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What are colleges looking for when they ask: "how would you contribute to our school?"

Here's some possible responses:

"I grew up in poverty and can bring a perspective to class discussions not often heard at prestigious University Z."

"I have a history of being willing to talk to anyone and being able to draw outsiders into group endeavors."

"Because of my cancer center internship, I have an understanding of scientific research not often found among first-years and I will try to share this knowledge with my classmates."

That last one especially may sound intimidating, but you can write about something less grand. Ask yourself: how will my presence make the school a better experience, even in some small way? Don't exaggerate, though—be sure your proposed contribution is something that you would actually do and that makes sense in the context of your application.

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