Skip Nav

Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay

Telling Your Story to Colleges

❶Customize your test prep for maximum results.

Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay

What Excellent College Essays Have in Common
Why the Essay Matters
Choose Your Test

Writing your college application essay is difficult. And the stakes are high. A great essay can help you get accepted to your dream school. A mediocre essay can contribute to rejection. We want to help you write that great essay and get accepted.

We've compiled a list of college application essay examples to use as a springboard for you own reflection and creativity. Some students choose to write about things like sex or romantic relationships in order to stand out; yet, these topics fail to add substance or depth to an application.

A successful essay will reveal something about you that the admissions reader may not have already known, and will show how you interact with family and friends and demonstrate your beliefs or explore your passions. A great essay also provides readers with a vivid picture. When crafting an essay, think of it as offering admissions readers a window into a certain event or story. Focus on the most meaningful moments, not the irrelevant background details. For example, a student once wrote an essay about feeling out of place culturally during an internship.

Instead of giving a general description of the internship and his conflicts, he opened the essay with a vivid description of what he saw when he first arrived, and used this scene to frame the feelings of alienation he underwent — giving the reader a striking image of his experience in great detail. Remember, your college application essay is about you. For further guidance and examples, check out Noodle's collection of expert advice about college essays.

Log In Sign Up. Why I Love the New Common Application Essay Prompts Beyond the Common Application essay, many colleges also have supplements that ask additional, university-specific questions which applicants must respond to with shorter-form essays. While topics vary from supplement to supplement, there are a few standard essay formats that many colleges use: Personal Statement This is the most common essay and is used for the main Common Application essay.

College Admissions , College Essays. Mostly this is because it has the least guidance and is the most open-ended. 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. Building out from a narrow, concrete focus. 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: A killer first sentence. Great first sentences are punchy. A lively, individual voice. Writing is for readers. In this case, your reader is an admissions officer who has read thousands of essays before yours and will read thousands after.

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. 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.

Your essay must be your own work, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help polishing it. Want to write the perfect college application essay?

Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. 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. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now: Some colleges publish a selection of their favorite accepted college essays that worked, and I've put together a selection of over of these plus some essay excerpts! The current Common App prompts are as follows:. 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.

How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 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.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you?

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. These essays are answers to past prompts from either the Common Application or the Universal Application, both of which Johns Hopkins accepts. I've picked two essays from the examples collected above to examine in more depth so that you can see exactly what makes a successful college essay work.

Full credit for these essays goes to the original authors and the schools that published them. We were in Laredo, having just finished our first day at a Habitat for Humanity work site.

The Hotchkiss volunteers had already left, off to enjoy some Texas BBQ, leaving me behind with the college kids to clean up. Not until we were stranded did we realize we were locked out of the van. Someone picked a coat hanger out of the dumpster, handed it to me, and took a few steps back. More out of amusement than optimism, I gave it a try. Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. I actually succeeded in springing it. My upbringing has numbed me to unpredictability and chaos.

With a family of seven, my home was loud, messy, and spottily supervised. My siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing—all meant my house was functioning normally.

My Dad, a retired Navy pilot, was away half the time. When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant. At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed. Living in my family, days rarely unfolded as planned.

A bit overlooked, a little pushed around, I learned to roll with reality, negotiate a quick deal, and give the improbable a try. So what if our dining room table only has six chairs for seven people?

Someone learns the importance of punctuality every night. But more than punctuality and a special affinity for musical chairs, my family life has taught me to thrive in situations over which I have no power. Growing up, I never controlled my older siblings, but I learned how to thwart their attempts to control me. I forged alliances, and realigned them as necessary.

Sometimes, I was the poor, defenseless little brother; sometimes I was the omniscient elder. Different things to different people, as the situation demanded.

I learned to adapt. Back then, these techniques were merely reactions undertaken to ensure my survival. But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: The question caught me off guard, much like the question posed to me in Laredo.

RECENT FEATURES

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Top College Officials Share Notes on Great Application Essays Learn why application essays stood out to admissions officials from some of the top 15 U.S. News Best Colleges.

Privacy FAQs

Please note that some of these college essay examples may be responding to prompts that are no longer in use. Want to build the best possible college application? We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service.

About Our Ads

Your essay can give admission officers a sense of who you are, as well as showcasing your writing skills. Try these tips to craft your college application essay. The college application essay is your chance to show schools who you are. Learn how to write a college essay that sets you apart. Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay. This is your chance to tell your story (or at least part of it). The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has.

Cookie Info

Read selected examples of essays that worked, as nominated by our admissions committee. The essays can be the most important components of your application. I was choosing the best photos I’d taken around town during the presidential election when I unearthed two shots. The college essay is your opportunity to let your personality shine on your application. Don’t waste it on the trite or cliché! Consider this approach instead.