The most difficult college application question ever

What do you like about our college, and what do you think you can contribute to our campus?

That question freaks me out; I read it, look at the computer screen, and blank out because:

1. I honestly can’t afford to travel to a lot of the schools I’m applying to, so I have no choice but to exert a lot of effort into gleaning what I can from viewbooks, websites, and forums, which means

2. I can’t help but regurgitate what these colleges already know, what they advertise as reasons to apply. Which is unfortunate because the only thing I know about answering these kinds of questions is that I shouldn’t say what colleges already know about their school.

3. Then, I have to struggle with the fact that these schools receive applications from thousands of well-qualified students with all sorts of interesting backgrounds, passions, and gifts, and when I go to answer the question how would you contribute to our community, words escape me. I have a difficult time with the bragging aspect of college applications because I know that, in the perspective of admissions counselors who have seen it all, I’m not that special.

Sure, I can tell you all about why I adore the field of study I’m interested in, and I can recount an experience that changed my life; if it’s personal to me, I’ve got it. But when I’m trying to prove myself to you in terms of something that you know better than I do (the college you work for, FOR EXAMPLE), then I am at a loss for words.

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