When college essay examples are plentiful, it can be tempting to choose one and get started on your college application the same way. However, these commonplace college essays are not always the best indicator of writing ability, and using the wrong example could hurt your chances of getting into college.
We’ll provide examples you can use as a resource when writing your college application essay and discuss some things to avoid when looking for college essay examples.
College Essay Examples
The college essay is one of your opportunities to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool.
Craftiness isn’t enough to convince someone that you deserve a spot in their program. Your essay needs to be true to you and your passions—but it also needs to be different from everyone else.
Some schools have additional essay requirements in addition to the standard application essay. Get that supplementary essay written, just in case!
Here are some examples of quality college essay prompts and questions you should ask yourself when writing your essay:
- Background: What are you passionate about and why? Focus on the things such as your identity, something you’re passionate about, or your talent that you thought your essay wouldn’t be complete without one of this information.
- Persona challenge or experience: Ask yourself what experience has been the most defining moment of your life, and what did you learn from it?
- College choice: Ask yourself why you want to attend a particular college and what you would contribute to the college community.
- Influential person in your life: Who is someone you admire and why? Write about the most influential person in your life that creates an impact on yourself to drive you to be a better person.
- Diversity statement: How have you overcome adversity in your life? Remember a time when you faced a challenge, a setback, or a failure. Please think of how it affected you and what lessons you learned.
However, these are just guidelines – your essay should be unique to you and tell your own story. Remember, college admissions officers want to get a sense of who you are as an individual and how you’ll contribute to their campus community. So allow your personality to shine through in your writing and approach the topic with honesty and sincerity.
What to avoid when looking for sample college essay
When looking for college essay examples, here’s our guide on avoiding a few things.
- Don’t choose a topic that is too personal: Avoid being too personal or controversial when selecting a topic for your college essay. It can be difficult to discuss sensitive issues in a way that does not offend anyone or make the reader uncomfortable. Similarly, you should be careful about discussing experiences such as mental health struggles or family problems, as these topics may be inappropriate for a college essay.
- Avoid topics that are overdone or cliché: College admissions officers will have read hundreds, if not thousands, of essays on similar topics. That’s why it is vital to choose a fresh and unique topic.
- Don’t use a thesaurus to make your essay sound more impressive: This will only make you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about: A good essay should demonstrate that you know how to communicate effectively and articulately express yourself. Overusing a thesaurus can make your essay sound awkward or even worse. It could lead to misused words that distort the meaning of your essay.
- Stay away from gimmicky formats, like lists or poems: Using an unconventional writing format, such as a list or poem, is tempting. However, these types of formats can come off as gimmicky and may need to be more focused on the content of your essay. Stick to traditional essay formats and make sure that it reads like a cohesive narrative.
- Don’t try to be someone you’re not – just be yourself!: Ultimately, the most important thing to remember when writing a college essay is to be genuine and honest. Don’t try to write in someone else’s voice or emulate another writer. The admissions officers want to see the real you, so ensure your essay reflects your personality, passions, and interests.
Now that we’ve discussed what to avoid when looking for college essay examples, let’s discuss where you can find quality essays.
Where to find quality college essay examples
One of the best places to find quality essay examples is from a college admissions counselor. These professionals have helped hundreds, if not thousands, of students with their college application essay help, and they know what admissions committees are looking for in a college essay.
Another great place to find essay examples is from a writing tutor or coach. These professionals can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and they can give you feedback on your college essay.
You can also find college essay examples in books or online. Just be sure to choose well-written essays that capture the essence of who you are as a person. With a little bit of research, you should be able to find examples that will help you write an outstanding college application essay.
Avoid these topics in your College Essays
There are some topics that you should avoid in your college entrance essays.
- Sensitive Topics: It is essential to recognize that college admissions officers are looking for well-rounded applicants who can contribute to the college community in a meaningful way. As such, avoid writing about topics that could be seen as controversial, inflammatory, or offensive. These could include topics involving religion, politics, personal beliefs and opinions, and other sensitive matters.
- Too personal Topics: Essays that focus on such personal topics can make it difficult for readers to objectively evaluate your argument and the essay’s overall structure. Instead of focusing on a highly personal topic, consider writing on a more abstract idea or issue that allows you to showcase your creativity while conveying a meaningful message.
- Accomplishments exaggeration: Writing about your accomplishments can be tempting when writing college essays, but in most cases, it is not recommended. Accomplishments can make you sound boastful and self-centered, turning off admissions officers.
- Being humorous: Humor can be a great way to connect with your readers or audience, but it is vital to take caution when writing college essays. College admissions officers have limited time and attention, so you must take the opportunity to make sure that your essay is conveying the right message.
Humor can be misinterpreted, so make sure your humor is inoffensive and tasteful. It is also important to consider what type of message your reader will take away from the joke.
By avoiding these topics, you’ll be able to write college essays that are more likely to impress admissions committees and increase your chances of getting into the school of your choice.
Follow these college admission essay examples to stand out from the rest, and take note of what topics to avoid to distinguish yourself from other applicants.
The college essay is your chance to show who you are personally to the admissions officers. It’s also your chance to avoid the mistakes that many students make.
If you’re unsure what to write, you better consult an admissions counselor.