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.