Examples Of Winning College Application Essays
I’m often asked by clients and others about how to craft the perfect college essay. One way to get an idea of what colleges are looking for is to read some great essays from students who have been successful in their bid to enter a selective university.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s rarely a good idea to emulate someone else’s topic or writing style. The point of asking students to write these essays for their college applications is to get a sense of who that individual is as a person. Copying someone else’s format or incorporating others’ ideas into your own essay is a sure-fire way to muddle things up.
So, by all means, have a look at some good essays to give you a general idea of how other students have completed this highly personal, highly specific assignment. But when you sit down to write your own, look into your own mind, your own heart, your own soul to formulate the essay that works for you.
Here is a list of college websites that have examples of college essays on them.
Johns Hopkins University‘s Office of Admission
Hamilton College’s Alumni Magazine
Tufts University’s Office of Admission
Connecticut College‘s Office of Admission
The College Board‘s advice on writing essays has a few examples with critique.
If you want a sense of how important the opening lines of your college essay can be, see my own post here, with samples from Stanford.
And if you run across other colleges and universities that public successful examples of essays, please let me know! I’ll add them to this list.
Examples of Awesome Personal Statements
Article Type: Tasty Bits
Write your own awesome personal statement with our COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY LAB, which will guide you through the process, providing tips and even more examples along the way.
Before you start, check out our own sample essays—or scroll down for the Best of the Web. Whether you're an athlete, a minority, or no one special (or, uh, probably some combination), we've got you covered.
No One Special
Some are surprising and some are clever, but they're all good examples of a "hook," not the kind with the pointy mustache but something that writers use to grab their reader's attention and make them want to keep reading.
Grab Them with the First Line
Stanford Magazine compiled the following list of great opening lines written by hopeful Stanford applicants.
Essays That Worked
Connecticut College posts a list of college essays “that worked.”
More Essays that Worked
Hamilton College provides access to some of their favorite application essays.
Other Resources for College Essay Writing
Writing the Personal Statement
The Purdue Online Writing lab offers a guide to writing all kinds of personal statements.
UC Berkeley Has a Say
Check out the University of California at Berkeley’s guide to writing the personal statement.
Application Tips: Tackling the Personal Essay
Abc.com provides some good tips on approaching the personal essay.
10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay
The famous U.S. News & World Report offers some writing advice.
The Elements of Style
Flip through this famous guide to writing by William Strunk, Jr. that many students and teachers use. Read the 1918 version for free online.
Get Your Writing On
Some great handbooks on writing by writing guru Andrea Lunsford.
A Guide to Grammar and Writing
A cool interactive guide to grammar.
The University of Chicago’s guide to grammar.