The why this major essay is one of those slightly ironic essays — it is one that encourages you to think about the rest of your life and assume you know how you want your career to progress over the span of thirty years. Simple, huh?
None of us can really predict what the future will hold. For example, maybe you get halfway through your English major and decide you want to become a doctor. Maybe you start a history major, switch to education, then switch back to history.
As you talk to adults in your life, you may quickly realize that maybe just a handful went to college and actually finished out their career as intended.
What is a “Why This Major” Essay?
A “why this major” essay is an essay that expresses why you have chosen the major you plan to pursue. It is commonly found in supplemental essays that colleges require part of their application such as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. For example, a college might ask you to pen an essay in response to, “How might your background or life experiences contribute to a diverse and inclusive community in the biology major at University X?”
“Why this major” essays intend to get you to think about your preferences, passion for the major, and school for which you are considering, and more. The admissions committee wants you to demonstrate your intellectual “fit” for this major at their college or university.
For example, if you are interested in engineering, a why this major essay engineering should pinpoint exactly what interests you about the major.
What Does a “Why This Major” Essay Look Like?
An essay like this should look no different than a well-crafted essay that you would create for the Common Application. However, the essay will likely be shorter than your Common App essay, but not always.
The question may be more stealthier than you think. For example, you may not be able to recycle your answers from essay to essay. For example, one question may ask you:
“Why do you want to major in the major you indicated in your application?”
Another one may read like this:
“Students at X University often change their academic goals as their interests evolve. What three majors seem to fit you right now?”
In other words, you cannot just copy and paste one essay and put it into the other form. They definitely still boil down to brass tacks — they want to know about your major. However, the second question expands on the question, whereas the first one simply asks straightforward “What is your planned major?”
Also, pay attention to how the question is laid out and then adapt your answers depending on the response the college or university is looking for.
Another: “Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major.”
There is another totally different question! Again, can you copy and paste?
How to Research Your Essay
It is not enough to restate a summary of the college or university’s major from the website. Naturally, if it says, “An interdisciplinary major, major X bridges two majors, X and X, to focus on medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Graduates will someday help integrate medical diagnoses, engineering principles, and drug-delivery methods to aid the healing process.”
In addition, do not look at the curriculum and cherry-pick various classes and regurgitate them. Nobody from the admission office will be impressed by you copying a half-dozen class descriptions.
However, it is a good idea to research the classes you will take. Look at all the internships students get, the classes you can take, the professors who teach the classes, the backgrounds of each professor and more. You may even want to explore My Next Move to learn about career insights to include in your essay.
Another excellent way to research your essay involves touring the college. Touring the college will also help you get an idea of what goes on in that particular college or university. If you sit in on a class as part of your visit, that is a great way to weave information about your personal experience. Ultimately, it is a good idea to connect your individual experiences with the major you plan to write about in your essay. When you can connect personally with the major through your own experience, that is a good thing. Maybe you have talked with a professor one on one or attended a summer camp at the college and experienced the faculty’s teaching firsthand, for example.
How to Write a “Why This Major” Essay
First, examine the rules. What is the required word count? What is the essay question asking?
Why major essay examples can look just about any way you want. They can be creative, they can be funny, they can be serious — as long as you make it yours, that is the important thing. Keep that in mind when you are writing it. We will break the process of how to write a why this major essay down in a few steps:
Step 1: Think of how you got interested in the major.
Did you grow up lining up your dolls, teaching them like students? Did you park your brother on the bed and pretend it was a hospital bed? (Maybe you poked and prodded him with medical objects you created yourself.) Or, in high school, did you shadow a great pediatric dentist?
Consider the origins of the impetus for your interest and ensure it comes alive.
Step 2: Consider your personal characteristics.
What makes you a great fit for this major beyond your interest in it? Consider all the characteristics that make you a great fit for this major — are you empathetic? A good listener? A leader? Do you have a knack for selling? Writing?
Consider making a list of characteristics that you attribute to making a good dentist or a good veterinarian, or whatever you plan to become.
Step 3: Draft your essay.
Draft your essay, peppering your experiences throughout your writing. If you are writing a shorter essay, do not be afraid to draft it as if it is a long essay. You can always cut! (There is beauty in the editing process.)
Consider a thesis that states your argument — what you want to study and why. When you are drafting your essay, do not worry about making the draft absolute perfection. Free write as you develop your ideas, and then come back to it later. Nobody writes a perfect essay the first time around.
Step 4: Polish your essay.
Next, polish your essay. Add the red marks. Edit as you go — as much as you can. Then, once you have become tired of polishing your own essay, share it with Campus to Career Crossroads to help you polish it! Consider not passing off your essay to way too many people, because you might start getting confused about all the different changes.
In your final read-through, ensure that you are answering the question. It is amazing how many students overlook this very simple part of the equation — are you answering the question? If you don’t answer the question, admission officers will dismiss your essay.
How Colleges View Your Essay
In your application essay, admissions officers want to hear that you want to attend their college or university. They look for particular features — context on your background, characteristics that you could bring to campus, and demonstrations of these qualities.
Colleges and universities want you to bring your best foot forward, but they also want it to sound like you are talking to them. If you can, sound like you’re talking to the admission counselor in person. That will be an asset to your essay. Also remember, being honest, genuine, and personable in your essay will always shine through! Your unique attributes will flash directly before the admissions committee.
Why Major Essay Example
Let’s take that sample question from before — How might your background or life experiences contribute to a diverse and inclusive community in the biology major at University X? — and apply it directly to an example essay you might write. Check out why this major essay example:
My experiences living in seventeen states and four different regions in the country over the course of my life has directly impacted how I immerse myself into a diverse, inclusive community. I can adapt easily to new communities and connect with peers and their families, no matter where I live.
I’ve experienced the differences that individuals in various communities live. I’ve been friends with students who only get one meal a day. I’ve volunteered on two sides of the community — the one “across the railroad tracks” and the one “by the golf course.” It’s amazing how different things look even though they’re just twenty minutes away. Even at a young age, I asked my parents, “Why are our schools so different? Why is their playground equipment so much weedier and unkempt than ours?”
One time, at the library in the Midwest (where we were living at the time), I remember how an entire homeless family crowded around the entrance to the library in search of a warm place to stay. I also noticed that homeless people tended to congregate at the emergency room at the hospital, looking for quality healthcare just like everyone else.
Knowing these perspectives, I’ve learned to respect all people and to be a positive force for good in their lives. I respect people and their differences and have spent six hundred volunteer hours at soup kitchens across the country. My belief in the importance of equality and access to equal healthcare will guide me throughout my career in healthcare.
Note: Avoid copying this essay word for word or even borrowing heavily from it. A college or university will immediately be able to see that it is plagiarized using plagiarism software.
What to Do if You Are Undecided on a Major
What if you are an undecided major? We love it when students are undecided!
It means that you are open to a lot of different things — that you have not pigeonholed yourself into one major. If you truly are undecided, it might sound hollow if you are trying to make it sound like you do have an engineering passion (especially if you do not really know).
If you are an exploring major, tell the admission committee that — be unscrupulously honest and passionate. It will come across as completely earnest.
Write a Great Essay the Right Way
The most important thing you can do is to be authentic. You want to ensure that you are answering the question and doing everything you can, and feel free to read a number of “why this major essay examples” in your quest to learn how to write a why major essay. Always remember that it needs to be your own creation!
Our services at Campus to Career Crossroads can help you write your major essay.
Take a look at a few frequently asked questions you may still have about using ChatGPT or other AI tools for college essays.
Can I talk about what I want to major in in my college essay?
It is a good idea to consider avoiding talking about your major in depth in the Common App, particularly if you know that question that will come up in your supplemental essays. You may have already indicated on your application what you plan to major in. In other words, you may not want to regurgitate this information over and over.
How do you write a college essay about why this major?
Luckily, there is no “one size fits all” way to write a college essay. You can approach it from so many different angles, and do not be afraid to be creative! Again, do not forget to be authentic. It is not so much about whether you have the best writing skills, it is more about being the best fit at the college and for that particular major at the college.
Should my college essay be about why I picked this major?
Absolutely! If you can consider the genesis of where it came from. Why did you pick your major? Can you pinpoint one single moment of clarity where you realized exactly when you wanted to have that career or that major? Whatever it is, bring it to the forefront, toss it around in your mind and then write about it!