- Writing a strong college admissions essay
- Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes
- Brainstorming tips for your college essay
- How formal should the tone of your college essay be?
- Taking your college essay to the next level
- Sample essay 1 with admissions feedback
- Sample essay 2 with admissions feedback
- Student story: Admissions essay about a formative experience
- Student story: Admissions essay about personal identity
- Student story: Admissions essay about community impact
- Student story: Admissions essay about a past mistake
- Student story: Admissions essay about a meaningful poem
- Writing tips and techniques for your college essay
We've discussed in a general sense what makes a good essay, but it's always helpful to look at specific examples and hear how admissions officers evaluated them. Included below is a sample essay. It's well-written and avoids the common admission essay pitfalls discussed in previous videos (listing off accomplishments like a resume, writing about someone else instead of making it personal, etc.), so it's not simple to know how an admissions officer will react. Read the essay, and then proceed to the follow-up video to hear from admissions.
Sample essay 2
We are looking for an essay that will help us know you better as a person and as a student. Please write an essay on a topic of your choice (no word limit).
I'm one of those kids who can never read enough. I sit here, pen in hand, at my friendly, comfortable, oak desk and survey the books piled high on the shelves, the dresser, the bed, the chair, even the window ledge. Growing up without TV, I turned to the beckoning world of literature for both entertainment and inspiration. As I run my eye over the nearest titles, I notice... only three written in the last 50 years. Ahh, here's Homer – by far my favorite ancient author – alongside Tolkien, my favorite modern. Incongruous? I think not. Tolkien loved Homer and honored him constantly within his own work. How could I fully appreciate the exchange between Bilbo and Gollum without seeing the parallel story of Odysseus and Polyphemus in the back of my mind? In the innocent characters of Bilbo and Frodo, Tolkien gives a quiet refutation to Plato's philosophical dialog of Gyges' Ring. Only a classicist would notice. Donne would, over there on the shelf, encased contentedly in his quiet brown binding. Aristotle wouldn't. He's too busy analyzing the Dickens on either side of him.
The deeper I dig, the richer ground I find. I accidentally discovered the source of Feste's comedic dialog in Twelfth Night while translating the Latin plays of Plautus. I met the traitor Brutus as a fictional character in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, renewed my acquaintance with the actual man in Classical History, and hope never to meet his soul in the deepest circle of Dante's Inferno. In all of this, I can sense a bond, transcending time and linking me to Homer, to Tennyson, to Virgil, Byron, and Nietzsche. In my mind's eye, all the great works I've read lie spread out on a gigantic blackboard, and that mystic bond takes shape in a vast connecting network, branching from history to myth and from myth to fantasy.
I've been unconsciously collecting this mental catalog all my life. I was 12 the first time I read the unabridged Odyssey, but I've known the story for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I read authors like E. Nesbit, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert Louis Stevenson. As a child, I didn't try to analyze the conflicts of Long John Silver's character or document Kipling's literary devices – I just loved the stories, and I picked up the techniques of great authors subconsciously. Good writing is contagious. Now as a senior beginning to analyze literature and philosophy more closely, I already have a huge pool to draw from. In British Literature this year, my paper on the monsters of Beowulf won praise from my teacher because, having already read Beowulf several times over the years, I was able to analyze on a deeper level and recognize themes I hadn't noticed before.
In college, I will continue to study great stories and contribute in my own way: literature on the big screen rather than on paper. Film is the way that our modern culture experiences narrative. Cinema has always fascinated me as a medium for storytelling, and my passion has only grown as I've studied every aspect of film-making. The vast scope of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy draws me in, but I want to write my own epic. One day, I will create my masterpiece, rich with the wisdom and artistry of three millennia, and offer it humbly to the classicists of the future.
Feedback from admissions
Want to join the conversation?
- I am confused.
What is an essay? We are taught that it is an academic writing with a fixed structure and which answer some specific questions. So, if I wanted to talk about "long-lasting love" I would have to write an introduction, then some pro, then some cons and finally a conclusion. But in the examples you have given I haven't seen that at all but something really different. What is the difference between an essay written for an admission purpose and an essay written for other academics purposes?(21 votes)
- An essay is really just a body of words meant to convey something. So, in your class, you used an essay to convey the pros and cons of love (or in your words, to answer the question "what are the pros and cons of love?")
In the admissions essays, you are using an essay to convey something about yourself. You will probably be asked to write about the reasons you want to enter a specific field or college, an event in your life that helped shape you, or other personal subjects. If it helps, rewrite these prompts into questions:
Why do you want to go to Harvard? Why do you want to enter the medical field? Are there any events in your life that affected your grades, but are not reflected in the rest of your application? (These are REAL examples)
While the standard INTRO, BODY, CONCLUSION essay is widely used, it is not required. It is used because it is an effective way to convey information:
INTRO: grabs reader's attention, tells the reader the main topic, gives necessary background information, and lists what is going to be expressed about the topic
BODY: one paragraph per idea about the main topic (eg 1 for pros, 1 for cons; OR 1 telling about an event in your life, 1 explaining how that event affected you, 1 giving an example of how you used what you learned in a new situation)
CONCLUSION: summarizes what you already told the reader, gives a broader context, and explains how the information is useful
To summarize: an essay is just a body of words that expresses an idea. There are many ways to write one, but having an introduction, paragraphs separated into ideas, and a conclusion helps make your idea easier to understand and more memorable.
-Best of luck.(60 votes)
- I really liked this sample essay and feedback. I love literature too and this helps me understand what to write less about. I want to write about my high school graduation and its impact on me without sounding like a common applicant who is talking about their high school experience. Will my rambling about what I learned from the experience of a part of an experience in school make me sound cliché or boring.(5 votes)
- I think the most important thing is not whether you are interested in something similar to a lot of other people, but whether you show your passion for this experience. Make sure the reader understands your fervor.(7 votes)
- what college can an average student go to(4 votes)
- There is a whole bunch of colleges you can go to, you just have to make sure you get above average once you're in college ;)(5 votes)
- I have heard that you should forget the actual five paragraph form that you were taught when you were younger and you should follow your own format. You should have an introduction and a conclusion, but it shouldn't be in the form of a five paragraph essay. Is this true?(1 vote)
- From what I've seen, yes. Remember, these are humans reading the application essays. The five paragraph essay isn't the easiest to read, and definitely not the most interesting. They do want to see that you can write well and organize your thoughts in a logical and readable manner, but the five paragraph essay is only the "template" or "outline."
When you begin to write, having an outline like that is great and you can afford boring your teachers to death. But now it's time to get creative and show these people what you can do. Colleges are looking for kids who are outstanding and unique. Show them why they should accept you out of the thousands of other kids who are applying.(3 votes)
- we have take note about me and mother and talk about are yourself in the story to expresses are yourself and and talk about are family in the story.(1 vote)