Examples of College Essays That Worked and Why

examples of college admissions essays

Examples of College Essays That Worked and Why

examples of college admissions essays

When writing college admission essays, some people debate whether it’s helpful or not to read other students’ essays for inspiration.

We think it’s worthwhile to read essay examples ONLY if there is a critique of what worked or didn’t work in the essay.

Otherwise, reading other students’ essays can be confusing, not knowing if it was their style, topic or approach that worked with admissions officers.

Here’s a collection of some of the best advice we found online for writing college admission essays.

Examples of College Admissions Essays

In particular, we’re huge fans of Johns Hopkins articles on “Essays That Worked,” since admission officers detail why they thought the college admission essay examples were effective.

Also included is some general advice on answering the “Why This College” essay, as it’s an important essay for students to explain why a particular school can be a good fit for them.

For the past few years, The New York Times has invited students to share their college admissions essays on the topic of money, class, working, and the economy, followed up with reaction and thoughts on the effectiveness of the essays by Ron Lieber.

In summary, here are Lieber’s main points about why he liked these essays:

  • “They took brave and counterintuitive positions” on their topics.
  • They were all “talking openly” about issues that are “emotionally complex and often outright taboo.”
  • They had “an appetite for risk.” (One student wrote about the application process itself, a topic that is usually discouraged.)
  • They were bold (with their ideas, language, and opinions).
  • They kept their edges (meaning, they didn’t allow parents or counselors or editors to over-edit their pieces and retained their unique, though sometimes rough, teenage voices).

Other Essay Writing Tips

Before your student starts their essays, take a look at Big Future‘s (via College Board) advice and answers to frequently asked college admissions essay questions.

In addition to knowing what a good essay looks like, it’s also important to keep in mind that good content can be overshadowed by careless errors.

Proofreading is key. And if your child asks you to read a completed essay, make sure you are positive and encouraging. Give them the latitude they need to bring that essay home.

And if professional help is needed, check out our 1:1 essay coaching sessions.

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