limited basis. Your chance of admission will not be negatively impacted if you are unable to complete an alumni interview. 

For more about how to get into Northwestern, completing your Northwestern application, and the Why Northwestern essay, visit Northwestern’s website

Do you have more questions about how to write supplemental essays? Check out our CollegeAdvisor Masterclass on supplemental essays. In it you’ll get the inside scoop on how to approach, write, and edit your supplemental essays for college. 

How do you answer the why Northwestern essay? 

northwestern supplemental essays example

This Northwestern essay prompt is a classic take on the Why School essay. Essentially, the Northwestern essay prompt asks you to do two things. First, explain how you see yourself engaging with the community at Northwestern. Second, describe how you plan to utilize specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities at Northwestern. 

In other words, the purpose of the Northwestern essay prompt is to understand how you will enrich a specific community at Northwestern and how you will engage with the aspects of Northwestern that interest you the most. 

Both parts of the Northwestern essay prompt are intentionally broad and open-ended. This means that you have free rein to mention how you will enrich any community—academic, cultural, or social—at Northwestern. Additionally, it’s important to include as many specific details as you can in your Northwestern essay. You can reference specific student organizations, courses, traditions, or school-specific programs in your response to this Northwestern essay prompt. 

Your Northwestern essay should be well-written and filled with resources and examples that are unique to Northwestern. You should avoid recycling your response to the Northwestern essay prompt to another Why School essay prompt.  

Now that we have examined this Why School essay prompt, let’s jump into strategies for strong Why Northwestern essays. 

Approaching your Why Northwestern Essay

First, you’ll want to start brainstorming ideas for your Why Northwestern essays. Think about why you added Northwestern to your college list. Are you interested in a particular major at Northwestern? Were you attracted to a specific program that Northwestern offers? 

If you can’t pinpoint why you want to attend Northwestern, don’t worry. You can do a deep dive on the Northwestern University website to find facets of Northwestern that interest you the most. 

Remember, you want to be able to write a well-crafted Northwestern essay, so focus on the aspects of Northwestern that are interesting to you. The strongest Why Northwestern essays are honest and authentic.

 Do some research

Make a list to keep track of things you find appealing about Northwestern. It’s okay not to include everything on your list in your Why Northwestern essays. However, having something to refer to will keep you organized as you begin the writing process. 

Because this Why School essay asks you to explain “how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community,” you will want to explicitly define which community you are referring to in your Northwestern supplemental essays. You’ll see a sample of this in the Why Northwestern essay examples below. 

Think about the communities you are involved in. Which communities at Northwestern can you see yourself engaging in? Are there any specific communities that stand out at you because of your own background, passions, and interests? 

Now that you have a list of specific resources, opportunities, and communities that interest you (and that are unique to Northwestern), you can begin writing. 

Make every word count

northwestern supplemental essays examples

At 300 words or fewer, every word in Why Northwestern essays has to count. As you read and edit your essay, refer back to the Northwestern essay prompt.

Make sure your Northwestern supplemental essays:

  • Answer all parts of the prompt
  • Mention specific resources or opportunities that you plan to pursue at Northwestern
  • Emphasize how you are a great fit for the Northwestern community

Don’t just copy and paste information from the Northwestern admissions website into your Northwestern supplemental essay. Instead, show the admissions committee that you have done your research. Effective Why Northwestern essays authentically show interest. Your essay should highlight how you’ll make an impact on campus. 

If you are still unsure of what all of this looks like in written form, don’t worry. The Why Northwestern essay examples in this guide are both successful at addressing the prompt. Each of the Why Northwestern essay examples will provide you with a good idea of how to structure strong Why Northwestern essays. 

For more tips on writing Why Northwestern essays, check out our Northwestern supplemental essays guide from 2021. Also, take a look at our 2020 Northwestern University essay guide. Lastly, for the Northwestern application as a whole, check out our guide on how to get into Northwestern.

Are there other Northwestern essay prompts? 

There is only one Northwestern supplemental essay prompt—the Why Northwestern essay. However, note that Northwestern will also evaluate your Common App essay. 

It is possible that the Northwestern essay prompts may change from year to year. So, it’s important to verify the essay prompts for Northwestern (and other colleges) before you begin crafting your own college essays. 

If you are a junior or underclassman, you can still benefit from the Why Northwestern essay examples in this guide. Certainly, the Northwestern essay prompts might change before you write your Why Northwestern essays. However, it’s still beneficial to read successful Why Northwestern essay examples. 

Want to learn more about how to write about yourself? Check out our webinar on how to write the Common App personal statement. Or watch this webinar to hear from an admissions officer on how to make your essays shine. 

How important is the Why Northwestern essay? 

The Why Northwestern essay is an incredibly important part of your “how to get into Northwestern” strategy. Strong Why Northwestern essays are the backbone of a good Northwestern application. 

Northwestern receives thousands of applications each admissions cycle from qualified applicants. With more students applying to college than ever before, it’s safe to assume that the Northwestern acceptance rate will continue to fall. 

Because the Northwestern acceptance rate is so competitive, it is important to do what you can to make your application stand out. To stand a chance against the low Northwestern acceptance rate, your Northwestern application has to sparkle.

Northwestern University wants applicants who want to be a part of the Northwestern community. Why Northwestern essays are the best way for you to demonstrate exactly that. 

Northwestern essay reflection questions

  • How committed are you to Northwestern? 
  • Why are you a great fit for the Northwestern community? 
  • How will attending Northwestern help you reach your goals? 

Why Northwestern essays can answer these questions (and more) for the admissions team. Remember how the authors in our Northwestern supplemental essays examples answered these questions in their own responses? They were successful in addressing the prompt and provided specific, concrete examples throughout their essays. Additionally, both Northwestern supplemental essays examples were written in a way that made them memorable.  You’ll want to do the same in your own Northwestern essays. 

Use the Why Northwestern essays to show how well you will fit into the larger Northwestern community. Each of the Northwestern supplemental essays examples show you how to do this successfully. Obviously, be sure to do your research before writing your Why Northwestern essays. The Northwestern essay prompt asks for specifics. So, make sure you clearly state why Northwestern is the perfect school for you. 

Your Northwestern essay can showcase other parts of you that are not otherwise included in your Northwestern application. This will help the admissions team understand what makes you a unique applicant, which will help you stand out from the crowd. 

Above all, be authentic in your responses to the Why Northwestern essays. You want to express a genuine interest in your Why Northwestern essays, like in the Northwestern supplemental essays examples.

Why Northwestern essay examples – Final thoughts

It’s easy to leave your Why Northwestern essay to the last minute. However, your supplemental essays are a key part of your applications. Think of your college essays as an opportunity for your admissions officer to learn more about who you are, what matters to you, and how you will enrich the community at your chosen college. 

The best college essays will highlight your background, identity, and interests. A strong essay will also showcase what makes you a unique applicant and how you will be a great addition to your future college community. 

Do your research

The Northwestern supplemental essays are your opportunity to stand out from other applicants. As you strategize about how to get into Northwestern, be sure to do your research. First, spend time on the Northwestern University website to find specific resources, opportunities, or communities at Northwestern that appeal to you.

Then, make a list of these unique offerings as you research Northwestern. Review your list to determine what excites you the most about attending Northwestern. Use that specific example(s) and incorporate them into your Northwestern supplemental essays. 

Try to align your background, passions, and interests with how you will make an impact on the Northwestern community. You want the Northwestern admissions reader to understand your and why you’ll be a great fit for the Northwestern community. 

Refer to several successful Northwestern supplemental essays examples. Remember, a well-crafted and engaging Northwestern essay will boost your chances of admission. 

Remember to revise

Finally, be sure to revise and edit your Northwestern supplemental essays before you submit your Northwestern application. Strong Northwestern essays don’t happen overnight, so you should give yourself plenty of time to draft, edit, and proofread. You can always ask a friend, counselor, or CollegeAdvisor.com advisor to help you proofread your Why Northwestern essays.

Need more guidance with your Northwestern supplemental essays? Register with CollegeAdvisor.com today to get one-on-one support as you write your Northwestern supplemental essays. Happy writing!


This article was written by Claire Babbs. Looking 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 CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.