College Essays That Worked: What Made Them Special?

What are college essays that worked? These are papers written in response to an official prompt that impressed the committee and resulted in the acceptance of their writers’ applications. Every year, students finish high school and start sending requests to different colleges. Only some of them are accepted by their dream options — others have to settle for less desirable establishments or even worse, be forced to try again next year. 

Secret lies in writing amazing application papers. If you look at such essay example, you’ll see how effectively it’s crafted, how many words it has, and what topics it focuses on. But at the same time, without good explanations, you likely won’t understand why this work was chosen over others. We are going to change that. If you want to succeed and create a truly stunning piece of work, let us share the best examples and explain what made them so compelling.

Why Is Looking At College Essays Examples Important?

Before we present practical examples, you should understand why they are relevant. Every person has their own unique style of writing, but for the most part, they share a common basis. Most students are certain that academic work needs a dry and largely official approach. They are used to conducting school-level research, analyzing an essay idea, and presenting their findings, but creating a college admissions essay? That takes them aback because prompts here tend to be a mix of personal and academic aspects. Finding a balance is extremely important, and that is what looking through samples could show you.

Whatever sample application essay you decide to read, it’s guaranteed to have both personal and official elements. Committee doesn’t want to just read a research, they want to get a glimpse of personality of their potential student. A good essay example is going to reflect this fact. With its help, you’ll get to see how many personal details you should share with your audience. A style of such works is special, so the more of them you read, the more you’re going to relate to them. This could help refine your own approach and become the first milestone you cross on your way up to success.

Some College Essay Prompt Examples and How To Answer Them

Colleges along with universities release different prompts for students every year. They usually feature different scenarios, but their essence stays the same. Four most common kinds of them can be distinguished.

Essay about identity

In a paper of this type, students should focus on disclosing who they are and what made them people they are today. Read various essays examples — they’ll all feel differently because each of us has a personal story of development. Describe what shaped you, what you relate to, and how you would define yourself. Then build a link with a college you’re applying to, showing how these two things are interrelated.

Essay about a meaningful experience

Life is full of expected and unexpected things. Professors often want to know, what influence shaped you as a person? Perhaps you lost a loved one and it made you reassess everything. In other essay samples, you could see students describing how they were betrayed, how seeing an injustice or grief of others made them determined to be a better person, etc. Whatever this experience is, big or small, explain impact it had on you and link it to your chosen education specialty.

Essay about your interests

What do you like and how is that related to your future major? Once again, you shouldn’t pick a hobby completely unrelated to specialty you’re applying to. All essay prompt examples will show that there should be some connection between the two. Tell a story of how your interests led you toward the path you’re on, adding professional and personal details.

Essay about accomplishments

Even if you don’t think you’ve had many victories in your life, there has to be something. It could be a minor event like scoring a high grade or winning a competition. Share every important detail, mention your hopes, worries, and your triumph, and discuss how it affected you.  

Practical Examples of Essays That Impressed Colleges

While such papers should have a personal focus, they still require professional academic structure. Each paragraph must be of sufficient length as well as written in a grammatically coherent manner. Introduction and conclusion should be present too, just like thesis that formulates the point of your work. For letting you see how great applications look like, we’re going to present three best examples together with their prompts. We decided against copying papers in their entirety because you won’t want to read them from start to finish, considering length. That is why we took only the most relevant bits that allow seeing the complete picture.

1. Among essay prompts examples, this one fits most common criteria. “Describe a hobby that inspired you to choose your specialty. Why do you think that our college is the best place for pursuing it?”

“To fully appreciate a culture, you must understand its language.” My parents always repeated this phrase, but I understood its meaning only once I watched The X Files and fell deeply in love with it. I spent endless nights watching it, scared out of my mind but too fascinated to stop. This show has transformed my life, making me determined to enjoy it in original and inspiring my passion for foreign languages.

The US has always seemed an intriguing country to me, but I was never interested in learning English until The X Files. Voices in which Mulder and Scully spoke made my heart skip a beat, so I strained my ears in hope to hear more of them under translation. Eventually, I found fan forums, and I learned that translation into my language was deeply flawed. By this point, my love turned into full-blown obsession, and I started learning English by reading and translating original scripts. After watching The X Files in original for the first time, I felt that my appetite has only gotten stronger. Now, I was not simply focused on observing — I wanted to understand characters’ culture, and this sparked my never-ending love with English. […].

Your college has an excellent Linguistics program that could help me hone my skills and become a prolific expert. I have read hundreds of glowing reviews about it from other students, and their passion inspired my own. I have no doubts I will gain numerous valuable insights there, and in turn, I will do my best to make your college proud of my accomplishments.

2. The next prompt is: “What challenge made you choose your future career path?” We chose several essay writing samples on it before settling on the most vivid one.

I have never been good at Math. I found the process of calculations compelling because of the magical interrelation between logic and rationality, but since I could not understand everything from the first try, I did not bother to apply any efforts. That changed one day, when I visited an escape room. Finding myself trapped in a room with seemingly no way out, I had only my logic to rely on, and it became a turning point that made my interest in Math skyrocket.

I have chosen the most complex level for my escape room adventure because I believed myself to be an expert. It was Math-based, but while I did not know much about the theoretical side of it, I was confident in my possession of logic. My friends and I made a bet about me succeeding, so I was excited and determined. But soon upon entering, I realized that my communication device was broken. I could not ask for help verbally, and I was too embarrassed to wave my hands at the cameras. Therefore, I focused on passing the challenges. To my concern, I had to deal directly with numbers, formulas, and calculations. The time was ticking away, the defeat in a bet was hanging over my head, and soon, I started feeling like the trap was real. I had to pass it or stay inside forever.  […]. 

In the end, I have not simply solved every riddle and won a childish bet. I discovered the wide range of areas in which Math could be applied, and this process has inspired me to work hard on learning everything I could about them. Math became my purpose, and I hope to keep exploring it in your college. My patience, stubbornness, and passion comprise those ultimate attributes that will help me succeed.

3. The next sample college application essay follows this prompt: “Describe the biggest influence in your life that shaped who you are.”

Warm smile, kind brown eyes, wrinkled hands that embraced me when I needed comfort and treated scratches on my knees. My grandfather is kindest and most caring person I have ever known, and his support gave me strength for pursuing my education in sphere of fashion design.

For as long as I remember myself, I loved designing clothes. At first, these were small dresses and suits for my dolls. My grandmother insisted that boys should express their interest in more masculine things, but my grandfather supported me at all times. He began bringing me fabrics that I could use for making even more suits, and as I grew up, my mind started brimming with more ideas. I made my own clothes, awkward as they looked, drew pictures with dresses and shoes all day long, and read every book I could find on this topic. Each my creation is associated with my grandfather, who was there when I needed him. When people criticized me, he whispered words of comfort. When I felt like giving up to correspond to society’s norms, he kept me inspired. […].

My grandfather is the person who influenced me most because without his acceptance, I would have lost my self-confidence. My designs are inspired by him and events connected with him, and since we share a lifetime of memories, these ideas are endless. I look forward to pouring my creativity into the tasks your professors assign, and I hope I will impress them with my imagination.

Read Samples and Create A Great Application Essay

As essay prompts examples above have demonstrated, topics underlying them have lots of common characteristics. If you grasp what their core is and how they function, you won’t face any difficulties with writing an effective work. Remember about the focus: it should be personal yet also academic. 

Whatever hobby you’re exploring, whatever event you are discussing, they have to lead back to your college of interest. Finding and reading a good college essay example that got positive reaction could help you get an idea of how to craft the best personal application, now that you know what stands behind it. If you need assistance, you can always find it online. Keep going through ideas, flesh them out, and reap amazing benefits! 

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Elizabeth Baldridge
Elizabeth Baldridge

Elizabeth provides educational materials, conducts research, explores and solves student challenges. Her posts are always helpful, innovative, and contain interesting insights.

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