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.
Then, I realized I knew the answer. I knew why the coat hanger had been handed to me. Growing up as the middle child in my family, I was a vital participant in a thing I did not govern, in the company of people I did not choose. You participate by letting go of the small stuff, not expecting order and perfection, and facing the unexpected with confidence, optimism, and preparedness. My family experience taught me to face a serendipitous world with confidence. It's very helpful to take writing apart in order to see just how it accomplishes its objectives.
Stephen's essay is very effective. Let's find out why! I had never broken into a car before. In just eight words, we get: Is he headed for a life of crime? Is he about to be scared straight? Notice how whenever he can, Stephen uses a more specific, descriptive word in place of a more generic one.
Details also help us visualize the emotions of the people in the scene. Finally, the detail of actual speech makes the scene pop. Instead of writing that the other guy asked him to unlock the van, Stephen has the guy actually say his own words in a way that sounds like a teenager talking. They could also mean any number of things—violence, abandonment, poverty, mental instability.
Obviously, knowing how to clean burning oil is not high on the list of things every 9-year-old needs to know. To emphasize this, Stephen uses sarcasm by bringing up a situation that is clearly over-the-top: The humor also feels relaxed. This helps keep the tone meaningful and serious rather than flippant. There's been an oil spill! This connection of past experience to current maturity and self-knowledge is a key element in all successful personal essays.
Even the best essays aren't perfect, and even the world's greatest writers will tell you that writing is never "finished"—just "due. But using too many of these ready-made expressions runs the risk of clouding out your own voice and replacing it with something expected and boring. Stephen's first example breaking into the van in Laredo is a great illustration of being resourceful in an unexpected situation.
PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. 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. Pay close attention to the consistent format of these pieces:. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.
The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool. If you are using the Common App to apply for college admission in , you will have — words to respond to ONE of the following prompts: Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in.
Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Avoid a rehash of the accomplishments on your high school resume and choose something that the admissions committee will not discover when reading the rest of your application.
You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled.
But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance! The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result. Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged.
Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific! This essay is designed to get at the heart of how you think and what makes you tick. Present a situation or quandary and show steps toward the solution. Admissions officers want insight into your thought process and the issues you grapple with, so explain how you became aware of the dilemma and how you tackled solving it. Describe the event or ccomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed.
Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth. This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you. Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them.
Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well. Test Your College Knowledge! You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand:
The essay is the most important part of a college appllication, see sample essays perfect for applying to schools in the US.
Learn how to write a successful college application essay using the three-step process for writing your personal college admissions essay. Gaining entrance to just about any college or university continues to get harder as more and more applicants are applying for a limited number of spaces.
Finally, I’ll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work. With links to full essays and essay excerpts, this article will be a great resource for learning how to craft your own personal college admissions essay! What Excellent College Essays . Essay Samples and Tips. A strong application essay makes for a more memorable application. Set yourself apart with tips on essay prompts for the Common Application and read through both stellar and poor examples to get a better idea of how to shape your essays. Sample College Admission Essay - The Allegany County Youth Board. Article.
See an example of a college application essay, with a point-by-point critique. Check out these sample college application essays to see what a successful college application essay looks like and stimulate your own creativity. Give the admissions committee (adcom) readers a clear picture of you as an individual, a student, and an graduate who will make them proud. Make them want to meet you after they finish reading.