So here you are. Already got the recommendations, aced the SAT score, and have a near-perfect GPA. It is natural to feel ready to apply to your dream college.
However, there is one small hair on the soup – your personal essay.
While it is a very important step, many students neglect it – and usually suffer the consequences. To save future headaches we have prepared this list of 30 amazing college admission essay examples that were granted admission, with many tips and tricks to help you out too. So read carefully and take notes where needed.
(Note: The following essay examples are taken from applications only in top US colleges, which are mentioned in each case)
Harvard University (College Admission Essay Examples)
I think the most tragic part of my childhood originated from my sheer inability to find anything engraved with my name. I never had a CHAFFEE license plate on my hand-me-down red Schwinn. No one ever gave me a key chain or coffee mug with the beautiful loops of those double Fs and Es. Alas, I was destined to search through the names; longingly staring at the space between CHAD and CHARLOTTE hoping one day a miracle would occur.
Fortunately, this is one of the few negative aspects of a name like “Chaffee Duckers.” My name has always been an integral part of my identity. Sure, it sounds a bit like my parents created it from a bag of Scrabble tiles, but it comes from a long-lost ancestor, Comfort Chaffee. Now it’s all mine. In my opinion, a name can make or break a person. The ability to embody a name depends on the individual. My greatest goal in life is to be the kind of unique person deserving of a name so utterly random and absurd.
I began my journey in preschool. Nothing about me screamed normal. I was not prim, proper, and poised. I preferred sneaking away from my preschool classroom, barefoot, in the purple velvet dress I wore every single day to resting obediently during nap time. I grew up in a family akin to a modified Brady Bunch. Stepsisters, half sisters, stepbrothers, and stepparents joined my previously miniscule household. But in a family of plain names like Chris, Bill, John, Liz, Katherine, and Mark, I was still the only Chaffee.
I was a bit of a reverse black sheep in my family. My name helped me carve an identity separate from my myriad of siblings. Instead of enriching my brain with Grand Theft Auto, I preferred begging my parents to take me to the bookstore. While my parents mandated homework time for my brothers, they never questioned my work ethic or wiretapped my assignment notebook. The thing that set me apart from the herd was that I was self-disciplined enough to take control of my own life. From the very beginning I never depended on my parents’ help or motivation to finish my schoolwork. Putting school first came naturally to me, much to the distaste and confusion of my siblings. My work ethic became known as the patented
As I got older, I began to embody my name more and more. I didn’t want to be that girl with the weird name in the back of the class eating her hair, so I learned how to project my ideas in both written and spoken forms. I was often picked to lead classroom discussions and my complete disregard for making a fool of myself bolstered that skill. The manner in which I operate academically is perfectly described as Chaffee-esque; including but not limited to elaborate study songs, complex pneumonic devices, study forts, and the occasional John C. Calhoun costume.
I take pride in the confusion on a person’s face when they first read my name. Seeing someone struggle over those two unfamiliar syllables fills me with glee. I feel as though I am adding a new word to their vocabulary. So on my last day as a page in the U.S. Senate, I prepared myself for the anticipated awkward stumbling as Senator Harry Reid thanked me by name in his closing address. But the stumble never came. I felt very humbled by his perfect pronunciation. Perhaps Chaffee is actually catching on!
MIT (College Admission Essay Examples)
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A MATH-SCIENCE GIRL. I sighed and sulked through classes on US History and French in eager anticipation of the formulas and applications I would be learning later in the day. I believe there are many factors that attribute to my success, two being my fascination and persistence. When I was seven I once asked what math was good for and why I should learn it. The answer I received simply does not do math justice,
“One day when you’re in line at the grocery store the cashier will give you too little change and you’ll be glad you learned this.” Now in calculus I see the application of all these once foreign symbols, formulas, and letters. I am often amazed by the calculations I am able to do using the cumulative information acquired from nearly 12 years of education, such as how to maximize the volume of a box given a certain surface area. Math is not just plug and chug as many view it but it requires creativity and thinking out of the box to solve the problems encountered in the real world.
Beauty lies in its simplicity and in the fact that proofs and observations are what brought the golden rectangle from ancient Greece, Pascal’s triangle, and the Pythagorean Theorem as well as a host of other theorems, equations, and postulates. Math has made the impossible possible and the once long and tedious, simple and quick. The genius of it is amazing as well as the fact that any person is capable of applying and discovering it. I draw graphs and try to make shapes from functions for fun, count to 10 to calm down, and save money at the store, too. For all of these reasons and many more, I am fascinated by math.
I wasn’t always good at math, contrary to what students in my classes might say. When I first showed interest in math in the 5th grade my parents laughed; middle school was even worse. Incoming 6th graders were given a test on the second day of school and depending on their scores were placed into a high or low speed math class. I was put in the slow speed math and missed a lot of class my first year, as a result my grade drifted from a B to a C to a C-, then I got help. I knew I liked math and I didn’t want to do bad in it so I bought books and hired my older brother to help me. I eventually made it to a B+. Later, in the summer after my junior year, I took a course that covered nearly a year of Calculus. I was told that if I decided to take Calculus AB, I would be bored, so I went for a challenge.
My strongest subject began to take up most of my time. I had to read review books, go online for help, and stay in during nutrition and lunch for extra instruction. It was hard, but my dedication paid off and I earned an A. This persistence and drive also help me excel in math.
Stanford University (College Admission Essay Examples)
WHEN I WAS 4 YEARS OLD , I fell in love. It was not a transient love-one that stayed by my side during the good times and vanished during the bad but rather a love so deep that few would understand. It was not the love for a person, but the love for a language. It was the
love for Spanish. Having been born and raised behind the Iron Curtain, in a country where Western influence was limited and the official and only language was romanian, I was on my own. Everyone around me, especially my family, had trouble understanding what could possibly draw me to
such a foreign and, in their opinion, unattractive language.
But as they say, love is blind, and the truth of the matter is that I wasn’t even sure what it was exactly that made Spanish so fascinating to me. The only thing I knew was that I absolutely adored hearing its perfectly articulated phrases, and trying to make sense of its sweet and tender words: serenades to my innocent ear.
Spanish entered through my door on June 16th, 1994, when a man from the local cable company came to connect our living room to the rest of the world. That day, I was introduced to “Acasa,” a Romanian cable network dedicated to broadcasting Spanish language telenovelas (soap operas) to Romanian audiences. As I learned to read, I started associating the Romanian subtitles with the Spanish dialogue, and little by little, I began understanding the language. For a little girl who had yet to discover new aspects of her own language, this was quite an accomplishment, but no one around me felt the same way. My father, enraged at my apparent “obsession” with the language, scolded me incessantly, declaring that:
“We are immigrating to the United States, not to Mexico! You should spend your time learning English instead of watching that nonsense!”
Sadly, my family’s objection was only the first of many hardships I was bound to encounter. When I was nine, my immigration to the US forced me to say goodbye to what had become a huge and indispensable part of me. I needed to hear Spanish, to listen to it daily, and although Los Angeles could be considered a Spanish speaker’s paradise, my largely Romanian neighborhood allowed for little interaction with the language. For six years, destiny kept us apart and the feelings that Spanish had evoked in me soon faded away.
But high school brought about a new era in my life, an era in which my love for Spanish was revived and greatly amplified. For an hour a day, life was put on hold and I was able to speak and read Spanish more actively than ever. After two years of Advanced Placement Spanish, I not only understood the language to perfection but spoke it flawlessly as well.
There are no words that can describe how proud and greatly accomplished I feel today at my ability to speak Spanish. During a recent
trip to Mexico, I was mistaken more than once for one of the natives. One man, after seeing my romanian last name, asked me if it was my husband’s, for undoubtedly, he believed, I was Mexican. given to a romanian girl, whose family members were oblivious to the language, and who had learned it on her own despite their objections, this was the greatest compliment of all. In the United States, Spanish is the second most spoken language and a great asset for anyone who speaks it. It is not “nonsense,” as my father had dubbed it, and being able to prove this to him has made me even prouder for loving Spanish.
My love of Spanish has influenced much of who I am today. The fight that I led against family objections and immigration to a new land has allowed me to develop an ambitious and aggressive spirit in the face of adversity. It has made me stronger, and taught me that I must always fight with unstoppable perseverance for all that is important to me. I am determined to use my love and passion for Spanish to make an impact on the world. Currently, Spanish is the primary language of 21 nations around the globe, and one of the six official languages of the UN. I want to be the link that connects these nations to the United States, and to the 40 million Americans whose native language is Spanish. I want to use my ability to speak Spanish to learn more about the people of these nations, both on a professional and personal level. no matter where the path of life takes me, I wish for Spanish to always be a part of me.
Through the years, Spanish has evolved into one of my most remarkable accomplishments. Today, I am prouder than ever of loving Spanish-of having something that distinguishes me from the rest, something that makes me unique. It is not often the case for a Romanian- American girl living in Los Angeles to exhibit such passion and devotion towards a language that is foreign to both her native and adoptive countries. nevertheless, Spanish is a big part of whom I am today, and an even bigger part of who I will be in the future.
Brown University (College Admission Essay Examples)
MY REASONS FOR WANTING TO BE a doctor are very similar to why most people choose their career path: I want to make things fairer. People such as social workers are out to help make the world a little less unjust. It’s not necessarily injustice from other people that I want to fight as these people do, but injustice from other factors. Many people who are close to me have been struck down from their future in ways that it’s impossible for them to recover. My aunt was a great artist and loving mother before she developed severe schizophrenia. She now locks herself in her house for weeks at a time and remains isolated from her family. My friend Eric, who was once in his school’s varsity basketball league, cannot play his senior season because a car accident left him nearly paralyzed. Finally, my friend Vince’s depression has stripped him of his will to live, and despite attempts of over a dozen psychiatrists and medications he still spends most of his days aimlessly lying in bed. While I try very hard to cheer him up by talking to and entertaining him I am deeply concerned about his future. This trend is something that I’m seeing almost everywhere. More and more people are becoming depressed and hopeless, and I want to be able to put life and happiness back into them.
Not only do I see these injustices in my life, when I’m volunteering at my local hospital my desire to help become even more emboldened by the people I meet. A new grandmother I met recently had her spine shattered when she fell from a ladder back onto a table. As I talked to her, I remembered how many times I’ve seen pictures of my grandmother lifting me and my cousins and caring for us, and became overcome with emotion. While I don’t believe her ability to care for her grandchildren will be destroyed, I know that she won’t have the same opportunities as other grandparents and the inequality of the situation makes me extremely upset. I want nothing more than to give back her ability to walk and lift her grandkids. I believe being a doctor can allow me to bring this closer.
Princeton University (College Admission Essay Examples)
PART OF ME IS MISSING. IT’S an identifiable, yet indescribable absence. It is odd how I can find more information about the initial supposed creators, Adam and Eve, than I can about my own. I don’t know my father, and I doubt that I ever will. He left two weeks after I was born because I lacked a certain male member. Fidelity to personal convictions was more important to him than a life that he had just shepherded into this world. Because of his definitive choice, I will only be able to associate with him as a support check number until I am eighteen
years of age. After that, who knows? When I was eleven, my mother decided to call this long-gone man in search of owed child support. After eleven years of nothingness, financial distress caused my mother call this absolute last resource. In my house, we had an early 90s telephone that had a speaker/mute function. I can still see that outdated piece of technology in the corner of my mind. That speaker/mute function granted me the only contact with my father that I have ever known.
I was a mischievous child; I knew that day that my mother was physically on the phone with my birthfather. I was naïve. I thought that hearing my father’s voice would fill the void created by years of absence. I thought that hearing his voice would allow me to place my father on the same grand plateau as other fathers who had always been there for their children, loved their children. I snuck into the room with the technical phone and silently listened in on the conversation. I felt smart and sly as I pressed the button that put the stranger’s voice on the speakerphone. “Hah,” I thought, “he can’t hear me, but I can hear him.” Maybe if he would have known the simple fact that his daughter was listening, maybe then some shred of human decency would have shined through.
Those few moments provided me with the only ounce of a man that comprises half of my biology that I will ever know. Unfortunately, the stranger didn’t know I was listening. Like my life before, he never knew that I was there. As he yelled at my mother, I could hear the fear in her
voice as he responded to her pleas with such malice. My mother tried to convey to my father that I was not just his incarnation to be provided
for, but rather, a spectacular human being. As I sat there, listening intently to the conversation, I felt validated as a daughter by my mother’s
words, but shattered as a human being by my “father’s” insolence. In the moments that followed, that little girl, initially so excited at the prospect of finally being able to physically hear her creator, was eternally crushed. “Just because she exists doesn’t mean I have to love her; it doesn’t mean I have to know her. I don’t love her, and I never will.” Crash. Is it possible for the strongest muscle in your body to simply break in half? One of my genetic halves had declared that he loathed my very existence. Those words succeeded to shatter
my heart into a million pieces. I didn’t know how to react. I turned off the phone and slithered back to my room. How could someone
be so heartless? How could someone that heartless be a part of me?
I have been sobered by pain in a way that no psychological study ever could attempt. I may never know my father because of his decision,
and in turn, he will never know me. In the end, his loss will be the greater one. My “father’s” shining example of misconduct ironically guides me as a moral, ethical person. rather than searching for any fault within myself, I use my father’s failure as a tool. I take an earnest and honest stance in life. I know my great worth. I have nothing to prove to anyone, including myself.
Yale University (College Admission Essay Examples)
JULY 22 LAST YEAr wAS mEANT to be a typical Sunday. Just like every Sunday, my mother and I were getting ready to visit my older brother at
his Waikiki apartment, where we would talk for a little while. But July 22nd was different. That chilly morning, we got a phone call from his
roommate telling us my brother was going to the emergency room. As we drove to Queen’s Hospital, I didn’t know what to think. Although
I tried to assure myself that nothing serious could have happened to him, anxiety clouded my mind. My brother, Tyson, emigrated from Vietnam with my mom and my other older brother to the United States in 1990, with dreams of a new life and fresh opportunities. He enrolled in high school with virtually no knowledge of the English language. Even though he had to simultaneously manage a part-time job at McDonald’s, he excelled in academics and was the top of his class in calculus. At 34 years old, he was the epitome of health: he ran marathons every year, had a healthy diet, and never smoked or drank alcohol. When I got to the Er and saw him lying in the hospital bed, he looked like the Tyson that I always knew. nothing seemed wrong. He just seemed tired, and he didn’t have the energy to speak.
However, coming back from an MRL scan, my brother seemed different. His eyes were unfocused and dazed, as if he didn’t see the room in front of him. Uneasiness and fear rushed down my spine. I shouted for help, just as my brother’s body started to spasm. I felt a profound emotion surging up in me, one that I had never experienced before–a wrenching sense of trepidation, laced with sickening adrenaline. The seizure took control of his body, and he began to foam at the mouth. His body seized up, but I was frozen still. I didn’t know what to do. I
felt useless and terrified. Tyson told me, when I was just a kid, not to work while I was in high school. I was young, though, and still wanted to work because I wanted to make money, like him. During his high school years, he took on a part-time job after school, even though it meant he had to come home late every night. Often, he would stay up through the early hours of the morning, determined to complete his schoolwork. He held down
the job, despite its exhausting physical toll, because he had to: he had to assist with the bills and support my mom, so that she could take English classes at the local community college. Tyson said that I didn’t have to work, because he would always be there to support me. While my brother was in the hospital, my mother and I went there every day from before dawn to late at night, when the streets were empty. Tyson had developed severe brain inflammation as a result of the seizure. He had dozens of tests done: X-rays, MRLs, blood tests, spinal taps, a bronchoscopy, and even a brain biopsy. A labyrinth of IV tubes, wires, and cables were hooked up to his body, monitoring his life signs and feeding dozens of chemicals and solutions into his bloodstream. The doctors kept him constantly sedated. His brain inflammation was life-threatening, and he caught a case of severe pneumonia. His doctors had to place him on life support. In three weeks, my brother had gone from being in the best shape of his life, from being a veritable Superman, to laying on his deathbed. When I was a kid, I was a crybaby. I cried when I didn’t get the toy I wanted. I cried when I didn’t get the food I wanted. However, at some point during my childhood, around the age of six, I stopped crying. no matter how much I was teased or pushed around, I never cried. No matter how much I was mocked about my clothes, or my ethnicity, I didn’t cry. August 11 last year was the first time since childhood that I cried. It was the day that my brother passed away. And it was the first time that I ever saw my mom cry. It was a traumatizing experience, and for a while I was depressed that such a tragedy could occur so arbitrarily to someone like my brother: someone who was strong, someone who was healthy, someone who lived by a strong moral code and never sacrificed his values for material rewards. But after a while, I realized that the circumstances of his death were not a refutation of his beliefs, but instead, a reminder of their importance. Even though we cannot control the twists and turns of life, we must deal with them as best we can. My brother, even though he didn’t know English, enrolled in school
and ultimately excelled. And at the same time, to help our mother go to school on the side, he took on a part-time job. Certainly he must have
wished that he hadn’t faced those disadvantages, but he didn’t complain. Rather, he faced the realities of his situation head-on, and succeeded.
Tyson’s death was a tragic reflection of the cold, random chance of nature, but it was in no way any verdict on his philosophy: instead, I realized, it served as a clear reminder to me that the worst can happen to even the best, and that the strength of an individual lies in his ability to maintain his values when faced with such difficult situations. Today, I still hold onto the lessons that my brother taught me through his actions: to put the needs of your family first, to always persevere in the face of adversity, and to never compromise your ideals for petty desires. To lose heart in these values because of his death, then, would be a harsh disservice to Tyson’s legacy.