Northwestern Personal Statement Prompt

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:

NU2018

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. 

Annacblakley

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.

Basur

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.

       

Wisch628

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. 

Drklee12

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.

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

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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.




Your personal statement is an opportunity to present yourself as more than an LSAT score and GPA. The personal statement sets you apart from other candidates. It is also a sample of your ability to express thoughts clearly and cogently.

The Process

  1. Brainstorm any topics or themes you might want to consider for your statement.
  2. Select 1-2 topics/themes you believe will be the strongest.
  3. Write a rough draft. Don’t worry about length, style, or grammar.
  4. Put it away for a while. Time adds an interesting perspective on your writing.
  5. Redraft and edit as needed.
  6. Have several people read it- professors, a prelaw advisor, or the Writing Place.
  7. Consider the feedback you have been given and craft your final draft.
  8. Proofread, proofread, and proofread.

Possible topics

If the school does not specify a topic (and many don’t, but always check) here are a few ideas to help you brainstorm:

  • Hobbies/work/other experiences that have shaped you
  • How you became interested in the law
  • Life events that have changed or motivated you
  • Challenges & hurdles you have overcome
  • An issue or subject that you feel strongly about and why  (just make sure not to “preach”)
  • The growth you’ve experienced in college
  • A unique experience that you have had inside or outside the classroom
  • Your goals and the events that have shaped those goals

Things to Watch for when Writing and Editing

  • Ensure that you answered the essay questions they provided
  • Remember to put the “personal” in the personal statement – use a personal stories/anecdotes
  • Avoid just restating your resume or transcript: law schools are looking to get to know who you are outside of your achievements
  • Most schools do not place restrictions on the personal statement but a general guideline is 2-3 pages double spaced (although check with each school for specific guidelines)

Formatting your Personal Statement

Introduction

  • Make it distinctive by telling a story
  • State your topic

Detailed Body Paragraphs

  • Focused, each with its own topic sentence
  • Relevant, each contributing/supporting to your main idea

Conclusion

  • Summarization of  your points
  • Brings essay full circle to the beginning

Top Mistakes Made in Personal Statements

  • Spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Sending the wrong letter to the wrong school.
  • Staying too detached in your writing style and not letting your personality come through in your “personal” statement.
  • Using too many big words, “legalese,” or research jargon.
  • Spending just a few hours on your personal statement and submitting your first draft.
  • Not following directions: exceeding the specified page limitations, not answering the questions.
  • Using gimmicks such as writing in crayon, modeling your personal statement as a legal brief, or writing it as a poem.

 

Many law schools have sections on their admission pages/blogs that contain guidelines and/or samples of personal statements. Print resources for writing personal statements:

101 Law School Personal Statements That Made a Difference by Dr. Nancy L. Nolan

Law School Essays That Made a Difference, 6th Edition (Graduate School Admissions Guides) by the Princeton Review

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