The personal statement might just be the hardest part of your college application. Mostly this is because it has the least guidance college essay guy is the most open-ended. One way to understand what colleges are looking for when they ask you to write an essay is to check out the essays of students who already got in—college essays that actually worked. After all, they must be among the most successful of this weird literary genre.
In this article, I’ll go through general guidelines for what makes great college essays great. Finally, I’ll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work. What Excellent College Essays Have in Common Even though in many ways these sample college essays are very different from one other, they do share some traits you should try to emulate as you write your own essay. Visible Signs of Planning Building out from a narrow, concrete focus. You’ll see a similar structure in many of the essays. The author starts with a very detailed story of an event or description of a person or place.
Knowing how to tell a story. Some of the experiences in these essays are one-of-a-kind. But most deal with the stuff of everyday life. What sets them apart is the way the author approaches the topic: analyzing it for drama and humor, for its moving qualities, for what it says about the author’s world, and for how it connects to the author’s emotional life. Stellar Execution A killer first sentence. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: you have to suck the reader in, and the best place to do that is the first sentence. They are like cliffhangers, setting up an exciting scene or an unusual situation with an unclear conclusion, in order to make the reader want to know more.
In this case, your reader is an admissions officer who has read thousands of essays before yours and will read thousands after. Use interesting descriptions, stay away from clichés, include your own offbeat observations—anything that makes this essay sounds like you and not like anyone else. Enchanted Prince Stan decided to stay away from any frog-kissing princesses to retain his unique perspective on ruling as an amphibian. No spelling mistakes, no grammar weirdness, no syntax issues, no punctuation snafus—each of these sample college essays has been formatted and proofread perfectly. If this kind of exactness is not your strong suit, you’re in luck! All colleges advise applicants to have their essays looked over several times by parents, teachers, mentors, and anyone else who can spot a comma splice.
Want to write the perfect college application essay? We’ll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you’ll have a unique essay that you’ll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don’t leave your college application to chance. Common App Essay Samples Please note that some of these college essay examples may be responding to prompts that are no longer in use.
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve.
It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time.
What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Johns Hopkins These essays are answers to past prompts from either the Common Application or the Universal Application, both of which Johns Hopkins accepts.
Other Sample College Essays Here is a smaller collection of essays that are college-specific, plus 22 essay excerpts that will add fuel to your essay-writing fire. Smith College Each year, Smith asks its applicants to answer a different prompt with a 200-word essay. Here are six of these short essays answering the 2014 prompt: «Tell us about the best gift you’ve ever given or received. University of Chicago The University of Chicago is well known for its off-the-wall, often wacky supplementary essay prompts. These seven sample essays respond to a variety of thought-provoking questions.