The personal statement might just be the hardest part of your college application. Mostly this is because it has the least guidance and is the most open-ended. One way to understand what colleges are looking for when they ask you to write an essay is to check out the college entrance essay examples of students who already got in—college essays that actually worked. After all, they must be among the most successful of this weird literary genre.
In this article, I’ll go through general guidelines for what makes great college essays great. Finally, I’ll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work. What Excellent College Essays Have in Common Even though in many ways these sample college essays are very different from one other, they do share some traits you should try to emulate as you write your own essay. Visible Signs of Planning Building out from a narrow, concrete focus. You’ll see a similar structure in many of the essays.
The author starts with a very detailed story of an event or description of a person or place. Knowing how to tell a story. Some of the experiences in these essays are one-of-a-kind. But most deal with the stuff of everyday life.
What sets them apart is the way the author approaches the topic: analyzing it for drama and humor, for its moving qualities, for what it says about the author’s world, and for how it connects to the author’s emotional life. Stellar Execution A killer first sentence. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: you have to suck the reader in, and the best place to do that is the first sentence. They are like cliffhangers, setting up an exciting scene or an unusual situation with an unclear conclusion, in order to make the reader want to know more. In this case, your reader is an admissions officer who has read thousands of essays before yours and will read thousands after.
Use interesting descriptions, stay away from clichés, include your own offbeat observations—anything that makes this essay sounds like you and not like anyone else. Enchanted Prince Stan decided to stay away from any frog-kissing princesses to retain his unique perspective on ruling as an amphibian. No spelling mistakes, no grammar weirdness, no syntax issues, no punctuation snafus—each of these sample college essays has been formatted and proofread perfectly. If this kind of exactness is not your strong suit, you’re in luck!