For some students, looking at examples of successful college essays is incredibly helpful. Looking at examples can trigger inspiration, provide context, and allow for more realistic benchmarks for success.
Many students spend a lot of time debating the topic of their essay for college applications. While that matters, it doesn’t matter as much as how you answer the question put before you. For students struggling to write their college essays, reading examples of unique and successful college essays can get you started.
As you read these, notice that all of these essays have a couple of key traits in common:
- They are personable
- They are well-written
- The reader understands who the author is as a person
- They give the reader an emotional reaction
- They provide context for the rest of the application
There are other traits that make these essays unique and wonderful that we’ll discuss after each individual essay. So while you’re reading, see if you can get a sense of what make these unique and successful college essays.
Shanti Kumar’s Essay for Princeton University
This essay takes a risk by criticizing the very institution she’s applying to, but she does it well. It demonstrates a deep understanding of Princeton’s offerings, from its professors to its endowments to its values. It is also personable yet intellectual. Furthermore, it shows how emotions and education collide, and how the former can better the latter. And finally, she demonstrates an understanding of the world at large.
Essays are a great place to demonstrate characteristics about yourself, and this essay displays tenacity, commitment, and motivation. The reader understands who the author is and what they care about. It further suggests what they might like to do in college, or what the author could offer the college as a student.
A fun essay, by taking a relatively dull subject for most people and showing how exciting it can be, it shows the author’s passions. And in turn, it demonstrates the author’s purpose and vision for life. Most of all, it takes a standard essay question (such as what are you passionate about or what course of study do you want to pursue in college) and turns it on its head. Instead of simply saying, “I want to be a reporter or a journalist,” the author shows how and why they love to do the morning broadcast.
Too many students try to answer essay questions head on, but these essays demonstrate how you can show something greater about yourself. If you still feel stuck or are looking for more inspiration, you can always look up more sample essays. Having a greater understanding of what works in a college essay and why it works can help spark your own creativity, which in turn will help you write a killer college essay.